Abe has been in a camp this week with mostly new kids. Our social, outgoing son makes friends everywhere he goes, at least until this week. I don't know the full scoop on what these other kids were like, but here's what happened when I went to pick him up today.
I arrived about ten minutes early for pick-up and stood outside the door like I've done every day this week, watching through the glass the cuteness inside. The teachers usually have the kids singing songs with lots of motions right before the parents get there.
Today though, the kids were just sitting in a mass on the floor holding their lunchboxes. Well, this is what they were supposed to be doing. One huge blond kid was whacking another blond kid in the head with his lunchbox. The smaller kid getting whacked in the head didn't seem to mind too much (maybe because he'd been whacked in the head so many times that he wasn't really noticing anymore?). I didn't see Abe. I just saw these two boys using their lunchboxes as weapons.
Abe then came into the picture, holding his lunchbox and then sitting down near these boys. And wouldn't you know it, not only did my son get whacked with a lunchbox, he then was tackled by the evil whacking kid. The smaller boy then jumped on top of the pile, which my son was on the bottom of.
This was a soundproof door, so I ouldn't hear anything. But I' watched with growing alarm, wondering when the teachers were going to notice, wondering what Abe was going to do, wondering if I should go in the room. We very much want Abe to be independent, so I didn't want to be the helicopter-parent who comes running in to rescue her child. We try to teach him how to solve his own problems with other kids.
Well, eventually a teacher turned around and pulled the boys off Abe. At this point, our son ran several feet away to get away from these boys, turned and sdt down (still holding his lunchbox) and faced my direction. I could then see his face. He was not just crying; he was squalling. Again, I didn't go in. One of the teachers brought him over to her desk and sats him in a chair and I saw her pulling out a first-aid kit. Abe was still sobbing, and I couldn't take it anymore. I grabbed the doorknob to go in, but the door was locked.
Abe spotted me looking in the window and the look on his face made me want to rip down the door, Incredible Hulk-style. We were separated by a wall of glass, and was killing me. I felt that deep pain in my chest, dying to get inside to pick up my boy and comfort him.
Finally, finally, finally, they opened the doors, and I rushed in. He walked to me with first a frown, then a smile, then another frown on his face still wet with tears. I picked him up, and he whimpered while laying on my shoulder. He never let go of his lunchbox.
He showed me his band-aid on his knee. When the big boy tackled him, it knocked a scab off, one he'd earned from the new bike-riding adventures going on at home. The teacher apologized and expressed frustration about the aggressive boy. She said he'd been like that all day, really all week.
I just sighed and thought again about how mothering means your heart breaking a little bit every day. That moment when my son was wailing and looking my direction, and I was stuck behind a locked door? Excruciating.
This weekend my dad and grandmother are coming out here to stay with Abe while we're out of the country. I trust them with every inch of my being, but even this trust doesn't erase the pain and worry that enters the picture when I'm away from my son. I want to always be the one who comforts him when he's hurt.
My son, these next few days, I'm probably going to smother you. I'm going to lay next to you in your tiny bed and hold you tight. I'm going to give you special things you normally don't get, like squeezable packaged food products in your lunchbox and cereal bars for breakfast. I'm going to ask for extra kisses. I'm going to pick you up more often just so I can smell your head. You might wonder why I keep staring at you, why I keep touching your nose with my nose, why I run my fingers along your hairline and then kiss your forehead.
It's because we're about to have a lot more than a locked door and pane of glass separating us. It's because your mom and dad are going to meet your sister and bring her to you. It's because I'm overwhelmed by the depth of my love for you, a love that breaks my heart just a little bit every day.