2 yo is going to a backyard camp. This camp is run by a woman who has a playgroup in her house during the year for 2 year olds. I don't know how many years of experience she has, but she is a seasoned teacher, highly recommended in our neighborhood.
The first day of camp I did not do a good drop off. I scheduled to drop off 2 yo last, after his siblings, but, by that point, the baby was screaming hysterically, wanting to nurse, and I was running late. So I marched my little boy into a noisy room full of kids, dragging his bag of diapers and his backpack with lunch. The Morah (teacher) asked me the usual questions: what do you call him? And does he know any kids in the room? I quickly glanced around, did not see any familiar faces, told her that I have a crying baby waiting, and ran. Not a very good introduction to the new place, I am afraid, especially since we have not been to the house before.
When it was time to pick him up, I came on time, hoping to smooth out whatever did not go right in the morning. The Morah told me that he napped, and he did great. Then she asked me: does he go to school anywhere? I said: no. (She knows I homeschool). She expressed surprise and started telling me how he listened, was very comfortable, and played with the other kids. I said that he is with his older siblings all day long, playing and interacting, so he is used to it.
I did not make much of this, except for thanking G-d for an easy transition. I also chalked up some of this to flattery.
Yesterday, again, the Morah asked me whether I am sure he is not in any program. "He is such a sweet kid, so happy, so easy, just lies down for his nap without crying, talks, plays." I chuckled: does she think that I am hiding some great socialization program from her? Then I assured her that he is home with me, but we do get together with other homeschoolers and he does go to babysitting in shul on Shabbos.
I thought about it. This woman has seen many 2 year olds, and my child is not the easiest toddler on the block. I guess, when she gets 2 year olds who have not been to "school", they have hard time separating from their mothers or interacting with children who are not part of their family, so she expected a similar situation with my son. Also, there is this image of homeschool kids being isolated in their home, unhappy and unsocialized. I wonder whether we broke another stereotype here.
How did we get here? How is this child able to go into this intense situation, which could be anxiety-provoking, yet he is fine and happy?
Part of it is the personality. He is an outgoing boy, who is not shy or reserved, but he is not an exuberant extrovert. Part of it is the birth order: when you are the fourth, you are used to having many loud people around you. You have to speak up your mind to get things. You are used to running with the pack. Part of it is homeschooling, and hanging for many hours with kids of all different ages. We go to different places and I am not always on his tail, closely supervising every single step. Other mothers have watched my kid, brought him to me, gave him snacks, so he is used to having different people take care of his needs.
And part of it is parenting. Being the fourth child, 2 yo gets a good mix of parents who are too tired to micromanage, yet who know that an extra hug, or pick up, or snuggle will not spoil a child. He is secure asking for comfort, so he can go into the world and explore.
To be honest, I have a huge moral conflict with sending out a 2 year old to camp (or to school) for such a long day and for so many weeks. There is a part of me which strongly feels that the reason I have a happy, secure child is due to him being at home, close to his mommy, and that is where he belongs. Now I am upsetting this delicate balance. Now I will have to adjust to the reality that I cannot provide him with what he enjoys, like water play or messy projects, without turning into a disaster manager, losing my cool, and yelling. Yes, I have to accept the reality that I am THAT parent, that mom who is sending out her 2 year old because it is just too hard for me.
On the plus side, it is only for a year. I keep telling myself that we are taking life on year at a time, and we can always stop, assess, and change our circumstances as necessary.