I took Eleanor to creche this morning. She is usually quite keen on creche and breathlessly lists all of the people she will see when she gets there. This morning when I was trying to negotiate her into the car seat I asked her: “Do you want to go to creche?” and she said, in a small voice, “no”.
Sometimes Eleanor says no and she really means “yes, but I’m going to say no because you’re manipulating me and I know it”. This time I think she meant no.
When we got to creche I took her over to the table where the other kids were playing with play dough. She made little play dough birthday cakes, put toothpicks in the top for candles and then blew them out and cut me a piece. Eleanor likes this little ritual of the birthday cake. I stayed for awhile and enjoyed some of her cake, but then it was time for me to go. She wouldn’t let me go. She clung to my leg and asked for cuddles and howled. It was hard to go.
I never liked school when I was a student. I can remember getting into my uniform when I was about seven years old and hating it. I worked out how many years it would be until I could leave. When you are only seven then ten years is an enormous amount of time. Ten years seemed like a prison sentence. Well I served my time, and here I am, still at school.
The first day at Kāpiti College was hard, because I had been to primary school in Wellington and I didn’t know a single person at my new school. It was like being a wall flower at some enormous party, sitting uncomfortably against the wall wanting to with Mum, or friends, or by myself but knowing that I had to confront this thing called growing up.
This thing called growing up. It never stops.
I sat in the car outside creche and felt down. I want to make Eleanor feel loved and happy all the time, but I also want her to find the happiness of finding herself, becoming herself and having the strength to be independent when she is a woman. Is this what it feels like to be a parent? Is it a slow tearing apart that never leads to separation? Is it the consolation of love built on a store of memories? A little loss. A little loneliness at the end.