Loading Wombat in the car a couple of days ago, it’s the usual scene: he is wriggling and screaming and kicking as he resists being strapped into the seat, and I’m talking at him mindlessly while folding all his flailing limbs into the straps:
“Blah blah blah…. Now now come on now here we go let’s go to daycare it’s a short ride. Don’t you want to go to daycare? Blah blah blah blah….”
And, at words “don’t you want to go to daycare” my baby stops wriggling, stops screaming, stops flailing, looks straight at me and says, quite clearly, “No”.
My ‘load-you-into-the-car’ talk before was always more of a soliloquy. So, I am more taken aback by his response than Hamlet would be if someone came up to him and, during his ‘to be or not to be’, said “I’d say: not to be”. So, still in shock, I say to Wombat:
- You…. don’t want to go to daycare?
- You…. don’t want to see your friend Evan?
- What about your teacher, miss Marilyn?
- No, no, NO!
At this point, Wombat is clearly frustrated. The look on his face says “Listen, lady, how many times do I need to tell you NO for you to get the idea that I mean No? Jeez. The people in this place!” But, still in shock, I continue:
- You don’t want to see anybody in daycare?
- NO! No no no no!
- Hm. Well, I’m sure they want to see you though!
Wombat makes an incredulous “Naw” noise.
- Sure they do!
Wombat makes a skeptical-looking face.
- Yes! Every time we come in in the morning, they scream “Elijah!” and are so happy to see you and run to you and want to play with you!! They really want to see you! And you don’t want to see them? That doesn’t seem nice! They want to be your friends!
At this point Wombat becomes lost deep in thought and contemplates his social network all the way to daycare. He still looks thoughtful as we come in, and once he sees all his ‘friends’ (whose names above have been changed to protect the innocent), he sighs, pulls up a chair to his snack table and looks resolute to get through whatever social interactions he must.
I know, kid. I know. You don’t see yourself as part of any group. I am the same. But both of us have to try. Just try. Make friends. You don’t have to be part of a crowd. But you do need people by your side, and do get there you will need to make an effort. Pull up your chair to the table, share your snack and ask them how THEIR car ride to daycare went. Ask them if THEIR mother can understand what they say in fewer than 15 repetitions. I bet that will get you a lot of common ground with anybody. Give it a try.