[note: We are happy to announce that our members will be contributing to our blog a couple of times per month. There is so much talent at nido, and so many different voices, it is a treat to get to share that with you. This first one comes from Theresa - Tiff]
This week, there’s been a chill in the air in the morning, enough that, as I get my daughter ready for nido, I stop to consider sandals or proper shoes, a jacket or not, even pants perhaps. By afternoon, however, the temperature has risen to summer standards so that the sundresses she’s been wearing for the past months are all she needs. In the softer angle of the sun, the shorter evenings, the blooming of the mums, the first falling leaves, I’m reminded that fall is on its way. In fact, according to the calendar, fall officially starts today. However, what I’ve been reminded of these past few weeks is that transitions do not happen overnight. They occur slowly, often not linearly, sometimes in ways we can’t see as they are happening.
My one-year-old daughter and I started at nido this term, just a few days after she turned 13 months. Though my daughter had been cared for by a babysitter twice a week in our home for months now, this would be the first time she would be in the care of another in a place that was new to her. A spirited girl, my daughter is usually eager to interact with other children, to explore unfamiliar places, to engage in different activities. My husband and I expected that, while there might be a few tears at first, she would quickly settle down and dive into the experience. Instead, my daughter has struggled with the transition. She has clung fiercely to me, cried intensely, refused to go beyond the lap of the one caring for her (shockingly, even for a snack). It has been hard, both for her and for me.
Instinctively, I began to look for a quick fix, taking to the Internet and phoning friends for tips for relieving separation anxiety and advice on helping toddlers adapt to childcare. I read and talked and listened, yet never hit upon anything that sounded like exactly what my daughter needed. I was, I admit, frustrated. Then I stepped back and reminded myself that this was a transition, something I myself don’t always handle with grace. Being a writer and an editor, I then got hung up a bit on the word itself and went to the dictionary, where I found the following other words used to help define “transition”: process, change, passage, development. Perhaps strangely, this brought me comfort. It enabled me to better comprehend what was happening and to adjust my attitudes and expectations accordingly.
Now, a few weeks into the term, the transition is by no means complete. Sometimes my daughter wants to climb independently onto the pillows in the corner of the classroom and read a book. Sometimes she’s not up for leaving the comfort of a lap. There are leaps forward and then steps backward. And while it hasn’t been easy, it has been made so much easier by being at nido—a place where there are caregivers who hold her as long as she needs to be held and provide an environment of love, comfort, and security; a place where fellow members offer their own stories or just a smile in solidarity; a place where the the guiding principles acknowledge the parent–child bond, giving me the freedom to both stay with my daughter in her classroom for as long as is needed and step away so that we can each grow.
While I work—and my daughter works as well—I glance out the window and notice the sky is a shade of blue that I only seem to see in the fall. The seasons are transitioning. My daughter and I are too. Though hard, it feels right. This transition. This process. This change. This passage. This development.