It's August now. For the last month or so I've put off thinking about the fall, but August always makes me. So today we went to the child care center on our first of probably a few visits before I go back to work. At that time Sophie and Michael will be in a toddler room, a new environment with new teachers, so I want to help make the transition a smooth one.
Like most adventures with twins, it began with me wondering how I was going to do this, literally how I was going to get Michael and Sophie into and out of the center this year now that we've retired the DSNG. Last night when I shared my concern with Mike, he said we would carry one kid while pushing the other in an umbrella stroller, keeping one stroller in each car. He said it so matter-of-factly that surely I already thought of this and told him the plan previously.
During some play time early this morning I brought in one of the strollers, put Michael in it, and carried Sophie. We gave Michael a little ride around the living room, making turns around the rug and into the hallway, confirming that these cheapo strollers can be pushed one-handed. "My idea" is a good one.
The numbers were low at the center today, only six toddlers in attendance, so the two rooms for that age group merged. We took a peek at the actual room where Michael and Sophie will spend three days a week this year, discussed with the director what supplies they'll need (a sippy cup for water, diapers, and nap gear), and then went to play with the kids and the teachers gathered in the other classroom.
We saw many familiar faces including several toddler friends who grew out of the infant room over the last year as well. Still, Michael and Sophie weren't eager to mingle. The kids and teachers sat on the classroom rug reading a book about the solar system, sang some songs, practiced a few signs, and even danced a little--all pretty familiar stuff. However, I had to carry Michael and hold Sophie's hand, tugging her a little bit, to get them to join the party. I sat on the floor with them, and before long Sophie stood up and walked into the crowd. Michael stood up as well and reluctantly accepted a hug from an old buddy who was eager to play.
The teachers set up for art, and Michael and Sophie explored the room. The big play kitchen and a couple of Sit and Spins signaled that we weren't in boring old Kansas anymore. My buddies were pulling beanbag fruits and veggies off of a shelf--proof that they are in fact toddlers, according to the center director--when they were invited to make some art. Sophie and Michael used white chalk to make a solar system on black construction paper and stuck star stickers onto it as well. Sophie even ripped her paper to show her artistic sensibilities. Such a divergent thinker.
Of course, after taking the time to ease in and get used to the environment, leaving was now tricky as well. Sophie didn't want to give up her piece of chalk, and Michael discovered a big red phone and was chatting away. I had to use the L-word (lunch) to coax them back home.
We'll go back again probably next week. Like last year, these visits are partly for me, so I can envision them playing happily, knowing they are familiar with the people and surroundings of the center when I'm back at work.
I've heard mothers debate whether it's better to go back to work when your kids are infants and are less aware but seemingly more delicate or when they're toddlers, seemingly stronger but more aware of your absence. I am incredibly grateful for my two months at home with Michael and Sophie this summer and for being able to have spent several months with them after they were born, but I'm in no hurry to have experience on both sides of that argument.