There are many articles on how to leave your toddler with the babysitter/daycare/camp etc. without incurring a meltdown. Do you sneak out? Or, do you acknowledge their fears? Perhaps you sing a goodbye song? (Our favorite, Grown-Ups Come Back by Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood). However, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the way toddlers greet and say goodbye to each other.
Shakespeare has nothing on this sweetness.
It is our daughter’s first year in preschool and since August, I’ve watched how her goodbyes to me become briefer by the week as she enthusiastically greets her friends. It’s OK though with me. I LOVE watching how her goodbyes to me turn into hellos to her friends. It begins with little voices across the parking lot as they see each other, the way they light up as their eyes meet, the warm embrace when they close the distance, and the hand holding as they walk in together to start their day. The love these little ones have for each other is palpable.
Even sweeter I think, is pick-up time. I enjoy getting to her classroom a few moments early to make sure I don’t miss a moment of her goodbyes to her friends. It’s not a sad event at all. On the contrary, it’s a celebration of what they’ve done that day, and the experiences they’ve had together!
As the door opens, I’m greeted with a toddler, all smiles running into my arms, eager to share her day. However, she quickly disentangles from me to turn around to give each friend a big bear hug (you can’t miss anyone!) as well as her teachers. Then it’s a chorus of goodbyes, more hugs and even kisses sometimes, with promises of ‘see you soon!’ Then as the parade of strollers, siblings tagging along, and Mama’s navigating around little ones try to get out the door, she and her friends tend to linger, wanting to keep the fun going. And us parents notice we do too. Some days, we do have places to be, but for the most part, I notice other moms not saying “hurry up,” or “we have to be somewhere.” I see the other moms just drinking in these moments as well — this stage of pure love for their peers.
She’s come a long way since August in her lessons, but a few that don’t fit into her take-home folder include: 1. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened. 2. Life is awesome with friends by your side.