Saying goodbye is the hardest part

Published 10:08 pm Thursday, February 28, 2019

It’s probably the most difficult thing I do on a daily basis, and sometimes, it’s the most physically demanding thing I do all day.

Saying goodbye to my 2-year-old daughter as I drop her off for day care.

It’s something I have to do, and I know she’s fine not long after I’m gone, but the moments in between getting to the classroom and getting out are another matter entirely.

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Before the midyear day care switch, it was a challenge just to get her to her classroom door. She’d stop to rub her finger in the moss between the sidewalk cracks. She’d stop to visit the Santa statue in the lobby, then visit the angel statues and hug them, then say hi to the turtle. You get the picture.

Now, when she gets out of the car, she makes a beeline to the door, then walks as fast as she can without running to the door of her class.

“Come on, Dada,” she’ll say more than once as her pace is too fast for my morning fog.

It’s once she gets to the door that the difficulty begins.

The plan is I walk into her class, hang up her coat, say hello to her teachers and then say goodbye for the day to my daughter.

Nothing ever goes according to plan.

The minute we get into the classroom, she has a near death-grip on my fingers as we walk to the back of the class to hang up her coat.

Then, after hanging up the coat, she uses me as a human shield to hide from other kids in the class who are swinging toys and loudly yelling within my daughter’s personal space. As I am the human shield, I get the brunt of the objects from the other kids.

I proceed to hug and kiss her goodbye, and tell her that Mama will come pick her up in the afternoon.

Lather, rinse and repeat many times over, as by now my daughter is wrapped around one of my legs as I inch toward the door.

While on the one hand I’m hoping that one of her teachers will offer to take her to the potty, change her diaper or otherwise distract my daughter into letting go, on the other hand I’m wanting to see every moment and hear every word and sound. I want to treasure every moment I get to spend with her, knowing that it’ll be my last one for at least the next eight- to 10-hours or more.

I especially like to hear, “You too, Dada,” after I tell her I love her.

But the last thing I usually end up hearing on my way out is “Dada, no,” or “Dada stop!”

That’s when one of her two teachers comes and tries to encourage her to sit on the carpet, or have a little breakfast or take her to the potty.

But they have to pry her loose, as she’s on the verge of slipping out the door with me.

I give her one more hug, and one more kiss goodbye. She hugs me back and kisses my cheek.

Then finally, the teacher has pried my daughter off of my leg and has picked her up.

I can then hear her screaming and crying as I walk away, and the teacher holds her and walks away from the door so she can no longer see me.

But I still see her as I sneak peeks back to see her face – so sad, and at times seeing her mouth trembling.

Then there’s a few tears of my own as I walk away.