Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Exit from Babyland*

I sing a song to Edie and Posy called To Babyland. It goes like this:

How many miles to Babyland? 
Anyone can tell.
Up one flight,
To the right,
Please to ring the bell.

What do they do in Babyland?
Dream and wake and play.
Laugh and grow,
Fonder grow, 
Jolly times have they.

What do they say in Babyland?
Why the oddest things.
Might as well
Try to tell
What the birdie sings.

Who is the queen of Babyland?
Mother kind and sweet.
And her love,
Born above,
Guides the little feet.

I learned it because I like memorizing text heavy songs (it helps me keep my wits about me), and Edie liked it when I sang it out of a book. I've grown to like it because it makes me think of a time and circumstance where children lived in "the nursery" exclusively, until they hit a certain age, which both frightens and delights me. And it also reminds me that early childhood has always been an isolationist undertaking. It's just the nature of it. First it has to do with nursing, then with napping, then with eating, then, before you know it, your world is--for all intents and purposes--"the nursery". And it becomes a kingdom of childhood.

And tomorrow, Edie, for what feels like the first time, departs it. She starts kindergarten tomorrow, and, while she's not exactly going away to college, it's full day, and feels very much like from now on, she's got her own schedule to keep.

And I'm so excited for her, because I know she'll love it. Edie was born for this. Her greatest gift is that she sees everyone as a friend. And I'm excited for me, too. For the increased flexibility of only having one child to cart around, and for the solitude while Posy naps. I've been waiting for this moment too.

But, tonight--and I'm sorry to say that this is all about to become about me--I was singing the last verse:

Who is the queen of Babyland?
Mother kind and sweet.

And I kind of lost it. Because, whether I like it or not, I am the queen of Babyland. I am that presence in her life. I am THE presence in her life. I am the queen of Babyland. And, while I have my failings, I am kind and sweet. And as I sang I started thinking about how my love has guided her little feet. And, again, I know it's just kindergarten, and I don't think I would care as much if she were a little bit bad. But, she's not. She's not a bit bad. She's so good. So purely good. And the idea of sending her into an environment I can't control makes me quake. I feel really certain that she's going to be fine, great even, but, a part of me can't help but wish that she could stay in Babyland. Maybe forever.

So I couldn't sing past

And her love, born above

So Edie's little voice chimed in, finishing the song

Guides the little feet.

Then she held up her foot for me to tickle, like we always do.

*I think it goes without saying that I have never been good with change.


  1. If only every Instagram chalk board post of child starting school could be as poetic and real as this post. Thanks.

  2. I'm so glad I checked in here today. Lovely, Valerie. You are a lovely, lovely mother, and a lovely, lovely human being. Hugs all through then next several years of constant change.