Today was a big day for the little one. It was the first time she joined a playgroup!
As I mentioned recently, childcare is very expensive in Switzerland. Kindergarden, which is more like preschool, doesn’t start until the age of four. Until then, it is up to the parents to either hand your child over to a nursery (if you are working) or let the kid join one or another playgroup. The problem with the nursery: it is too expensive if you are not working. We checked it out last year and it turned out that for two mornings a week (excluding lunch, so just four hours a day) we would pay over 700 francs per month. That’s more than 700 dollars. Way too much for us. And even if you are working, it doesn’t pay off anymore with a second child. The problem with the playgroups: they normally only take children starting with the age of 3.
In Germany, I would have put the little one into kindergarden (or a nursery) a long time ago. Simply because she is such an independent little kid who truly enjoys to socialize. Oh yes, she is.
For instance, she never really had a phase when she was shy with strangers. The weeks in the development of a baby where it doesn’t want to be anywhere but on mommies arm? Somehow we seem to have skipped it. When we joined the music class more than a year ago, my friends were always quite amused because when the teacher would say “Please put your child onto your lap” it was always an equivalent for “the little one starts running away and prefers to sit on the teachers lap”. I was the only mom who had to gently swing a soft monkey back and forth while my kid preferred to be somewhere else. It hasn’t changed, by the way. While the kids of my friends are always close to their mothers, mine is the one running around and exploring. At one point she even started to hand me the soft monkey herself because that’s apparently how it is supposed to be.
When having playdates, she would laugh and run and jump and always end up with my friend. We tried it: she and her little friend had fun running down the corridor, my friend and myself were sitting at the other end, with open arms, ready to hug them. My friend would always end up with my child in her arms.
While I am always told that it is a good sign because the little one seems to have a basic sense of trust that I will be there for her if she needs me, I nevertheless struggle a bit from time to time. For instance when she had her first laceration and she preferred to walk to the emergency unit holding the hand of her music teacher instead of mine. That hurt.
Or when I haven’t seen her for a day or even a day and a night, like at the beginning of August. I am incredibly grateful that she has so much fun staying with her grandparents or with friends. But does she really have to start complaining when she sees me again?
When I started working at the family centre, she started to visit the so-called “Hueti group” which is provided by the centre. It is not a playgroup but a group where you can leave your child for two or three hours when you have important appointments or something similar (doing your shopping in peace, for example). The difference being that there is not a regular group of kids but it’s completely dependent on the day. They also don’t do many rituals, it is really more a babysitter service. The little one was 1,5 years old when she first went there. I was skeptical whether she would like it or not, simply because it is not a closed group and I often read that kids need continuity and steadiness. Well, turned out she loved it. She would immediately walk into the room, not looking back but starting to explore and to play.
It still hasn’t changed. She asks about playgroups every day. Every time when I pick her up from the Hueti group after two hours she will start complaining.
And today? When it was time to pick the kids up, all the mothers waited in front of the room. The door opened and the kids were running into their mothers arms, ready to be hugged. I waited. And waited. And then resigned and walked inside only to find my kid sitting on the stairs, complaining that she has to go home already. She really loved the time at the playgroup…
Good thing is that I know she loves me. She cuddles up with me, hugs me and kisses me as soon as we are at home. We do have a great mother-daughter-relationship. If I wouldn’t be so sure about it, I would end up being really depressed sometimes. I guess she is just incredibly independent. No idea how we brought this on.
But I am often really sad that I can’t provide her with more opportunities like that. As I said, she was ready for a nursery more than a year ago. She needs it. I never thought I’d have a child that’s so keen to socialize. It is completely strange to me, because I myself wasn’t someone who really longed for company. While the little one gets excited when she sees children on the playground, I always preferred the playground being deserted. But that’s who and how she is. I can’t entertain her at home anymore, not 24 hours all week-long. The playgroup is a start, but it takes place only once a week for three hours. A drop in the ocean. Let’s hope that she’ll keep her enthusiasm until she can enter more playgroups. And that I’ll survive the days with her and a newborn baby at home.
And maybe next week she will run into my arms as well, like all the other children…