"I am going to record your child. He was so good," she said the next day. I watched as Equis waved goodbye to his teacher and tried hard to wish away the whining I knew would start the moment we stepped out the door.
Yesterday, Lillian said again, "He knows the routine down pact. I'm telling you, I'm going to record him so you can see for yourself how well he behaves."
I smiled, nodding my head, and said, "I wish you would."
I was serious. I'd like to see what an obedient, patient, hand-holding, non-whining Equis looks like. Because the Equis I know acts differently around me. Each day that Lillian gives me a glowing review of my son's behavior in school, I am jealous.
Why does she get to experience the Super Schoolboy and I can't?
Why doesn't she get the Tantrum Tyrant I deal with every day?
That's twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year for two years.
So the prospect of Equis spending seven hours a day for five days a week not in my presence was simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating.
The idea of having free time to do laundry without worrying my son would climb into the washing machine or working on a blog post without Equis climbing into my lap to slam on the keyboard was exciting. At the same time, I worried about the fact that I wouldn't be around to protect my son or miss out on any important developmental milestones.
During the transitionary week, I had to attend school with Equis Monday through Thursday. I thought it'd be fun--a perfect way to see how the teachers treat the children and to see how Equis performed.
But, no, this first week of school was torturous for me. It was full of Equis' classic temper tantrums.
And he threw himself, crying, to the floor every… ten... minutes. The transition to a structured routine with seven other children and adults who won't spoil him seemed to be difficult for him.
"This isn't what I wanted!" I complained to my partner. "I want to him to explore on his own, to be independent, to feel secure without me following him everywhere."
The next day, my partner came with us to school. And, lo and behold, my son was on his best behavior whenever he was alone with Daddy in the classroom.
The moment I came back from the bathroom or he spotted me hiding behind my partner, though, he'd start crying and throwing himself to the floor again.
"Look, babe," my partner said to me, holding out his iPhone. "He was sitting so nicely, eating his food, 'til you came in." There was my son in two pictures, actually sitting… and eating… at the same time.
That's when I realized. It's all my fault. Mommy brings out the Tantrum Tyrant.
I miss him while he's at school, but I know Equis needs school to help with his social, physical and speech development. If he can better conquer his fear of tunnels, increase his vocabulary and learn to correctly eat with a spoon better without me there, then so be it.
I am proud of my son for transitioning so well in school. I am proud because I certainly don't want to be the mother whose his teacher tells her her child behaved badly.
But every day, I still feel overwhelmed by jealousy. As a mom, I have to ask, "What in the world am I doing wrong here?"
I want to know this child of whom his teacher speaks. I want to see with my own eyes the accomplishments Super Schoolboy makes when I'm not around.
Lillian, please make that recording already!