Esther is officially a pre-school dropout. She told me she hated school one too many times so she doesn’t go anymore. Why should a kid learn to hate school when she is just barely four? She shouldn’t start hating school until she is at least 12. So far, she hasn’t really noticed that she doesn’t go anymore and I don’t know if she will. She was so proud to be a schoolgirl the first week she went, but the novelty wore off quickly when the reality that there were strict rules, a tight schedule to follow, and a "time out chair" set in. The harshest reality was that she was hustled out of the house by her dad in the early-morning hours while Isla and I stayed curled up in front of the fire. Esther, good surrogate mother that she is, doesn’t want to miss a moment of Isla’s development. She likes having a say in what happens with her little sister.
So she spends her three flexible mornings a week at Martha’s house where most of her friends are anyways. Martha’s is four-year-old heaven. Martha has raised just about everyone in this town under 42. She has forty years worth of dress-up clothes and walls lined with books begging to be borrowed. All the rooms of Martha's old home are child-friendly and open for roaming. Martha has a record player with lots of records and an old piano in the living room but no T.V. Martha has enough Legos to make a tower that reaches the ceiling. Martha takes the kids outside for fresh air everyday no matter the weather. I want to go to Martha's. So do all the other mothers in town. You can tell by the way we linger during drop off and pickup, hoping to soak up some of the wise sage aura that is Martha. They do plays like Peter and the Wolf and Firebird and Three Little Pigs at Martha’s. I can’t think of a better place for my daughter to be. School can wait.
Isla has really turned a corner and is now the great smiling baby. She no longer ends each nursing session in tears but instead pops up off the boob to smile at me and coo and gurgle and mouth words unknown to us both. She is happy. Thank god she is happy. I have been worried, after all the anti-emetic drugs I had to take during my pregnancy from hell, that she would come out all wrong. I have been afraid that she was going to be a whiny, serious, fussy baby who was easily upset and who didn’t smile. I've never felt comfortable with seriousness. Without a certain degree of silliness in every situation. But smile she does. She flirts. She squeals with glee when I bend down to her and let my hair brush across her face. Her little arms and legs wave madly about and her smile turns on and off like a neon sign with a short circuit. It makes life here alone with her so much more pleasant. I am not longer pacing the floor with a crying, joyless baby. I am dancing around the house with a happy, appreciative, comfy baby.