This past weekend, while Abe and I were enjoying a day away, we farmed the kids out. We sent Charis to her friends Katie and Travis (Charis and Travis apparently think they will be wed someday), and Judah went to Aunt Beth's house to have a sleepover with Gideon and Elise. We've left the kids before, but only with Abe's mom, so this was a new one--and the first time Charis and Judah have been apart for a night.
Uncle Tim and Aunt Beth were over helping work on our house on Friday night, so they just took Judah away with them when they left. Then Abe and I strapped Charis in the van and drove her to our church, where we were dropping her off to be driven to Katie's house by her mom, Tanya. The departures of both children seemed to go smoothly--no tears, no longing looks, no clinging (and the kids did okay, too).
But when we returned home from dropping off Charis (and stopping for ice cream, of course), the phone rang. It was Beth.
"Uh, oh." I said. "What happened?"
"I just need some guidance about what to do. Judah really misses you. A lot. He's in the crib, and he's really, really sad, and I just don't know what to do. Sould I let him cry it out? How long should I wait?"
Poor Judah! I felt terrible that he was so sad. But a part of me was secretly pleased--my little boy misses me. And he asked for me by name. I told Beth to let him cry for a few minutes, as I was sure he was absolutely worn out and would fall asleep soon. We found out the next day that he didn't fall asleep soon--in fact, Beth had removed him from the crib and cuddled with him on the couch, where they both had fallen asleep at about midnight. The next night started out similarly, but Judah ended up falling asleep in the midst of his sadness. Needless to say, he was happy to see us the next day. (And I'm working hard to overcome my jealousy that, even though he asked for me at night, when we walked in to collect him on Sunday, his first words were "Daddy! Daddy!!")
On Sunday, we picked Charis up from church. She seemed to vaguely recognize us ("Hey. You're my mom.") but didn't seem compelled to stop playing and come home with us. I was standing with Tanya, who had hosted Charis for the weekend, as I said to my beloved firstborn, "Charis, I missed you SO MUCH!!!!" Tanya hesitated only slightly before she said, "I wish I could tell you she felt the same." Of course, this is the Charis that never once cried when being left at the church nursery, never scoffed at being left with a babysitter, never seemed sad about our absence--ever. She is the most independent child I have ever known. And while it breaks my heart just a little bit to know that she's perfectly fine with our being gone, I guess I'm glad to know she knows who we are when we return. It's a start...