April 10, 2003 - Thursday
In honor of the National Week of the Young Child, Harry's Preschool planned a series of activities for this week including inviting parents to come in at noon today for lunch with their children. Harry's mother had been planning to go and had been talking to Harry about it for a couple of days and he seemed to like the idea. Then, this morning, as she was driving him to school, he told her that he didn't want her to come to lunch. It was an odd kind of comment, one that I might expect was the fall-out from a scolding or something earlier in the morning, although she says that nothing like that really happened. Not having been there, I don't really know.
The interesting part of this is that, just before lunch as some of the first mothers arrived, Harry apparently got quite sad, whimpering, almost crying, because, he was telling his teacher, he thought his mother wasn't coming. His teacher, Cathleen, tried to reassure him that she was, having spoken with her at drop-off time in the morning, but Harry just got increasing agitated.
Had he realized what he had said to her earlier, that he told her not to come and now she wasn't and he was regretting it? It's a good explanation and one that pokes with interest and fascination at the young person and young emotions learning self-determination and regret, but it's something we will never know for sure. We never had chance to ask Harry about it because what Harry didn't know about that lunch is that I would have just arrived home from a 5-day business trip that morning after he had left for school and that I, too, would come to lunch with his mother.
Harry has given me some very nice welcomes the times I've been gone and come home and this one is right near the top. As soon as his mother and I walked in the school hall and saw him we could see that Harry had been upset about something, but the mood transformation we witnessed over the next one or two seconds was complete and there was no going back in discussion to what had been on his mind just moments before. From that moment of watching his young mind work out the details of my surprise appearance and then propel his little legs to run and jump and his short arms to squeeze and his face to press against mine to the time the that three of us left for home an hour later, Harry was in manic mode. His excitement was infectious and lunch at our table was a big success.