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Birdie's Toddler Goodbye

HEADLINES: Unprecedented times. A global pandemic. Because of COVID

REALITY: A toddler. A little girl who doesn’t understand why life came to an abrupt halt. A potty trained two-year-old who now refuses to use the potty two weeks into shelter in place and demanded diapers until she is back at school with her teachers and her friends. Two parents engulfed in fear and frustration.

Birdie’s IN PERSON school year started on July 31, 2020. I was sick with fears about what the day and year would bring us. While my Emergenetics results (thank you, Leadership Georgia) show that I’m 98% expressive, I pride myself in being able to camouflage my fears, worries and sorrows so my Birdie doesn’t feel my angst. As we sat in carline waiting to hand our baby off to nearly faceless teachers, I failed miserably as I worked to suppress my emotions. I cried. I cried big, fat crocodile tears. I saw Birdie’s teacher in a mask, and tears erupted from my eyes like spewing lava from an angry volcano.

And there was my Birdie. My ready to take on the day girl who could hardly wait to see her teachers and her friends. The masks seemed to be invisible to her. The new school day routines that were crippling me with fear were simply small changes that she was willing to adapt to so she could be in her space. I left the parking lot with a snotty, tear stained face as she sauntered into the building holding Ms. Shannon’s hand.

I could hardly wait for afternoon pick-up, and I was the first parent in line. When Birdie burst through the door, she was beaming. As we buckled up and began the drive home, I asked, “What was your favorite part of today?” Birdie replied, “My teachers and my friends.” Guess what? I cried. I cried, and I cried. My baby was safe. My baby was happy. My cup runneth over.

Days into the school year, Birdie began using the potty on her own again. She lived up to her words, and I began to appreciate her need to have a smidge of control during a time when we had zero control of anything outside our home.

Today marks the end of the school year. The end of her time in the toddler program at MSR. She’s not a baby. She’s a big girl – just a few weeks shy of 3.5 years old (though she's still able to rock her 2T bloomer set from the first day of school). In three months, my Birdie will be in the Primary Program. She’ll be taking on new challenges. She’ll be learning to read. She’ll be flapping her wings harder in preparations to leave our nest someday.

It was a good, good year. A year like no other, but one that I’ll remember as a year when a tiny might toddler inspired me with her resiliency and adaptability. Traits that will propel her to new heights.

School’s officially out for summer, and the best part of Birdie’s last day of school was being with her teachers and her friends. You already know the next part. I cried.

Happy summer, y’all.

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