I came home last night to learn that Miles “had a bad day” at daycare. Before Jaclyn elaborated further, I asked Miles about it. His lips were sealed but, like a dog with its tail preemptively tucked between its legs, his guilt was unmistakeable as he diverted his eyes and eventually made his way to the floor, where he put his head down. With Miles being less than forthcoming, Jaclyn let me know that he had repeatedly told his teachers “No” when asked to comply with a host of requests. His refusals became so pronounced that he was eventually placed in time-out.
Miles was clinging to Jaclyn as she recounted the story, and I tried to make my disapproval clear as I chided him for not listening to his teachers. He continued avoiding my gaze, burying his head in Jaclyn’s shoulder and crying. Jaclyn assured me that they had talked about it on the way home and had agreed that tomorrow would be better. Content with that, and not wanting to punish Miles more than he already had been, I lightened the mood with some joking. Miles slowly looked up and started laughing between sobs. Within minutes, the night went on.
This morning, Miles was a bit disagreeable as he was getting ready for school, not wanting to get out of bed, avoiding getting dressed, spending too much time on the potty, etc. When we finally did get out the door, the commute quickly settled into normalcy. Miles pointed out the football stadium. He asked to listen to some music. He talked about a recent trip to Target as we passed that store.
And then we pulled into daycare.
“Mrs. Toni put me in time out,” Miles said, recalling the previous day. As I opened his door to get him out of the car, he started shaking his head. He did not want to go in.
“I know yesterday was bad,” I told him. “But remember, today’s a whole new day. And Mrs. Toni isn’t mad at you.” I asked him if he could have a better day for me, mommy, and most importantly, himself. He agreed and we walked across the parking lot.
He seemed almost chipper right up to the point that someone opened the door to let him in, at which point he darted behind my legs and gripped my pant legs. “Aw buddy,” I said. “Remember, yesterday is over and you can make today better.” These words did nothing to silence his crying as he shuffled into the center, but he did at least step inside.
I remember being a child and feeling those same pangs of guilt when I knew I had disappointed an adult in my life. Maybe “pang” isn’t the right word for it. “Wracked” might be more appropriate. While I hope Miles can avoid stumbling into a complete existential crisis for a few years, I am glad to see he’s able to self-reflect and, hopefully, make each day better than the last.