Last week I was subbing in a preschool classroom. Annika was one of the five kids at my table for small group work. Though the other kids had scattered to various play areas after finishing their worksheet, she lingered at the table. “Today after school, I have to say with Nana, but I want to be with my mom,” she said.
“Is your mom working?” I asked.
“Yeah, and she comes back after dark,” Annika said. “She spends a lot of time with her boyfriend. I don’t get to be with her that much.”
“How does that make you feel?” I asked.
“Sad,” she responded.
“Maybe you should tell your mom that,” I suggested.
“I already did,” she said.
“And what did your mom say?”
“She said, ‘Oh, I do spend time with you,'” Annika told me.”But I want to be with her more.”
We sat together for a few moments, that sweet five-year-old and I, each thinking our own thoughts, sharing a similar feeling. I wished I could make it better for Annika. I wish Annkia’s mom realized that her little girl isn’t going to be little for long, in the grand scheme of things, and that she should savor every moment.
The only thing I could offer this little girl was a listening ear – and perhaps a story. “Do you want to read a book?” I asked.
She brightened. “Go get one you like from the bookshelf,” I told her. She came back with the colorful I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More and we let the silly, sing-songy story distract us for a bit.