Apple Not Far

September 5, 2013

Dangit! I intended to write a current post for MamaKat today, answering the prompt: “Tell us how your child is exactly like you.”  And then I got buried in those friggin’ back-to-school handouts and health forms and activities.

So this one is not new, but it is still such a favorite of mine.

Littlest Minx, when you kick the wall and curse school and throw a fit in the hug-and-go lane, I understand. And my heart goes with you.



As I write this, my husband has taken the girls with him to watch Awesome Stepkid R. play a high school tennis match. As he left, he said, “enjoy your time home.”

Yes, my hubs rocks; not just because he gives me a break on a weekend morning, but also because he knows what it means to me to be left alone in my own house. There’s nothing I love like home.

I think, in a former life, I must have been a gopher or a mole or some other burrow-dwelling creature. A creature that likes to tuck in close and startles at noise and hard light.   If I could, I’d never leave my house.  That’s perhaps an exaggeration, but only a slight one.  I’m a homebody, down to the last drop.

Apparently, I’ve always been wired this way. Mama tells stories of how, as a child, I’d needle her to death if she took me on an errand with her (which she had to do quite often, because my father travelled all the time). 10 minutes into an errand, I’d start pestering her. “Home now?” I’d ask, eyes hopeful.

“Home now? Home now, Mama?” I’d chant as she pushed a heavy cart through the grocery store, gritting her teeth. God forbid she had to run two errands, because after the first one, I became more aggressive with my campaign. “Home now, Mama,” I’d say, eyes dark and lower lip threatening to surface. “Home. Now.”

I was the kid who always wanted neighborhood kids to play at my house, who turned down offers for sleepovers and playdates, seeking the comfort of my own nest.

My sister was the complete opposite; the minute school was out or the weekend started, her butt was high-tailing it out our front door, faster than you could snap your fingers. Home was where the sharp eyes and the rules were, and she wanted neither.  I rather liked the rules; they made me feel safe–at least at home, I knew the score.

In high school, when most of my peers were hanging out at the Tenneco station on Saturday nights, looking for a party, I was home with a hot bath and a book. So rarely did I go out on the weekends that pretty soon my friends knew not to even ask.

In college, when one of the girls on our floor dropped by, asking if we wanted to crash a party, my roommate laughed and said, “Don’t bother asking Dana. She’s anti-social.”  A bit cutting, perhaps, but not far off the mark.

My husband and I met at a party. This is a miracle in itself. Funny thing is, the only reason I was at that party was because a friend had shamed me into going; I hadn’t been to a social event in months.  “You’re starting to stink in there,” she said to me.  “Get out, for chrissakes!” So I did. It was a happy accident, but the irony doesn’t escape me.

My husband is more social than I am, but he was painfully shy until he hit college, so he understands, at least a bit, where I’m coming from. Both of us were the kids home on the weekends, noses buried in books.

Which is why we are convinced that Miss D. is from Mars. Miss D. is social butterfly, more-the-merrier, hot-dang y’all, let’s go! In D’s opinion, loud and big and pulsing with activity is awesome! Miss D.’s first grade teacher told me, “D.’s greatest disappointment is that she can’t be friends with the entire world population.”

The first day of pre-Kindergarten, I stood, tearily waving, as Miss D. ran through that open door without a single glance back. There was stuff to do, people to see, places to go! Mom–step back, wouldja? I was broken-hearted and wildly proud at the same time.

Miss M. is another story. We tried pre-school last year, two days a week. She howled, she pouted, she gripped my leg, she refused to get dressed, she fought the entire way into the carseat, she gripped the door handle of the car as I tried to wrestle her out, she sat on the floor at the school entrance, refusing to walk to her classroom. She wept bitterly as I left, face crumpled at my betrayal.

Mama laughed when I told her. “Fate comes back to bite you,” she said. Because for years, my little voice would implore her, “Please Mama, please. Don’t make me go to school.”  And she always said it felt like the twist of a knife, that plea.

“She’ll get over it,” Miss M.’s teacher assured me. “She cries for a while, and a few times during the day, but she’ll adjust.”

After a full month of pre-school, Miss M. was still flying off the handle, performing the same exhausting routine every Tuesday and Thursday morning.  Mutiny and heartbreak. Desperation and tears.

I chose to pull her out of preschool. I didn’t have the heart for the bi-weekly battle.  After all, M. still had another full year before Kindergarten; I figured we’d try again in the fall.

This year, we chose a different school. A school that offered a 3-hour afternoon program, lots of choice and plenty of empathy for reluctant/fearful participants.  The best part? M. had a  neighbor in her class; a familiar face–a touchstone. This time, there were no tears or battles or drama. Just a long hug, a kiss and a promise to see her soon.

The first week went by without incident; hubs and I were elated and smug with our decision not to push our daughter. “She just wasn’t ready last year,” I said. “This is a complete change–it’s just a better fit all around,” he agreed.

The second week went well also, although she gave me the fat lip one morning when I mentioned that it was a school day. “I want to stay home with you,” she said. “It’s almost the weekend,”  I assured her, and that was the end of it.

This past week, week three, has been met with a bit more resistance, but still no tears or outright refusals. On Thursday, as we were in the car, en route to class, Miss M. piped up from the back seat, ” Hey, Mommy, guess what my favorite thing is about school?”

“What, baby?” I said absentmindedly, fiddling with the air conditioning.

“Waiting for you to come pick me up.”

Oh,  Miss M.  My Little Miss Home Now. My heart understands.  Don’t you know that it’s my favorite thing about it, too?


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby September 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm

THIS is another reason why I love you so much, as I am the same exact way. I am a boring hermit who makes no apologies for being a boring hermit. When forced to be social, I can thrive for short periods of time, but I’m itching to get home ASAP. It was that way when I was young and it’s that way now. I love my house. My house gets me. So do you. Sweet post ;)


Peggy September 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Oh I know how you feel. I would rarely leave the house if I did not have to… but someone in house insists on eating… so I go to the store. We have had one “go stay in a hotel” vacation in 19 years. We both agreed that putzing around the house was more fun. I look forward to hear from you next week.


Kim Jorgensen Gane September 6, 2013 at 11:44 am

*sigh* Even your old stuff, I love. I applaud you for recognizing and adjusting to the needs of your child. It’s nice when we’re afforded that luxury, as it seems to come heartbreakingly less and less often the older they get. Love ya! Just the way you are. xo


Stephane in Alaska September 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm

This is so tender; it squeezes my heart.


Barbara September 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I couldn’t wait for mine to leave…not a tear in sight. Mine OR theirs. My DIL mentioned she cried the other day…first day, first grade for my grandson. Think I was an unnatural mother, but they all turned out great. (3 under 3 was a bit much)
Btw: I eat half a grapefruit every morning! Sisters under the skin? Except I love to travel.


TKW September 8, 2013 at 7:27 am


If it’s somewhere far away, I love to travel, too. Maybe because nobody knows me so I don’t feel any awkward social pressure? Hmmm…


Tiffany September 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm

I love this post. Hope this year improves!!


Louise September 7, 2013 at 6:55 am

Really enjoyed everything about this post. Only recently have I gotten to the point that I don’t mind venturing out into the world. It took a looooong time, lol…

My kids are no longer in school but oh my goodness I remember those days of elusive flight for one and mommy don’t leave me for the other. funny thing is, elusive moved to Idaho independent and happy to be 2000 miles away and the mommy child lives but a town away:)

Thanks for sharing…


Katybeth September 7, 2013 at 9:42 pm

No place like home. My 17 year old told me not too long ago that coming home “should” be the best part of your day and of-course I asked him if it was and when he said “yes”, I was so happy. For me creating a home/family environment that we all feel happy, safe and content in is my number one priority and I protect it fiercely. You’ve done a great job of creating a sweet and safe home and your Minx isn’t ready to give that up. Yet. Perhaps a pair of red shoes so she knows she can always get back home again. . .


Kat September 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm

That is the sweetest thing ever!!


Liz September 8, 2013 at 7:14 am

That’s the fine line, ain’t it? You want them to want to be with you, but you want them to not need to.
Those days were so painful…I remember LITERALLY having to peel open Ben’s little fingers off my shoulder/leg/arm/hand/whatever he would grab onto….


Mary Lee September 9, 2013 at 9:19 am

Once the spouse retires, having the house to oneself becomes cause for celebration. I LOVE that my Dearly Beloved takes the dog for long walks. I’m wondering if he’d like a greyhound, too.

Our youngest daughter signed her 6-year-old up for Vacation Church School in their neighborhood during the week that his two older brothers were attending summer camps. After the first day, he came home and told her it was okay, he guessed, but he’d really rather stay home with her. “We can do stuff together. Like old times.” Yep–no more VCS for that little chap.


TKW September 9, 2013 at 10:58 am

Mary Lee,

He’s a smart little guy. :)


Arnebya September 9, 2013 at 11:07 am

I am a homebody NOW. I never used to be. I hated my house growing up, so it was always my wish to be away. Now, though? It’s all I want when I’m away. The thought of spending the night elsewhere if my home is accessible? No. Being out of town is different because I can’t just go back to my house. But otherwise? Long nights out at a friend’s? I’m the one not drinking because I intend on going home. As for likeness, my oldest is my twin, in more ways than looks. Mannerisms, thoughts, beliefs, gestures. She is my clone. It is equally fascinating and frustrating.


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me September 9, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Oh, I so get it…I could stay home for days on end and be perfectly happy and so could my husband. I think Kidzilla may be a chip off the ol’ blocks…definitely see the preference in her. She seems to do OK in school with other kids, though. But still perfectly happy to be home. I, too, was going to do the Apple Doesn’t Fall Far Post and got mired in the back-to-school-forms packet. Honestly, I don’t know how people with multiple kids survive.


Jennifer September 10, 2013 at 5:54 pm

That is the sweetest thing ever. Once my mom was late to pick me up in kindergarten and apparently she was late one day and I freaked. Although I’m not sure if it was because I wanted to be at home or just because I loved my routine.


pamela September 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I too LOVE time at home. Ah, the sound of silence. Gus too hated preschool. On the third day, he woke up screaming and I pulled him out. He is in pre-K now, 5 days a week for 2.5 hours and so far it’s OK. Every morning he tells me he has to stay home because he doesn’t feel well, but thank goodness his brother rides the same bus and the bus has all the allure. I miss him a lot when he is gone … but I do have the house to myself:)


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri September 15, 2013 at 8:35 am

I am learning more and more how much I gravitate toward introversion. Although I enjoy smaller social events, I find that if I don’t get my quiet time in, even those brief outings become painful.

Home & Solitude. I can’t think of a better combination.


Caitlin September 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

it’s so interesting how D. and M. are so much like your sister and you, respectfully. xoxo


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