Ok sooo I’ve posted this on my IG (if you’re following me). It was Zayan’s last day with his childminder Zio (Aunty) Aita. I’ve kinda suppressed it all and tried not to remember when his last day was as I felt quite depressed thinking of him leaving Aita. Let’s backtrack a little bit. I know I’ve mentioned her before but let’s just start from the beginning, so when Zayan is older and happens to read this, he will know the first carer he had that wasn’t family.
I found Aita through a childcarer website. There were people posting as childminders, nannies, babysitters – and they’re all registered with Ofsted (national body that checks on these carers every now and then). There were a couple that we saw but hers stood out the most. She seemed the most professional, had background of being a nursery nurse, has a good structure in her house, seems organised and was all for instilling an Islamic upbringing in the children. We didn’t look out particularly for that last bit but it was nice to know that the person looking after your child will instill baca bismillah before makan and make sure the food they eat is halal and listening to nasyid.
So we started sending Zayan over when he was 6 months old when I started working after maternity leave. He cried the first few times. And oh how he cried. She was very reassuring though and took it in her calm stride. It’s hard to say how it felt then – I was basically giving complete blind trust on this stranger to look after my child. My feeling was that if she didn’t treat him right, he would be unhappy or irritable or distressed with his routine and behaviour with us. But no, in fact, he was becoming more independent and less clingy.
He started opening up to strangers and becoming more social. He no longer cries when I leave the room. He started crying less and less and less for unreasonable things (yknow things that are not related to feeding or dirty nappies or lack of sleep).
And what was more reassuring was her reports back to me. She would write down what his routine is with her. What time he slept, duration of nap times, what he ate and drank, how much, how many wet and dirty nappies. It was nice to know what’s going on with my baby’s routine despite me not being there. And they were pretty much similar to what he would be like with us. (Except when there are lotsa kids around, then he’d sleep less of course) And she would tell me stuff that he does, his new tricks and milestones, that I haven’t told her. I figure he must be happy or at least comfortable if he’s being himself with her.
I liked how she is as a person too. Calm. Funny. She doesn’t have a TV. She shows him kids nasyid cartoons on youtube. She reads qur’an in his presence (I knew cos she was reading in the living room when I came to pick him up one time). She’s always polite calling me Sister and gives the full assalamualaikum and saying insyaAllah all the time. You know when you’re around a good person, it makes you want to be a good person too. That’s how it feels for me. Also, a little known fact, she wears niqab. I didn’t know how I felt with women wearing niqab. They just feel more closed off and I dont know what to make off it. She takes it off around me in the house and I kinda have forgotten about it. At the end of the day, she’s just a normal person with a witty sense of humor.
Fast forward to being a toddler, 16 months old now, he barely bat an eye when I leave the door. Upon arriving at her place, he would rush to her and give a hug. Which makes me bit jealous, yes. (But I feel better when he turns and see me and wants to hug me then) And then he most often would rush to the nearest toy and basically forget about me. If he does see me leave, it would be with an expressionless face as I wave gbye to him. Sometimes he would just go to the toy room and not looking back despite my ‘BYE ZAYAAAAN BYEEEEEE!’.
I just feel so grateful to have had found her. She’s very flexible. We’re always dropping off and picking him up at different times, depending on our work schedules. A lot of times, we would be late – even an hour late at times – and she wouldn’t charge us. She once said to me when I was late and rushing to pick him up and called her “Don’t worry Sister, take your time. I love taking care of him….” That was so reassuring to hear. And you can just hear the disappointment in her voice whenever I decide not to drop him off during my off days.
She calls him Zayanino, like bambino – which apparently means little boy. Or sometimes I hear her call him Zayan baby, which should make me feel jealous and protective but instead I liked it. The only ones who call him that is me and mumtathil. When we leave, she would always say something like ‘Ciao, Zayanino! Mi Amo bla bla bla italian i dont understand’. All I could get was ‘bye I love you!’. I guess the fact that our families are not close by and don’t see Zayan much/often, he doesn’t have that close a connection with them (except for one sis in law, which he sees more than others, and takes good care of him/most mothering). And it feels nice to have someone else have such love and closeness to him. It makes me feel that he has that love from other people too and he is reciprocating that.
It seems like her family is besotted with him too, so she says. She tells me of how Zayanino likes her brother and says his name. Her husband and her have competition on who Zayan will rush to and hug. She once said “My husband says I always talk about Zayan. Zayan this, Zayan that. Lately my husband has been off from work and hung out more with zayan. And now he’s always Zayan this, Zayan that…”
I’ve met her siblings and mum, and they all seem pretty lovely. Her mum speaks Italian and on the last day, she came to say goodbye and before we left, she said “molto affecto Zayan”, or something to that effect. We googled translate it and basically means she is very fond of Zayan.
So on that last day, as we picked up an hour and half late (as were given instructions to pick him up later as they were having party for him), there was a lump in my throat as Zayan didnt want to leave and proceeded to play with the toys around. So kami layan jua saja and let them play for a bit longer in the toy room. I knew he wouldn’t hug her goodbye when I’m there cos he’s always too excited to see me/us so we stood back. And she asked for a cuddle which he gave. Then it was time to leave. Unsurprisingly it felt emotional. I can’t begin to describe how sad I am to not have her anymore as Zayan’s childminder.
You’ve formed that bond and rapport. She was the one person apart from Mumtathil who I can talk to about his daily routine, his new tricks and new words and know what I’m talking about. She clearly are very fond of him and he loves being there and is fond of her too. I think it feels a little bit sad that Zayan didn’t know what was happening. That that was his last day. As he waved happily when we got in the car and even when in the car, it felt bit sad as to him, this was just the end of another good day. Little does he realise that he may not see her again or at least not see her so often.
She asked for us to come and visit from time to time and yknow, I would take that offer.
As for this week, we’re starting with a new childminder. Bismillahirahmanirrahim.
PS. It feels like something remeh to be sad about. But I am sad. And I’ll get over it. And Zayan will get over it. This moment in time though, just let me be.