Thursday, June 22, 2006

Separation Anxiety: what not to do

For reasons I cannot fathom, neither of my children has ever really suffered from separation anxiety. They've always been happy to go to whoever wants to hold them, happy to be left with a babysitter, or my in-laws, or whoever. There's been the occasional tear, if Lance and I leave too close to naptime, but always the crying has ceased before we even make it to the car. Even when I left Isaac at pre-school for the first time, there was only a millisecond of concern before he was off exploring all the new toys.

I feel fortunate that my kids are like this, but I doubt it has anything to do with my parenting skills. I'm not sure what it says about my parenting skills that my kids are just as happy with anyone else as they are with me.

As I've mentioned, right before we left for the East Coast, we took a trip up to Carmel, to see some old friends. The kids have been there before, but I don't think either one of them remembered. Strange surroundings, strange people, but they both did fine. Immediately afterward, we went to Delaware where again the kids were dumped into a strange home, surrounded by strange people. The time change plus the long napless flight exhausted them, but still they seemed okay. Right after we got to Delaware, my brother-in-law, my dad, and my niece and nephew took the first car down to North Carolina. We sent Isaac and Vivian with them, since I had some training to do at my dad's company and my sister had tickets to see Brooke Shields give a speech* that night. At first, they were thrilled with the idea--riding in a car! With their cousins! And there was a dvd in the car! But once they were all strapped in and reality set in that I would not be joining them, Isaac started to lose it. "But Mommy! I'll miss you", he whined. "I'll be there before you know it", I reassured him. "I need ya, Mom! I miss ya! Don't leave me!"

I gave him a few more kisses through the window, and sent them off, assuming that once they got going he would forget all about missing me. According to my dad, he did fall asleep shortly thereafter, and all seemed well. About 1.5 hours later, he woke up, and immediately started crying. "I want my mommy!" Nothing my dad, brother-in-law, or anyone else did made a difference. He cried/whined for two straight hours. He finally got over it, and managed to have an okay time for the next 24 hours (again, in new surroundings) until I arrived, but the damage was done.

Ever since then (June 7th, 2006), whenever I leave for any amount of time, no matter who I am leaving him with, he has a complete fit. Screaming, crying, refusing to leg go of my legs. "I need ya, Mom! I miss ya! Don't leave me!!" When we left him with my parents so Lance and I could go out to dinner, he cried for 10 minutes. When we left him with a babysitter so all the adults could go out to dinner, he cried for 30 minutes. When we finally got back to L.A. and I took him to school, he screamed for 20 minutes (something he's never done there before). We left him last night with my in-laws, whom he has stayed with hundreds of times, and he cried bloody murder for five minutes. This morning, at school, even after insisting to me that he wouldn't cry, that he was excited to go to school, he screamed. (Though they did call me a few minutes after I left to say he'd stopped right away.)

Update: today I had to carry a screaming Vivian out of preschool ("No go, Mommy! Stay! I want to stay!") while the sweet pre-school teacher held a flailing Isaac ("Don't leave me! Mommy! No!"). Fun times.

I'm really hoping this new phase/ personality quirk is short-lived, as it's agony to leave him when he's that upset. I'm not used to it, and it makes me feel incredibly insecure about my mothering abilities. (Should I leave him? Should I ignore the behavior? Should I explain again how I'm coming back? How could I have done this to him? Is he ruined forever? etc etc)

Vivian, on the other hand, has been totally non-plussed by all the comings and goings. Apparently, for her, I'm still as interchangeable as ever.

*I'd give her a B-.

1 comment:

isimsiz kahraman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.