Posts Tagged ‘ separation anxiety ’

My Toddler Son’s Cold Welcome Back To Mommy

Monday, May 21st, 2012

A year and a half.

I had never taken care of my son Jack overnight without my wife Jill being there.

It’s not something I was worried about; I knew I could handle Jill’s day and half business trip to Washington, DC.

Feeding him dinner, bathing him, putting him to bed, handling breakfast the next morning, packing all his stuff for daycare, then dinner and bedtime again.

That’s all I had to handle; in the midst of also picking up my wife’s goodies for Mother’s Day.

So in reality, how did it go? Did I manage it okay?

Uh, yeah. Actually, it was a little too easy.

I didn’t want to wife to know that, though. I didn’t want her to learn that I was able to get him to sleep earlier and quicker than normal. And that I was able to leave the house the next morning about 10 minutes earlier, too.

Not to mention, bath time was a breeze. Jack and I had a lot of fun squirting each other with his bath toys. Before we both knew it, he was sparkly clean and he was pleasantly eager to fall asleep.

This situation reminded me of an article my wife had read which explained that a child is often the most difficult and high maintenance with the parent who he or she was closest to in infancy. After this event, I could see that.

That’s not to say we didn’t both miss her very much. He definitely kept asking “Mama?” while she was gone.

But he seemed to understand as I would explain that Mommy would be back the next day.

I told Jill how I was looking forward to the look on his face when he woke up Saturday morning and saw that she was back. We both had high expectations.

At 6:23 AM on Saturday Jill and I woke up to Jack’s usual hilarious monologue consisting of animal sounds and calls for Elmo. Together, we snuck in his bedroom.

He was standing up, hanging on to the rail of his bed, with his diaper off and a puddle of pee on the carpet below. (That has never happened before!)

Jack was in a weird daze. He seemed apathetic to the fact that Mommy was back, despite my own proclamations of excitement for him.

We travelled to The Pfunky Griddle to have breakfast with Henry’s family and then to another of his toddler friend’s birthday parties.

It wasn’t until the middle of the afternoon that Jack warmed back up to her. I could tell it sort of hurt my wife’s feelings because he wasn’t acting happy that she was back. Actually, I was pretty bummed for her.

I certainly didn’t want to rub it in that things went so well while she was gone. So I did the only thing I knew to do: Let things work themselves out on their own.

By the next day, Jack was whining for Mommy again.

But something tells me that my son’s cold welcome back to Mommy isn’t so unique of an experience in the world of parenting. I bet there’s some psychology behind it that someone smarter than myself could explain; or at least someone else who can relate to this seemingly unusual story.

[Passes the mic to the audience.]

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KinderCare: Jack’s Baby Boarding School

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Nine months.

For over a month now, Jack has been going to “day care.” But after seeing what it’s like, I can’t even use that phrase any more. He is enrolled in a KinderCare Learning Center, which I like to call his “baby boarding school.”

My preconceived ideas of “day care” consisted of a room full of crying babies while Disney movies entertained the older kids down the hall. That is not at all what Jack experiences Monday through Friday at KinderCare.

One of my roles as Jack’s dad is to transport him to and from KinderCare each day. Honestly, it’s not one of those difficult routines where he furiously cries in fear as I drop him off each morning. Instead, he is greeted by a familiar face that is warm and welcoming. The ratio of babies to adults is 4 to 1. And even though Jack is only 9 months old, it is obvious to me that he is being engaged by his teachers as well as his surroundings.

My wife and I get a daily report letting us know how many dirty and wet diapers he had, his nap schedule, his general mood, and specific comments about how that day at KinderCare was different from the rest. Our favorite comment so far was, “Jack really had a great time outside today. He enjoyed playing with the mulch.”

That just cracks me up. It figures. Despite the toys and fresh air in the yard there, the thing he would find the most fascination in is the mulch. Classic Jack.

Without a doubt, I am convinced that his enrollment at KinderCare has enhanced his social skills.While being there, he doesn’t have my wife or me there to interfere or favor him in his interactions with the other babies. In his micro-society, he learns to interact with them on a level playing field.  And that’s important to me.

Obviously, I want a well-balanced kid, not one that has been overly comforted and has lived a perfect life of ease. I like the fact he is used to the routine of me leaving him for a while, knowing that I am coming back to pick him up. I want him to know that he can be okay without me being there every minute of the day.

That being said, I only work a block away from KinderCare, so I’m never really all that far away. And despite his need for independence from me, I like knowing that I can be there in two minutes flat.

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