They say that separation anxiety can be triggered at any age, at any time. I know this to be true.
Logan is probably the most social child I’ve ever seen. He adores people and he is never afraid to meet new ones. Everywhere we go, he is the center of attention—making new friends is what he does best. When we traveled to Savannah / Tybee in hopes of bringing home our little girl (story here), we were on Tybee for a total of three hours before we turned in for the night. The next afternoon as we walked down the main drag to the beach, there were people calling out his name that he met the night before. He would just walk up to people and introduce himself. That’s Logan. He’s a social butterfly.
Recently, he went from his comfort of family daycare to an actual daycare CENTER. This is a big change for him. There are a few more kids than he is used to (although his class is still small), there is more structure (this is a good thing at his age), and there is more go-go-go which is making him more tired from day to day.
My social butterfly has screamed bloody murder every day that I have taken him there. He clenches to me as if I’m never coming back again. I’d tell him every day, “Mama will be back. Mama always comes back. I’ll be back after you wake up from nap and have your snack.” It didn’t help. He still would lose it each and every morning. It tore me to pieces. Is this my child? The child that knows no stranger, the child that embraces any new person as his own? It couldn’t be. I was seriously thrown for a loop.
Now I ran a family daycare for ten years. I worked in a very large center for almost two more years. I’ve been through countless training classes—many of them involved this very issue. I know what this is and I know the “rules” on how to handle it. Don’t turn around once you say goodbye. Don’t drag out the goodbye. Say you’ll be back and that you love him, say goodbye and go. Build up the center as great fun and ask about his day. Make no impression to him that this is hard for you—keep on your best fake smile until you are out of the door. Keep doing this until it gets better.
I did all of this and nothing worked. Nothing…..worked. Until.
A friend of mine on Instagram suggested bribery. Right?! My friends, I am so not above bribery. She called it “finding his vice”. I’ll go with that if it makes everyone feel better. I told Logan that he could have his milk cup when he got to his classroom if he didn’t cry in the morning. I took his cup away from him before we left home, and when we arrived to the daycare center that morning and I stopped the Jeep, I didn’t hear screaming from the back seat.
Could this be for REAL? It can’t be this easy.
Oh, but friends…it was.
Logan started to get choked up as I took him out of his car seat, but I quickly reminded him about our “deal”. Through the tears in his eyes, he managed an, “okay Mama”.
He walked into the center and directly to his room with NO TEARS. There was no panic and no clinging to my legs for dear life. He turned around in the doorway and asked me for his cup. *GASP* I didn’t want to let on, but I was jumping for joy inside. Thank GOD. Leaving your child somewhere as he cries for you with this animalistic, gut-wrenching scream is probably one of the hardest things to do in life EVER. I said goodbye, handed him his cup, and I signed his sheet. He said goodbye back and then delightfully walked over to play with his friends.
This, my friends? This is a very good day.