Separation Anxiety

When I was in high school, a teacher, and now good friend of mine, taught us about Separation Anxiety while studying A Level Psychology. The idea is self-evident. All children go through a normal phase where they dont want to be separated from their parents, and can exhibit tears, tantrums, and clinginess when put into that situation. It tends to peak between 9 and 18 months.

Well done R, you hit another milestone right on time.

Now I know that my boy loves his childminder. Probably too much for my liking. I try and trip her up, leaving her lunches for him that he would never in a million years eat if I was feeding them to him, only to come back to a scraped clean bowl “Ooh, he loves Shepherds pie doesnt he?” “No. No he doesnt. But thanks.” When this hasnt worked, I try super fun morning times. I sing songs on our twenty minute walk down the road, ignoring the strange looks I get from the few passers by who havent crossed over to the opposite side of the road on hearing my dramatic version of the bumblebee song from 100 yards away. I get him up early to play games, clapping excitedly when he correctly puts the triangle into his shape sorter, and subtly turning away when he (in a moment of less than pure genius) tries to get his Dear Zoo book through the same 2 inch hole. However, up until today, his grin has barely wavered when he spots his minders face on a work day. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’ve been a bit jealous.

After all, it’s bad enough competing with the man in his life. All stay at home mums feel it, that tightening inside when after a full day of listening to whinging and moaning, trying everything to make them happy, not even having 5 minutes to sit down, our LO shines a full watt beam on their dads who have done absolutely nothing but walk through the door. It can be hard. Don’t get me wrong, I woudnt swap for the world, and I wouldnt want R to bond with his daddy any less than he does.. But I have no such sparkly feelings towards the lady whose job it is to keep him in one piece 8 hours a week. She’s great, I love her, but how did you get my boy to laugh like that? Why is he still spotlessly clean when by now I would have completed 3 changes of clothes? No, no he does not love rice.

Until today. As I passed my baby boy over to a woman I trust entirely on the day he turns eleven months, and watched his little face crumple and his tiny body fight to get back to me, I felt the tears well up behind my eyes. Oh.. be happy munchkin, please dont sound so sad. Knowing how annoying it is when parents hover, I left quickly, but will admit to standing outside the door longer than necessary to listen to his increasing sobs. Any feelings of jealousy were gone without a trace. Yes! Be better than me at this, make him stop crying, entertain him to the extent he forgets he even has an Ima until 5.30 when I arrive back..Recieving a text to say he’s doing fine by 9.30 didnt entirely clear up the lump in my throat as I sit in front of my computer this morning.

So I have new empathy for mums who are unable to leave their kids without incident today. Apart from the new parents I encountered yesterday at my Cheder/Sunday school job – Seriously, you guys need to stop hugging your 5 year old, get out my classroom, and let me teach.