Parting is such sweet sorry
It started as a soft plea from the back seat halfway through the drive to day care this morning. “I don’t want to go school. I want to stay with you, Mommy.”
“I’d love to stay with you, babes, but vacation is over now.”
“I want to go home,” Big Guy replied, not angry, not insistent, but sad.
“I’d like to stay home, too, but I have to go to work,” I replied, striving for sympathetic yet upbeat.
“I want to go home,” he volleyed back.
The chorus looped endlessly — why did I ever think life would be better when he could talk and let me know what he was thinking?
By the time we hit downtown, genuine tears were flowing. We got out of the car, and his chest was heaving. A teacher had to peel Epoxy Boy off my shins so I could leave for the office.
And so it’s been for three straight days. Though Big Guy is quite the actor, this is no Made for Mama Drama. It’s real – it always is when it starts with a whimper instead of a roar.
God, I hate this week.
I can understand how he feels. Going back to work after vacation is hard for most people. No sooner than I get used to sleeping past sunrise and forget to how to apply makeup, it’s back-to-reality time.
The transition is even harder when the trip is so incredible. Except for Little Guy’s aeronautic angst, we spent almost two weeks in a child’s paradise.
There were dogs to chase and mountains to climb. Fish to catch and hills to roll down. Dirt to dig and boats to row. Time to play Buzz Lightyear to my Emperor Zurg. Aunts, uncles and grandparents to entertain, boy cousins to play with.
And just when he thought this was going to be the new forever, we jump back on the treadmill.
The whole thing has caught me by surprise. We’ve been through bouts of separation anxiety before – the first just after he turned 1, the second after I went back to work following Little Guy maternity leave. I’d never dreamed it would flare up again. The timing's odd, too. He's spent weeks bristling at being called little boy and insisting on trying to do things he really isn't capable of yet.
Maybe the new Velcro boy is the equivalent of a market correction on Wall Street. Oops. Went too far with that independence thing. Maybe I'll retreat for a while.
I could deal with it if he were whining or belligerent, because I simply don’t tolerate those behaviors. The mournfulness is hard to handle. “You stop being sad right this minute or you’re going to timeout” just doesn’t work as a strategy.
So I let him cry. As painful as it is for me and as cruel as it sounds to some, it’s the best I’ve been able to come up with. Some Web sites suggest giving children family pictures to look at for reassurance, but I don’t want him sitting around in a corner thumbing through a photo album all day instead of playing.
I suppose in a way it’s a good thing. When I picked him up Wednesday, he’s told me he’d missed me and had been sad, but a friend helped him feel better.
Those lessons will come in handy later in life. I just wish he didn’t have to learn them at age 3.
Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.