There is no creature on earth as manipulative and underhanded as a child.
Particularly a child below the age of 6.
Kids are born with the ability to crush their mother in more guilt in one moment than she’s experienced in her life so far.
I’m talking about the drop off at daycare or kindy.
In one of my children’s cases, it extended past Kindy and into Preschool. She was a master plasterer of guilt. That kid could lay it on.
I was still working when she was very little and she went to daycare from being 6 months old. And she loved it. Every day when I picked her up, she was bright and happy and so excited to show me all the amazing things she’d done and all the way home in the car we’d be talking about what she was going to do at daycare tomorrow and how exciting was that?
I had long conversations with her, trying to instil in her mind the fact that she had an awesome time at daycare, she loved her friends, she loved her carers, she loved all the things she did there. She’d wake up in the morning still excited about going to daycare. I enrolled the other kids into talking to her about how much she enjoyed it on the way down there. She’d be giggling and laughing…
And then we’d pull up outside daycare.
And she’d start.
You know, there’s separation anxiety and there’s taking it too far. We – me, the carers, the teachers, the family, everyone – we all tried everything: every technique in the history of mankind, we looked into everything, we discussed everything but none of us could come up with any reason for this separation anxiety.
I get that sometimes these things don’t make any sense for the child, never mind an adult. I didn’t have to send her to daycare so I could have avoided the anxiety then but she did have to go to school. And you get to a certain point when it’s been going on for a very, very long time and you take a step back and wonder…
Is this actually for real?
Is it actually?
Or is this just a little display for my benefit?
I remember watching one of her brothers who also did the whole separation anxiety thing when I left him at daycare. The carers said he had a wonderful time all day and the only time he cried was when I was leaving but once I’d gone, he was fine.
So one day, I did the whole teary goodbye thing and, feeling like a complete piece of dirt, rotten mother and all-round worthless human being, which was pretty much the way I felt most mornings after I’d left him, this day I hid around the corner and watched. He was standing at the gate, desperately trying to follow me, screaming and sobbing.
My heart was wrenched in two: this was what I was putting my child through every day. I wondered how long the staff would allow this to go on for before they did anything about it and whether they just left him there to sob himself to sleep and did I really want him in this place anyway?
Within 5 seconds of me leaving him (it’s amazing how quickly thoughts go through your head, isn’t it?), he stopped in mid scream, sniffed, wiped his nose…
…and skipped off, calling to his friend.
The absolute little *%$(*&^*^
(I haven’t counted the number of symbols in that word, it doesn’t represent anything except a general feeling!)
All that guilt!
All those days of feeling like crap ALL DAY, wondering whether the staff were lying to me, or maybe not lying, just not being completely honest with me, you know, maybe he was okay in the afternoons but sobbed all morning.
The little **** was upset for a grand total of less than 5 SECONDS after I’d left!
Now, let me say right here that I’d read parenting magazines and I’d read articles about exactly this: the separation anxiety for most children basically lasts till the child can’t see the mother.
Then they get over it.
But, you know, we all think our child is different. OUR child is unique, they’re not like everyone else’s children, they’re SPECIAL. So what everyone else’s child does isn’t going to apply to our child, now is it?
Well actually, yes. Yes it is. One of the things I wish I’d been able to do when I was in the midst of parenting young kids is LISTEN TO WHAT OTHER MOTHERS WHO’D BEEN THROUGH THIS KIND OF THING WERE TRYING TO TELL ME.
Because they really do know their stuff. We think we’re the only ones who understands our child but let me tell you, we know pretty much nothing
Mainly because our child has us wrapped around it’s pretty little pinkie.
When my eldest child was in Year 2 he went for a trial day at a new school. He was about 8 at the time. This was separation anxiety on a GRAND scale. He was down on his knees BEGGING me not to leave him there. The teachers had to prise his fingers off me one by one; he left bruises on my arms & legs!
I was in a dreadful state and spent the day at my neighbours’ house while they looked after me. The teachers had told me that if he didn’t calm down, they’d call me to go and pick him up. I didn’t get a call but that didn’t really help because the imagination had gone into overdrive and I was picturing him being held in a dark room with nothing to eat or drink… You get the picture.
When I arrived to pick him up that afternoon, still shaking and very emotional, I was looking around for him, expecting him to be so relieved to be going home, hoping beyond hope that he’d actually found someone to talk to.
Then I saw him.
He sprinted towards me literally bouncing with happiness, announcing that it was the best day of his life, he’d had such an awesome time and he didn’t ever want to go back to his other school!
I was so relieved! I was so happy! Which is why I made such a stupid mistake: I told him that he couldn’t start at his new school till next term, several weeks away.
At which point he had the world’s biggest tantrum, telling me that I never do anything for him and I always stop him having fun and I just don’t understand him.
So trust me, if you think your child actually HAS separation anxiety worse than any other child, it’s probably only you who thinks that. Those of us with older kids know it passes. Take it from us, don’t do the guilt trip. Not much anyway. You can’t stop it altogether I don’t think, but just keep the damage to yourself to a minimum. They will get over it and I’m convinced that all kids are born knowing exactly how to manipulate their mothers.
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Have your children given you this guilt trip? Share with us in the comments.