Out of sight, out of mind
New Baby Girl toodles about, busy and quiet. She’s keeping her soother firmly plugged in, but she’s calm, even cheerful, actively engaged with the other kids, with the various toys. Not bad. She’s only coming a day a week until after the holidays, when she’ll start full time.
Now, between you and me? A day a week is usually not a good idea. If a parent only wants/needs to work a day or two a week, I usually suggest they send their child to daycare full-time for three or four weeks first, which is how long most children take to make the adjustment fully. Once the child has acclimatized, THEN we can reduce the days.
Because a day a week? From a baby’s perspective? They have to be away from mummy and daddy for a day. That’s unsettling. They have to be with this stranger, and, no matter how nice she is, she is NOT mummy or daddy. They have to be with these other children, and, no matter how interesting they all are, they’re not mummy or daddy, either. No matter how fascinating the toys and the house, they’re not home. But for a day, they deal. And then… hey! They’re back at home! The way it should be! With mummy and daddy and all their toys! They’re back at home for a long, long time, so long that That Other Place is but a distant memory… and then — BAM! They’re back in that weird place again.
At a day or two a week, it takes a lot longer to make the transition to comfort at daycare, because every day at daycare is The First Day, all over again. There is no rhythm, no momentum, just random Not With Mummy/Daddy (aka WTF) days.
But this new baby? She’s doing remarkably well. Yes, she fusses at drop-off, but it’s mild and she’s readily distracted. She accepts cuddling in a sweetly limp and cuddly way, then wriggles down to get on to the next thing.
But at random intervals, she will suddenly start to wail. In mid-stride, she stops, bites hard on the soother, and cries. Walking from one room to the next, in pursuit of the next item on her very full agenda, she stops dead and squawks.
I know what’s up. I see this a lot with newbies. That sudden, seemingly inexplicable outburst of distress? Each and every time it happens, Newbie Girl has passed through the front hall or faced the south of the house. Each and every time, she has caught sight of The Door That Eats Parents.
Exhibit One: Evil Parent-Eating Door, complete with Sad Baby.
Isn’t that just so pathetic? Don’t you just want to scoop that little mite up and make it all better? But here’s the good news! You CAN make it all better!
It’s very simple: Don’t let her see the door. If she sees the door, she remembers that Daddy left through that door two hours ago, and she is distressed. If she doesn’t see the door, she is perfectly content to toodle around, to sort shapes, to make duplo towers, to lie on Grace. (Who is perfectly content to let her.)
How do you stop her from seeing the door, which is, after all, dead centre in the front hall? The front hall, which is clearly visible from the kitchen, which is one way to get from living room to dining room, which has the stair in it, on which one MUST sit every time Mary goes upstairs to pee. (I don’t make her. She just does that (on those occasions when I don’t take her with me to pee a deux.) It’s rather sweet.)
How do you prevent her from seeing the front door, in short, when it’s pretty much unavoidable?
It’s been two hours since that went up, and we haven’t had one outburst of distress since. The dog is bewildered, mind you. She likes to snooze up against the front door, and so I am doing without my canine draft-stopper for now. But it is worth it, people.
One sheet + a staple-gun = Peace on Earth. Or in my living room, at any rate.