Off to a Roaring Start
New Baby Boy (hereafter called Joshua) has now been in my care two days. (He’s part-time, three days a week. Daniel has the other two, and this week started with a holiday Monday. So.)
Day One, the day on which I had braced for
reality the worst reality, turned out to be …
Really. What are the odds, I had asked — rhetorically, sarcasm dripping from my fingertips — that I would get a second easy transition, immediately after Rosie’s supremely trauma-free induction to the mob? Very good question. The more pertinent question turns out to be: What are the odds that after Rosie’s super-easy transition to daycare, the next baby in would have, not just an easy, but a TOTALLY PAINLESS transition?
Generally, when a parent comes with a child, a new child who has never been in my home before, the child stays in the security of the parent’s arms until parent has to leave. Not Josh. When it became clear that his mother and I were going to talk interminably (like, oh, 3 or 4 minutes), he wriggled down out of her arms. Wriggled down and scooted away, using that half-hitch scootch that’s about the third most popular way of pre-walking locomotion. Wriggled down, scootched away, and went clear out of sight. (Around a corner less than a metre away. I could see him, but his mother couldn’t. More to the point, nor could he see his mother. Let me repeat that: he’d never been in my home before, he couldn’t see his mother, and THIS DID NOT ALARM HIM FOR A SECOND.
Mum and I came to the end of our conversation.
“I’ll just sneak out now, while he’s occupied,” she said, peeking around the corner to take a quick look and ducking back before he caught sight of her.
An aside: To sneak out, or not sneak out? This is a Raging Debate in some quarters, and of course there are Schools of Thought on either side, each firmly convinced of the soundness of their reasoning — and of the inferiority — nay, the child-damaging, psyche-crushing cruelty — of other perspective.
To which I say … Meh.
Firstly, children are JUST NOT THAT FRAGILE. You are not going to destroy your child psychologically because you called attention to your departure. You are not going to destroy your child psychologically because you vanished like the mist while he was otherwise occupied. You have to work a whole helluva lot harder than either of those to destroy your child psychologically.
Secondly, different children respond differently. One child might genuinely need to wave bye-bye to feel safe and secure. A parent who sneaks off causes more anxiety, not less; the child, concerned that the parent will vanish, clings and refuses to enter into his day. Another child, however, might find your carefully announced departure disruptive to his transition and needlessly anxiety-provoking. He was playing just fine, thanks, until you make a big deal over going!
How do you know which is right for your child? You can’t, because you’re not there after you leave. You can’t evaluate the effects of each style of departure, because you don’t see them. The only people who see the results are the ones who are there after you leave.
If your caregiver observes that your child is happier when they see you go, then make a point of waving bye-bye with a cheery smile. If your caregiver observes that your child is happier if you just slip out, then that’s what you do.
What you don’t do is decide what is the Right and Proper and Emotionally-Psychologically Superior Thing and then do it, no matter how it distresses your child.
That’s just dumb.
Josh turns out to be in the “don’t need to see mama leave” camp. Did he ever notice that she wasn’t there any more? Well, if he did, it didn’t alarm him one teeny little iota. Not a speck of anxiety. In fact, within the first half-hour of his first day in this TOTALLY STRANGE environment, he had bestowed an ear-to-ear grin on every person in range.
And so it continued. Cheerful exploration, friendly interactions, beaming smiles. He ate his food with gusto, he slept like a log at naptime, he ate dirt at the playground, he pulled books off shelves, clothes out of bins, papers off tables. A busy boy. A busy, happy boy.
Did he cry at all, on his first day? Yes, he did. He cried because I wouldn’t let him pull the dog’s ear. HOW DARE I?!?!! He cried because the food did not get to the table fast enough. And he cried because Jazz moved away when he (weighing in at a hulking 33 pounds) was pulling himself to stand using 27-pound Jazz as his prop.
All those are perfectly unexceptional reasons for a 12-month-old to cry. What was exceptional was that not once did he cry from disorientation, anxiety, uncertainty, separation. What was exceptional was that when he did cry, all it took to soothe him was a hug and a cuddle from me. Me, who he’s met all of twice in his little life. What was also exceptional was HOW LOUD HE CRIES. Lordy. The boy does not weep and wail, he ROARS.
I am thus very grateful, very, very grateful, that he cries so little and soothes so readily. Because hours of that ROARING would have me clawing my ears off to escape. If a few minutes of ROARING per day is the only downside to sunny little Joshua, though, I have NOTHING to complain about. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Also, I know. Anything could happen yet. It’s only one day. The very first day. But WHAT A DAY!!!
So far, so good?