It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Reading between the lines?

“My mommy is at work.”

First thing in the morning, and we have the usual busy scene: I kneel on the floor, greeting the child who has just arrived, the children who have already arrived trot over to greet her. One parent is just leaving, pulling the door shut behind him, another parent is hanging the snowsuit of the child I’m greeting.

Tyler is the one who’s just spoken. The parent hanging the snowsuit turns to respond. Her maternal heart pushes her to respond. The poor little guy, missing his mother already!

“Yes, mommy is at work,” she says, her voice warm and reassuring, soothing his anxieties, “but she will come back. Mommy always comes back, doesn’t she?” I wince at bit. I don’t see worry on Tyler’s face. I’m not sure why he’s telling us this, but I’d rather she weren’t projecting her assumptions onto the boy. Was he worried that mommy might not come back? Well, if he wasn’t before, he probably is now! There is such a thing as too much empathy. Mom is well-intended, but she’s leading the witness.

Tyler, thankfully, is made of hardier stuff. He gives her a blank stare, and repeats himself.

“My mommy is at work.”

“But she’ll be back at the end of the day, sweetpea. Don’t you worry!” And, giving her child a hug and kiss, off she goes. To work. From whence she, too, will return at the end of the day.

Tyler turns his attention to me. “My mommy is at work.”

Now, I still don’t know what, if anything, is his reason/agenda for his dedicated pursuit of this topic, but I’m not going to assume a negative emotional response. Let’s just chat with him about the idea and see where he takes it. When a child makes what could be an emotionally-charged statement without any sign of a particular emotion, my practice is to either be equally neutral, or to assume a positive emotion. I mean, really: If you’re going to project an emotion onto someone, why not make it a happy one?

In this case, I keep it neutral.

“Yes, she is. And Grace’s mommy is at work, and Rory’s mother is at work. All the mommies are at work!” Because they all are, and in our little world, this is perfectly standard. Nothing remarkable about it at all. Nothing exceptional, nothing worrisome, nothing negative. All the mommies are at work, all the daddies are at work, all the kids are at Mary’s. And the sun is in the sky, too. It’s just how reality rolls.

Tyler starts to grin. “Yes, all the mommies are at work,” he says, his eyes sparkling, “but MY mommy has SNOWPLOWS at her work!” His face breaks into a beaming smile. Oh, the wonder of SNOWPLOWS!!! “There are TWO snowplows! A yellow one and a big, big, big blue one!!!”

And for the next few minutes, Tyler regales us all with the wonder of the snowplows in the parking lot at mommy’s work.

So it turned out that “My mommy is at work,” carried no negative charge for him at all. It was merely a segue, his springboard to boasting. HIS mommy is at work, yes, and his mommy has the BEST WORK EVER!

Lesson for the day: When you read between the lines, make sure you’re on the same page.

March 28, 2011 Posted by | daycare, parents, Tyler | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Tears, truncated

tearsNissa, bless her sunny, social little self, is having one of the easier transitions to daycare. Still, she is a year old, and really? Given the choice, she’d much rather stay with mummy or daddy all day long, thanksomuch.

She arrives calm enough, but when the Big Handover happens… she cries. Of course. I told the parents when we interviewed that this would happen. It is 99.99% standard for the first couple of weeks.

I also advised the parents to keep the transfer upbeat and brief. We can chat, exchange whatever info needs to be passed along, while Nissa nestles in daddy’s arms. (It’s usually daddy in the mornings.) When that’s been done, when all necessary logistical stuff has been communicated, parent is to say a happy goodbye. And leave. Forthwith.

And yes, that means that most days the parent leaves to the sound of his baby wailing. It lasts less than two minutes most days. No, I’m wrong. Most days it lasts less than 40 seconds.

But once the tears start, the parent needs to leave right away, because… and here’s why I really encourage the parents to make the handover brief… one the tears start they won’t stop until the parent goes away.

The parent wants to stay until their baby is calm. I want them to go, so that their baby will be calm. The parent’s response is 100% understandable. Unfortunately for parental peace of mind, it’s also 90% pointless. With very few exceptions, the longer you linger, the longer they cry.

Nissa makes the switch from dad’s arms to mine. Nissa starts to cry.

“Bye, honey! Have a nice day with all your friends!” And he’s gone.

And…

the…

tears…
.
.
.
Stop!

Aaaaaaa…..

(And, thanks to a sensible and efficient daddy, in another two weeks, they won’t be happening at all. Ah-ha!)

April 20, 2009 Posted by | daycare, Nissa, parenting | , , , | 3 Comments