Thursday, April 9, 2009

separation anxiety

At the beginning of the school year, I figured it was advisable to stay by Reed's side when dropping him off, then wave when he walked into class. For a long time, I wouldn't even walk away until he was out of sight.

For about three months.

Then I decided this was rather intensive; I was too clingy, too coddling, and decided to drop him off, hug him, and go right back home. That day when I picked him up, it was clear that this was too much, too soon. "Mom, when you got in the car and drove away my tummy was nervous. I was brave. But my tummy was nervous."

So I very willingly went back to the same routine, although once he was across the threshold into the school, I waved and left. A little better.

If you don't know this about me already, then I'm not very articulate: I have a hard time letting go of my children. This includes all new phases of life for them. Savvy is turning two (ouch), Jaxon will be getting potty-trained soon (ouch, but yay), Reed is a kindergartener....Reed is in kindergarten, two months from the end of the year, and apparently I haven't adjusted myself to this fact yet.

Today we got there five minutes earlier than usual. Reed is his mother's son; he finds comfort in being in line early, being exactly where he needs to be in good time, just in case. (Being prepared soothes his nerves so he can I said, he is his mother's son.) So when he saw that the line wasn't quite formed yet, I could see he felt a bit aimless. He always has friends asking him to play while they wait, but he'll 9-times-outof-10 choose instead to stand next to me in line. I've been wondering of late whether this is the best. I have no problem being with him 'til that very last minute--this is obvious, given that I have done this up until the school year is almost over. And it makes my heart soar when he holds my hand in front of all those tough little kindergarten boys, inviting speculative looks and secret snickers. But in watching his hesitation to go join his friends when there was no line to be had, I realized that our initial separation anxiety (it was shared, yes) became mine, became his, became mine....we've enabled each other.

He had this bottle of vitamin water today. I had to do some errands at Wal-mart before dropping him off at school, so his lunch was this vitamin water (the focus if he really needs focus. The boy focuses on everything) and a Lunchable. On our way to the school, he asked, "Mom, can I bring this drink with me when we line up and hold it? Then I will give it to you when it's time to go in....?" I could tell it would make him feel grown-up to be holding his very own bottled drink when he walked into the school yard. (I remember that kind of odd feels so adult to them to do anything remotely like what is everyday behavior for their parents, doesn't it?) So I smiled and said of course, that was fine.

So, armed with his bottled drink, Reed and I made our way to the school yard. He realized there was no line, he looked to me for his next cue. Two friends of his came up and begged him to join their Pokemon club they were just forming. Reed glanced almost inperceptibly at me and said, "" I sort of let myself drift a ways away, as if to save him a spot in line. He was not tethered, and he let me let him go. I let him let me go. He ran off with his friends, proudly showing them his drink, probably confidently saying things like, "Yeah, it's mine. It's so great, dude. It tastes like strawberry." I quietly watched him for a bit, and that was when I realized that I am probably long overdue for another little let-go.

There is always an adult in the school yard, corraling and watching over the kids. Often, his teacher is out there already, chatting with other parents or the kids, before it's time to go inside. It's not as if he is completely unattended. It used to be about safety; I used to stay because I was making sure he was safe. But now I know he is safe; now I am sure he is protected and cared for as I would like. I started trusting them a long time ago.

So why didn't I let go (a little more) a little sooner?

I waved him over and told him that I was going to leave then, right then. He said, "Now?" with only curiosity in his voice. Then, "Okay!" No fear. No anxiety. I deemed it the right time. That's right. It's April, and I have finally decided I can officially drop my child off at school....*sigh*

I like to think I'm adaptable, but in this case, the evidence is against me.

I'm hoping he won't mind this change later on. I'm hoping he won't worry about me so much that he feels he has to re-instate our previous routine. Because I know this is best for him (at this point, anyway). He was so happy in the corner of the yard, talking with his friends and showing off and far away enough to feel confident in himself. That's really what it is, I think....I think I have been unknowingly undermining his trust in himself by sticking around like I have been.

It is April, and I think I've just now accepted the idea that Reed is in kindergarten.

Silly me. :)


Kristy said...

I love that your stories are always so detailed. I am so like that! I wish we lived closer so we could hang out more. I'm sad we didn't do that more before you moved. Such is life though...

Cyndie said...

Tears, big tears I have, reading your story. I don't think you have been undermining him at all. I call it "giving him a strong foundation." Doesn't that sound better? I won't tell you that Fantasia is in 7th grade and I still don't leave until she has walked into school. Aw dang it, I just told you, didn't I?? True story. I don't even want to mention how traumatic it was for me when she wanted to go to a high school football game with her friends last year. Let's just say that I almost had to be tranquilized. Not kidding. People think that Fan is spoiled because she has a cell phone, but the reason she has a cell phone is so that I can get in touch with her Whenever. I. Want. I will never be able to let go of my children. I love them so much it hurts. Reed is lucky to have you, and he knows it.

Christine & Brian said...

You're such a good mom. :) Reed is lucky to be like you. I'm also terrified of that day I have to drop Max off for school, my heart is already breaking just thinking of it.

Lara said...

I loved reading this. I think we maybe all have this issue, but we show it in our different ways. Bria's in third grade now, and this is the first year I don't walk her to school, and it took me several months to finally let her go it alone. SCARY!

This was just beautifully written.

MAG said...

Man, you can write! And what a sweet mother you are. I anticipate similar feelings when Maggie starts kindergarten.

Couldn't peel my eyes away from this post. Loved it!

Kelly said...

I am so glad to get to know you better through your blog. And I wanted to leave a comment earlier, but your post just made me too excited. It inspired me to make a post of my oldest baby.
You make every day things unforgettable, and I love it! What a great writer! I still quote you from your post about romance in safety. :)
I just had to tell you that I love you to pieces, and--even though I just left your house--I can't get enough of you. You know how some people just radiate their spirit? You're one of them. :)
Have a Happy Easter!

chucknorris said...

Rae, you are a REALLY good writer. All your posts, not just this one, smack of perfectly articulted self expression... I'm honestly a little dumbfounded at your skill, but it's cool! Keep it up! Besides, you're funny! :)

Kate said...

This brought back so many memories. I remember Todd crying every day before he went to school, he just wanted to be with me. It is so hard and not just for them. Great post. You are awesome.