Today was rough. He was fine about arriving WITH me. He immediately tried out about four different activities in five minutes. But as soon as I made my move to go, he turned into a screaming gluey monkey, wild-eyed, clinging to my leg like I was a tree and he was going to climb it no matter what.
He wasn’t buying the hey-come-read-a-book thing today so we had to do it more forcefully, uncurling him, still crying as he was being carried to the reading nook. I stood at the front door, listening to what seemed like a subsiding protest, and then I left.
I posted about my insecurities on Facebook today and received the most amazing support and advice from friends. I do believe the things they told me, that this type of behavior is normal, that he’s just finally realizing that preschool isn’t going to go away, that he’s really going to benefit from the social interaction and the independence, that his crying is even part of the separation — letting me know I am still needed. And that Scott and I are great parents and he’s an amazing kid.
But man, this still sucks.
I was consoled by the fact also that on previous days he’d been difficult to dislodge when I’d arrived to pick him up. But I did the math today and realized that was only the case on days when I was picking him up earlier, either between art class and lunch, or between lunch and nap. Picking him up at 3:00 has been different. He’s in a funk post-nap. I finally saw the chart today and he’s been falling asleep at around 1:20 or 1:30 which means when they wake him, sometime before 3, to put away his mat, put on his coat and boots, he hasn’t gotten a full two-hours which — when he naps — is his norm. This could be contributing to the subdued-to-weepy demeanor I’m witnessing.
Or it could be the rain. Because that first day, when 3pm meant he was in the yard with other kids, he’d been fine and had wanted to stay and have his snack with the group.
But the other thing, and this is part of what is so tough, is that tonight at bedtime, he kinda freaked out.
After the usual books, potty, songs, crib, he didn’t want me to leave the room. “I’ll be in the hallway” he usually says, giving me my line, which I say back to him. Tonight it was all manner of protest “No hallway! One more song! Want a snuggle. Mommy stay in the room. Bring the chair in the room.” I said no, that I would be in the hallway, that it was time for bed. I bent over the crib for a kiss and a hug and left. He started crying hysterically and screaming. This hasn’t happened in MONTHS. Scott and I were momentarily stumped.
The whole fear of caving in to tantrums had me stuck in the hallway for a few minutes. Then I went back into the room and had another talk with Jonah. I told him I’d heard him crying, that I was just in the next room, that I loved him no matter what, no matter where I am. He made it clear that he was not happy with me for leaving, and that he wasn’t terribly impressed that I could hear him cry and NOT come to his aid.
I said, “Daddy and I are going to stand in the doorway for a minute and talk, okay?”
We the parents looked at each other quizzically. Then inspiration. “Jonah, I am going to sit in a chair in the doorway, okay? Right where you can see me.”
Again, he assented. This was basically us taking a step/scooch backward from when we’d done the sleep-consultant prescribed training technique. Scott and I both sat in chairs outside of Jonah’s door and meditated there together. We could hear him whisper-chatting to himself. After meditation, I grabbed the new book I’d picked up for myself from the library and even after I was pretty sure he’d fallen asleep, I stayed put for a while. There was something soothing to me about sitting in that chair and reading.
I want him to love preschool. I think I’m still afraid I may not have chosen the right place, and on some level he’s keying into that insecurity, reacting by not feeling settled, and using it to his advantage in his overall protest against being without me for any portion of the day. I am also pretty sure he’s having a good time there when he gets over my exit, and that he’d withhold that information if it meant making me feel guilty.
Sure, these are complex psychological manipulations that I am attributing to a 2-year-old. I’m just being silly, overthinking, the usual stuff. Or am I? (Duh duh duh…..)
Today, after school, I asked him what I’ve been asking every day, “So, what did you do today at preschool?”
He smiled and said/asked, “Anything?” — perfectly mimicking the hopeful/fearful tone and word that I usually say next when he doesn’t respond.
And then he did what he has done several pick-ups running. He only reported on the remark-worthy details of my arrival at the end of the day.
“Mommy brought you a sippy cup with juice in it.”
Ah well. Some things I guess I’ll never get to know.