No Lingering

“Dada, please don’t leave me!”

That’s what Will was saying over and over again this morning as he began his first full day at his new daycare center/preschool. Tears streaming down his face, the sentence coming in sharp, punctuated bursts because he couldn’t catch his breath in between his miserable sobs. It was heart-breaking.

I’m the first one to condemn the helicopter, Velcro parents who are far too attached to their children. I can’t stand it when they linger at the drop-off area, give their kids 8,000 hugs goodbye and break down in hysterical tears before they leave. It’s so much easier if you treat it like ripping off a band-aid. Get your kid settled, give him a hug and walk away. The pain is quick and everyone can get on with their day a little faster.

I know this. And I practiced what I preached this morning. But it wasn’t easy.

Will managed to climb up and look out the window as I was making my way to my car. His little red face, screaming incessantly, with one hand flat on the window pane begging me to come back. It tugged mightily at my heart strings, I won’t lie. But I waved once, got in the car and drove away.

Because that’s by far the best thing to do.

This is Will’s third daycare in three months. That’s a lot to ask of a kid. Plus he’s potty training, which frankly isn’t going so well. He was doing FANTASTIC before our former daycare provider started leaving him in his own piss and shit. Now he constantly soils himself and refuses to tell us when he has to go, whereas before he was 100% on peeing. I had to completely change his outfit just before we left this morning because he exploded all over himself without warning.

I hope this is the beginning of some stability for the little guy. Our adult lives are anything but stable right now and I worry everyday that he can sense it. That it negatively affects him. I know kids aren’t stupid. My parents had a rough go of it for a few years when I was younger and I remember every bit of it. My brother and I both knew what was going on, no matter how hard my parents nobly attempted to shield us from it. I just want him to be a happy kid, free of all the bullshit that saddles us as adults and parents.

Hopefully by ponying up and emptying our wallets on this primo daycare facility, it’ll give him the continuity and stability he needs. New friends, lots of time with other kids, teachers who are actually qualified to be around children. He’s a good kid and I’d really like to see him make some positive strides in the next few months.

Which is why as much as my heart was telling me to go back inside and cuddle him, my head knew that would only make things worse. In two weeks he’ll be racing inside to play with everyone and he won’t even look back at me or realize I’ve left.

I wonder if I’ll be pining for that first day of daycare when he begged me to stay?

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10 thoughts on “No Lingering

  1. I know how hard it is to leave your kid and I agree just drop them off and walk out quickly… It can hurt so much but in the long run it’s the best thing to do.. It will get so much better. Hope this day care works out for the little guy..

  2. Your cousin K cried everyday for THREE months when we dropped her at preschool at 3 years old. We could hear her from the parking lot. Keep consistent and you’ll be fine. What’s the alternative-stay home with him? You’re a great dad and will have lots of stories to tell him when he gets older. Stay the course! Love you.

  3. Long time visitor, first time commenter… I’m right there with you on leaving daycare. It can rip your heart out some days, but prolonging the goodbye doesn’t help anyone.

    OK — a little unsolicited advice, no judgment but just wanted to offer a friendly perspective. Skip the next paragraph if you like. :)

    Wondering whether you want to hold off on potty training for a bit? Experts often recommend that when there are major transitions or setbacks. I know when I potty trained my older kid it took way longer than it needed to b/c I felt like it needed to be a linear process and didn’t want to ‘regress.’ It might be a good time to let him wear diapers or pull-ups for a bit if he’ll go back, just to let him know that it’s ok, he’ll learn soon, it’s no big deal. Might give you a little breathing room too — accidents can be infuriating as you know. Might give you all a clean slate after that disaster of a daycare.

    Nuff said — I wish you support whatever you do.

  4. I felt sad for the opposite reason when I started my almost 3 year old in pre-school the other week. While the other kids were crying, my little girl ran off after saying ‘bye mommy’ and went after the new stuff around to play with. I couldn’t even get her to give me a hug or a kiss good-bye. I was all ready for the long good-bye, and almost felt unloved because she had no problem with me leaving her in a new place.

  5. Oh, poor Will – and poor you! Mommy can’t stand those red-faced tears and probably would be a horrible helicopter parent if not for the fact she stays at home…

  6. PS to Lisa–

    Your daughter NOT crying and running into play means that she knows that Mommy always comes back…and Mommy will come if needed. It is a good, healthy thing.

    My experience as a teacher…the boys cry more and stop as soon as M or D are out of earshot.

    My experience as a mother…ripped my heart out…and took her home. (Not good)

  7. We started a new daycare about a month ago, with Lili who just turned 3 year…and Will who will be turning 2 next month. We also went from an in-home situation to a center. They both cried every morning for the first 2 weeks. In fact, Will had several days where he cried almost the whole day and then he would cry as soon as he saw me when I picked him up……as if to say, ‘I can’t believe you came back!!!’ It’s now been almost 5 weeks. Lili still cries every morning, but her teachers say she is done and over it within a couple of minutes. She’s happy and every day when I pick her up she has a huge grin on her silly face. Will actually waves and says, ‘BYE!’ to me every morning!!!! I never thought I would see the day… He’s happy all day (unless sick, which is a whole other story) and most days doesn’t cry when I pick him up….unless he’s tired…..but as I said, it’s more out of relief…..as if he’s trying to convince himself that I WILL come back and when he sees me, it proves that he was right. I won’t lie…it’s been rough…but I’m feeling better and they are feeling better. I can tell this was a really good change for them…but it’s a BIG change. They now have multiple teachers and a LOT more kids…..strange environment…new schedule……..everything is new and different, which is huge for them. Your Will will get better…and soon your heart won’t break everyday.

    Oh and about the potty training…Lili did the same thing. Was doing awesome with potty training…NO ACCIDENTS for MONTHS…then wham…….multiple accidents every day…everything was nuts…and we realized she was regressing due to some of the other big transitions going on in her life. She had been in underwear, but we started putting Pull-Ups back on her. Then one day, the accidents stopped and we went back to underwear. Just keep with it and once Will adjusts to this new transition I think he will be ready to try it again. He knows what to do now…he just needs other things in his life to settle down! If you haven’t already put him in Pull-Ups, that’s something to try too for awhile. Some people think it ‘hurts’ the process….but honestly, he’s having accidents either way……and it would help with your own sanity not to have to clean up all those messes! Good luck!

  8. CM: We were using pull ups but honestly, I feel it’s a step back. And it doesn’t even help my sanity because whether he pees or takes a crap, it almost always runs out of the measly pull up and gets all over him. So either way I’m cleaning him (and usually the sheets or the carpet depending on where he went) up.

    I’ll have a post up soon about how I’m battling his potty training regression, getting all old school dad on him. Stay tuned.

  9. When I first dropped NHL off at daycare, he would grab my jacket and scream. We literally had to pry him off and I could hear his screams echoing down the hall. I felt like a rotten dad for leaving him like that. Over the next few weeks and months, though, drop offs got better and better until one day when I went to give him the usual goodbye hug and kiss and I found myself actually having to chase him don and *force* him to hug and kiss me. He was too interested in playing to bother with dad.

    Hang in there. It’s really tough at this stage, but it does get better.

  10. My son goes to preschool through the school district, so he rides the bus even though he’s only 4. Last spring when he was just turning 4, he suddenly didn’t need me to walk him to the door of the bus from the car anymore. It broke my heart just a little.

    I hope that this preschool is everything your son deserves, and that it does get more stability for him.

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