Separation Anxiety: Know When to Hold ‘Em, When to Walk Away, When to Run

Family Matters on 04.16.12
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Photo: Erin Leigh McConnell / Creative Commons

In matters of separation anxiety, you win some, you lose some. Some days my toddler is perfectly happy to hang out at the gym daycare while I go workout, and other days, like yesterday, are more challenging. The day started out great. When I asked her if she wanted to go to the gym, she said, "Yes! Okay!" Super. So we went.

As we approached the sign-in counter, I could hear Braveheart-going-into-battle-type yelling. It occurred to me I'd broken one of my cardinal rules that morning, which is to come early before the place gets all lord-of-the-flies-y with big boys tearing through the playroom with fiery torches, battering rams, and pointy sticks.

We peered over the counter, and amidst the typical big-boy chaos, we also witnessed babies wandering aimlessly through the carnage of strewn toys. While it was a perfectly safe environment, (and I am in fact currently guilty of the hyperbole that I like to argue with my husband that I'm never guilty of) these were not ideal drop-off conditions. Alex responded appropriately with abject terror.

Even her "Favorite Lady" couldn't coax her over the divide. In fact, I suspect Favorite Lady is no longer her favorite, as Alex whimpered into my neck, "No kisses!" Favorite Lady has a penchant for smothering my daughter with kisses, which is an overstatement based solely on the fact that my daughter has survived these kissing attacks.  

I handed Alex to her formerly-favorite lady, but that didn't go over well; there were tears and boogers involved. The formerly-favorite lady promptly gave Alex back to me. GAH! In the game of the daycare handoff, handing my wailing daughter back to me -- rather than distracting her with books and toys while I walk away -- is the ultimate forfeit. My heaving her back over the divide again is akin to torture. So we folded. I gave her hugs and snuggles, and we retreated. Better luck next time.

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