I’ve been told never to let someone else’s bad mood influence how you go about your day. While you have a role to play in being kind, if that doesn’t work, you’re probably not the problem. I’m going somewhere with this…
Little Man had been going through a bit of a phase – one that sometimes resulted in tears upon daycare drop-off. While I celebrate his ability to voice his displeasure with these things, I also find myself completely unable to shake my own ill feelings when he does it.
We went through a particularly bad series last week, where every day of daycare drop-off resulted in tears and what seemed like profound sadness.
The first few weeks had been great! Drop offs had been a breeze – no fuss, no muss. Suddenly, here was this pint-sized John Barrymore, behaving as though the world was ending because he had to spend the day playing and learning.
Early that week, I took the time to probe it – after all, this is a new daycare and I wanted to make sure he was comfortable, safe and happy there. I don’t regret looking into it – I really wanted to be sure he was okay (after all, as I’d said, the first few weeks were great). But, I do regret the results. You see, my probing totally exacerbated the problem, and Big Man and I wound up taking a screaming pile of limp spaghetti to daycare that morning.
That whole week – while we didn’t have the complete meltdowns that we’d had on the day I’d pushed it too far – I was grumpy. While I knew in my heart of hearts that he would be fine each day, I still felt sad, each day. I worked away, but my mood wouldn’t lift. I’d had tears at daycare drop off before and for some reason, they’d never impacted me like this before. I’d fallen away from my mantra – I’d been kind, but Little Man’s mood dampened my whole week.
Of course, every night when I picked him up, he was all smiles and hugs, forgetting all about that morning’s drama. Frustrating.
And so, we did this dance all week.
Then, when I went to pick him up one evening, he was (as usual) super happy and playing with his friends – and then – and THEN – the little so-and-so didn’t want to come home. At all.
It went beyond the frustration of having him be all smiles on pick-up – this was the straw. The last one.
It was an instant reminder of something I’d known all along: kids are creatures of habit and can be a little manipulative. While my child certainly isn’t rubbing his hands together in malevolent glee at how he can make us feel rotten for a whole day – he’d fallen into a habit of crying at drop off and forgetting (just for a few minutes) that he actually loves his daycare friends.
That was when we re-initiated the “kiss and go” – because I knew that the sooner we were out of sight, the sooner he’d find his groove again. I’d always known that (thanks to Holden’s first care provider, who’d warned me that this was absolutely the way to go). I’ve known for ages that it’s daycare providers’ preference for parents to just get out of the way as quickly as possible. But, I’d let the fact that this was a new place for him change the behaviour I’d always implemented before.
It took protests from him upon leaving daycare for me to be reminded that sometimes, the easiest way to transition is to dive right in.
Upon reinstatement of the “kiss and go”, Little Man has flourished again.
So, there you go. Parents everywhere – heed your instincts always. Ensure that your child really isn’t unhappy or unsafe in his daycare environment. Do all the investigation you need to satisfy your qualms.
But – once you’re convinced that all is well, drop him off, give him a kiss…and run.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net