Monday, September 21, 2015

Parenthood: Week 119 – The Drop-Off

Dropping off your infant or toddler to daycare/school is not a good time. It’s one of the many parenting things that you “do ‘cause you gotta’, not ‘cause you wanna’” (this probably isn’t a phrase people say that often, but I’m trying to make it stick.

Last year when Ollie was at a daycare, Diana did almost all of the drop-offs. She dealt with Ollie crying when she left, the chaos of parents swarming around the entrance of the school and trying to handle request from teachers and administrators  while trying to help Ollie transition.

Diana handled these drop offs really well and it was hard but she managed it well with few complaints.

Drop-offs is a rare situation when you have to really push your kid to do something in a short time-frame so that you can leave and take care of your own business. More often than not, you can go at a kid’s pace, but when it comes to getting them to school, there’s a schedule and it can be a real challenge making things happen.

It all starts with getting your kid up before he or she wants to and attempting to manage your own morning routine while attending to your kid. Our solution that we have found that works is getting up really early so that we can be done with our stuff before Ollie gets up.

Ollie doesn’t understand that if he moves slowly in the morning it has repercussions. He has a concept of time but doesn’t know how to read a clock. Yes, he’s two and he’s fast becoming a little boy, but in many ways, he’s still a little baby, whose has instincts push him into our arms for cuddles.

This year is different. I’m doing about half of the drop-offs and pick-ups. It’s been going pretty well, but it’s a challenge. The teachers wisely instructed us to not make a big deal when you say goodbye, to make sure to say goodbye and to not take it personally when your kid seems indifferent when you leave. Now all of these things are tough. I want to give Ollie a big hug to make sure that he knows that he is loved, sometimes it would be easier to sneak away and it’s a little heartbreaking when he walks right into the classroom and the teacher has to instruct Ollie to respond to my goodbye and he says “bye daddy” without turning around.

All of these challenges pale in comparison to having to peel your nervous and clingy child off your body and walk away as he cries, screaming for you as you walk away. Ollie has only given me one of these goodbyes and it was horrible.  I've only got a little taste of this and I know I'll get more in the future.  

Leaving an unhappy child behind is one of the most difficult things a parent has to do.  It take incredible strength to put on a happy face while your child is crying when deep down inside all you want to do is take your kid home when you know that you can't.  Even though you know its probably true that your kid calmed down right after you left, this fact doesn't change the feeling of heartache, sadness, and guilt when you turn around and walk away.

Logic helps but the heart feels what it will.  All we can do is remind ourselves that it is love that makes it hard to say goodbye, that even time apart can be meaningful, and that we are not alone in our struggle to let go.  

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