Tuesday, October 30, 2007

separation anxiety

for the first 5 years of our daughter's life, we could have given her away. she was one of those easygoing kids who would let anyone pick her up, hug her, kiss her, anything. after having a son who wouldn't even LOOK at anyone else before he was 5, she was a novelty. babysitters? no problem. grandparents? no problem. preschool? no problem. we were flabbergasted. we could have told her that she was going to live with another family and that she'd never see us again and she would have said, "BYE!" in this scaryish world, it was a little bit freaky.

right around the time she turned 6, the whole situation began to change. toward the end of kindergarten she started worrying about playdates at friends' houses and wanting me to stay with her for the entirety. then, she wept bitterly on the last day of school for the teacher that she'd bonded with. she even slept with her picture that night and cried for her intermittently over the summer.

when t and i went to london last summer, we left the kids with a VERY familiar grandma & grandpa, just as we have done several times over the past 2 years. she was inconsolable. "BUT IF YOU LEAVE ME HERE, THEN I WILL MISS YOU!" she wailed. while we were gone, it was better than before we left, but still was an emotional struggle for both her AND my folks. not to mention t and me!

after a month with my folks, she cried about leaving them. occasionally, i find her in tears, only to discover that she misses them. i can't help at these moments to feel a little despair, like, what's next? the leaves on the trees? the daffodils? the CAR?

since school began, she has had MORE than an average amount of bad days. there are almost no more playdates or sleepovers (although she will attend girl scouts with our neighbor). she cried regularly for her daddy on his recent business trips. on sunday nights she is hysterical. "i only get two days with you and then i have to go back to school!" she hiccups. i tried giving her something to have, of mine, to console her at school. "it didn't work," she said, "it only made me cry SO HARD when i saw it!" and she LOVES school! she wants to go! she just wants me there, too. and one day a week, i am there!

i know many many of you parents out there have lived with this in some shape or form, but this is beginning to tear me up. she's the apple of my eye, and i love her so dearly, but when i find her curled up in a ball, crying, and when i ask why, she says, "it's just 'cause i love you so much!" a part of me melts, but a part is so frustrated. i keep thinking it's just a phase, but the longer it goes on, the more i'm wondering if we may need a little help.

anybody have a suggestion? the end of my rope is coming up fast, and i may still have a long way to go on this one!

13 comments:

Family Adventure said...

I don't really have any answers for you (I wish I did, though). But I had a friend whose kids were the *most* clingy I have ever seen. I mean, my friend had to be there at school, play dates, birthday parties, the works. Usually with not one, but two children on her lap.
But...by 2nd grade it got much better. I know that's much consolation to you right now, but it will get better.

Just to be sure, you have probably talked to the teacher about how she is at school, with peers, etc., but since you also go in once a week, I'm sure you've seen that there is no problem there.

So I think the only thing to do is hang in there!

Heidi

Ally Bean said...

Not one suggestion here either. I feel for you, but I bet that she'll outgrow it very soon. Kids are like that.

Lainey-Paney said...

oh, i bet that is heartwarming & frustrating.

Gage is 2...Mommy clingy, and it's both heartwarming & frustrating...

Lotus Reads said...

Oh Melissa, I wish I had some useful suggestions to leave with you, but sadly I don't. My feeling is that it's just a phase which S will grow out of...I sure hope for both you and her that it is.

Keep us posted!

Booklogged said...

Very perplexing - to do a complete flip from the one end of the spectrum to the other. I can understand why you have some concerns. I have no answers, either. I think I would talk to a child psychologist. Get a professional opinion or two - just you and t and the psychologist. If it were me, I think I'd also prayer for some guidance in choosing the person to talk to and then what to do with the information you receive.

Best wishes.

Beenzzz said...

Has there been any major changes in her life, other than a new grade? I'm only asking this because Zoe became extremely emotional after her grandpa died. She didn't want us to replace anything in the house. If we brought something new in, she would cry for what seemed like hours. She would freak at the smallest things. Then she would get really emotional over everything. She did outgrow it over the school year (I think she was about 7 or 8).
I think this emotional phase with s will pass. I think every kid has that intense reaction to life. Hang in there!

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Wow...to go from one extreme to another like that...amazing. Maybe there is some brain development going on that made her realize that being away from you might suck, but I don't know. Maya was kind of like that when she was little, but grew out of it. And never flipped the other way.

I might do some research on childhood development. And yeah, did anything happen in her life that could trigger such feelings? Poor kid. :( Poor mom, too.

Susan in Italy said...

I'm sorry Melissa. No advice to speak of having no kids of my own but I hope it gets better soon.

gmcountrymama said...

I am thinking it is a phase or she will just be a shy child and need extra encouragement and support to go off on her own. I wouldn't worry too much yet. First grade is a hard transition. She's in the 'General Population' now. Ask the teachers how she is socially when you are not their. Keep us posted.

Mr. L said...

Hmm...don't know what to tell you. I was like that as a kid, until I figured out that all adults are full of sh*t and can't be trusted to be there/take care of anything...which led me to become the "happy", "well-adjusted" adult I am today! Sorry....

Karen MEG said...

Well, it could be anything, I also wonder if it's something that happened at school, or maybe she saw something on TV at a friend's or was talking to a friend. It's hard to know, and often pretty difficult to figure out.

I've been through a few similar incidents with my son since he turned about 6 (eg. normally very happy go lucky kid, who never had any problems with doing anything all of a sudden deathly afraid to go swimming [and he's an awesome swimmer] or didn't want to go to school [and he loves school]. Usually there was some sort of fear at the bottom of it, fear of something new. It would take a while for my husband or I to get him to verbalize it as he didn't want to admit to the fear. It has usually passed pretty quickly.

Just a couple of thoughts, it's certainly worth investigating with a professional if it doesn't pass and continues to concern you.

Good luck with it. It's so painful to watch your child going through that and feeling so helpless, I hope things work themselves out soon.

ML said...

I have no children, so I can't offer any advice. However, me thinks it may be a phase she's going through. Part of the developmental process.

But, I can totally understand how difficult this must be for you.

Ruth said...

That is one tender-hearted little girl you have there.... My 7yo son is happy to be with anyone who pays lots of attention and gives him candy, but I had to laugh when you said, "The CAR?" because he bawled in the driveway when they towed away my Saturn after it had been totalled last year. We had to tell him it was going to "the Ship Parts Warehouse," that magical, mystical place where everything that is broken goes.... the old VCR, the old DVD player, broken toasters, etc. That way he'll have all those spare parts he'll need to build his spaceship, once his designs are finished.