Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Decisions Decisions Decisions

ARGH! I have a "situation" I don't know what to do about.

I wrote earlier about my youngest child and her separation anxiety and my concern over how she wasn't adjusting to preschool.

Well, her teacher said she was doing better and making progress and was only crying for a couple of minutes each day when I left her. When I ask her if she likes school she says "YES!". In the mornings she WANTS to go to school, marches happily to the door, goes with me to drop off her big sister, walks to her class room and then freaks out the moment we walk into the door of her classroom because she knows I'm going to leave.

But I thought it was getting better ....

Yesterday was her birthday, so I dropped her off at preschool at 9am and went and bought some cupcakes for her class to celebrate her birthday. I got back to the school at 10:30am and I went to take the cupcakes to her classroom and saw that her class was outside on the playground. But I couldn't see Monkey6 - Then I saw her in the corner of the playground. Her teacher was holding her and she was bawling - I mean hysterical sobs bawling. My 3yo [who has playground time at the same time as the 2yo] was over there next to the teacher patting her little sister's back and trying to comfort her. [so sweet!]

I watched for a while from the window, concealed from the kids outside, thinking she must have fallen or something, to see if she calmed down. She didn't.

I went out onto the playground and one of the other teachers saw me and was concerned and said "Is something wrong? did something happen?" and I said "NO, I just saw my baby crying and I wanted to check on her" and the teacher said "Oh, she does that every day." and another teacher next to her said "Yep. Every day." I said "She cries hysterically like that every day?" and the one teacher said "Yes, every single day. Her teacher just holds her and she cries the whole time."

So, I walked across the playground to the teacher and she said "Oh, she's just upset. She hasn't been crying long, she just saw you and started crying." [The teacher did not know I had been watching from inside for some time]. I asked "Does she do this every day?" and her teacher said "Oh no, not at all. She just gets upset and cries now and then." Another teacher near by said "Yeah, she usually plays with the other kids and has fun. She's been doing a lot better. She's just upset today."

Meanwhile, Monkey6 practically jumped into my arms, radiating joy and laughing through her tears she was so excited to see me.

So, I just took her home with me and as I was leaving the playground another teacher [different from the others] said "Yeah, she does that every day. Poor thing."

I was kind of upset - I had no idea she had been crying like that. I think the teacher thinks she is helping me by making me feel better about it, because she knows our situation and knows I needed Monkey6 to like preschool. But I don't like not knowing what is really going on.

So, I decided to take her out of preschool and just keep her home with me. When I went in to tell the teacher and the director of the preschool today, the teacher actually teared up. She was visibly sad to lose Monkey6 and obviously attached to her [and Monkey6 loves her teacher - this teacher has carried her around almost non-stop at preschool for a month now]. The teacher said she felt like Monkey6 was really making progress and that she was getting better. She said she was playing with the other kids a lot more and having fun most of the time. The director echoed that statement - that Monkey6 had been doing much better the last couple of weeks and seemed to improve every day. [At this point I'm totally unclear on what the real story is - is she crying a few minutes now and then but mostly having fun or is she crying most of the time she's there?]

Then when we got home, Monkey6 [who is used to having 5 kids around to play with and who has never been with "only" me for any extended time period] was crying and following me around while I tried to clean and do laundry. I played with her and read her some books, but I simply *can't* sit and be her playmate all day long - I have other stuff I really do have to get done. So she was bored to tears half the day and fussy about the whole thing. She kept asking about my 3yo [who has ALWAYS been with her - they are inseparable] and just seemed kind of miserable at home.

She had her 2yo check up today and I talked to her Pediatrician about it and the Pediatrician recommended pulling her out of preschool. She felt that if Monkey6 was *going* to adjust, she would have by now.

And I agree with that. On the other hand, I also think she's going to be bored at home.

And there are other disadvantages - with her home, my writing will basically cease - it will drop down to barely happening at all. I have gotten SO much done with her in preschool just 4 days a week. And now that will stop. I'll be lucky to get anything done, and I'll only be able to work during her afternoon nap, which isn't a long one.

I do think it is going to affect us negatively on the financial front, and that's hard - I finally felt like I was making headway towards getting us out of this hell hole we live in and like I was working towards getting us to a better situation all the way around. [Even if the fiction book I've already finished doesn't sell, I am planning a childbirth book that I DO think would sell and do well].

And there is also the matter of my own mental health - until I had her home all day today, I hadn't realized how *precious* that time "off" from 24/7 solo childcare was to me - how important it was to my psyche to have that time to work and be productive with my writing without someone constantly needing me.

The bare naked truth is that I kinda NEED that break. I am burned out like you would not even believe and getting a break to work on writing was really helping to recharge my tank. It was also helping me with just keeping our household running - getting the whole place decluttered and keeping on top of housecleaning well.... MUCH easier to do without the little ones here.

So, I'm really torn. On the one hand, it is clear she's not ready. And I don't want her to be in that situation. She has SERIOUS abandonment issues, and I know exactly why - who wouldn't in her situation?

On the other hand, I think SHE would have more fun at preschool if she could just adjust to me leaving her there and I would be a better parent if I had a handful of hours off each week to work on earning a living. Seriously.

It is such a catch 22 - I feel miserably undecided. I feel like there isn't a good answer at all. I'm definitely leaning towards keeping her home, but I don't feel any peace either way.

I'm very interested in opinions if you want to share any thoughts.

God Bless you.



  1. Kelly, remember when I told you how I did it? I went in and sat in the class with my son until he was ready for me to go. Then I started bringing a timer and telling him that when it rang, I would leave. This worked so well I could not believe it. I would really try this if I were you. Wait until she is engaged in play, or set the timer long enough so that that will happen. I think that you need to give it another shot from what her teacher says. And it sounds like her teacher is helping her and not just leaving her crying a lone.

  2. That sounds like a good suggestion. I have had other friends who did variations on this as well and it worked.

  3. For the first two weeks I did try this - staying with her [she never left my side for the whole 2 weeks]. I did not try the timer, so I could do that. I'm not sure if she's old enough to really "get" the timer concept though, but I'm definitely willing to try!


  4. do you have a rough schedule of what she does everyday? if so can you gradually leave her longer and say things like, Okay, mommy is coming back after you do art. And then the next day, mommy is coming back after you have a snack. And the next day a later activity (outside time?) and so on - you need to make sure you are there the moment the activity ends, though. Maybe one of the teachers could signal you via cell phone? At that age, she has very little concept of time, so attaching your presence to a regular activity can help assure her that you ARE coming back - she just has to get through a particular activity.

  5. That's a brilliant idea Kori! Thanks! I'll talk to them about this tomorrow.

  6. I sympathise with your situation and will pray for you and your family.

    I would take your doctor's advice and leave your daughter at home until she has grown up and adjusted a little. Each child is different and the fact that her older sister has adjusted at school does not mean the younger one should do so too. To leave her at school at this age could distress her greatly now and in the future.

    God bless.

  7. Both of my boys had and still have some anxiety, they started pre-school when they were 4 years old. It's tough, I'm not sure what to say since my boys (twins) always had each other and still do in school. I do know you are doing the right thing! Your schedule will get back on track! Enjoy this time with her alone, and she will bounce back and be ready for school in no time! ~ Take Care

  8. Kelly, I'm new to your blog but I just wanted to say that I've been where you are. You have to go with what your gut tells you. If you left her in, she WILL be ok! Eventually, she would stop crying and be just fine. On the other hand, perhaps she just needs a little bit of one on one time with you. Try to engage her in your housework. Give her a dust cloth and let her have at it on the baseboards. Once, I washed an entire load of washcloths and let my daughter fold them. When she was all done...I took the basket of folded ones to my bedroom...unfolded them and brought her out a "brand new" basket of washcloths to fold.
    Many blessings to you.