Hooray for a Short Goodbye!

Hooray for a Short Goodbye!

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Johnny and his mother come down the school driveway in their car. Walking up the familiar brick path, they talk about what they will have for lunch. At the door, Johnny suddenly turns and grabs his mother’s coat and she picks him up. Memories of the day before return for both. The mother knows she doesn’t want to duplicate what happened yesterday.

Johnny is in his mother’s arms as his teacher very cheerfully greets them. He buries his face in his mother’s neck. She tries to peel him off. She understands that by carrying him she has unwittingly encouraged his clinginess. She trusts his teacher and is confident that he will be just fine. There is brief resistance as she puts him down, and she says, “Goodbye, Johnny. Have a great day. I can’t wait for our lunch.”

She pats his head tenderly and leaves. As soon as she is out the door, Johnny gets off his teacher’s lap and goes over to the basket of trains. By the time his friends arrive, he is humming. They help him lay out the tracks, talking about where the train might be going. Johnny’s day is beginning beautifully. No tears have been shed and no time has been wasted. Johnny’s mother’s day has begun smoothly, too. Having learned from yesterday’s experience, she was able to save this morning.

It isn’t always this easy. Sometimes behavior becomes a habit. Entering school, the child realizes his mother is about to leave him. Even though he likes school, a little emotional tug-of-war is stirred. These stressful situations develop because of the bond between mother and child. The feelings are short-lived and superficial for most children, yet they yank on the mama’s heartstrings every time. How can the dynamic be made easier for all?

Johnny’s mother knows (or has been told) that when Johnny is dropped off by his Dad, his Grandmother, or a babysitter, he comes in on his own two feet without the slightest hesitation. So if drop off is becoming a recurring problem, she should, by all means, enlist any help she can get. Arriving at school with someone else, Johnny will walk in like he owns the place. His mom will have more relaxing mornings and in a while, she can start dropping off again.

Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 35+ years experience teaching nursery school children.

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