Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Separation Anxiety

Week two of school has gotten off to a rough start. I feel utterly exhausted by yesterday's events. The two days off has proved to be a regressive exercise, no more.

The kids have school swimming lessons this week. I volunteered to help dress the kids afterward. I thought this would help Mister, but it made everything worse. He ran away from me again as we walked to school, and it took me 10 minutes to catch him and drag him back again - so we were late.

Mister refused to go in the pool, and instead, spent the hour pleading for me not to leave. It was a nightmare. When it finally came time to say Goodbye, he howled and screamed. It took two teachers to prise him off of me, so I could leave. Missy Mopps was so upset by the commotion that she was foiling my attempts to leave by attempting to drag me back in to soothe Mister.

The lonely walk back to the car was accompanied my much sobbing and pain.

The school rang me later to say he settled well after I left - of course - but suggested I NOT attend swimming anymore - pretty humiliating. They felt my presence was making the inevitable separation, worse. It is, I know. I just cried all day long.

When I picked him up yesterday, he appeared quite happy. After speaking with the principal over the weekend, the school put on a lunchtime activity which was attended by a couple of other kids too -that helped.
Upon our return home, Mister started up again. He did not want to go to school. The pleading and the tears continued until 9pm last night, when he fell asleep after crying uncontrollably.

The anxiety I am feeling about today is extreme right now. I feel physically sick, highly stressed and exhausted. The whole swimming thing, which takes place at 9am, is making matters worse.

I will be taking him - it is the only way for him to get used to school. I have tried to focus on the positives; tried to explain every angle, but I just can't seem to console my boy and wonder if and when this behaviour is ever going to end....and how.


jeanie said...

Oh Lordy, poor poor you - and Mister, and Mopsy.

Lots of hugs. It does get better - I was dealing with a similar (although not exactly the same) situation in 2006. If it is the only ray of hope you have, it does get better some time.

One thing that really helped my daughter when she was younger was giving her the knowledge of what her day would hold and exactly when I would be there for her.

Another tip I noted was always having a goodbye ritual - saying goodbye properly and then walking away.

Good luck - and I hope the principal keeps working with you on this.

The Brave said...

Thanks for that Jeanie. I appreciated your words of advice. Today I walked him through the day. I did stay for swimming and it went ok. He had some tears, but that was ok. He let me go and there wasn't a big scene like yesterday. I overheard one kid predicting he was "going to be a sooky baby". That certainly doesn't help. With some luck the kid doesn't say it throughout the day and if he does hopefully the teacher intervenes.

Kathleen said...

Oh, dear. My heart aches for you both. Poor little guy....and I know you probably feel worse than he does. The school should have let him go with the "familiar" teacher on day one, and maybe this could have been avoided. It's so sad to think of how he is internalizing all of this. I pray it gets better SOON .. for both your sakes. HUGS.

Tori said...

Oh I am finally catching up on your blog and am sending support.
What a terribly tough thing to have to go through.

You are being brave for sure as you send your mister off.

Tracey said...

Oh no ... you poor thing. And poor poor Mister. It's encouraging that Jeanie's tip helped a bit - that's a really good sign I think. While other kids can be shockers the thing in your (and Mister's) favour is that it's early days, and at that age, the kids will move on and forget. You've got to take account of the fact that you've just moved - and a huge move it was. It's got to have made an impact on him, especially when things, to him, are so different.

I'm still dirty at the school on your behalf though! I don't think they handled orientation or support very well at all. (I'm also totally flabbergasted that they are taking kindy kids swimming this early on - in the first week! Are you kidding?!!! They don't even think of that till Year 2 here - and in Term 4!!)

Sorry to make this lengthy, but I'll just back up Jeanie's advice/experience. While I didn't have the school/separation anxiety stuff with any of mine, my youngest has always been the one to rebel at any change, and we gradually realised that you couldn't spring surprises on her.. (like turning up at preschool with the bike and bike seat to ride home - she screamed half the way home that day!). But if she was psyched up for something, then no problems. (Fill-in teacher at swimming lessons? Tantrum. Talk to her about it when she's calm. Point out that teachers get sick. And fill-in one might be just as good (if not better.) - no problems next time. Even had the grace to admit she was a chump.

Walk across the Harbour Bridge with Grandma (and faster cousins/siblings) - she's tired and drags the chain. Psych her up beforehand and she could walk up a mountain in NZ.!)

I truly think that the only reason we didn't have hassles with her with school was that she was #3 and couldn't wait to get there, plus, their Orientation programme was fantastic (3 separate sessions - both teachers), and the school has a great buddy system where they are paired with a Yr 6 kid (who they meet the previous year at Orientation), and who looks out for them at school.

My middle girl has always been a bit of a teary one, she can't help it.. something doesn't go right (or she makes a mistake she thinks she shouldn't have), and then she's in tears. She copped a bit of flack over the years from other kids, but gradually (and with the help of some good teachers) she's gained more control over it. Enough to have been voted onto the school council last year (and get dux!). So there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel!!!!

I'm sitting here hoping that today goes even better, and that in a few week's time, you'll be miffed that he's run off into school without even bothering to give you a kiss goodbye! (Well, I don't hope that really, but you know what I mean!!)

Muse said...

Let us know how you go over time... I hope it gets better fast. I too am appalled that they are throwing them in the deep end so soon... literally!

Hugs and Kisses...


The Brave said...

Thanks for everyones comments on this. i am still holding my breath right now Muse - one more day to get through the week. Needless to say, it has been a pretty stressful and hopeful week. Things have improved as the week has gone on. I still get tears upon departure, but he doesn't have to be restrained now - i have encouraged him to say goodbye on "our terms" - that has helped. Currently, he is hanging out for the weekend, so I will provide an update once he goes back next week. Swimming has been frustrating. The school has a pool, but it is an outdoor one, so after weeks of ridiculously hot weather, it has come in freezing this doesn't help, that is for sure, tomorrow is going to be the coldest for the week - GREAT! I imagine Mister pleading for me to allow him to sit it out. Fun Fun.