Yesterday Owen and I went to visit his new daycare. The teachers wanted to meet him and I had to pick up some forms and other things, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for Owen to get used to spending some time there. I think we may be entering the next bout of teething (top teeth! woot woot!) because Owen has been a bit clingy and sleeping a lot the last few days, and then yesterday he barely slept at all and seemed very frustrated most of the day. Ahhh, teeth. You are my frenemy.
Anyway, yesterday’s morning nap, which is normally 1.5 – 2 hours, pretty reliably, was 30 minutes. After the ‘lovey overboard’ incident I got about half an hour of quiet and then heard coughing and babbling. Argh! Too early! I tried to pat him and put him back down, but he was raring to go and giggled and slapped my face around as soon as I pulled him out of the crib, so I acquiesced and got him up for good. The drive out to the new daycare is about 40 minutes, so I figured he would conk out on the way and finish his nap. And conk he did (boy am I glad we’re over the “I hate the car and I’m going to scream and cry until you getmeoutofherewoman” stage). He was dead asleep when we arrived at the new daycare. I spent a few minutes slowly waking him up and walking around the parking lot babbling about trees and clouds and whatever, since I knew he was about to be bombarded with voices and sounds and little tiny hands of the other daycare kids, and that could be… well… jarring to a sleepy baby. Still, when we went inside he was a bit sensitive (as his current daycare likes to say when he’s having an emotional day).
We sat and played with the new kids and new teachers. He showed off his mad walking skillz and grabbed everyone’s hair (he has a serious obsession with hair right now, especially curly hair). They loved him. Couldn’t stop talking about his awesome mohawk and little button nose. I know, I know, he’s the cutest. When we were about ready to leave, I asked if I could leave him there for a second while I went to the bathroom. He was crawling away toward a toy, and I walked out the door.
When I returned, crocodile tears were running down his face and his pouty lip was quivering. A teacher had him on her lap and was trying to read a book while he smacked it and stared longingly at the door. As soon as I walked in, his frown turned upside down and he did his funny laugh/cry and reached for me. It could have been that he was still feeling touchy after his bad nap(s), or that he was overwhelmed by the new sights and sounds and colors and faces, but there’s no denying that there was a bit of clinginess and stranger anxiety that I’ve never seen from him before.
When Owen was 6 months old and first started at our current daycare, he was so social and engaged that he never even noticed when I left the room. Then at about 7 1/2 or 8 months there were a few weeks when he would cry when I left him, so I started making sure that I went right up to him and said, “Bye bye” and waved so he knew when I was leaving, even if it made him cry. I think it helped him realize I wasn’t sneaking out. And I was coming back.
He’s such a super social kid and loves everyone so much that I never really give a second thought to handing him over to friends and family members. He pretty much loves everyone. No stranger anxiety to speak of.
But I realized that I haven’t really LEFT HIM left him (as in, leaving the building) with anyone except our current daycare. People who he has known for months and sees every week and adores. And recently, even when I just leave the room for a minute or so, he kind of “freezes” what he’s doing and watches the door until I come back. The moral of the story: I think this transition to the new daycare is going to be a bit harder than I had imagined, given the stage of development he is in right now.
I’m SURE he’ll be his happy, goofy little self once he gets comfortable there. He loves kids and thrives at daycare. I guess I thought that since he was already used to being away from me that this transition would be a cinch. But that little bathroom slip-up reminded me that I may need to take a bit more care in easing him into this new place and giving him time to get to know these new faces before I just turn on my heels and walk out the door. The great news is that once he gets comfortable at the new daycare, he’s there to stay. He’s going to grow up there, and make friends there, and they will all travel together between the classrooms, even up until preschool and then eventually elementary school.
Any tips on how to ease Owen through this transition of moving and changing daycares? Do you/how do you say goodbye if you leave your child at daycare or school?