So, last night we headed to Buffalo for Election Night. Craig's mom was up for re-election but was thankfully running unopposed. We still felt like we should be there, so off we went. We knew it would be a late night (polls don't close until 9pm, after all) so we dropped Jacob off at my parents' for the night before heading south to meet up with Craig's family. Before we left and on the way there, Jacob was begging to come with us. I know he loves my parents and has fun there, but he just seemed like he was desperate to stay with us. We kept telling him that we were doing boring grown-up stuff (pretty much true despite the party-ish atmosphere at various campaign headquarters), and we knew none of us would have a good time if we kept him with us. The rooms are generally crowded and would make it hard for Jacob to run...and if he did, it would be disruptive to other people and extra annoying for us because of the difficulty in catching him in a full room. Regardless of his unwillingness to stay without us, I knew he'd have far more fun with them than with us. And on a school night, it was even more important to stay on a schedule.
Well, the second we got there, he freaked out. It took a Herculean effort to extract him from his carseat, and continued strength to get him into the house. He didn't want to let go of us, and cried and screamed and reached out. This has happened plenty before, of course, but I sort of figured he'd have gotten over this by now. Sad, maybe, but freaking out? A little surprising. But as I've said before, when the boy knows what he wants, he's determined to get it. And apparently he really wanted us.
We told him we loved him, told him he'd be fine, and left as quickly and simply as we could. While we hated to leave him like that (for everyone's sake), they always say that you should not make a big deal out of that stuff. Doing so only entices the child to do it more, and you want to leave them with the impression that leaving is not a big deal. If you freak out, they will catch that vibe and assume that it means that it's something worth freaking out over. If you leave simply, it might give them the impression that it's not such a big deal after all. Because, as every daycare parent knows, two minutes after you leave your screaming child behind, they're usually playing contentedly like nothing ever happened.
Well...not this time. Apparently Jacob cried for an HOUR. Seriously? I feel bad for Jacob that he had to go through that, and I feel bad for my parents that they had to deal with that. Eventually my mom talked him down and he was fine, but I have to imagine that exhausted him a bit. He slept well and managed to stay awake this morning on the drive home, but when we got to daycare, it was more of the same. We arrived just as his classmates were starting lunch, and immediately as we walked into the room he turned and clung to my legs. When I tried to pass him off, he literally would not let go of my hand. He cried again, and when I picked him up today, his sheet said that he didn't eat any lunch because he was so upset.
To be fair, we were worried that Jacob's health was impacting his reaction. He finished up a round of antibiotics last week, given to him to clear up some fluid in his ears and help prevent a full-blown ear infection. However, over the weekend Jacob started to get another runny nose and complained a couple times about his ears hurting. So, today I called the doctor and we went in. Fortunately, he was fine. He's still got a cold and that could be making him a little extra clingy and cranky, but at least there's nothing more. While we were in the room I spoke to the doctor about another issue (one for another blog post), he proceeded to rip the paper covering the exam table into about 50 little pieces. After an initial attempt to stop him, I let it go on so I could talk to the doctor, with the reminder that he would have to clean up every bit of his mess. It took a little convincing, but in the end, he picked up every single piece. Win for mommy.
So...there's a whole lotta guilt resulting from his sudden separation anxiety. I'm not exactly sure what's causing it. I feel like we've been trying to spend quality time with him, so I don't know if it's been too much of a good thing, or still not enough. I worry a bit, too, since I'll be gone this weekend to go to my friend's baby shower downstate, and in a few weeks I'll be on a plane to Portland to meet my new nephew, Max (!), and will be away from my little boy for five days. Craig will be with him both times, but obviously some need isn't being fulfilled and my absence can't help.
On the other hand, maybe all of this means that we need to get away more often, to desensitize him to being away from us. It's fine to miss us, but not to be rendered inconsolable for an hour at a time. Maybe he needs more reminders that when we go away, we always come back. I'm sure he still doesn't like the concept of missing out on anything, but as long as his time is filled, hopefully he'll adjust.