Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The anxiety of separation

'Mummy, I don't want to go to school.'

It's a familiar refrain, but when it comes from a two-year-old, it's a particularly painful one (for this mummy, anyway). It came out of the blue; we'd been following the same routine for weeks. But lo, Separation Anxiety had struck.

As a parent you've had it from the off really, Separation (you separating yourself from them) Anxiety (is making them anxious)...In other words, it's all your fault really...

So when the Duke looks me in the eye and says 'I don't want to go to school anymore' complete with quivering lip, all I want to do is scoop him up and hold him and say come on darling let's go home and play and you don't ever need to go to school again.

But I don't say or do that. I want to bring up a responsible, independent young man so instead I drop him off at school and turn around and leave. While he cries his eyes out. And it's the teacher that scoops him up instead.

His tears – and it has taken me a while to stop ringing up the school ten minutes after drop off – his tears stop almost immediately (and he has a great time at school). But my grief (and guilt, oh, the guilt) lingers in me for much, much longer. And it's of little comfort to me that his nearly-four-year-old sister did the same at his age and now couldn't skip more happily off to school if she tried, because her words "No me play, Mummy. No me play" are still ringing in my years almost two years on.

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