Monday, December 21, 2015

Separation Anxiety

Over the weekend, my brother posted on facebook that his son, who is eight and in first grade, spent the night for the first time with a friend.

Okay then. That’s awesome. For them.

Every kid is different and I love that. There’s also the fact that sweet J has been shuttled back and forth between his mom’s and his dad’s houses since he was two years old, so he’s kind of used to spending the night at lots of different places.

My girls, on the other hand, are not so much into not being at either home or at my mom’s.

Alyssa’s first sleep-over didn’t take place until she was in fourth grade.

Olivia’s has not yet happened.

And on the far other side of the spectrum, a couple of weeks ago, Lyss invited her friend M over to spend the night. When I called M’s mom I was warned that M had only ever spent the night with two people, and one of them was family. I was further warned that M might not be able to stay all night.

I assured M’s mom that I understood that and we’d be find if she needed to go home the night she was with us.

The girls went home with my mom that afternoon and when I got there after work, everyone seemed to be having a great time. M is a funny, outgoing girl who didn’t seem to have any reservations about being at our house. We had pizza for dinner, I made Olivia leave the girls alone for a while and all seemed well.

When Olivia went up to the girls’ room at 8ish to get pajamas, I found Alyssa in her unicorn onesie and M sitting on the bed, crying.

I asked her gently, “What’s wrong?”

She sniffled, “I don’t feel good.”

I looked at Alyssa and she shrugged.

I suggested that M call her mom if she wanted to do so. She very much did want to do so.

Fifteen minutes later, after M talked to her mom, I talked to her mom and then M talked to her mom again, M’s mom was in our driveway, picking up her daughter.

During my conversation with M’s mom, she told me that she’d told M to suck it up and tough it out. She REALLY didn’t want to come pick M up. I told her I understood that sentiment but that M really did seem pretty upset.

I was also thinking to myself, “Dude, your kid toughing it out is making my kid miserable. Come pick her up!!”

But I didn’t say that. I let M and her mom hash it out and in the end, in my opinion, they came to the right conclusion.

As we said goodbye, I told M, “Come back when you feel better.”

I told Lyss that I think maybe M needs to be an afternoon hang-out friend rather than a spend-the-night friend. She agreed. She also told me she was glad that M’s mom picked her up. She said that she thought that M really just missed her mom. She admitted that there are times when she’s at a friend’s house that she misses me too but she reminds herself she’ll see me the very next day and that calms her missing of me. She’s a great kid, that Lyssie.

I told her that if word got out at school that M had to go home, she could tell everyone that M just didn’t feel good.

Lyss said, “If word gets out, it will be because SHE told someone. I won’t be telling anyone that she went home early.”

My girl has a lot of compassion.

A few days later, Alyssa told me that M told her she (M) suffers from separation anxiety.

I told her that was normal and that M is lucky to have such a great friend in her. I told her that we all mature at different times and it’s okay that M still likes to be at home.

She admitted that while she enjoys hanging with her friends, her favorite place to be is at home with us.

My heart grew two sizes in that moment.

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