Have you ever had to go back to the preschool/day care because you had forgotten something? You know, after you’ve dropped off your child and they are well entrenched in their daily activities that happen without your presence… and then, suddenly, there you are. You’ve already done the round of bye-bye kisses and hugs. And yet, now there you stand. You’re back. You’re doing the pop-in and they’re doing the freak out.
I get that kids thrive on routine and the parental pop-in is incredibly jarring for their little minds (and hearts.) But, man, oh man, nothing feels quite as horrible as watching your child completely melt down when they realize you aren’t taking them with you.
My kids went to their dad’s for the week yesterday. But, when they were dropped off at school & preschool, the bag of pillows & blankets for preschool nap time was accidentally left behind. So, I thought I’d drop it off on my way to work this morning. It’ll be easy, I thought. I’ll just sneak in and he won’t even see me, I bargained. Except, he did see me. His cubby was directly off to the right of where he was standing. I walked in. He didn’t notice me at first. I froze. You know, like in those wilderness shows (or Jurassic Park) where they tell you not to move because they can’t see you unless you move. Well, turns out my preschooler isn’t a T Rex. (I’m sure his big brother and sister would argue otherwise.) There was a pause of recognition as he looked up and locked eyes with me. Then, “Hi, mommy?” I squatted down for a hug. He wrapped his arms around me and before long, I felt the tears slipping from his cheek onto my neck. “Why are you crying?” I asked. “I want to go with you!” he cried. Oh, my poor baby boy. It’s not like they’re mean at daycare or anything. In fact, he likes it there. It was just the unusualness of it all.
Soon, I had to leave for work. I tried telling him all the consoling things like I’d see him tomorrow and he could call me tonight, but it was to no avail. The teacher had to pry him from my arms. She told him to come stand by the window so he could wave to me as I pulled out of the parking lot. As I walked quickly down the stairs and out to my truck – with my heavy heart slowing me down – I could still hear him crying. When I made it to the designated waving place, there he stood – pressed against the glass, with his face in his hands, sobbing. His teacher had him wave goodbye to me and I drove away feeling like the world’s meanest mommy.
How do you handle the pop-in? Surely, you’ve forgotten a lunch box or snow pants or something and had to run in “really quick” only to be emotionally pummeled for doing so. So, what do you do to make that transition easier for you both?