Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 166.

I think I underestimated my daughter's own attachment to me. I mean, I know she loves me. I know she's securely attached. But, we had a rough transition at Vacation Bible School this morning. I cried. Oh yeah, and she cried too.

Really my tears were in response to hers, and to be honest, just coming a little too soon to D-day = 1st day of know - where I give her over to other adults that know nothing about her and where I have to be willing to let them "socialize" and "teach" her. Really? You don't even KNOW my daughter! Ok, I digress...

But it's just Vacation Bible School, right? Yes. But it's also the first time in her life she's been told..."You're going to school! By yourself! It will be so fun!" And then she got there, was overwhelmed, and was desperate for me not to leave. What's a mom to do?

I tried to leave during Opening time - when they were singing about the fun that is Discovery Canyon - and engaging all ages prior to splitting up into age-groups. She wouldn't sit with the other kids, and wanted to stay with me - probably the first clue that I shouldn't have gone so early. But, I thought I would try - cause sometimes she does better if I just go. So I did.

Then I hid in the hallway, peaking in. And I watched my little four-year-old, born out of my own body, start to change from lonely glance, to quivering lower lip, to the saddest little tears dripping down her face...hoping that no one would notice. Oh yeah - and did I mention she was sitting next to the wall by herself? H.E.A.R.T. A.C.H.E.

I came back in, scooped her up into my lap and she let some more tears fall, grateful for my swift return. And then we sang and listened for the remaining 10 minutes of opening time. She wasn't ready to say goodbye, so I accompanied her to "Games" - the first rotation of the morning. She was with about 10 other four-year-olds, and looked completely comfortable during the actual playtime - but as soon as there was any lull, any downtime...her head darted feverishly around the room for my face.

I warned her twice, and then after I got her settled into the Music room, I left. It had been an hour, it was time. So, I told the leader that I'd have my cell phone on me - and to keep an eye on her - "She's struggling," I told them.

I didn't get a call, and picked her up two hours later, to find a smiling Dylan. But a dear friend did tell me she got a little teary near the end - again in the singing time with all age groups. Thanks to this friend for noticing - and telling her it was only a few more minutes until mommy-time. You see, I think she just drowns in these large-scale peer situations. She is the most outgoing, happy, socially-appropriate kid in small-scale situations and with adults. But give her a room full of 3-10 year olds and she freaks.

I am grateful for therapeutic storytelling.

We came home and didn't talk much about Bible School for awhile (minus her telling me on the walk home she was NEVER coming back). After lunch, Noah was asleep and I had some time to just spend with Dylan. We played, we colored, we talked and were silly. We needed it - after a weekend away and then this morning of separation anxiety - we really needed it.

Then came the storytelling. Dylan always asks me to tell stories, but it all started last fall when she sliced open her hand and had to go to the ER with me to get stitches - it was a traumatic event - and storytelling - through most of those 7 hours in the hospital room (and for weeks and now months to come) - saved her.

Now we tell stories about everything, and it's not always therapeutic, but when it is, it means something extra special, and I know not to give a "Mommy's not in the storytelling mood" line. We do it because she likes it, but more important, we do it because she needs it.

So, this afternoon, Dylan and I sat, arms around each other. First we told real stories about me taking my little square of a blankie to preschool, so I wouldn't be so lonely, me rubbing it in my pocket whenever I felt sad. Then we moved on to pretend stories, mostly about my made-up experiences at Vacation Bible School, and how I really missed my mom. Dylan was feeding me most of the story line, and my favorite part was how the girl in the story used "watching TV" to not be sad anymore about missing her mom. Wow, Dylan, I guess I know how you truly veg out.

Right now I can hear both kids jumping on the bed in the next room and singing "Discovery Canyon, it's here and there! Discovery Canyon, it's everywhere," at the top of their lungs. There's hope.


  1. Just a reminder...which you likely do not recall. Dad or I spent the entire 4th year of your life sitting in Sunday School and Bible School with you! mom

  2. What a heartbreaker! It sounds like you handled it beautifully, as always. It gets easier, but stays bittersweet. Hope things went well today.

  3. hilary, i think you have handled this all amazingly. i know it must have been awful and even though i haven't yet heard the details of the rest of the week, i'm sure you made a good decision to stop.

    and, funny how how your blog is you doing the same get to tell us the story and it is therapeutic for you, too.

    love you and i've missed talking to you this week. we'll definitely have to catch up.