Thursday, July 20, 2006

Separation Anxiety

This week my 3-year old boy started summer camp, and so we had to deal with separation anxiety, of a sort.

I delivered him that first morning to the classroom, where most of the kids were crying, clutching onto their parents. Chaos overwhelmed the two counselors, who tried to appease the screaming campers and relieve the parents who were late for work. They didn't have much time to greet my son, or show him around. So I found him a seat at a crafts table and brought him some crayons, paper, and play-doh.

My son looked around, confused. He didn't know any campers. No one was paying any attention to him. The room was strange and cacophonous. How could I simply walk out and leave him there? Should I stay? Help him make friends? Hold his hand? Take him home???

He gestured for me to come close so he could talk to me. But what could I possibly say to re-assure him and make him feel comfortable here? I leaned down, and got real close, so I could hear him in the noisy room.

He kissed me and said, "Bye, Papa." He started coloring, and I mustered the courage to walk out of the room, thinking that just maybe everything would be okay.


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7 comments:

  1. 3 years old? Are you crazy?

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  2. Slate did a cool series of articles on summer camps:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2146240/fr/rss/

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  3. Ivan, it was day camp and my son is, er, a large 3 year old. (almost 4?) Anyway he liked it!

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  4. Sandra11:36 AM

    i am moved to comment. so lovely. what a wise little man he is.

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  5. Good work! I hope he's doing well at the day camp.

    My son is just about 2. Last month we had to put him in a new daycare for 3 weeks while his regular one was closed. It was not a pleasant experience.

    Yesterday he went back to the old one and I feared he would have forgotten it and again been upset, just after getting used to the new one. He ran in squeeling, nearly jumping on one of his friends. Phew.

    Good luck to you...

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  6. Anonymous5:38 PM

    it gets worse -- summer camp!

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  7. Anonymous6:43 AM

    I empathize with the feeling, right up until when your son says "bye". Wow!

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