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Uncertain

So I went to the gym today and left when I wanted to, rather than when the nursery people called my name to pick up a screaming, hysterical child. Yay me!

She’s a pretty independant little thing, but she’s around me, often in arm’s reach of me, 24/7. I can see where being abandoned in a room full of two old ladies and a dozen other screaming kids you don’t know would be upsetting. So, all the other times I’ve tried to leave her at the nursery, I’d get five or fifteen minutes into my time on the treadmill and hear that ominous page. “M–‘s mom to the nursery, please. M–‘s mom to the nursery.”

I haven’t tried in a while.

Still, I had high hopes this time. She’s very independent and outgoing and fine when I leave her with The Best Friend or The Grandmothers or the one time I left her with a babysitter. But the minute she saw the room, she started clinging and crying and fussing. I petted her and comforted her and she seemed okay and then I stepped onto the other side fo the gate and her face collapsed into crying. I popped back in and scooped her up and told her it was okay, mommy would be back soon.

The old lady who runs the place — old — looks at me and says, “That’s not helping. You need to just leave.”

So kissed her, I put her down, and left.

And I feel awful. I mean, part of me says this old lady sees this forty times a day and I should take her expert advice. But it sounds to me a lot like the cry-it-out folks when it comes to sleeping. “She has to learn that she can’t get you to come back just by crying.”

Well, why? I mean, why should my daughter learn that when she makes frantic signals that she needs her mommy, I’m going to ignore her? Why should my child, a pre-verbal 17-m0-old, learn that her one clear means of communications — crying — is useless. Learned helplessness isn’t what I want to teach her.

Also, the old lady was kinda bullying. I don’t like other people telling me what do to.  And I don’t like that I just caved to this brusque “advice.”
But I really wanted to go to the gym. I wanted 50 minutes to walk on the treadmill and read my book. I wanted her to learn to enjoy herself at this place so I could go back to the gym on a regular basis. I need to lose weight and I can’t do that if I spend all my time walking at a toddler’s pace.

I’m conflicted, in particular, about the fact that it worked. That she calmed down and was having a good time when I came back. She immediately reached for me and held on tight, but she wasn’t freaking out.  What lesson did I just teach her? What lesson should I have drawn from this?

Or am I obsessing about something tiny and irrelevant?

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Categories: motherhood, other moms, weight
  1. C'tina
    June 6, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    It took me twice to realize that I needed to make the trip to the gym, my little one for 15 mins., then come back and get him, before he started crying. Then work up to 20 mins. THIS WENT ON FOR 4 MONTHS, before I could actually get a work out in. Yeah, yeah, I didn’t want him to learn that if he screamed I’d spring him. MORE importantly, I wanted him to have confidence that he could play and have fun and I’D BE BACK. We started two years ago…and we are still so happy to se each other after an hour, it’s almost sick, lol. Good for you and your girl.

  2. karriew
    June 6, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    Next time you go, call me. 🙂 Max loooooooves the old ladies.

    (She is not kidding about their age either. Concern that my son might hurt one of them is one of my excuses for not going to the gym in awhile. Also, that room for the kids is too damn tiny!)

    We had a few rough days when I first brought Max, but after a few weeks, I could relax and not be all tense waiting for “Max’s mom….please come to the nursery.” Bringing a favorite book and toy from home helped a little. The first couple of times, the Head Old Lady sat and rocked him, and read. We were usually the first ones there though.)

    Seriously though….maybe we could convince him to comfort your daughter? He’s a wild little beast, but pretty good at demonstrating empathy towards other kids these days.

  3. June 7, 2007 at 12:53 am

    I think you are looking at it wrong. You comforted her and let her know you would be back. She will learn in time that you will come back.

    I had to leave my son (15 mos old) with his grandmother at our house to go to Amber’s dance rehearsel. I gave him a hug and told him I would return. He screamed as I walked out of the door. I didnt stop and I didnt come back, it gives them a false hope that I will stay. Well, I couldnt stay, so he had to get the drift that I had to go. I knew he would calm soon after I left.

    It is not mean or cruel, to tell them what you are doing and then do it. I think it is mean to sneak out. They can protest if they like (i.e. crying), but it doesnt mean they get what they want. My daughter (5 yrs old, so you know she can talk) gets angry all the time because of something I wont let her do. I tell her she can get angry and voice her protest, but that doesnt mean she gets her way. I think it is the same for the non-verbal toddlers.

    I see it as her voicing her dislike for you leaving, but as long as you come back she will get better at it. I always tell my kids exactly what is going to happen, and then I do what I tell them. It has built their trust in me.

  4. June 7, 2007 at 12:58 am

    It sucks, but IME you can’t reason with a toddler on this issue. If they are dead set on you not leaving, no amount of “I’ll be right back honey” will make it any better.

    There are three ways for it to play out:
    1)You stay and try reassuring them you will be back and they continue to cry the whole time you are there comforting them
    2)You leave and they cry the whole time you are gone
    3)You leave and they eventually get distracted, then interested in the other kids or the old ladies.

    There is no way to know how it will go till you try.

  5. Raise Hell
    June 16, 2007 at 6:56 am

    I pick #3 Crunchy. I babysat A LOT when I was a kid and #3 worked every time. I never once had a child tell their parent “I don’t like the babysitter” or cry once they got to know me. Distraction is the key to the situation. Sometimes I refuse to help my little one with something and think to myself “I’ve gone too far here. If she doesn’t stop crying she’s going to vomit.” then two seconds later she’s happy to be accomplishing something by herself. I cried more when my parents left me with my older brother than with a stranger. Trust me, if your kid needs therapy in the future, it won’t be because you left them to work out for an hour or two.

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