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?