Posted by: Hannah | 11/10/2015

day 10

Brace yourselves. Unpopular parenting opinion, coming right up.

George will be four in January. He’s a bright, very verbal and articulate kid. He never has a problem making himself understood, either to me or to other adults, and hasn’t for quite some time.

He has been home with me every day of his life.

I have always heard and been told that attachment parented children are more secure and independent as they grow older. All three of my kids had my close attention for the first year; breastfeeding, co-sleeping, cuddling, the works. George was born into the dayhome; I took one week off and then was back to work. Out of necessity, I wore him in a wrap or sling pretty well all day long. He breastfed the longest, had more nights tucked into the big bed with me because I needed the sleep, sleep, SLEEEEEEP AT ANY COST, please keep kicking me in the kidneys, I love it, no really.

In September he started preschool. He is very familiar with the school, as we dropped kids off there twice a week for George’s entire life. He knows the teachers. He was keen to be big enough to go himself.

It’s now a third of the way through November, and every single time I drop him off, he screams like a howler monkey. Or possible a gibbon. He just screams NOOOOOOO!!!!! way down in his throat, and one of the teachers always has to carry him into the classroom while I walk away.

As soon as I’m out of sight, he stops and has a great time. And every day at pickup, he chatters away about his friends, and the new song they learned, and what they had for snack. He never, ever shows the least concern or upset at pickup time, or – the teachers assure me, and I believe them – during class.

Then there’s swimming lessons, which at his age involves splashing around in the shallow end of the pool with two other little girls and his teacher. The first four lessons were fine. Walked right into the water, did everything the teacher asked of him, chattered and laughed and had fun. The fifth lesson he spent half of it on the pool deck, wrapped around my legs and screaming that he was “too tired” to swim. The lesson supervisor told me that if I didn’t mind hearing him scream, that the best thing would be to let them take him in the water anyway – that most kids adjust, given time and regular exposure.

Last night was lesson six.

He went with the teacher without a problem. He walked along the pool deck with the other kids. Everything seemed fine. I got out my book. I read one sentence before Michael nudged me and said “he won’t go in the pool”.

There then followed a half-hour of screaming. He only screams two words: “NO!” and “MOM!” The supervisor carried him around, him screaming in her ear, for the entire half hour. Whenever they went around to the deep end of the pool and he couldn’t see me, the screaming pretty much stopped (and she told me that he was starting to relax his body, although he still wouldn’t do any of the activities). As soon as they came back around the corner and he saw me, he went rigid and started screaming again.

I am firmly convinced that none of this is actually fear-based anymore; maybe it started that way, but now it’s a bad habit. And here’s where I have my unpopular opinion – he’s doing it on purpose to see if he can manipulate me.

Here’s the thing. A couple of times when he’s done the screaming thing at preschool, he’s looked up to see if I notice – and when he does, he smiles. While screaming. Michael was sitting right next to me at the pool last night, but did he scream for dad? Nope. Just me. This morning when he was getting dressed for school, he was chattering away about how today was a gym day, and how he hoped they had the water table out again; he asked who was bringing the snack and said “she’s my friend!” when I told him the little girl’s name…

“So, you’re going to have fun today!”

“Yes, I like gym day.”

“We going to have a good drop off, do you think?”

“Probably not!” smile, cheerful tone

And then I put my head through the drywall.

Now, I’m lucky, because all of these various teachers in his life are perfectly willing to help me with pushing through this. They keep telling me that he’s not the only one. I’m firm in my belief that he needs to just… get through it, and they agree.

But man oh man, do I hate getting screamed at!

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Responses

  1. Being screamed at is my single most loathed activity. :< True story.

    He's lucky he's so darn cute. 😉

    Sorry for the stress (it is stressful). Like so many other obnoxious behaviours, this too shall pass. I'm glad his teachers are on your side.

    • He IS lucky he’s cute. His dimples save his ass a lot.

  2. OH G. Boy oh boy. Some kids, they just know how to dig in those talons! Good for you for staying strong, a lesser person would have crumbled under pressure. And I think those teachers are awesome to just keep it up. I’m sure he’ll stop screaming once he sees that it’s not working. Tenacious little turkey!

    • I hope that you are right. Today was interesting, because he got no privileges all day thanks to the double whammy of the screaming last night & this morning – his Halloween candy has been confiscated wholesale, he didn’t get his treasured half-hour of screen time while the other kids were napping – and he was disbelieving and horrified that I was standing my ground.

  3. I do agree with you about the manipulation. Because my oldest did it. Brace yourself – long story coming.
    When he was 5 every night that his dad was working he refused to go to bed. As in, put to bed, then he would come out and follow me around. Wordlessly. Put back to bed. Come back out. Locked in. Stand at door and scream. We took away every privilege, spanked, you name it, I did it. Visited my sister. He did it again. She finally sent me to go get our supper. Came back he was sleeping. All it took her was “K go to bed.” HE only ever did the nonsense with me.
    SO, hubs thought I needed to work on bonding. Took him out for dinner. Just us. Bought him a toy at walmart with Xmas money. Came home. Hubs pretended to go out. SURPRISE. He did it again. So, yes, they can do this.
    What it took for us was hubs laying down the law. Repeatedly. Because I had become the person he only tested and tried to manipulate.
    IT is HORRID. But it will eventually end. Stand firm Hannah!!!

    • This is so comforting. Thank you.

  4. Ugh. I absolutely agree it’s manipulative behaviour. Angus did the same thing for preschool, and pretty much anywhere else I ever tried to leave him, and he was home with me constantly too. The “probably not” thing is kind of funny (because it’s not me). 🙂

    • I *did* laugh, later, although at the time it wasn’t funny at all.

      It makes me feel better to hear that Angus did this, too. I mean. He’s such as awesome young man now! I’ll bet he never cries when you drop him off at things anymore! THERE IS HOPE.

  5. Unpopular opinion or not, I think you’re right. And luckily the professionals know this and are supporting you instead of being all, “Um, no, take him away.”

    Neither of my kids did this particular thing, so I have nothing to offer but empathy. I think it’s just up to time and consistency to “cure” him. Sigh.

    • Thanks. And yes, I’m very grateful to the teachers. After all, they are listening to his screaming, too.

  6. I’m so very late to this post but am going to comment anyway because I feel you completely. It was for this exact reason that Husband dropped Youngest off at kindergarten for the first month of school last year. It meant H got to work later and came home later, but the alternative was Youngest pitching a dramatic sad display just for my benefit. The thing is, she had been going to the school for her entire 5 years of life to pick up Oldest at aftercare, to attend various events, etc, she was totally comfortable there, but I KNEW based on past experiences with her that she would totally freak out if I took her to K. Sure enough, she was fine with H and never did anything more than give him an extra hug. It’s frustrating because it’s not like I give in and let her stop doing whatever it is that she has to do (swimming lessons, going to school, etc) but she still trots out the drama for me and nothing for dad. ARGH.

  7. I’m worried fritter will end up this way. Owl got babysat a LOT as a baby so he got used to it fast but life being what it is, fritter has never been left with anyone ever. She is noticeably more clingy than Owl and it concerns me.


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