when we leave our child
I thought I’d write a post about what we do when we leave Michael with a sitter.
I always, always, always, make sure Michael knows where I am or if I am leaving. Even if I am just leaving the room (although this depends on his level of security wherever he is and whom he is with–for example, I can just leave the room at home because he knows where to find me, and I can leave him in a room with Grandma because he feels secure with her). But if I am going to be gone for more than a minute, I always tell him.
The other day Phillip made the mistake of leaving Michael for a couple minutes at our neighbors’ house while he went to get something, and had neglected to tell Michael he was going anywhere. Michael was crying as soon as he realized Phillip was missing. He didn’t know where his Daddy was or whether he was coming back. He wasn’t even in a familiar room. Phillip and I were going on a date and leaving him with these neighbors for the very first time, and I was worried that he wouldn’t be okay after the scare. But I did what I do whenever I leave him with his grandparents: I explain that Mommy and Daddy are going somewhere and will be back in a few hours. He understands this. I’ve always explained it to him, and by the time he was 15 months old, I knew for sure that he understood. He knows we are coming back. At Grandma’s house he just gives us a quick hug goodbye and is off playing.
But the neighbors were new sitters for him. He was distracted, driving his little red car, when my neighbor said, “Quick! Go!” like she expected me to sneak out on him. I never sneak out on him. I just ignored that and went over to him. After I told him that Mommy and Daddy were going somewhere for a few hours and that he would stay there and play, he looked a little nervous. I asked him to give me a hug goodbye. He hesitated. But then he got out of the car, and ran over to me and gave me a hug. Then he gave Phillip a hug. We said goodbye. He was fine. We told them to call if he cried for more than a couple of minutes. They didn’t call. In fact, when we got back he was having so much fun that he didn’t want to leave. He greeted me with a big hug and happy smile, and went on playing.
And people told me he’d never be independent if I didn’t just leave him and let him cry. I fail to see the logic in that. What makes sense to me is to show my child respect. I’m going to tell him what is going on. I’m not going to break our trust by ditching him somewhere. I’m grateful he feels comfortable with a few people that we can leave him with. I didn’t expect it to happen at so young an age, so I suppose we are lucky. But I think it helps that we have been careful to help him be comfortable with these people, to allow him time to warm up if he needs it, and to always let him know we are leaving and will be back.