Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gifts We Give Our Kids

Getting in to the swing of the school year is uncomfortable for many of us. I still marvel at the kids who walk off to school on the first day with a new teacher, new kids and a new backpack then wave and walk away from their parent. That is not my child. Actually it might be my little one, but it is definitely not my girl.  She did better this year than I have ever seen her, but the first Monday back after the first weekend she was overcome with anxiety. She walked to her spot in the line and froze. She clenched my hand in hers and begged me to stay. When I said I couldn't she asked if I could get her at lunch, then maybe just 1:45, then she grabbed my hand harder and asked if she could please just come with me. She began crying then sobbing.

My first response is to try to calm her down, tell her it will be okay, and remind her that once she gets into the classroom she will have fun. We talk about the butterflies in her belly and that they can be there but they aren't allowed to take away her day of fun. She lets a few tears run down her face but does her best to walk into her room. I say goodbye and as I go towards the hall she screams after me out of her classroom. I hug her, calm her down, say goodbye, walk away again, and repeat. Twice she came after me, and it took so much strength on my part not to cry with her.

This is so familiar because this was me when I was a little girl. This is anxiety. It's genetic thus I have given her this gift and I wish I could take it back. I can't, so instead I am going to try my best to give her the tools that weren't given to me as a kid so that through her life she can feel like she can control her anxiety so that it doesn't control her. This is something I am still learning but as a team this family is starting to practice a bit more mindfulness, breathing and acceptance. It is absolutely a practice and not a magic trick but I am one determined mama. I can't take anxiety away from my child but I am without a doubt going to do my best to help her get through it. I want her to know she is not alone and that I totally understand. I want her to know I know how she feels because I still feel like that too sometimes. I have been reassuring her that worrying is an okay feeling, and that sometimes we worry about things that aren't real. I explained that it is up to us to figure out  the difference between what is really happening and what we are worried about happening. With her it is the moment she says goodbye she feels like the day will be so long and it will be too long before seeing me again. The reality is though when she gets into school she gets busy and time isn't an issue anymore when she is having fun.

We have had much better days since Monday. She is getting a little system down of putting her backpack on the hook then coming back to me for a hug before heading into her class. Little by little, day by day this will get easier. I went off to college in London for a semester, and when I got to my dorm I called my mom panicked and asked her if she could come if I needed her. She assured me she would, then later confided to me that of course she wouldn't have flown all the way to London. She said as soon as I heard she would come my breathing relaxed over the phone. She may not have gotten on a plane for me but learning what I needed to hear in that moment helped me tremendously. If I can pass that on to my daughter then Oh the places she will go...Just not overseas, thats too far.




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