Mornings remain rocky. Two days might pass smoothly, but then the separation anxiety kicks back in. The bell rings. Cory races to her classroom, and Fisher races to the top of the play structure to hide. Daddy eventually coaxes him down and into the room, but Fisher begs Daddy not to leave. Daddy stays for five minutes one day before finding the right moment to jet. The next day Fisher watches more closely, and it takes 20 minutes to break away…until finally, Fisher sits for the entire first hour of class just watching Daddy with teary eyes that try very hard not to look away. A guest teacher with gardening tools proves too intriguing, and at the one-hour mark, when those eyes look away to consider a hand rake, Daddy slips away.
In the dark at bedtime…
D: Fisher, can you try not to cry tomorrow when I drop you off at school?
F: But, Daddy, I don’t like school.
D: Why not?
F: Because I jus’ miss you.
D: I miss you, too, Fisher, but if you could give me a hug and a kiss and then go to school, it would be better for us both. If you cry, it makes you sadder and it makes me sadder, too. And, that’s no fun.
D: Some days you don’t cry, Fisher. Those days are better because you get to learn in class without being so sad. And, I get to work without being so sad.
F (voice cracking): But, Daddy, on those days when I don’t cry, I am still very, very sad. (Pause.) I jus’ don’t cry on those days, but I am still very sad, Daddy. (Pause.) It is a long day to be away from you, and I jus’ don’t like that.
Whether aversion to something specific about school or true separation anxiety or something else, mornings remain a definite work in progress.