Let's start from the beginning with this one. It will be necessary before I reveal what I have done. Something I NEVER would EVER think to do.
Mary has seperation anxiety. If any of you have been following the blog, or have spoken with me in the past year, you know all about this fun issue we get to deal with.
Mary began showing small signs of it when we lived in Colorado, but nothing to alarm me too much.
Then we moved, I had a baby, and she started school. HELLO seperation anxiety, goodbye my dreams of waving my daughter off to school where she will happily go down the path with her friends, love recess, and come running back out to me when school is over, all excited about what she did that day.
School isn' the only area of concern. Babysitters, dropping her off and picking her up from gymnastics, even me just asking her to stay in the car while I run something in to a neighbors house. All of these things cause panic attacks, hyperventilating, calls from the school, lots of tears, and a heartache so deep in me, as I watch my daughter suffer, that I can hardly stand it.
Why does my little girl have to suffer so much. She realizes that it isn't normal to get so upset and scared, but she can't help how she feels. There is a fear, deep within her, that is raging and very real. It is very frusterating to her and it embarrasses her, but she is just as confused with it as the rest of us. I feel so badly for her.
We got a really good hold on the whole thing last year, after she had been in Kindergarten for a while, and we had a good routine. No more panic attacks. She still showed signs of her anxiety here and there, but all in all, we had a good hold on it.
Then 1st Grade started.
Day 1 She loved school, but got sick.
Day 2 She mentions that school is REALLY long and that she misses me. She loves her teacher, and has a bunch of friends in the class. Her teacher said she did great.
Day 3 Mary is crying when I pick her up. She is sick, and she says she was scared that I would get lost and not be there to pick her up.
Day 4 Mary stays at her desk (clinging to it, as the teacher told me) after the bell rings for school to be over. She is hyperventilating. She won't leave the school with the other kids. I am waiting outside wondering where Mary is. She finally arrives hand in hand with her teacher. Mary is sobbing, shaking, and can't breathe well. I have a talk with the teacher.
Day 5 Mary won't let go of me in order to go into the school at the beginning of the day. Her teacher lets me walk her in to her desk. Mary is crying after school when I pick her up. Teacher says she does great until the bell rings for them to go home. Then she panicks.
And so the saga continues.
The only way Mary is ok, is if I get her and everyone else ready early in the morning. We ALL walk Mary to school. We wait right next to Mary, in her line, until the bell rings. Mary holds my hand. Then I walk her right up to the door. Me and the other two kids then walk back home.
When school is over, I have to drive to the school. Park. Get out of the car and walk right up to Mary's door. I am there to greet her right away, and we come home.
In between all of this, I have to reassure her constantly that I will always be there. Nothing will happen to me while she is at school. And so on.
The same happens with gymnastics, babysitters, and any other time I leave her sight. And it is not just me. At recess, for some reason, one of the aids had to go inside the school. There was not an adult outside. Mary had a panick attack.
Another time, her teacher left the classroom to get something, when she came back, Mary was crying.
If there is a substitute teacher in primary, Mary won't go. And so on.
I know this is getting long, stay with me. I need to get this out, and people need to understand.
Mary's "issue" is horrible for her, and in turn, it is a nightmare for me, as her mother. My heart breaks for Mary, and the weight it puts on my shoulders, to always be by her side, is really hard to be patient with. Morning have been hectic trying to have everyone fed, dressed and ready to go walk Mary to school. Sam gets tired and I usually end up carrying his bike, and pushing he and William in the stroller UP the hill 1/2 mile to our house. It doesn't sound bad, but doing this every morning, gets old....fast.
The constant worry every time I drop her off somewhere, or I have to go somewhere, is also a big burden. I end up worrying a lot, and most of the time, my worries are correct.
SO, naturally, I have been on my knees with this for quite some time. We have tried everything we can think of. We have researched her condition. We have talked to a school psyschologist. We have talked to other parents, teachers, coaches, etc. We have spent the last year working through the mental part of it with Mary.
Then a thought popped into my head. The thought became several discussions with Ben. The discussions turned into a plan, and the plan was just innitiated today.
Mary has a phone. Yup, my 6 year old, first grader has a cell phone.
Before you judge me, please finish reading. I know it sounds crazy.
Mary only has three contacts in her phone. Me, Ben and her grandma. She has no texting, not games, no internet, NOTHING...period.
She doesn't know her own phone number, so she can't give it to anyone. And she can only have it at school, and MAYBE gymnastics. And any other time Ben and I decide she needs it.
She knows the rules and is willing to accept them.
I am happy to report, that today, IT WORKED!!!
Mary rode her scooter to school with her friends...no tears. I stayed home and Sam actually got to sleep in!
Mary called me right when she got to school, and I talked to her until the bell rang. She was happy and fine. She then turned her phone off, put it in her special place in her backpack, and it will stay off, until the bell rings for the day to end. Then she will call me again and talk to me until I get her.
Her teacher knows about the phone, and was more than willing to let us try this with Mary.
I am praying that the progress continues with Mary in other ways, and that mentally, she can work through this.
Until then though, she has a way that she can ALWAYS get ahold of me, no matter what. And that is a great source of peace and comfort to her.
I have always been one to scoff at children with phones. I often wonder what on earth the parents must be thinking. I have learned my lesson. I will no longer judge. You NEVER know the situation or the reasons. It is just best to give people the benefit of the doubt.