Friday, September 11, 2009

Separation Anxiety

It's been several days since I've blogged, but I was busy getting my kids set up for school. My son, a tiny five-year-old, just stepped on the bus for the second time this week to attend all-day kindergarten. Did I cry the first time? Nope. I did get a little hollow in my stomach, but I didn't cry. Honestly, I probably would have felt a little lonely yesterday, but I was too busy grading (I won't start on that subject, though).

This morning, my son was off again, holding his sister's hand as he climbed up into the bus. I know it helps to see him with her, to know he's riding all the buses with her, to know she's there on the playground for at least one of his three recesses. Mostly, though, I feel proud of him, that he's brave enough to take off and try something all day, to involve himself with new friends, new routines, and new explorations.

And he is brave. Did he cling to me? Nope. His sister didn't either. Neither of them were trouble in this way. Not ever. Not even on the first day of preschool. Now, since the day they were born I took them everywhere, organized play dates and sleepovers, took them to lunch with friends (my friends), and involved them in very social activities. 

I am not alone in doing this sort of socialization, yet I know there is a whole other group of parents who do the opposite. I was reminded of this just this morning, when one of the kindergardeners wouldn't get on the bus. His older sister climbed on and urged him to do the same, but he wouldn't. His mother had to drive him to school this morning, hoping she'd be able to leave him in his classroom eventually (once he stopped clinging to her leg).

Now, he's not my son. My son was born in Independence, Kansas, for a reason--and since he was born he's pretty much insisted on doing everything for himself. Still, my work to socialize him has paid off, for he has always had reinforcement to take chances, to try new things. So far the only thing that didn't work was soccer (again, that's a whole other blog). 

But this little boy who wouldn't get on the bus had hardly been out of his house. His mom had waited to go to the store until her husband was home to watch the kids. He never went to preschool. In fact, the three hours he spent at school yesterday may count as the longest he'd ever been away from his mother. No wonder it was tough for him.

I'm not saying the way I'm raising my kids is the right way. But it's my way, and it's a direct response to the lack of socialization I received as a child and the lack I see in other children. Children are taught their ABC's, but if they aren't taught to interact, they lose out on a lot. 

I have no desire to teach my kids to fear being away from me. I want them, if anything, to have a little more bravery than they need. I want them ready to face the world, no matter what, so when it's time to go off to college, to get that full-time job, to take some risks to get what they truly want, they are ready.

Thoughts? I've shared mine.


  1. Unsuprisingly, I also think socialization is very important. Although my two youngest have not had a lot of preschool interaction with others, they interact with other people, go places, etc. It's one reason I have not seriously considered homeschooling my son.

    And that's paid off. He loves to go to school, to be on the bus, to see friends. He took to summer school with joy and had no problem adjusting to all-day school. My eldest daughter revels in the social interactions at school.

    I'm not saying there are some advantages to keeping children isolated. I've been exposed to some pretty heinous things and my daughter's companions can be fairly frightening. But I can't keep her under my thumb for life and isn't it better to learn to deal with the rest of the world when I'm still here to help her recover, to offer advice, to guide her?

    Some day, she will have to deal with the real world. Better she's prepared.

    In my opinion.

  2. agreed.
    my children couln't wait to go to school. i have to say socialization is very important. and any parent wanting their kids to be alittle more independent will do this as well...

    glad to have you posting again.