Recently I dropped my son off at daycare for his first day there EVER. Woah! First let me say that my wife and I are spoiled: he didn’t start daycare til he was just over 7 months old (fantastic), and the daycare seems to be great.
Leading up to this, in the past month or so, our son had begun to show little hints of ‘stranger danger’ signs … Meaning he might look askance or be a little worried or uncomfortable if someone new was to hold him. This had created in me a real dread over his first day. The night before his first day the closest approximation for what I felt was akin to knowing you would be breaking up with someone. Yes, it was the right thing to do, and yes, it was good for everyone, but in the short-term … woe is you, woe is me.
I knew, and know, that my son is likely to roll with this change better than I am. But the morning was a fun one.
Driving to the daycare was short, we’re only about 10 minutes from there. And from the daycare to my work it’s another 10. I talked to the kiddo about his day with occasional abrupt changes of topic.
- ‘We’ll get there, say hi to the other kiddos, say hi to your teacher, and then dad will … leave.’ (Change of topic.)
- ‘Oh look at the mountains! They have so much pretty snow! Maybe we should just call in sick and bail on this?’ (Change of topic.)
- ‘One day you’re going to come home from school and you’re going to tell us all about your day and that’ll be so fun! … Or if it’s a bad one we’ll get ice cream.’ (Change of topic.)
- ‘Ok buddy, let’s talk about what dad will think about to keep himself from crying after … Anyway, we could think about cats playing with a ball of yarn. What? Why is that what popped into my head? Instead, dad could think about dinosaurs! Cool stuff, huh?’
I was genuinely surprised after so many almost-starts with crying that I didn’t shed a single tear with the drop off. I think figuring out the logistics distracted me, and a few things had gone a little wonky. (Where do I put the car seat? HOW DID THIS MILK SPILL FROM THIS STUPID BOTTLE? Ew gross, get that runny nose baby away from my baby.) Overall, the drop-off … happened.
Dad Strategy number 1? I feel like I should have one given the name of this post. Hmmm. Here it is: cry, don’t cry, whatever, it’s all good, just don’t stare your child in the face while handing him to someone while crying (that was a worry).