Christmas has ended, Santa and the Three Wise Men have put the sweet hopeful flavour as every new year with the chocolates and sweets and parades and, of course the gifts… specially the gifts. Well, the best of all spending time with the family and play with the kids.
Now we are back in business, in our way to work and it seems holidays happened long time ago. We have to go back I doing in this train if I could be at home giving the breakfast to my baby girl, not so baby any more. Well as they say in my home country, I do not know what “that’s what we have”. Do not get me wrong, I love my work, I am a vocational worker and once I cross the door to my workplace, generally the hospital, I have a fantastic day doing what I do best, help people to be healthy. But I need my husband to send me every single morning the “picture of the day” of the best smile in the world or the saddest grin (it depends on how in a good mood she wakes up). I do not call anymore because is she hears me she cries and call for me and is an absolute drama… Not even the Greek tragedies are as spectacular… we just miss the chore.
That is one of the reasons why I wanted to begin this year posting a meditation about separation of children from their parents, generally being more dramatic the separation from their mother the first years because generally she is the closest one to the baby. There are clear exceptions of course.
It is true that separation, even the temporary ones that we talk about here the preschool or the grandparents house, cause an instant stress and sadness to the child, they cry and shown distress… be aware that this happens to parents as well. There has been rivers of ink talking about this from diverse points of view and perspectives, pragmatic, psychological, political, social… as many perspectives as you can imagine. Well I did not wanted to be less and here is mine as MD, as neuroscientist as early childhood expert and specially as mother.
I think that frustration and fear, jealousy and egoism are a main part of the human essence and they have to be an important part of the learning and developing process. Classically they have been conceived as negative influences but they help as well in the healthy develop of the person. Please, and first of all take note of this very important note I believe among anything that the childhood has to be HAPPY therefore this kind of painful feelings or situations have to be minimized, we will never force the frustration on the kid, ever. But using the little daily frustrations as a learning tool and therefore extracting a benefit from it. And there we are the parents to use this tools. However what I see is that eliminating this “negative stimulus” or ignoring its existence (very often with jealousy) is not necessarily good for the child. First of all life is unfair, even in our developed countries that are if anything privileged, so it is better to learn to deal with this feeling as soon as possible. Afterall they are inevitable, if he or she does not get frustrated because of the separation from the parents, it will be because his or her pet die or is lost, because their favourite toy is broken or because daddy or mummy have the flu, are very sick and can no play today. There is always something frustrating.
And again, do not get mi wrong, I am kind of a “hen mother” almost overprotective, breast milk exclusive till the 6 month, and after that as long as the baby wants to have breast milk, looking in the market for organic food that I can afford, and opening the blankets of my bed to allow her to crawl with us at night if she does not want to sleep alone in her bed. But I realize that we will be separated and this is good, it is going to be difficult and painful but that is not bad, and we will get use to it, survive and enjoy different places, people and situations. The same that I open the door at my workplace and enjoy the day, she opens her grandparents or the preschool door and enjoy learning things that I can not teach her because we all are absolutely biased. If we want the kids to develop their own criteria they have to be exposed to different points of view not only ours. However I make sure that the environment I left my baby in is rich in stimulus, safe and full of love for her.
And between the wake up and having a good time there is this tiny moment of daily Greek tragedy and probably a bit of catharsis. A couple of last things, I miss been with her and I get a bit upset when she does something for the first time and I am not there but… There is always a second time and it is fun as well. And, when I come back in the afternoon-evening I spend every single second playing with her and enjoying her company as if it were the end of the world.