Twice a week, the baby sitter arrives at 9 a.m. and Matthew, like clockwork, starts his mini-tantrum. First he freezes, his brain tick-ticking. A look of realization passes over his face, his brow creases to a deep furrow, and his jaw drops into a low hissy "noooo" "noooo!". Poor Sasha. She's barely inside the door and he's spitting his hostile sounds at her. Matthew knows, you see, that her arrival signals my departure. It's like he thinks I'm trying to trick him, trying to ditch him.
So we - Sasha and me - spend the next twenty minutes trying to console him, as he lies on the floor, beating the carpet with his fists. We try to ply him with everything we can think of. Toys, books, food, milk, and finally, when all else fails, TV. And then I try to get out as quickly as possible. Because once I'm gone, I know he's fine. He gets over me pretty fast.
They spend the morning playing, taking trips to the park, and doing fun things. Far more fun things than are had on a regular day with me, of that I'm fairly sure. But still, the separation ordeal leaves me feeling anxious and guilty.
We've been together almost every day since he was born. We're practically inseparable. So it's not surprising that he demonstrates his hurt when I leave. Maybe he thinks I'm not coming back. He does the same with J too. Every morning when J leaves for work, he stands at the front window wailing "Daaaddyyy!!" "Daaadddyyy!!" over and over through the glass in the most heartbreaking little voice imaginable.
Baby Center says it's perfectly normal at this age - that learning to cope with separation is just one of the stresses toddlers have to learn to cope with as they grow. How sad I feel though, that my baby is growing up and learning to cope with life's stresses. When did he get to be so big?