My grandmother was a very special lady.
She loved people and had an special place in her heart for children.
Every summer, each of her grandchildren was given the opportunity to spend two weeks with her in that warm and welcoming house on a tree-lined street in Brooklyn, New York.
When I was 4 years old, I pleaded to be allowed to go for my first sleepover. Even though my parents didn’t think I was old enough, they relented and so I helped my mother pack my little suitcase, dreaming of all the fun things I would do with my grandmother during those two weeks. Visits to the beach at Coney Island, hot dogs at Nathans, hours spent helping my grandmother bake and cook in her warm kitchen, planting seeds in her wildly beautiful and fragrant backyard garden.
Since all of my grandmother’s children and grandchildren visited her on Sundays, my family and I took the train from Manhattan to Brooklyn. I sat in my seat, my little suitcase at my feet, and could hardly wait for the train to arrive at her station.
After a fun-filled day of playing with my cousins, the house slowly emptied as my aunts and uncles and cousins left for their own homes and I bid farewell to my parents and older sister. I enjoyed the next few hours, helping my grandmother wash and dry the dishes. I played with her special box of costume jewelry that she kept just for little girls who love to wear sparkly things. I helped her prepare our dinner.
But, as evening approached, I began to feel very anxious and unhappy.
I wanted to go home to sleep in my own bed…in the room I shared with my sister.
Although my grandmother did try to encourage me to stay, she understood how I felt and did not try to pressure me or make light of my concerns. She called my parents and my father came to get me…no easy task since he had to take the subway from Manhattan to Brooklyn and then do the trip in reverse to bring me home. He had already made the trip back and forth earlier in the day. And the next day was Monday and he would have to do it again to go to work.
But there were no recriminations or “I told you so” comments from either of my parents.
Do you have a child who suffers from separation anxiety? Early on, young children form a very strong bond with their parents. While we don’t want to ever break that bond, each child has their own unique ability to stretch it…some are able to do it sooner and some later.
How can you help your children get to the point where they can watch you walk away and keep a smile on their faces and in their hearts?
Here are a few good tips that might help:
1. Reassure your child you will always return.
2. Keep your attitude positive and matter-of-fact.
3. Treat your child’s concerns with respect.
4. Offer stories of your own childhood experiences and feelings.
5. Read picture book stories where the main character faces a similar problem, but succeeds in overcoming it.
If you check out some of my past posts that address this issue, you will find some of those book suggestions and other tips that may help.
You can also find more picture book recommendations, gentle parenting tips and fun-filled educational activities in my new parenting book
I hope you’ve all enjoyed The Grandma Chronicles. It was a wonderful experience for me, revisiting with my memories of a person who had a great impact on my early years…and in helping me to become the person I am today.
Tomorrow I will start a new series based on The Lessons of Nanny McFee. Have you seen the movie? I just did and I was struck by her five lessons…I think each one has a place in every parent’s rulebook.