Friday Fives: How to make the screaming stop

Tristan hates getting dropped off at daycare. He’s been going for more than two months now – every Friday and Monday, a very nice lady named Jessica looks after him. Jessica is a SAHM with a little cutie called Ewan who is a few months older than Tristan. They have a beagle and a few cats, which Tristan likes to chase around, and during the day he likes to play with Ewan and snuggle with Jessica.

However, you’d never know that by the way he behaves in the morning. As soon as Nathan walks up to Jessica’s house and she opens the door, the tears begin. And the moment he’s out of Nathan’s arms, it becomes a full-blown tantrum. It’s a red-faced, eyes-scrunched, crocodile-tears, arm-waving scream-fest. The type where he screams so loud and so long that you become afraid he won’t be able to draw a breath. It’s heartbreaking to witness, and it leaves Nathan slightly traumatized for the rest of the morning. I have to admit, I’m a little bit glad it’s him and not me who has to deal with it, because I’d probably be in tears for my whole commute.

Now, I have to give full kudos to Jessica, who is never the least bit fazed by this display of hysteria. She just deals with it very matter-of-factly, not being overly emotional and sympathetic, but not being annoyed or frustrated with him either. She tells us that it never lasts more than five minutes after we leave. However, it’s no fun for anybody, and Nathan and Jessica have tried various strategies to make leave-taking less traumatic for all involved. So for the Friday Fives this week, we have given report card grades to some of these strategies.

  1. Staying to chat. Sometimes Nathan will just hang around for a while, chatting with Jessica, so that Tristan can take his time adjusting.  Generally, Tristan just stays snuggled into Nathan’s shoulder, saving his energy for the screaming. It doesn’t matter how long Nathan lingers, the screams always come. C-
  2. Bribes. As you may remember, Tristan loves blueberries. He’ll always happily devour them, and we have been successfully used blueberries to distract him after vaccinations at the doctor. So the idea was to have Jessica give him blueberries as a sort of positive reinforcement – something to look forward to. It worked once, sort of. Since then, he ignores them completely, screaming so hard that he can’t even see them, and the arm-waving just increases the likelihood that Jessica will be mopping blueberry juice off the floor later. D
  3. Reading. Before Nathan even leaves, Jessica will take Tristan and read a book. This seems to reduce the screaming to mere crying, most of the time. Except when it doesn’t. C
  4. House tour. On a related strategy, she’ll take him and walk around the house, pointing out toys, or Christmas tree ornaments, or other fun things, in an attempt to distract him. Again, it seems to bring the level of freaking-out down a notch. Usually. B-
  5. Puppy licks. Tristan loves to follow Cooper, the beagle puppy, around during the day. So it was thought at one point that maybe if he was allowed to play with the dog in the morning, it might distract him. Alas, it turns out that getting licked by Cooper at the same time that Daddy is leaving raises the trauma by a power of ten. F

If anybody has any suggestions, we’d love to hear them. After 2 months of daycare, it’s getting worse, not better. One thing we’d like to try is to have Ewan act as a distraction; unfortunately, Ewan is still in bed when Tristan arrives. On the other hand, maybe he’d just set Ewan off, and then Jessica would be stuck with two screamers*. In the mean time, send all your positive morning mojo to Nathan, who has to go and work on his thesis all day long, with the sound of Tristan screaming still ringing in his ears.


*Note – I don’t mean the large, ugly bird called a southern screamer. Then again, it’s likely that only Nathan was confused by that sentence.


2 responses to “Friday Fives: How to make the screaming stop

  1. I think you have to just continue to hand him off and walk away. Don’t prolong the goodbye. He will always know something’s up. It’s hard, but I think we more we try to avoid the screaming the worse it will be. If we don’t pay it any attention, EVENTUALLY it will get better…

    • Grrr…I know you’re right, but it sucks. I had to do the drop off today because Nathan is sick, so I tried to get in and out as quick as I could. Hopefully he got over it quickly. How’s your writing coming along?

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