Separation anxiety is a regular part of growing up. It happens whenever a child takes some step that further differentiates her/him from her/his parents. So when Esther really got the hang of crawling and when she started walking, for instance, she also developed some separation anxiety. The anxiety comes from a lack of feeling safe in the world without the "safe one" or parent. Of course, she eventually learned that she is basically safe when she crawls into the other room: I am still in this room and still here for her. Same with walking, except, of course, when she walks into stuff or off of stuff...
Separation anxiety also rears its ugly head when I really am leaving her somewhere. Sometimes she would cry when I left her in the church nursery (not often, she eventually thought it was her own playroom with bonus friends), the times she first had to start or change a day care, and especially at the YMCA (that one is another story for another post).
Lately, with the back and forth between her dad and me, I've been worried about separation anxiety for Esther. She's also beginning potty training, which is one of those, I'm-growing-up-so-I-need-you-less-Oh-my-God-where-are-you?! things. Being the book-lover that I am, and knowing she's too young to just sit down and talk it out, I am once again resorting to books.
Most of the story books in the separation anxiety department are about young kiddos going to school. Esther (after the first day or two of surprise that she's in another new place) loves school. When I drop her off, she starts saying bye-bye immediately and keeps at it until I can finally get her coat off, hang it up, and get out the door. She is like a twelve-year-old. I'm pretty sure her first sentence will be, "Um, mom, can you just drop me off here, I'll walk the rest of the way." Or, "Ew, mom, don't kiss me in public!"
Anyway, school isn't our problem. Our problem is, she's away from daddy for a few weeks at a time and then she's away from mommy for a week at a time.
I Love You All the Time is cute. It chronicles two bear parents doing things throughout the day, like going to work, being on the phone while bear cub is looking bored, and bear cub going to bed. It reiterates, "I love you all the time," and cubby is reminded, even when parent-bears aren't paying direct attention to you, they still love you.
You Go Away is another one that covers the gamut. It starts with peek-a-boo, which is the beginning of addressing separation anxiety, because baby really does think you've disappeared behind that blanket. It goes on to hide-and-seek, stepping away from the grocery cart for a second, going to work (parents), going to school (kiddos), and finally, mom and dad go someplace on an airplane. It has the most simple language. "Away. Back" "You go away. You come back." This allows for me to interpret what Esther and I see.
The Kissing Hand is sweet but maybe a bit too old for Esther right now (we read it anyway). In it, the Mama raccoon is getting the baby raccoon ready for school, and baby raccoon (cub? pup?) is sad to leave Mama behind all day. She kisses his paw and tells him that whenever he's missing her, he can hold the paw up to his cheek and remember her kiss is there. It's really sweet. There's one confusing thing: raccoons are nocturnal, so baby goes to school at night. I don't know why this messes me up, but it does every time! Also, there's a really sweet/cute (ok, and also predictable) ending, which I will not spoil for you here.
That is just the start. I'm a book-a-holic, and some part of me thinks I can fix anything with just the right picture book. Esther has at least two more, and I bought one for myself that arrived in the mail today. I'll let you know what I think.