My daughter has been in daycare/preschool since the age of 1 1/2, and every morning, I notice many different types of moms and dads dropping off their kids. For instance:
1. The all business parent. This is the parent who methodically places the child's lunch bag into the child's cubby, escorts the child into the classroom and swiftly bends down, gives a quick hug and kiss and walks away without looking back.
2. The disorganized parent. This is the parent who is still packing the child's lunch while bringing the child into school. This parent also forgets half of the child's belongings in the car and must go back and forth from the car to the classroom to procure the needed belongings.
3. The lingering parent gives a kiss and a hug to his/her child, but stays and draws out the goodbye, whether the child wants to or not.
4. The overly friendly parent walks in and "owns" the center, including the staff, children and other parents. This parent may as well be using a loudspeaker to say good morning to everyone. This parent jokes with everyone and emits a lot of energy.
5. The stressed parent stomps in, dragging his/her child along. This parent has too much going on and leaves off his/her child without any real interaction. The child is either happy to be away from this parent at drop-off or he/she has internalized that stressed feeling and starts crying as the parent leaves.
6. The complainer does just that. From the moment this parent walks in with his/her child, there are endless issues that must be discussed. Why is my child's cubby at the end of the row? Why didn't my child get a turn first? Are the teachers even paying attention to my child during the day? There is no rational conversation with this parent, and there is always an issue to contend with.
7. The even-mannered parent walks in with his/her child, has a nice talk already in progress with the child and does a good job of transitioning the child into school mode. There is a hug and kiss goodbye and an "I'll see you later!" as he/she walks out.
I have been all of these at one point or another, and I certainly know what it is like to be the lingering parent. In early September, I would give my daughter a big hug and kiss, but then I wouldn't move. The teachers were helpful as they would tell my daughter to pick something to do or start talking to her to transition her away from me, but I would just stand there like a deer in headlights, feeling my own panic at saying goodbye to her. Maybe it was because I had a difficult summer with depression and I wanted to make sure she was OK, or maybe I simply did not want to leave her. Whatever the reason, I am guilty.
Lately I have been wavering from being the all business parent to the even-mannered parent. Some mornings, I am rushing to get to work and I settle my daughter, give her a hug and kiss and I am out the door. Other mornings, I am able to take a deep breath and a few minutes to settle her, connecting her to her friends and teachers before giving a hug and kiss and wishing her a great day.
As parents, we strive to be strong role models for our children, but do we recognize that when we are harried at drop-off? Can we "tip off" other parents when we see that they are being the stressed parent and need to take a breath? I think it is important to monitor ourselves and help each other out at the same time.
Which parent do you want to be at drop-off?