Sometimes, It’s Easier than You Think. Sometimes, It’s Not.

I can’t remember if I have mentioned this yet, but Caleb has been a bit different since our car accident. Not in everyday life so much, just in church. Caleb has always loved going to nursery. He is the only one of my kids that I didn’t need to help adjust to the idea of going into the nursery (in our church, kids don’t start going to the nursery until they are eighteen months old). He just went right in. He quickly got to the point where he was excited to go every Sunday. We would drop him off with a smile on his face, and pick him up to happy explanations of what he had done that week.

Since the car accident, he has refused to go into the nursery alone. He would cry and cling to me when I tried to drop him off. I decided to stay until he felt comfortable. He clung to me and melted down if I tried to leave. For a couple of weeks, when it was time for me to go into the Young Women’s classes, I would take Caleb to Sean in Primary. One week, I decided to see what would happen if I took a bit harder of a line on it. I left him, melting down, and went to class. Since he wasn’t calming down, one of his teachers offered to bring him to my class every ten minutes or so and let him see that I was still nearby. It kind of worked for twenty minutes or so. Eventually, though, I ended up going back in with him.

This week, I decided that I would just commit to spending both hours in the nursery in an attempt to give him a whole Sunday without being upset. The first hour went great. He interacted with the other kids some and paid attention to the lesson. When the toys came out, I figured it was safe to take a pregnant lady break. I told the nursery leaders that I was going to go to the restroom, then told Caleb that I needed to go potty but I would be back in a couple of minutes. He started crying. I told him that Eli was going to stay in the nursery, too (surely, having his little brother there would reassure him that I was coming back, right?). He grabbed my leg and held on for dear life. One of his teachers, Jenn (the awesome one who had brought him to me at ten-minute intervals before), picked him up and I headed out the door.

By the time I came back a few minutes later, he was in a state that I have never seen him in. He was curled up in a ball on the floor, eyes closed tight, crying so hard that even his hands were turning red. I picked him up, saying “see, I came back.” He stayed rigid, kept his eyes closed tight, and started trying to kick me.

“He thinks you’re me,” Jenn told me.

Um, yeah.

As soon as I said, “Caleb, it’s Mommy. I’m back.” he relaxed, put his arms around me, and stopped screaming. It took awhile before he would play with the toys again.

It was heartbreaking.

I have no idea how to help him. When my other boys had issues with going to nursery, I would comfort them for a few weeks, then wean them off of having me there. But that was just normal separation anxiety. This is different. I don’t feel like I can expect him to just get over it. There is obviously something going on, and the timing is just too coincidental. I just have no idea how to help him.

In the meantime, though, we did have a talk about not kicking me—even if (especially if!) he thinks I’m one of his teachers.


Lately, Noah has been talking about wanting to have his own room. Really, the timing is pretty good—the three older boys are all in the same bedroom, and there is no way that we would be able to put a fourth bed in there when it’s time for Eli to move out of our room. My ultimate plan was going to be to put Noah and Wyatt into the bedroom downstairs, have Caleb and Eli in the current bedroom and, when the time comes, either put the baby in one of those two bedrooms if it is a boy, or by itself in the tiny fourth bedroom if it is a girl.

When Noah started asking seriously last week for his own room, Sean decided to start implementing that plan. He instantly moved Noah’s dresser downstairs and was ready to take the bed down, too. I decided to encourage him to not jump the gun—we’re talking about a kid who still comes into our room most nights. I was highly skeptical that he would actually be willing to sleep in the basement alone.

Last night, Noah said he was ready. Since the mattress to the spare bed was still in that room, we laid it on the floor and piled on some blankets. For reassurance (just as much ours as his) we set up the baby monitor in the bedroom. We kissed him goodnight and waited to see what would happen.

He fell asleep right away. Even more amazing, he slept through the whole night. Actually, he slept in almost an hour later than his brothers this morning.

He’s down there again tonight. He did have one moment of concern where the ferret making noises in his cage sent Noah scurrying up the stairs with his pillow. Sean reassured him and he went back down. He’s asleep now—we’ll see how tonight goes.

I can’t believe my baby is suddenly enough of a big boy to have his own bedroom in the basement.



Filed under Church, Daily Life, Kids, Parenting

4 responses to “Sometimes, It’s Easier than You Think. Sometimes, It’s Not.

  1. Poor Caleb! That breaks my heart. I think you’re right. Its not normal seperation anxiety. I’m not really sure how to help him either…other than just hanging out with him in the nursery for the next few months.
    When we brought Maddie home she had an episode where she had a night terror that left her scarred for several months. She had a horrible time sleeping for about two weeks, screamed in absolute terror if you brought a blanket anywhere near her and would visibly shake any time she went near her bedroom.
    Their little minds are so complicated and its so difficult when you can’t reason with them.
    We’ll be praying for wisdom for both of you.

  2. Poor Caleb. It sounds like he’s still traumatized. Poor little guy. I’m sure you’ve read up on attachment stuff before – it sounds like he’ll need some major reassurance before he’ll want to be left alone. But again – I’m sure you already know that. 🙂

  3. Nicole

    Oh wow. He’s such an adorable kid… that’s just heartbreaking. 😦 I hope thing improve soon.

  4. Nancy

    I’ve seen Caleb in that state before – when you went to the doctor last week. He couldn’t be consoled, but eventually decided he wanted to lie in his own bed and go to sleep. And he did. There was still reasoning going on in there, but he was really distressed.

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