The Kissing Hand
There is a sweet book called "The Kissing Hand" that has been a favorite in my house for many years.
Here is a video of the story of Chester and his mother.
I love to share this book with children at the beginning of the school year, and thought that some parents might like to read or watch with their kiddos now, whether they are going to kindergarten or college.
In the story, Chester is super anxious to leave his mom, but she always leaves him with a kiss in his paw that he can put into his pocket to use anytime. When he's missing her, Chester pulls out the kiss and presses it to his cheek, thinking about her words. "Mommy loves you! Mommy love you!" Over the years my daughter and I have used the kissing hand many, many times including last week when I dropped her off at school. It's so special that we even have matching little hearts tattooed close to our palms.
While I do not advocate the tattoo route for the kinder-crown, there are lots of rituals you can create when saying goodbye to your child! Whether it's a crazy high-five-handshake, kisskisskiss then a hug, or kiss hug kiss... it's your thing. Rituals are definitely comforting, and for kids headed into a new situation, comfort is a gift. Seeing you walk away happy and confident helps your child feel happy and confident. It's such a wonderful feeling to be able know that even though your little one may have some butterflies, you have given the confidence to head into a new adventure with a kiss in their pocket and you in their mind, as opposed to having me peel them from your leg.
Leg peeling, or "peel and stick" as I have come to refer to it, happens after a summer of hearing, "I just don't know what I'll do without my little helper!" or "Mommy's going to be so sad when you're at school all day!" Paired with a heavy helping in some form of, "One more kissy! I'll miss you! Ooooo I'll miss you so much! I'll be right here waiting! Kissy! Huggie! I miss you already!" Followed by a tearful mom walking to the car with her head down and shoulders heaving. In this scenario your poor child feels that they must be headed into something scary, and in addition are also worried that you will be falling apart all day without them!
Action plan: create a little "Later Gator" routine and practice it with your child over the next two weeks. On the first day, hit it once, give a genuine smile and wave, then off to class or onto the bus they go.
Whatever way you would like your child to get to and from school, practice it from the first day. If you would like them to be a bus rider, practice that from day one, otherwise it will be tempting for your child to play the can-you-please-just-ride-me-to-school-today-just-this-one-more-time card on a regular basis.
This is the part where we begin to discuss "boundaries". Guys. Listen. Kids are seriously Ninja-crazy-gifted in this area. They have the power to launch some secret invisibility mode with their envelope pushing that even the most steely eyed, suspicious parent can miss. Before you know it you're in hostage negotiations, and the hostage is you! Please don't think I'm pointing fingers, oh no. On the contrary, I write this from the viewpoint of a former hostage. I totally fell for those sad little brown eyes on a regular basis. Looking back though, I would have held the line a gajillion times over.
See, the sneaky envelope pushers are hardwired to seek the boundary line. How far they can push us. It's essential for their safety! If sweet little deer and raccoon could set boundaries with their offspring, they wouldn't cross the highway. It's up to us as parents to show our kids where the boundaries are. Otherwise they will continue to push, and someone at school will need to show them. If that doesn't work, and it sometimes doesn't, someone or something outside of school will determine that boundary, and it's usually one we wish would never be crossed.
Bottom line? Practice goodbye.
Hold the line.
Enjoy the ride.
But waitwaitwaitwaitwait.... what if it's the first day, you do all of that and you still have tears??? Stick to the plan. I promise you that there are loving folks at school who will reassure your child, offer hugs and a hand to hold, and who will genuinely love and care for your child until they feel better. Generally they will even give you a call to let you know they are ok, and super-cool principals may even send you a selfie with them to show you that they are happy.
You got this.
Stick that kiss!