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living a well tended life... at any age

separation anxiety

“Separation will be a large part of the curriculum at the beginning of the year. It’s a necessary and important part of a child’s development”.

I was going through the pile of papers that invade my house at the beginning of every school year. Amidst the nursery school papers was a “primer” on helping your toddler cope with separation anxiety. I smiled smugly to myself and was about to toss it – after all, Noah had already gone through a year of school and loved it – he had no issues separating whatsoever, and in fact would cry when it was time to go home at the end of the morning.

But then this line caught my eye:

“Separation may be hard for you too, possibly even harder than it is for your child”.

And suddenly I was overcome with sadness – not over Noah, but over my older children. I couldn’t help but think, where’s the packet to help me separate from my kids when they’re long done with nursery school? I mean, that’s when it gets tough – and it only gets tougher as they get older.

The more I thought about it the more despondent I became. Yes, nursery school is often the first time we experience leaving our children. But it’s typically just for a few hours, and usually only 2-3 days a week. The rest of the time they are still with us – for lunch, trips to the zoo, nap time and playdates.

So where do I turn for answers on how to deal with the 1st time they go to sleepaway camp? Or off to college? How do I deal with my child who still does live here but is in the throes of adolescence and is doing his own (very age-appropriate, but I miss him nonetheless………..) “separating”?

I began reading the packet in earnest, looking for answers:

“Have your child bring a special thing from home.”
Give him a photo of you to hold.”
“Have a special goodbye ritual”.
“Assure him that you know just how to get back to school”.

Not quite what I was looking for.

I realized that it was up to me to figure out how to make my peace with the fact that – as painful as it is – separating is an important, ongoing and never-ending part of parenting. And that there ARE some things that I can (and already) put into place to help ease the transition:

Exercise. Good for the body, great for the mind. A 3-mile run, a yoga class, a brisk walk – are even more important now that age is wreaking havoc on body parts I never gave much thought to before.

Volunteer. Giving back, now that there’s extra time, is rewarding and sets an ongoing example for our older children – who still need us to “model” good behavior. It also helps put things in perspective if I’m feeling a little blue.

Be self-indulgent. A midday movie? Lunch in the city? A nap? There’s time now to focus on ourselves, after years of focusing on everyone else – so just do it (however you define “it”). It’s really okay.

Challenge yourself. Before  I found out that I was expecting Noah, I planned on taking Italian immersion classes – I’ve spent a lot of time in Rome and hope (someday) to spend at least part of my later years there. Learning Italian was going to be the first step toward that goal. Diving in to something brand new (and maybe a little scary and unknown) is something that you don’t have the luxury for when your children are little, but can finally explore as they get older (though I sadly acknowledge that I probably will never get that Vespa…………).

So there – I’ve started the list. What can you add to it for me? How are you all coping with the not-yet-empty-but-sure-feels-different nest?

I was about to file the packet away (since now I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to discard it altogether) when I noticed this line, which had escaped my attention earlier:

“Tell him you’re going to look for a little treat to bring back for him”.

Now THAT  was something I could do. Not, of course, in the form of a cupcake wrapped in a napkin, but as a care package sent in the mail. I proceeded to gather ingredients for some homemade granola – the perfect “little treat” for my college girl who is trying to make healthy food choices but likes to occasionally indulge too.

“Separation will be a large part of the curriculum at the beginning of the year. It’s a necessary and important part of a child’s development”.

And mine too.

granola

granola

granola

granola

granola

 

granola

Granola
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 c. flaked coconut – sweetened or unsweetened (I used unsweetened and it was absolutely great)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. sliced almonds (1 oz.)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/3 c. green (hulled) pumpkin seeds
1/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c. honey
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch salt (I used sea salt)

1 c. tart dried cherries
1/2 c. dried blueberries
1/2 c. dried apples (1/4 inch dice)
1/2 c. diced dried apricots (1/4 inch dice)
1/3 c. golden raisins
– or –
2 3/4 c. mixed dried fruit of your choice

Preheat oven to 375. Stir together all ingredients except the fruit in a large bowl until combined. Spread mixture evenly on a large (17″ x 12″) baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown – 30 to 35 minutes (check every five minutes after the 15-minute mark because it burns quickly). Transfer pan to a rack to cool, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Stir in dried fruit.

Granola keeps, frozen in an airtight container, a few months (a note, from Smitten Kitchen’s site, on this recipe: “Granola, even in an airtight container, actually especially in an airtight container, gets soft after a couple days. In the freezer, it stays crisp and crunchy indefinitely, and also extends the shelf life to months.”).

(print this recipe)


This delicious recipe brought to you by Sheri Silver
https://sherisilver.com/2011/10/03/separation-anxiety/

4 Comments

  1. mary schnog on October 6, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Sheri,
    Made the granola…delicious! Omitted the coconut because I didn’t have any and couldn’t find pumpkin seeds in lovely grocery stores we have here in Westchester….and it still is great granola!
    Thanks for sharing,
    Mary

    • sheri silver on October 6, 2011 at 8:01 am

      Thank you Mary – so glad you liked it! Pumpkin seeeds at Mrs. Green’s, by the way………. 🙂

  2. Laurie on October 27, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Love your post about my papers on separation anxiety!

    Laurie

    • sheri silver on October 28, 2011 at 7:31 am

      🙂 Thank you!

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