July 2017 – Letter From The President

 Summer Kids Club at the Children’s Museum

Dear Friend,

One afternoon about a year ago, I was home with just my older son, Bennett, when he awoke from his nap. At the time, he was still sleeping in a crib and as I walked into his room, he was standing facing the door. At the time, he was still sleeping in a crib and as I walked into his room, he was standing facing the door. “Where’s mommy?” he asked me. When I replied, She’s not here,” Bennett looked around and plaintively said “Cole?” (His nanny’s name is Nicole.) After I responded, “No, she’s not here either,” Bennett just stood in glum silence. “What about me?” I asked him. “Am I just chopped liver?”

I was reminded of this interaction a few days ago because summer programming at the Museum had just started. During the first few days of our drop-off programs for children ages 2 to 4, families deal with a whole range of attachment and separation issues. One mom told me that her husband always takes responsibility for the drop off because their kids get far less upset than when she does it. My family had a similar experience when my wife dropped off Bennett for the first day of Kids Club at the Museum. While he was initially calm, after twenty minutes Bennett started to cry and said he wanted his mommy. He only stopped after being distracted by the discovery that Domino the Rabbit’s hutch was open. Conversely, on days when I drop off Bennett, he barely bothers to turn around to say goodbye!

At the Children’s Museum, we have many children’s books available for parents who are dealing with their children’s separation anxiety. After reading them, I’m wondering if kids don’t get upset about being left by dads because we barely make an appearance. For example, in The Kissing Hand, Mrs. Raccoon describes a separation ritual to her son, Chester, that has been passed down generation to generation by the moms in her family. What happened to Mr. Raccoon?! Likewise, only Mommy Pig appears in I Love You All Day Long. She alone packs Owen’s lunch, gets him dressed in the morning and reads a bedtime story at night. In Llama, Llama Misses Mama, maybe the dad is absent because Papa and Llama don’t rhyme? In The Invisible String, a mom tells her children how she is still connected to them even when she’s not there. In fact, she explains, an invisible string connects us to all the people we love, even Jasper the Cat and Uncle Brian in heaven. You know who doesn’t get mentioned? The children’s father. The only children’s book about separation with a dad-like figure is Bye-Bye Time and it’s still ambiguous whether the grownup dropping off the child is a dad, a mom or a caregiver.

If you have a separation transition story to tell, especially one that involves a dad, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to share it on our Facebook wall or e-mail me directly.