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Jul 18, 2009

So passionate about everything, so many heartbreaks

Our 18-month old toddler is a curious and interested little guy. In general, he is quite easy-going and adapts well to new environments. He doesn't need to carry a comforting object (except for his collection of 4-5 pacifiers for sleep time) and he usually does well with new people. His ability to find every new experience exciting and to enjoy it to the fullest has been a great advantage when traveling to new places (for instance our Turkey vacation). However, the drawback is that our baby hates leaving places/things that he just learned to like.

For instance, during our vacation, he had a hard time leaving the planes (had to kiss them many, many good-byes). He also found it heart-breaking when we left a taxi we had taken for a short ride through town... It was his first taxi ride ever, and he was so excited to try it, except that it was over much too quickly for his taste. He cried so much when we left, the poor cab driver didn't know what to do!

On more regular basis, I find myself having to comfort Daniel when leaving daycare, the playground, the car, the grocery store (yes, he already loves shopping like me... actually, it's rather because they have these carts with play cars attached, a hit!), etc... In short, he hates leaving pretty much every place we visit. It doesn't seem to matter that each of these great places is usually followed by the next great place/activity. He doesn't yet understand that he has to leave a place to get to the next. So going away is hard.

I have also noticed that Daniel is usually very sad when the neighbor cat goes away after crossing our backyard, or when a train passes by and goes within a few seconds, etc.. Why do all interesting things go by so quickly?

However, in these situations, it's not him who leaves, but other "things". It's interesting that Daniel seems to have learned to cope better with these situations. He usually spends a few minutes saying "bye-bye", "all done", "parti" (gone), probably to process the "loss". But he very rarely cries.

After realizing this, I have tried to apply it to situations where Daniel is the one who has to leave. I try to prepare him as much as I can for the emotion of leaving. I let him say as many good-byes as needed. Sometimes, it works well and I am impressed that my cooperative toddler will quickly walk with me to the car, waving bye-bye to the place we are leaving. In a lot of cases, the process takes longer and I need several attempts to get him to accept that we need to leave. And in the most difficult cases, I end up having to take him and carry him to the car as it seems to be the only way to leave. Usually, desperate cries accompany us in these situations.

On my side, I always feel bad to think about the emotion that must be going on inside him. He always seems to be so happy where he is. He has to learn how to process the difficulty of leaving and it's not easy. I know this is part of the toddler learning process, and that this is necessary for him to be able to go through more difficult transitions as a more mature person. It still breaks my heart from time to time when I think of how heart-broken he is himself.

Has anyone found good ways to deal with this situation?

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