Nursery blues

11 03 2010

Lolly is starting to attend nursery, and she is currently doing short(ish) visits building to 2 days a week.  She will be joining the ‘baby room’ at the nursery that LML attends, so she is familiar with the general environment (if not that particular room) and many of the staff.  Last week she was left for half an hour one day, then for about 5o minutes a couple of days later.  There were no tears, and she seemed to be taking it all in her stride.

Today was the first day that she went to stay whilst LML was at nursery.  LML spotted GM and Lolly making their way through the nursery room to the baby room almost right away.  They all said hello, exchanged kisses and hugs and GM explained that Lolly was going to spend some time in the baby room today and mum and dad would be back later to collect them both.

As soon as the pair went into the baby room, LML became utterly and completely distressed, throwing herself out of the arms of her carer; inconsolable.  This is a familiar experience for GM, but it was clear that she does not often behave like this at nursery.  Lolly was oblivious to the grieving sibling in the next room, desperately trying to claw her way into the room, though the door and the round window that the children can see through.  As soon as she was allowed into the baby room LML miraculously cheered up and she was soon exploring the space and playing with her sister.

When it was time for GM to leave the children it was agreed that LML would be allowed to choose whether she remained in the room with her sister or would go back into the main room of the nursery.  She opted to stay in the baby room.  GM gave them both a kiss goodbye, told them that she and daddy would return later and left the two children happily playing.

An hour and 50 minutes later the mostly functioning parents arrived back at the nursery and were greeted by LML’s shrieks of delight.  “Mummeee!  Daddeee!” resounded across the main room as soon as they entered.  They were told that after a little while LML was persuaded out of the baby room and happily played in the main room for the remainder of the day.

As CD and GM entered the baby room it rapidly became apparent that all was not well there.  CD immediately took the distraught Lolly from her key worker but as soon as she saw GM her wails of distress increased.  GM took her in her arms “We’re here Lolly, we’re here” she chanted as she tried to listen to the clearly frazzled key worker.  Lolly was inconsolable, hiccuping and sobbing her distress.  Eventually GM maneuvered around the key worker and found a sofa to sit on, and settling face to face with Lolly she rocked and soothed, cuddled and reassured the child until she began to calm.  As soon as the key worker began to talk to GM again, Lolly burst into fresh floods of tears, but GM could see that she had regained enough equilibrium to be soothed with rocking and cuddles and did not immediately need her full attention.

GM began to listen properly to what the key worker was saying

“She was ok to start with, just a few little moments of unhappiness, but lots of playing and fun in between;  I took her outside when she got upset and that seemed to do the trick.” she said as GM stroked Lolly, and rocked her back and forth,

“But she wouldn’t eat much of her tea and really started to get upset then.”  the key worker continued.  GM listened, looking from the key worker, to show she was attending, and back to Lolly to gain eye-contact and reassure her that she was there for her.

“As I said, she was ok at first and has only really been crying for this last bit, since tea-time.” the key worker shrugged and half smiled “it has to be done” she said, “to settle her in.  She’ll get there”.  Lolly’s little body was still shuddering a bit, but she was calmer, just hiccuping a little.

“It’s been about a third of the time she was here, that she’s been upset” the key worker explains “mostly just since tea-time..”

A little part of GM froze .. mostly since tea time .. her little girl has been crying for 30 or 40 minutes?  Inconsolably crying?

Internally she is has to steel herself, but it does not feel right …  It does ‘have to be done’, as GM will be returning to work within a couples of months, but she doesn’t want it to be so hard for her little girl.

It occurs to GM later, as she discussed it all with CD, that although they have been educating ‘the nursery’ about some of the issues that can arise for adopted and looked after children, this has not been directed at the baby room.  She had assumed some basic level of understanding of attachment, trauma and loss that actually should not be assumed.

GM knows that Lolly is not going to be less upset at being left, if the nursery staff in that room have a better understanding of what the 2 year old might be experiencing or feeling.  But some understanding has clearly helped other staff feel more empathy for LML, and Lolly needs that same chance.

Let the process of education begin … again.

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