20 January 2022

Betrayal

It is possible to create "photographs" with your eyes. No need for a camera because there isn't always a camera handy so instead you just have to make do with your eyes and the memory card inside your head.

This has been a significant week for Little Phoebe, our darling granddaughter. On Monday, Mama Frances had to go back to work after a full year of paid maternity leave. New arrangements had to be made for Phoebe's care.

Close by Frances and Stew's house there is a modern, well-staffed nursery and before Christmas it was arranged that she would go there for much of the working week. Full days on Mondays and Tuesdays plus Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings. Breaking up the week, she would spend all day Wednesday with Grandma and Grandpa (that's me) and all of Thursday morning too.

We looked after her this morning and then took her to the nursery at half past one. She was happy and had not moaned one iota in the morning. In fact, she had been a delight as per usual. Entering the nursery, she was dressed in her snow leopard coat with a happy smile on her face.

Then Shirley handed her over to one of the young women who works in the baby room. That's when I took the "photograph" with my eyes, I will remember the image for a long, long time I am sure. Suddenly, the happy face crumpled with some unspoken agony that verged on despair. Why were we leaving her there?

She looked at me and she looked at Shirley and reached out a free hand, her little face re-shaped with a kind of horror. But it was too late. We were off. The nursery had advised no tarrying or extra cuddles. We just had to go. She would be perfectly okay in their expert hands. Even so I am left with that haunting image - it felt as though we had betrayed her somehow.

I guess that the new routines will take some getting used to. "Good girl Phoebe! Good girl!"

48 comments:

  1. Oh, dear. Poor Phoebe. Of course she will be fine, but how heartbreaking for everyone. :(

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    1. If Frances had a big bag of money she would have loved to continue as a stay-at-home-mum and maybe give birth to another baby. These are things that the rich cannot understand.

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  2. I believe that Phoebe's reaction and yours are there for a reason and it would be wonderful if nobody was put in a position where they felt they were betraying a child.
    Unfortunately the world doesn't really support the idea of children being cared for within their circle of safe people for more than a few months.

    I hope you get to fix many happy moments in your minds eye to balance this one

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    1. I already have many of them in the bank Kylie but I am the kind of bloke who allows negative recollections to predominate. I can't help it.

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  3. I am far outside my thought zone here, but this is the separation trauma which you describe photographically. The eye and the brain. We 'see' even when we dream.

    I wonder at the nursery staff's received wisdom.
    No extra cuddles, no tarrying?
    Is the mother not given the chance to reassure the child that she will be back?

    Long ago mothers would leave the child at granny's and slip away to go shopping when the child was happily distracted.
    It was another time. Industrial Britain.

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    Replies
    1. Suggestions online include ...
      Trying a gradual start, giving your child a chance to adjust to the nursery, so she can bond with staff and other children.
      Creating a goodbye ritual, talking at length with your child upon arrival.
      Telling stories at home about nursery before going there.

      *10 ways to help your daughter settle into the nursery.
      Made for Mums.
      *Dreading that daycare drop-off? Here are 8 tips to make it easier.
      Rose Gordon Sale. Today.

      The Great Nursery Debate.
      The Guardian online. Amelia Gentleman.

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    2. Kind research Mr Haggerty. Thank you.

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  4. I think some of these occasions hurt Grandpa much more than anybody else.

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  5. Poor Phoebe. She will get used to it but it's hard for them as well. Poor grandpa too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hell - compared with Jack, Phoebe has nothing to grumble about.

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  6. I remember that same scene so well with my youngest. She's past forty and mummy is still besieged with guilt.

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    Replies
    1. As I say, I don't think I will ever forget her genuinely pained face.

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  7. It is hard when they don't want to let you go. I was afraid my grandson would be like that when I left them at the airport but he was too entranced by all the activity to notice my tears.

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    Replies
    1. You could always wear dark glasses like a film star.

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  8. My friend related similar scenes to me when her two daughers (now almost six and just past three years old) had their first days at the nursery. Now they can't wait to go!

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    Replies
    1. Well, I hope we see that transformation with Phoebe.

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  9. Oh no. You made me quite tearful. You will begin to dread Thursday afternoons now!

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    Replies
    1. It will be interesting to see how she carries on next Thursday.

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  10. Poor Phoebe - it's such an abrupt change to her daily routine. Throughout her short life Mama was with her all the time, and all of a sudden strangers are looking after her. It's good that she is learning to socialise from such an early age, but for a while she must be out of her comfort zone, and feel abandoned.

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    Replies
    1. You have summed it all up expertly Carol.

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  11. It is heartbreaking isn't it. I was lucky that I didn't have to leave mine as little ones, but even at the age of 3 plus, and nursery school it can be hard if they are upset.

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    1. We never had to leave our children anywhere until nursery school age so this was something new to us Frances.

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  12. It's so sad that children so young are deprived of being with their Mum full time but I understand that with things so costly parents are not able to survive on one persons pay.
    Our Tom lived with us when he was young and Penny went back to work, we tried him in a nursery but he cried the whole morning and when they called me he was severely distressed. He didn't go back and only went to nurseries where I could also go.
    I'm sure Phoebe will get used to it but I know the heartache you must have felt on seeing her little face, I have been through it.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Thanks for this understanding response Briony.

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  13. I'm still haunted by the memories of having to leave my babies in childcare because I had to work

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    Replies
    1. It's such a wrench and it does not seem right.

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  14. Did you cry? I think I would have.

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    Replies
    1. I cried. Every time I left them. I cried for 10 years.

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    2. I didn't cry but I was very quiet.

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  15. I think a guest post from Phoebe giving her point of view is required here.

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  16. It must be such a shock for Phoebe, and for you as well. Tears spring easily as I am sure Phoebe's did. But she is resilient and will eventually settle down. After all she will be coming back in the late afternoon and the routine will be established. It is a shame that children cannot have their mothers for much longer in the daytime.

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  17. Oh my, Mr P,it is such a hard thing to do. 45 years ago it was at age 7 weeks I left my son with a babysitter and returned to work.I can still remember how hard it was. The USA still does next to nothing for families and there was no paid leave at all for me.

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    Replies
    1. It's a dilemma that young parents cannot avoid facing.

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  18. All will be forgiven when you see her next!

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  19. These moments are always, ALWAYS so heartrending.
    She'll be okay. Those who love her will be okay. But it is so hard at first.

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    Replies
    1. I guess that there are lots of things that can scar us as we are growing up. This is just one of them.

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  20. An experience that every new mum has when leaving their child at school on their first day. The child cries, the mother spends all day worrying herself sick and then collects a happy child at the end of the day!

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    Replies
    1. Some fathers also have this experience. It's not all about "mum".

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  21. There is of course the other extreme, experienced by my stepdaughter - her nearly 1 year old daughter held out her arms to the nursery worker and was carried happily inside without once looking back, leaving a sorely deflated parent standing forlorn in the entrance way.

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    Replies
    1. Ha-ha! I have heard that that can happen.

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  22. Awww... bless her little heart! Or maybe I should say bless your heart. It truly will get better for all of you. Trust me.

    I cannot comprehend a full year of paid maternity leave. My younger daughter only got six weeks (and was thankful it was paid).

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    Replies
    1. Frances was very lucky and has a generous boss who greatly appreciated her good service to the business.

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  23. That feeling may stay with little P for some years. Remind her in ten or fifteen of her look today.

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    1. I will Joanne - if I am still around.

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