Shelley Widhalm

Archive for the ‘Separation Anxiety’ Category

“Kindergarten Crybaby”

In Communication secrets, Finding friends, Separation Anxiety, Shyness on August 28, 2011 at 7:00 am

Though I don’t have children, I’ve had the chance to witness the first day of kindergarten a few times as a reporter for my hometown newspaper.

Every time I cover the separation anxiety between parents and their five-year-olds, I’m reminded of my own “trauma.” I didn’t just cry on the first day of school, I screamed and clung to my mother for the first week – but I got over it and turned my tears into dreading the end of the school year and having to say goodbye to my teachers.

In my hometown, school for students in grades K-5 started on Wednesday. A staff photographer and I went to a kindergarten class to search for crying children. The photographer found a father trying to comfort his son, who buried his face against his father’s chest.

Once inside the classroom, the boy huddled against the wall near his desk, wrapping his arms around his knees, continuing his crying jag for the 45 minutes we were there.

I tried to get a quote from the 5-year-old, but despite my investigative efforts, he wasn’t about to talk, not even when the photographer commented on his new shoes.

The boy, I figured, might have had a case of separation anxiety, just like I did.

I don’t know the cause of his, but mine derived from my shyness. Shyness can result from the fear of entering a new situation, in contrast to familiarity with the known that provides safety and comfort.

New to the school world, I felt anxious about finding friends and not having anyone to play with at recess. I was hesitant to talk. I made little eye contact. And I felt insecure and unlikable.

My “friend” across the street who went to another school called me “kindergarten crybaby,” and if I had been more confident, I would have said “no thanks” to her meanness.

As an adult, I can get teary eyed next to the crying kindergartners, but I know I have turned it all around to the point where I really can’t say I’m shy. There are few situations where I feel uncomfortable. I know how to start a conversation. And I can look people in the eye.

The Dog Commitment

In Best Friends, Lonely Girl, Responsibility, Separation Anxiety, What's important on February 6, 2011 at 10:38 am

I didn’t do a challenge this week. Of course I have an excuse. My dad arrived Friday night for a weekend visit, so I can’t just leave him to go to a nightclub. That wouldn’t be very nice to do to company.

My dad had originally planned to come to pick up my dog and keep her for two weeks, so I could work every night on my novel, but our schedules won’t allow it to happen. I’m near the finish line with my rough draft and want to dedicate a block of time to it. I can’t just ignore my dog and, for that reason, have to juggle her with work, writing, errands and anything else I do.

After talking with my brother, my dad decided to still come, because they have a couple of fix-up projects they need to do.

What I’m not telling my dad is that I’m glad Zoey is staying after my bout of separation anxiety. I love waking up in the morning to her doggie kisses and the furious wags of her tail when I come home from work. I’d miss our walks, her following me around the house and the way she cuddles smack against we when I read or we sleep.

I know, I know. I’m lonely girl with dog, who, without my planning, has become my best friend. I never believed that cliché until I saw the communication that starts between you and your dog. The looks she gives you, mostly a matter of a slight movement of her eyes, and her body language, the various barks and the way she wiggles, rolls and runs, all of it letting me know what she wants or believes I should understand about her.

I can’t look in her eyes without realizing that I am responsible for this creature and that I need to be there for her. I bought her in a pet store, but what I took home was an eager ever-ready bundle of love that needs my time, attention, dedication, love and encouragement. Otherwise, I’d be better off with a pet rock.