October 23, 2014
Ike, generally the most independent of all my small independent people, struggles with a touch of separation anxiety. It started over the summer, and quite suddenly. If Jason left for work without giving Ike a hug and a kiss goodbye, Ike would freak out, panic, wail, and run to the front window to plaster his tear-streaked face against the glass in hopes that Daddy would see him and come back inside.
Worked every time, and eventually Jason made sure he always left time for a proper goodbye.
Then Ike started policing everybody else's goodbyes, demanding that Jason give Noah and hug and a kiss, then Ezra, then me. Then he added a double high five to the end, one smack for each hand. Then any time anybody left the house, for work or camp or school, he'd assign an order and supervise the entire pre-exit process. He demands that everyone both give and recieve hugannakissannahighfive to and from everyone else, no exceptions.
"YOU'RE MISSING YOUR HUGANNAKISSANNAHIGHFIVE," he'll shriek, the second he senses someone moving towards the front door. "COME BACK FOR YOUR HUGANNAKISSANNAHIGHFIVE!"
Trying to convince him that you already gave someone their hugannakissannahighfive is pointless. He will not believe you. He needs to witness it. He needs to know that you did not half-ass it.
When school started, there were tears at the curbside dropoff the first few days. The hugannakissannahighfive required me to get out of the car and prolong our goodbye on the sidewalk, with one hugannakissannahighfive turning into two and then three and then it was usually just Ike clinging to my legs and crying.
I tried running through the sequence back at the house before we left, or right before we got in the car, but that didn't really work too well. Skipping that very last possible hugannakissannahighfive at school meant driving away while Ike's face dissolved into panicked tears and generally feeling like the world's meanest garbage monster.
He's much better now. He'll let the school aide unbuckle his carseat and then steps forward to give me a hugannakissannahighfive while I stay buckled in the drivers' seat. Then he solemnly takes his lunchbox and gets out of the car. He certainly isn't thrilled that I'm leaving, but at least seems accepting that it's time to say goodbye and go to school.
Last night he got sent to bed early. He was tired and cranky and misbehaving all through dinner and generally just three-year-old-ing all over the place and wearing down our collective patience. When he realized it wasn't just an empty threat and that I was actually putting him to bed early, he of course flipped out and became furiously uncooperative, but eventually I got him into pajamas and bed. He sighed deeply, resigned to his fate.
"Hug," he ordered.
I gave him a hug.
"Annakiss," he said.
I gave him a kiss.
I put my palms up and he patted each one.
"Annasong?" he asked, hopefully.
I obliged, and even indulged him in a few more rounds of hugannakissannahighfive before saying that's enough, goodnight, go to sleep. I know your tricks, child. Your adorable, funny little tricks that I will miss someday when you move on to other tricks.
Epilogue, later that night, long after I thought he was asleep:
"DAD DAD DAD YOU'RE MISSING YOUR HUGANNAKISSANNAHIGHFIVE DAD."