Many of you know that Hayes has been having some trouble adjusting to Richard's more frequent travel and most of his angst is coming out at school. It's been a challenge to finally pinpoint the problem, but it seems that Hayes is consistently acting out at school on the third day of Richard's travel.
Finally having figured this out feels good, like we can work toward a solution. But it is proving more difficult than it seems. We keep trying new ideas and they keep failing. For instance, when Richard was in Germany last, we decided to do some "armchair traveling" with dad. We made German food, set a clock to German time, watched a Rick Steves video about Germany, and Hayes had a royal meltdown. We should have seen it coming a mile away, but we just kept hoping that this would make him feel more connected to his dad while he was away. We were wrong. We've tried giving him the resource of the teacher when he is having conflict with other kids. It only goes so far. We've tried rewards for good notes from the teacher on the third day. It's hit or miss. I've even tried going in to volunteer on that third day. It made things worse (just like the "armchair traveling"). We've thought about Richard reading a bedtime story over the webcam, but I think the result would be similar. Papa has agreed to put Hayes to bed on the nights he can, when Richard is traveling. We shall see if it helps. I have my doubts.
So the field of ideas is rapidly narrowing and I am starting to believe that this just may be the way of the world for Hayes, at least for the foreseeable future. I mean, I can't make everything better for him, can I? It's one of the most frustrating things about parenting, not being able to orchestrate the world to keep my child from pain and hardship. I realize this is what creates character and I understand that dealing with it in our family is probably the best and safest way for him to deal with it. But it is painful. I am way beyond worrying what the other parents will think. I just don't care. Let them judge if they choose to. I simply want to find a way to help Hayes feel safe when his dad is away.
It has been suggested to me that Richard gives Hayes some measure of emotional security. When he is not home, it is only a matter of time before Hayes's sense of security is missing. I think this is exactly what happens to him. And there is a part of that scenario that makes me feel a little inadequate as a mom. Not a large part, but just a bit, like poking a bruise to see if it's still there. It is. And as much as I want Hayes to be able to talk about what it is that is bothering him, I realize that it is asking too much. For crying out loud, I can't even articulate my own feelings most of the time. How could a five-year-old figure that out?
So we are still trying, but running out of ideas. All thoughts and experiences are welcomed at this point. At least having something to try beats just waiting for the inevitable.