On separation

Eric Hunter
3 min readApr 29, 2021

So school is going pretty well, but I think I have separation anxiety. The morning drop-offs continue to be hard. Sebastian didn’t tear up again after the first day, but the way he lets himself be led off with this kind of numb look on his face, I know his anxiety about being able to do what’s expected of him is triggered. I wish he would smile, or skip, or turn around and wave to me. But I feel like he is nervous, and there is no way for me to give him enough hugs through the glass.

And I don’t feel very comfortable myself, because, frankly, I really don’t know what I’m sending him off to. I haven’t met or talked to his teacher — I don’t even know what she looks like! All I know is she told my anxious-to-please son that it is apparently very important that he color “perfectly” within the lines. Maybe she said it in a nice way. I don’t know. But I do know that it’s not the good Zoom teachers who are currently teaching in person. I miss Miss Stacey. She was brilliant.

And I don’t know what the classroom looks like, but I know it’s not normal. This morning on the way to school, Sebastian told me he likes his old teacher from last year better than this new one. Part of the reason is she had more toys. I explained to him that all the kids can’t be playing with the same toys because of the pandemic, to which he responded, “Oh, is that why we all have our own buckets of toys then?” Which left me picturing these kids in plastic bubbles like hamsters, each with their own toys and supplies, never having any contact or interaction. I mean, I don’t know, I’m sure it’s not like that, but I know it’s not normal, whatever compromises the school has had to make. But I can’t even discuss it with him, because I’m not there, and when I try to press him for information in the afternoon he is pretty typically laconic and noncommital, like most school kids.

Also, I used to sit with Sebastian through three school sessions every morning. I would sit at my desk, and he would sit at his, over in the corner of my study. It was almost impossible for me to get anything of note done. I was constantly having to tell him to look at the screen, pay attention to Miss Stacey, stop spinning his chair. Sometimes I’d have to get up and do the movement exercises with him, and his whole class would get to see my goofy dance moves (these were mentioned in a parent-teacher conference). I wouldn’t get to start my own work until 11 a.m., by which point I would just want a break.

Now I have a huge block of unscheduled time every morning, which in theory is fantastic. But who cares? I miss Sebastian, and all that freedom just makes me anxious about everything I’m not doing that I could be.

So, for the moment at least, I don’t feel good dropping him off and sending him into the deep unknown. It’s probably harder for me than it is for him.

But it’s only the third day. It’ll get better.