Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

A Transitional Object Was Needed

I ran after my mom and held on.

I never made it to my first day of school. Or rather, I made it there, but I didn't stay. That is, the first day I ever went to school, I was there for all of three minutes.

I was born in Southern California in 1969, and I lived for the first two years of my life with my parents in a house in Pico Rivera. Jeff and Linda Bouvier were teachers. In 1971, my father was offered a good teaching job in Darien, Connecticut, and so we all set out to drive across the country -- my father in the '67 red Ford Mustang, and my mom and me in the Volkswagen Beetle. My mom had made a playpen in the back of the Beetle for me, and we'd rendezvous with my dad at predetermined inexpensive motels in the evenings.

When we arrived on the East Coast, our little family stayed at my grandparents' place for a few weeks while my parents searched for a suitable apartment in a suitable town near enough to my dad's new job in Darien. Finally, after our long odyssey, we were settled into a two-bedroom abode on Meadowside Road in Milford, Connecticut.

My mother noticed that all the recent different beds and sites and states had awakened an insecurity in her young son. I was unwilling to leave her side for even a moment. I would follow her around the apartment. I needed to sleep between my parents in their new Connecticut bed.

After my sister was born, and although I had mellowed somewhat, my mother conscientiously realized that I should be socializing more with children my own age. And so she enrolled me in nursery school at the tender age of three and a half.

Jack and Jill Nursery School was a quaint little house with a play yard, just up the road and around the corner from Meadowside Road. In the days leading up to my "first day of school," my mom took me shopping for the things I'd need: a new shirt, new shoes, a new belt, a stylish (bowl) haircut... She presented these novelties to me like shiny gifts, and she gave me loads of experienced information, and she got me excited about this new place (school!) where I'd be spending some of my time.

Little did she (or I) know...

That fateful first day, as we entered the schoolyard full of screaming, running, playing, and jumping children, I grew worried. I distinctly remember the worry. I still feel it when I enter spaces full of screaming, running, playing, and jumping people. As we met Miss Laurie, my teacher, who, though kind-looking and gentle, was much older than my mom, I started to wonder what was going on. And when my mother detached her hand from mine and said she'd see me later, it dawned on me. I was duped! My mother intended to abandon me there. No, thank you, ma'am. Nothing doing.

I ran after my mom and held on. I reached deep into my tiny chest and found the biggest voice I could and I screamed out loud and loudly cried. I held on to the doorknob with one hand and my mother's hand with the other. I fell on my face and kicked and rolled around. Such behavior! On some level, I view this performance as rather comical. It would have played well in vaudeville. But to me, at the time, the feelings were all too real. And my mother sympathized. Finally, she just gave up and took me home with her. I never made it to my first day of school.

The next day was the same, except that this time my mother broke free and left me there. Apparently, I calmed down quickly after she was gone, and I had to face my peers with a hoarse voice and salt motes on my stunned little face. I recall that many of my new small friends did quite a bit to comfort me. There wasn't much irony in nursery school in 1972; mostly among us three- and four-year-olds it was compassion and pity. Thankfully.

But still, each new school day, I would have my screaming, crying, crazy moment when my mom would turn to leave me. It was as though I always believed I'd be left there, no matter that she'd picked me up the previous afternoon; no matter what she said.

After about a week, my mother, being the resourceful woman she is, looked in the phone book and called a famous child psychologist, Louise Bates Ames, and asked for her advice. Ames told my mother to furnish me with something important from home, some object or image that would comfort and reassure me, kind of like Linus with his blanket or the "Land of the Free" with its star-spangled banner. Through the schoolyard's sunny glare, at least I'd know that my security was still there.

So my mom sat me down with a recent family photo, newly framed, and told me that I could take this picture with me to school. I could keep it with me and put it someplace safe, and anytime I missed Mom or Dad or my little sister, then I could just go over to the picture and everything would be all right.

And what do you know? It worked. Incidentally, the first days of new things have never troubled me again. (In fact, as I get older, it's the last days that make me want to kick and scream. Ah, well...)

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Alison Tummond: preventing summer’s silent killer

“Anytime you have a pool, or a bathtub, or a toilet, or a bucket, a child can drown.”

I never made it to my first day of school. Or rather, I made it there, but I didn't stay. That is, the first day I ever went to school, I was there for all of three minutes.

I was born in Southern California in 1969, and I lived for the first two years of my life with my parents in a house in Pico Rivera. Jeff and Linda Bouvier were teachers. In 1971, my father was offered a good teaching job in Darien, Connecticut, and so we all set out to drive across the country -- my father in the '67 red Ford Mustang, and my mom and me in the Volkswagen Beetle. My mom had made a playpen in the back of the Beetle for me, and we'd rendezvous with my dad at predetermined inexpensive motels in the evenings.

When we arrived on the East Coast, our little family stayed at my grandparents' place for a few weeks while my parents searched for a suitable apartment in a suitable town near enough to my dad's new job in Darien. Finally, after our long odyssey, we were settled into a two-bedroom abode on Meadowside Road in Milford, Connecticut.

My mother noticed that all the recent different beds and sites and states had awakened an insecurity in her young son. I was unwilling to leave her side for even a moment. I would follow her around the apartment. I needed to sleep between my parents in their new Connecticut bed.

After my sister was born, and although I had mellowed somewhat, my mother conscientiously realized that I should be socializing more with children my own age. And so she enrolled me in nursery school at the tender age of three and a half.

Jack and Jill Nursery School was a quaint little house with a play yard, just up the road and around the corner from Meadowside Road. In the days leading up to my "first day of school," my mom took me shopping for the things I'd need: a new shirt, new shoes, a new belt, a stylish (bowl) haircut... She presented these novelties to me like shiny gifts, and she gave me loads of experienced information, and she got me excited about this new place (school!) where I'd be spending some of my time.

Little did she (or I) know...

That fateful first day, as we entered the schoolyard full of screaming, running, playing, and jumping children, I grew worried. I distinctly remember the worry. I still feel it when I enter spaces full of screaming, running, playing, and jumping people. As we met Miss Laurie, my teacher, who, though kind-looking and gentle, was much older than my mom, I started to wonder what was going on. And when my mother detached her hand from mine and said she'd see me later, it dawned on me. I was duped! My mother intended to abandon me there. No, thank you, ma'am. Nothing doing.

I ran after my mom and held on. I reached deep into my tiny chest and found the biggest voice I could and I screamed out loud and loudly cried. I held on to the doorknob with one hand and my mother's hand with the other. I fell on my face and kicked and rolled around. Such behavior! On some level, I view this performance as rather comical. It would have played well in vaudeville. But to me, at the time, the feelings were all too real. And my mother sympathized. Finally, she just gave up and took me home with her. I never made it to my first day of school.

The next day was the same, except that this time my mother broke free and left me there. Apparently, I calmed down quickly after she was gone, and I had to face my peers with a hoarse voice and salt motes on my stunned little face. I recall that many of my new small friends did quite a bit to comfort me. There wasn't much irony in nursery school in 1972; mostly among us three- and four-year-olds it was compassion and pity. Thankfully.

But still, each new school day, I would have my screaming, crying, crazy moment when my mom would turn to leave me. It was as though I always believed I'd be left there, no matter that she'd picked me up the previous afternoon; no matter what she said.

After about a week, my mother, being the resourceful woman she is, looked in the phone book and called a famous child psychologist, Louise Bates Ames, and asked for her advice. Ames told my mother to furnish me with something important from home, some object or image that would comfort and reassure me, kind of like Linus with his blanket or the "Land of the Free" with its star-spangled banner. Through the schoolyard's sunny glare, at least I'd know that my security was still there.

So my mom sat me down with a recent family photo, newly framed, and told me that I could take this picture with me to school. I could keep it with me and put it someplace safe, and anytime I missed Mom or Dad or my little sister, then I could just go over to the picture and everything would be all right.

And what do you know? It worked. Incidentally, the first days of new things have never troubled me again. (In fact, as I get older, it's the last days that make me want to kick and scream. Ah, well...)

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Nicholas Wiseman: a great influence on John Henry Newman

Also known as author of Fabiola, a novel
Next Article

Will San Diego survive a fall without classical music?

Just as symphony, Mainly Mozart, La Jolla Music Society were getting stronger
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close