9 days without Mom: The Story of Little John
Categories: ChildrenBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/9-days-without-mom-the-story-of-little-john
More than once or twice I had to deal with the opinion that young children are completely stupid and do not think much. And that psychologists, they say, come up with all sorts of nonsense about child psychotrauma and their impact on later life.
And recently, something really wild has appeared — some seriously believe that a child can be taken away from his mother for a couple of months if she behaves badly or earns little, shake a finger and not give it back until she gets better. And when it gets better, give it away (or not give it at all, or else, they've lost their temper, let them be afraid!).
For those who think that he is so smart, and especially for those who believe that instead of helping the family, it is better to just temporarily place the child in an institution, it is highly recommended to get acquainted with D. Bowlby's attachment studies. And also with the works of M. Ainsworth.
And be sure to watch the Robertson films. These are documentaries shot in real time, with real children, in real conditions. The Robertsons studied, among other things, the peculiarities of the child's experience of grief from parting with his mother. We managed to find only one of these films — "John". We apologize for the poor quality of the images.
John will spend nine days in the Baby's House. All these nine days Joyce Robertson and the videographer watched what was happening to the boy.
During the day, the boy looks at the door all the time, tries to open it many times, and then waves his hand "Bye-bye!".
Martin has been in the Baby's House for a whole year. He already knows well how to behave in order to get what he needs. John really wants Sister Mary's attention, but he goes unnoticed again and again. Then John goes to the corner where Joyce Robertson is sitting and tries to get her attention. Joyce usually works with children, but in this study she can only play the role of an observer. And she pretends not to notice John's attempts.
So another day passes…
He can no longer cope with his unhappiness.
John begins to protest: he shouts, throws things off the table. And then he takes his blanket and goes to the corner. On this day, he does not eat anything again. All attempts to feed him are unsuccessful.
There is reason to believe that John will not be the same. Something very important broke down in his soul. And this injury will stay with him for the rest of his life.
Irina Semirina, psychologist
So, the cheerful and glorious baby John is 18 months old. He has a wonderful mother, she loves John very much, they have a warm relationship, and John has a great time with her.
The baby has never had to stay without a mother. But very soon John's mother is due to give birth to a baby, and John will have to go to the baby's House for a few days. The boy's parents took him there at night when his mother went into labor. He cried when they left, but half an hour later he fell asleep, covered with his favorite homemade blanket.
In the morning, John finds himself in a new environment for him, among other children.
These children are about his age, but they have spent most of their lives in this Baby House and already know how to protect themselves and how to get what they want. The kids are in a situation where the sisters caring for them change all the time. They have to constantly be in a common, rather noisy group. And it's nothing like what John had at home. John plays well with toys, but most of the time he spends alone, looking around and watching other children. He prefers to be closer to Sister Mary. But she's busy with other kids. The kid brings her a big teddy bear to attract her attention.
During lunch, John eats well, but noticeably worries about the sounds of the struggle that unfolds around him: he closes his eyes several times and covers his ears with his hands.
While going to bed, John easily communicates with his sister. He gets upset when she leaves. After sleeping, the father comes John.
The boy begins to smile at him only after a few minutes.
When the time comes, the baby allows his father to leave without protesting, and quickly returns to his business. Soon a girl approaches John and takes away his toy. The boy from the family has never dealt with aggressive children. He is confused and does not know what to do to get his toy back. He comes to the door several times and knocks on it with his palms. Sister Kristen, to calm John down, takes him on her lap, and he enjoys playing with her.
But in the evening, another sister bathes him in the bathroom. This is the fourth sister who takes care of John on the first day of his stay. During this day, John still shows no signs of stress. He enjoys communicating with each sister, and before going to bed, he plays hide-and-seek merrily, hiding under his blanket.
John often stands on the sidelines alone or sits quietly next to his sister. He's waiting for her to be able to play with him. But the sisters pay attention to more demanding children, such as Martin, and the quiet children are left to themselves.
The father comes. And again, it takes time for John to be able to answer him.
This time, when the father leaves, John tries to follow him. He shouts loudly and protests in response to Sister Mary's attempts to take him away from the door. This is in stark contrast to his quiet demeanor throughout the day.
This time John calms down pretty quickly in Mary's arms and starts playing with her. But she needs to take care of other children. And she leaves.
Since the morning, John looks unhappy.
He often turns his back on everyone and plays with small toys. There's a new sister in the group again. John tries unsuccessfully to get her attention. And then he goes in search of someone who can take care of him. The kid approaches the big bear, tries to hug him, puts his lips to his nose.
A feeling of confusion and anxiety grows inside John. He sucks his finger more and more often, snuggling up to his new friend.
Sister Mary is back on duty again. John got sick at night, but the doctor didn't find anything dangerous. John tries to get Mary's attention, but he fails to compete with the other children. Over and over again, a little unhappy boy hugs a big teddy bear…
During lunch, while the sister goes to get food, other children behave in the same way - they make a lot of noise, take away each other's dishes, knock on the table with mugs, and it's difficult to control.
If in the early days John was interested in watching the children, now he doesn't care.
After a few minutes, the baby begins to cry very hard and bitterly.
He refuses to eat.
After lunch, his behavior does not change. He approaches Sister Mary. The boy is no longer able to remain quiet, and only a loud expression of his grief allows John to get what he wants: Mary sees how unhappy he is, and finally gives him a place by her side. On Mary's lap, John covers himself with a bear and lies, not reacting to other children.
When Mary has to leave, he lies down on the bear and cries bitterly.
Mary is coming back. John tries to get Mary's attention again and again. But she's too busy. Then he tries to get Joyce's attention again.
After the failure, he goes to a corner, and sits there quietly alone. John didn't eat anything for breakfast and lunch. During dinner, he refuses to eat again. Before going to bed, the boy cries very much.
On the fifth day, Sister Mary began to worry- John's misfortune became too obvious. But because of the large number of children, she can't pay enough attention to him. John does not give up his attempts to take a place near her — he gets close to her again and again with a big bear. When he succeeds, he goes quiet. And again he sucks his finger, hiding behind a bear from the outside world.
John is always trying to be closer to Mary. He already refuses to play with toys. The child needs reassurance, not a game. Unable to get a place next to Mary, John puts the bear on the floor and buries himself in it. It's very hard for him. But his grief remains unnoticed in the flow of the group's life.
The kid stands near the door and looks around in confusion. Other children sometimes approach John. They pull his hands and slap his face. But John doesn't react to them.
The baby can no longer cope with his grief and begins to cry a lot. Only then does Mary give him her full attention. But even after that, John is inconsolable for a long time.
After a while, it thaws a little. It is noticeable that he has developed a warm relationship with Mary.
But Mary's need to leave him to take care of other children interferes with this relationship. She moves away from him, and he begins to grieve again.
His grief is so great that Mary has to leave the other children completely and stay with him. John doesn't want to get off her hands. It is noticeable that he feels bad even in her arms. Sitting on Mary's lap, he sucks her finger all the time, staring blankly at one point.
John is suffering. He goes to his sister, hugging the bear.
But the new sister underestimates John's serious condition, although he does not stop crying. It cannot be said that the sister is not kind to the children, but the daily routine does not allow her to pay enough attention to John. John stands at the door for a long, long time and cries bitterly.
A visit from his father brings John hope. Animation appears on his face.
The kid hopes to return home.
The boy points to the door and brings his shoes to his father.
But the father continues to stay in place. And John starts crying. He gets off his father's hands, lies down on the floor at his feet and sucks his finger. And then he goes to Sister Mary.
John doesn't approach his father anymore.
After he leaves, he goes back to Mary for reassurance.
In the evening before going to bed, Sister Mary is forced to take care of other children. John looks at her, calling her in a weak voice.
And starts crying again in the crib. Bitterly and inconsolably.
John doesn't want to play. He doesn't want to eat. There is no one he can be with. The boy is lying quietly on the floor in the middle of the group.
At lunch, John throws a plate of food on the floor and leaves.
Several times he approaches Joyce, trying to get her attention. He touches her hands, flips through the papers, lies down on her lap. He cries and cries and cries.
Crying and weak John is no longer trying to get his sister's attention. Resigned to not getting it, he hugs the bear again and again and covers himself with his homemade blanket.
He is sitting on the floor alone and crying, covering his face with his hands.
Mary is on duty again in the evening. John lies down in the crib, no longer protesting. He lies there quietly for a long time and sucks his finger, until finally sleep comes.
John is apathetic. He is lying on the bear, not reacting to the actions of other children. Sometimes he comes over and silently lies down on Joyce's lap. And then he lies down on the bear again. John has been crying constantly for the last few days and hasn't eaten anything. He's very weak. Sisters change. But John doesn't seem to care anymore.
The sister tries to comfort John, but there are too many children around and they won't let her be with him. John no longer pays attention to anything.
He sits on his sister's lap, snuggles up to her and sucks her finger. Every time one of the children approaches, John begins to cry bitterly.
He lies limply on his sister's lap. And she cries again and again every time one of the children goes to them. He covers his face with his hands more and more often and lies down on the floor. He doesn't calm down even in Mary's arms.
John sits alone on a high chair for a long time, holding his blanket in his hands. He doesn't react to the door opening. John is hungry. He's sitting at the table, but he can't eat—he's too upset. The father comes. He tries to feed John, but his arrival does not ease the boy's condition. John takes the bread, but because of his sobs, he can't even take a bite.
John cries for a long time and in his father's arms. Finally he quiets down.
But it's time for Father to leave. John begins to sob. Joyce is trying to calm John down, Sister Kristen is trying to do it, Mary is trying to do it. But John is inconsolable.
Finally, John lies down on the bear in the far corner of the room and starts sucking his finger again, not reacting to the world around him.
John has been crying since this morning.
It's ten o'clock, and his mother should be here soon. When she comes in, John suddenly starts clinging to the nurse more and crying a lot. He doesn't want to go to his mother's arms.
The mother is confused, she tries to talk to John, but he turns away from her and starts crying even harder.
He lies down on his sister's shoulder, casts a brief glance at his mother and turns away again. His mother picks him up. John quiets down and starts sucking her finger without looking at her.
A minute later he leaves his mother and returns to Joyce. He cries very hard, throwing short glances at his mother and immediately turning away from her.
The mother tries to take her son in her arms, he breaks free. Then he calms down again, snuggles up to her and sucks her finger. Just as he had done in the last few days in the arms of his sisters.
The father comes. And John immediately breaks out of his mother's arms, moving to him.
In his arms, John looks at his mother for the first time. The woman has never seen such a look from her son.