It's almost as if kids have a tiny internal monitor to ensure you feel maximum guilt about leaving them with a babysitter or at daycare. Whether your kid is clinging to you for dear life or couldn't care less that you're leaving, saying "bye-bye" sucks. Every child is different, but most parents experience at least some of the stages of drop-offs below.

Stage 1: "Why are you abandoning me?"

The first time you drop off your kid in a new environment or leave them with a new sitter, expect some tears. You may not expect the look of sheer terror, the gut-wrenching wailing, or being clung to like you're floating wreckage in a shipwreck. Literally peeling your child's arms and legs off of you so you can leave her is a fun parenting milestone.


Stage 2: "You can't leave if I cry so loud you can't say goodbye."

If your child releases her grip but cries loudly and long enough to make the neighbors wonder if they should call 911, you're in Stage 2. And it's not just volume: your child will cry in inventive new ways you've never seen before—trembling chin, wet cheeks, eyes full of pain and sadness. Good luck walking away!


Stage 3: "I like toys, but I hate you."

After a few trips to daycare, your child will begin to realize that it's actually pretty fun to go somewhere with other babies and new toys. She'll turn her feelings of resentment toward the real culprit: you. Still expect some whining when you leave, but it's when you're back together in the evening that your child will start punishing you by clinging annoyingly or pushing you away.

Stage 4: "Time to up the whimpering again just to make you nervous."

Once you've been lured into into a false sense of security that future drop-offs will be easy, your child will rub her chubby little hands together and murmur, Excellent, Mr. Burns-style. It's time for Stage 4: your kid once again starts acting like she's never seen Miss Alicia before, yet only she knows this cuddly daycare provider is actually a cold-blooded murderer. Expect this stage to last between one day and 52 weeks.


Stage 5: "Bye Felicia."

You did it! Your kid now loves daycare or her sitter so much she skips happily away when the time comes, as if to say, You want me to go have fun with my friends? Well, fine. F*** you, Mom. Time to go spend an hour commuting and then cry into your keyboard.

Parenting is so rewarding.