I started this blog post a month ago but as I wrote it, I thought it sounded a bit angry. Not in keeping with my soft sensibilities at all. So I decided to sit on it as I was only writing out of reaction to some comment.
Not a week goes by when someone very helpful comments on the clinginess of the kid. Does anyone else hate the word clingy? Or high-needs? Surely the lack of motor skills, the fact that the brain isn’t fully developed and the ensuing reliance on their parents makes all babies/toddlers high needs?
The comment I was reacting to went something like this: “I don’t know how she’s ever going to go to school. I certainly don’t want to be there on the first day!”
Comments I’ve had in the past went like: “you breastfeeding her makes her clingy.” 🙄
“She uses your milk as a pacifier.” – Well, yes. The hormonal make up of breastmilk is intended to do just that…. 🙄
[In a whiny voice imitating the child] “Mama, Mama, Mama – gosh she really can’t cope when she can’t see you….” – yes, taunting a toddler is going to help her cope… please continue… 🙄
Earlier this week I started to really doubt my approach. It’s not like I’ve followed a book, I’ve just followed my instinct, which has veered somewhat to attachment parenting (if you need to label it) but I began to be swallowed up by the feeling that maybe everyone else is right. Maybe my kid is going to be the one kid that doesn’t conform to the theory that being responsive actually promotes independence.
Then the day before yesterday I got my first “bye mama” without a backward glance as she sped away on her trike towards the park with her Dad. I can’t tell you the joy I felt as I saw her happily scoot away. Just a few months ago, getting her to go to the park alone with Dad would start with tears, until she saw the slide… then she’d be fine.
This was a big step…
Then yesterday I asked the kid to play in the garden with my friend whilst I went inside to make dinner. And she played and played very happily until the heavens opened (a full 15 minutes). No tears, no worry. I’m sure she would have stayed out longer had weather permitted.
I’ve even had several showers in the last week where she hasn’t sat in the doorway to the bathroom playing with her toys (i.e. my makeup case).
I’m hoping these instances aren’t flukes. I’m hoping this is the beginning of the emergence of a confident toddler. In the meantime, I’m sure she’ll continue to follow me to the bathroom when she feels like it. I’m sure she’ll continue to cry if someone tries to take her from me without attempting an explanation. And I’m sure that in the remaining THREE YEARS that I have before the kid starts school, I’ll be able to explain what it’s all about and that there’s no need to worry but this is something she’s going to have to do for the next thirteen years of her life…. hmmm, maybe I should start working on that explanation sooner rather than later….