Everyone talks about how they don’t want a “clingy” Child and they want them to be independent. I have that super independent child who will happily go to anyone, does not cry when going to nursery, is happy in every situation and would probably survive an apocalypse where she has to fend for herself.
We have all witnessed the anguish of the young child being separated from their primary care giver which results in heart ache for both parties. I’m sure many care givers across the country have sat in their car after such altercations for periods of time while gathering themselves, while the child has moved on and is now consuming a mixture of play dough and paint. For some families this is a one off occurrence and others it is an unappreciated painful tradition so I can see why we like to search out a point of “blame” or “reasoning”.
THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
I think we can approach this in two ways, The more popular choice is to look at what “we” the care giver are doing to impact the way our child to be “clingy” or “independent” this has such an enormous amount of “Judgment” attached and can introduce such emotions as “guilt”. Why do we struggle so much with just saying “yeah, that’s just who they are and that’s awesome” there does not have to be reason for everything in life, sometimes it just is what it is. I’m not sure that if I were talking to a very confident person I would wonder how they were raised and the implications of the choices that were made.
Let me tell you one thing, being the Mum of an independent and high spirited toddler is NOT easy and can also be very painful emotionally. My daughter loves going to nursery but dropping her off gives me a different type of pain to the so called “clingy” child. My first challenge comes when getting ready as she will dictate every step of the morning including regular disappearing acts where I have to keep the front door locked. Free spirited child does include walking out/off without a second glance or thought as to where I am or if she is safe. Once wrestled out of her slippers and into a pre-selected pair of shoes that I have hidden repeatedly as they don’t fit we are ready to fall out, as I won’t let her drive the car.
Once we make it to nursery she walks in without a worry in the world, puts her book in her draw, hangs her coat and bag up without any thoughts towards me. Sometimes one of her fellow class mates will be upset, so she may take some time pondering their distress and maybe even ask me why they are crying. Now it’s time for the heart ache, as she takes my hand in hers and leads me to the door then shoves me out of it, then tells her teacher to shut it. I laugh it off but it hurts to my core, I sit in the car just like the care giver of the screaming child. I too have to take my time to pull myself together before driving away from my own play dough eating child. I too look for that elusive “blame” I hear mentioned, does she not love me as much as that child fighting to stay with her care giver? Have I failed in some way? Have I made the wrong decisions?
When I arrive to collect her I am not met like the care giver of the “clingy” child. She does not want to hug me and kiss me, No she wants to know why Nanna has not come to get her instead of me. She just waves to her fellow class mates and teachers then heads out the same door I was unceremoniously shoved from just a few hours before. No looking back to check I am there, she just walks to the gate ready to get into the car and argue with me that she should be driving us home.
This unappreciated tradition of separation and reuniting is one that gives me great stress and anxiety but seemingly has no effect on my child, there are days where I simply find it the hardest thing to walk away from and not burst into tears. Is this what people really want when they say they want an independent child? Is she just broken? Am I broken?
At this point I want to step back, cut out that “Human Emotion”. Why do we need to give reason or blame to this or to anything to be honest. We could work on just being accepting of how situations unfold, embracing each person as they are which is not a concept that is not completely alien to us. What if people will be who they are no matter on the environmental factors? Can we make someone independent? Can we make someone clingy? I know I am posing more questions but this is before we add the emotional element.
I have carried my daughter with me, we have built secure and strong attachments that research will indicate is has contributed to her fierce independent streak. I don’t believe for a moment that the only reason my daughter is a head strong nut bag is because I chose to carry, over using other transportation options. I don’t doubt that the secure attachments we have developed can only have strengthened her strong will, but I was also a head strong independent child who ran off and frightened my own mum half to death, could it be a coincidence? I guess that’s your decision.
Now turning that on its head, can you “make” a child “clingy”? Some research, such as those done in neglectful orphanages, will suggest that the lack of healthy emotional attachments will lead to a slowing of development. This is an extreme, what I am talking about is can your choice of carrying really make that big impact on the child’s ability to skip off to nursery without a care in the world? I can with full confidence say Carrying will not make a “clingy” child. My sister is painfully shy, we had the same upbringing with the same parents, with and older head strong sister it is possible she had less attention than I demanded of my parents. My Mother is also painfully shy, could that also be a coincidence? Again this is up to you to decide.
Let’s do one thing together, can we put these mythical creatures of the Independent child or the Clingy child in a small box, leave it in the draw along with the old batteries, screws that you can’t remember what they are from and other useless rubbish we seem to hold onto. Let’s just see children as perfection in their own rights. After all a room of wildly independent children could only lead to caregivers everywhere losing their hair.
Now let’s add the humanity, human life after all will not thrive without human contact. This is fact. It hurts when your child is hurting and it hurts when you’re not needed. So what am I left with? That good old saying, “you will always want what you don’t have”. Can I accept that there is no blame, no reason? Now that’s a little harder but I’m working on it.
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