Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The beginning of the end of separation anxiety

I often worry about Cloud's inability to be separated from me (except when he's with his daddy; he's fine with that). There might be preschool in his future, and babysitters, and of course sometimes I'd like to use the bathroom in peace without compelling him to interrupt his game.

We recently discovered the Sturgis library, which has a wonderful new train table. It's essentially the same as every other library's train table (train tables seem to be popular in libraries around here) but that doesn't matter - it's new to Cloud, and therefore it's irresistible.

Unfortunately, just as Cloud was ripping off his jacket and laying claim to the train table, I informed him that I had to use the restroom. I asked, "Do you want to come with me or stay here and play with the trains?"

"Teens," he said emphatically, but he followed me into the restroom. (It was right there, barely 5 feet away from the train table. I'd been hoping...)

So I closed the door behind us, and he immediately tried to open it again.

So I asked him again.

"Teens," he said.

I opened the door and told him to make up his mind, trains or restroom, because I was about to shut the door again if he didn't hurry up.

And he left! He went right to the train table, and when I came out again, he was still there and he was perfectly fine.

I'm not letting my hopes rise too far up, though. One paltry example of him entertaining himself for a minute and a half without me isn't an official Turning Point. I know that, at his age, clinginess isn't entirely abnormal. I've been told that I can work on the issue by gradually backing away from him, until he eventually learns that he's perfectly fine if I'm not standing directly next to him.

I've tried that, and it backfires. He starts watching me carefully for any signs that I might pull the backing-away stunt again. He gets so sensitive that any teeny step backwards or glance toward the door gets him grabbing at me or shadowing me. It's at the point where I don't feel like it's worth the effort anymore. I'm stuck letting him cling. If anyone's going to be moving away, it has to be Cloud.

Maybe there's hope. Maybe he won't have the absolute worst case of separation anxiety the preschool has ever seen, and maybe he will soon be able to continue playing games he's immersed in without interrupting himself to follow me into another room.

Part of my problem is that I'm doing that horrible mommy thing of believing my child will never ever ever grow and change. He'll be clingy in middle school. He'll be clingy in college. While everyone else's kids will be growing up and enjoying life, mine will still be following me into the bathroom in his 40's.

That's just gross.

Maybe this worry is just supplanting the last one - what if he never talks? I'm pretty sure he'll learn to talk. He's making improvements every day. He hasn't completely crossed the line from "nonverbal" to "verbal" yet, but he's getting there. He can say enough to give the impression of being able to hold a rudimentary, but real, conversation. He'll talk.

But I'm still doing the "But what if he never...?" thing.

Why do parents do that?

(I know the answer to that one already, actually. "What if" worrying can be helpful, anyway, if it helps us prepare for eventualities that may seem hypothetical today, but could still come true later.)


  1. Hi, I'm new to your blog so don't know exactly how old Cloud is, but my oldest (also adopted) is now 4.5 and also not talking a whole lot - at most 2-3 word sentences. It is so hard for me not to worry, too... but I think you're right in that that the worry spurs us into action.

    I also SO know the clingy thing... my younger one who is now 3.5 also went through a phase of extreme clinginess. I basically just waited it out. It worked for me... sorta. He is still more clingy than his brother ever was, but not as much as he used to be. =)

  2. He's just about three years old now. He's actually not even that far behind his nonadopted peers. And speech delays for boys are common.

    Still, even the word 'delay' is enough to inspire worry.

  3. He could never have the worst separation anxiety because MY daughter does!!! ha ha Lottie is six years old and has been with us since she was 9 months old and she SCREAMS when I leave her with her Daddy. Just wanted to make you feel better about Cloud:) lol