Monday, 18 February 2013

Holding on...

You know those 'doh' moments? The ones where you've been walking around for days, weeks, months or even years and something suddenly dawns on you.

I had one of those today. And I'm beating myself up a bit because of it.

In the beginning, when Mini started walking, rather than needing the buggy the whole time I'd still take it out sometimes, so if he got tired he could climb in (although in reality I don't think the stubborn little wotsit ever did!). I'd have him walk with me but holding onto the buggy. That way I always knew where he was, he always knew where to hold, I could keep him away from the road. It worked for us and kept him safe. He didn't often let go, and a quick reminder would see him grab on again.

We had a short period where we stopped using the buggy altogether when Mini was about 3, but he would still ALWAYS hold my hand.

Then Dollop was born and we went back to having a buggy again. Mini was still only 3 and a half, so held onto the buggy whilst we walked.

Fast forward a few years and Mini is now 6, whilst Dollop is still often in a buggy...certainly for the school run and around town whilst shopping. Yet, despite us often telling Mini he's safe to walk beside us or a few steps in front, he insists on holding the buggy, or trolley in the case of the odd supermarket shop. He might step away for a minute or two, but creeps back and grabs on again. Until we stop that is, and then he's climbing, crawling, laying, sitting, looking, touching etc!
When all four of us are out, he'll hold the NC's hand whilst I push Dollop or walk with her. But if the NC were to let go for a second, Mini will revert back to buggy holding. And he even swaps sides automatically without reminders to make sure he's not near the road.
The NC struggles with this more than I do, but I admit that when Mini is in a world of his own, it's frustrating trying to turn a buggy round a corner either dragging Mini behind or pushing against him without running over his feet!

Today it dawned on me why. How could I have been so stupid and not realised that he does this because he needs to be close to us. He'll never admit it of course, but he needs to have the reassurance of us nearby, he needs to feel safe and protected.

The reason I'm beating myself up is because for the last few years I've been trying to encourage Mini to walk beside us, trying to encourage a bit of independence, whilst trying to improve his sense of road safety (although I know he'd stop at the edge of a road if he was walking independently, he's so used to hanging off the buggy he's become lazy and relies on me to stop, go, etc when crossing roads), when I should have realised that he was showing me that he still needed me.My poor boy, no wonder he feels rejected.

If he needs me, he needs me, so I will continue to let him hold on, feel safe and close until we no longer need the buggy and then he'll be able to hold my hand all the time. Wrapping in cotton wool? maybe, but we still have a long way to go in making Mini feel safe and part of this family, and if it means wrapping him in cotton wool for a bit, then so be it. So if you see us out, just ignore those white fluffy bits!

Do your children still stay close when you're out and about, or do you have the opposite??

20 comments:

  1. Hello! I have had just such light bulb moments over the years and completely relate to the " oh no!" feelings. Although my daughter is now an older teenager she will still find ways to make sure the invisible string of attachment stays between us at all times especially in public. What a brilliant parent you are though to work it out and understand it so well. X

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    1. Thank you. Not feeling too brilliant right now, kicking myself but at least we got there in the end. Reassuring that you go on to have these moments even when they're older!

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  2. Don't beat yourself up, we are always learning things about our kids and why they do what they do! It is good that he feels safe and protected around you.
    Mine are usually the opposite, especially Tigs who is hyper energetic and will run off all the time. Sometimes I have to make him hold hands for his own safety, which I don't enjoy doing (not does he!)He will hold hands voluntarily, occasionally.
    Pup at 9 likes to hold hands sometimes, which very few of his peers still do. It's usually only for a minute or two, then he will run off.

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    1. Thanks Megs, hard to think that I've missed this all these years. I suspect as Mini gets older all this holding on will stop and he'll find another way...

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  3. I've had penny drop moments where I suddenly realise why one of the boys is doing something so you are definitely not alone. There is so much reading of minds required parenting our little ones that we can't see it all clearly all the time. Mine aren't so bad walking around familiar places but Tink needs to hold hands in unknown places. Stig does like to walk on his own but I do have to watch him because like Mini he is jumpy and not always aware of everything around him which worries me near roads. x

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    1. It is worrying when they're so jumpy near roads isn't it? Mini is quite clumsy because of hypermobility in his ankles so I do stress a little that he'll just 'fall' into the road :-(

      It's funny, when I saw our CAMHS lady last week she said to just sit back, make the most of the resources around us and to stop over-thinking and analysing behaviours - as you say we can't see things clearly all the time...I've tried to chill out a bit more since then and today I had this light-bulb moment. Perhaps she was right then hey?! x

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  4. The 'doh' moments are frequent in my sometimes too fast moving brain! I have a similar situation with Anthony right now, who is about to be 11. I try to encourage him to go out on his own in our neighborhood, call up friends, walk to his moms' house (less than 10 min. away) etc. and he is so reluctant. Then in talking to our counselor her response was 'wow isn't that fantastic?' I thought she was crazy. Shouldn't he be wanting to to those things? Are they not age appropriate? She said that we were lucky that he still wants to be close to us, and longer we can keep him closer the more secure he will be when he is ready to push off on his own and venture out. It completely changed my perspective. Although he is such a quiet homebody I think a little more venturing would be good...but I'll wait until he is ready. She recommends Gordon Neufield's book "hold onto your kids", which I haven't yet read but really like his parenting advice so will pick it up soon. Just in case you were interested;)

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    1. I'll look up that book thanks Lindsay, not heard of Gordon Neufield before...

      It's hard isn't it, knowing what's age appropriate, what to nurture and encourage, and what to just let be and be grateful for. I love what your counsellor said, and I'll try to remember it x

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  5. Why do we beat ourselves up about not getting it *sooner* - you got it *today* that is what counts, and many wouldn't have, ever.

    Its not wrapping in cotton wool - those are the threads of attachment not a cocoon (a different material altogether). And hang on, doesn't your manifesto say you won't be swayed by other people's judgement of what is happening (i loved that one). What a great step forward, a great revelation, and a great day.

    And bloody annoying too (the hanging off the buggie like a ten ton elephant part)! Classic adoption paradox. Gotta love it. Mx

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    1. Why? Because 5 years is a long time to go without realising something, and in 5 years a lot of damage could have been caused by my actions...my repeated attempts to push him off the buggy/push him away. Can't help feeling guilty about that.

      But yes, the manifesto says I won't be judged, which is why I'll carry on keeping him close, no matter how frustrating and difficult it is, and no matter what others think - now I know it's what he needs.

      It is a step forward for us though, and I'm pleased that the penny has finally dropped! Thanks x

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  6. When we adopted our 3 (all at once, all under 5) their default mode was to run off in 3 different directions. A straightforward trip to Tesco was like herding cats - I soon lit on the technique of strapping the youngest into a trolley seat and giving the other 2 a basket to carry, which I weighed down with a bag of spuds as soon as we got through the door. We ate a lot of potatoes in that first year. Hubby and I were like swivel eyed lunatics whenever we went out as a family; we seriously thought about putting them on those retractable dog leads.

    Some 18 months on, I was stopped by a sales assistant in a shop. "About your kids - can I just say..." Oh god, I thought, here we go. "...Some people let their kids run riot in here, but yours are amazing - they're just following you like little ducklings!"

    To my shame I hadn't even noticed the change. They're now a tight little tribe - and, for the time being at least, I'm still Mama Duck :)

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    1. 3 under 5 - you are brave! I love your strategy of a basket with potatoes in, very inventive.

      I'm pleased your tribe is still as tight x

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  7. Gosh, please don't beat yourself up about this, it's such an easy mistake to make - you thought that you were doing the right thing by encouraging some independence. And you are right, but for now allowing him to hold on to the buggy is perfectly fine. I think a lot of kids do that out of habit and also it adds a sense of reassurance. I have aclingy child and she always liked to hang on to the buggy, even at 6 and you're not wrapping him in cotton wool, you're doing what's best for him :)

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    1. Thanks Suzanne. I'm now uber-aware of him holding on, and even more aware of asking him to let go. I guess I'll just follow his lead x

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  8. Thanks for a thought provoking post. We have the opposite issue when it comes to walking - I've often pondered how on earth people get their children to walk along holding their buggy so nicely! We're managing fine with our 'system' but your post makes me think about other behaviour I should perhaps take a moment to step back and wonder "why?".

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    1. Thanks for commenting Fiona. As an adoptive parent, I probably focus too much on the why, but it is sometimes useful to observe and think a bit more about our children's behaviour... x

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  9. Oh bless. Yes I'd let him hold the buggy as long as he likes. My 5 year old stopped that ages ago, but I think it would be safer if she would hold on! She's fiercely independent though... I love what Mumdrah said, "You got it *today* that is what counts."

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    1. Thank you. I recently read a great line about in birth children we encourage independence, in adopted children we must first encourage dependence. I wish I'd heard that sooner as it really rings true. So that's what I'm going to do from now on...and not worry about it so much x

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  10. Thank you for your post, only had the one, so mechanics of managing the pushchair were not quite so complicated. J still clung to the sides and now he is seven he still sometimes clings to the strap of my handbag (v. annoying) and at other times will happily run ahead regardless. I can imagine shopping etc can be very scary if you're a little person (it frightens me sometimes), and am sure that listening to what children are saying with their body language will deepen rapport.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Sarah and for your comment. I definitely feel I'm attuning more to Mini and his body language, something that didn't come naturally, and I do hope I continue to do so, so I can understand him better x

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