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??