So my friend Amanda was over a few months ago and noticed something you can’t miss if you visit our family for more than six minutes: Claire’s attachment to yours truly. She is 23 months old today and has been (as Kins would say) in the Barnacle Stage for the past 3-4 months.
Here are a few symptoms of an attached toddler, if you haven’t experienced this confining phase of parenting:
- They want their mama.
- They want a cup of milk and their mama.
- They want a snack and their mama.
- They want to play, sitting in their mama’s lap.
- They want to eat your food, sitting in their mama’s lap.
- They want to go downstairs, carried by their mama.
- They want to go upstairs, carried by their mama.
- They want to look on the computer, with their mama.
- They want to go outside, with their mama.
- They want to be rocked asleep, by their mama.
There are many more symptoms, which include the child’s overuse of his/her pointer finger while being carted around the house, an uncanny sixth sense of your every very light, tiptoe-y footstep, and “Mama” finding herself taking the trash out four times a day just to breathe her own oxygen.
If you fear your toddler is attached, here’s a simple test: try cutting and eating a grapefruit. If the child remains entertained with toys and TV and everything you can possibly think of to get her to stay in the living room for five seconds without you, and you are able to successfully use two hands to cut and eat a grapefruit without Mini in your lap, you do NOT have an attached toddler. Actually, if you can do anything at your house during the day that requires the use of two arms, including laundry, sweeping, and cooking dinner, you do not have an attached toddler.
Back to my friend Amanda. She spent a summer as an intern at Sea World and told me the story of a time one of the trainers had trouble swimming in the water with the dolphins. Suddenly one day, a particular dolphin began swimming in circles around said trainer. The staff was baffled. The trainer couldn’t perform her duties because the dolphin wouldn’t stop swimming around and around and around. This went on for a few days, in spite of the team’s best efforts to entice the dolphin to perform as usual – it absolutely refused to cooperate if this trainer was in the pool. After some research, the Sea World staff found that in the wild, dolphins will sometimes swim in circles around a pregnant dolphin to protect her. The trainer took a pregnancy test: negative. Dolphin: still swimming in circles. A few weeks later, the trainer found out she was, in fact, expecting for the first time. Before a test could detect it, the dolphin was protecting her!
I love this story because dolphins are cute and animal stuff is cool. Also, according to Amanda, this stage might just indicate Claire instinctually knowing big changes are coming, and not be a psychological attachment disorder requiring years of therapy. Claire has always been a bit of a mama’s girl, but as soon as I started showing, she started clinging. Perhaps she senses that in the next few months, we will take away her bed, her pacifier, her diapers, her life-long status as the baby of the family. That’s a lot of change for a twenty-pounder.
I remember Trevor being quite the diva himself between the ages of 20-24 months. We had craziness going on in our lives then, I was pregnant with Claire, and I think he was stressed and confused. We have a fair share of craziness going on in our lives now and I think Claire is stressed and confused. Kids are very perceptive. But as soon as he turned 2, Trevor matured and learned and grew like a weed. Maybe Claire just needs another month. Then, she’s outta that crib and outta my lap! New Baby is coming and I haven’t found a two-seater papoose to carry both a toddler and newborn simultaneously. (Please, nobody invent that.)
Until next month then, I’ll abstain from grapefruit, snuggle my dolphin baby, and carry her around like a princess in a chariot. Someday she’ll want to be alone, and that will be a much sadder day. Right??