Thursday, 19 January 2012

no girls allowed

When the Engineer and I decided to get pregnant we discussed our attitudes to parenting.

We both had a lot to say. There were some things we wished had gone a bit differently in our own lives and perhaps we could learn something from our histories.

Attachment parenting appealed. We liked the basic concept – that when a child’s needs are met, they feel secure. This security helps them to form good relationships with others. If they are rejected, they do not feel worthless because they have been treated as if they matter by the people who matter most. It does not mean giving the child all that they want. It does not mean cosseting the child. Good secure attachment enables the child to become independent. That is the idea.

It occurred to me today that we have done quite a good job on Snooks. This should be good news, but it did not feel very good.

I knew the story; you fall in love with your children and then they break your heart. And that is how it is supposed to be. But I had not realised quite how bad it would feel.

There were times recently when we both questioned our methods with Snooks. Delightful and spirited as he is, his fierce opposition to going to school and his occasional fury whenever I left the house without him appeared to spell separation anxiety gone mad. He is almost four and yet his tearful protests at the school gate ( I have walked away hearing him shout “Mummy don’t leave me” more times than I care to remember) led me to fear we had got it wrong, that he was panicked by my leaving and so did not have the confidence attached children should have. He did not know that I would come back, that he would not be abandoned and that he was loved. How could this be?

However something seems to be shifting a bit, both at school and at home. Whether it is an emotional development which has simply come a bit later than in others or whether he was… erm… putting it on a bit in the first place, I am not sure but I seem to be suddenly redundant.

First of all I found that the school gate drama could be fixed fairly easily with a good bribe - a chocolate gold coin usually – suggesting he might not be all that traumatised after all.

Then as I played with him today, feeling more like his teenage mate hanging out in his bedroom than his nurturing mum, I remembered that while going into school might have been a problem, he has never shown any reluctance to be left at any of his friends’ houses. Not a peep. So hang on, where was the separation anxiety then? He isn’t anxious about being separated from me, he just doesn’t like school! What on earth was I thinking? Of course he is securely attached. He doesn’t even wave goodbye!

Also recently he has been spending more time with the Engineer, at first because I had other commitments, but then by choice. One cold evening this week as the Engineer headed out to the workshop to fix stuff while I stayed in the cosy warm house, Snooks announced he was ‘going to help Daddy’. He donned his crocs, pulled on a hat and marched out into the darkness down the garden path, without looking back. Later at dinner he informed me that they had been working hard out there. “It was just us boys,” he said, tucking into his vittles. I felt like Ma Walton.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a Good Thing, I know. I should be grateful. There have been times in recent months where I have felt on such a short leash – unable to make a phone call, go to the loo, leave the room without the Engineer having to hold him back, screaming - that cleaning the house on a Saturday morning while father and son play in the park has become a weekly ‘me time’ treat.

But it is not easy to no longer be needed. It means I am back to being me again. Now, where was I?

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