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Have Your Kids Ever Gone Through a Super Clingy Phase?

Taylor Hengen Newman

We landed back in Texas yesterday, after narrowly escaping Hurricane Irene amidst hundreds of cancelled flights and a rapidly emptying airport in Baltimore, where we transferred planes. Phew. There are no signs of stormage here—just hotter than hell, and I’d expect nothing less of this fine Southern climate— and it feels really great to be home. We had a good time in New Hampshire, for sure; the lake was breathtakingly beautiful, the house was just the right amount of rustic, and my parents went all out on the hospitality front. Kaspar had a blast, too, but… he wanted to do that from up on my hip, pretty much without exception (lest he go all howler monkey on us… Zero-to-sixty style).

Now, Kaspar and I do our work/play/life thing largely side-by-side—bathroom visits and all—as a matter of course. This week, however, he took his passion for proximity to a whole new level. It was a little challenging. I guessed that the abrupt changes in scene and routine— as pleasant as those changes were— were at the root of this shift, and so I obliged him as much as possible (watch out, Madonna, you’ve got competition; my arms are getting pret-ty buff from all of this lifting). This actually meant that Aaron, for all of his willingness to help (consistently shot down by Kaspar Q.), had plenty of time to kayak, or contemplate, or do whatever it is people do on vacation when not answering to adorable-slash-sadistic toddler parole officers 24 hours a day. But it also meant that I wasn’t able to let my parents do the kind of grand-parenting they—and I—were hoping they’d be able to. Actually, to be more accurate, my parents got their grand-parenting in, but my presence was constantly required for that, too. So I spent a lot of super close-up quality time with my parents and my kiddo on vacation. Not a lot of Taylor-time in that mix—and I was hoping for some-- but hey, we rocked it.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t entirely mature and selfless about the whole don’t-put-me-down-or-else routine, at least not for the entire time we were there. For example, Aaron and I usually take turns on the early morning wake-up shift, but Kaspar wasn’t into that at all during this trip. Mom Only. I did in fact beg aloud for 6 a.m. mercy a few times. Luckily for me, Kaspar soon discovered (as I’d hoped he would during our mostly-indoor summer leading up to this) a mutually agreeable antidote to his persistent clinging and its more wearing affects: The Great Outdoors.

In fact, he ran around like a proper wild-child outside the lake house, exploring the small beach (where we saw a mother catfish and her cloud of 500 tiny babies... Good luck with that, Mama Fish), the woods (rocks to climb! Moss to touch!), and the grassy lawn (run-run-run-run-run-fall-down). Once outside, Kaspar became absorbed in the space around him, and I became a supervising sidekick, instead of his personal transportation system. I’d point things out to him, or intercept his ingestion of mysterious fauna, but I generally just followed along quietly, taking in the sounds and smells, gazing at the sky, and stepping outside of my need for Taylor-time and right into the beautiful days. My parents, Aaron and I all hung out together watching Kaspar romp around outdoors, too, and these relaxed conversations (plus quiet pauses) will remain in my memory as some of our most enjoyable moments during our visit. I’ll let the fact that I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to retreat into the house for, say, sustenance, or a nap, fade away into the no-need-to-remember-that past.

And now we’re home, in our own space, just us. Which is also nice. When we first opened our front door yesterday, Kaspar jumped out of my arms (!), scrambled onto his bed, then off, and finally into the playroom to admire his toys and books. Of course, no sooner had Aaron and I collapsed on the couch than Kaspar sped back across the living room to the front door, pointing. “Out-hide?” It’s 105 degrees out there, and he’s giving us a run for our money on returning to a more indoor-centered lifestyle, but at least I have my arms back. Soon it’ll be fall, too, and we’ll go camping and run around the backyard all we want. 

Have your kids ever gone through a super-clingy phase? Kaspar's starting his new Montessori program soon, so I'm hoping he doesn't jump right back into that Mom-Only mode, but I guess we'll play it by ear. How have you helped your kids get comfortable on their own two feet when all they want is for you to carry them, everywhere?