Monday, May 12, 2008

When the meter reader comes, I'll invite her in for play time

It's wonderful as a parent to know that your child is more comfortable with you than anyone else, but Jerry and I are quickly learning that it has its downsides, too.

One afternoon when Jerry and I had just gotten engaged, I remember stopping by his mother's house to drop off some wedding details for her perusal. When I got there, she was outside by the pool and Jer's nephews were lounging on lawn chairs -- the youngest asleep under a beach towel.

Because they weren't completely comfortable with me yet, their demeanor changed when I pulled up a chair. I noticed that they went from being relaxed to sitting up and alert. I remember thinking how wonderful it must feel to be so much a part of a child's life that they can be themselves around you.

Ironically, with my own child, I never realize how relaxed she is with me until I pass her to someone else.

When our neighbor was over a few weeks ago and reached down to pull Allison out of her highchair, she looked at him like, "Um, right, and you are?"

Then, after I momentarily walked out of the kitchen, she started wailing. When I came back a few seconds later, she was reaching for me in a panicked frenzy.

The trouble is, it doesn't stop there. She panics with everyone other than me or Jerry. It broke my mother's heart when it took Alli awhile to warm up to her on my last visit home. And even my mother-in-law, who sees her at least once a week, can't hold her without generating a crying fit.

Last night while we were at her house for a few hours, we joked that it was like an on and off switch. The moment she hit the arms of me or Jer, she'd stop.

I know a lot of it has to do with the fact that she isn't in day care. Plus, our work schedules dictate a rather secluded lifestyle. Not many of our friends can hang out on weekday afternoons, which happens to be the majority of our free time. Add in the fact that she doesn't have any other siblings and it's the perfect recipe for an infant with no social skills and separation anxiety.

I guess I've been assuming certain things. Like that she's going to grow up to be outgoing and social because her parents are. But if we don't provide a foundation for that, how could I expect it?

The tough part is, I'm not willing to toss her in day care just so she can be with other kids her age. We have lots of friends with children, but they're just as busy as we are. And living in a small town, there aren't any play groups that I know of.

I'm sure the solution is out there, but it's eluding me at the moment.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there's a moms' group in your community that holds organized field trips/events for moms and kids, and also provides great networking (and sanity-saving advice and adult time) for moms.

Google it, check the Pennysaver or perhaps check with the church you attend.

Anonymous said...

My daughter was an only child for the first 2 1/2 years of her life and never had anyone but family watch her nor did she ever step foot into a daycare. She is extremely social. She cried just like Allison does at strangers too. She'll outgrow it.

Marina said...

Have another one!

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't worry about putting her in daycare, even for "social" skills.

Our (in Canada) maternity leave lasts for a year, so at the very least the child is a year old before going to a daycare. Actually from what I know, most countries have longer maternity leave then the US. I couldn't imagine putting a 4 month old in daycare, it's far to soon!

the plainsman said...

I'm sure all first borns and onlys are a bit similar, that is why the grow up with a certain skill set and excell at things in life that later kids do not have, and vice versa. I'm sure she will outgrown some of it and as she gets a little older, adapt more quickly.

Uh, years ago, we had a woman meter reader, nice woman, several kids of her own, who would stop to play with the babies! Had to caution her to not do it! Now most meters are read electronically.

Jennifer said...

You'll be happy to know that 90% of that is just the stage she's in. Even surrounded by siblings and peers, she'd act that way regardless. She will outgrow it, I promise you. Please take this piece of advice... enjoy it while you can.

When she finally feels comfortable around other people, the way she used to just around you and Jer, in some small way, it'll break your heart.

I've found that motherhood is like that a lot. So many milestones are filled with both pride and happiness as well as some sadness. As they grow older we realize that we lose our little babies a bit more to the world every day. We can only hope we did all we could to prepare them.

LeslieAnn said...

Until my niece was about a year and a half old she cried every time she was handed to her great-grandmother. (I thought my grandmother was going to cry too, she always looked so dismayed by it.)

My niece is fine now though. She's not in school or preschool yet and has never been to daycare, but she goes to Kindermusik and loves it. I'm convinced that most babies are uncomfortable during the first couple years when they're not with a parent.

Marcy said...

Separation anxiety is completely normal, and starts up at exactly Allison's age. It happens with all kids, I'm pretty sure. I worked in daycare and there were plenty of babies who screamed every single morning when they got dropped off (usually stopped after 5-10 minutes). I don't think having her in daycare or around more adults would have a significant impact, as this is a phase babies go through. It also says absolutely nothing about how social she'll be when she's older.

whitney/weber said...

Daycare - NO
Sibling - YES!!!
Coming from one w/o ANY kids, thats OBVIOUSLY the solution! Just have another one!!! (hehe!)
~Christy

Anonymous said...

I have a 7 month old daughter and am a stay at home mom. Most days we are just at home and not around a lot of other children/people. My daughter also went through a stage about a month ago and would cry everytime anyone besides my husband & I (even my mom) would hold her. She is slowly getting over it and now my family is able to hold her. Don't worry I am sure Allison is just going through a stage she will be fine :).

Lioncloud said...

She'll get over it, esp. when she starts to connect the dots between NY Grandma and being showered with loot.

Glrr

sarahhhh said...

it's totally normal. babies don't understand that when your face disappears you aren't around the corner ... but you have literally vanished from this world, never to ever return! babies learn faces and your faces are the only ones she likes.

Sasha said...

I bet its just a stage... one that will pop up several times (predicting 8 months too) at least, that's what happened with my nephew.

lissalinn said...

I work with little kids and you don't want her to be too relaxed with strangers. It breaks my heart more to have to see a mother literally pull her child off of me than one who cries when she drops him off, and I've worked with both kinds.

She will grow out of it though, just give her time.

Traci said...

Don't worry! She's getting to the separation anxiety stage...almost all infants behave that way with their parents/main caregiver. It's totally normal and actually a great indicator that she's developing just as she should. Believe me she WILL outgrow it and will need to walk at least 10 feet from you in public at all times! Eat it up while you can!

Anonymous said...

I would not worry about this, totally have the same situation as you with this. Our daughter is 3.5 and has never been in day care because of the different work days that me and the hubs have... she goes to play groups and MOPS, and plays at the playground just fine, I would say in general that she is a bit more clingy to mom and dad, but she loves her gramma, gramps, aunt and uncle, and would hang out with them and not be too upset.. but it's just a stage with the whole crying... it usually happens again around 18 months to 2 years..


Shalini

Sarah said...

I wouldn't worry too much about it, it's probably just a stage. My mother said I was the same way when other people held me. I'd even punch them with my tiny, few-month-old fists! Now I'm an extremely sociable person, you usually can't get me to stop talking!

Candi said...

I think it's GREAT that you don't want to put her in daycare. And I agree that she will probably outgrow it. My son is extremely social with everyone but I am the 2nd of 8 children and some of them were not and some were. We had plenty of social exposure to other people and children and it is just based on the child's personality. It's too early to stress over it so don't blame yourself or feel like it's because you've done something wrong.

Marsha said...

You read quite a bit of child develoment stuff right? Because 6-18 months is the classic age of separataion anxiety. Modern wisdom says that if you sent them to daycare, they'd get over it, and I suppose it's true, but it is a healthy sign nonetheless.

Honestly, personalities and wanting to be with other kids doesn't really start until around 3. It's mostly for the mom's benefit before then. Both my kids are outgoing, social butterflies who act starved for companionship LOL and both have gone through extreme separation anxiety lasting until close to two.

Rachel said...

My daughter is in daycare. She loves it and gets really excited when we get there and she sees and hears the other kids. I would never take her out, even if I decided to quit my job and stay home. She would still do daycare at least part-time. She doesn't cry when I leave her there, but does when grandma is holding her and she sees me walk out of the room. She often reaches for anybody around her to hold her, but then reaches right back for me. Every baby will go through seperation anxiety to some degree. And I also used to think daycare was an awful thing to do to a child, but now would have my kids go at least some of the time because she loves it so much. I guess maybe finding the right one is key? Have you checked out meetup.com for mommy groups? Or Cafemom.com?

mercurial scribe said...

Honey, this is just a normal part of development. Kids get xenophobic around her age as she recognizes who is familiar and safe versus not familiar and thus, to her little mind, not safe. Give her another few months and she'll be more open. She'd do it even in daycare.