I’m expecting to see the headline any day now, probably in a tabloid: “My baby was abducted by aliens and now she’s a Cling-on!”
Underneath will be a picture of me frantically trying to escape the clutches of a child that looks like one of mine, only she’s attached to my leg. The end result is that we look like a creature from outer space -- extra appendages flailing, faces contorted in grimaces that convey every emotion possible.
And I’m only half kidding.
Perhaps you can relate to this scenario: Life is going along merrily, when out of the blue, your child takes on a new personality trait the likes of which you have never seen before. In my case, my totally independent, happy-to-go-anywhere, loves-school-even-the-bus child decided that she couldn’t, and wouldn’t, go anywhere without having me by her side.
“I don’t want to go to school without you, Mommy. Can you stay with me? Please? Why do I have to go every day? I want to stay home with you! I’ll miss you when I’m at school!”
I assure her that I will be there when she gets home and that she will be fine while we’re apart… to no avail. The alien grips her little body and her little body grips my leg. She becomes a Cling-on.
I thought kids grew out of separation anxiety by their first birthday. Apparently I was wrong.
This became a daily battle, avoiding the clutches of the Cling-on. By the time I could finally escape (and yes, I do mean escape), I was exhausted -- physically, mentally, and emotionally.
There were days I was angry about the fact that she was acting inappropriately. Many times I was embarrassed by the tantrum she threw unashamedly in front of peers, both hers and mine. On several occasions I had to run out of the room while someone held her until she calmed down, which she eventually did -- after I left.
And almost every day it took all I had not to cave in when every fiber of my being wanted to wrap her in my arms and tell her that she didn’t ever have to leave my side if she didn’t want to.
But that wasn’t the right answer, nor the right time, nor the right reason.
So the Cling-on captivity continued… and actually still continues at times.
I wish I could share the wisdom gleaned from this experience, but I don’t have any. It has gotten better, but the alien does rear its ugly head from time to time -- still a little too often for my comfort.
Although I haven’t eradicated this alien from our daily routine as yet, I have learned a how to survive in the meantime.
The first is to realize that it is a stage. This has seemed to drag on forever, but in reality, she won’t always want me by her side. A friend who has experienced similar alien invasions shared that her child was fine after about a year or so. (Was that supposed to be encouraging? A year?!)