We lived in White Plains until I was around 7 years old. I have only a few memories from there- sticking my finger in the socket in my bedroom and getting zapped, eating all my Advent calendar candy at once and getting sick, sliding down the wooden stair rail and getting a huge splinter in my thigh- stuff like that. I remember “helping” my Dad do some renovating on the main level of the house, in fact it’s one of my favorite pictures of the two of us. There are a few other moments I can recall, however there’s one thing I remember as vividly as if I was there right now- the Crab Apple tree in the backyard. Time and time again, I would climb that knobby tree, and without fail- I would get stuck. Too high to jump, and failing to remember what limb to use to get down, inevitably I would become hysterical and hold on for dear life. Terrified, I would wait for what seemed like forever, until I could hear my father whistling to find me. A fresh round of salty tears, as my Dad would reach out his hands and tell me to jump. Believing in his strength, he rescued me every time.
Having been in child care for as long as I have, I have been privy to the inner circle of countless families. I have coached and counseled many parents, and long before I began my own family, I became keenly aware of some of the common challenges families face. One such difficulty is when a child prefers the attention of one parent over another. It might be cute at first, how much the child gets excited when the “favored” parent is around. But after a while, it begins to sting a little when your child wants nothing to do with you. Lots of families struggle with this, and for me- I was Daddy’s little girl. I recall a conversation with my Mom where she said I actually threw her wedding band out the window so they wouldn’t be married anymore. That sucks! How do you not take that personally? But the truth of it is, it’s pretty normal- different personalities simply click better than others, and there are different periods of development in a child’s early years where one parent’s strengths may provide better support versus another.
These days, Claire only has eyes for me. If she’s hurt, it’s my kiss that makes it better. I’m the only one “allowed” to towel her off after tub, and put her to bed. If she gets to choose who brings her home from school, it’s always me, even if I have to stay later than Daddy. It’s been getting to the point where Dan’s feelings are starting to get hurt, and that is why I’m sharing this today. Just as I would tell any other parent- don’t change what you’re doing. You’re a phenomenal parent, so just keep a sense of humor about it, and know that at some point your child will enjoy your company again. It’s a phase, and like so many things in raising children- this time is fluid. It might be this way now, maybe even next week, but make note- there will come a day when she turns to you again, so please don’t be discouraged. Your time will come.
And, honey- just in case that time doesn’t come fast enough, I taught Claire how to climb the Crab Apple tree in our backyard…
You ready to save the day?