This is not a hyperbole. It may be assumed that I am exaggerating because I am an imaginative writer, able to hopelessly wander into idyllic fancies on a whim. In the utmost spirit of assurance, I utter these words with the finest intent to compose and convince. So, here we go.
My children follow me around the house.
We dance on most days, a whimsy waltz, carousel-spinning, sailing, twirling, coordinated in small spaces…until someone plows into my legs, falls, and cries.
My children follow me around the house.
The synchronization isn’t a fixed motion; in fact, the dance becomes a controlled chaos, a frenzied ballroom of proton, neutron, and electron flight, scaring up the air around us. The closeness of the kids is breath for hours on my neck, hips, toes. They collapse on one another to be first in line to my backside. It’s a puzzling tango of life.
My children follow me around the house. I don’t know how to feel about it except annoyed.
But I feel bad about my annoyance.
Allow me to paint a typical weekend morning. At Jrue and Jai’s similar rising time prior to the sun’s chance of breaking through our blinds and drapes, the noise of their consciousness meets my ears before their bodies converge on mine. Jrue greets me in the baby’s room as Jai loudly declares her wet status to anyone listening. I lead potty trips all around, then serve yogurt bites or dry cereal as a pre-breakfast snack. Their sitting on the sofa and eating in front of “Spongebob” for 13 minutes is the singular chance that I have to myself until afternoon nap times.
I treasure this time by hiding on the toilet with my cell phone.
They always find me.
I then begin daily pickups. Toys from the living room go into the individual bedrooms. My deodorant, spray bottle, and nail clippers in Jrue’s bedroom, randomized items stolen for the sake of stealing, go back into my master bathroom. Clothing in the master bathroom go to the dirty clothes hamper in our utility closet. I set up a load of wash. I take out the dryer load from last night and stack it on my bed for folding and hanging.
Left, right, back, forth, over and over. And what two ducklings gallivant under me?
Imagine what this looks like.
I’m talking 1,100 square feet of constant drifting, rambling, for upwards of an hour. I walk fast naturally. I have abruptly turned around in the hallway with arms full and have knocked Jai to her butt more than once because she and her brother are right behind me, left and right, back and forth. Of course, that meant dropping everything to the floor and comforting to the tune of her loud, screaming cries. I have stepped on Jrue’s feet before and have accidentally slapped him in the face with a bottle of cleanser upon rotating. Now, it has become an art methodology to look down for them…frequently…as I zoom.
Jrue and Jai want to spend all of their awake hours with mommy, even if mommy is taking 20 minutes to clear the living room for a fun activity. It’s like they agree, “No problem, mommy. We’ll be right here when you are ready. Right here right here.” They love my high-pitched squeals and my vibrant vocal tone. Jrue has recently asked me to just hold his hand or sit beside him on the couch. Jai picks books off of the shelf and paddles over to me, book held in the air for consumption.
How dare I even attempt to keep their home presentable when all my kids want is my unparalleled, most sufficient attention?
Because it’s unrealistic, that’s why! I cannot go to the bathroom without Jrue bursting in, followed by his table, chair, and smiling Jai with BeatBo.
In my little master bathroom.
The three of us. Me trapped on the toilet.
I cannot mop the floor without Jai attempting to walk the dampness and skirting into a cabinet. I cannot study or rest or eat without a little face in my face. Oh, believe me, trying to eat is a famed pastime. The hubs has to grab little bodies and pull them away from me so that I can decently inhale my own food.
Thus, the conflict.
I truly love my babies more than myself, but it is my responsibility to teach them that (a) they will not always get what they want and (b) mommy cannot be beckoned 100% of the time. But turning them away and forcing them down with a kiddie movie is not nearly enough cathartic, particularly when the guilt of doing so creeps in. I usually bend and end up watching most of the movie with them.
Where’s the balance in this thing? Why am I followed around instead of daddy? Do I need protection? Watching? Do they not trust me? What is it?
Lisa Medoff, child psychologist for Education.com, provided some insight into my children’s refusal to be outside of my presence. When it comes to Jrue, “. . .many 3-4-year-old children demonstrate a very strong attachment to their primary caregiver. This is the age where kids are beginning to understand themselves as individuals, are starting to explore their independence, and separating from their parents, but they are not yet completely comfortable with the idea. They must be reassured that if they do indeed venture away from you, you will be there when they return.” (Medoff, 2013) In addition, I believe that Jai walks in her trails only because Jrue does. She is heavily into imitation and repetition.
Thinking about this quandary one level down, on the weekends, their routine of preparing for school, then the pattern we follow after school, is way off, causing some level of insecurity about what exactly to do with so much free time. I have been known to inexplicably leave the house for a while…working, teaching, running out for food, etc. They do not completely understand those processes, so Jrue and Jai must accompany me to ensure that I don’t…up and disappear.
At least I know that I have the slimmest chance of being kidnapped. My kids will wreak havoc if someone tried to take me from them.
My thin line of conclusion: One day, they will want very little to do with me. That’s the thought that keeps me from running away. And I still have the power to use variations in times for naps as mommy time-outs when Jrue and Jai stick a little too closely to me.
“Oh, fearless leader” is the Cha-Cha we bop to. For now.
Medoff, Lisa. “Ask the Child Psychologist: Refusal to Be Alone.” Education.com, Jun. 6, 2013, https://www.education.com/magazine/article/refusal/. Accessed Sep. 12, 2017.