My Summertime Shadow

I love my 6-year-old son with all of my heart. Letting him start kindergarten last year nearly killed me. But after spending two months of summer vacation with him, I’m feeling smothered.

The kid ALWAYS has to be right beside me.

If we are playing outside and I need to run in the house to check on dinner – he has to come with me. If we are playing the Wii downstairs and I need to run upstairs to check on his baby brother – he has to come with me. If we are cleaning up and I need to throw something away in the outside garbage – he has to come with me.

I am almost never alone.

I know what you are thinking. How cute! This little boy LOVES his mom. But I don’t think the crazy kid does it because he is enamored with me. I’m pretty sure he does it because he’s terrified of being by himself.

On two separate occasions I put him in the bathtub then ran downstairs to throw in some laundry. About five seconds down the stairs I heard little footsteps running frantically across the kitchen.

One of those times his slippery naked bum slid across the wet kitchen floor while he was racing to see where I went. He hopped out of the tub and ran across our upstairs because he was too afraid to be by himself for two minutes.

I was so mad that I didn’t have much sympathy when he hurt himself in the buff.

One night, after the boys were in bed, I made the mistake of running around the corner to pick something up from a neighbor’s house. My husband was home, but he was outside mowing the lawn. I tried to sneak out our front door, but apparently my oldest heard me.

I was gone three minutes, but I am pretty sure he screamed and cried the whole time. I honestly felt bad that he was so scared, but on the other hand I was so mad that he didn’t trust me. I have told him numerous times that I will NEVER leave him completely alone.

You can bet I won’t try to sneak away again – even if his dad is home but mowing the lawn outside. And he won’t let me.

His bedroom is on the same side of the house as the outside door we use the most. Unfortunately the storm door screeches wildly when swung. If I try to go outside for any reason after his 8:30 p.m. bedtime I can almost guarantee that he’ll hang over the side of his top bunk bed and pull open the blinds to see who has escaped.

I feel like a prisoner in my own house.

I think Kindergarten actually made him worse. I don’t know if during his 8-hour school days he spent any time alone – except to use the bathroom. He was clingy before the school year started, but now he’s holding onto me with a death grip.

I’ve got to find some comforting ways to let him know that he is OK on his own; to reassure him that I won’t leave him in danger. I’ve got to lovingly show him that although I love him more than anything and love spending time with him, sometimes I need my space.

I can kind of sympathize with the kid. I remember hating when my parents would ask me to fetch something from the dungeon-like basement of my childhood. I was scared to death to go downstairs alone. Sometime I’d make my younger brother go with and then I would run as fast as I could back upstairs, leaving him in the dust to be eaten by anything that lurked in the shadows.

But I am pretty sure my fears were centered mostly around the basement. At least I would like to think that I gave my mom a break every once and a while and didn’t hover by her side ALL of the time.

I feel schizophrenic writing this post because last fall I wrote how my heart was breaking sending my oldest to school. And although I feel like I need some space, I still don’t want to send him to first grade this fall.

I honestly love being with him. But I also want to be able to not be with him for a few minutes here and there.

I’ve got to get to the bottom of what is making him feel so scared when alone. Then hopefully I can sometimes shake my shadow for a few moments of freedom.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jenny
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 08:56:05

    Abby is the same way!! We have really worked on it but a lot of things have been super tough, like nursery, babysitters, me going shopping while they are at home with dad, going to bed by herself. She used to scream hysterically every time I left whatever room she was in, bu she’s slowly gotten over that. She’s gone to nursery the last two Sundays th entire time without me (YAY). And I finally found a babysitter she likes. But we still have these crazy episodes where she can’t bear to be parted from me and follows me everywhere. Emma is totally different and I used to wish that she needed me just a little bit more (she’s fiercely independent) but now… 🙂 a little independence is great.


    • Natalie
      Aug 02, 2012 @ 22:39:04

      Oh Jenny, good luck with nursery. My boys cried for the first 6 months that we took them there! It sounds like Abby is a lot like my oldest. I find some comfort in the fact that other moms are dealing with these sort of things too 🙂


  2. Jess
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 10:32:50

    Okay, my son’s needing to be with me 24/7 (or a friend) is starting to make sense. I am starting to get him to go to the bathroom without him INSISTING he needs me to walk him there. Oy. I was looking forward to summer vacation, but now that he is clingy and fighting with his sister, I am ready for school. 🙂


  3. Elise
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 12:03:42

    Wow! Do you still have those confidence rocks (or whatever you called them, I can’t remember for sure) that you and he painted? Do they still work for him? All of my kids would rather have dad around than me, and each of them (so far) have become at least somewhat independent as they’ve gotten older – Adelyn being the most independent. So while Davis still needs an adult right by his side a lot of the time, it still sounds nothing like what your oldest is doing to you! Have you tried any books that help him relate and get over fears? Or tried giving him “adventures” or “spy assignments” or something to get him to go out (like into the yard while you’re in the house) and leave you for 5 minutes at a time while he completes them? You guys should come over to our house for a playdate soon.


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