Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Stage 4 Clinger

Have you seen Wedding Crashers?  There is a character in the movie that is crazy about Vince Vaughn and she doesn't give him a moment of peace.  She's constantly needy, touchy and talkative regardless of his responses.  He tells his friend that he has a "stage 4 clinger" on his hands so that they can get out of there.  What does this have to do with parenting, you ask?  Everything.  I have a stage 4 clinger on my hands.

After spending an hour and a half with my sons reading stories, doing science experiments (including a volcano, thank you very much!) and just hanging out, I needed to get some things done around the house.  Our adventures had left messes all over the place and I had yet to even tackle the oatmeal that had been congealing in our bowls since breakfast.  "Mommy!  Would you come play with me?" my oldest yelled from the living room.  "Not now, babe.  I've got to get some things done.  Why don't you enjoy some time with Drew or on your own?"  I suggested.  "But Mommy - You haven't played with me ALL DAY!" he whined.  At this point I had a choice.  Would I fall into this argument or take the high road?

I decided to go ahead and take the bait.  "We have been playing for almost two hours, love.  Mommy has things to do, too," I explained.  "But we haven't had special time in a really really really long time," he continued.  By this point I was trying to do the dishes with him "hugging" me (which really means that he was wrapped around my leg to ensure that I couldn't move and had to devote all my attention to him.  "Luke.  I love you.  Go play by yourself.  I wlll let you know when I'm ready to play," I told him.  He scampered off in a huff.

I scrubbed the oatmeal off the bowls and vacillated between guilt and annoyance.  Guilty because I always want to listen to my kids emotional needs.  Have I given him enough one on one time?  Am I so focused on school work first thing in the morning that we don't have time to connect?  I started taking inventory of our time together and the annoyance reared it's ugly head.  

I spend a lot of time with just him.  I make sure we have some time when he first wakes up and before he goes to bed.  I actively play with him several times a day.  He simply has to understand that I have other people and things that will sometimes take my attention.  But facts don't always match feelings so I worked toward understanding.  I called him over.

"It sounds like you miss special time with Mommy.  What would we do during our special time?"  I asked him.  I learned awhile ago that my idea of special time is a Disney extravaganza and his solutions are often much simpler.  He explained that it meant playing with just him instead of with both he and his brother.  I told him we could make that happen that night when Daddy got home.  Then I went on to explain the other side.  "I need you to know that I love you but I also love Drew and Daddy and my friends and family.  It's important to spend time with everyone I love.  It's also important for me to get work done.  Does that make sense?" I asked.  "Yeah," he said as he fell into a hug.

I wish I could tell you that the conversation solved the problem but it hasn't.  He's still driving me nuts with his constant demands for attention and it's making me more nervous because I know there will be a little baby girl that will need most of my attention in a few short months.  I want so much for him to learn that he cannot be the only point of focus.  I'm hoping and praying that you have some insights to share.

Do your children ever demand more attention than you can give?  How have you overcome this hurdle?

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