From one anxiety to the next

Sometime over the holidays Kayleigh started getting nervous around strangers. Well, her definition of strangers, which would be anyone who wasn’t present at her conception (hey, that’s her definition, not mine). It might have had something to do with the sudden introduction of all 50 (rough estimate) members of my immediate family in a kitchen designed to hold 3 of them. Granted she had met almost all of them before, but that was in a much more controlled environment and only a couple at a time. Plus, she can only remember things for 3 seconds…

Or is that goldfish?

Either way she started freaking out when too many people were around her. Then it happened when just about anyone was around her. They call this “stranger anxiety” because, you know, we need to have terms for every little thing a baby goes through. It makes for lots of fun visits in which parents profusely apologize to aunts and uncles, insisting that it’s not your sweater or glasses or giant growth on your upper lip. It’s just that she doesn’t like people right now (and she’ll probably never like giant growths on lips).

When we went away to Florida a couple weeks ago (I mentioned that, right?), the hardcore test as to whether or not she was fully over the whole stranger bit was on. We were staying with the in-laws. Whom she hadn’t seen in months. And were now, for all intents and purposes, strangers. And we were staying with them. And they’re strangers. Do you catch my meaning? WE’RE STAYING WITH STRANGERS!!!

Much to my shock, she was all like, “Cool.” And I was all like, “Are you sure? They’re almost strangers…” And she was all like, “Whatever, dad. Stranger anxiety was so 6 months old. I’m a mature 8 months, now.” And all was right with the world – until the first time she woke up from a nap and realized she had no clue where Florida was on a map.

Fast forward to our return. Things seem peachy keen. Kayleigh slept decently on the trip for a baby that doesn’t sleep decently. We return and figure we can pick up where we left off. Then she suddenly started clinging to Mamamamamama (I’m not sure just how many syllables she adds there). And when I would pick her up, she would contort her body to look for Mamamamamama. And when Mamamamamama left the room briefly she let us all know that this was unacceptable.

This is called “separation anxiety” because, once again, we have to have a term for everything a baby goes through. The added bonus of not understanding the very essence of her being is that she’s even more antsy when it comes to the idea of sleep. And can you blame her? If she can’t accept the notion that Mamamamama has just stepped out of sight and into the kitchen for a few moments, how can she wrap her little walnut-sized brain (or is that dinosaurs?) around the notion that we won’t all disappear when she closes her eyes for 5 hours? It’s amazing that she can still enjoy peek-a-boo without a nervous breakdown.

But I’m going to work through this with her. Tomorrow we’ll watch Home Alone together and she’ll hopefully learn that there is an inherent humor to neglectful parenting…

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