Little Steps Towards Independence

Today was a bittersweet day for this mummy. I took Princess Toddler along to story time at the library. Usually when we embark on such learning adventures together that’s indeed what we are – together, a combined unit watching from the sidelines. Princess Toddler sits on my knee or stands with one hand holding firmly onto my leg. I always ask her if she’d like to join the other kids in that big, bad middle of the room, but she usually reneges on my kind offer and joins in from afar.

Sometimes I wonder at her hesitation to join in and become part of the group, but as children invariably crash tackle each other or pull one another’s hair, my understanding is complete. I also notice that other younger toddlers behave exactly as Princess Toddler does. The safety and security of mummy nearness is still essential. And while I will pry her hand away a little to help her step away, I also enjoy mimicking hand actions with her and enjoying a little hug or two, as well as watching her experiences and reactions up close.

At story time today all the mums took root like trees around a field of flowers. We each sat either on couches, on child-sized chairs or on the floor while our flowers sat in front of the librarian in a tight circle. Princess Toddler sat between my folded legs and I asked her if she’d like to go and sit with the other kids. Well, to my surprise, she actually stepped forward and sat with the group. She looked so tiny, sitting five paces away from me, and so grown up, so independent. And I admit that I got a little teary.

It was a strange experience, and one I didn’t realize would hold such importance for me. I missed having my little leech attached to me but I also marveled at her as I watched from a distance as she happily copied the movements to a rhyme. For the first time I was watching my daughter as the observer, rather than a parallel participant. It was beautiful to see her there, as a very significant part of the group, but I was also quick to smile joyfully when she turned back to me after a short while and said ‘mum, mum.’ Yes, she had moved a step away but it was nice to know it was still important that I was sitting right where she’d left me.

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