I have discovered something. My preschooler is, on occasion, very unpredictable. Are you shocked? Then clearly, you have never dealt with a preschooler! The thing that has brought this not-so-startling realization to the forefront of my mind is a pattern of behavior that I (suddenly) recognized this morning.
It happens about once a week at my house; almost always after we’ve had a really busy few days. And it tugs at my heart every time. Apparently, it’s a pretty common thing for toddlers and preschoolers. So much so that there’s a whole list of “funny” ways to say goodbye to your little one to make parting more fun and less painful.
I was getting ready to walk out the door this morning, heading to work, when I heard the heart-wrenching phrase, “Mommy, wait! I want you! I need to give you a hug and a kiss.” Who doesn’t want another hug and kiss from their child? That’s right – another. Because I had JUST given her a kiss and hug goodbye. I hear those words, “Mommy, I want you!” and I know I’m about to be late for work.
I can’t ignore her – don’t judge – so I scoop her up for the extra hug and kiss and take a minute to reassure her that Daddy is going to drop her off at preschool in a little while. (This whole time, he’s sitting right there, but she wants me.) Well, what she really wants is for me not to leave. So I talk about how I’ve got to go to my office and do what I do, but I’ll pick her up from the babysitter’s house after lunch. About how we’ll do laundry, or dishes, or whatever, when we get home and she can help. About how we’ll make a cheesy-roll-up for a snack, and watch her favorite show on television. We pretty much debrief the plan for the day, and suddenly this morning I realized — what my little girl is really interested in is reassurance. She wants to see my face and know that she is loved as we say goodbye. Hurried kisses-in-passing don’t do it for her. She wants to know what to expect from her day, and that her Dad and I have the day’s calendar of events under control. She wants to know that there will be someone there to take care of her when she needs it.
And when I stop to think about it, I realize that she is exactly like me. Because this is the same kind of stuff that I want to know: I want my loved ones to look into my eyes and let me know I am loved. I want to know the plan for my day, what to expect and where to be. I want to be reassured that even if something happens that is outside the plan, I have someone backing me up and helping me cope.
And then I figured, if this scenario is common with little kids, I can guess that the root issues are just as common with adults. Don’t we all want those same things? I realize this is not a treatise on human nature that is astonishing anyone – not really – but it amazes me to realize how many grown-up traits are already planted within my tiny girl. Or maybe, more accurately, it amazes me how much alike we all are on the inside – no matter how big (or little) we are.