My two-year-old bundled a handful of scarfs into her arms, hugging them close to her chest. She looked at me once, and then made her way to the crowded-with-toddlers box while the class sang the clean-up song in the background. She marched through the surrounding toddler huddle placing the scarfs in. Then she ran into my arms for a big celebratory hug--- It was like she scored a goal!
And to me, she did! Because my daughter suffers from terrible anxiety, and usually won't help with clean up in a crowded class—or will take my hand and make me go with her because of it.
Anxiety in a toddler is hard.
It’s her holding onto me so tightly when around other people. And if I put her down, she hides between my legs as if she’s trying to get back into the womb--or climbs me to pick her up again.
Her not going into classes, and having a fit to avoid them, because there are too many people.
Her crying when other kids get too close or even look at her.
Her crying when other people go to pick her up.
Her not liking swings or any ride with motion, but never letting herself try to really know.
Her being my little duckling, following me everywhere.
Her jumping up to me as the twelve-o’ clock high noon bell chimes in town.
Her crying when a loud noise pops up on the television.
Her holding things in her hands as a security blanket in new places: toys or food.
Her wanting me to be with her all night. And if she wakes up and doesn’t see me, she’ll scream for her mommy.
And I feel bad because her anxiety is from me.
And I want to fix it for her-- but I can only get her the resources that will teach her how to fight it herself.
Because she’s the only one that can fight her worries.
But she’ll become stronger as she slowly defeats each one of them.
Then the world will see what we as parents see.
Because under that turtle-like shell, she often retracts into, is a gift.
Because the leg huggers are truly the world’s lovers.
They are the good on this earth.