Last night, I was putting Lucy to bed. Jack was already sleeping and she had been up playing the fool, entertaining her parents and enjoying our attention. The two of us were chatting quietly about this and that when, after a short silence she said, “mummy, can u leave me alone.” I was so surprised by her comment and actually asked her to repeat herself. Let me remind you that this child is three. More importantly, it wasn’t a request, she was telling me to leave her alone. So I gave her a kiss, told her I loved her, she did the same and I left the room. She lay there by herself for quite a while, chatting to herself and so on and then she fell asleep.
Perhaps some parents might feel like they’d just been smacked in the face but I fully understand her point. She wasn’t being mean, she doesn’t know what it is to hurt my feelings, she simply wanted to be alone and had no problem telling me. I think it is so important for a child to be able to be alone and to want to be alone. To me, it shows that they are getting to know themselves and are happy to take the time out to do so.
I remember the days when Jack was a little baby in his cot, before he could sit up. Chris and I used to leave him on his own, awake in his cot before he went to sleep or after he awoke. Of course, if he cried we would go to him but it didn’t take him long to start enjoying himself, by himself. Happily just gurgling away looking at his surroundings, for up to 40 minutes even! Completely alone. If you think of it, nowadays, some babies and children rarely get any time on their own. We are so busy entertaining them, feeding them, bathing them, watching them, dressing them, worrying over them, fussing over them. We really stop to think about leaving the child on his own. You can’t say, “oh, but it’s not safe for a little one to be on his own.” That’s nonsense because u could easily create a safe environment for them to be alone in.
The thing is, I reckon a lot of kids are clingy because they have never had the opportunity to be alone and therefore learned to enjoy it. It stands to reason that a child will not want to be alone at all if he has never been alone whilst growing up. I think it is fundamentally important for a person, even a little person, to know themselves well enough to want to be alone sometimes. I think it’s great.
We were recently away on holiday with extended family. We were a large group of 19 adults and 10 kids all between the ages of 1 and 6 years. Of course, it got pretty hectic at times. Jack came up to me on about day 3 or 4 and asked if he could go to our chalet by himself. I said that was fine and gave him the key and asked if he was OK. He replied, “I’m fine mum, I just need some Jack time.”
This is the first time my daughter has asked me to leave her alone but Jack has many times before. So I shouldn’t be surprised because Lucy enjoys being alone. What totally floored me was the very next morning when she was up very early, like 5:30am. She came to my bedside and exclaimed that she was awake and that it was lovely day and would I get up now etc etc. I groaned that it was so early and I was so tired blah blah blah and then she said, “do you want to be alone mum?”
I couldn’t resist… “yes my baby.” And off she went leaving, me to go back to sleep.
Tit for tat.