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Is there a 3.5 year old separation anxiety phase?

standard December 3, 2008 3 responses

“I don’t like H. Her skin is too dark.” C whispers to me, talking about her very black babysitter who has just arrived, as I lean down to give her a kiss goodbye the other day. I’m dressed to the nines for a dinner and we have to leave right then or we’re going to be late. I stammer something about how everyone’s skin is a different color and that some people are just a bit darker than others. It’s good that we’re all different! I tell her, anxious to put a positive spin on this new development, a quick positive spin. C doesn’t look convinced in the least and I feel a bit uneasy as I turn to leave her.

I turn back at the door and look at my solemn little girl, sitting in the middle of her room, working on a puzzle. “We’ll talk about this some more tomorrow, OK?” She just nods in my direction and goes back to finding Zoe’s foot.

The night went well and by the morning the incident was forgotten. Or at least I forgot all about it until today.

“Mommy, I don’t like Ca. She’s not nice.” She said loudly as she walked in and found me chatting with a close friend who occasionally babysits. I was shocked to hear my usually well mannered child be so blatantly rude. I demanded that she apologize on the spot and took her out of the room when she refused.

I eventually got her to apologize (though I realize now that I should have asked her what she thought would make Ca feel better) and I tried to get her to open up about why she was so down on a friend she had previously loved.

After the incident with the first sitter I’ll admit that a tiny part of me wondered if something had happened the last time we’d gone out to cause her distrust. Could I have misjudged the girl? But today I realized that none of this has to do with the individual people. All of this is just a ploy for attention, a distrust and dislike of all sitters, or maybe some odd preschool age separation anxiety issue. Or maybe she was just tired and cranky and wanted a night alone with mom, dad, and her baby sister.

The murky waters of preschooldom keep surprising me with their depth. But now that I’ve discovered this new phase, I’m left with one question. How does a 3 year old who only watches children’s TV shows and hangs out with open minded people already understand that race is such a hot button issue that’s guaranteed to get her parents’ attention?

New blog post up at New Mother Central all about naming your baby. Be sure to stop by and check it out!
New article up at Type A Mom all about what the FDA deems to be an acceptable level of melamine in infant formula.