At the moment I think I could be classed as a "helicopter" parent. When Eloise and I go to playgroup in the morning - big bustling rooms filled with newborns to four-year-olds and a whole plethora of toys - I struggle to leave Eloise's side - or rather, I guess we struggle to leave each other. I want her to be independent, to go forth and make friends and discover new ways of playing. Instead Eloise tends to either sit on my lap, or hold my hands as she walks around the room observing. When she does get comfortable in her surroundings and wanders off to read some books or play house, I try and keep my distance and chat with the other mothers, but I find I can't entirely take my eyes off her. To me she is just a fragile little child, incapable of running away or defending herself and when she is no longer attached to my jeans I fear that it will be only moments before she gets pushed down to the ground or the toy she's playing with will get unjustly ripped out of her hands.
But kids need to get pushed down, right? They need to learn to get back on their feet. They need to learn to share and also to learn that sharing is a tough lesson, one not everyone you come across will have learned properly. So when Eloise does (more often than not) end up on the floor in tears I squash the initial reaction to punt the other child across the room and help Eloise pick herself up and tell her these things happen.
But inside I'm thinking, Oh cruel world! What can I do to make sure nothing harms this beautiful little being before me. I hope I'm not alone in this (because if I were I would start to doubt my sanity) but ever since I became a mother, lost scenes from my upbringing have sprung to the foreground. I remember at my own nursery having the worried feeling that the adults did not have enough control, that there simply wasn't enough of them to witness all the injustice that was occurring on the playground. So clearly my anxiety has been there from the get go. What I don't want to do is pass this on to Eloise through nurture if she managed to dodge the anxiety bullet potentially handed to her via nature.
As I have spent these last 16 months getting to know Eloise, I can clearly see that she has a reserved personality. She takes her time and gets to know her surroundings before jumping in. She chooses who gets to see her with her guard down and who doesn't. I wouldn't call her shy. A) because I don't think she is shy and b) the more you tell a "shy" person they're shy, the more withdrawn they become.
I guess I'm just struggling to find the balance between honoring her emerging personality and exacerbating it.