Proof that Annika is not just an extension of me

This week Annika has let us know that she’s been paying attention to what’s going on with her life. Out of the blue, she said to Toyin, “Annika two homes.” Then a couple of days later she said it to me. We weren’t talking about Toyin or homes or anything that would prompt it, so clearly, it’s been on her mind.

This completely trips me out. My 21-month-old child has figured out on her own that she has two homes and has been thinking about it completely independent of any discussion.

I know that children are separate people from their parents; that they are not just extensions of us. Before I had a child it seemed pretty obvious.

But ever since I carried Annika in my womb for 9 months along with having her cling to me for literally all of her basic necessities like sustenance, help falling asleep, carrying her before she could walk, and soothing, and as she gained a bit of independence, still helping her transition from one state to another, guiding about 90 percent of her motions throughout life, it was hard to accept the reality that she truly is a whole other person.

Then bam! Just like that, she throws it in my face. “Hey Mom, I have thoughts.”

Annika has her own thoughts.

Wow.

The past couple of months have clearly been difficult for her. She’s apparently been processing our split. Almost three months after we moved into different apartments, she’s figured it out.

“Annika two homes.”

I know at some point we told her that we would not be living together anymore, but at 19 months it must be a hard concept to understand. I mean really, think about it, the concept that you poop and pee in a bowl instead of a diaper is difficult to understand.

I can’t even imagine how she finally came to the conclusion.

Toyin has been telling her that we go to Mommy’s home and then to Daddy’s home. I guess it finally sank in.

The notion that she’s been processing our split and finally come to some conclusions on her own is also proof that sometimes parents really have no idea what kind of stuff their children are thinking about.

It gives me some clarity on why parents are often at a loss as to why their children behave in ways they don’t understand.

It scares me a little to think that already my child has thoughts and problems weighing on her mind that I don’t have a clue about. All I know is that I worried about our split and processed it pretty quickly. I suppose I thought she had done the same.

It’s pretty cool that she told both of us what she’s been thinking about. It’s also proof that kids don’t often make a big deal out of talking like adults do. Parents have to pay attention and snag the big stuff or it will get lost in the chatter.

This divulgence gives me even more incentive to stay connected to her, to stay close to her so that she will feel comfortable enough to talk to me whenever she needs help or clarity in her life.

I wish I had had that growing up.

My Dad told me once that he remembers when I was first in college, I came home one day and was moping around. He asked me what was wrong. I told him I was depressed. He said to me, “Oh, just get over it.”

Yeah.

I’m not going to go there.

The funny thing is, I don’t remember the incident. But he does. Or, he did anyway. I guess even when parents don’t say the right thing or know what to say, their kids problems stick with them.

As for me, I hope that even when I don’t say the right thing, it will still be loving and obvious to Annika that I’m at least trying, that I love her unconditionally and that no matter how her life turns out or how she chooses to live, I will love her wholeheartedly.

One thing that I want to do differently than my parents did is to give Annika a secure base to work with so that she will always be on solid ground emotionally. I never had that. And it’s the one thing I needed.