17th Jun, 2009

A weekend with Angel

We recently had Angel for a weekend respite.  He’s just over two, has very little language, but he is constantly on the go and I found it quite hard to keep up with him.  Any time I tried to engage him in an activity he’d leave me sitting  in a pile of duplo blocks or surrounded with toy cars and by the time I unfolded myself from the floor and reached him, he’d have  all the cooking pans out on the floor or my library books from the shelves (lucky I’m good at repairing torn pages with invisible tape!).

The calmest times of the weekend were long walks in the pusher when he even had a nap, bathtime – where it was worth wiping up bucketfulls of water to have him contained in one spot for almost an hour, and bedtime – he snuggled in my arms with his thumb in his mouth, wrapped in his favourite soft, fleecy blanket, and peacefully drifting off to sleep.

When Angel left my care four months ago it was into the custody of his Grandma but his mother and great-grandmother also live in the home and have some care of him. During the week he spends over nine hours each day in daycare where I imagine he has a number of carers. Having lived with me for nineteen months right through his infancy he developed a pretty strong attachment which I feel is still very evident when he’s back with me for just that one weekend a month.  I wonder who he feels close to the other twenty-eight days?

I worry that with so many caregivers in his life he doesn’t have a healthy strong attachment with any single one of them and this could be detrimental to his development – to his language acquisition, his ability to focus and stick to an activity, or to quieten down enough to play a game or listen to a story.  All weekend I struggled to do any of these things with him – I’d have to catch him first!

But he is a child who engages well with people. He often came to me and ask to be picked up (he knows the word up! …and to raise his arms).  He was happy to share cuddles when he hurt himself or was getting a little tired.  He excitedly showed me things, gave me things and greeted all members of our family, people and animals with delighted joy. And he’s quick to laugh when anyone engages him in a bit of fun. He especially loves the rough and tumble activity he shares with thirteen year old Seth.

I don’t feel confident that Angel has managed to transfer his attachment from me to another significant person in his life (and who would that be?) but I have to hope that the strong, secure relationship he developed with me over the year and a half that I was his mum has given him qualities and resilience that will help him to  grow and develop as he should.  And I hope that Grandma agrees to continue these monthly respites so I get to see him grow for a little while longer and continue to spend time with this little boy that I so love.

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