My youngest has been in a challenging phase lately. Every time I am away from her, she is desperate for me to return. I’ve never experienced a child having separation anxiety this late in young childhood, so I’ve been trying to mine her heart a little to find out what the issue is.
It seems to be vehicle-related. She is scared anytime I am going in a car without her. She is scared if the boys are in the car and I’m not in the driver’s seat, because the van might drive away all by itself with them inside. (She did tell me that she had a nightmare about that once.)
The other night at dinner, I was telling her that I had to go to a meeting, and that she would stay home with Daddy and her brothers. The tears sprung to her eyes and she immediately began asking, “where are you going? when will you come back? how far away is it?”.
I took her hand and answered her questions. Then I said, “Maddie, are you afraid that I will get in a car accident?”
“Did you see a bad car accident on the news?”
No, “but we see them sometimes when we’re driving.”
“Maddie, Mommy has been driving cars for twenty years, and she has never, ever, had a car accident, OK? I am a safe driver. And you know what else?”
“When you see an accident by the side of the road, are the people by themselves? Or do people stop to help them? Are there policemen and firemen there?”
She acknowledged that yes, most of the time people are being helped. We talked about who would call the helpers, me or Daddy? I told her that we even live in a special part of the country where ordinary people who aren’t police officers or firemen will stop to help you without thinking twice.
And then came the kicker. “But then how do you get home if the car doesn’t work anymore?”
Basically, when we got down to it, she’s afraid that if I get in a car accident, I will have to walk home and it will take me forever to get here.
Can I count on some of you local friends to come pick me up so this doesn’t happen?
Also, on the way to my meeting, I backed into a tree next to our driveway. So much for safe driving.