As is often the case, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. This also applies to my family. When you have a child with special needs, you automatically spend the majority of your time managing his needs. My son Max requires a lot of attention.
For my 2 year old daughter Cameron, (who is neurotypical), this has been her reality since the day she was born. She doesn’t know any different, which I suppose is a good thing. It’s also a good thing that she if very outgoing and has the vocabulary of a child twice her age. She is a natural entertainer and she makes us laugh every day. Lately I’d been noticing that she was acting out more, throwing a lot of tantrums and being very clingy with me. It was almost as if she was saying to me “hey mom! I really need you to make me the priority for a change!”. I wondered if all she really needed was some one-on-one mommy time, without having to compete with her big brother for attention.
Time constraints and a tight budget put a limit on what we were able to do, but I figured she really wouldn’t care where we went – she would enjoy it just because we were doing something that was “girls only”. I decided we would go visit a friend of mine who lives about an hour away and have a sleepover. I’m not sure if Cameron understood what it all meant but she was excited to be doing something without Max, and with me. I sold Cameron with the promise that there was a friendly cat she could pet, and that she would get to sleep with mommy (something she would like to do every night if we let her).
We had a wonderful time. Cameron was all smiles from the moment we arrived to the moment we loaded ourselves into the car to head home. My friend had all sorts of little presents for her (a princess wand, puppets, books, a teddy bear, coloring book and crayons) which made Cameron feel like a rock star. She had not only my attention, but the devoted attention of two other adults. She was in heaven. Interestingly enough, when she had me all to herself, she wasn’t clingy at all – she had fun going off by herself exploring, searching for the cat, and playing the assorted musical instruments she found throughout the house. As a treat I let her stay up late with me, and when we went to bed, she curled into my arms and said “I love you mommy”. Taking time away with my daughter was a positive thing for both of us. Since we have returned home, Cameron has been much happier and less clingy. She is having fewer tantrums and overall her mood has been a lot more even keeled. We need to get way, just us girls, more often.