Stranger Anxiety? Never Heard of It.

Well, my kids haven’t.

About a week ago, I saw a good friend post on Facebook about how her date night was derailed due to lack of a babysitter.  In response to this status, someone posted offering their teenage girls to babysit for a ridiculously reasonable rate.  My friend responded that she would love to take advantage of the offer, however her daughter was going through a stranger anxiety phase, and she was (understandably) nervous to leave her daughter with someone she didn’t know.

So here’s the thing – her daughter is about 10 days younger than Hazeline.  Um, no stranger anxiety here.  Never had it and not looking likely for the future.  And with the exception of Greenleigh’s intense fear of walking Disney characters (pretty much our main reason for hitting up the character breakfast every time we go to Disney – who needs timeouts when you can just tell her that Goofy is coming to our house), Greenleigh never had it either.

In fact, I very clearly remember a time when Greenleigh was 8 months old and woke up sick.  Having absolutely no place to bring her on such short notice, and considering she was not well enough to go to school, I packed up all our baby gear and drove her to my office, where one of the paralegals had graciously agreed to watch her while I attended a mediation downtown.  It was one of those mediations that I couldn’t miss, regardless of how sick my child was – the client had flown in New York, I was lead on the case, and one of the partners was going to be there to watch my presentation.  I hit more traffic than anticipated and was running very late by the time I got to my office.  While I refrained from throwing my child and all her gear from my moving vehicle, it was just short of that…and yet my baby didn’t flinch.  I had no time to introduce her and give her time to adjust, but it didn’t matter.  She had a great time hanging out with everyone at the office that day while I attended what ended up being a 5 hour mediation downtown.  And those were people Greenleigh hadn’t seen since she was 8 weeks old.  I have no doubt I could probably do the same with Hazeline.

Yes, yes, I know, I should be happy that I can leave my kids with complete and total strangers without a problem.  And that they would gladly snuggle up and ask them to read a bedtime story.  Sure, this has helped when I’ve been in a pinch, needed a sitter, and could only go by a friend’s recommendation, but seriously people, what’s wrong with my kids?  Are they just extroverts?  Or is it me?

At first I thought, “Maybe it’s daycare.  Greenleigh started daycare at 9 weeks and Hazeline started at 13 weeks, so maybe that’s it.  Maybe they are just so used to being around people other than me.”  And that all made sense, until I remembered that my friend’s daughter actually began daycare a couple of weeks before Hazeline.  So that’s not it.  Then I thought, “Okay, maybe my friend and her husband don’t go out a lot, so her kids never go to a babysitter; hence, fear of a new people.”  But according to her Facebook status updates, they get to go out on date nights far more that Erajh and I ever do.  I know because I’m slightly jealous whenever I see one of her status updates about a date night.

So what is it?  Why do I somehow produce kids who love being with other people?  How do they not know (or care) that stranger anxiety is supposed to appear somewhere between 7-18 months?  Did they somehow miss this very important memo?  Did I forget to give it to them?

Now, I would hate for you to think that I’m insinuating that my kids love others more than they love me, because I don’t think that.  The way that Hazeline smiles, giggles, and wiggles her feet when she sees me at daycare to pick her up is nothing short of over-the-top adorable.  She knows me.  She loves me.  She loves when I’m around.  And Greenleigh running to give me a hug when I pick her up in the evening is much like the people running towards each other in the meadow in the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” commercial.  It just seems that at times I’m easily switched out for, well, um, anyone else with a pulse.  And I can’t help but notice that just about everyone else with kids around the same age as my girls are dealing with stranger anxiety in one way or another.  Yet in our house, it’s non-existent.

Very soon, Erajh and I are going to have to have the whole “stranger danger” talk with the girls, but until then, I guess I just have to be happy that my kids love me…and everyone else.

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  1. Lynnie says:

    All three of my girls, now 13,11, and 8, could have cared less when I left them with someone, so I don’t understand the separation anxiety thing AT ALL. (Don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I am even annoyed by it.) I say enjoy it! From what I can tell, my teen/pre-teens are all the more confident now that they are venturing out more on their own. Now…..I need to go knock on some wood.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t think any of my kids ever met a stranger they didn’t like or want to run away with at some point. My oldest did go through a short period of anxiety where she would only stay with me or my immediate family. But my kids were all very well socialized and spent lots of time meeting new people and being exposed to new things. We often tease my stepdaughter, now 18 that we could drop her from an airplane with a parachute and she’d have 12 new friends before she ever touched the ground!

  3. When my daughter was a toddler till she was about 3 years old she was very shy and she did not like and would even start crying when she was around her uncles and my friends. I was afraid she would always be like this. Now that is seven she is super social and loves to be around people.

  4. Irenes says:

    my daughter is 2 and still has stranger anxiety at times. Even if you look at her and say high when she was younger it would result in a total crying outburst. we call it stranger danger so we cannot just leave her with anyone. We would have to have a sitter come a few times and hang out and make sure she is comfortable with her.

  5. Emilee says:

    Hey there!
    My kids have been great so far with strangers as well! Max is just 7 months old and Delaney is 3 but they are both great with everyone! You can pass those two around a room and they think its the greatest game ever! But I know it can be very hard! My Sister-In-law used to have to sneak out of the house just to leave her daughter with anyone… even family and a stranger was out of the question she couldn’t even take her to play-group or other places sometimes… even if she was with her. It’s rough! So I consider it a blessing that my kiddos are so great with others!

    Loved reading your blog and am following you on twitter and facebook so I can keep up with your posts!

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