It’s come to my attention of late that I have given birth to a Cling-On. The Cling-On has been maturing for a while. Gradual symptoms have been creeping in. An over ambitious smile when I walked through the door. Arms in the air. Even the odd whinge at Daddy.
Experts report that Cling-Ons are fully matured around nine month of age. This milestone is reached by the development of ‘object permanence’. That physco-babble doesn’t mean the forever existence of ‘stuff’, but rather your Cling-On’s understanding that you may have disappeared from sight, but that doesn’t mean you’ve disappeared altogether. In fact, it’s likely you’re hovering behind the baby bedroom door, pacing quietly, biting fingernails, wondering how many minutes should a nine month old Cling-On be allowed cry. Is three minutes too long? Is ten minutes Cling-On abuse?
Cling-Ons use this new knowledge in various ways. They may go asleep at night on their own, fine, in their cot, then awaken, two hours later and demand a parental visit. A cuddle and soothing word is not enough. Parentals must stay with Cling-On from there on in, for the whole night, cuddled in an adult bed. Because the cot is the Cling-On’s ROOT OF ALL EVIL.
They may use this knowledge against all family relations. Kind aunties and grannies, who were previously great craic and of no consequence at all, have become terrifying tyrants who must be escaped from at all costs. Method of escape involves crying inconsolably until Mammy returns, even if it is after an eight hour day at work.
But the best use of Cling-On knowledge is the secret ‘warfare’ card. Cling-Ons find that by behaving in their best clingtastic ways, Mammy Parental actually stops going places and leaving Cling-On behind. That ticket for Slane? Poof, gone. That holiday she was thinking of taking with Daddy. Yeah right! And that stay planned for Nana’s house so Mammy might you know, have a night on the town. Gimme a break.
The upside of owning a Cling-On is the parallel maturing of other developmental milestones. Crawling. (The need for a Cling-On escape back to home, naturally). Clinging On. (Literally, to my legs and ankles as I try to walk around the house. They’re not called Cling-Ons for nothing). And sometimes dancing. (Just so you don’t peel Cling-On off one’s leg and fling them gently out the window. Keep it cute. Parentals love that).
The other night, I visited my Cling-On who had awoken, crying, sitting up in cot at 3am in the morning. I thought, tonight dear Cling-On, you will be staying in your cot, dummy returned, blankies reinstated, no excuse to leave the safe confines of your brand new bed.
As I entered the room, the dim light glowed across the bars of the cot. A head appeared and two tiny arms reached into the air.
‘Mama,’ she cried, the first time she had ever uttered a word.
I whipped her up, cuddled her in my arms and thought, you can be my Cling-On forever. And so she is. Still. Biting the screen of the laptop as I type. Standing on my foot, clinging on to my leg. And I swear, I can just about make out a tiny set of wrinkles in her forehead.