elijah’s separation anxiety began when he was eight months old. in japanese, we call this period ‘ato-oi’, which literally means ‘after-follow’. he began to follow me around wherever i would go. even when i was in his sight and someone else was holding him, he immediately would start crying and reach out to me. it is/was really, really touching and awfully adorable.
i try to stay close to him so he won’t feel insecure. he wants to be picked up and held all the time, so i do that. when i need to go to the next room, i let him know that i’m going. i try not to disappear without saying anything. he always stops what he’s doing and crawls after me. for some reason, if i get down on the floor and crawl out of the room, he doesn’t react anxiously. maybe he thinks i’m off to catch some salmon. it’s all part of the bear game, my friend.
recently, he started to follow after paul, too. he chased after paul when he entered the bathroom. so i thought it might be a time to teach him that papa and mama are around even when you can’t see them.
it’s kind of embarrassing to tell you this, but i’ve been leaving the bathroom door open when i take a shower in the morning. i put elijah in the playpen and move it down the hall in front of the bathroom so that he can see me. as soon as i would get in the shower, he would start crying, and he’d keep crying his head off the whole time. from time to time, i would stick my head (covered in shampoo) outside the shower curtain and say “daijyo-bu! mama kokoni iruyo!” (it’s okay, mama’s here!). he would cry even harder. :D after a couple of try, i stopped hearing his crying. he started to play with toys.
this is one of the drawings for ‘100 stories’ at hosfelt gallery in NYC.
photographs by crystal liu
& drawings by crystal liu, ruth marten, rachell sumpter, yuka yamaguchi
11 april – 31 may 2008
531 w 36th street,