When my son was little, he would follow me around the house. Most of the time, it was sweet, but it did make me feel a little odd. You see, our cat would also follow me around the house, so every time I moved rooms, a mini entourage would follow me. It was like a parade through the household. But with fewer floats. And no candy.
As my son has gotten older, he is less likely to come with me when I leave a room. And I've noticed that he is less likely to sit as close as possible to me on the couch. And that he doesn't accidentally stand on my feet when we are waiting in a store line. In short: My son has discovered personal space.
There has been a lot of research on personal space and the varying comfort zones we maintain around our bodies. From birth through childhood, little bodies challenge their parent's perception of personal space. It's a constant re-arrangement of figuring out how close is too close and wondering how their little limbs wind up in the most uncomfortable of places.
But one day, they start to get it. And they back off a little bit. It's not automatic - there are lots of back-and-forth days in which they are your shadow for the day - but it is progress. And then, one day you notice that your child is holding his own reasonable distance from you.
Try not to miss them right away.
How much personal space do you think you need to feel comfortable? Tell me in the comments.