What “Personal Space”?


“Mum, am I in your personal space?”asked Caleb as he climbed into my lap this morning.
Say what?!???
Personal space?*** How did he even know this phrase?

When I was living in Bombay, the concept of personal space was non-existent. Taking travelling by public transport, for instance. My daily commute from my home in Bandra to St. Xavier’s College at Marine Lines meant that I got a full body massage (for free!) – whether I liked it or not – thanks to the hundreds of commuters crushed into each train compartment.
Personal space? What personal space?

But there was too much of this “personal space” when I left the teeming masses of Mumbai for peaceful, unpopulated Perth. I clearly remember waiting in our front yard, hoping to chat to passers-by! All too often, there were none.

Cut to my life in Sydney now and I’m back to craving that personal space.
What I wouldn’t give for just five minutes to have a shower in peace/ read Saturday’s newspaper/ chat with a friend/ write this blog!
Having kids will do that to you. The minute you go into labour, all traces of dignity and modesty fly out the window of your birthing suite. There you are: naked, on all fours, breathing through timed contractions, your bits on display.
Personal space? What personal space?

You would think that would be enough of a forewarning of the shape of things to come, wouldn’t you? Of course there’s nothing better that breathing in that newborn baby scent as your baby suckles at your breast. Of course you want to spend every sleep-deprived minute bonding with your bundle of joy. But, *Spoiler Alert* once this baby is a toddler, don’t be deluded into thinking your personal space will magically re-appear.

I remember having an audience of two every time I needed to tinkle or take a shower. If I dared close the toilet door, my kids would try to “converse” with me from the other side. I’m sure they even tried to teleport. If I feigned temporary deafness, I was sure to see Caleb’s chubby little hand poking from under the gap between the bathroom door and the floor as if to say, “Mummy, I’m stilllllllll here.”
Personal space? What personal space?

While Caitlyn is my free spirit, Caleb is my limpet. Even to this very day, he has to – HAS TO – hold my hand when we are out and about. If my arms are laden with bags of books or groceries, he grabs onto my sleeve or skirt, my bag or belt – anything to maintain contact.
“Caleb!” I sometimes hear myself admonish him, “You don’t need to hold onto me all the time. Just walk next to me, it’s perfectly safe.”
My protests fall on deaf ears. He hangs on – quite often, with both hands for double the security.
Personal space? What personal space?

And then I realise that in ten years’ time, I’ll probably be wishing my son still thought it was cool to be seen in public with his mum. I’ll probably be hoping he did not need his personal space.

*** Turns out, my kids learnt about “personal space” at karate class. Their teacher told them to imagine that there is a magic bubble around every person. When anybody gets too close to you, that bubble will burst as that person has invaded your personal space. So, if a child feels uncomfortable when somebody gets too close to them, they are taught to speak up. A good lesson in Stranger Danger.

So tell me, what do you do when anyone invades your personal space? Any examples of how children have no regard for such social niceties? Were you attached at the hip to your mum or dad when you were a child?

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15 responses to “What “Personal Space”?

  1. Enjoyed reading this. Andre still invades my space as and when he wants to ‘what personal space?’ …. But I do miss him plonking himself on my lap and these days just to irritate me he still tries and I have to beg him to get off. I guess we are blessed to have kids who love and want us. Enjoy this time. They grow too soon.

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  2. I LOVED this article- so true from every angle.I loved having “no” personal space back home- we learned to give in and do without and still be happy! Thanks for the reminder Al- Well done! Lols

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    • Lols!!! You read the blog! Thank you. I don’t think I even knew such a concept existed until I moved to AU. So it came as a shock that my kids know about it already – although they know about it for a totally different reason. Hugs to S & J.

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  3. Another great read , I’m losing precious sleep reading your blog Alison 🙂
    Yep feel irritated quite often having no space and then other times feel so blessed to be crushed with love and attention.
    Sounds great the martial arts x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Alison – I love this article – Tom is exactly the same – he must hold my hand ALL the time even when my hands are full. I used to shake him off but I recently have realised that sometime very soon he will be saying “mum, don’t hold my hand, it’s embarrassing” x

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    • Libby, ditto!!! Tom and Caleb seem poles apart but they share this same need to hold on to mummy. Wonder if it’s a boy thing? I, too, have had to stop myself from shaking Caleb off every time he reaches out to me. Sigh!

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  5. Pingback: Freedom vs. Family Ties | liaisonwithalison·

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