That was the sound of Cordelia's head hitting the wall behind me when she scrambled to hide behind my legs. What was she hiding from? Why, another adult tried to talk to her. Horrifying.

And then, just a couple of days ago, someone's nanny helped her off a too-high ladder in the playground. That sent her into a five-minute paroxysm of screaming fear and rage.

Cordelia is a fearful child*. I don't know how this has happened, but it has. She's scared of being away from me, and she hates being spoken to by any adult outside of a small set of acceptable people. She constantly tells me she loves me, and she wants to touch me all the time, as if without a physical or audible expression of our love it will disappear.

Delphine isn't like that. She carries with her a confidence that she is loved, that she can handle herself, and that everything will be fine. Oh, she's very emotional and things get blown all out of proportion, but it's all on the surface. Underneath it all she is, as one of her kindergarten teachers put it, steady.

Cordelia's emotional outbreaks seem underlaid with panic, some kind of apparently bone-deep fear that if she isn't constantly affirming the love of those around her it will evaporate.

And yet it seems when she forgets to be afraid, she's fine. She loves her kindergarten teacher and her class. She can play by herself for ages, if she can get past that initial hurdle of Walking Away. This is a terrifically painful stage (for both of us) and yet surely it is only a stage. At home she's such a happy, enthusiastic kid with such great passion and ideas. I hope the passion wins over the fear.

* I know in my last Cordelia post I said she wasn't fearful. I guess I didn't see the fear before. It's pretty subtle—mostly her clinginess manifests as merely whiny or needy—but I've since started to see the undercurrent of real fear or panic in the way she holds on to me, and the pitch of her screams.

Knowing your child is an impossible art which you can nonetheless never give up.