Wednesday, June 01, 2005

To each his own

Especially when it comes to being a parent. Since it's all about me today, let me say what I believe. Two important things:

1) Do what comes naturally.
2) Treat kids with the same respect you'd show for anyone else.

1) Do what comes naturally: It happens to every new parent - allow me to make broad sweeping generalizations - it happens to every new parent. They're at the hospital admiring their one day old little bundle of joy, and recoil when the bundle's little thumb finds its way to the bundle's little mouth. Oh horrors! the baby is going to be a thumbsucker for the rest of his life. They start to swat his thumb away whenever it comes anywhere near his mouth. And then this repeats - over and over a thousand times. He has a pacifier - will he ever let go of it? She likes to be carried around - what if she never learns to walk? And my favorite - she's six months old and still not sleeping through the night - that means her sleeping habits are awful, she is going to be miserable for the rest of her life for not having learned to soothe herself and "learned" to sleep.

What a lot of claptrap! If I'd only known that my little chameleon would be incapable of holding the same routine for more than a month, I would have been a lot less concerned about this habit forming myth. She started sleeping through the night at two - yes, two years old. Until then, she woke up once or twice during the night, and I believe she needed that. Now she doesn't need it anymore, and sleeps through. No sleep training necessary, thank you!

So take things as they come - if your baby is sucking his thumb, let him. The poor guy could use some comfort. If she's breastfeeding, enjoy it as long as you can. If he wants you to rock him, or wants to fall asleep while cuddled up close, count yourself lucky. It'll all come to an end one day, naturally and painlessly.

Sometimes (1) and (2) conflict, and you have to let the two fight it out. You are getting late for work, and still trying to feed your child a complete breakfast. Meanwhile, the little one takes the bowl of blueberries, turns it upside down on the floor, and looks up at you with a half smile and defiance, while crushing one or two berries with her toes and rubbing the color into the floor. This is her revenge for you not letting her have the whole box of blueberries to herself like she wanted. I will leave it to your imagination what your natural instinct would be in such a situation. If (1) and (2) happen to be the same for you, and your first reaction is to treat her with respect, then I congratulate you because you are an angel. If like most of us, you find your reaction less than kind, that's when (1) and (2) need to have a little punch out. Ofcourse the ideal thing to do would be to remember that everybody has bad days, even toddlers, and seeing their side, thus being firm but not unkind. Sometimes you are having a little bad day yourself, and then it's not so bad to give in to your instincts, I think, as long as you don't traumatize your unruly but well meaning pumpkin. We are all human.

1 comment:

Tara said...

Guilty of all of the above Aps. I feel sheepish reading this. You have been the kind of mom who has had the confidence to listen to yourself and to trust yourself when you saw fit. It takes a lot of confidence and far sightedness for that!