I totally made that second word up.
This is what happens when I have an interesting topic I want to write about but can’t think of an equally interesting title.
There are so many of us and so many different styles/approaches/attitudes/instincts/etc. that emerge as we care for our children.
I think back to my first “real” group of two year olds in the day care I worked at back home and I immediately think of two little boys, very close in age. They were both a bit small for their age, both had blond hair and blue eyes. They both had two kind, caring, involved parents who were well educated and intelligent.
One child was severely high-strung and spent a lot of the day clinging to one of us. He absolutely would not nap for the first half of the year and we practically did the dance of joy when we finally got him to where the lights went out for nap time and he would doze for 20-30 minutes without wailing inconsolably for his mother. The head teacher had it worked out with this boy’s mother that he’d only attend for half a day because he simply just couldn’t get through a whole day of day care without falling apart at the end.
The other little boy was social and friendly. One of his little girl classmates developed a huge toddler crush on him and he let her drag him around and play dress up with him and sit next to him during snack time. He fell asleep easily at nap time and was often there from quite early in the morning until 5:30 in the evening. This little boy happened to have asthma and occasionally his nebulizer had to be sent to the day care with him.
He also had no left hand.
The parents (especially the mother) of the first little boy covered him in hugs and kisses and pet names and made up cutesy names for everything (from when he got lotion put on his skin to his pajamas). He was obviously the thing they treasured most in the world and even more obviously he was still there baby more than their little boy.
The parents of the second little boy gave hugs and kisses, but they also encouraged him to potty train and to do things all by himself. They persisted in his using his prosthesis, even though he sometimes grew very frustrated with it. His father refused to buy him velcro shoes because he felt he needed to learn to be able to tie them himself.
I had to remind his father that no 2 year old child can tie his shoes yet and most of them had velcro shoes because it gave them the autonomy to put their shoes on all by themselves. They had a multitude of reasons to hover and baby their child, but they didn’t. He was their boy and he got no extra pampering from them.
That was seven years ago.
Now, as a parent myself, I see a multitude of different parents around me.
I know of a mother who has recorded every feeding and every nights’ sleep her baby has had since the day he was born. She’s precise down to the minute.
Doing something like that never even occurred to me, aside from keeping track of how many bottles a day Tay was eating when he was 2-3 months old because he was way too hungry and we were tracking bottles to be sure the satiating version of his formula worked (which it did, he went from sometimes 6 bottles/day to 5 or sometimes even 4). But tracking his sleep? I’m lucky I remember to shower and poop half the time since Tay was born.
I see the mother whose culture says that breastfeeding her baby for a minimum of a year is the best thing for him. She’s reluctantly weaning him off her breast now (he’s almost 9 months old) because in Belgium a mother can only get time off daily for breastfeeding up until 9 months. Her mother lived with her and her husband for the first 6 months of her son’s life so she didn’t have to even enroll him in daycare until he was almost 8 months old. He threw up the other day and she freaked out and called the doctor. Because he’d apparently never thrown up before and it scared her.
My son has had reflux since he was born. He threw up breast milk constantly and formula even more constantly. His stomach only started settling down when he began eating solid foods. Tay vomiting all over me is nothing new.
I know a father whose son was 10 weeks premature. He hears stories of other babies crawling at 9 months, or my son, who is almost crawling at 6 and a half months and is starting to occasionally pull himself into a standing position. He hears how huge my boy is and how mild-mannered he is, only crying when he’s hungry or sleepy, how he sleeps through the night most of the time and he reacts with sadness, answering that his son is one year old and all he can do is sit. He either can’t or won’t understand that his son is, for all intents and purposes, 9 and a half months old, rather than a year. His frustration and disappointment are clear when he complains that his son is fussy and doesn’t sleep very well at night.
I’m frustrated that Tay is in the 90th percentile weight-wise. But I’m not frustrated with Tay for that. I blame myself for being obese when I got pregnant. Plenty of studies show that obese mothers have a greater chance of having obese babies and so I’m trying to be extra vigilant and make sure my son eats nutritious food but also doesn’t over-eat. You all probably think I’m over reacting about this, and maybe I am, but my son does not say no to food. He eats everything that is put in front of him. At the daycare the standard meal for 6-12 month olds is some soup, vegetable and potato puree and meat puree. Once they added soup to his meals, we noticed he was throwing up a lot more and sometimes not finishing his bottles at night. He needs the nutrition in his milk much more than he needs soup, so we asked that he not get soup and now he’s no longer throwing up or only drinking half bottles. It’s great that my son loves all his fruits and veggies, but he doesn’t seem to understand when to stop eating and that’s a dangerous habit for a young child to get into.
Piet was playing “objective parent” a few days ago and mentioned that if Tay is a bit slower in anything, developmentally, it’s his social cognition skills. As of right now, Tay doesn’t really seem to register strangers or show any hesitation or trepidation regarding new/different people he encounters. I mean, clearly he recognizes Piet and I and reacts appropriately when we pick him up at daycare or come to get him in the morning when he wakes up, but he shows no hesitation whatsoever if we hand him over to a stranger. He’ll just as readily sit in someone’s lap he just met as in his oma’s lap, as in his daycare worker’s lap.
And while I completely agree that our child does not neccessarily get the concept of “stranger” yet, I found myself trying to justify Tay’s lack of separation anxiety and lack of anxiety when presented with a strange face.
Because he’s my son and my son is perfect and nothing about him is “slow” at all, dammit.
Even if I know it is and even if it isn’t abnormally slow.
I know all babies develop at their own pace and each set of skills develops differently. I guess I’ve just been spoiled so far because Tay has been pretty quick with all the rest of his developmental milestones, especially the gross/fine motor skills.
Since I began babysitting at the age of ten I’ve had an idea of the sort of parent I want to be and how I want to raise my children. Now I’m finding it very interesting to see what my tendencies are and what kind of parent I am becoming as my first child grows up.
Tay hasn’t figured out how to scale his crib bars and set the house on fire or anything yet, so I assume we’re doing a good job of raising him so far.