Thursday, July 30, 2009

Things I Understand I Never Did Before

So Lucas is three months old now. Well, nearly. Not so much has changed in the last month, and we've settled into our routines pretty well by now. In the last week or two, he's started getting a LOT more verbal. He makes this hooting "oooh" sound, quite a bit. that anyone other than Amy or I might find annoying, but we find tremendously funny - especially when he gets excited and enthusiastic and it becomes "OOOH!" and occasionally "OOO-waaahhooo" and other variations when he starts smiling and twisting his mouth around. In fact, we were mildly embarrassed at a local restaurant the other night 'cause well, kiddo ain't quiet when he's making noise - family trait - and while we found it amusing, we had no doubt the other dining patrons probably did not. So I guess I'm starting to understand those parents who have the noisy kids but never seem to want to restrain them, or do so half-heartedly. Your heart really isn't in it; you love those expressions of emotion and LIFE from your lil' dude.

Here's a few other things that lately I've come to understand, even if not directly yet, that I never had tolerance for before now:

"My Little Johnny would NEVER (insert action here)"

Let me tell you... as a teacher there are few things that cause more eye-rolling at parent conferences (when the parent isn't watching, of course) than the blind insistence of a parent that their child is simply INCAPABLE of such a deed! While I still have no sympathy for the blindness that this attitude represents, I'm starting to see its roots. Looking at my lil' Lucas-dude, it's tough to imagine him doing anything wrong. At this point, obviously, everything he does is blameless. Babies don't even have a morality, nevermind one they can be judged on. As they grow into toddlers, they probably only get the weakest sense of right and wrong, and only if you work hard at it. "Don't hit, don't take" and so on - and I suspect compliance here is more a case of "avoidance of punishment" than any higher view. (That most of the world never gets past this level of morality is a point I could discuss at length, but that's for another time.)

It's easy to imagine that a parent's perception of a child never changes - people don't like to examine their own thinking processes, as a rule - and so that "Johnny never does wrong" mentality sticks....and sticks....and suddenly Johnny is in the 8th grade, and that mentality - which was understandable and correct when Johnny was a toddler - is now allowing Johnny to use his parents as enablers for all kinds of hideous actions. (Not to mention the fact that Johnny has learned that lying to his parents works and therefore is okay.)

Eh. I rant. That was not my intention. My intention was simply this: while I do not encourage that point of view and I sincerely hope I never fall victim to it, some small part of me acknowledges that people who think their kids are perfect may not be entirely insane in how they got there.

Parents Who Let Their Kids Sleep In the Same Bed With Them

This is another one I never really bought into. For the record, I still don't: to my way of thinking, it ruins the kid's ability to develop self-reliance and self-confidence, and only encourages a repetition of the problem. Frankly, once the kid's asleep, you've got one of the few occasions in the day where parents can pursue their own social agendas, and I mean hey, those opportunities are few and far between, or so I hear - so why you gonna let a little nose-dripper soil your sheets instead of sticking to their own? I've seen enough of my own kid sleeping to know he's a friggin kung-fu expert in his sleep. Fellas, seriously: can you imagine a little kid dealing you out a jimmykick WHILE YOU ARE ASLEEP? With that small, deadly-sharp foot?

Enough to give you nightmares for a year.

Having said that, watching the little dude sleep in his little crib and then walking across the house to my own bed, I'll admit that a time or two I've wished he were a bit closer, just to wake up and look upon in the wee hours of the night. Obviously at his current size, it would be a lot more dangerous for HIM than for ME to sleep in bed with mom and dad. Lemme tell you, his mom's got some flying elbows as it is in her sleep, and dad ain't exactly known for waking up at the sound of one hand clapping. Probably squish the little dude into a pancake and never know it if mom didn't muay-thai him into the next life on her own.

The urge to have him nearby and protect him, though, is a strong one. Sometimes when I go to bed, I wonder if I could get to Lucas's room fast enough if someone broke in - it would require going through the center of the house, and that means attracting unwanted attention in case of a burgalar or what not. Doesn't make me terribly happy. So I can pretty easily see a sick kid, or a kid with a nightmare who came running to mom and dad, getting comforted. And I can see - just from the relatively mild manner in which Lucas can express distress right now - a very strong urge to do anything, absolutely ANYTHING, to console, comfort, and protect your child. After having seen Lucas screaming in genuine terror and dismay (he had a nightmare once that was a real doozy, woke up screaming bloody murder) I totally get why parents dive into burning buildings/lift cars off kids/etc/etc. The urge to protect children before you have them - when they're in genuine distress and not being annoying - is mildly strong. We've all felt it. The urge to protect children AFTER you've had one borders on unbreakable hypnotic compulsion. I can only imagine Amy must feel it twenty times stronger with her direct hormonal and personal connection.

So, eh. I dunno. At the moment, I'm still very much against kids-in-the-bed. But I used to be completely against epidurals, too.

"You Just Make Do With Less Sleep"

"HA!" Said I. "Purest unadulterated bulshevik!" said I. Many things I can claim to be, but one-who-goes-without-sleep is assuredly not on the list. I needs my eight hours - I can skip a few once in awhile, but I NEEDS MY EIGHT HOURS.

...or at least, I did. It's not that you're less tired. By no means - having a kid around does not magically give you endurance you lacked before. Quite the opposite. Kids are friggin tiring. It's not that you need less; you probably need more. It's that you CARE less. At least three times a day I wish for more sleep (okay, I lie. I nap. I get almost what I need. Amy, though, probably does not. I used to not, though, and I write from that perspective and from the assumption that not everyone has a super-amazing wife.) but when I don't get the sleep and I feel myself starting to stress, I go look at the little dude. Seriously. I remind myself why it is I'm tired - and that he's worth it. He grins at me and bunches his hands up from the excitement of smiling, or he "OOHs" at me and clearly wants to be picked up. (Clearly. Really. I can tell and it's not just what I want, honest.)

I have no doubt that as he gets older and - let's face it - more annoying, there may be times that playing with my kid/being around my kid is NOT an instant pick-me-up. In fact, he may be a genuine downer-and-a-half. For now, though, it's not that I'm less tired - I just care less about BEING tired. It's like, well, spending a night in exceptionally fine and engaging company and going to work the next day particularly fatigued but not caring about it, if you'll excuse the comparison. It's not that you're NOT tired - it's that the tired simply isn't the highest thing on your mind.

(Caveat: after the fourth or fifth day, you start caring again. Heh.)

So I can't say that I'm sympathetic to the troubles of the world now, or anything daft like that. It is possible, though, that - as I listen to my son cooing and burping (how the hell does a body that small MAKE a NOISE like THAT?!) in the other room, that I won't be quite so cold towards a parent who can't imagine HOW their son cheated on a test.

World understanding through child-rearing? Stranger things have happened.

-MT out.

No comments: