I have never liked to think of myself as being judgmental. But now looking back I’m guilty as charged. I am reminded of all those times in airplanes where I am tossing and turning in my tiny seat trying to get a shuteye and I drift off. Only to be rudely awakened by a child kicking my seat, or a wail of a baby 5 minutes after I have FINALLY drifted off.
So I toss and turn some more getting more and more annoyed and working myself up in the process with no sleep in sight now.
And I think to myself. What sort of parents are these? Can’t they teach their children not to kick? Can’t they keep their babies quiet? If parents don’t know how to handle their children why do they have them? And worse, why do they get them in airplanes if they don’t know how to behave themselves?
Of course, I am far wiser now. Once you enter the club of parenting I suppose instead of handing out judgmental side-glances, fellow moms and dads will probably give each other commiserating looks instead.
So what’s changed? Why am I not able to discipline my child or quiet my baby?
Because babies come with a mindset and personality of their own would you believe?
Well you know I had heard that all before. But I was adamant that when my future baby does come, me the determined-to-show-who-is-boss-mom will make sure however strong his personality it won’t be a match for mine. He may protest but so will I.
And to be really very honest, I never did imagine this headstrong, persistent tiny person before he came. I really did not imagine that my baby would not want to stay in arms for more than 3 minutes and want to wiggle out, and that when he was down he would want to climb back up.
And that a car ride that’s more than 15 minutes would drive all the occupants insane as he cannot remain cooped up for so long. (Hey you’re new to this world, take interest in the taxis for goodness sake).
And don’t get me started on airplanes. I haven’t taken him for a flight that was more than 50 minutes yet, but I had to nurse him through most of it to maintain my sanity and his.
And I did not imagine I would have a baby who does not coo or gurgle. When he is happy he screeches – a high-pitched squeal of delight that he repeats continuously for as long as his pleasure lasts. And when he is not pleased? Lets just say other people who haven’t had kids yet would give murderous looks if I had the guts to take him out often enough.
I have been guilty of smirking to myself when my MIL said, “oh my son (my husband) used to break a toy a day”. How destructive was he, I thought, and what bad parenting, how could she let the little brat get away with it all. aahmmm. I may have to eat my words (or thoughts rather).
And what can me the determined-to-show-who-is-boss-mom do about all this???
Oh yes I have been told – ignore him, he will stop yelling for your attention. And before I met him I would have considered that awesome advise. I would have said – yes that’s the way to do it. I will teach the little sucker that yelling does not get you anywhere.
But you know what? My son is more exuberant, louder, more enthusiastic, and more high needs than other children. I cannot ignore him because he is not calling out to me to be bratty but he genuinely has more needs. He needs much more stimulation, he needs a change of scenery more often than others, and hehas way more energy than I can keep up with.
During arguments with my husband over the past many years, if he decided to ignore, or not take my calls, or shut me off, it was always a frustrating and helpless feeling. So imagine how the infant feels when he is calling to me asking to be heard and I shut him off to teach him a lesson? How hard he is trying to communicate and I just turn a blind eye while ignoring his feelings? I don’t think I can do that.
While I was pregnant a friend loaned me some sleep training books saying read these, they may come in handy. I read them and thought, wow, how simple this all looks. Nine months later, my thought process has done a complete about turn and I have written extensively on what I now think about baby sleep here.
I am sure ignoring him or sleep training all of it may work. But I do not want to ignore him because a child who is consistently ignored and does not get his needs met may retreat into his shell feeling insignificant and small. I would rather work on getting him to spend his energy positively but that will take time.
And when I do board a longer flight in the near future (though I don’t have the heart to do so anytime soon) my son will probably kick the seat in front of him because he would not know what to do cooped up. And yes I will try to quiet him, try to keep him occupied, try and help him read, try and distract him with toys, try and threaten him, try and bribe him, but forgive me, none of it may work.
Please try not to judge me too harshly.
Aloka Gambhir is a new mom (since October 2012). She is a fitness and nutrition enthusiast and a health and fitness blogger since 2011. She is a Mumbai mom following an alternative lifestyle called the paleo / primal or evolutionary lifestyle. She is passionate about helping fellow moms follow their instincts to a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their family by questioning the rules and conventional wisdom on her blog: www.wholesomemamma.in