Tuesday, January 10, 2006

There But For the Grace of...

...The Bambina Go I.

I am learning a lot as a first time mom. For instance:

Poop can come in a variety of colors within the same week and it is nothing to worry about.

Nail clipping teeny toddler finger nails is a one hour minimum task to account for wriggling, fidgeting, and attempts to commandeer said clippers all the while trying to not take off any skin.

People will always comment on your child in ways that bug you, be s/he fat, thin, tall, short, bio, adopted, American, Chinese, talkative, shy, walking, talking or just shlumping around silently. You gotta, as rap mogul Jay-Z says, brush the dirt off your shoulder and get over it.

You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose. You can, however, pick your kid's nose. In fact, making sure your kid doesn't walk around with big green dry ones sticking out is a central tenet of good parenting.

This week I am learning the most painful lesson of all: do not judge another parent's child, because there but for the grace go I. An acquaintance whose parenting style (I'll admit) I silently deplore, was telling me that her two-ish son was peeing all over himself at nap time and then crying for 55 minutes to get cleaned up. She felt terrible about leaving him in his own urine, so would go in there and clean him up and talk to him, blah blah, and essentially allow him to dictate the terms of his nap, ie he wasn't going to take one by default. I tsk-tsked this to myself, thinking, "that kid would sit in his own urine just once for two hours and d*mn sure he'll learn it doesn't work on this mama."

Riiiight. Because I'm so hardcore and so worthy of judging others, right?

This weekend. Nap time. Bambina screamed for 45 minutes during which I was sitting here so distraught that maybe she was frightened or upset or sick and what kind of mom lets her kid wail plaintively for 45 minutes. So we went up to get her, brought her downstairs, all smiles and joy and laughter. Not a d*mn thing wrong with that kid that finding out she makes the rules didn't cure.

Fast forward to about two hours ago. I'm trying to do a client call during nap time, and the screaming and wailing starts. So I'm half listening to the client, and half talking myself through the situation: do not go up there, do not go up there, she is testing you, she is seeing how far she can take her authority, this is nap time and that is that, she doesn't have to sleep but she must stay in her room. Do NOT go up there. At minute 55 I can't take it any more and I go up there, peek into her room and see her standing in her crib pointing at her two beloved stuffed animals (whom we collectively call, "The Boys" as in "we're going to the store; make sure you bring The Boys") on the floor. Immediate guilt. Torrential guilt. Unsupportable guilt. I picked them up and gave them to her thinking that is why she was so upset, felt guilty for having allowed them to be away from her for so long while she cried, hugged her, soothed her and then it hit me:

The Boys didn't walk onto the floor themselves. The Boys did not make a break for the door by their own volition.

Yep. My child just did the stuffed animal equivalent of peeing all over herself--and quelle sorprise--I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Just like, you know, "lesser" moms who lack my backbone and will.

So she's now up there. Crying. Barely sleeping. And I'm here doing my blog as a way to avoid going up there again and proving to her once and for all that she not only makes the rules but that she enforces them by screaming. So now that this post is done, I'm going to email that mom just to say hi--and to find out how she ever managed to have her son stop peeing himself at nap time.

1 comment:

Raine said...

My ma always just raised her voice and sometimes threatened spanking (sometimes more than just a threat).

Seems to have worked rather well.