Friday, December 01, 2006

On babies and categories…

But first, let’s begin this entry with a bit of entertainment. Check out this commercial… Really…

the funny commercial

This is for those of you who are iffy on the whole kids issue… My contribution to the dilemma :-) (And those of you who already took the plunge, you know it all can be too true…)

I mean, just today we went out to a restaurant (*hides head, avoids eye contact, and hopes no one will notice that she was eating out again...*) and the kiddo wanted his bottle. And then he wanted to play with the tablecloth (by pulling it over the head). And really, you cannot reason with a toddler (if you can, send me pointers). So pretty soon all I could think of was getting the darn bill and getting out of there before somebody called the cops or social services.

And I’m beginning to think that those screams were completely calculated. Cause he didn’t cry, or look distressed, or anything. He actually smiled. And then opened his mouth and let out a glass-smashing/dead-awakening “ahhhhhh……”. And then smiled again. “Aren’t you proud of me, mommy? I’m going to be the next Michael Bolton!”

And then (when I got home…) just as I was pondering the manipulative ways babies/toddlers/kids can have their parents wrapped around their tiny little fingers, and how they are much smarter than we would think, I stumbled on this intriguing article: "Mom Unlocks Babytalk". In a nutshell, it says that all infants have five basic cries, and each has a meaning:

“Neh, Owh, Heh, Eairh, Eh, meaning, I'm hungry; I'm sleepy; I'm experiencing discomfort (also known as "change my diaper already"); I have lower gas pain and I need to burp.”

Really? What about the one that means “I just don’t think you should sleep tonight, cause I’m bored”? Or the “Don’t you dare putting me in the crib, I’m fully expecting the comfort of the king sized foam mattress, cause NASA says it’s good for my back”? I mean, I’m not an expert or anything, but JUST FIVE SOUNDS? FIVE NEEDS? I doubt it. Maybe the robo-babies in techno-land. Real babies also get bored, get stuffy noses, get scared, confused, and just get plain cranky. I mean, they are already people, from day one… just tiny ones…

And they have enough personality to spare… Much more than any five needs can cover…

Before I had a kid, I would’ve probably bought that theory. Back then I used to always envision all those things I’ll teach my kids. In my mind kids were probably something like play-dough out of which I’d be molding the perfect human being. Surprise, surprise – they come with personalities from the get go. So you think your kid will read a lot? Yah, that’s what I thought… and bought like a hundred baby books… only to discover that they make an excellent building material… Or you think your kid will play with those educational toys you get? Ha… I have yet to find a toy that beats the phone… And it better be a real phone. The kid’s no dummy. The gazillion toy phones are living in perfect harmony at the bottom of the toy box.

I can see my son at 19 months with a personality that is wholly and totally his own. I might be able to interest him in things, but he does the picking and the choosing. For some reason the habit of putting his toys away is not sticking even in the slightest. Yet just try and walk around the house without some kind of shoes! He doesn’t think that’s right. Wherever did he get that idea? If it was up to me, he’d realize that five seconds without shoes, cause mommy wants to put her feet up on the couch, are perfectly acceptable. Yet whenever that happens, mommy inevitably finds two house slippers stuffed at her, accompanied by a completely distressed toddler screaming “shoes” as if the world was coming to an end. Did I teach him that? I don’t think so… At least not the urgency of it…

And he had a personality from the moment he was born. You see, he squeaked a little at first, but didn’t bother screaming too much. He was calm, cool and collected. Looking around. Well, that's just the way he is in a new situation (and not in a restaurant, where he’s been a thousand times already) he’s just calm, cool, collected and observing. That’s him. I didn’t teach him that. He came with that package.

And I love that so much more than the play-dough model. I’m getting to know, love and raise a completely unique human being, who has a path of his own. I’m not his master, I’m his guide. My job is to help him find that path, and help him get to whatever it is that he sets out to accomplish. And to protect him from the holes on the road. But not to push or pull him. And not to lump his needs into a few tiny categories that should define him in a nutshell.

Cause he’s a lot more than that.

Posted by vasilisa @ 12:17 AM

Read or Post a Comment

Excellent points. The hard part of letting our kids find their own paths is determining when to let them learn from their own mistakes vs steering them away from paths that will lead to trouble.

Posted by Anonymous Daddy Forever @ 2:40 AM #

Great post. I know what you're saying! Julia, even as an infant, had a personality of her own. I think you hit it right on when you said, "I'm not his master, I'm his guide." I think that's a great way to look at parenting.

Posted by Anonymous Leslie @ 3:40 AM #

Okay, that commercial was absolutely hysterical!

My mom has talked about what you said regarding children and their innate personalities. She said that I was a pretty easy-going baby, and she used to wonder what other mothers were doing wrong that their children would throw such tantrums. And then she had my sister, who apparently came with quite a temper from day one, and she realized that it's not all parenting - kids are just who they are. It's a very good point; you can only mold them so much. Most of it comes from who they are!

Posted by Blogger Kelley @ 9:51 AM #

First, I LOVE that commercial! It's hysterical!

And you are SOOOO right about your son. R. turns 7 this month, and pretty much anything I bought thinking, "This will be a great educational toy," has never been touched. But we can't keep enough paper and crayons in the house. Yeah, books have words, but she thinks it's a lot more fun to make up your own story. They are amazing!

Posted by Blogger PunditMom @ 11:23 AM #
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I'm a 29 year old mom of two! A toddler (kiddo one) and a new baby (kiddo junior). I am also the most horrible (as in I barely ever do it) cook that I have met in my life. This blog is a diary of my attempts to feed my hungry growing family

PS: My name is not actually Vasilisa... But I find that honest reporting comes easier when there is a shred of anonymity. (Apparently, posting pics of my sons doesn't count...)

PPS: For those of you wondering where on the planet I am: I'm cosily tacked away in the Torontonian suburbia of the Great White North (Canada).

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