Friday, April 4, 2008

The Golden Age

I've heard this period of time through which Thumper is now trekking referred to as "the golden age of babyhood." Social Worker Sister-in-Law ("SWSIL"), too, said that this was her favorite age. I can see why. Every day, there are changes and firsts that make for a lot of fun. There are so many firsts, it's hard to keep up. Mrs. Rodius is trying, though, with a first year calendar that has stickers for the major achievements. She gave the boy his "crawling" sticker yesterday. I had been holding out, saying that he's not crawling, he's doing that military on-your-belly-under-the-barbed-wire kind of scoot. He gets up on his knees, but his forward locomotion is almost exclusively on his belly. She tolerated my opinion for awhile, but yesterday she informed me that there were 25 recognized forms of crawling and gave the boy his official "crawling" seal of approval.

He's also probably saying Mama and Daddy. It's hard to tell, because he makes those noises all the time, but mostly without meaning. Sometimes, though, I think he means it. A few days ago, when he had clearly had enough of being in the car, he wailed out a truly pathetic "Da da!" But if he's saying Daddy, he's definitely saying Mama, and I think we have to count that one as his first word. He follows her around the house saying "Ma ma!" as he scoots. Er, crawls.

And he's hit us with his first kisses, too. We've both got them. Sometimes he returns a kiss that he's been given, but sometimes they come completely unprovoked and unexpected, as on Bluebonnet Picture Day, when he laid one on Cousin Freckles. I said, "Aww, he kissed you!" And she replied, with good-natured disgust, "I know, he licked my lip!" So sweet.

He's pulling up, too. So far, he can only do it on low objects, like the treadmill, or me when I'm laying down. He tries and tries on the chairs, the loveseat, the coffee table, but they're all a little too high for him and he loses his balance before he gets upright. He's obsessed with the treadmill now. The front room used to be a sea of toys, but I finally got him a bookshelf so we could get his books off the top of his toy box, which makes the toy box infinitely more useable. So now we put the toys away and just take a few out to play with at a time. He doesn't care about the toys, though. He heads straight for the treadmill and pulls up. And falls. And pulls up. It's hard watching him faceplant or execute fantastic spinning falls. I cringe, but I figure he's probably learning as much from the falls as from the standing. And unless he cracks his head a good one, he usually gives me just a token complaint and then gets right back up to do it again.

I think the thing I'm most surprised by at the moment, though, is the effectiveness of the word "no" when said with the proper tone of voice. A couple of my co-workers told me that they believe in spanking and especially in hand-swatting in infants. They said that a child must be afraid of his parents because he doesn't have enough sense to be afraid of all the things out there that could hurt him. I don't have to lay a hand on him, though. I'm sure it won't last forever, but all I have to do is tell him firmly "No." as he reaches for a forbidden object. He can even distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable uses of an object. He loves to twang the spring door stops along the baseboards, for instance. I let him twang away. But the instant he starts to put his mouth on it, I say, "No, don't eat it." He cries, he tries again, I say it again. He cries, he tries it again, I say it again. And now, he doesn't even try. He just twangs happily away. The same thing is working for the cat bowls, too. And my glasses. It's amazing. If only the power of my voice would restrain him over the many years to come, when this Golden Age has become history.


Anonymous said...

Or you COULD just keep a baby out of harm's way so you don't have to inflict corporal punishment on a helpless little one (heavy on sarcasm, so not directed at you but at the coworkers who gave you this "advice").

Somehow I've been a mom for 8 years now and managed to instill a moral compass and a sense of safety without smacking my kids around. It's possible to teach effective consequences for behavior without making the kids afraid of a beating.

Sorry, this is a thorn in my side. I don't believe spanking is abuse (if it is truly "spanking") but I do believe it's lazy parenting. It takes more effort, time, thought and creativity to discipline a child without resorting to mindless brute force, which usually is done in anger and NOT for discipline.

anniemcq said...

I'm with MM on this one (of course.)

I just ran across a video of JH as a baby, and we were cheering him as he pulled himself up in his crib, then landed with a thump on his bottom. Treasure this time. You are such an amazing daddy.

I, Rodius said...

I think it's possible to believe in corporal punishment as a well-considered approach to discipline. I know in many cases it is not discipline, it is the parent's immediate, uncontrolled emotional response. It's not the choice that we're making, but to label all parents who use it as "lazy" isn't fair, either. There are many reasons, including cultural, that might lead parents to make that choice.

I, Rodius said...

Oh, and thanks ms. mcq. I'm not that amazing, though. And glad to see you commenting again. My comments drop by half when you're quiet!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I understand the cultural card when it comes to corporal punishment, which is why I don't necessarily consider it abuse. I do think it is an oxymoron to say "well considered" and "corporal punishment" in the same sentence, however. :)

I understand that many (most?) parents who utilize corporal punishment are not bad parents, in fact, I have friends that believe in spanking as a form of punishment, and overall, I think they're great parents. But when it comes to this one aspect (discipline) I DO believe that to rely on hitting children is ineffective and short-term at best, and degrading and abusive at worst. I think that we as a species can do better than inflict violence on the powerless. I know many people disagree with me (particularly in this part of the country) but that's my view and I'm sticking to it.

Lisa L said...

I was hit with great regularity as a child. It was hideous, and at age 8, after a particularly nasty go-round with my mother (who was fond of hitting with wooden spoons, metal spatulas, rulers, hair brushes, ie whatever was at arm's length at the time)..I swore to myself I would never hit my kids. I broke the cycle thank god. I have a friend who is a psychiatrist...she says that each time you hit a child you instill rage. I believe it.

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