What a weird day.
Last night, Ethan decided to be a newborn again. We could not figure out what he needed, it took forever to get him to go to sleep, and he woke up about a dozen times. It made for a very frustrating and exhausting night. Finally, around 9:00 AM, I took him into the living room, let him lie on my chest (on his tummy. I know. Bad mommy. But the kid needed to sleep and I figured as long as his airway was clear, it was okay), and we both took a nap. We didn’t wake up until almost 1:00 PM. Good thing it was a rainy Sunday or I’d really feel like a bum!
I was fully expecting the rest of the day to be hard, but Ethan seemed to feel so much better. He has been full of smiles and snuggles, cooing, loving his Tummy Time, and generally just chilled out. And now he’s sleeping like an angel. I guess babies, like full-sized adults, just have those weird insomniac nights where nothing is okay. I know this will make me sound like some kind of robot or alien, but I seriously find it amazing to see just how much like adults babies really are.
Now, I’m not unfamiliar with newborns. I’ve cared for several throughout my life in a babysitting capacity. While parenting is pretty different, this does mean that I went into motherhood with a lot more experience than most people get. And beside the newborns I looked after, I’ve generally been around infants and small children my entire life. I tend to gravitate towards the cute, so I’m used to kids of all ages. I really didn’t think they could surprise me anymore, but there you go. Ethan surprises me all the time. Everything from the expressions on his face (which, squee, so cute) to the way he reacts to things amaze me. I think it is really hitting me that babies aren’t just babies, they really are teeny-tiny adults.
Maybe this perspective is what makes me treat kids the way I do. I’m not really one for baby talk and I’ve never been overly coddling towards any of the kids I babysit. I’m fairly no-nonsense, and I always try to treat children with the same respect I would show an adult. That’s how my parents always treated us. We weren’t just “the kids”, we were valued, respected, and often treated as adults. That’s not to say that we were expected to act like grown-ups or that my parents were irresponsible with us in any way, it just means that they didn’t necessarily sugarcoat stuff. They always answered our questions, whatever they were, and always gave us an answer. They just explained things in whatever way would make sense to a child. There was never any hiding of the truth if we asked a direct question. We weren’t sheltered from reality, nor was a puppies-and-rainbows reality created for us. We learned about things like pain, injustice, and “grown-up stuff” (as we generally referred to topics like sex, drugs, alcohol, etc) in ways that we could comprehend at whatever age we had reached.
I’ve always appreciated that. My parents always gave me privacy and respect. I never worried that they’d go into my room and read my diary. I always knew they’d explain things to me, a luxury some of my friends did not experience. One friend said that her mom didn’t tell her about sex until she was fourteen (!)…of course, she already knew about it long before then, but apparently her mother basically pretended it didn’t exist. If there were references to sex in the movies or TV shows they were watching, she would fast-forward or mute. That’s an extreme example, of course, and I know it just stems from wanting to protect your kid, but seriously? I was about six when I asked about sex, and my mom explained it to me in a child-friendly way. No beating around the bush, no putting off the conversation, no panic. She just gave me the basic rundown, got me a book or two, and we called it good.
I fully intend to treat Ethan this way. Kids deserve respect, they deserve privacy, and they deserve truth and reality whenever they can get it. I’m not saying ignore your kid and make him jaded to toughen him up or something, but I’m saying don’t read his journal and answer his questions when you can. Find the answers when you can’t. I think it’s one of the few ways to ensure that he’d turn out halfway normal. The kids I grew up with who were either overprotected or left to their own devices too often were the ones who were really screwed up. The ones raised with similar styles to my parents were only moderately screwed up, just like me.
Oh, wow. I just reread this entry and I am kind of amazed at how much of a ramble it really is. Probably because my sleep schedule is so entirely ruined at this point that my sanity is starting to check out after about 2:00 AM. Please forgive me, because I’m totally posting this without any attempt to edit. Enjoy the ride.