Friday, February 20, 2009

My daddy day is gone, with segue into critique of Bringing up Baby

Gone voluntarily- sort of. Two things came together; my new project has a load that will clearly be a struggle to meet on 4 days, and I am determined to have another shot at buying a house. This year, while prices are dawdling and adjusting.

So I've handed it over for a while. I might try and get it back towards the end of the year if Beloved goes back a day or two, we'll see. Failing that, I'll try for more leave, or something.

Bear and I have bonded so much during the past 16 months, with that extra day each week of 1-on-1 chittering, minxing, breaking the occasional rule and hurtling around the playground taking no prisoners.

To Beloved, as primary carer, I handed most decision-making when it comes to parenting style, and even on daddy time I take care not to undermine her efforts. Yet part of me needs to be expressed as a parent in order that I form the best bonds with my children. I am less rule-based, more intuitive, and at times feel a little on the sidelines, carried along by the momentum of it all.

I think this would be true of most parents who missed out, because of full time work, on regular time alone with their children. There is a special bonding that takes places as you work through the day together, including - Yes Ms Cast Iron B- the drudgery and housework that in fact nourishes your children and makes the fun stuff possible.

Now I feel I know my daughter as well as Beloved does. We are good mates, and I hope I have done just a tiny bit of extra work on the foundations that will no doubt come under so much pressure when she's older.

Following Mr Man's birth Beloved has been home too, but today they went out for the morning and Bear and I, perhaps for the last time in the foreseeable future, had a few hours together. We sat on the couch, read a story several times, put a puzzle together, then hit the pool and splashed around like a pair of goons.

I had plenty of sad moments but I hid them behind a cheesy grin.

I hope I can do this again before too long. I also hope I have the chance to bond in the same way with Mr Man. I have decades of bashing my head against a computer terminal to look forward to, but I know these precious moments as they learn to smile, walk, dance, and plummet face first down the slide will be gone faster than my last sprigs of hair.

On the Bringing up Baby show last night there was one 'expert' who taught couples the 1950s method (by Dr Truby King, clearly a human icepick). She had no kids, clearly didn't like them, and was dripping with jewellery earned from touting her methods. She ordered the parents not to touch or kiss their children. They sat downstairs drinking wine as their infants screamed their lungs out. Far worse than controlled crying, this was No Love Parenting. The parents cried, because they knew deep down that what they were doing was emotional abuse, but with a fluffed-up expert sitting there insisting they persevere, they lost their agency as individual, emotional, responsive parents.

In just over 2 years I've learned little, there is clearly still so much, and I'm not wedded to any one method as being ideal. I think controlled crying is too far in one direction but generally accept that with a plethora of ideas around, the bulk of parents I know are doing their best. Controlled crying, I should add, has nothing on the Truby King method...

But refusing to touch, kiss or pick them up, must do as much damage to the parents as the children, and I can't even accept that they should be able to make that choice. Still I'll be watching again next episode, with an open mind.

Maybe I'll even pepper a few indignant comments out there with my new toy...

Postscript: just to add to my confusion, apparently something we used could be called controlled crying. Up to 3 or 4 minutes of holding back, when the crying was low key. I didn't realise. I was thinking of the whole 10, 12, 15 minute routine, which I would not be comfortable with.

Post-postscript: Beloved and I have sorted through the semantics of this issue and found, thankfully, we're on the same page when it comes to crying, picking up, and getting the kidlets to sleep. Inferences of major rifts were unintented!

1 comment:

cristy said...

Oh I wanted to strangle that horrible woman with her hatred of babies. I missed it this Thursday, which may have been just as well.

It has been a bit freaky to find myself agreeing completely with a so-called 'expert' though (the attachment parenting one). I hadn't realised that my parenting style could be quite so easily pigeon-holed!