So I started reading the “Love & Logic” parenting book(s). It’s pretty interesting stuff. I can’t say I believe all toddlers and small children will behave in the perfectly angelic manner that the children in the case scenarios in this book do, but there are definitely aspects of this parenting theory that I like. One, that it’s better to let kids make mistakes and have small choices so they feel more in control and have more confidence in their abilities than it is to constantly protect and hover over them. Two, to not overly praise kids so they then expect to be constantly praised in life (which we all know is not how the real world works). I remember my mother being very critical of a family we knew who always asked the kids to make choices about things – do they want to wear this jacket or this jacket, do they want this juice or this juice. Her whole thing was just give the kids what they get and that’s it. As far as I know, both her kids and the kids in this other family grew up just fine. Does any of this stuff really matter? I don’t know. But if so much of what makes really little kids (like, toddler aged) misbehave is frustration and the new need to show independence, then I suppose a few basic, harmless choices during the day couldn’t possibly hurt.
I’ve already had in mind the idea of having my son very early learn to participate in household stuff – help me sort the laundry, help me cook (here, you put in this teaspoon of salt), help pick up things, help take care of the animals, and make it fun, not a chore. I’m pretty appalled by how little kids do to help their mothers these days. I mean I was doing my own laundry by 12, doing dishes by six or seven. I didn’t cook until quite a bit later, but it was understood that you helped with household chores. And I don’t recall getting an allowance, either. It was just part of your responsibility as a member of the household. I think it’s especially important to teach my son that it’s not the woman’s job to pick up after him. Of course this is all just theory – I may get down into it and be like, “here, let me, you’re taking too long.” But hopefully I’ll have the patience to teach him how to be a good little helper.
I am also reading Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. My half sister sent it to me. It’s a real time journal by an author of the first year of her son’s life – the father disappeared shortly after the announcement of the pregnancy. It’s a good book, but I have to admit it’s stressing me out a little bit. Being as it’s all written right in the heat of the moment, I’m reading the phase where she’s up all night with a colicky, screaming baby, and it sounds just dreadful. Luckily her love for her son seems to overcome all of this, even though she does occasionally fantasize about throwing him out the window.
My half sister and I talked about the fear of lack of bonding. She had this same fear when she had her son some eleven years ago – but said, as corny as it sounds, as soon as she looked into his eyes for the first time there was no doubt in her mind that she would be bonded to this boy forever. I’ve mentioned here this fear I have of seeing my son for the first time and feeling nothing. And continuing to feel nothing. However, she and I have something in common – we both have mothers who abandoned us for large swaths of time when we were children. It’s hard not to worry that you’ll end up being just like that, that you have that same disease as your own mother. But she overcame it, and I know I will, too. I guess for me other than a physical or mental problem on my son’s part, fear of my not being able to bond with him is right up there in my list of concerns of all the things that could go wrong. Still, I think women who have this issue probably usually have extenuating circumstances – severe depression, a history of issues like this, weird relationship issues with the baby’s father at the time, an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy, being too young, etc etc. I really don’t see myself having this problem. And if I do, I’ll just fake it ‘til I make it.
Heading to Catalina island this weekend for a long, arduous band gig which I expect to be entirely unpleasant. We’re making almost no money (the event promoter didn’t get the turnout he’d expected) and for me being there overnight means having to board the dog, which is a whole hassle and expense (and sucks for her because as soon as I pick her up on Sunday, Tuesday I have to take her right back for my trip east for Thanksgiving), then I get in about 3 AM Sunday morning and have to get right up and drive all the way back down there (Long Beach) to go to a meeting that involves intensive going over of contracts and lots of strife. So this is going to be one of those weekends where I just have to take a deep breath, slap on a sense of humor, and take pleasure in the small things, like a York Peppermint Patty or a good song on my Ipod. ‘Cause the rest of it is pretty much going to blow.