Thursday, July 27, 2006

Boring kids? Or distant parents?

So I just read this post from The Daily Eudemon. Go ahead, go read it. I'll wait.

Okay, so since I, being rather computer challenged, cannot figure out how or even if I can comment on his blog, I'll respond on my own. I wanted to expound on something that Eric Scheske touches on in his last paragraph, that even activities with your child which are initially boring can become enjoyable when you see how they benefit the child.

This is something I've often reflected on, and is a constant struggle to me. I often am in the middle of an activity that is much more appealing than playing dinosaurs or knights or watching Samuel play sticks. (Yes, he says that. "Watch me play sticks, mama!") I even consider laundry and dishes more appealing than these activities. At least then, I feel productive. When Samuel wants me to participate in these activities with him, one of three things happens.

1 - I say "in a minute", "not now", or flat-out "no". This results in him feeling less secure, being more clingy and whiny, and distracting me from my work more, which makes me more irritable and less inclined to play with him, and the downward spiral begins, usually ending in him misbehaving, me yelling, and then realizing that the root of it all is me being inaccessible to him and feeling very guilty.

2 - I say yes, but don't really participate. I am still reading email while he's telling me a story, folding laundry when I'm supposed to be sword-fighting, and washing dishes when I'm supposed to be making wings for his toys out of pipe cleaners. This half-hearted version results in pretty much the same as above - frustration on both sides. I can be quite the multitasker, but in times like these, it just doesn't cut it.

3 - I say yes, and really mean it! While I am often initially reluctant, if I truly give myself over to playing with Samuel and entering his world, I am always so glad I did. And not just because it was a worthy sacrifice for Samuel's benefit, but because I actually have fun! I have found that what I read from various attachment parenting authors during pregnancy is actually true: the more time you spend with your child, the more time you want to spend with your child.

I think of this whenever I hear someone say that they work outside the home or do not homeschool because they "just can't be with their kids all day long". Well, if I didn't attachment parent, I probably couldn't either! But, because I do, it is a joy. I sometimes imagine what it would have been like to be a mainstream parent. Instead of relaxing in a recliner nursing my sweet baby, I would have spent half the day washing, sterilizing, and preparing bottles while my baby cried for me to hold him. Instead of cuddling with my baby through the night and never hearing him cry because I'd nurse him long before he was that aroused, I would have awakened to a baby screaming down the hall, and would have had to stumble out of bed, flounder around the kitchen for a bottle, and then feed the baby before being able to go back to sleep. I think day care would have looked pretty tempting had that been the case. But instead, I could not get enough of my child. And I still can't.

I simply cannot imagine how much harder it must be to parent if you don't attachment parent. I am not surprised that most mainstream families are small - who could do that for more than a few kids? I have heard people joke that they attachment parent because they are lazy. Well, that's not my primary motivation, but it is a huge side benefit! It's just easier to parent this way. And while there are many, many loving mainstream families, I also think it is easier to love your child if you attachment parent.

So, if you find your child boring, the remedy isn't to send them off with the nanny, Helen Kirwan-Taylor. Instead, spend more time with your child. Get to KNOW him. Once you do, you'll find that children are addictive. Get hooked.

Update: You can read the entire original article here. Genevieve Kineke has a great post on this article over at feminine-genius. And, while not directly related to the article, Danielle Bean has a lovely post on being present to our children here.

1 comment:

Amy said...

This is so true. I have to admit I struggle with this desire to be "distant". I try not to judge the original women in the article, because I know how hard it can be, for various reasons (depression, etc) to step beyond yourself and give give give to the kids.

It's DEFINITELY not the kids who are "boring". It's the parents reaction to them being kids!