Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How many dummies does one kid need?

I’d heard of the terrible twos before but I hadn’t expected to experience them so early. Our tyke is not yet 16 months old and she’s already well into the stage during which she is constantly testing the limits of what we’ll let her get away with. The moment something is not going according to her requirements she will throw a hissy fit, which is funniest when she isn’t clear in her mind what she actually wants. If I didn’t know that this is something that all kids go through, I’d be worried about whether we’re doing something wrong. As it is already, a general worry about how to bring her up is something that does not leave me. In particular, I am worried about how to teach her what’s right and what’s wrong. I suspect that my problem here is due to a lack of a proper role model from my dad who had been too harsh on my brother but largely absent in my upbringing. Of course, the problem doesn’t appear when you have the time to think about how to react but when you have to react immediately. Right after, you are left wondering if you used the right tone of voice, if you should have explained things a bit more. One thing that I try to do is not to leave her alone right after I had to tell her off about something. I’m concerned that might make her feel insecure about my feelings for her and I want her to know what is obvious to me – her parents will love her whatever she does.

Part of what has been causing her recent moods is that she is teething again. Over the weekend she was running a high temperature and we thought she might have an infection but everything cleared up quickly. The dummy is a constant companion, of course. Several times, she was holding a spare dummy while sucking on another one, only to switch them about at intervals, as if she had suddenly decided that she liked the flavour of the other one more.

It is striking how something as personal and individual as the worries and joys of bringing up a child is as universal as it is. If all of the new fathers in the world had their blogs, many of them would, right now, be writing about the very same things as I am. I do not know if one can speak of a sense of community due to this, however, it does mean that there is a welcome level of understanding when looking at others such as when I see a man pushing a buggy with groceries in bags hanging off the handle bars, the offspring sitting bolt upright in the buggy, fascinated by a passing car or by a dog lifting its rear leg to a tree. Certainly, there is an awareness of things that were always mere background in the past, like looking at a Dali painting for years only one day to notice that the tree is actually a face.


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