Monday, February 14, 2011

Guessing Games

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep, I kept thinking about how different my boys are. I mean, there are the obvious differences (i.e. the kid is always jonesin' to be the center of attention, whereas baby E is happy as long as he has the rapt attention of 1 person). But, as I really thought about them, what I realized is the main difference between the two is this - I know what to expect from the kid. I can pretty much predict what he will do, or how he will react in any given situation. I can pretty much determine from any look he gives me what kind of mood he's in, or if he's done something he knows he shouldn't have. From the tone of his voice, I know whether he's hungry, tired, both, or just bored. I know him.

Baby E, though, well he's a whole different story. Now, I realize he is isn't yet 5 months old, and the kid is 5 years old. Big difference right there. But, I remember that the kid was really good, even as a baby, at making me feel like a competent parent. Because he was so easy for me to read and was so consistent about eating, sleeping, playing, etc..., it was easy to know what he needed. He schedulized himself, and practically printed off a copy for us. 

Baby E is the opposite of consistent. He has nothing even akin to a schedule. Or, if he does, he sure hasn't clued us into it. He eats, sleeps, plays, well, whenever the heck he wants. Some mornings he wakes up at 7, cranky and still tired. Others he up at 5:45, happy as a clam. Sometimes during the day he can go 4-5hours between feedings, and only eat because I'm worried and offer, others, after an hour and a half he acts like he's starving. My friend M (also baby E's awesomely awesome babysitter) will be like "oh, that sounds like a tired cry, isn't it?" and I'm all like "uh, sure. Let's try that". It all seems like a guessing game with baby E, and a fumbling one at that.

It's interesting (to me at least), that I bonded with baby E hard and fast, whereas it was kind of a long process with the kid. So, you'd think, or at least I would think, that I would have a better handle on baby E's cues and needs than I did the kid's. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps I do actually know what he needs, but we're so in tune that I just do it, without really thinking about it.  With the kid, however, because he was on a schedule (that, really, he self-imposed around 2 months of age), I relied on the clock more than my instincts, but instincts seem to be all I have to go on with baby E. I do feel like baby E cries less than the kid used to. But again, who knows whether that has to do with my superduper momma skills (ha!), or just his temperament. No idea. Again, that baby's just a guessing game.

Today's lesson - every child is different. The manner in which you parent every child has to be different. Never think you have it all figured out, because your child is there to prove to you that you don't. Don't think of that as a bad thing. Think of it as being a lifelong learner. That seems like a gentler way to say "Yup, sometimes I have no idea what's going on".

Oh yeah, and Happy Valentine's Day. I hope yours is full of love!!

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