August 13, 2008

Where Has My Patience Gone?
Chmeľová, Slovakia

I'd become a very patient man in the past few years. Sometimes life, like bus connections on a Sunday, is more complicated than it should be. About the only thing that really still got me going was queuing and governmental visa hoops—I despise waiting in lines.

But my patience is wearing thin these days; I wake up with maybe 15% of the tolerance I had a year ago. I don't like it.

Aidric, my infant son: The depriver of sleep, the fastidious eater, the stress-giving time burglar, the demolisher of patience. The past seven months have worn me down considerably.

My internal batteries never recharge enough while he sleeps, for it's only during these times that I can find the peace to focus on the personal (at the sacrifice of my own slumber). I am not a morning person, and his wakeup calls a mere four or five hours after I fall asleep are not enjoyable.

Maybe babies are only meant for morning people.

This is a non-traditional North American situation. We are always in a shared living environment. There is no baby room. There is no buffer. My space is his space—the family's space.

There's chaos, disorder, toys, and baby supplies in every corner of the room and our lives. There's the smell of used diapers, the clothing stains from spattered foodstuffs, and the perpetual walking on eggshells—for the fury that comes down from the little man that's disturbed or moody is enough to bring a titan to his knees.

Attempting a new feeding technique with a fussy Aidric today—my belt keeps him from throwing himself out of the chair.

Aidric is our lord and master. When he is happy, his servants are content and joyful. When he is angry, his servants are miserable. To what ends must we placate to his desires without establishing a baseline for such activities in the future? He's learning and absorbing every day, why not that?

This is something I buttheads with Tatiana on frequently—at what age do you start setting expectations with a child, rejecting their demands? When is an infant no longer a baby, but a child knowingly manipulating or throwing a tantrum to get what he wants? Kids are very smart, and Aidric is as stubborn as his father is.

I wish this were as complicated as it was going to get, but I know it's only the beginning. I'm very much looking forward to the age where the language skills kick in, and the ambiguous guessing game of cries comes to an end.

Thank God Tatiana is here. I have the utmost respect for single parents.

Comments:

The United States

Dianne

August 13th, 2008

What's that expression? We spend the first 2 years teaching our kids to walk and talk, and the next 18 telling them to sit down and shut up! Just wait until he starts telling you "NO!" =0) Hang in there, Craig.

The United States

Roosh

August 13th, 2008

I'm afraid it will get worse before it gets better. Terrible two's and three's are called that for a reason.

Slovakia

Craig | travelvice.com

August 13th, 2008

I think there's a systemic problem (in North America) where parents placate to their child's every want at the expense of their own sanity, and their child's character.

Example: Useless toys and demanding McDonald's. Result: People like Paris Hilton.

There is a balance here that will be found with Aidric as he grows — an independent childhood without the emphasis of want and gimmie is what I'm seeking. One of modest belongings and reasonable requests. For what will a child compare himself against when he's around children being washed in buckets and no television with toy advertisements in his own language to work him up?

We will surely be at ends with each other from time to time. I hope it'll be less than more.

South Africa

david

August 14th, 2008

Hi Craig! Hmm. Tempted to give advice here, while knowing that each parent - child - parent relationship is different.

My experience is that infants/small children are little social scientists. They do an experiment. They note the outcome. They always WANT attention, they sometimes NEED attention. (My little guy is 4 now, and I love him more than anything.)

You need to draw the line and respect your own needs as well. Trust your instinct. Dad's have a special one for their son's as well. Remember that he's programmed to test boundaries, but you can discipline him firmly from very early on to respect yours. (Patiently and lovingly, offcourse. :) )

A point in case is how different my son is when with me or his mom. The mom and I are close friends, but not in a relationship, so our son spends a lot of his time with us individually. I being more strict in what behaviour I'll condone, rarely have to deal with tantrums or sulkiness or other unneccessary behaviour. A burning bottom once or twice over the last 3 years solved that. As simple as that.

Mom negotiates with it all repeatedly. She has her own special role to play in his life, but I sometimes look in amazement at the suddenly sulky little creature, clinging to her attention. She doesn't seem to mind it that much, but I really don't feel the need to encourage it on my part either. Moms and dads play different roles, naturally.

And by the way - it only gets better, trust me. 4 years on, and I wish I can freeze time for a couple of years, to better enjoy my son and the amazing person he is. He still tests boundaries, offcourse, but I think we both are learning to respect each other's as well.

Anyway - I really didn't want to go all preachy on you, but there you have it.

Still lovin your adventure. Keep at it.
David

Slovakia

Craig | travelvice.com

August 14th, 2008

Thanks for the insights David — very much looking forward to Aidric being that age.

The United States

Bob L

August 14th, 2008

Being that I don't have kids, I can freely give advice to parents and they do not have to feel guilty about ignoring me ^_^ One thing that I note in parents is a lack of consistency ( or maybe an unfortunate consistency). They are forever telling the kid NO! but not doing anything about it. ex. A friend tells her son to not play with the hose because the well is getting low. He does not react. I loudly say "your mother said to put down the hose. Put it down NOW!" He did. But they never take that step with him. Less "No's" and more follow through helps this kid. When he and his brother are with me and my girlfriend, we seldom say no, don't have to, they know what they are not supposed to do and know that no means no!.

But more importantly I think, and this one family is a prime example, is in the relationship between the parents. There is a lot of bickering, much but not all of it joking. A lot of stubbornness and disagreement in front of the kids on just about all subjects. Sometimes serious, sometimes kidding. I saw similar things in the father's father and mother as he was growing up (known him for a while) and in the mother's parents now. I try to tell my friends that the kids are acting EXACTLY like them when they are misbehaving. That does not go over well. What I am basically saying is that I agree that kids are little social scientists but one of the big things is that they learn by example as well. They will tend to mimic those that they are closest to or want the most attention from. This includes, especially, the bad behaviors and or opinions.

Again, these friends are good examples. They are not racist, but they both grew up in a somewhat racist environment. It is not unusual to have somewhat racist comments come out of their mouths, that they don't really believe (well, mostly don't believe I guess). I guess they think they are being funny, or maybe it's just habit. Now they are finding out that their kids are saying racist things. What a surprise. They are now trying to stop that. Maybe it is too late. But then, they are not trying to correct themselves, and they do not see how this is affecting the kids.

But you know what? Kids tend to turn out OK no matter what. Even kids who grow up in the worst environments can grow up to be pretty decent adults. If the parents are decent, the kids have a great shot at being decent.

One of the main reasons I never wanted kids is I know I would have been a pushover. I would have given in too much. Especially if I had a daughter. The only way I would have done it is if I could have found a wife that would not have let me give in, or something like that.

You are doing great. What a great life this kid is going to have.

Bob L

Slovakia

Craig | travelvice.com

August 14th, 2008

Thanks for your thoughts Bob, a nice read. :)

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