Low Quality Parenting
Right before I went back to work, a woman showed up in the baby group I’d been attending. She’d had three kids in three years, and was therefore an expert on all things to do with children, and actually all things on the face of the fucking earth. After telling us first-timers how her kids all sleep at the same time and eat at the same time, she said something about wishing she’d known to let her first child play by herself more often. Just put ’em in a room and peek in once in a while, she advised. I’ve been thinking about the remark periodically. I never do that. Am I doing it all wrong?
Partly it’s that Bun Bun won’t let me. If I try to leave her in a room, she’ll start yowling. I mean, I can sneak off for a bit, but once she figures out she’s alone…waaah. I’m guessing she’s just not ready for solitude yet–I bet this topic is covered in those parenting books I won’t read.
But it’s partly that I have the luxury of being WITH her when I’m with her. I mean, yes, some days all she does is follow me around while I do chores.* But from the beginning, I’ve made an effort to not engage in certain kinds of activities while I’m in charge of her. No fucking around on the internet, no reading (unless I’m reading the Sunday Styles section aloud to her. She loves the What I Wore column…), etc. None of those activities that are all about distracting yourself from the boredom of engaging with a baby. Mr. Bunny and I even developed a phrase for these activities: Low Quality Parenting.
The phrase is meant facetiously. So don’t take offense–I’m not judging anybody or implying any criticism (except the self kind), this is just me saying that I personally feel an obligation to be present for my child because I CAN. My baby is easy, my life is easy, it’s a luxury I’ve got that many don’t.
And yes, sometimes she’s boring, and some times I do read a book while she plays nearby, and sometimes I wonder if the woman is right, and I’m way too much all up in my child’s face. But then I remember that it’s not for long. She’s growing up, doing the I’m a small child not a baby thing I’ve heard described so often…Moving ever further away from me. Soon she’ll be perfectly happy playing alone in a room. Soon she won’t even want my company. Soon I’ll be the one crying and following her around as she tries to do her thing.
*By the way, I’m forever grateful to Trinity for the idea of giving her her own cabinet in the kitchen, filled with empty containers and random wooden spoons and whatnot. My genius addition: some of the plastic eggs we have for our annual egg hunt, filled with cheerios so that they rattle, and if she does bust them open, there’s no choking hazard! As long as I occasionally add something new, I can get me some dinner prepared while she hangs out chewing on my old travel mug.