Time to learn some new parenting skills.
Bun Bun becomes more interactive and clever with each passing day. I’ve always found her fascinating and charming, and been royally entertained by watching her mind develop, but the more I see of it, the more I’m in love with the way it works.
Her latest trick is to bring me books so I can read them to her, which comes at a convenient time, since I’m not a fan of getting up these days. And even though I’m also not a fan of reading Tickle Tickle a hundred times in a row, I just use my Death Metal Voice to make it more bearable.
This morning, however, I discovered that the book-bringing habit interacts poorly with her habit of hanging out next to the bathtub while I shower. A Dr. Seuss book narrowly avoided a watery death. I snatched it out of her hands. I not-quite-shouted NO! NO BOOKS IN THE BATHTUB! My face was angry. I think she might have been scared, but she was certainly upset. She cried. Whatever, sometimes she has to cry while other things are happening. Life’s like that. But then she cried MORE. She became hysterical, sobbing and holding out her arms to me. I scooped her up and cuddled her, and cuddled her for about 15 (rather damp) minutes before she’d allow herself to be put down. She did that hiccupy sobbing thing, the one that says ever so clearly, you have totally fucked up here, Mama. LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO ME.
Okay, so I wasn’t expecting the book thing–it took me by surprise. And Mr. Bunny kept me up all night with his tossing and turning and snoring, so I was running on fumes and it was only 8 am. Not at my best, parenting-wise. But the main issue is that I haven’t figured out what to do about teaching her limits and boundaries and whatever the fuck. Discipline doesn’t seem like the right word when she understands so little.
I had the impression that I could just tell her things were a no go. Firmly, perhaps with a certain tone of voice and a certain severe expression, and she’d learn what it meant. My father had a Terrible Countenance that he’d pull out which was veeeeery effective. I’ve been trying this with other tedious habits of hers, like taking off her diaper. It seems to have zero effect. Redirection is the only thing that works. Because what I did this morning…that did not work.
I know there are oceans of ink spilt on this subject, but YOU know that I’m not going to read them. They will only confuse and upset me. But I feel a bit adrift. I’ve been a real short-fused bitch these days, and Bun Bun is not getting the sweet, patient mama she so deserves. I feel like I need a PLAN. Like the one we have for meals–it does the trick. Though I am still disappointed when she won’t touch something delicious I set before her, I’m learning to take it less personally as time passes, because there’s some logic to our behavior. I need some overarching scheme that will help me deal with all the questions that are suddenly coming hard and fast, like:
How do you transition between meeting a child’s every need and, you know, NOT?
How do I let her get frustrated and upset and figure it out for herself? How the hell do you teach patience?
What the fuck is the timeline for all this shit? What can I expect her to understand at 13 months, when will she be ready for more, what do I do now to set things up for the future?
How do I adjust to the fact that my sweet child is now WHINY and a PAIN IN THE ASS? (You know, sometimes.) How do I come to terms with the reality that my baby is not going to be that one baby in the world that needs no attention at all in this area? I must admit, that last one is a bit of a shock.
So…what do you remember from your parents’ approach? Was it good, was it bad? What have you seen that you will emulate? If you’re in the thick of it, what have you learned?