Tag Archives: sleep

The Childless Aren’t Dumb, Just Ignorant.

23 Jul

I remember those child-free days: sleeping in, bathing regularly, taking any gym class I wanted in spite of the daycare’s operating hours. I remember looking at mothers like Daisy and thinking that they made parenthood look easy, so when I saw less agile mothers trying to corral their loud, obnoxious kids, I just thought it was an indication of their evolutionary uselessness. From time-to-time, child-free friends will say dumb shit that makes me want to wrap my fingers around their throats while they apologize profusely for their ignorance. I’d like to address a few of those ideas, if I may:

1. Just make him/her sit there quietly. 

Uh, ok. And while I do that, go staple water to a tree. Let’s see who finishes first. The reality, childless people, is that we’re talking about small people, not trained labradors or robots. There’s this fun age between infancy and childhood called purgatory toddler. Let me tell you about that phase: in this age bracket, children have developed enough physical and motor skills to be able to walk, grab, climb, and throw. Now that they’re mobile, they are no longer content to sit still; they want to use these newfound legs for walking and running. (I keep thinking of Lieutenant Dan: “You got new legs!”) They are as curious as ever, and each new experience must be explored and understood. Just like adults are not content to simply ride the London Eye over the city and call it a tour, children don’t want to observe the world while strapped to a booster seat. They want to interact. Couple their intrinsic curiosity with their lack of reasoning skills, and you have a two-year-old running up to a stranger’s table in a restaurant, trying to grab their wine glass out of their hands.

2. Picky eaters? Just make him/her eat it or nothing at all!

Oh, if only it were that easy. Remember what I said before? These are people with their own minds and bodies? That goes for tastebuds, too. And those little suckers are developing and adapting to new experiences as quickly as the neurons from which synapses fire. Last week, Pterodactyl LOVED grapes. This week, she puts them in her mouth and spits them out. Now, her favorite snack is a bagel with cream cheese. And just like you adults have foods you don’t care for (capers come to my mind – belch!), so do these kiddos. The biggest hurdle is this: these tiny bodies are growing and developing at astronomical rates. They need energy and nutrients to do so. If I tried the “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” mantra, many of my kid’s meals would consist solely of Cheerios. In order to make sure she has enough energy and nutrients to grow, I might have to adapt what foods I feed her while her tastebuds are learning what to like and dislike.

3. Who cares what time it is? He/She can go with us.

Well, now. I’m not even going to discuss how unfair it is to other adults in the world to have to deal with some strange baby or toddler fussing while they try to enjoy a night out. We’ve already covered that topic. So much of a child’s growth and development rests (haha, I love puns) upon their sleeping habits. The brain develops during REM sleep. Those little, energetic, curious bodies? They need the rest in order to restock the energy that they’re itching to burn. Adults need a solid 8 hours for healthy thought processes, muscle rejuvenation, and other internal functions. You know this to be true, in spite what you think you can “get away with.” Children, then, require significantly more in order to function. Taking my 15 month old to a late dinner is not only inconsiderate to other diners, but detrimental to her overall development.

What this all boils down to; what many childless people tend to forget, is that children are PEOPLE. They are humans with thoughts and opinions and preferences. All parenting choices come down to the balance between allowing these little people to discover and grow and providing them with the structure in which to do so. Just like you can’t tell an independent, free-thinking adult what to eat, how to think, and where to go, you can’t tell a toddler, who hasn’t developed the necessary rationalizing skills to make strong judgments, precisely what to think or how to live. Just like Pterodactyl learned the word “shit” from hearing me say it way too frequently, she is learning appropriate dietary choices and behaviors from how I eat and how I act. Five or eight years from now, with the necessary thinking skills in place, I’ll have more control or more leverage. For now, I have to adapt my pre-baby parenting ideas to this bitch of a thing called “reality.”

And just for a point-of-reference, for those of you who truly don’t “get it” yet: think about your career. Whether you’re a nurse, a teacher, or a police officer, you constantly have laypersons telling you how to do your job better than you do. Do they know the intricacies of your role? Do they understand all the responsibilities you must carry behind the curtain? Does it frustrate you that people have unrealistic expectations of what you should do and how? Think about parenting as a job, and realize that so much happens behind the scenes that you cannot possibly understand what goes into a productive, healthy household.

-Violet

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