I am overwhelmed sometimes by parenting. It is new, and frightening. Until now I’ve been supplying food and routine and love in large doses. That’s all a baby needs. It can be draining, but it is simple. Suddenly Henry is doing things on purpose to watch my reaction, refusing food and naps, getting cross about boundaries he didn’t notice at all last week and screaming, screaming, screaming when he doesn’t get his way. This is parenting, surely, but isn’t he too young for rules and consequences? Does he understand it? I don’t know, and I don’t like it.
Today was a parenting day. I put him to bed at 6pm in his clothes, when he was too far gone to accept dinner or even sit still, and I couldn’t listen to screaming any more. Then I watched Jo Frost transform problem children with only a school ma’am voice and kisses, and cried over my own failed day. I made scrawly notes for now or later –
must eat food twelve times before proper dislike
cut back on snacks
set up expectations
read read read (ten minutes)
Then, anxious that he might be hungry or uncomfortable, I went back into his room. Intending to get him up and offer him dinner. Intending to explain, though he wouldn’t understand it. Intending to read him a story, even, and make up for our terrible afternoon.
He was asleep. I couldn’t bring myself to wake him, even to fix things. I put a hand on his back, smoothed down the flick of hair that wouldn’t lie flat today, and covered him with a blanket.
I can try again tomorrow. Some days it doesn’t come right, but he will wake up with a fresh face and having totally forgiven me. I can always try again.
(In the meantime, I would like some ice cream.)