New Mama Musings

Saturday, January 17, 2009

If You Walk Away, Walk Away

Generally I feel pretty confident about the parenting path I've chosen, but every so often something comes up that makes me question myself. Recently my parenting skills were put to the test.

A friend of mine puts her daughter in the childcare room of a nearby health center and exercises there nearly every weekday. I loved the thought of being able to leave Henry in a fun place for an hour a few times a week while I exercised, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I got a free three-week pass to the place and introduced Henry to the childcare room. The first few times I stayed with him so he could get used the room and the teachers. He absolutely loved it -- all new stuff to play with!

The next time I left him for five minutes and returned to find him crying and hiding under the indoor slide, a space so small he could barely squeeze into it. The second time I left for about ten minutes and when I came back he was in the same spot, again teary-eyed. I left for longer periods of time (twenty and thirty minutes) other days and each time he sobbed and begged me not to leave. While I was gone he wouldn't let anyone talk to him, touch him or comfort him in any way.

People kept telling me that it would take time, but if I stuck with it he would eventually grow to love the place. I really, really wanted it to work.

And I wondered if maybe it was my job to give him a push into something he didn't want to do, if I thought he'd have fun eventually. Did I coddle him too much? Was I doing him a disservice by allowing him to cling to me? Should I make him stay against his will for his own good?

But he looked so stricken when I left and so defeated when I returned. It stirred up memories of how my mother reacted whenever any of us showed emotion that wasn't convenient for her: "Knock it off! You're fine!" But we weren't fine. We wanted her to be on our side, and she never was.

Eventually I decided not to push Henry into this. We may still join the health center, though -- Henry loves going to their indoor jungle gym and I'm hoping to start taking him to the pool. Maybe in time he'll want to go to the childcare center.

I still don't know, objectively, if I made the right decision. But a little voice was telling me not to leave Henry, and ultimately I could not ignore it.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Great Pretender

Henry is pretty much pretending one thing or another every minute of the day lately. Around here exhanges like this are very common:

Henry: I tried Ramen noodles once at my school.

Me: Did you like them?

Henry: Not so much. They were too salty.

Me: Yes, they are very salty.

Henry: And my teacher added more salt.

Henry does not go to school and has never seen, much less tried, Ramen noodles.

And another day, after we explained to him what cigarettes are:

Henry: Do you want to hear about my first day of school?

Me: Sure, tell me about it.

Henry: My teacher was smokin' semaphores.

Me: Do you mean cigarettes? That's not good.

Henry: Why?

Me: Cigarette smoke is not good for people to breathe, kids especially.

Henry: It's okay. She was smokin' semaphores in the bathroom.

Being Realistic

The other day, on the way to Outpost, Henry said, "Let's talk about something."

"Okay, what do you want to talk about?" I asked.

Henry said, "Let's talk about everything." Then he paused. "But we won't be able to finish before we get to Outpost."