June 10, 2008

in between days

IMG_1080, originally uploaded by hal(var).
Yesterday I got so old

It made me want to cry

Reading parenting books is like reading about how to learn to drive a car or ride a bike--kind of futile. I love books, and I've learned a great deal from books. When it comes to being a mom, in my humble opinion, you learn from the day-to-day experience of it.

Still, I could not resist this title, recommended by another mom friend, Positive Discipline. The title appealed to my secret love self-help type books and made me wonder how positive a parent's discipline can be? I'll come back to that in a moment. First, a digression...

In the process of reading the book, I realized that at 13 months, Bertram is not quite an infant (in that helpless I-need-you-to-do-everything-for-me kind of way) and not quite a toddler (as in a bipedal, speaking being). Bert is sophisticated enough to use ASL signs for abstract words like "more," "go," and "all done," but still needs to be carried or strolled any place that isn't met for a crawler.

More importantly, he's started the journey toward asserting his independence. He wants a specific book, not just any book I pick up. He doesn't want the pasta, the chicken sausage, or the spinach pancake; he wants strawberries and more of them. When he's done eating, he throws everything off the table. That feels kind toddler-ish to me, but he looks like, well, a baby.

You know what I mean? Toddlers look more like kids; they are more defined with less baby fat. They have hair that can be styled a la the "Suri" or the "Maddox."

My point is that Bertram is not quite a toddler and not quite a baby. My word for this phase is "boddler." I think this growth phase started the day after his first birthday--the day he decided that his food is not mush that comes in jars. He'll have what his parents are having, thank you very much.

So how does my newfound boddler awareness tie in to Positive Discipline, the book? The basic principle is that by emphasizing what children can do versus what they can't do, you can help build their confidence. The book frequently urges the parent to use "kind, firm action." I'm simplifying this greatly, but this is the general gist.

I think this sounds great in principle, but in practice--suppose your prewalking, pretalking, boddler has just, to cite one recent example, taken the two halves of his peanut butter sandwich and put them over his ears like muffs, being extra careful to mash the peanut butter in his hair? What I want to do is say "No!" and curse like a sailor. And on my worst days, I probably will do just that.

My hopes for a witty conclusion to this post have just been dashed by a sudden, spiking teething fever. Ugh.

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