Monday, July 21, 2008

on smiles, Erickson, and traveling circuses. circi, Brian would say.

Guess what.

Silas just smiled at me.

To anyone out there who is thinking, that baby is too young to smile; he probably has gas - First of all, boo. Second, it was different. He was awake, looked at my eyes, and grinned. I know that's not supposed to happen for another few weeks, but clearly he is an extraordinary child.

Shortly after Asher was born, I remember reading that the Navajos believe whoever witnesses a baby's first smile is linked to that child; the baby will take on the adult's characteristics. This information stuck with me because Granny first made Asher smile, and Granny's life was characterized by laughter. Asher, too, is quick to laugh, and his name means "happy."

So what will Silas take from me?

In other news, I've realized something about myself as a parent. I love order deep in my soul, so I always thought of myself as a routine/structured (i.e., Babywise) parent. Even when I didn't follow Babywise whole-heartedly, I held on to the label, because it seemed to be the most accurate description. But that's not true. I have a degree in human development, which means I've studied who knows how many theories of how children and adults become who they are. Erickson convinced me. Erickson says that every stage of life has a question to be answered, and that the questions are cumulative. Right now Silas is learning to trust me, and, by extension, people in general. And while my sleep is important, my autonomy is important, and his independence is important - nothing matters as much as Silas learning to trust, creating a framework for understanding and accepting love. Which is why I am so excited to see him beginning to calm down when I pick him up to feed him. He's beginning to understand he doesn't need to cry anymore, because I am going to take care of him. That knowledge is way better than my sleep.

Asher is transitioning out of the question of trust and beginning to learn about autonomy. He is figuring out that he is a separate entity from me. I see it in everything he does - in the way he screams when I say, "no", in his fascination with his own reflection, in his desire to use his newly discovered language. He is his own little person, with his own ideas and shadow. The challenge, as a mom, is to allow him to grow into his own person while teaching him to function as part of a whole - in our family, in a group of peers, in the wider world. Any suggestions?

Finally, the Circus is going on tour tonight. I'm taking both boys to a restaurant, and then home for bed, by myself. Go ahead, laugh. I am sure that I will at some point in the evening, too. The good news is that both sets of grandparents will be at dinner, so someone can make sure Asher doesn't pull down the tablecloth or eat the sugar packets. Come on, come all.

Happy Monday, everyone.


aubrey said...

I love how you love your boys! I love that you take time to notice what we learned in school and find fascination in it still! you are on of the coolest people I know and I love that Asher and Silas will get to know you too! How did the Circus go?

Jamie said...

Andrew smiled at me on my birhtday whe he was 23 days old. He repeated his smile to his Grandpa that afternoon and was smiling regularly after that. So, I am with you on the "it wasn't gas" thing. :)

Elizabeth said...

Food for thought. I like your idea about Silas' stage of learning to trust you. That makes the first confusing weeks of infanthood make more sense. We tried Babywise and eventually eased into it more, but I wasn't concerned that it took six months for her to FINALLY sleep through the night consistently because I was more concerned that she would feel safe and cared-for when she woke in the middle of the night. She's old enough to self-soothe when she wakes now and usually just talks to herself for a couple of minutes before slipping back into sleep, but back then she would scream and sound so small and scared. That's hard for a new mommy to take.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

As for Asher, I think this is where the pick your battles thing comes into play. You have to decide what behavior is acceptable and what isn't. And let the rest sliiiiide.

Sometimes I see parents - dads are often more guilty of this than moms - getting very worked up over something their child is doing and I find myself thinking, honestly who cares if they want to wear their shoes on the wrong feet? Or put stickers on their arms, or something else inane.

The bummer is that sometimes you pick a battle and then realize halfway in that you should have left it alone...but you have to carry the battle to its completion and win, because the parent must always win the battle once it is begun. Those are some of my suckiest memories from Shep's toddlerhood.

I am with you about the babywise. I did it but I could not let itty bittys cry. I comforted them, just my first response was not for the comfort to be from milk. Usually a paci and a cuddle was what they really needed.

PS - don't newborns seem easy to you now? What was the big fat deal the first time?? Toddlers - man. There's the rub.