I guess it was inevitable that my baby would not stay a baby forever.
In many ways it is a pleasure to see him mature and develop. I can count on him to give me hugs and kisses just for the heck of it. He increasingly understands what his father and I say to him and he responds (selectively) in kind. He recently discovered that he can dance. Since then he hasn’t heard a dance beat that he can resist. Then today, he fearlessly climbed down four steps on his own only to stop because my whoops of joy alerted him to the fact that he was entering unprecedented territory.
Every day brings something new.
But along with the cuteness and the awe comes the awareness that my sweet baby is now a Capital-T-Toddler.
How do I know this? I can’t take this child out to restaurants anymore.
Check this: Once upon a time, C and I could take Baby E to a restaurant and get comments on “What a good baby” we had. The commenters came to this conclusion because Baby E was mostly quiet. He either sat in our laps or in a high chair. In the really early days he even went to sleep for a good part of our meal time. We could generally count on him being mostly chilled out unless he was hungry and of course that could be solved with nursing.
Capital-T-Toddlers do not do these things.
What I have learned, is that my Capital-T-Toddler will have a meltdown if we take him to a restaurant after 7:00 pm. He will not sit in a high chair. He will not sit still on our laps. He will insist on running away from our table. He will not be satisfied by nursing. He will do the “stiff-body laying on the floor while screaming thing.”
If we take him to a restaurant earlier in the day, things go much better. He is a much happier child. However, happy Toddlers still want to play with everything on the table. Happy Toddlers throw/drop food on the floor. Happy Toddlers leave big messes that lead certain parents (me!) to be even better tippers out of guilt.
My child is developing what I call, “The cuteness threshold” which is the point where the level of cuteness becomes inversely related to the level of Capital-T-Toddlerism.
In other words, it’s when the “awwww” turns into “noooooooo!”
Raise your hand if you were very sure what kind of parent you were going to be before you had kids?
Raise your hand if you were very sure what kind of parent you were going to be at each stage of your kid’s life beforehand?
I’m raising both hands on both accounts.
One thing I’m learning in this parenting gig is that I’m always learning. I have a core set of values that form the base of my parenting but I’m always fine-tuning them as I go along.
This week’s Soapbox Sunday features some writings that I found insightful about parenting.
BlackGirlinMaine talks about what she’s learned having raised an almost 19 year old and now raising a 5 year old.
Gina, The Feminist Breeder has a message for newer moms who judge other moms who have difficult toddlers — “Just wait!”
Lauren, at Hobo Mama, talks about why she’s not as fabulous a parent as her blog might make her seem and why that’s ok.
Dionna, at CodeName:Mama shares tips for encouraging children to apologize with sincerity instead of forcing them to say sorry.
Darcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the importance of play in her children’s lives.
What kind of parenting insights have you discovered?
The other day I went to my local, organic-friendly yet cheap grocery store with Baby E in tow. As usual, I wore Baby E in our Ergo carrier on my front. He was asleep, and because it was chilly he was wearing a hoody with the hood pulled up over his head as he slept. All you could see of his head was his dark brown, nearly black, curly afro peeking out from under the hood.
I was pondering some goods on a shelf when out of the corner of my eye I noticed an older woman reaching toward Baby E. I turned to look at her and she let out a semi-surprised, half-relieved, “Oh!”
“I’m sorry?” I said.
“Oh, I just didn’t know what that was you were carrying there. I thought it might be a poodle or something but I see it’s a baby.”
“Oh, ok…” I half-nodded my head and with a slight smile, turned away. She walked away while still offering her flustered explanations that kept stumbling over themselves.
At first, I didn’t know what to make of that moment. I suppose it could have been an amusing anecdote to tell C when I got home, yet, the encounter left me uneasy. Whether this woman realized it or not, she’d effectively “othered” my child. Here was a white woman mistaking the hair of a brown child for the fur of a poodle.
Whether she knew it or not she really said this:
- Not-white hair is seen as not “normal” hair
- Not-white hair when seen apart from other visibly human features can reasonably be assumed to be animal fur
- My son can reasonably be mistaken for a poodle
- It’s not harmful when mothers of brown children are told that their children can be mistaken for poodles or other animals
- People wear poodles in baby carriers
- People who might wear poodles in baby carriers should be questioned about it in public by strangers
I guess I should start taking Baby E to the dog groomer now, huh? :/