Don't Forget the Umbrella

Parents know the old adage that you have to be cruel to be kind rings true. It is however no less easy to apply and I am particularly fragile when it comes to discipline. I stick to it, but part of me is always attempting to scramble an escape, mellifluously whispering its surreptitious sedition that maybe, just this once, I can let it go. I'm but a vitreous monolith, ever ready to collapse and give into the cries. The other night, we left his door ajar, because he said he wanted more light. As we cuddled on the couch, we heard footsteps and freaked out we were certain we locked our door, when the nimble footsteps revealed no imposter but our son. We were impressed. He ran up to us and asked to be cuddled. That's all we wanted to do ....BUT... we had to be strong. Sometimes being the responsible parent stinks. We had to be resolute and stick to the sleep training... and we did... as much as we didn't want to.

 Yet, I know I must be resolute and somewhere inside me, I hold the strength (but only just) to enforce the rules. Our punishment (for L) is Time Out. It works a charm (save for my faltering). Our first go at Time Out was not successful to say the least. L just talked to himself in his chair. He was shy of a year and we now think he was too young to understand that he was being punished. Now, Time Out is a terrible predicament for L. Yet he obeys it. When I say he has to go to Time Out, he cries and cries but does not defy me. He skulks over to his Time Out armchair and climbs up on top of it and cries, asking to be let out. I tell him he has to wait one minute to two, depending on the nature of his indiscretion and won't let him leave the chair until we discuss why he was placed in Time Out in the first place. He now listens through cries and apologizes and stops doing what he did before. The crying is excruciating however. It's as if my form of punishment was flagellation not simply sitting in an armchair two feet away from me.

My sons' cries viscerally affect me. M, who is 6 months now, cries far less than his brother, but when he does, the whole neighbourhood must suspect that we are criminally negligent and indubitably we will receive a call from the government soon enough because he cries so much that he very nearly chokes himself. He is copacetic one minute, the next coiled in a cry. His laugh bursts forth in the same way. M has a judicious personality, much more than his brother, who was and continues to be much more excitable. However, when his displeasure is such, he lets out a tsunami when L would have teared out but a trifling. Likewise, when M finds something funny he cracks such a cackle for such a sustained period that we wonder whether babies could give themselves a hernia from laughter. Our Little Tyrant has learnt how to demand attention. He has refused his crib and now has uncontested dominion over our bed. We know this cannot last and that we must stage a coup. The brutal regime of constant night nursing has left both me and hubby in a constant hypnogogic state, a frayed wakefulness ever ready to dissipate into a dream. It is the threat of his cry that stalls us (well, admittedly mostly me), his Praetorian Guard protecting his imperium. Sorry buddy, but soon your empire must collapse, as they all do. Must we also get him a queen bed to regain sovereignty over our own?

L is becoming an acute negotiator. I tell him during our bedtime reading that I will read him only 3 books in bed. He asks for 10. I give into 5 (how could I not support his love of reading? We read and read all day and I love that my boys have such a voracious appetite for books). He knew he had to raise the bar in his first hand. He is still obsessed with Lego Land and I keep providing excuses, which he challenges. The other day it was raining. I explained we couldn't go because we would get wet. He looked at me incredulously. "Mama, umbrella" he reminded me. Right.


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