Scary is good

Munchkin is 2 now, and it’s basically the best age ever. She is absolutely delightful most of the time, and the other 2.5% is either hilarious (sorry kid!) or just not worth dwelling on. But the playing, the drawing, the open mouthed kisses, the laughter – it’s so great.

One of the coolest things is that her dinosaur obsession, which started young, has grown to epic proportions. I’ve painted a giant dinosaur on her wall, right behind her bed, (photos when I eventually finish touching up the edges) and she loves that “Big BIG dinaur” watches over her at night.

A natural extension of this obsession, her favourite game is one called RAAA! which, of course, involves chasing each other around the house and RAAAing. We take it in turns to run away and raa, and sometimes all three of us have to run and hide, until she realises that there’s no one to hide from, at which point one of us will be designated dinosaur and the game begins anew.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I use dinosaurs to my advantage at any opportunity. From “it’s time to put your dinosaur nappy on, little dino!” to “are you going to use your big, sharp dinosaur teeth to eat your dinner?” and anything and everything else I can dream up, dinosaurs feature heavily in my parenting right now.

Getting ready for bed is always a bit tricky, as I imagine it is for basically every parent of children everywhere. Tonight, when she asked to keep playing RAA, I convinced Munchkin that mummy dinosaur only roars at good little dinosaurs who put their pyjamas on.

Then, she asked for daddy dinosaur, who was occupied elsewhere. I called out to let him know that his roaring skills were required, and he replied that he’d need a few minutes.

I relayed that message, and Munchkin cuddled on my chest, waiting. At first, she was all giggles, but soon the anticipation began to build and she clung tighter and tighter to me, worming her way up my chest until she was on an angle that would make a contortionist cringe.

We waited and cuddled and talked and waited some more, until finally…. the creak of the chair, footsteps coming up the hall…. and RAAAAAAAA! Daddy dinosaur roared in all his fearsome glory as Munchkin squealed with laughter.

Life has been a bit up and down recently. My shop has shut down (boo, hiss), I’m temporarily relocated but I’m going to have to find something else very soon. Today, I applied for a job. It’s a big job, way more intense than anything I’ve done before. If I get it, the stakes would be high. It’s a long way outside my comfort zone, but I really really really really want it. I’m scared.

I’m so scared, that after I finally submitted my application (after spending hours over the past few days perfecting it), I was shaking and felt like I was going to hyperventilate.

Even if I don’t get this job, which is fairly likely, applying for the job scared me enough to make applying for other jobs a lot easier.

Scary is good.

The Good Baby

One of the questions people seem to ask a lot after you have a baby is, “Is s/he a good baby?” Obviously this question isn’t intended to be rude, and I’m 90% tongue in cheek with the following, but really? A good baby? What does that even mean? I always feel like replying, “No, she’s evil and terrible. We’re thinking of having her exorcised, just in case she is, in fact, the spawn of Satan”.

So what exactly are the criteria a good baby? Is there a score out of 10? As a baby, Munchkin cried, fed and dirtied her nappy with great efficiency, and even slept sometimes, so as far as being a baby goes I think she pretty much got it down. Attagirl! Gold star for you!

But what people really seem to mean when they talk about a good baby is one that doesn’t cry much and sleeps a lot. (Parents everywhere just burst out laughing reading that. Seriously, does any baby fit that profile?).

The problem with the question is the implication that if a baby doesn’t sleep well, or cries a lot, they must be bad (or, at the very least, not good). But babies don’t cry because they’re being bad, or naughty. They cry for a reason, even if that reason isn’t always apparent to others. Likewise with not sleeping – there is a reason for it. In fact, babies aren’t even expected to sleep through the night for quite some time, and for breastfed babies five hours is considered sleeping through.

That doesn’t mean that crying and not sleeping isn’t hard on the parents/carers. It can be incredibly hard! But suggesting (or implying) that their baby is bad for not meeting some arbitrary criteria for “good” isn’t really all that helpful.

A friend of mine had a baby who screamed for hours on end. Multiple trips to multiple doctors proved fruitless, until one finally looked closer and found that the poor little mite had gastroesophageal reflux. She wasn’t crying all the time because she was bad or naughty, she was crying because she was in pain. (This story is also a good example of why it’s important to keep pushing for an answer when you know something is wrong with your bub. No matter how many times she was told it was “normal for babies to cry a lot”, my friend knew there was more to it)

I guess my real problem with the “good baby” question is that it’s really not helpful. So what can you ask a new parent? How about, “How is s/he going?” and “How are you coping?”. That second one is particularly important. After all, one person may be just fine with 4-5 hours broken sleep a night, while another could be utterly exhausted. It’s so important to give new parents the opportunity to talk about themselves and how they’re going – asking the question can make all the difference.