Monday, August 20, 2012

On Being Kinder (or at least less mean) to Noah

Three stories:

  1. Every Friday my sister takes me, Noah, and Eli to Fruit and Veg City on Roeland st. She buys Noah a Gingerbread man, invites him sit in her trolley and tell her about every thing he sees. Rather than being a stressful part of our week, as shopping with two babies could be, we really look forward to buying our food. When we come home, Noah and Kim play together and the whole house shakes with laughter. Noah feels totally loved and accepted and pretty much can't stop laughing. 
  2. I have an adult loved one with a mental disability, and he really benefits from schedule. I know all of us do to some degree, but he Really Does. We might suggest he go to the movies on a Friday, but he doesn't go on Fridays, he goes on Mondays. We accept it as part of who he is and we try our best to honour it- we'll never plan something that would interfere with his needs. 
  3. I recently reading a story about a small child who was not expected to survive past childhood. What stuck with me was that the mom said she tried to make each day as awesome as she possibly could for her son. She didn't worry if he ate junk if that would bring him joy, she didn't worry if he did things that would aid his development. I read a twitter feed that said something like "we think so much about our children having the tools to navigate 'the real world', but think so little about whether they can navigate their world today"

Seeing Noah with Kim, thinking about my loved one, and reading this story have all been helpful as I parent Noah and Eli:

Noah is at a developmental stage where his needs are as foreign and as deeply felt as a disabled adult. I often forget this as I'm planning my day around my work or errands or things that I think Noah would enjoy. I forget to listen to Noah saying 'no' or not being quite ready, even as I expect him to listen to my 'no' and my 'I'm not quite ready'.

So I'm learning to say yes to Noah, quite a lot. I'm often scared: "give an inch, they'll take a mile" you know? Only it's not true. He's willing to work with me on the things I need to get done, and our home is much more peaceful. He seems to trust us more. I feel peaceful when I'm focusing on our home as a place where everyone has needs and we can balance these needs. It makes me less of a martyr. Don't get me wrong, it's not perfect and I still freak out about stupid things sometimes.

Practically speaking, I'm learning that saying yes takes some tweaking. Chocolate and Kipper aren't dangerous, but large quantities feel unsafe as we learn what it means to be "responsible parents". Our chocolate consumption has decreased as we learn how to give Noah chocolate when he sees it and wants it and figure out if it has any negative effects. We give it to him when it's around, but we try not to have it around too much. We teach him he can buy one thing at the store because we have R20 fort all four of us, and he chooses it and rations it.

He watches Kipper at night on our iPod but we give him the battery at 15 or 20% beforehand so that it runs out naturally and he decides his own bedtime after that. It's slightly manipulative, but this is a process and we're still at the beginning of parenthood. Depending a bit on Eli's mood, giving up Noah's formal bedtime has given us the gift of two extra hours in the morning. I love that we don't have to wake up at a certain time or go to bed a certain time, that we don't have to report to work. We have responsibilities and studies and work, but they're responsibilities to people and they don't feel arbitrary.


Other random stuff:
  • Here's Beth Terry's Plastic-free deodorant roundup. Similar to Beth, I use plain baking soda. Beth is my favorite resource for tips on plastic-free stuff, although I'm having to relearn everything without the resource of a Harvest Coop and Whole Foods around for bulk bin purchases. 
  • I wanted to recommend two of my greatest discoveries during my last pregnancy: Nettle tea and Rasberry leaf tea. [You should check in with your health care provider before using them while pregnant] In addition to really helping during labour, these two teas are great if you have menstrual pain or suffer from UTIs. Here in Cape Town, you can get them at Wellness Warehouse and A. White Chemist in the CBD.
  • Here's an article about Environmental refugees, who currently lie outside the UNHCR definition.  


Andrea and all her wisdom said...


I'm a friend of Neasa's.

She thought we would hit it off and sent me the link to your blog. Do you have an email address where I could write a bit more about myself? I'm on my 2nd Mat leave and would have time for a 'pen pal'.


Danny said...

I think I sometimes have a hard time being nice to Harvey because I expect so much of him. When I think about it, I see that sometimes I fail to take his actual age and developmental stage into account when I'm constructing my expectations. But that goes both ways: I also give him more freedom than I think a lot of just-three-year-olds have, so in some ways he is more mature than his age would suggest. I don't know. First children are a learning process.

And maybe all children: Zion is pretty different than Harvey! How does baby Eli compare to baby Noah?

Concrete Gardener said...

Andrea, I'm not sure if I had your correct email address but you can reach me at concretegardenerblog@gmail

Dan, figuring out developmental stages is so hard! Some thing Noah can do that seem absurd given that he's two, and so I forget that there's plenty that simply not physically possible- concentrating for long periods, sitting still, not being messy.

I'm not sure how Eli compares to Noah, I have such a short memory, but I think Eli is more or less just happy to be included in the family. As long as he gets breast milk whenever he wants/needs it, he's very happy. So we'll see.