Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Child Protection

The urge to protect your child from whatever threatens them is frighteningly strong.  Obviously it makes sense to want to defend your offspring.  If we didn't, the human race would need to either have a LOT more kids or die out.  But we invest heavily in a small number of children, so we care deeply for them.  It works well enough, but it does have some difficult (for parents) consequences.

For one thing, Alex is so small, so vulnerable, that at times it seems like it's impossible to protect him from the horrors and dangers of the world.  When each breath is so tiny, it's all to easy to imagine some callous chance taking them away for ever.  Down this road, madness lies.  Down this road lies parents awake at night, wishing their child would be quiet, then wishing they'd make a noise so they can be sure they're breathing.  (Not that I've ever done this.  Oh no.  Not me...)

Then there's the crying.  It's so damn non-specific.  Something is wrong, but what?  Too hot or too cold?  Hungry or windy?  Bemoaning the state of the Middle East?  What?  Just tell me what's wrong and I'll fix it!  A couple of nights ago, Alex was having trouble getting to sleep.  It had been a long day (for all of us), and Alex had had a small snack then gone down at about 9pm.  Five minutes later, just as I was aiming towards bed, he woke up.  Snuffles then full on crying.  The only thing that seemed to help was being held and bounced.  He would fall asleep in my arms, then wake up as soon as I laid him down.  We carried on like this for about half an hour before I admitted defeat and went to get Nicola.  (A quick feed usually calms him down, even if he's not actually hungry.)  As soon as she picked him up he let out two massive burps, then proceeded to feed for a solid half hour.  He was fine after that.  If only there was a way that his crying could have said "I have wind and the munchies" we could have fixed it instantly.  As it was we both got stressed out by our failure to communicate.

It is getting easier though.  We're both learning Alex's moods.  Sometimes he's obviously bored, sometimes he's obviously sleepy.  For all that, there are still times when you move heaven and earth to try and make things right, only to discover that all that really needed moving was some fart.

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