I broke my first kid. At least I think I did. What I did was entertain him constantly form the moment he woke up until the moment he went to sleep. It's not my fault really; it was more of a form of self-defense. If I stopped entertaining him he'd cry, and I wasn't good at listening to him cry.
|I don't want to be a bee!|
I think a lot of parenting theories really just come down to whether or not you can stand to listen to your kid cry. We dress it up with fancy names and read books all about it, but what it comes down to is really just can you listen to your kid cry or can't you. If you can't, you are going to pick them up and play with them and do whatever it takes to calm them no matter what the books say, and you will read books that support whichever side you fall on the crying thing, and you will think people who do the opposite are bad parents. But really, it's just about your own crying tolerance that matters.
At any rate, I had no tolerance whatsoever. I started my day at 5 am, reading books to the baby. Shaking toys at the baby. Bouncing the baby. Counting down the minutes to the next nap, which only happened when all the planets were in alignment AND I danced him for 20 minutes. I don't know how I could have done it any differently, it was all I could do to survive.
Now that baby is eight. And he says, "Mama, I don't know what to do," and he says, "Mama, I need someone to play with," and he says, "Mama I'm bored."
I tell him, "You have been bored since the day you were born, kid." That is true but not helpful, it turns out.
He has an external locus of control; he looks to the world to meet his needs. I'm pretty sure I taught him that, and I know that won't serve him well in life. But I broke him, and it's hard to undo.
The second baby, of course, was more laid back. He'd fall asleep when he was tired - anywhere, anytime. No miracle was required. He smiled a lot. He amused himself by watching his brother and chasing his brother and trying to eat everything his brother owned. Now that he's five, he prefers to play with someone, but he is capable of doing his own thing.
|Big Pants, just chillaxe!|
You could say that I neglected the second because the first was still demanding all my attention - and you would be right. But it is also true that he was born a mellower kid. He was lower maintenance from the get-go. (But louder. A lot louder.)
So maybe I didn't break the first one. Maybe he would have been a bored kid needing someone to entertain him no matter what I did. Maybe they just come as they come, and all our mistakes and all our guilt is for naught.