Monday, May 28, 2012

28.5.12 - Powerful, tiny fists

It's been a while since I have posted and with good reason - lots of stuff has been going on. Most prominently, my grandmother just passed away.  I, my son and my husband just spent her final few weeks with her in the US so that she could take the time to delight in her great grandchild, and of course to say goodbye. It was hard; it was beautiful; it was a life changing experience.

As a mum, sadly, I've been somewhat "surrounded" by death; my father passed unexpectedly when I was five months pregnant. My son bears his Hebrew name as a middle name and a variation of my late mother-in-law's name as his first name. That's an interesting choice to make as a parent in the modern age, when fewer people necessarily believe in the custom of naming after a parent, citing the overwhelming pain of the loss to be too much to bear in relation to their child. I understand that, and though my husband and I discussed that briefly, the choice and decision for us was clear, and not for a second do I regret it. Further to that, he has cousins from both my and my husband’s siblings who also bear similar names, which I believe is a wonderful tribute to two people who would have absolutely relished in the joy of their grandchildren. Ostensibly, the naming process helps us, those who knew them, remember; but it also passes on history, keeps it alive and real and the chapter of their lives still open for writing. 

I mention all of this because I've been pretty mixed up, as you might imagine, and I worry about dealing with my pain as a parent and how it affects my child. When you lose someone you loved, there are the well known five stages of grief: sadness, anger, bargaining, denial and acceptance. That might not be the right order but no one generally experiences them in any true order so I doubt it matters here. For me, perhaps because of the external stresses surrounding the situation, such as international travel, anger is the issue I worry about the most, because I am a believer in the fact that my child mirrors my behaviors and "vibes" if you will, so I certainly do not want to pass this on to him.

But perhaps there's more to the story.

While we were overseas just now, my son developed in leaps and bounds. He's starting to pull himself up, is incredibly verbal and gave up the breast for good, choosing food and lots of it. He is, on seventeen different levels, my lifesaver and greatest source of amusement. That aside, he also started expressing rage, which is perfectly normal for a kid his age. He’s experiencing drastic change in behaviors and abilities right now. The frustration of when he's "not quite there yet" in regard to, for example, standing up, or gripping his sippy cup properly can be justifiably rage-provoking. His way of expressing it is by holding up his little hands in two tiny fists and shaking them vigorously, whilst yelling, babbling and oftentimes, giggling. I mention that to point out he's not just a rage machine - he kind of likes it and knows it'll get a rise out of us. All the while though, I wonder if this reaction is coming from me, if I am unconsciously encouraging it, or even doing the same without realizing it. I can’t be entirely sure since he also vents his frustration in several other ways, including doing the same thing over and over again until he gets it, or just climbing into my lap for a cuddle when he's too spent. 

Fast track toward behavioral problems?

He's been back at daycare for a week and has earned the name, "Habalaganist" - directly translated as chaos maker, but troublemaker for the rest of us. He's the youngest one there and makes the most trouble, they keep telling me, but it’s charming. I watched the other day as I arrived for pick up the nature of it; he went up to a kid triple his size that was drinking a bottle and slapped it out of his hand, just for a laugh. And laugh he did. I had to stop myself from laughing and told him no, which he also laughed at. Am I encouraging this, somehow? I would love to slap something to get my frustrations out, but I don’t because no one would find it as cute, and may well report me. Am I surreptitiously passing on anger vibes? And if so, is that bad? I know we want our children to only experience comfort and happiness and joy but hey, in their world being a little wet is equivalent to the house being on fire so maybe it’s important he understands anger, and important to help him, and myself, through it. Because this certainly won’t be the last time he experiences it, so why not start the life lesson early?

Why? Because he’s eleven months old. Get a grip.

I’m not sure I’ve got any great moral platitude or amusing realization to pass on here. What I do understand, however, is that every action causes a reaction (yes, physics is seeping its way into my blog post. The world is upside down, to be sure) and we can only control our own subsequent reactions. That’s it. We can deny and bargain and be angry and sad, but in the end, we must accept who and what we are and how we choose, with our human free will, to conduct ourselves. I will do better for myself because I love my son, and if I’m not getting along, then neither will he. I have to affix my oxygen mask first before helping others. After that, I'll check out where my nearest exit is.

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