Parenting 2.0

Posts Tagged ‘emotion

One day last month when Niko and I were hanging out with his great grandmother, he didn’t know what type of mood he was in: one second he seemed to be on the verge of laughter and the next on the verge of tears. He see-sawed back and forth for a while: shrieking, giggling, smiling, and pouting, pretty much until he found comfort in catching some zzzs. I think my grandmother put it best when she said with a smirk and a smile, “Well, he just doesn’t know if he’s happy, mad, sad or glad”.

Since then I have noticed that there can be a fine line between Niko’s laughter and a bout of pouting. Sometimes when he’s tired his laughter and tears seems to be on the same plane. I mean one minute he’s almost in tears, only to be distracted and burst into giggles, and then just as easily, a second later, go back to crying. I tried to catch this range on video, but really the best display is in the Happy, Mad, Sad, Glad, series of photos below, taken consecutively within about a 15 second time span.

It’s inevitable that babies will develop fears of certain things. As much as we want them to be happy and carefree, there will be something out there that eventually frightens them. Whether it’s the dark, a blue stuffed giraffe (which is what my friend’s son is scared of these days – he just can’t do enough to get away from it), a book, a movie etc. So yes, the fear will come, it’s a natural progression, I just think that we as parents don’t want to be the ones to induce it, right? But what if we induce it by accident…

The other day I read the story Where the Wild Things Are to baby N. Personally, I have always thought the book was a bit scary, but it is an award winner and Niko happened to have been given a copy (thanks Tamar), so read it we did. Now, to my baby’s chagrin, (and in part due to the fact that I think it’s a scary story to begin with) I used a deeper and scarier voice when I was reading – without even a thought as to how this could affect my little listener.

Little N was just sitting on my lap, innocently looking at the pictures and I was reading along full force, in a voice he hadn’t heard before. I know that reading to him is supposed to be about him and for him, but since he was facing the book, I couldn’t really see his face, until I was forced to look when I heard two little high pitched squeaks (a noise I had never heard before) coming from him. When I heard the squeaks I stopped and turned him toward me, only to see a huge pouty lip and two wide and tear filled little baby eyes looking up at me, as if to say, “Stop Mommy! I’m scared!”.

I quickly reevaluated the voice I was using, closed the book and held him close to reassure him that everything was OK. A few minutes later I went back to the story, this time with a softer baby voice, but it really didn’t matter: the damage had been done and he started to pout and his eyes got wide and filled with tears again! “OY! What have I done”?, I thought.

A day passed and I wanted to test out the book one more time. A glutton for punishment? Not really. I sort of just wanted to show him there was nothing to be afraid of. Anyway, with a new day and a new voice, he was fine with book. As long as I remembered to use a nice sing-songy voice when I was reading the part about how the wild things “roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws”.

One thing’s for sure, I definitely want my arms and voice to be a comforting source for Niko, a place where he knows the wild things aren’t! Lesson learned.

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