Babies are crafty little feckers – much more than we give them credit for. Or at least much more than I gave them credit for! At least mine seems to be plotting and scheming in an effort to have me in a constant state of confusion – one day he likes a certain food but the next he won’t. One day a particular thing I do could be absolutely hilarious but the next day he looks at you like you’ve lost the plot when you recreate that hilarious move. Nothing like that to make you feel like a total plank. But his greatest trick would put the likes of Dynamo to shame – he is single-handedly turning me into my own mother before my very eyes.
Not that that’s a bad thing at all I should point out. Mammy Ryan is the best. But I hear myself saying things or even thinking things that echo the things that were said to me when I was a kid – ‘You’ll bloody well eat it if you’re hungry!’ Rian has already learned which of his parents is the easiest to get around: Daddy. Crafty little munchkin figured out that he gets his own way much quicker with Daddy than with mean old (yet strikingly young looking) Mammy. To be fair, I figured out ages ago that Gavin tends to like the quiet life so if you…persist, shall we say…enough in some cases you’ll tend you get your way. Some (Gavin) might call that nagging, but most of us (me) don’t.
But all joking aside, it’s important to us both – and to all parents I imagine – to help Rian learn that you don’t always get your own way. Life is often unfair. To be kind, thoughtful, patient etc etc all the perfect qualities you’d love to have yourself. I often wonder – how much of a person is pre programmed and how much of it is a result of your upbringing and surroundings? Take one family with 4 children as my parents had. We were all raised in the same house, same family… I was going to say same rules but I very firmly maintain that as the eldest child I had the strictest rules…but you get the idea. Four very different people.
Whenever I buy a new gadget or piece of equipment or even when we changed our car I can’t start using it until I’ve read the instructions. I’m that nerdy person who reads the manual. If someone gives me instructions for something, let’s say baking a cake, I have follow the recipe and method to a T and I hate if whoever wrote the instructions makes an assumption that I know what I’m doing and leaves out a step. So you can imagine the frustration of trying to navigate how babies work – the hardest things to figure out that don’t come with any sort of manual.
So what can I do? Figure it out as we go along just like every other first time parent. In some ways I have some very firm ideas of how I want him to be – caring, thoughtful, and respectful. To know the difference as early as possible between right and wrong. Manners. But the main thing I want for him is to be happy. To appreciate things… and not just material things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting him to be the next Mother Teresa /tree hugging all round perfect person. I don’t want to have to try and ‘force’ him to be this perfect child or be a certain way, I just want to be able to teach him to make the right choices. To be grounded and to appreciate people and things and to treat everyone the same. To be kind.
I recently came across this piece which I loved – I honestly don’t remember where, but I remembered the title and Googled it since, and found the original book it comes from – The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents by William Martin:
Make the Ordinary Come Alive
“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”