This post is part of the Attachment Parenting Month 2009 blog carnival, hosted by Attachment Parenting International. Learn more about how you can stay “Attached at the Heart Through the Years” by visiting API Speaks, the blog of Attachment Parenting International.
This also happens to be my 200th post on Littlestomaks. So I am doubly excited!!
I don’t characterize myself as an AP parent, but I do subscribe to their 8 principles of parenting. I read the API Speaks blog regularly. It is fun to read the experiences of Moms so passionate about the principles of attachment parenting. Not usual to find Dads writing or commenting on this blog, so I feel a little strange writing a post for the AP month 2009 blog carnival. Yet, just like my wife, the bond I feel with my twins is incredibly strong and it begins with the heart. Never before in my life, have I felt the kind of emotions I feel when I look into their eyes, enjoy their abundant smiles, feel the frustration of their tantrums. Incredible it may sound – or maybe not – this Dad is attached!
You see, Dad’s are funny creatures. Straddling the wide gulf of expectations of being tough on one side and being gentle and nurturing on the other, they try their best not to let their children and their spouse down. The heart doesn’t show itself too often in their actions, but it does beat the same way as a Mom’s and does melt at the sight of their children.
Anyway, I digress.
The theme of the AP month this year is to celebrate our growth as parents as we face the challenges of transitions in our children’s growth. Talking of transitions – our twins turned 3 this year, so we have gone through a lot in a very short period of time. So, I love this opportunity to share with you our experience and a few lessons we have learned along the way.
My son loves to go around the block with me on his tricycle. It was easy in the beginning – he would stay on the sidewalk and ride along the short circular loop around our house. Over the last few months he has grown more adventurous and curious about every small thing along the way. It is fun to watch him get off his tricycle to carefully examine the line of ants crossing the sidewalk. “Fireants! It will bite me” he shouts, remembering the time when a couple of them climbed through his sandals and bit him on the foot. He loves to climb on top of the cable boxes pretending to be on a train. Another favorite is stopping by the electrical utility boxes and trying hard to take a peek inside to see if the “electric monster” is awake! The warning label on the box shows a big electric arc in the shape of a monster hitting a child and throwing him to the ground. He knows to stay away and not climb on top of this one. “The monster will hit me and make me fall” is what he repeats to himself – not out of fear or panic, but in an attempt to register the dangers of electricity shown on the label. He is equally fascinated by the “shuttles” (airplanes) in the sky and dog poop (yikes!) on the ground! He imagines the monsters inside the wooded areas next to the sidewalk which he calls a jungle, and tries to get closer to the trees inch by inch each day.
Quite clearly, our walks around the block are not linear anymore. They are full of adventure, curiosity and story-telling. They are a stop-and-go most of the time unlike the slow, continuous riding of his early months. Sometimes he barely moves, and sometimes he pedals so fast I have to run along to stay by his side.
Although challenging, these walks have given me a chance to reflect upon a few simple parenting lessons:
Safety first – he loves to push the boundaries each day, but when it comes to safety, there is no compromise. My voice gets sharp and the tone high pitched as I command him to get back on the sidewalk when he tries to get on the road. Sometimes, I have to physically move him back on the sidewalk even if he kicks and screams. Staying calm, firm and decisive is key. Slowly he is learning that watching out for incoming cars is important, and so is getting away from the dogs even though their owners keep them on a leash!
Talk is cheap – which is why we do a lot of it on our walks! We talk constantly – he makes a statement, which I repeat in the same tone; he asks a question, which I answer not necessarily in a logical way; I ask a question which he answers definitely not in a logical way. If I were to record our conversation, it would seem at the edge of reason and bordering nonsense! He is crazy about trains, so everything boils down to engines, freight cars, signals, bridges and railroad crossings. I have been trying to talk him into writing a letter to Santa this year asking for a bag of a hundred train toys!
Be present – is probably the most important lesson. There is nothing between the two of us on these walks. No thoughts of work, meetings, deadlines; no thoughts of hanging out with friends to watch football while enjoying a beer; not even thinking about the topic of the next blog post. I do not carry my Blackberry with me; for an hour or so, there is nothing between the two of us.
Nothing is too small or ordinary – ants, dead bugs, mailboxes, cable boxes, sheriff’s parked car, sprinklers, speed bumps in the road, sound of traffic in the distance, dog poop along the road, planes in the sky and jet-skis parked in an open garage! Everything is extraordinary in my son’s imagination and he pauses for a moment to soak in the experience of everything big or small. All the senses are at their peak; being present in that moment is almost like meditation. I am learning to see the world from a child’s eye where everything is extraordinary!
Leash of love – is what keeps it all together. I know it makes you think of walking a dog, but I like to think of it as flying a kite. The line needs to have the right tension depending on the winds and how high you want it to fly. Too much tension and it will break and fly away; too little and it will sink to the ground. Love lets you get to the right tension in this invisible line. It comes by trial and error, but you will know.
Enjoy the joys of parenthood. Feel free to share your thoughts in your comments below.