Monday, January 3, 2011

Parenting Mistake #1 - Underestimating Your Baby

I have called my daughter many things: Dragon Baby, Destructo-Baby, Hulk Baby (she's very strong), and even Houdini Baby.  She's got super powers, I swear to you.  And as she grows and develops, I too have had to learn a few things.  Lesson number one, never underestimate your baby's abilities.

My daughter is ten months old and yet she can unscrew the top of her hearing aid container.  She's successfully negotiated a zipper on a few occasions.  She can open draws and cabinets, pull open the blinds on the sliding glass door, move her baby gate, tip the dog's water bowl, open the toilet lid, and climb into the bath tub.  She can get down off the bed and off the couch.  She can almost climb back up - almost.  But I know that as soon as I don't think she can do such a thing, she'll figure it out.

This little girl is tenacious, curious, and stubborn - a potent combination that makes her a disaster waiting to happen.  Think she can't reach that cup of coffee on the table? Think again.  Or maybe she won't notice that cell phone over there.... hmmm, even if she does, could she get to it?  Yes. The answer is always yes. 

When I was a little girl, I was an angel.  My mother extolls my virtues often, saying that she could sit me in the middle of the room, say "Stay here." and I would obey, no questions asked.  It's not that I wasn't curious, I was just obedient.  Ellie understands the word "No," but sees it as an option not an imperative.  She looks at you, cracks a smile, then resumes the forbidden activity with renewed vigor.  This child is a boundary-tester. This child is her father's daughter.

You see, my husband was the opposite of me as a child.  Into everything, curious about how it works, curious how far he could push it before his mother intervened.  Ellie invites you to chase her, hopes you'll get up off the couch and stop her.  She wants to be in trouble.

I have absolutely no idea how to combat this.  Such personality traits are foreign to me.  But step one is to always think ahead of the baby, never assume she can't figure out how to do exactly what she isn't supposed to do.  So far, I've diffused many harmful scenarios and I've developed tactics that help me distract her.  I'm just never leaving her alone. Ever.

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