The Jasper Chronicles

The Journal of a Cynical Dad

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Spare The Rod.

Daddy Chip left me an interesting comment, "... and congratulations to Mom and Dad for surviving the first year." Out of hand the comment seems harmless, but it got me to thinking about the years ahead, and when I start thinking about what's to come, I get nostalgic for the year just past.

Right on cue with his first birthday The Boy is starting to flex his independence, which mainly manifests in the form of loudly protesting when he isn't happy with a particular situation. Most of the time he can be distracted with a new activity, but over the past couple of weeks we're getting more crying, kicking and screaming. Sometimes he sounds like a cat in heat!

Now before I end off painting The Boy as a perpetually screaming, tantrum-prone babe, he's not. He is still very easy going, it just that he's beginning to impose his will more and more. He's a baby, so this behaviour isn't totally unexpected, it's part of him becoming his own person; but that doesn't make it any more pleasant to deal with.

I remember the days when his needs were simple, and it was easy for P and me to satisfy those needs. A feeding, diaper change or activity was about all it took to keep him happy. Now we have to establish boundaries, rules and rights, and teach him about behaviour and consequence; basically we have to discipline him. By discipline I don't mean punishment for being bad, I mean teaching him what's appropriate, the rights of others, what to do and what not to do, how to share and so on.

When I think about how we've disciplined The Boy up to this point, we've already screwed him over. We're not laissez-faire but haven't really established a lot of boundaries either. Other than keeping him safe, the occasional behavioural issue (biting for example), keeping certain things out of his mouth, he pretty much has free reign over our home and his environment. To his credit there haven't been a lot of behavioural problems to deal with up to this point, but his new found independence is going to change all that.

It freaks me out, and parenting books makes it worse.
  • Too many rules will stifle his development, too few and he'll be spoiled.
  • Don't react the moment he cries or he'll do that for attention, but check to see he's not uncomfortable.
  • Too many toys and he won't appreciate them, too few and you may be slow motor skills development.
Gaaaah, I'm going to pull my hair out.

So Chip, surviving that first year was nothing. Sure it was physically demanding, but it doesn't hold a candle to the cognitive challenges that await us.


After re-reading this post it comes across like I dread each passing day during this phase of The Boy's development. No, even during this phase of "negativism" the pros easily outweight the cons. Hissy-fits aside he is pure joy to be around, a ton of fun and mostly in a good mood. I just worry we're not setting enough boundaries, or we're setting too many, and he's going to become an unbridled terror as a toddler.