Monday, 21 October 2013

Babies are easier to take care of than older children. Discuss.

I think newborns are heaps easier to take care of.  I'm not saying they're easy overall, just easier.  

I first realised this when I held my tiny, sleeping newborn boy in my arms and watch my seemingly enormous but in fact, still very tiny 22 month old walk in to the hospital room, fall over something, get up, climb the couch, climb the bed, pat the brother, ask for a biscuit, kiss me, drop crumbs on the brother, drop crumbs everywhere, and throw the mother of all tantrums when she had to go home.

My heart ached for her, but my goodness, she seemed such hard work compared to the small, velvety suckler/sleeper I was holding.
See!  Double trouble and little velvety quiet bundle.  
Apart from anything else, he couldn't talk and ask why 50 times a day!  Sarah talked early and often and why was one of her first and most favourite words.

Same thing happened when Issy was born, except there were two of them rampaging through the hospital room and Issy seemed so tiny and peaceful.  Although a bit too yellow as it turned out.  Ultra violet crib time.

These days I often maintain three simultaneous conversations, ranging from subjects as simple as the location of a pair of shoes, to detailed negotiations over lunchbox items, all the way up to what a condom is and what happens when it breaks (thanks Grease the Musical).

Babies don't invade your headspace.  And you don't have to get into theirs.  As long as they're fed, milked, warm and cuddled, you don't have to worry about what they're thinking.

I'm finding parenting much, much harder now, because I'm taking care of their minds, not just their bodies.  The feeding, watering, clothing part is easy.  Now I have to help them grow from beautiful babies into beautiful adults.

And I mean on the inside.

So, Josh had a moment on Saturday.  Playing tennis, as a reserve, in a comp game for the first time since May, his serves weren't going in and he was rattled.  He's not a great server at the best of times, but it was a singles match of four games, he was down by 2-0 and about to lose the third.

 He's OK at tennis but he lost his mojo.  I know now, part of parenting is mojo restoration.  
In his level you get two chances to serve and then a donkey drop.  Poor Josh had worked himself into such a state, he couldn't even get his donkey drops in.  I could tell by his body language that he was struggling.  I got up and stood next to the fence, so he knew I was present, not reading the paper or chatting.  

He looked at me, blue eyes full of tears and shook his head in a hopeless way.  I knew he wanted to stop, forfeit, go home, give up.  The look on his face made my heart hurt.

But I couldn't let him give up.  And as his Mum, it was up to me to convince him not to.  Abandoning all hopes of not being a helicopter parent I went onto the court (parents often do this but I'd always said I never would which of course, means it's only a matter of time) so I was right there where he could see me.

I coaxed him to stay and finish the game.  He came for a quick hug and said he couldn't breathe.  He was panicking.  Poor little dude.  He is 8 and it's an orange ball tennis comp, not the Australian Open.  Mike and I have never put pressure on him  and he's always done well enough and been quietly confident.  But he was desperate not to let his team down and had got himself into a state.

His teammate H is Josh's oldest mate and a close family friend.  He was awesome in support.  He stuck with Josh, acting as his ball boy through his last service game and encouraging his every move.

Between us, H and I coaxed Josh to a win in the last game, leaving it 3-1 and Josh then had a breather until his doubles match.  He sat on my lap and begged not to go back.  He wanted to quit, wanted to go home, couldn't serve, wasn't good.

It took all my powers of persuasion to keep him from leaving.  That and the fact that he couldn't drive.

I told him that while he might feel short term relief if he walked away, he'd feel bad about it soon enough, and regret it.  But if he stayed and saw it through, and maybe even won, he'd be glad always.

And anyway, Christensens don't give up.

And do you know, he went back on, and they won.  By one game.  He got a few serves in, his mojo came back in a rush and he played well (not brilliantly) for the rest of the match.

I am so proud of him.  And I'm so pleased he could experience what I meant about how you feel when you see a tough situation through.

I know my newborn experiences are now gently shrouded in the warm and fuzzy mists of time but that was a tough gig.

So, what's the hardest stage to parent? Newborn, primary school child?  Or is it the dreaded teenage years that are the hardest?

Can't speak for the teenage part yet but it's coming at me like a freight train.