Hubbie and I were in the kitchen this morning and as we tidied the breakfast things away there was a wail from some distant corner of the house. We both stopped, looked at each other and raised our eyebrows in expectation…
From the minute you become a parent the one thing that is universal no matter where you live, how much money you have or whatever persuasion your parenting style takes there is, and will always be, crying. The more children you have the more crying there will be: it’s just a simple matter of maths.
Over the years you become accustomed to the crying. In the beginning you panic (or was that just us?) about the precious little bundle that they let you take home from the hospital. Every time it starts to cry you leap up gazelle like to try to stop the noise. We had a boy with colic and the 1st six weeks was filled with his desolate screams both day and night and the last 6 weeks, at least, was just only the days. A few times during this period it could be heard that there were 2 sets of crying. Mine and Ollie’s as I struggled to work out why he was crying in order to not only help him but make it stop. At 12 weeks he suddenly stopped the crying: it think whatever was the problem had sorted itself out and he became a much happier baby but as a result of the early stress it did take a while for me to calm down about his crying. I became panicked for a good few months after the colic every time he cried that this would it again, he wouldn’t stop for weeks and weeks but the colic had gone and he did stop the endless crying and I eventually relaxed a little.
When we had our second I remembered the shocking crying of the first but from day 1 he was different. He was chilled (asleep most of the time), and happy to be around his brother and was so happy just watching Ollie potter about the place. His crying was more of a moan and I remember when Hubbie stopped me going up the stairs to him when he was unsettled at a bedtime in his cot. Hubbie said to me ‘Just stop and listen. Is he really crying or is he just making noise?’ This seems odd but actually when you do listen to your baby/child rather than letting the Mummy radar of noise-means-unhappy-baby/must-go-and-sooth-unhappy-baby take over. I did listen that time and I did hear a difference. He was shouting, moaning but it was bedtime, he was tired, he’d gone to bed with a full tummy and a clean nappy and he was just a bit annoyed about it all. I gave him 5 minutes of the shouting and then another 5 minutes and he slowly quietened down. Hubbie was right.
Now we’ve had a fourth child the crying is still very much there. This has been a huge learning curve for the boys as they then had to learn that crying doesn’t always mean the baby needs a doctor. They learned that she cries when she’s hungry, when she’s tired and also when she’s cold, bored, annoyed and all the other emotions that they have words for. They have also learned the difference between winging and real crying you know, those times when you really do have to go and find out what’s wrong.
Don’t misunderstand me I don’t neglect the children and leave them to fend for themselves. No, Hubbie and I very much care for our children but there are times when you don’t need to intervene and the children have to learn to sort things out for themselves.
My boys’crying still has the effect of expressing pain – Ollie very much demonstrated this only this morning when he got a cricket ball in the side of his head – but they have also cottoned on to the idea that crying can be used as a weapon.
Oh yes. They’ve realised that if you ‘cry’ really loudly then a mummy or Daddy might come and tell the person you’re annoyed with off. Quite often Hubbie and I fell into the trap of running into the room where the cryer was crying in much the same way as a fire fighter would enter a burning building. We’d hug the cryer question (in a ‘what have you done????’ kind of way) but we pretty soon learned the cryer may not always be the victim. No. The cryer just might be the one who was a few steps ahead his brothers at that time.
So this morning when Hubbie and I stopped clearing the breakfast things, looked at each other and raised our eyebrows expectantly as the cryer wailed a little too loudly in not a ‘my arm has just been cut off’ way: we just stood and waited…
…and the crying lessened…
And we heard giggles coming from the room upstairs and then jumping about and then everything was alright again.
We’ve learned you can’t firefight every cry and actually you really shouldn’t. As a parent we know the difference between a real cry of pain, that one where you drop everything no matter how precious to run to your child and scoop them up in your arms. It’s those times that I would run through a burning building, a la the firefighter, to get to them. But there are times when you really do have to listen before leaping in and that means letting them get on with it.
As a consequence to the giggles that came from the room we hadn’t had 20 minutes trying to fathom out who did what to whom and we didn’t have to wade through the flimsy defences of 3 small boys trying to not get into trouble.
We carried on clearing the breakfast table, loaded up the dishwasher and then put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea…