Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Portrait of the artist as a young child

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.
 Pablo Picasso        
Chloe is an abstract artist.... that is, at least for now. Intuitive in her expressive creativity, she rarely colours within the lines or, for that matter, notices that there are lines. Of course Julie looks at my penmanship and my propensity for dish breaking and doesn't seem the least bit surprised that Chloe has a little trouble with fine motor-skills.

But I do think there's more than a lack of fine motor development behind Chloe's unique artistic sensibility. She seems to be more concerned with drawing ideas or meanings than drawing actual objects. She lives in a world of make-believe and creative storytelling, and I think this is what she tries to express in her drawings. She'll ask, "do you know what it is?" and we'll helplessly say, "no honey, but is that a rabbit over in the corner?" And instead of giving us a description of what she drew, she tells us the story she's trying to evoke. One time drew a story of two sisters seperated and trying to get back together - she used frogs stickers to represent the sisters and a line between them to represent the separation. Other times she draws what looks like scribbles all over a colouring book page.  And when we ask her what it is, she tells us the story the scribbles tell. Chloe has no fidelity to realist form. It's all representative. It's meant to evoke rather than reflect.

I would probably have dismissed Chloe's approach to drawing as a normal childhood phase if it weren't so different from Emily's. Emily was almost born coloring between the lines, in art and in life. She has excellent fine-motor skills, true, (she was able to do up buttons and zippers before the age of 2) but she also lives in a much more structured environment than her sister - an environment of her own making. Where Chloe still leaves her clothes and her diapers all over the place for us to pick up, Emily tends to want to put things where they belong. Everything has its place and she can become quite disconcerted when we don't respect this order.

There are other differences in how each girl perceives and interprets the world around her. Chloe is earnest. Her first instinct is to take things seriously and often she acts and reacts on an intuitive and emotional level. If I tell a joke, she won't laugh or relax until she's sure I'm not serious. Her default is to believe me, even though I come up with real corkers on a daily basis. Emily, on the other hand, doesn't believe a word I say. She's so used to hearing my fish stories that I often have to get Mommy to back me up when I'm telling her the truth or she won't believe me.

Despite my joking nature and sometimes dry sense of humour, I actually think I'm more like Chloe in this respect than Emily. I was always the gullible one growing up, the one that would instinctively believe what someone told me before feeling foolish or stupid for being fooled. And I also stunk at drawing between the lines. In fact, there's earnestness and eagerness about me - an idealism, jaded and cautious after 35 years of experiencing the world, but still there. I too am intuitive by nature amd search for meaning and significance in everything. I see all of this in Chloe. Maybe I should ease up on the jokes a little.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In the end, we're all just children afraid of the dark

The other day I was watching MI-05 while ironing my work shirts. Since discovering it on Netflix a while back, I've been hooked. I suppose the thrill of watching sharp, adrenaline-junkie spies acting out legends in various high-stakes encounters holds a certain appeal for a father and civil servant. Wait, spies are civil servants, aren't the? For Queen and country! It's also a great distraction. And the British are brutal for killing off your favourite characters in ruthless fashion. I love it.

Chloe came down, looked at what I was watching, and became immediately fascinated. Wow, maybe I'd found an action show buddy!  Normally Julie just falls asleep.

But considering that MI-05 must be rated for well above her age, I grudgingly decided it was probably time to turn it off and head upstairs. My shirts were done anyhow. I reached to turn off the TV, she said, "no Daddy, don't turn it off. I want to watch it."

     Me: Chloe, this is an adult show. 

     Chloe: But it's my new favourite show

     Me: Favourite show. You've never even seen it! It's too old for you. Now come on. Let's go upstairs.

     Chloe: Some day, when you die and I'm an adult, I'll get your house. Then I'll be able watch my favourite

I stood there stunned for a moment before laughing out loud. "O.k. Chloe,"  I said. "But I hope that when you're an adult I'll still be alive."

Putting aside Chloe's unsettling cost-benefit analysis, I can't help but wonder sometimes if she's a little too concerned about death. She's a very sensitive little girl, but could she be suffering already from existential angst?  Probably not. But she is quite concerned with the cold reality that we won't always be around to protect her (or lord it over her).

Or maybe she's actually quite overwhelmed from time to time with a sense of angst, even if she's not old enough to put a philosophy to it. Are any of us ever truly free of angst?

When a 4 year old girl needs a flashlight to go to bed, what does that say? Why is she so afraid of the dark? Why were any of us?

When the lights are out, our parents are in the other room, and we can't go to sleep without a night-lite; when we move away from home for the first time and crave the noise we used to put up with at home - no matter how much it drove us crazy; when our wives and children spend a weekend away, and instead of celebrating our new-found freedom, we feel lonely, isolated; these are the times we face the truth. And it terrifies us.

And the truth is... we're alone. We live alone and we die alone. Everything else is, if not simply a distraction, then only a partial understanding. No one ever truly knows us. How could they? We don't know ourselves. And we don't really want to spend the time getting acquainted.

In Wuthering Heights, the story of Heathclif and Catherine is  forever popular because the two lovers understand each other in a way that real people don't. As anyone who's read the book knows, they aren't even likeable characters. But that doesn't matter because they've done something we cannot. They've transcended life on earth and they've transcended their physical limitations. More importantly, they've transcended individuality and thus the prison of loneliness - the state of being alone in this world. They are one - metaphysically joined at the hip.

But if we're so afraid of being alone, it begs the question, what's so wrong with being alone with ourselves?  What makes it so terrifying? Well, death for one thing, I'm sure. But also the search for meaning. But while we can't do anything about death, we can do something about meaning - and here's where those morbid existentialists actually come to our rescue.

Meaning in our lives is what we make it. But we can't find meaning when we're constantly distracting ourselves with the barrage of stimuli out there created to lure us in by distracting us from what matters; namely facing our fears and facing ourselves. Karl Marx used to call religion opium for the masses. Boy if he could only see today's opium - televisions, iphones, video games. We have more ways than ever to avoid facing our biggest fears - and avoid finding our deepest meaning. They go hand in hand, unfortunately - fear, meaning. We're afraid of dying, yes. But we're even more afraid of living an unfulfilled life and then dying. So we distract ourselves and put the whole thing off. We run until we can't run no more. But running headlong through life right into death because we're scared to stop and take stock.... well, that's no way to live.

My mother once told me something her mother told her. "Most people can't spend time with themselves. You watch. They have to find ways to constantly distract themselves. But it's important to be comfortable being in your own company."

My grandfather told me something else - he was probably 90 at the time... and it's one of the most profound things I've ever heard. When asked if childhood seemed that long ago, did he feel it was far away, he answered, "No. It never does." All those years fall past and you don't know what happened to them. Inside you feel you're still the young man you were way back when. It seems as though it's the world that's changed over the years, not you.

I don't doubt him. I can't believe I'm thirty-five and I don't think I'll believe I'm 45 either.

It's never your time, he might as well have said, and yet your time will come anyway. My grandfather's now 95, and he's told me on several occasions that he has no interest in dying. He likes living too much. Besides, I think to myself, if he still feels like he's 20, why would he want to die? But he's not afraid of death - or so he says. He's lived a life of thoughtfulness, reflection. I think he's generally o.k. in his skin and content with the choices he's made. And just as running from yourself your whole life is absurd, so too is not accepting death when the time comes. I wish I had his wisdom. I've got a long way to go.

In Mansfield Park, Jane Austin shows us the importance of giving our children the time and the space for self-reflection. In fact, it may be, for Austin, the most important critical skill you can teach a child. I think Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in Emile, agreed. Doting on children isn't always in their best interest. Neither is giving them everything they think their hearts desire. Pay them a little less attention, and provide them with a few less distractions, and they'll have to look inward more often. But don't worry. Looking inward might be one of the few places that's less scary for children than it is for the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Falling down two

We weren't really ready for this new Emily, the one who collapses to the floor at the slightest provocation, twisting, churning and writhing as if possessed by some demon its our job to exorcise. It was always Chloe who was the unpredictable one, the sensitive one, the one that couldn't cope with stimuli.

It's such a struggle being two. So many connections are being made - so many synapses being formed in various parts of the brain, allowing for new connections, new understanding. It's all a bit overwhelming. The world is a complex place for a two-year old, and her emotional development is just trying to keep up.

Recently I came home from work to find Emily doing the strangest thing. She'd be walking along and then suddenly drop to her bum, her legs splayed out like a gymnast. She'd then start to cry - or sort of cry. The first time she did it, I wondered whether she had some sort of neurological problem. But then she did it again and employed that same forced cry. I looked at her quizzically for a moment and then turned to Julie: "Is she fake falling?" I asked. "Yes, she's been doing it all day, Julie responded, "and for a couple of days now."

The fake falling didn't last long. Emily was looking for attention - fawning, and the only attention she was getting from us was a mixture of mild amusement and scientific inquisitiveness - like watching the behaviour of the chimpanzees on the Discovery Channel. But the thinking process that must have led her to intentionally fake falling for attention amazed us. She was putting a lot of effort into being noticed - more than Chloe did at that age. Then again, Chloe was impossible not to notice. She was the first child and couldn't sit still or play by herself for most of he first three years of life. She was always there, in the middle, not to be missed.

Emily's different, not only because her Mom and Dad don't have the same time to devote to her, but also because Emily is often happy to play on her own. She's gone off to play on her own for as long as 40 minutes or more. Besides checking from time-to-time to make sure she's safe and breathing, if she's happy to play on her own, we're happy to leave her to her own devices. It encourages independence, and besides, it's a break.When she's not playing by herself, she's often playing with Chloe. They love to role-play together.

So Emily doesn't get the level of attention or exclusive focus that Chloe used to get. And she sometimes craves it.When she feels she needs some special Mom and Dad time just for her, she gets clingy. She whines, asks to be held constantly,wants to sit on our laps and be spoon-fed her lunch, or throws a full-fledged tantrum on the floor. We try to indulge a little (except with the tantrums), but not a lot. We also try to make time just for her when Chloe's busy with something else.

The rest of the time Emily's fiercely independent. She knows she's number two and she's continually trying to catch up. She wants to do everything Chloe does and feels inadequate when she can't. If we were to say we're taking Chloe to the doctor for lots of needles, she'd say "me too," as she does with everything. She's potty training earlier because she wants to catch up with Chloe. She's proud as anything that she now goes to her own program, just like Chloe. When Chloe tells her she's not old enough for something, she's genuinely crushed. The seeds of second child syndrome are sewn young. All we can do is try to mitigate.

We try to focus on Emily's differences, on her unique interests and talents. We try to to take her attention away from doing the next thing Chloe can already do and focus it on things she particularly likes to do. It's no social engineering project. We know we can't eliminate the impact the pecking order has Emily any more than we can eliminate the effect it has on Chloe. It's the way things go, and they'll survive it and thrive (hopefully), like all the siblings before them. But maybe we can encourage their own inner-resources so they can better deal with their issues when the time comes.

No, it's not easy being two or 2nd. But Emily's very luck to have Chloe as her fearless leader. They look out for one another and maybe someday they'll set the world on fire together. For now, they'll have to settle for raising the temperature in our home.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bedtime Chatter

I don't want to die, she said, as I tucked her in one night to bed
And she looked at me for help, to tell her somehow it would be alright
But there was little I could do, except to tell her as I tell myself
Do not think of it for now, you needn't worry for a while
Your time will come, and so will mine, 
But let us both pretend 'till then

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shit my kid says - July

As I arrived home one night, Chloe and Emily asked for me to pick them up. I gave them each a kiss and said, "I love my girls.... all of my girls. Chloe, Emily and Mommy." But she's not my Mommy is she (pointing at Julie).

Chloe: No, she's our Mommy

Daddy: Then who is she. Who is she to me?


Chloe: The boss

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

No, you don't have the right

A couple of nights ago, we picked the girls up from daycare and noticed immediately that Chloe was in a foul mood. She was crying continually and overreacting to everything. We always know something's wrong with Chloe because she completely loses her ability to cope with even the smallest things - like who straps her into her car seat, or who opens the front door first. The little things become crises and the big things... well, she can't even see the big things when she's in this kind of state.

We weren't sure whether she was getting a cold or lacked sleep (though she seemed to have been sleeping well), or whether something had happened at daycare. But from past experience, we know that when something goes wrong at daycare, she doesn't tell us about it right away. We know by her surprising change of mood - Dr. Jeckel when we drop her off, and Mr. Hyde when we pick her up.

So we asked Chloe several times on the way home from daycare whether something had happened. We asked her about her day. Was it a good day? Did she have fun? And we didn't get much of a response, which was concerning.

We got home and I was preparing dinner. Chloe was obviously restless and Grumpy. She couldn't sit down and talk to us, and every little thing was sending her screaming fits so loud that we were glad that the windows were closed and the air conditioning on.

We asked her again, "Honey, did anything happen at daycare today? Do you want to tell us about something." Again, nothing. Then, finally, "These two boys,  twins, [names suppressed] keep bothering me at daycare.

Mommy: Are they bigger boys? What do they do Chloe?

Chloe: Yeah, they're bigger. They hit me on the head or push me and pinch me.

Daddy: And what do you do when they do that? Do you make sure the teachers know?

Chloe: Yeah, and the teachers ask them to stop. But they do it again.

My heart went out to Chloe, and so did Julie's. I hadn't prepared myself for this. I expected it later, and I didn't expect to relate so strongly to her situation. Suddenly, I was a little boy again, and it was me being picked on. I could feel the frustration, the hopelessness, the lack of escape. But more than anything I could feel the bewilderment Chloe was feeling. Why would anyone want to torture another person. That's how I felt and it soon became evident that's how Chloe felt too.

Daddy: Chloe, when these boys hit you, I want you to say "No" to them. Say it loudly. Don't yell. Just say it firmly, like you mean it.Then walk away and go play at something else.

Chloe: But I do that and they follow me and keep doing it.

Daddy: But do you tell them no, firmly?

Chloe: No.

Daddy: That's what you need to do Chloe. You need to say "Non, tu n'a pas le droit." (you don't have the right). And you need to say it like you mean it.

Chloe: But I can't

At this point Chloe became very anxious. We were asking a lot of her, and we knew it. Chloe internalizes everything. She's under-confident, even awkward in relationships with other people. She doesn't know how to be forceful until she trusts. Until then, she doesn't believe inherently that she has just as much right to her space, her integrity, as everyone else. She often lets other people determine what she deserves. When they invite her to join in, she takes part wholeheartedly.When they reject her, she tucks her head back into her shell and wonders what she did wrong.

Julie and I both want Chloe to feel comfortable asking for help when she needs it, but we'd also like her to demand her own voice, to stand up for herself. We've been there before, we know how it works. The bully sniffs out weakness, uncertainty, tentativeness, and feeds on it. Now I'm not calling a five-year old child a bully (yet), but I do want Chloe to learn now what I wish I had learned when I was a kid: the bully/victim relationship is a symbiotic one. It requires both people to play their respective roles.

It's hard for me to look back now at my own childhood and admit how much of a role I played in my own torture. I (like Chloe) was a sensitive kid. I was awkward in public, not much taken to small talk, completely useless at sports and always longing to be accepted, to be liked. I never quite understood that I had to be happy with myself, and respect myself for others to respect me. It's a hard lesson to learn, and nearly an impossible one to teach. For me, it was getting away from home when I was 13 years old - an exciting family adventure of several months that made the difference. I suddenly realized that there was much more to life than what a few miserable jerks thought of me. I had the whole world ahead of me.

We finished our conversation with Chloe by agreeing that she would try to say no and to mean it, and that Mommy and Daddy would let the teachers know the plan so that they wouldn't come down on Chloe if they heard a sudden loud "non."

The next day, at daycare, I quietly explained the plan to Nancy, Chloe's favourite teacher. As I was explaining, Chloe, who knew exactly what I was doing, fidgeted and looked at the floor. And I saw myself as a little boy again, shy, glad that I might get some relief from the torture but embarrassed, feeling terrible that my parents had to intercede on my behalf. I gave Chloe a hug, wished her a good day at daycare, and hoped that she would realize sooner than I did how strong she is inside, how much she's worth and how she deserves to be treated.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Clarity in the eye of a storm

Our day started our pretty conventionally, except that Emily had a fever.

Emily having a fever was nothing extraordinary. She gets them regularly. When Chloe just gets a cold, Emily often gets a fever to go with it, so we weren't too concerned. Chloe was getting over a cold that Emily seemed to have caught too. No big deal. Our biggest concern was with navigating our work needs for the day.

We quickly came up with a plan. Julie would work the morning while I took care of Emily and then we'd switch. But in order to avoid the extra driving in and out of town (we only have one car), we decided we'd go in together. I'd drop Julie off at work and Chloe at daycare, and then if Emily was asleep, I'd driver her around so she could have a good rest.

Everything worked out just as planned. Julie went to work, Emily slept while we went for a nice drive, and then we both ended up at the mall where we shared a muffin and a coffee (water for Em). Emily was sick alright, but on Advil she seemed to be feeling pretty good and she wolfed down her muffin.

After we were done our muffin, we still had plenty of time to kill, so we borrowed a stroller from the customer service desk and went for a walk around the mall. I looked at TVs and books, and Emily was content just to go along for the ride. And then everything changed.

While we were browsing a natural food store (like I said, time to kill), I noticed that Emily was leaning forward and looking at the floor. For a moment I thought this was amusing but then decided I'd better get her to lift her head up so she wouldn't bang it on something. As I leaned down I said, "Emily, lift your head up honey so you don't hit it on something."

I began to lift her head  but it was like lifting a bag of sand. She didn't help me at all. I also noticed that she'd had the bar of the stroller putting pressure on her neck and her windpipe. I frowned, thinking this couldn't have been comfortable. Once I got her head up, she just fell sideways. She was awake, looking straight ahead, but had no muscle control at all. I began to panic. I said, "Emily, what's wrong honey. What's going on?" She was completely non-responsive. I started to unbuckle her and tried to pick her up out of the stroller. A passerby asked if I needed help. I said, "yes, something's wrong. She's not moving and I'm having trouble pulling her out."

Between the two of us, we got Emily out of the stroller and I went directly to the Customer Service desk, which was close by. I left the stroller there, took another look at Emily, who was still non-responsive, and asked the woman behind the desk to call 911 immediately. As much as I wanted to get in the car and drive her myself, I remembered reading somewhere that you should never do this in a real emergency because the paramedics often can help on the way to the hospital. Valuable time is lost when you try to go it a lone. "Can you call 911 right away. My girl's not responding and she's not moving. Something's wrong."

Things continued to deteriorate. Emily seemed to be breathing quickly and shallowly, as if she was having trouble catching her breath. She was drooling all over my shoulder and every few seconds, her arms or legs would twitch. My world started to fall apart.

In the past I've felt guilty for not always feeling that tender fatherly affection one is supposed to feel at all times for one's children. Why don't I feel love when they whine and complain, or throw their food on the floor. I'm often moving between feelings of love and protectiveness to feelings of annoyance and frustration, and back again.

But at that moment, I felt love, protectiveness, fear, and loss. I was worried Emily had Meningitis or some other form of swelling of the brain, and that she could have been slipping away right there in my arms, in a shopping mall, with her Mom a few blocks away but unreachable, in a meeting - a rather normal activity on this anything but normal day.

I wondered what I would do if things really went wrong. What would we do with our walls of comfortable expectations crumbling around us, our hearts in tatters? What would we tell Chloe? How would we survive not being granted the privilege of getting to really know our little girl. After all, we'd just been introduced.

For a moment I felt what before I've only ever heard described. Noises around me quieted, people's actions seemed to be in slow motion, and my knees started trembling. I asked the lady behind the counter several times, "the ambulance was called too, right. Not just security?" Being a Civil Servant, I was panicked that the lady might have been following some bureaucratic process of waiting for Security to come on scene first before calling 911.

Then security arrived, and Emily started to come around a bit - just enough to make me think there was hope. Then, as the paramedics arrived, she started to cry a little bit. The first paramedic to arrive on scene said nonchalantly, irritated, "she looks like she's doing alright to me." If I hadn't had a baby in my arms, I might have socked him. But no, I was too tired for that. So tired, spent, shaken, we made our way to the hospital to get checked out.

Diagnosis: Febrile seizures. The doctor's words, "With Febrile Seizures the child's eyes are open, but she's actually unconscious. The seizures are generally harmless but they can sure seem frightening at the time."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Shit my kid says - January

Chloe: Mommy, I missed you so much today.

Mommy: Ah, that's nice Chloe. I missed you too.

Daddy: That is nice Chloe. Did you miss me too?

Chloe: I missed some of you Daddy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Santa with the Dark Cheeks

This is a post I did for the Fussy Baby Site. I'm re-posting it here because I think it makes for a good Christmas post. Enjoy!


As I mentioned in a previous post, fussy babies often make for amazing children. Don’t take my word for it. If you look at the literature out there, you’ll see that you’re in for a real treat. But don’t go supposing amazing means easy.

Forgive me for saying, but I liken a spirited child to a smart dog. Yes, that Border Colly will delight you alright with his amazing intelligence, but unlike the dummer breeds, he’s going to drive you absolutely mad with his intense energy and need for stimulation. I know, because we have a Portuguese Water Dog. We should have bought a Bulldog.

But I digress.

One of the amazing personality traights of a formerly fussy baby (i.e. spirited child) is their acute awareness and perceptiveness. At three, Chloe is so perceptive that we have to be very careful what we say around her. She knows when what we say doesn’t jive with what she knows, so we can’t lie to her. She’s acutely aware of when anyone says anything critical about her. And she understands what seem to us to be relatively complex concepts – like life and death. One day, for example, I decided that it would be a good idea to be honest with her about where some of her relatives have gone. She asked, so I said:

They died honey. We all live and we all die at some point. We don’t live forever.”

She broke down in tears and said, “But that means I’m going to die too. I don’t want to die.

In one move I had just gotten my 3 year old child thinking about her own mortality. Way to cut short her innocence Dad! I had no idea she would make the connection to her own life that easily. Kids aren’t supposed to be concerned about dying, right?

But connections are what perceptive children are all about. It’s not the noticing that matters – although that helps. It’s making the connections to everything else they know that makes them perceptive. Which leads me to yesterday.

Chloe was at her skating lessons with Mommy and, it being close to Christmas, Santa made a surprise appearance. Except, this wasn’t the Santa she was used to seeing. He had, as Chloe put it “dark cheeks.”
Mommy,” she said, “Why does Santa have dark cheeks?” She was the only one staring at Santa, giving him an uncomfortable look. The other children didn’t seem to pay any attention. Julie, caught off guard and not knowing what to say, just said she wasn’t sure and quickly distracted her.

I didn’t know any of this little story when I put Chloe to bed that night. I asked her about her skating lessons, and she told me that Santa had come to visit, but that he had had dark cheeks.

Really?” I said. “Well that’s nice.”

“But Daddy,” Chloe said, “it couldn’t have been Santa if he had dark cheeks. I’ve already met Santa and he didn’t have dark cheeks….”  Then there was a pause (where I didn’t have a clue what to say) and Chloe went on, “There must be more than one Santa. There must be lots of Santas.

My cue: “Chloe, I think it’s just that sometimes Santa has helpers because he can’t do it all by himself. This must have been one of his helpers.” “Oh,” said Chloe, looking only semi convinced. Meanwhile I’m thinking, great, I just made Santa’s helper the visible minority – how white of me!

Julie and I have resigned ourselves to accepting that when it comes to Santa and Christmas, Chloe’s not going to be one of those kids who still believes at 10 years old. I think we’ll be lucky if she makes it to 5. She’s just too quick at adding 2 and 2 together. She likes to know how everything fits so her world makes sense.
And as colour blind as we all pretend to be, let’s face it, we’d know if our biggest hero just up and changed colour one day.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The baby of the family - already!

Emily is now a toddler. When did this happen? It seems to have sneaked up on us. Part of it is that she's not quite walking yet (she could be if she wanted to, but she's a bit of a chicken). But she is talking. She has a real knack for sounds and can mimic almost any vowel, if now always the consonants. We know what she's saying, even if no one else does.

We've had a tendency to project age and maturity onto Chloe as she's grown. She's so smart, so mature, so responsible (a little she-devil too, but we make allowances). Look at what she's accomplished now. We've been putting a whole load of expectations on her shoulders without even realizing it. Our enthusiasm gets the best of us. But it's hard to help. She's the first child. Onto Emily we project youth, cuteness, sweetness. We've made her the baby. It's her role, her position. How unfair for both children.

As Philip Larkin wrote, "They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do."

Tonight, I had to rock Emily to sleep. She was having trouble settling. And though she'd just been cruising around the house, laughing, playing, and throwing many tyrannical tantrums (a habit of hers lately), to me she was a beautiful little baby all over again in my arms, cuddling in, looking up at me, and drifting off to sleep. We have to recognize Emily's development, nurture her independence, encourage her desire to explore. But we all need to be held sometimes too. We just need to be able to recognize when we're comforting our children and when we're indulging ourselves.   For fun, I'm including all of Larkin's poem below. But please don't take it as gospel. Enjoy!

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't have any kids yourself.