the circular runner

what my baby boy has taught me about writing discipline…

In humor, observations, parenting on July 30, 2012 at 6:25 am

this isn’t easy, but it’s necessary–at least mom says so…

If you are a parent, then you probably know what Tummy Time is. If not, it’s basically torture for babies–at least it is for mine.  Every morning, while my wife tries to catch up on her sleep, I hang out with The Boy and at some point, I put him on his play mat face down.  The baby development books all say this is good for little ones because it helps them develop the neck and arm strength they need for crawling. I know this. But still, if it were left to me, I wouldn’t do it to my kid.  I like hanging out with him as he plays on his back.  He smiles when he’s like that and he tells me the latest, greatest news from Babylandia.  But when turn him over, he becomes monster-baby–red and crying.  My wife insists that we do this.  And she’s right because The Boy is getting stronger and as a result, he’s hating Tummy Time less and less each day.

There’s a lesson here.  Actually, there’s a few. As a parent, I’ve learned that I’m going to be the softie, which I guess makes my wife the hardie.  This probably means that in the future, I’ll be the go-to parent, whereas my wife will be The Enforcer.  That said, I’ve also learned that I shouldn’t question my wife, but that’s a lesson I already knew even if I forget sometimes.

Apart from these family lessons, I think that Tummy Time also presents a lesson for writers.  How many times do we all start our writing sessions in pain?  I mean, we wake up ok, maybe smiling even, but then we get in front of the computer and it’s all sloppy sadness.  We might not yell, but on the inside, we want to.  We want to yell and scream and kick and maybe even slobber a little.  Why?  Because writing is hard–just like Tummy Time.  And yet, and yet, it’s only in the doing that the difficulty abates.  Our creativity muscles grow because we are flexing them every time we put words to the page/screen, and we need to try to do this regularly.

Look, it’s not easy. But you don’t want to be a baby.  Even my son, who is a baby, would tell you that if he could.  So, if you’re reading this post instead of writing your stuff, I want to thank you, but I also want to scold you.  Go forth and do your writer’s Tummy Time.  It’s good for you.  And if you don’t, I’ll tell my wife to pay you a visit.  She’s tough, so don’t mess.

  1. Ah, yes, the “softie” parent and The Enforcer. Two kids and 54 years old, may I offer a suggestion? Well, I’m going to anyway. As hard as it is to make your son do tummy time, learn to be The Enforcer. It is so unfair for one parent to enforce, said the parent constantly responsible for enforcing in her home. Let your wife be the indulgent giver-in-to-children’s unreasonable (within reason) demands now and then. It feels so terrible to constantly be the one saying, “do your homework,” “yes, you have to brush your teeth,” “no, you can’t drive into the city at night,” etc. Sorry for the unsolicited advice. This one strikes close to home.

    • Though I probably distorted things a little bit for the sake of a funny, your point is taken. Trust me, I’m a teacher and I have a little bit of a disciplinarian in me, too.

      That said, I’m going to push back on you a little. I can’t speak for you and your partner, but I have heard many friends make the same complaint that you made above. What I find interesting is that most of these friends are playing out the roles they are playing out because that is who they are in all their relationships. I guess what I’m saying is that the roles we play with our kids reflect who we are. They are not really an accident. My wife is more of an enforcer than I am–at least she is right now–because she is, by nature, more detail oriented than I am. I’m looser–about some things–not about education, for example. So, I can see when the boy gets older that I will be the more demanding, more enforcing type. An ebb and flow, I guess is what I mean here.

      Make sense? Again, I’m not speaking to you and your partner. Just an observation I’ve had with other parents.

      • Makes sense and point taken, but I spend much more time with the kids and, therefore, know when they are being manipulative. Also, my husband feels guilty about being away from them and wants everything to be nice and happy. That said, he is much better at things like tea parties (think “Mrs. Nesbitt” from Toy Story) and he’s pretty conflict avoidant to begin with. Sadly, I don’t find much ebb and flow in our parenting. I’m the one who reads the parenting books, etc. I am learning to tell him to look things up, like our daughter, who was adopted, crying about missing her “real” mom.

      • Yeah. I get that. And honestly, I know I should read some more of the parenting stuff.

        I wish you luck with yours, in any case.

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