Hattie and Joe were ten months old yesterday, and life is awesome.
These two darlings are coming on in leaps and bounds. They’re both very accomplished crawlers now, and for the past couple of weeks they’ve also been pulling themselves up into standing at every opportunity (and occasionally suffering from a face plant for their troubles, although they have learned very quickly how to sit down again by going straight back onto their bottoms, so that’s good).
I didn’t know at what age the typical baby becomes this mobile, but from what I can gather my two – and Hattie, in particular – are doing it all fairly early. Of course, I will admit to a huge level of maternal pride in seeing my once-tiny babies now able to charge around the room and explore everything, but at times I wistfully remember those few golden weeks when the two of them could sit unsupported and play, without endlessly trying to turn off the Sky box or put their hands in Tui’s water bowl.
A couple of friends have asked recently if I’ve done anything with them to help them to crawl and stand up, and the answer is no! I’m far too lazy to faff around like that. I barely even did tummy time with them, as they didn’t really like it. However, it is bloody amazing to see them learning so much. At the start of last week, and after seeing a friend doing this with her older babies, I began trying to teach them how to get off the sofa safely after a feed: turning around and slithering down feet first, on their tummies, rather than pitching off head-first. I was doing this and assuming that it would be several months before they’d actually be able to figure it out, so you’ll forgive me for my surprise and delight when, on Wednesday evening, Hattie had her bedtime feed and then, as we watched with our mouths hanging open like cartoon characters, carefully turned around and manoeuvred herself off the sofa.
I’ve even reading a book called Duct Tape Parenting. It’s all about how parents should use metaphorical duct tape to stop themselves from nagging, or from leaping up to intercede on their kids’ behaviour – essentially, this approach is the antithesis of ‘helicopter parenting’, where well-intentioned Mummies and Daddies ceaselessly micromanage their children. The aim is to raise what author Vicki Hoefle describes as “respectful, responsible, and resilient kids”. In practice (with older children), this means leaving it to them to organise their own school kit or whatever, and live with the negative consequences if they don’t get their act together.
This approach could be seen as a godsend for the lazy parent, but you still have to be present in your kids’ lives, and equip them on an ongoing basis with the skills and resources they need to actually be relatively independent. I’ll admit to only being a third of the way through the book, so there’s a risk that I’ll keep reading it and discover that the author’s a lunatic and ends up advocating that children should be sent down the mines or something, but – that possibility aside – I like this philosophy. I guess none of us know what kind of parents we’ll be, but I think we all tend to want to raise children who are confident in their own abilities. I suppose you have the exceptions – the parents who crave their children’s endless dependence on them, presumably because it enables them to avoid the messy business of having a life of their own – but isn’t the whole aim of raising kids to help them grow into happy, well-adjusted, capable adults?
Anyway, this duct tape approach certainly fits the free range parenting philosophy that I’d like to follow. At this baby stage, I try to give them as much time as possible to just play. I don’t think they will learn more if I’m hovering around them constantly, handing them toys and narrating the process: by letting them explore the myriad delights of their toy box and our child-proofed living room, I think I’m letting them figure out the world at their own pace. Of course, I’m always there with them, and am ready to swoop in with a cuddle if it’s needed, or to break up a toy-related squabble. And a few times a day – usually when I’m knackered – I lie down on the living room floor and roll around with them. They LOVE that: apparently there’s nothing more fun than full physical access to Mummy.
All that stuff aside, I have an exciting announcement: Hattie and Joe have each got their first tooth! And we’ve been incredibly lucky – very little grizzling so far. I can’t wait for the their little teeth to grow enough to show up clearly when they’re smiling.
We’ve also got babies with hair now, although they’re still pretty bald in comparison to most of their baby friends.
I could write about my two little darling all day. They’re just gorgeous and brilliant, and I am obsessed with them. Happy days!