An Inconvenient Baby – A Parental Warming

Something curious has been happening lately. People have been telling me that Zoe is such a “good” baby.

Hm. We always assume compliments are good things, don’t we?

Follow me through this thought process for a second though. If Zoe is a “good” baby, what does that make all the other babies? Bad? Evil? Intentionally willful and stubborn? We begin thinking of children as an inconvenience so quickly we don’t even realize it. No, I don’t believe in “good” children and “bad” children. Or even good adults or bad adults, for that matter. Heck, I’m still not sold on the concept of “adults.”

What I do believe in are convenient children and more inconvenient children. It’s just true that some are more challenging and require more love, stability, predictability, whatever.

Here’s the funny thing: on the scale of convenient to jugging eight steak knives while singing the National Anthem, Zoe is definitely on the high-maintenance end of the scale (wonder where she got that from! …kidding. Just look at her mom). She flounders when any inconsistency is introduced into her life, needs constant assurance that she is not alone, and flies from content to wary to full-fledged (and very loud) panic in a matter of seconds.

Wow, it’s actually eerie how similar our idiosyncrasies are.

Anyway, the reason Zoe doesn’t always scream in public is simple. I do my best to meet her needs. In the split second before she starts ripping out the eardrums of any passerby in the general vicinity, I listen. Is she hungry? I find somewhere to feed her. Tired? Put her in her stroller and pull down the shade. Stressed out? Snuggle her to my chest more tightly.

This is not at ALL to suggest that mothers of crying children are bad mothers. No, no, no. Indeed there are many times when I just don’t know what Zoe is trying to tell me, or perhaps I do but nothing I do will ease her discomfort. Or of course sometimes kids just have bad days, like the rest of us. Or sometimes I just forget that she is trying to tell me something and get too wrapped up in my own problems to think clearly and act effectively.

What I AM suggesting is that once we lose this silly notion that people are intentionally inconvenient TO us, we can listen and respond much more productively. We don’t need to pray for easy children once we recognize that any inconvenient behaviors on their part are simply a cry for help, a cry that some need is not being met. All we have to do is listen and do our best to respond to that need.

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