13 January 2009

Imagine All The People

Its been a long, hard day – so to speak. Lots has occurred, so let’s get caught up.

I’m having a blast with the girls. While on sabbatical I spend more time with them and lett Hirono sleep. I don’t really keep up on my sleep; but, Hirono needs it more. Its also a ton of fun getting to know the girls more.

Alisa can stand. She needs help getting there and she falls over pretty soon unless you hold her hands. Hold her hands, even down below her shoulders, and she stays up indefinitely. She now prefers to get really sleepy and then go to straight to bed. She no longer always wants me to sing her to sleep. When she’s really cranky and won’t go down then she best falls to sleep to me repeating the base line for “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” over and over again. Even if we’re in a crowded, noisy bus between Tokyo and Kichijouji, so long as I keep the beat at a volume that she can hear (her ear is pressed against my upper chest) then she stays asleep. Today we were rolling a ball back and forth. She’s not so good at the ‘back’ part yet.

Leia isn’t into gross physical movements; she likes her hands.She does many things with them, mainly beat on things. She totally adores the bodhran. She seems to understand how how to use the stick yet cannot quite connect with the skin well. Most of the time she uses her bare hands adroitly. She also likes rattles. I put a collection of 3 colorful plastic cups before her today. She immediately went for the one with a compartment in the base that had rattly things in it. She proceeded to shake it non-stop until I wanted to get it back to put it in the dishwasher. When I took it she got very upset and wanted it back. Into the dishwasher it went. Then I picked up Leia to comfort her and distract her with another toy. She immediately started punching me in the jaw. A connection right in the same corner of the jawbone with every one of the 8 or so strikes.

What to do to discipline her now?

First, I grabbed her hand and held it down gently. Then I told her, sternly but with no anger, “No. Don’t hit Daddy. That’s not nice.” I waited about three seconds holding her still. Then I picked up another toy to distract her. She immediately went for the other toy (another rattle) and started chewing it. Another datapoint, we knew she was already very tired and we were trying to bathe Alisa first. So we needed to distract her with quiet play until it was time for her bath and then bed.

Was that right? Enough discipline for a 7 month old? Too much? We’ll see what her behavior is like in the next few days and if she keeps hitting.

After her bath she was very tired. When putting her to sleep I sang her the John Lennon song “Imagine”. I couldn’t get through it. She fell asleep during the second verse and my voice choked during the third. Its a very poignant song. This was the first time Leia heard it, or at least the first time it was sung to her.

The fact that she calmed down quickly and fell asleep in my arms has a strong impact on me. Leia is more dependent on Hirono; but, during this vacation I’ve been able to get her used to me putting her to sleep again. When she was colicky at 2-4 months she liked me to hold her in my hands and sing to her. That put her to sleep. About the time she grew out of the colick she also became to big to sleep in my hands. Now, she lies crosswise in my arms. Her side presses against my diaphragm. Then I sing her to sleep.

Singing “Imagine” to her while she fell asleep, particularly after the punching earlier in the night, struck me on a couple of levels. The lyrics of the song are a vision for the social changes that humanity needs to make before we can reach our destiny. Primarily, people must learn how to live in peace. I believe getting rid of nationalism and religion are two of the biggest milestones along the way. Leia made it clear to me that there also needs to be a way to teach control of anger. I hope she learns to control her anger.


somewaterytart said...

There's no such thing as discipline for an infant, because their 'hitting' contains no malice or defiance. It's either reflex, excitement, or an attempt to communicate. Ciara used to beat on my chest when she was happy to see me. If it hurt me, there was no way for her to know, brain-development-wise.

somewaterytart said...

Also, a 7-month-old isn't capable of 'anger,' in the way we think of it. I would call it frustration. If she were 20 months and hitting, then it would be time for some behavior redirection, or one of many possible strategies. But at this age I promise you that you're ascribing traits to her actions that are far too mature.

Eric Wilde said...

OK. Thanks for the advice. I guess I'll keep doing the same thing I did then. Hold her hand so that she doesn't hit me, tell her that its not nice to hit and then distract her with something else.