Thursday, May 03, 2007

something I wrote in 2004

Passion or Prudence

I think that very soon after your first child is born you have to decide what kind of parent you are. I am quite certain that a case could be made for prudent parenting. I don’t know much about prudence.

When my first was born I was frightened by the ferocity of my love for her. Mine was a roaring fire from the very first few days of her life. I figured it was just the first child, the one that makes a parent out of you. When my son was born, however, it wasn’t like throwing another log on the fire. No, the fire grew twice as big. I decided that was as much heat as I could stand and we had a vasectomy quickly. I guess you could say that having my own children elicited very strong feelings in me.

My friend Beth hardly ever puts her son down. Awake or asleep, he is almost always in her arms. She will sometimes share him with me for a few hours and go to art class. When she hands him over to me and sees me settle into the rocker and snuggle him up close, only then can she actually focus on something else. Prudence would suggest that she lay him down while he’s sleeping, perhaps he will be spoiled from so much attention. She doesn’t know much about prudence.

I think you have to give your children a large part of everything you have. If you withhold something that you have to give, even if you think it is for their good, they will become greedy. They know when you’re holding out. Take Beth, she could measure out her passion for Adams now for the sake of prudence. Even though these are precious moments in the first few months of life, she could lay him down in his bed more often. But I think you have to give what you have when you have it. I don’t think you can save up love. Or attention. Or affection. I think you have to give it while it’s there. Fill them up with it. Not just because when they lose that adorable first grade snaggle tooth look for the 3rd grade, oh my gosh, will he ever grow into those huge front teeth, how early can they get braces, look. It’s those times when you may need to draw on a previous investment. Or when you’ve gone to all the trouble and expense of getting a petting zoo for your backyard 2nd birthday party and he wakes up from his nap with a mad on and says "NO" about 12 million times to everyone on the guest list.

I suppose I should sum up here. Nah.

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