Friday, September 26, 2014

Day 52: Baby Economicus | Parenting & Fairness

In my previous blog I ended off with a scenario where you are still in the days where taking care of a baby is an extensive job, and where in those moments where you find yourself ‘going the extra mile’ within taking care of your baby – that it is easy to create a negative/bad energetic experience within yourself, where you’re carrying out the task of tending to your baby but carry an experience of dislike/resistance where one would rather not be doing what one is doing. I also wrote how babies pick up on these inner-conflict experiences and in essence witness the parent(s) going through an ‘inner-tantrum’ and within doing so, learn that it is okay/acceptable/alright to bring up and express emotion turmoil when ‘things are not the way I want them to be/would have liked them to be’.

So now, your baby has had many opportunities to observe you in your inner-tantrum (from a little nagging experience to very loud backchat – the size of the tantrum doesn’t matter) when things are not going ‘the way you would have liked them to go’. Each time baby witnesses you in that state - that is the behaviour that is being taught to the child. As time goes by, the baby grows up and is able to do more things and be more independent. Here you’re at a stage where taking care of a baby is still intensive and extensive – but not at the ‘hardcore’ levels as when the baby was very small and completely vulnerable – not being able to do anything without an adults help.

Now an interesting thing develops because the demandingness of taking care of the baby is relaxing and suddenly there is space for ‘choice’ again (‘Again’ – meaning, where prior to you having the baby you had quite a bit of space in terms of having time set towards responsibilities but also having space/time towards your own where you can indulge in what you like to do or find important, whereas once the baby comes, there’s only the baby and everything ‘you’ or ‘personal’ disappears for a while). The baby is able to entertain itself for a bit, doesn’t need to be fed constantly so feedings aren’t as pressing/can be more flexible, the baby doesn’t poop himself every hour so his diaper can be on for a bit longer,… So the amount of time that you spend/dedicate towards your baby becomes less and a margin of time starts emerging here and there where you can start doing things ‘for yourself’ or pick up on things that you did before you had the baby.

With having been constricted to only taking care of your baby for such a long time, this ‘me time’ can be considered to be precious and this then creates an opportunity for compromise to creep in. Since the baby is now ‘out of immediate danger’ in terms of not needing constant adult handling, some baby related things can be delayed for a bit while you can extend your ‘personal time’. What I found with myself is that this ‘space’ that opens up can be tricky, where I could catch myself delaying something for just a bit too long, wanting to hold on to ‘my time’ or where I would kind of ‘huff and puff’ within having to ‘give up’ my ‘me time’ to tend to the baby.

It’s quite interesting how the developmental cycle of babies is set up, because it seems to go through cycles where you for a period of time have to spend all / most of your time towards the baby – where it then eases off a bit and you have more space/time to do other things as well – to then again spending all / most of your time taking care of your baby directly. It’s a nice testing ground in a way, where for some time you get to practice taking care of another and doing what needs to be done without having any space for yourself – to then doing the same but have some margin of space for yourself to check whether you can still be diligent and responsible within taking care of your baby without getting distracted/tempted by the ‘personal space’ that opens up – where one dips one’s toes ‘too deep’ and allow yourself to get carried away by this ‘freedom’ and start compromising towards your baby instead of keeping a balance between tending to your baby to the best of your ability and enjoying your ‘me time’ when it is here without wanting to hold on to it/creating it at the expense of your baby.

I’d for instance be working on something while Cesar would be entertaining himself and being content just roaming and exploring the room on his own with me still keeping an eye on him – to where all of a sudden discomfort comes up and he requires some assistance stabilizing himself where I would kind of go ‘Oh no’ inside myself because ‘I am working on this now’ and ‘I want to finish this’ / ‘Let me just round it up’ – where I am wanting to hold on to this ‘me time’/’what I am doing’ and will delay or want to delay getting to Cesar because what he is doing/going through is ‘incompatible’ with my desired situation/circumstance of ‘me working on this document’ / ‘me finishing this task’ – where instead of being here in every moment and being flexible – tending to Cesar when I need to and tending to my points when there is space to; easily letting go and moving around from point to point; – I am holding on to a mental projection of how I think/believe time should go/how the situation should go and want reality to adapt to my mental composition rather than me adapting to physical reality.

So this would be an example where one would compromise within slipping in self-interest where you for a moment place more value on a mental idea/ one’s desires rather than directly, common sensically move self to tend to the baby. So here you also have a scenario where the baby ‘needs something’ from you but you don’t give it. And in being aware that you’re dipping your toes in the pool of self-interest within holding on to your desire – guilt starts to brew inside yourself.

What happens then is that at some other time you are playing with the baby and now the baby is doing something/playing with something/ eating something that it actually shouldn’t or that could be consequential if it becomes a habit – and where in that moment, you should actually direct the baby and intervene, and maybe you do try and intervene and now it’s the baby that is upset and throwing a tantrum because ‘it’s not getting what he/she wants’ (just like me, the adult in the previous example, throwing a little inner tantrum because I wasn’t getting what I wanted within having to stop what I was doing and get to Cesar – starting to see how this pattern plays out?) and within having guilt existent within you for having robbed your child/baby previously of that moment where he/she needed you – you will now ‘give in’ and ‘let it slide’ where you will allow your baby his/her happiness point because you allowed yourself to hold on to your happiness point on previous occasion(s).

This is where the Baby Economicus starts to emerge – where a silent agreement starts developing between the parent and child that ‘if you allow me my indulgence for a moment, I will let you get yours as well later’. So now you start building a relationship with your baby based on perpetuate compromise where you can only keep things ‘happy’ and apparently ‘stable’ by each one giving in to each other’s’ little self-gratifications. If this is allowed to continue you slowly but surely move away from conducting yourself in a way that’s best for your baby/child to what’s best for our ‘trade relationship’. Because you’re then in essence trading moments: “if you give me this moment for my self interest, then I will give you that moment for your self-interest” – and oh boy if you forget your end of the deal, your baby/child will gladly and theatrically remind you of your ‘trade agreement’. The first thing Baby Economicus learns about human behaviour is: if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

So all in all, while one was trying to keep self from having to ‘sacrifice’ – where you don’t want to sacrifice your moment for the sake of what’s best for the baby, you end up doing exactly that – constantly sacrificing, but sacrificing the reverse where you sacrifice what’s best for your baby for the sake of the mind. So we end up sacrificing in the wrong moments in the wrong way. Where we will not intervene/direct our child/baby when we have to and intervene/manipulate the child when we shouldn’t – because it’s all done within the starting point of maintaining one’s self interest and within doing so, in extension building and maintaining the baby’s/child’s self interest.

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