Thursday, April 9, 2009

boundaries



I have been having trouble with Isaac lately. Isaac is in the stage where his every waking moment is all about exploration, movement and...destruction.

I don't remember having this much trouble with Andrew. And that could be for several reasons. When Andrew was Isaac's age, he was an only child. He was easier to keep track of because I wasn't keeping track of much else. We also lived in a smaller place, which I think also made him not only easier to keep track of, but easier to contain. And, being the only child, there was no one to compare him to. Often with Isaac I think, "Man, he's a lot of trouble...not like Andrew." (Though, if you asked me in January where I was at with comparisons I would have told you the opposite. 'Andrew is a lot of trouble...not like Isaac.')

Isaac keeping me on my toes in itself is not really the problem. The problem is my feelings about it. If I am honest with myself and I take a look at what I feel about Isaac emptying the tupperware cabinet for the third time today, I don't like what I see. I don't like being so frustrated with Isaac. He's a baby. It doesn't seem fair and it doesn't seem reasonable. But willing the feelings away has not worked. So, I took some action.

I decided to invest in my relationship with Isaac. I bought a baby gate.

I block off the part of kitchen where I cook. This keeps him out of the fridge, the tupperware cabinet, the cabinet under the sink and most importantly, the broiler. Our kitchen is set up long and narrow, so he is still able to be in the kitchen with me and bang on pots and pans, but he's not under my feet. I have my dance space and he has his dance space.

The trial run of the baby gate did not go well. While I made dinner he stood at the baby gate crying. For half an hour. I tried giving him snacks, juice, toys...but that's not what he wanted. He wanted things the way they were. Our routine was: I make dinner, he drives me crazy. And he LOVED our routine. He could not see why any change was necessary. And after a half hour of tears I could not if any change was worth it.

The next night he didn't even notice that I put the gate up. He sought out his Entertainment Director (Andrew) and spent the time exploring a newly formed couch-cushion maze.

So far I am really getting my bang for my buck. I am overall much less frustrated with Isaac. Even when he flips over 25 times during a diaper change. Even when he pulls my hair. Even when he keeps me up from 4-5 this morning with sore gums and new teeth.

Amazing what good boundaries can do.

4 comments:

Mama V said...

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

(Really bad joke -- sorry... But you started it with the Dirty Dancing reference!)

Shannon said...

I have kids like that. Cole is very easygoing. Paige...not so much! Breathe deeply!

Anne said...

I like the picture of kneading dough in combination with your stories of Isaac -- like some things are being worked out. I can see the work and tension in your hand -- but it's for a good purpose. Nicely done.

Robyn said...

Cool, Anne! Thanks!