There is a famous saying, “you can learn many things from children. How much patience you have for instance” – Franklin P. Jones.
Little infants are cute when their gleaming big eyes are staring into ours.
They are cuter when they giggle and laugh even at the silliest of things like looking at a poster or flashing lights or whilst playing peek-a-boo.
These tiny little souls are the cutest when they are asleep – innocence radiating from their face and watching them sleep peacefully brings a sense of peace in our mind and soul.
But just as how cute infants are, they can also be a nightmare – screeching, howling, crying and as parents, we are scratching our head, puzzled to figure out what’s wrong with them.
My son is just 5 months old and his wake up smile lits our day. But as much as he lights our lives, he also burns my sleep and patience. One moment he laughs hysterically and the next moment he is bawling.
And his sudden outburst of cry makes me want to hand him over immediately back to my wife or to someone next to me. An initial couple of months that’s exactly what I did until I was told by my friend that,
“When infants cry it’s a vital sign of their mental development because cry is the most important and only medium of their expression and communication in the beginning. Just like how as adults we reach for water when we are thirsty, similarly infants cry as they search for what they need in the moment. As adults become calm when their thirst is quenched, so do babies. And as parents or caretakers, the way we respond and manage their cry is critical in building their emotional development. Research proves that when parents/caregivers habitually respond to the infants needs, they are more likely to grow independent and emotionally strong.”
My wife and parents are doing a great job at playing with him and cajoling him, no matter how tired or stress they are. In contrast, my patience takes a back seat when he starts to cry out of the blue. My friend was building new perspectives for me and supporting me in my new journey of parenting.
I had never thought of cry in relation to emotional development. I was aware that infants cry when they are hungry, angry. bored, sleepy and in pain. And most of their cry is unexplained. Decoding the unexplained cry and handling it was being extremely challenging.
As my thoughts started to build on what my friend was just saying, he quickly distracted me by adding,
“Crying allows infants to build close relationships with those who most reliably respond to their needs. In this way, crying may be central in building an emotional bond or attachment of the infant with the parents or other caretakers.”
New thoughts started to emerge on how many opportunities I had missed as a dad in bonding with my son. Quickly passing him around had always seemed like the easiest thing to do.
Well, in parenting as a journey I believe one can’t always be right or be doing things right. It’s a journey of learning and growing together. And I’m greatly thankful to my friend in helping me open new doors of bonding with my son.
Now when my son cries –
I take him out and together we watch the cars, buses, bikes, and autos moving on the road.
I make weird sounds and wait until one of it would split his sides.
I throw him high in the air and he giggles cutely.
I talk to him about the day or what people are doing around him and he intently listens for a few seconds before resuming his cry and I have to quickly get back on my toes.
I scatter his favorite toys around him and he leaps onto them like a monkey and is quick to put things in his mouth.
…… in spite of doing a bit of everything or just one particular thing, if he still cries. I know for sure that he is either hungry or sleepy and oh boy at the end of the day when I go to bed and he is nested comfortably between us, I feel so connected and happy.
The lesson gifted by my friend reminds me of the words of Joyce Meyer who beautifully describes patience as “Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we are waiting.”