Sunday, Sept. 12, 2004 | 8:11 a.m.



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Still More Coolness

Lessons from Nina

I think I can safely sound the bell and celebrate -- Miss Nina is regularly taking one three hour nap during the day at around noon, and has woken up no more than one time a night for a week. Most nights she doesn't even require me to get out of bed because she puts herself back to sleep with her music machine. Let us bow our heads and thank the Gods on this day, which happens to be Sunday, but only because Sunday was when she started regulating her sleep.

Not only that, but she's napping without nursing and only nurses consistently at night when I put her to bed. Since I'm going to camp for a week at the end of next month, having her weaned is important.

Last week we started a baby playtime class put on by the city parks and rec department. We signed up for it with Deeda and Psi-Guy 'cause it sounded like fun. And after all, my other two girls had been so well-behaved in social settings that we used to get compliments on them, so there should be no problem, right? Uh huh. Right.

So we're sitting in our happy little circle with all the other kids. There were about ten or twelve kids all together, I think. We were directed to go around the circle and introduce ourselves and our babies, and then sing "Good Morning to You" to the tune of "Happy Birthday," by the leader of our class, who herself had a toddler in the class. I don't even think we got through the first introduction and song before Nina was on her feet, wanting to rip the shiny pieces of laminated cardboard off the wall that had been so painstakingly put up by the teacher, wanting to riffle through each baby bag like a little New York City pickpocket and wanting to climb on top of the little tables that had been set up for crafts so she, Nina, could personally make use of every crayon, sticker and piece of construction paper before any other little bugger had a chance. And when I tried to stop her evil scheme, she shrieked like a pterodactyl sighting its prey.

How? How did I end up with a wandering little, climbing little, destroying little girl? How? I mean, we're doing everything the same way, for the most part, so how is it that Miss Nina, so cute and cuddly, manages to act like a tasmanian devil?

My only consolation? She's obviously secure enough to explore because she had no fear about checking out that room. I'm only glad Deeda was there to talk to afterwards, to assure me that while I might have been mortified by Nina's behavior, it actually was well within the realm of "normal" and to encourage me to go back.

Here's what I've figured out -- first kid, I thought I had it all figured out. And any parent who didn't have kids who were well-behaved like mine, any parent who didn't make all the right choices like I did was a failure. Second kid, I realized that sometimes how well you parent has nothing to do with your child's behavior and that kids are different. I also realized that different children require different choices and by watching other parents who made different choices, I realized it was okay for me to be secure in my decisions while also allowing for others to chose differently. Third kid? I now know I know nothing about parenting whatsoever, I hesitate to give anyone any kind of advice and smile knowingly when I come across those first kid parents who think they know it all. Kids are great teachers of humility.

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