Friday, March 19, 2010
Self Soothing For The Inept
When Anna was little she needed to have a good fistful of my hair in order to sleep.
I used to lie there thinking how bad must I have been in a previous life to have ended up at such a pass. Of course, you could call in to question our parenting which had allowed the situation to develop in such a way.
In the middle of the night, to seek comfort, she would grope and scrabble her tiny toddler hand at the nape of my neck. Making sure she had only the finest and most painful of hairs, she would then wrap her sticky fingers around them and pull.
I would long for a child with an attachment to a teddy bear, a blanket, another human being....anything that would free me of the nighttime torture. We even considered using a wig as a placebo. That's when you know you're past the point of sanity;
'Err, what the fuck's that matted hairy object in your child's hand'
'Oh, it's her comfort toupee. You know, like a blankie, but so, so much weirder'.
Even now if she's poorly or overtired she will cry 'I need your hair'. I am worried she will end up a hair fetishist, or even worse, attracted to men like Fabio.
I never in a million years imagined things could get worse.
Enter Lucy. You would have thought we would have taught her to self-soothe. Perhaps learned a little parenting discipline. But no, my girls are genetically programmed to seek physical solace from others. This does not bode well for their teenage years.
Lucy shows no interest whatsoever in my hair. She likes flesh. Sensitive flesh. My underarm looks like I have a poorly concealed heroin habit. She pinches, she uses her tiny light fingernails to form a perfect razor-edged vice then she gives you a good hard squeeze. If she's not doing that, she's burrowing her fingers as far up your nose as possible, pinching your under-eye skin, neck, or nipple. Why do I tolerate it? Perhaps path of least resistance parenting will make a fool out of us all. Only five minutes of this behaviour and she drops off guaranteed. It may be 4 minutes and 59 seconds too long, but it's foolproof. The only saving grace is that she doesn't limit this behavior to me. She is quite happy to cuddle up to any victim and go through the same pre-nap, pre-sleep abuse. My friend who takes care of her during the week is equally thrilled with her habit - I think her exact words were:
My goal is to make you feel like a better parent - and I've succeeded haven't I?