February 19, 2002 - Tuesday
Are we being too hard on Harry? Sometimes it feels like we can't say anything to him without it being "no, Harry" or "don't do that Harry." Actually, those phrases wouldn't even be so bad. These days, it's more like "Harry, NO!" or "STOP IT, HARRY," which is often followed by our wresting him from some activity that seems destined for a negative outcome either presently or in the future. Sometimes it means yanking, too, because that's what it takes to get him to pay attention. So far, we've resisted anything more physical than that, save an occasional push on the bottom as we're dragging somewhere he should have been, but there are times when it gets easy to see that slope that leads toward spankings.
Often the worst times are meals. The time it takes for a little boy to eat a decent meal is inevitably longer than his attention span and that just begs trouble. Where's the limit of what he should get away with at the table at two years of age? There is a school of thought that suggests that children ought to be free to experiment with their food; to mash it, and throw it. But, I think that time is we they are just learning to eat and it's a time that has passed for Harry. Still, Harry's constantly banging his utensils and flopping around in his chair as boredom rears its face and we're left somewhere between wincing and scolding and often both. Every now and then we do get a proverbial carrot from Harry showing that he has been paying attention all this time and is learning. But, at what cost? Is he going to be a stereotypical first child that loses his desire for adventure because of over bearing and over anxious first-time parents?
As I think and worry about these things, I find some degree of amusement that, in these worries and questions, I am just one of billions of parents that came before, including my own parents, and billions that will come, perhaps Harry someday, that have and will struggle with the very same. And still, there's no right answer.