If I think back to what I wish I had known when Peanut was born, I think it would be the art of distraction. Not that I didn’t learn it the hard way, but once I had the knack, I was unstoppable. Peanut was crying, rock her and distract her with movement. Peanut didn’t want her diaper changed, sing and distract her with my voice. Peanut didn’t want to eat her peas, jump around and distract her with some pretty horrible dancing until she would eat a pea or two. Whatever the situation was, if Peanut seemed unhappy, I felt like it was my job as her mother to make her the happy and smiley baby that we read about.
But now that Peanut is engaging with the world more and more on a daily basis, I find myself not wanting to distract her. She is beginning to experience real emotions that she should explore, not emotions that I should quash by singing her the Elmo Song (although it does have a catchy tune, la la la laaaa). If she is mad because she doesn’t want her diaper changed, she should feel mad to understand that emotion and learn how to process it. She is developing language skills, allowing us to have “conversations” and instead of distraction from an unhappy event, we reason it out together so she can make sense of these feelings.
As valuable as the art of distraction always seemed when Peanut was younger, the art of understanding emotions seems essential as she grows and interacts with an ever-changing world around her.