We are biting the bullet tomorrow and making the three-hour trek to my parents’ place for the weekend. My sister is having a housewarming/freedom -from-a-bad-relationship/Halloween party, so we want to come show our support, even if we won’t really be staying for the party proper. My parents are overjoyed that Baby Genius is coming for a visit.
We also made it clear that if great-grandparents would like to see Baby Genius that they are welcome to come to my parents’ to hang out with him. My wife informed my mother a couple of weeks ago, however, that we would not be spending our time there travelling all over to see relatives, meaning she was not to start making plans for us to do so (you’ll recall this is just what she did before we cancelled our previously-planned trip). At the time, my mom agreed and was certain we could make this work. For a little while, it even seemed like she was respecting our boundaries and our baby’s limits.
Enter last night’s conversation wherein she says, “We’ll talk about the plans for Saturday once you get here.” I told her our plans for Saturday were to go to the party early and to come home. Period. And her response was, “Well, we can talk about it when you get here. It won’t be too busy of a day anyway.” No it won’t because we’re going to the pre-party, and we’re going back to the parents’ place, and that will be all. Her comments that we’ll talk about it when we get there are her attempts, though, at finding her way around it, of getting us to go visit my grandmother (who was just here last week for a visit) or go somewhere else, and we just can’t do it. Our son won’t deal well with a drive to my grandmother’s (40 minutes round trip) and a drive to my sister’s (80-minute round trip) in the same day, and it’s just not going to happen. I’m putting my foot down, and she’s really not used to it.
I’m beginning to think my parents are of the mind that we are being overly cautious with our son, but frankly, I don’t care. We know him. We know his limits, and his limits are no more than one event per day (some days none!) if said event takes place outside of the house. Some might say that we need to just put him through it so that he’ll get used to it, but J and I are both of the mind that there is no need to put our son through undue stress simply for adults’ convenience and entertainment. He’s just barely eight weeks old. His nervous system is still developing, and he doesn’t have the skills or capacity to cope with too much stimulus. It is our job as his parents to understand his limits so that we don’t overwhelm him.
There is this mindset in our culture, however, that babies are portable, so we ought to take them everywhere so as not to disrupt our lives. This philosophy does not take into account the well-being of the child but instead focuses on the needs and desires of the parents and other adults in the child’s life. I know this is unpopular to say, but it’s selfish. I certainly know the times we have subjected our son to too much outside world, these have been selfish acts–we’re not innocent here. However, we have also learned from these experiences that we want to introduce him to the world slowly to limit the trauma he experiences. Yet somehow this makes us those crazed, fringe, over-protective, unmoving, inexperienced new parents. You know the sort–the ones who (gasp!) don’t allow their kids to watch television until a certain age or (the horror!) won’t feed their children soda or fast food. Yeah, we’re those sorts. Our poor, deprived son.
We really are learning just how challenging it is to make parenting decisions without hearing a slew of opinions about them. I thought backseat drivers were annoying, but backseat parents take the cake.
Wish us luck this weekend. I fear we’re going to need a lot of it.