Jen and Tom and I were winding down at the end of the day with songs and cuddles and books when, all of a sudden, the boy crawled over to his favourite lift the flap book and ripped it to shreds, writes Ben Keenan.
Because Jen and I were so surprised by this, we did nothing to stop him and watched with absolute fascination as page after page was torn by something resembling the incredible Hulk in a sleeveless vest. The next night we settled down with a different book and he did it again, only this time we stopped him after the first tear, a fact he was vocally unhappy about. This led to an excellent grown up chat about discipline in which which we discovered that, as first-time parents, we seldom tell our son to stop doing something we know is either potentially dangerous or just plain stupid. For example, Tom recently removed our DVD player from the shelf it lives on and because it’s the multi-region one we don’t often use, we let him bash it about because it wasn’t plugged in. The boy loves bouncing on our bed and has almost fallen off a hundred times but who am I to deny him such fun. I sit with my stomach in my mouth every time, but I’d much rather do that than keep him wrapped in cotton wool.
The boy has reached that brilliant age when everything that’s about to happen to him means we’ll refer to him as a ‘toddler’ rather than a ‘baby’. He is about to get teeth, about to walk, about to use more than a handful of words and about to be taught the basic fundamentals of discipline which, up until now, we have partially avoided or ignored altogether. Even when we know he’s doing something that he shouldn’t, we tend not to tell him to stop. We prefer to redirect his attention to something else because we want our boy to find his own way in the world and it seems wrong and a bit harsh to keep telling off a baby for being a baby.
Eventually, at his own speed, he’ll understand right from wrong, but it won’t be because I’ve forced him to learn it.