Some of the trigger was from, of all things, Hollywood Squares last night, one of the questions was "What does the blah-blah-blah recommend you do if your child wakes up scared and wants to sleep in bed with you?" The star answered, "Let them, you're there to protect them, aren't you?" and the actual answer was "You should not let them, because that'll undermine the child learning that they can deal with it themselves."
Deal with it themselves.
I remember waking up afraid at night and just, gut-deep bone-deep, knowing that I couldn't go to my parents. That it was nearly a law of physics that I couldn't wake them up unless it was an emergency and there was real damage involved. I was alone and I could deal with it.
I wonder if that was the result of that kind of upbringing? That early independence, so touted by Dr. Spock, in the form of a baby crying themselves to sleep, might have been the model for the way I am now. Supremely self-confident about the fact that I can handle bad situations alone, but also terribly, totally convinced that I have to face them alone. That there is no one that will help me. And I can't ask for help, can't talk about the fear because I know that no one will understand or offer the kind of help or comfort that makes a difference, and I cannot ever trust another to help me. That I am, essentially, alone.
Alone? you ask? A loving husband of 14 years, countless friends, an old social schedule that used to have to be planned out half a year in advance? Alone?
In the deepest, darkest night, with my own rage and fear and sorrows, I think I'm always really alone because I can't talk about it. I can write, sometimes, a shadow of the things that cry out to be said, but in the end, I think, everyone really is alone. Then again, that might just be my old training. That there is no one to rely on, no one that really understands, no one that listens and really feels what it is I feel. No one that knows how to really comfort me in the ways that are wordless but more real. And maybe that's all a ghost of a childhood of independence forced early by the training my parents got on how to raise an 'unspoiled' baby.
And people wonder why there's so much money in psychiatry.
Maybe that's why some modern parents are so vehemently and emphatically in the opposite direction, and I'm going to have to watch that myself in some ways. Once discipline actually gets to be something that can be useful, I'm going to really have to watch it.
It was mildly mind blowing, though, at the baby massage class, when the teachers were emphatic about asking the baby's permission before starting the massage. To ask a baby that doesn't even know that words are being spoken if it's okay... and to have that be such an important part of the ritual of touch. It was just... the whole implication of the importance of a baby's choice, was just so cool.
Anyway... I guess I want to raise a son who knows he can handle it alone, but also knows he doesn't always have to.