Child Centered Attention

I have more compassion than ever for those who permanently live with a handicap. I was leaving the supermarket the other day, and as I was walking out the door, someone else was coming in. I mistakenly assumed that he would move aside for a moment so I could get through with my crutches, but he just plowed right through. It is easy to make this sort of assumption, being someone who goes out of her way for individuals with handicaps or a woman pushing a baby in a stroller. It is easy to forget the rest of the world does not necessarily respond in that way.

In practicing Elimination Communication, I thought, at least sitting around with this broken foot, I will be able to be so attentive to my baby’s signals that he needs to go to the bathroom. Ironically, it has actually been quite the opposite. Prior to breaking my foot, I caught more of his pees, probably twice as many as I do now.

I go back to the book, The Continuum Concept, by Jean Liedloff. Liedloff is an anthropologist that writes about the Yequana tribe, a tribal culture in Venezuela. In this culture, they wear their baby most of the time and avoid giving them too much, what Liedloff calls, child-centered attention. This is what our culture tends to do. We sit around and watch our babies, adoring and admiring them, watching what they will do next. If we practice EC, we are also probably watching for their potty signals. When we give our babies too much child-centered attention, we actually do them a disservice. From this young age, they actually already want to learn how to be an adult, observing what we do, cooking, cleaning, reading, shopping, gardening. According to Liedloff, the best thing we can do for our babies, in relationship to EC, and life, is to wear them so they can witness how we live.

In this time of immobility, I realize, I am giving my baby too much child-centered attention. The best way I can navigate that at this time, is to explain to him that Mama cannot walk right now and show him all about the world, but that I am so excited to do that again. The next best action I can take, is to be patient with myself in the healing process and get creative about how to interact with him in this time of immobility. Tricky business.

cuddles


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