1) won't likely cause any trauma or serious damage and
2) are sometimes necessary
Timeout is not one of those things. I am fine with giving the monkey his little 1 minute timeouts (per Super Nanny's example--1 minute per age of child) because I think discipline is important and can spare the world having to put up with yet another spoiled brat.
I do, however, feel guilty about "The Box." That's what we call the baby's playpen, and he goes in there about 2-3 times a day from 10-30 minutes so that I or his Nana can take a shower or get some other kind of work or chore done. I don't know why I feel so bad about this thing. I know it would be impossible for me to have 100% of my attention focused on him every second of the day, but still I feel strange because it looks so much like a little prison.
But I've got a new take on it.
Today's New Activity: Role Reversal/Change of Perspective/Reverse Psychology...Mama in a Box
At one point this evening, I was sitting in the living room and Kalil was playing with his plastic flip phone, standing next to me. Then he tossed it into his playpen and almost immediately started crying and pointing toward it. So I reached in a grabbed the phone and gave it to him. He gave it back and started whimpering. He grabbed my hand and moved it toward the playpen (a new thing he does--he grabs my hand and leads it toward whatever object he wants me to manipulate, turn on, or otherwise make entertain him in some form). So I was taking one toy out at a time and handing them over, trying to figure out what he wanted.
Soon he was clearly frustrated.
Maybe he wanted IN the playpen.
I put him in.
Now REALLY crying!
What to do?
My Mom walked in on this scene. "Maybe Mama should get in the box," she said.
I have no idea why she said this. But did I care? Not especially. When you're a Mama and the kid is doing this kind of thing, all frustrated and helpless and desperate-like...well, you'll pretty much try anything once.
I started playing with all his little toys and in no time he was trying to climb in and join me.
The takeaway I got from this was that once I was in there, I realized it wasn't bad at all. I mean, I was surrounded by all kinds of fun stuff and had a great view of the Christmas tree, living room, and kitchen--the heart of the house basically. I could have hung out there a while for sure.
I picked up the monkey and brought him in there with me, and he was pretty happy with that arrangement for a little while.
Kalil is at the age where he wants to get into every thing, all the time. He basically spends every moment at home wandering the house and looking to open, take down, or yank on something--anything that isn't a toy of his, that is.
But when he's in the box, he has no choice but to actually play with age-appropriate toys and find a way to make the best of it. What I like about The Box is that, knowing he can spend time in there by himself and stay happy gives me hope that I am not raising a self-centered child who will expect everyone to cater to his wants and whims at every moment. There are times when he's going to need to comfort and entertain himself, and he's getting good at it.
And this kid's got PLENTY of in-his-face lovin' and attention, so the balance--the time he spends to himself--is starting to feel like a pretty good thing.
And just a sidenote: today was one of those days when engaging in a new activity was looking like a pretty difficult thing to make happen. I worked, then had an appointment, then had a visit with my friend Ramon at home, then playtime and dinner and bath and bed time for the baby, and still trying to make it to the gym! Climbing into the playpen for a little new perspective was about as much as I could muster.
I've already said that I know I won't be able to get all crazy or even interesting every day. There are days when my new activity may just involve taking a new street on the way to work. Or, as my friend Kelsi mentioned, I could, "just try practicing full consciousness while brushing my teeth some day." That will be cool, too.
This project is about experiencing joy, and I don't want it to ever feel like pressure...a little pressure--the pressure that is positively motivational--is good. But I've had a few friends reply to my request to introduce me to something they're into with words like, "I don't do anything interesting," or "There's nothing I do that you haven't probably done," and I say no way! First of all, I very seriously doubt that is true of anybody I know. But more importantly, this is not about blowing anybody's mind or being all crazy out there. And even if it's true that a friend out there has truly only overlapping interests or hobbies, then I say we head out together in search of a change of pace, even if it resides in the simplest and least-eyebrow-raising of activities imaginable...