An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Our baby, their baby

I saw a tiny baby girl, about 2 years old in the Chicago airport about 3 years back. Angel-faced and so adorable. What really astonished me then was the fact that she was carrying a tiny red suitcase of her own, pulling it with great elan and trodding behind her mommy without budging even once. I was totally stunned as back home I’ve only seen babies who throw a lot of tantrums and are always carried by parents or extended family and are pampered limitlessly by everyone in the vicinity to the extent that they don’t bother to do anything on their own for a long long time. I secretly promised myself, when I’ll have my baby, I’ll inculcate such discipline and manners to him/her as the little girl. Will never indulge him to needless hankering. Will teach him/her to do their own things and will maintain a strict aloofness like the angel-face’s mom to make my baby realize that I mean business.

Well, here I am with a five-month-old baby boy of my own making a total mess of my resolution. To begin with, I couldn’t let him sleep in a crib and did the blasphemy of letting him sleep with us, in between me and Mouli to be precise. My excuse? I read all about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and to top it my little one seems to have a situation of acid-reflux (which most babies have till the age of 1). So he needs to be held upright and made to burp sometimes in the middle of the night. If it’s not done, then the gas would accumulate in his little tummy which’ll cause him a lot of pain later on. So, how could I possibly leave him to a crib next room while sleeping in tranquility myself?

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As night time is out, I try to make a stern face in the day time but my son makes such funny faces (or sad ones) at times that I just can’t help myself from constantly holding him, hugging him, kissing him and eventually giving-in to his whims and fancies. I do blame myself however for he not always sleeping on time or eating cereals instead of milk or sitting on my lap instead of his bouncer, high chair without fussing at all.

Just today, in the afternoon he was summoning me from his gym with utmost urgency when I desided to ignore him and maintain my cool. He should be taught a lesson that he can’t get whatever he wants. I almost succeeded (for about 2 mins) when he smiled at me with lofty expectations in his eyes. Off I went, leaving everything aside, faltering yet again.

While I was carrying him all over our drawing room, trying to put him to sleep, I came across this horrendous news on TV (ABC news at 5). A 7-month-old baby was left behind in the car for more than 12 hours causing her death. Apparently her parents came back from a party around 11 in the night and just went inside the house and fell asleep, both thinking that the other one has put the baby in the crib next room. They woke up around noon and never bothered to check on the baby. Her father went to the gym in that same car when the mother called to let him know that their daughter is missing. He then came back to the car finding the dead child.

How could the mother not even think once about the baby not crying for food or wet diaper etc for so long I do not know. All I know, it takes immense austerity of consciousness or lack of it to disregard one’s own baby whom we nurture deep inside and inside out.

Mouli once said that don’t feel repented of being touchy-feely about your baby and not being a strict disciplinarian right from day One. Everything has it’s time and place. I am beginning to see the point.

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