Thursday, July 3, 2008

A formula for patience

Any parent knows that choosing breast milk over formula brings manifold benefits - from money saved, to convenience when on the road, to (most importantly) the amazing mix of nutrients and germ-fighting antibodies.

But thanks to breast milk, too, Sonny is already tuning in to one of the defining trends of our times. And we don't like it one bit. We're talking about what has been called the cult of instant gratification. Patience is a rare virtue these days (if acknowledged as a virtue at all); instead, the message being hammered home by the advertising industry, credit card companies et al is that what we want, we get - and pronto.

"Relevance?", you demand, like a seasoned TV lawyer. Well, consider first how breast milk is always on tap for Sonny. Here's the progression, more or less in real time:
(1) Sonny wakes up and starts to fuss.
(2) Mum swiftly removes any impediments to feeding.
(3) Sonny gets thrust at Mum's natural milk faucet - and starts drinking.

Now suppose we were relying on milk formula instead. Unless alerted earlier, there would have been a built-in lag once we realised that Sonny was hungry: We'd have to boil water, sterilise the bottle, spoon out the powder and so on. Not rocket science, but the important thing is that Sonny would have been forced to wait. He mightn't be overjoyed - but our guess is that, with time, he would have become used to it. Instead, of course, what he's become used to is broadband-connection speeds of service. And it shows. His 'fidget and fuss' stage, which precedes his 'turn on the waterworks' stage, has been squeezed till it hardly exists.

The best move on our part may be a cruel one: To refuse to respond immediately to his requests for milk - which are issued, after all, in the only language a baby can employ. We might start with a delay of just a few minutes, then slowly drag it out further - all the while firmly assuring Sonny (the tone might come to be understood, if not the words) that food is on the way. A messy business? That was our point to start with: It would have been a lot easier had necessity (and formula milk) enforced the discipline that's required.

Still, since instant gratification seems to have sunk its first talons into Sonny's psyche, perhaps we'd best launch this remedial training at once. It'd have been better to have started earlier - but there's no point crying over spilt milk.


Mumsgather said...

Haha. I like your broadband analogy. Well, poor mom is not only providing broadband service, she is a walking talking milk bottle and pacifier all rolled into one but hey, look at the bright side, mom won't have to wean Sonny from a pacifier or milk bottle later on.

Anonymous said...

Well get ready, my son will be two in a couple of months and I have yet to figure out how to get him to stop nursing! He never took a bottle or a binky so, thank God for that one. But, I think it's high time the milk faucet be shut off. :o)

Cloudsters said...

All right, Mumsgather, Mum will keep trying to look on the bright side of things - with your esteemed help.

Two years, Glamorous? Sure brings home how many more moons of breastfeeding we have still to endure/ enjoy...

Anonymous said...

You're so right Cloudsters about the instant gratification. When I was nursing my baby boy, he was impatient to the point of latching on the "faucet" on his own, while I was still fussing with my clothes. You'd think that my startled screams would keep him from doing that again. But, no. How I miss those times now. My milk dried up when I went back to work. Ultimately, babies will learn about the delay in food preparation when you start them on solids. It is so cute to watch the anticipation on their faces when they see you take out the baby food. :)

Cloudsters said...

Cute anticipation beats uncute bawling anytime, Anna... though Mum does secretly get a kick out of the huge, perfectly-formed teardrops that Sonny sheds.