Thursday, July 10, 2008

Training our one-armed baby

We've started torturing Sonny of late - by literally depriving him of one of his arms. All for his own good, of course.

The little critter, you see, has taken to sucking at either his mittens or - if we're giving his hand an airing - his knuckles. It's quickly become an absolute fixation, and not one that is easily discouraged: If we block him by putting an adult hand in the way, Sonny will happily suck at the new appendage instead. This is accompanied by loud and vaguely obscene sucking sounds. Obviously, we had to do something, since his mittens were becoming disgustingly wet within minutes of their being slipped on. And the hygiene risks were obvious.

The thing is, telling an eleven-week-old baby - however firmly - that something isn't to be done proved to have limited effectiveness. So we devised a cruel but effective disciplinary technique: We take a clean cloth nappy and wrap it around his body in such a way that it keeps his sucking arm tightly bound by his waist. Sonny ends up looking like a one-armed baby - more importantly, however, he isn't able to get his fingers to his mouth.

If Sonny's just had a good meal, he takes this punishment well: He simply amuses himself in other ways, such as by cooing randomly or peering intently into his own face, as reflected in the polished wood of our piano. But if he's in a cranky mood, being unable to suck his knuckles can send him into a tizzy. He'll scream, wiggle and half-roll about. However, if we've done our job right and the nappy is firmly wound around him, he will fail to free himself - though he gets maximum marks for trying. And trying. And trying.

Anyway, half the time, we feel rather sorry for the little fellow - and tell ourselves that this is a dry run for all the other times when we must be cruel to be kind: When we must severely reprimand him for his mistakes, teach him the error of his ways or bar his way to illicit pleasures. Truth be told, however, there's also a certain perverse satisfaction in watching him try desperately to free himself. After all the trouble he's given us - the early-morning howling and diaper-wetting - it is not entirely unpleasant to get a little of our own back.

Especially when it's in the name of helping him.


Ruth said...


Cloudsters said...

Erm... ho ho ho?
Just to vary the laugh diet, you understand.