Monday, June 29, 2009

Cot-free and ready to roam

Since Sonny's arrival just over 14 months ago, our little fella has spent his nights in a collapsible cot in our bedroom - initially in a shallow bassinet, then later making full use of the available space. But as longtime readers of this blog will know, he absolutely detests every waking moment spent in the cot (click here for some of our efforts to 'cure' him). He would howl down the house, toss out every toy and otherwise make it perfectly clear we were violating whatever childcare version there may be of the Geneva Conventions against cruel and inhuman punishment by keeping him thus confined.

Over the weekend, therefore, we folded up the cot and stowed it away. A futon took its place - and Sonny has now graduated to sleeping on the floor, free upon awakening to immediately embark on sundry adventures. In doing so, of course, we are taking a calculated risk. Despite every precaution, he might conceivable steal out of the room while we are slumbering and start parachute training using our settee, for instance. Or he might begin to carefully to chomp on the newspapers, or make a meal of sundry trash bags.

Still - and there's a broader moral here - you can't keep a child caged away from all danger forever. Soon enough, he'll have to take such vast risks as submerge briefly in water (if he is to learn to swim) and a little further on - gasp - cross the road on his own steam. There's no getting away from it, though we may throw up as many protective barriers as possible, from swim lessons to road-crossing coaching. With a bit of luck, nightmare scenarios will not come to pass: In the present case, when we are in the room the door will be securely shut and Sonny can't really reach the doorknob yet. Of course, there'll come a day the door is left ajar, and the little fella might revive at precisely the wrong moment and slip out to do a bit of wrecking.

Still, we have to weigh against this prospect the daily protestations by Sonny upon waking up in his cot, the increasing difficulty of conveying him there after he falls asleep elsewhere without his coming to and the like. And much the same calculus will have to be applied as he is progressively exposed to more and more 'dangers'. On the grandest scale of things, he'll have to be an independent operator in the big ole world sooner or later - and sometimes, it's the parents who need to do the most adjusting to come to terms with that terrifying prospect. Over-cocooning, if we might use that ugly but apposite phrase, only postpones the inevitable and ultimately results in a child unprepared for life.

What's a parent to do, but to begin the incremental letting-go earlier rather than later? The dilemma of 'but there's just the teeniest prospect of danger...' has to be confronted on a daily basis.