It is said that “children are joy” (in Hebrew: “Yeladim Ze Simcha”), and this is indeed a sheer truth. At the same time, parenting also brings with it a lot of worries: Did my son eat enough? Is it too hot or too cold for him right now? Is the food I provide him with enough? Does the voice he is now making imply regurgitation? Is this perhaps a kind of covert reflux?
With the birth of my son, Noam, I realized one very clear thing – I have no idea how to understand the new language he speaks. It may sound funny, because my master’s thesis was about reading body language. I’m supposed to understand how to read all these non-verbal signs. To tell the truth, I admit… I do not understand anything of my baby’s new sign language. Once I realized I had no idea how to interpret my little son’s non-verbal communication, I found myself going into as many YouTube videos as possible, explaining how to understand this new language, that I had no idea how to interpret it.
Meaning of body language in infants:
- Clenched fists – hunger
- Fingers open – the baby is full
- Rapid legs movement – gasses
- Glazed look – fatigue
- Unfocused look – fatigue
- Touching ears – fatigue
- Quiet crying – fatigue
- Crying intensifies – hunger
- Arch stiffness – reflux or abdominal discomfort
When I didn’t understand all these signs, I was really helpless. I truly felt a complete helplessness. Mainly, because this language occurs all the time, and I just didn’t understand what he’s saying.
Of course, even when I started to understand the non-verbal cues, still a crying baby is a frustrating thing. You want to help, but not always a bottle, pacifier or sleep will immediately solve the problem.
How can positive thinking be adopted in a state of helplessness or uncertainty?
First of all I had to admit to myself that I don’t understand and won’t understand everything. I ,as a father, will try to help as much as I can and provide my baby the best solutions, but not always what I do will provide an immediate solution. For example, if my son Noam cries, and I give him a pacifier, not immediately will he stop crying. Obviously I would like to take his momentary suffering and pass it all on to me. Obviously, I would have preferred to tolerate myself the abdominal discomfort he’s currently feeling, but the bottom line is this is not a realistic thought. I really have no way of doing this in practice.
Secondly, understanding that this is the natural developmental process of children has helped me a lot. I realized that this is the way of nature, this is the process that my little son is going through now and I went through exactly the same thing when I grew up.
Third, the understanding is that everything is fleeting, everything is temporary. Statistically, more or less, by the age of 3 months all of these discomforts will go away, “Be’ezrat Ha’shem” (In Hebrew – with God’s help.)
Fourth thing, while I was thinking about all these insights, my son’s pain stopped and disappeared. Has anyone ever remembered the pain he had when he was a baby ?! The answer is absolute “NO”. In our adulthood we remember pretty much everything we experienced from the age of 6-10 months old. It just means that Noam too will probably remember something maybe from the age of 6 onwards. There’s something fascinating about human development that protects us. Think what an absurdity it would have been if we had remembered all our whining from the time we were babies.
Interim note: What I’m sure of is, as I write these lines, I feel that writing helps me to translate for myself the inner feelings that arise within me. There’s something in writing my feelings that helps me release and balance all these inner feelings that bubble up within me. When I write, I feel like I’m interpreting what I’m going through on a daily basis. Sometimes it comes out too raw, and sometimes it is more “cooked” or ready-to-serve. If I was able to touch your heart, and allow you to identify with me – I would even feel even more wonderful. In any case, writing is an excellent tool for “dubbing the mind.”
So where does it all boil down to?
At the end of the day, when I look at Noam and see him smiling at me; Mumbles some syllables and smiles his sweet little smile – everything is forgotten, everything disappears. All worries dissipate as if they never existed. An inner peace is created within me, as if the earth beneath me does not exist, the sky disappears; It’s just me and him with his sweet, soothing smile. Does he understand why he’s smiling? Is it an involuntary smile? I don’t really care, for me he is happy, he is here, he is real, and it’s THE most tangible thing I can ask for.
Indeed, children are a sack of worries, but they are also a sack of happiness and joy. It all depends on how you choose to look at it.
1st picture of Noam & me