This week I read a Facebook article shared by Snoop Dogg (yes, you read that right) about how Danish kids cry the least in the world.
Tearless in Taastrup
Aimed at an American audience, the article wheeled out the cliché that the Danes are the happiest people on Earth – a view I happen to contest, as I’ve encountered a lot of furious Danes since moving here, mainly on bicycles when I have the audacity to use a pedestrian crossing.
The article suggested that the US should adopt the Danish approach of extended paid maternity leave and that parents should embrace more ‘free play’ with their offspring. Presumably, if little Timmy spent more time in the sandbox with his folks, he wouldn’t grow up so disenfranchised as to vote a psychopathic satsuma into the Oval Office and there might be fewer emboldened Nazi bastards running hog-wild on the streets of Virginia.
The crying blame
This sort of typically-vague article crops up with disappointing regularity. I find it unhelpful.
First off, how the hell did ‘they’ gauge the ‘cry rate’ of children? Were all the kids in the world rounded up in a massive warehouse and prodded with sticks to see how easily they wept? The logistics don’t bear thinking about.
Second, it’s all very well calling all parents to spend more time with their kids, but it’s not always that easy. Parents have to work, sometimes long hours, just to get food on the table. To just get stuff done. They don’t need this extra guilt placed on already overburdened shoulders.
Third, of course extended parental leave is a great benefit of living here, but how many parents – particularly new parents – can honestly say they used this time precisely as they wanted?
I know I didn’t. You’re chronically tired, fumbling all over the place. It’s an unprecedented, colossal life change. It’s hard to adjust. Most of the time you have no idea what you’re doing. You’re winging it, clinging on for dear life in the eye of a hurricane. Again, the extra worry you’re not giving your child precisely what they need exactly when they need it further adds pressure to an already strained situation.
Keep on breathing
At its essence, parenting boils down to one thing: keeping your kid alive. During those first few years, you are permanently on call, constantly firefighting, swerving away from one potential catastrophe after the next.
Is he breathing? Is she eating? Is he putting on enough weight? Is she too cold? Too hot? Has he got a temperature? What’s that rash? Is she sleeping? Is he watching too much TV? Is she getting enough exercise? Why is he suddenly not eating as much anymore? Why did she just hit me for no reason? Does he hate me? Are we being too lenient? Too tough? Who is this haggard zombie staring vacantly back at me in the mirror? When’s my next nap? Where does the time go? What was I doing just now? And where the hell is my phone?
The list goes on. All I know is we just have to make do with what we’ve got. Close our eyes, take a deep breath and do the best we can. And if our kids do cry, as long as we find out why and do something about it as soon as we can, we’re halfway there.
Livin’, as the man once said, on a prayer.