A baby’s tears

I am not the cry-it-out type. I won’t say I never let Kai cry; there are instances in which that happens. When we’re driving somewhere and either close to our destination or on a schedule. When I’m almost finished with a task and he starts fussing. When I just need a minute to collect myself. But mostly, I respond to his cries.

Before they can talk, babies cry. It’s how they get our attention, let us know that something is wrong. The more urgent the issue, the more urgent the cry. Humans are hard-wired to respond to that cry, too — even Anya can tell if Kai is hungry or tired or scared or just crabby, all from the sound of his cry. To ignore that cry is to ignore the baby’s distress signal. Which creates more distress, escalating the problem instead of resolving it. So I try to make sure that when I do have to let him cry, it’s for a damn good reason.

We went to get Santa pictures the other day. I knew from our dry run a few weeks back that Kai would probably not be down for it, but I brought a Christmasy sweater for him and gave it a shot. His little face crumpled the moment his tush hit Santa’s knee. I gave him a moment to adjust, then immediately took him back when he continued to cry.

The crew at Santa’s chair were stunned. They fully expected me to insist that we take the photo anyway. (They were trying to make Kai smile first, of course. But they didn’t seem to see tears as a deal breaker.) But I don’t see the point in that.

Mind you, I pushed the issue with Anya; her first Santa picture includes me, and she still looks miserable. But Anya was two. She had some concept of who Ho Ho was.

Kai hasn’t even experienced a Christmas yet. Why the hell would I force him to sit on a stranger’s lap and take a photo? What message does that send to him?

My social media lately is filled with photos of crying babies on Santa’s lap. We laugh, we awww. And we continue to insist upon such photos, despite the blatant distress of our children. I am not innocent here; I’ve done it, too.

But no more. I am Kai’s mother. It is my job to love and protect him. He trusts me to do that. And I try not to damage that trust any more than absolutely necessary. Vaccinations? Necessary. A Santa photo op for the holiday card? Not so much.

So I have a Santa photo with just Anya. It’s gorgeous, of course. And next year, we will try again with Kai.

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