May 26, 2011
Over the past month Kristin and I have realized that Layla views us in two very different lights: I’m the “business” parent and Kristin is the “fun” parent. Let me explain. The business parent is the one who gets right into the task at hand. If it is changing time, then that time is for changing and not much else; it isn’t a time for playing with toys or making many jokes during the process. The business parent leaves such things for their own time (usually just after the change is done in my prior example) - they are in essence taking care of business!
The fun parent, by contrast, integrates playful activities into these routines. When changing that diaper, for example, the fun parent integrates some toys into the picture or may play a game or two with the things on the table. The key is that a “fun” activity is integrated into the otherwise “not fun” activity with the idea that the overall experience is better for the child.
To be fair, these two roles are not mutually exclusive; I still do my fair share of tickling on the changing table just as much as Kristin gets things done. By and large, though, I’m the parent that just wants the chore-type things to be done with as fast as possible and Kristin is the type to encourage play all throughout. In other words, we’re both pretty close to the middle of the spectrum when it comes to that aspect of parenting.
This has some really interesting implications on Layla’s behavior. What she seems to be doing is tailoring her reactions to the parent she’s with at the time. For example, when Kristin puts her in the car seat (what I’d call a “not fun” activity for her), Layla will stand up and fool around, avoiding at all costs getting strapped in safely. If I do the exact same thing, however, she’ll sit and watch calmly as I buckle her in (albeit with a little fussing). I don’t know if this is the start of some more serious manipulation in the future (e.g. I go to Mom when I want shoes) or if she’s just forming basic associations at this point. Either way she’s a clever, wonderful little bean!