Restraint and Self-Restraint: Or how is climbing out of the crib like starting a diet?

4.28.10: Leo's 23rd Month

poached egg for blog article.jpg

I was just finishing up my job last week, and Leo was, once again, home sick with Aaron, this time with pinkeye, when I got an email from home. It read:

Hi. I regret to inform you that today is the day that your son has learned how to climb out of his crib. He has done it four times in a row! I don't think nap is going to happen on my watch today. Any thoughts?"¨

So I emailed my mom:

dear mom,

could you please take over the rearing of my child? i will live in your house and you can live in mine. let me know if you can't find anything. Thanks."¨



Didn’t work out. And a week later, our child is sleeping as well as a jack-in-the-box. What do you do, cage him? That is what a crib is, really, isn’t it? Until… it isn’t. So I mention this at a party and a friend says “what do the books say?” Right! I forgot about that!

I stay up late learning what my stable of experts recommends: hoping your child doesn’t learn how to climb out of the crib. Thanks Penelope Leach. Being reminded that we have child-rearing books is a huge help though. I keep my light on for hours catching up. I’m reminded to empathize more with our irrational little progeny, and I take immense comfort from reading about where he is developmentally. Walking in one direction in order to get somewhere? Not until they’re three. Remembering a promise? Way down the road! Feeling angry and impotent one minute, defiant and independent the next, and scared of their own power all at the same time? We’re in it.

When I wake up the next morning, well before sunrise, to the pitter-patter of feet escaping from bed, I am not refreshed in an I-slept-way, but I feel a renewed sense of patience that has stuck. This is where he’s at. There’s nothing any of us can do about it, and it will change. I have the power to help by being understanding and patient instead of reactive and annoyed. I kiss my guys good-bye that morning with a smile, and close the door behind them to re-enter my freelance life, which I’ve missed so terribly for the last six weeks.

Ah yes, let’s see. I haven’t exercised for 6 weeks, my doctor just informed me that in the past year I have gained TEN POUNDS!!! TEN!!! In a year!!! And I’ve got an urgent deadline. So. Today is the day after The-Diet-Starts-Tomorrow-Day, and I’m going to try something new. I fix myself breakfast: toasted bialy with a thin layer of cream cheese, coffee with whole milk. The no-fat approach does NOT work for me. Then I head towards my computer. Hmm, I think as I leave the kitchen, maybe I’ll just close this here baby gate, and leave it closed until lunch time. See you at 12:30 kitchen!

I sit down at my desk and plug my breakfast into a calorie counting website to calculate my approach. 300 calories for breakfast, 400 for lunch, 600 for dinner. Is that a good idea? I have no clue. Let’s see how it goes. I start writing. A little. I crave a cup of tea. The baby gate stays closed. I write more, then think about a fruit. Damn that gate! I wander into the living room to turn on the radio, and my eyes scan the table, just in case there’s a raisin or something lying within reach. No luck.

By 11:30 I’m thinking about food not just because I’m bored but because I’m hungry. Just a bit. Then, suddenly, it’s 12:26, I know exactly what I plan to make for lunch and I feel I must enter the kitchen 4 minutes early to get started, so lunch is ready to eat at 12:30 as planned. I’ve already drafted the recipe and used my calorie site (hope it’s semi accurate!). I poach an egg more skillfully than ever before, probably because I’m cooking for one, photo-document the event, and clean my plate by 12:45. I grab two prunes for dessert and return to my desk to calculate their calories. As the baby gate swings closed behind me, I empathize deeply with my poor toddler. This diet is going to be tough, but perhaps that gate will be a helpful boundary. Unless I end up climbing over it.

Recipe: Spring Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and Poached Egg

Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.