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"The Pygmalion Effect: Or, A Failure to Parent" is live at The Big Smoke.

· The Big Smoke,Failure,Parenting,Ritual,Trauma
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Can one parent and not fail? It feels unlikely, Still, does that mean I shouldn't ruminate on said failures or continue my examination of my ongoing failures? I think not. So, please do enjoy "The Pygmalion Effect: Or, A Failure to Parent" at The Big Smoke here and if you want to imbibe on some excerpt you can do so below.

You may also want to read my last piece at The Big Smoke, Without Ritual (and the Failure to Seek Out the Sacred), here, or even the one before that, "The Thing About I May Destroy You, Trauma, and Failure," here. And yes, I'm really into ruminating on failure these days.


"I am also reminded that my son Myles had colic as a newborn (as did Noah after that), the cause and treatment of which seems to confound pediatricians.

"According to the Mayo Clinic, colic involves “crying for three or more hours a day, three or more days a week, for three or more weeks.”

"It sounds bad enough, but Myles interpretation of this condition was inexplicable.

"In the beginning, Myles could cry for up to 15-20 hours a day, every day, no true naps, minimal sleep, and was at times so distraught he would lose his breath and pass out, which required us to splash water on his face to revive him.

"I share this because my boss at the time said to me, “Crying babies wasn’t a problem for me, but I was calm.”

"Implying, apparently, that Debbie and I were not calm.

"We weren’t, but was the colic our fault?

"Not according to the science, which, to be clear, is lacking.

"Am I being defensive?

"Fuck yes, I am.

"The same boss suggested we try The Happiest Baby on the Block, a method of soothing otherwise unsoothable newborns championed by Dr. Harvey Karp. The belief there is that children are born several months too soon, the first several months of life are akin to a “fourth trimester,” and children remain undeveloped during those months, a possible explanation for colic. Thus, you want to simulate being in the womb by utilizing the 5 S’s – Swaddling, cool, we could do that; holding the baby on their Side or stomach, great, we could do that too; Shush them, they don’t need silence, their time in the womb is akin to a rave; also, Swing them, which is more like a jiggle, short, quick swings, not shaking, never shaking; and as needed, Suck, by means of thumb or pacifier.

"We could not make it work, which is to say that, as long as we jiggled, we were mostly fine, but if we stopped swinging, for even a moment, the crying would start again.

"It was maddening, and exhausting, and we were already exhausted, and maddened, questioning the whole decision to become parents as we asked if this is what we had signed up for in the first place.

"The answer was no.

"It all seemed so fucked and it became clear that none of it could possibly end well.

"Except Myles stopped crying at nine weeks, just like that. Just like they say will happen with colic. "That it stops just like that. One day he cried all day, the next he took a nap.

"And that was that, except it wasn’t.

"Later, I met Dr. Karp at a conference and that same boss introduced me to him as the guy his technique didn’t work for.

"Dr. Karp could have said many things, in many ways, he could have been comforting, encouraging, humorous, and with his flowing locks, nice shirt, loose tie, glasses, Zen, and neat, little beard, I would have consumed all of it, and him, whole.

"I still needed someone to tell me everything was alright, that we hadn’t failed, that colic is fucked, and so were we.

"Instead, with a tight half-smile, half-grimace, he said, “You were probably doing it wrong.”


"No shit.

"All of it.

"Every day."