Monday, 3 January 2011

Attachment parenting the baby Jesus

When I visited my grandmother over Christmas she had a sweet story to tell me. Every year since I can remember she has set out a small nativity. It's pretty standard: wise men, shepherds, goats, Mary and Joseph all gathered around the baby Jesus in his manger, their arms spread wide - in worship or awe, I suppose. Every year since I can remember, the manger is empty until Christmas Eve, when my grandmother places the baby into his little cradle. This year, though, my youngest cousin (age 2) came to visit a couple weeks before Christmas. My grandmother wanted to show her the baby, so she put him in early. This cousin was breastfed until she was about 18 months and still often co-sleeps with her mom - not for any kind of deep attachment parenting philosophy as far as I know, but just because that's what works for them.

The day after my cousin's family left, my grandmother realized the manger was empty. She wondered if she had managed to keep track of the little baby figurine all these years only to lose it. Maybe the little girl had done something with him or hidden him somewhere? My grandmother looked all around the house, but when she finally found the baby, he had never left the nativity: my little cousin had taken him out of the manger and placed him back in Mary's arms. It was a bit of an awkward fit - she kind of had to hook him over one of the arms, legs dangling, in a feat of fine motor skills I was surprised she was capable of. All the more impressive that she was so determined that Mary hold him!

My grandmother hadn't touched it since - I so wish I had gotten a picture. It was a sweet reminder of how children can model what they're used to seeing - in this case, a mom hugging her baby.