I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. Little babies love to be wrapped up like burritos. They can be screaming, flailing, wailing, and, after a tight swaddle, they often settle down and fall right to sleep. How can they be comfortable? Don't they feel trapped and start to panic? That's what I would do if someone wrapped me up and put me in a cage--er,I mean crib.
But they love it. My three month old was dozing in a baby pouch strapped snuggly to my torso at the noisy grocery store. The checkout guy said, "Is he okay in there? Is he getting smushed? I'd think it would be uncomfortable".
I said, 'He was squished up in the womb for 40 weeks, so I think he's pretty happy right there." And that's how it makes sense to me. It's like returning to the womb, this tight restraint. It feels safe.
Babies don't have real control over their bodies and limbs yet. They can feel lost and out of control when they are free to move about. So one of the things I can do as a parent is protect them from feeling out of control. I can wrap them up so they can, as my doula friend Lanell says, consolidate themselves.
And it continues with my two year old. The best way we know to get him to nap is to strap him in the car with his five point harness and drive around with some quiet music on. It's hard for him to settle himself down on his own. If it's up to him, he'd keep moving around, making himself more awake. But ten minutes in the car seat and he's out like a light.
My favorite parenting guru, Dr Laura Markham,
extrapolates this to children's emotions. Their emotions and desires can feel big and out of control. As a parent you can make them feel safe by holding space for their emotions, and letting them know you are in control. This can happen by doing something as mundane as keeping a schedule or keeping by their side in the midst of a tantrum. She advocates time-ins instead of time-outs: "I won't leave you alone with these big feelings."
I think this is also why it's such a great idea to start learning improv with short form games like Bippety Bop and Alphabet Game. People are terrified when they start doing improv. The rules of the game provide some restraint. The boundaries are soothing and the new improviser is able to relax in to them. Once they have gotten the hang of it, they can move in to more open scene work.
But that doesn't mean that short form games are just for beginners or are training wheels. External rules are for beginners. Advanced players make up the rules of their games organically in the scenes. Without the rules, the scene quickly hops on the train to crazy town and becomes no fun--and scary again.
So part of the role of the teacher or the parent is to create structure for the student to play within, so they feel safe and can start to take risks, try new things, and be vulnerable. With practice they can stop relying on the external restrictions and find their own boundaries to play within.
Whether something feels restricting or soothing can be all about context. Sometimes we need a little bondage to feel free.
Founder, Merlin Works
9th Annual Boys of Summer
What happens when some of Austin’s most respected business owners and high-tech professionals loosen their frayed t-shirt collars and flex their keyboard-weary hands? They transform into the singing, dancing Boys of Summer!
One hot Boy of Summer will guest star with Girls Girls Girls Improvised Comedy Musicals for seven Saturday night shows from July 12 through August 23. See a new side of some of Austin’s most respected men as they flex their singing and acting muscles to create Broadway-style musical comedy on the spot from an audience suggestion.
Performing at The Institution Theater, a new boy will guest star alongside Girls Girls Girls as they perform their signature format - a musical comedy created in the moment from an audience suggestion, complete with storyline, songs, and multiple characters.
And, Pick-a-Boy is back! Girls Girls Girls has saved the last show to feature a guest star selected by you, the audience! Votes have already poured in and the contenders have been narrowed down to the following: Mike Carreon, Kevin Miller, Ryan Austin, Doug Pendergras, Chuy Zarate, and Tom Booker. Come watch on July 12 as these contenders sing and dance in a showcase with the Girls for a chance to win the audience’s heart and a spot as guest star of the final show.
July 12 – Pick-A-Boy Thunderdome (come vote for your favorite!)
July 19 – Clif Highfield
July 26 – Tyler Bryce
August 2 – Michael Jastroch
August 9 – Joe Parsons
August 16 – Dave Buckman
August 23 – Pick-a-Boy Audience Choice
Tickets and more info at http://www.theinstitutiontheater.com/shows