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then exert herself to relieve him, she perhaps thinks her every duty fulfilled. But what if this uneasiness, whether slight or severe, what if it might have been wholly prevented, by care and attention on her part to the quality or quantity of his food, the arrangement of his clothes, the making of his bed, or the regularity of his taking the air ? How many casual indispositions must infants be seized with from a trifling neglect in any one of these essentials of food, exercise, sleeping, and dress! And how happy, would not one imagine, a mother must feel in the possibility of being able, at any cost of trouble to herself, to spare her child's delicate body the shock of leaving his untried heart to the risk of being warped by trials, which he is too feeble to support, and which he needed not to have undergone !
By sparing the child's tender frame during the first six months, his unmoulded disposition is also left to receive gradual and good impressions, and is not at once hardened into fretfulness, irritability and impatience, by uneasiness or torture, produced by neglect and carelessness. At this period, too, we may in some degree distinguish between the cry of caprice, of want, and of pain ; and a mother may
offer a little check to violence, which with an infant of more tender age it would be difficult to do with safety. Infants, then, in a word, should be prevented, by every care and attention, from mourning and pining from any cause which it may be within the possibility of a mother to prevent. It is not enough that, when the lamentations and cries actually begin, the mother is active and anxious in seeking a remedy for the present evil;
that evil should not have been allowed to exist, unless it be marked by the finger of Omnipotence in the signs of regular sickness : sickness which has not, as far as the discrimination of man can extend, been brought on by surfeit, or irregularity, or negligence. To such, indeed, we bow down the neck and submit; whilst, at the same time, we are permitted to use means, and to hope for a blessing on them by recovery. It is here that a tender mother is truly pained. An infant stretched before her, struggling with a disorder which seems almost to overwhelm it, without the power of expressing how much it suffers, is a most distressing object, and though she can give no lesson of patience to the helpless sufferer, she may here find the fullest opportunity for the exercise of this great virtue in herself. Perhaps, and it is pleasing to indulge the thought, the quiet, unostentatious attentions and deep anxiety of an affected but patient mother may not be wholly unimpressed upon an infant's mind. It is even possible that the child may catch something of the manner, the quiet resignation of virtue, from her whom he is beginning to love better than every other being; and that he may be affected by it so as to feel soothed, nay, even inspired. And why not? Infants certainly notice first, and then imitate. Who can trace back the very first impression of vice and virtue in himself? No one ; for impression of virtue and vice was made before his
carry that is, his disposition was formed, bent, and outlined in the first year of his life, of which time no man has any recollection whatever. It seems, then, not very improbable, that patience practised by a mother who
undergoes the affliction of seeing her own child oppressed by illness, may really improve the heart of this child, by shewing forth the charms of such a virtue. She does well, therefore, to encourage patience, since it offers this twofold advantage.
Should the child survive the attack, and be restored to health, he must, in the course of time and by degrees, be initiated into all the branches of this most useful virtue. Sickness is the grand evil of infancy: if it may be allowed us to call that an evil which is permitted by our Creator; and to support it well is a duty of great importance, and one which we should never fail to enforce betimes, by the gentlest means, whenever an opportunity can be afforded.
It is, however, a very difficult and arduous task for a mother, when she is sitting by an invalid child of one, two, or three years old, to bring herself to reflect how much his disposition will be injured by extreme indulgence shewn to his suffering body; so difficult a task, that none but the best of mothers, who make their duties their guides, whether such be painful or pleasing to their natures, will undertake it. And truly does it bring its own reward; for, in general, the well-ordered children who are taught to forbear, best learn in the hour of trial how to endure. Such chil. dren do not certainly kiss the medicine cup when it is presented, nor are they rejoiced to see the doctor, who is almost always disliked by little invalids ; but, on the other hand, they do not fall into a paroxysm of rage, when their mother, after having judiciously spared them the disgust of seeing a nauseous compound measured out under their very sight, comes un
expectedly before them, with kind but firm countenance and manner, and cheerfully presents the dose, which she requires them immediately to swallow, ere they can have time to examine its colour, quantity, and smell, and set themselves fairly against it. These children, who have been long accustomed to obey, now perceive, even amidst all the hurry, disorder, and relaxation incident to a period of indisposition, that the parent they have been used to love, and respect, and obey, will now submit to no refusal. A few wry faces, perhaps, may be drawn; some natural tears may be shed; the mother cheers and soothes; but with firmness presses
cup to her child's lip, and as he will not struggle against it, she gently introduces the draught, which when once fairly in the mouth must be swallowed. This task accomplished, and without a bargain, withont an extravagant demand from one or a rash promise from the other, she hastens to give him
any trifle to which he may be partial, to smother the disagreeable taste as speedily as may be : for it were harshness indeed, to refuse to a little child on such an occasion what we do not deny to ourselves ; and it were cruel to allow a distressing sensation to wear itself out, when we can with safety put a stop to it at once.
After such a great effort of submission on the part of a sick child, a mother will naturally be inclined to give him the praise he deserves; nor would she be just in withholding it. But she should be cautious not to say too much, for at no time are children more inclined to presume, and to grow refractory, than during indisposition. The steadiest manner a mother
can assume, in such a moment of anxiety, will be infinitely the best'; not that an over anxiety, betrayed in the countenance, would affect the child with a sense of danger; he, poor innocent, nor knows nor cares for dangers, or for the possible consequences of severe illness; he only knows he is very uncomfortable; and if he should observe his mother changed very much, from her ordinary calmness to a state of agitation, evidently on his own account; should see her look upon him with a disposition to grant all he might ask; should find her giving way upon every fretfulness he might be inclined to shew, then it is more than probable this child would choose to have a thousand whims, would exert his will in a thousand ways, and would, at last, rise from the bed of sickness, very materially worse in mind and heart than when he lay down upon it.
But let the mother heroically bear up in presence of her child, and preserve, as far as a mother can preserve, the calm equanimity of deportment which she habitually displays. Sympathy and tenderness she may still give him ; and she may the more happily do so, as these virtues and engaging affections of the soul are most eloquent when silent. The little sufferer will see all that is tender, soothing, and expressive in the loved countenance which bends over his bed; he will derive comfort from looks; but from words, words often unmeaning, he will not gather that all authority, hitherto deemed sacred, is now to be set at nought, and that boundless license is to be the order of the day.