Tag Archives: parenting

Defensive dad finally gets it

One of the most amusing things my husband said to me in the last couple of weeks was the following:

Husband: “Is it irrational to feel annoyed when someone points out that my daughter needs something when I’m taking care of her?”

Me: “You just described the central point of about 72% of all posts by moms on kid-related website message boards.”

Husband: “So it’s totally normal then, to feel slightly insulted?”

Me: “Totally.”

Welcome to the club, Dad. Please learn how to use the eye-roll emoticon.

The End of Parenting?

There have been a steady stream of articles and studies published lately about how the current generations of parents have somehow lost the ability to parent effectively, spoiled their kids too much, not found the balance they need, can’t have it all, given up their identities to their children, and other damning conclusions.

“Spoiled Rotten: Why do kids rule the roost,” by Elizabeth Kolbert for the New Yorker
“Mother Madness: How motherhood became such a prison for modern women,” by Erica Jong for The Wall Street Journal
“The Man who Remade Motherhood,” by Kate Pickert for Time’s “Are You Mom Enough?” Issue
“How to Land Your Kid in Therapy: Why the obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods,” by Lori Gottlieb for The Atlantic
“Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest” by Sally Koslow (Viking).
“Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” by Ann-Marie Slaughter for The Atlantic
“With Grown Children, What am I Besides ‘Mom’?” by Risa Doherty for the Motherlode blog at The New York Times

My sleep-deprived brain is starting to synthesize something from all of these topics. I had written a very long and rambling post about the debate between “motherhood is a prison” and “you can never do enough for your children” approaches to parenting. I had started mixing in issues of work-home balance, childhood happiness versus adult happiness, modern attitudes changing vis a vis parenting and childhood… It was becoming a beast of a post.

Rather than trying to take on the hydra that is these topics, embodied by the articles above, head by head, I’d like to start hacking away at what I feel is the neck where all the heads meet. Or hopefully where several of them meet, anyway.

As part of the current group of parents that many of these writers address, I can’t help but be slightly offended when so many suggest that I have it all wrong, that I’ve lost sight of the right way to make my kid successful, self-sufficient, happy, and furthermore how to do so without losing my mind in the process. So many parents are just trying to get by, like they have for all time, with what they’ve got, in the world that they find themselves, all the while trying to keep their eyes and ears open for better ways. So before we get all blame-assigning, it is important to remember that one thing that unites virtually ALL parents is that they want their kids to be happy and have great lives.

The suggestion that modern parenting has become lazier, sloppier, more rushed, way too happiness-driven, or somehow lacking compared to historical parenting, French parenting, parenting of subsistance farmers in the Amazon, is a bit short-sighted. There are several reasons why we don’t want to hold up one particular type of parent as the model for all, why we always hedge when any expert tells us “just follow this example and you’ll be all set.” Imagine for a moment that we raised our children to the standards of the affluent families in the late 19th-century England. Our children may behave very well, they may be able to recite long poems, and they may keep their clothes clean, but they won’t know how to do very many survival tasks (cooking, building, gardening) nor will they be able to dress themselves, talk intelligently about politics, or show far-reaching creativity with their art projects. Similarly, parents in the Matsigenka, a tribe of farmers in the Peruvian Amazon (discussed in “Spoiled Rotten”) may teach their children to be helpful with household and agrarian tasks at very young ages, but their children will not know how to use the internet, form a complex social web with many other children from a variety of backgrounds, use algebra to problem solve, or make things out of legos. And learning how to use online social networking intelligently, for instance, is very much a valuable skill–just take a look at all the careers that are centered around media use.

Much like the argument that our kids are going to have weak immune systems because we are too clean and we don’t let them get really filthy anymore, the comparison between parenting now and “then” or here and “there” only has a tenuous basis in reality. We have different strengths; sure we’ve lost our resistance to some things, but we have gained a lot too. And better to be vaccinated with the dead virus than dig up the live one outside and risk real and lasting harm? People forget how tragic history was. Kids died. All the time. The world was a very cruel and different place. Are kids more comfortable now? Sure, but isn’t that what we wanted? To protect them from harm? Get them to adulthood and we’ve at least done that much?

Parents are raising their kids in an all new context where we are simultaneously being instructed to protect them in increasing ways while being surrounded by a culture that is whittling away at childhood. On one hand, parents are taught to fear the statistically minute and terrifying what-ifs — for example, there is a merciless campaign against crib bumpers, those padded borders that surround your baby’s crib to keep them from hitting their head on the sides. If you find the central study on this subject, you will discover that there were 25 deaths associate with bumpers and their ties over 20 years. How many children then, used bumpers safely? Any death is tragic, but compared to motor vehicle statistics this seems like a waste of fear. Parents are being encouraged to worry about so many low-probability threats and yet we take the high-risk situations for granted. Getting in the car is the most dangerous thing you can do. Yes, we have better and better car seats, but most people wouldn’t think twice about speeding, checking their voicemail, or driving in bad weather with their kid in the car. We go to great lengths to protect our kids from many harmful things, as we should, but the world around us is dangerous in ways we only are starting to understand. Unless you live in a few places in the world, our kids won’t be sent to war, experience famine, or epidemic disease. But they face advertising and media that wants to herd them into a narrow view of cool, early adolescence and adulthood, foster consumerism, and tie their sense of self worth to material wealth or at least good looks. First world problems? Perhaps, but nonetheless, serious problems if what we’re worried about is the health and success of our kids vis a vis our job as parents. As a parent, I can take concrete steps to fight against illness but I can’t fight the media.

For better or for worse, our children frequently are prepared for the society they live in, regardless of our intentions as parents. You can only do so much to control your greater environment, short of removing yourself to an isolated dwelling with little interaction with the outside world. See how well that works for the Amish? Yeah, not really a great solution. Aside from geography, your contemporary influences and biases as a parent will continue to shine through your actions. No parent is an island, or something like that.

While how we parent is scrutinized, how MUCH we parent and to what expense, is also under fire. Parental absenteeism is met with disgust, yet so is over-involvement, though perhaps less so. There are constant conflicting messages. Kids are over scheduled. Kids without after-school activities get into more trouble. French kids don’t misbehave at dinner. Well, you know it’s because they expect good behavior, right? And how do they get this good behavior? By being more distant and less indulgent? You don’t say. In “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” the psychologists discuss how they meet these young adults who feel depressed because they aren’t as special as they’d been led to believe throughout their childhood. What’s the solution? Make our kids feel less special? Ignore them more? Article after article on modern motherhood preaching the dreadful concept of “balance” as if we could snap our fingers and find a way to bend the working-world to our true needs to be at home more. The favorable climate for mothers who WANT to work and spend more time at home lies at the end of a very long cultural shift involving some pretty amazing legislation and different attitudes on profitability and human resources. What are moms supposed to do right now? Telling us we’ve got it all wrong, reminding us of all the ways we are not doing enough or doing too much or we need to do everything differently is to suggest that SOMEONE has the answer or that some past generation of parents got it perfectly right.

I look around me at the parents I know. Are they doing too much in general? Maybe. Spreading themselves thin? Probably. Are they overprotecting their kids? Not really. They are doing a lot for them, they are worried about aspects of childhood that generations before didn’t have to consider. They are raising kids in a new age and trying to make the best of it. They are good parents who are trying to overcome the obstacles that they and their kids face. And they love their kids like crazy. Isn’t that the most important thing?

If I ask these parents that I know about their childhoods, if they got enough from their own parents, enough attention, enough support, enough material possessions, they almost all say they did. What they seek to improve isn’t some cushy-comfort level of their kids, but their safety, their relationship-forming-abilities, and their future opportunities in this ultra-competitive economy.

While there will always be examples of extremely over-indulgent parents, absent parents, helicopter parents, and spoiled Veruca Salts who refuse to do anything to help their families, I hesitate to conclude this is the direction we are all moving. Each of us can point to some people we’ve met and say “they are spoiling their kids, they are always working, they are correcting their kid’s every mistake” but not only is it really hard to know from the outside what the real issues are, it is also impossible to draw a direct conclusion about what this means for a child’s future. We look to these studies to help us find our way, but know that childhood is fast and research slow. In the end, it’s just you and your kids and whatever it takes.

The Overtired Monster

Nessie: A handful of sightings. Overtired Monster: Millions served. I saw it last Tuesday.

One of the most frustrating aspects of being the parent of a small child is battling the Overtired Monster (OM). You do everything you can to avoid welcoming this creature into your life, but you still wind up, one way or another, face to face with this unpredictable and annoying demon.

You try to get home for that nap or to bed on time, but things happen. Suddenly, you are on a bus or in the car and your sweet little one transforms into this beast who whines and moans, throws things, issues sudden and ridiculous demands, gets upset at the slightest provocation, screams and cries, scratches and kicks, refuses to sleep, and will not be appeased. For some reason, this monster prefers public locations. Maybe it’s afraid of what you’ll do to it without witnesses?

I think all people with babies and little kids know about the Overtired Monster. What I wanted to address today was the horrible misinformation about the OM among people who don’t have kids or haven’t had them in quite some time. You see, there seems to be the consensus out there that the OM DOESN’T EXIST or that if they do, that they really are “not so bad.” This is very troubling! I have been told things like “wow, your child really behaves like that” or “she’ll sleep when she’s tired” implying the non-existence of the OM. Also, “just let her fall asleep then” or “we need to do several things before you can put her to sleep” which mean that they do not show sufficient fear of the OM’s terrible wrath.

Since I continuously fight to banish the OM from my life, it is alarming to me that those around me could be so reckless, so cavalier, about this subject. Go ahead, go say “Overtired Monster” in the mirror three times! Let’s try to keep my kid up an extra two hours tonight! Naps? A luxury! She can nap later. I need to make all this noise while she’s sleeping.

It’s like they don’t know!!

Maybe the former parents repressed the memory like a traumatic event? Maybe the non-parents think it’s just a conspiracy like bigfoot? Well, I’m going to tell you that the Overtired Monster is real. And fierce. I might not survive. So, do everyone with little kids and babies a favor and learn to fear the OM like we do. The life you save may be your own.

Rhapsody in Baby

I have the sweetest little girl on earth. I know I’m biased and all, but she really is. She has these striking moments of sheer delightfulness. It came as a huge surprise to me that I got such a wonderful, squishy, and delicious kid, it’s not that I thought she’d be mean, but I guess I just thought she’d just be difficult most of the time, maybe slightly awkward and self-centered. Like me, you know.

I’m lucky. She makes this all so much easier by looking so adorable and having the charming disposition she does. Most of the time. To her credit, about 9 out of 10 times she is driving me crazy because she’s really tired, really hungry, or VERY bored. If I can keep her rested, fed, and mostly entertained, she’s usually a joy to be around.

I love the way she wakes up when she’s had enough sleep. She will have crazy rocker-hair, like her dad, but she’s so happy to see us. If the cat is around, she’ll give him a hug and pet him. She has this playtime ritual of going around the house gathering things up and putting lots of little bags on her arms. Then, she puts on a hat and goes to stand at the front door as if to say “I’m ready now.” She usually isn’t wearing pants or shoes.

When she really wants something, she points to it and nods very seriously, sometimes adding a “mmmh-mmmh.” If you are able to offer whatever it is she wants, she has a cute smile of relief.

When we travel, she almost always behaves like a Olympic gold medalist in toddler travel, back to defend her medal. I frequently get compliments on it, but they should really go to her. She’s even forgiving when I screw up, take something out on her, have to drag her along on some bit of unpleasant business. Blows my mind.

Outside, she will walk along with me, holding my hand, and sometimes she’ll carry her little purse or a book. She will usually smile back at people who say hello to her. She likes helping to take the trash out or take the laundry down to the washers and will be sad if she’s not included. She points out pigeons, squirrels, balloons, and dogs when we are outside. She is genuinely intrigued by musicians, wanting to stop and listen to all kinds of public performances. She will often dance if the song seems appropriate.

If you sing “Ba-ba Black Sheep” she will “baaaa” along like a little sheep. When you stop, she’ll hold up her index finger to say “one more!”

When she eats raspberries, she likes to put them on her fingers like little hats. She will blow on food if you tell her it’s hot, but her blowing on it sounds more like she’s telling it to be quiet, “fshhhhhh.” She wants to put her hands in food, but doesn’t like them being sticky or dirty so, will then offer them up to be cleaned.

She likes to video chat with her grandparents and her aunt and she likes to kiss the screen where their faces are. At bedtime, she always hugs her dad good-night and gives him high-fives over and over until he gets up and leaves. Then, she waves bye.

There are a million little things, some almost too difficult to accurately capture with words. The way she tries to put her books away when she’s done reading them, the face she makes when I find her in the middle of some really intense solo-play. The way she clings and pats my back when I take her out of her crib around 5am to take her to bed with me. The knowing look she gets when she hears certain songs playing.

Sometimes, she’ll spontaneously reach for my face and kiss me.

I don’t know what prompts it, but I know she means it. It is amazing to me that she isn’t completely sick of me yet, hasn’t hatched a plan with the cat to escape and run away to live in the supermarket unsupervised, like some kind of crazy “Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” but with more eating things and no art.

Yes, I know I’m gushing. But I’m allowed, once in awhile. I hope she can stay so darling forever, even if her habits change. As it is, I’m pretty lucky. I hope she knows that I appreciate it so much. Okay, mommy-faucet off.

Day to day grind

“Any idiot can handle a crisis, it’s the day to day that wears you out.”

This quote is all over the internets, attributed to Anton Chekhov, but nowhere can I or this other blogger find the original source of it. I agree that it certainly SOUNDS like Chekhov, but it probably isn’t.

That being said, it’s a good one.

As the former Queen of Procrastination, I like to think that I’ve really honed my crisis-timecrunch-deadline solving abilities. I spent most of my academic years trying to find new ways to make myself better at doing more with less time. How motivated of me, right?

If my mom is reading this, she should probably stop right now.

I once turned a paper in two years late. Oh yes.

By the time you turn something in THAT late, you basically have no motivation to work on it, and at the same time you know it has to be so totally amazing and perfect that you have created a perfect storm for procrastination: no clear end, impossible to do. By the time you have a real deadline (I’d like to graduate please), you are having a minor stroke every hour until you get it and many other things that have piled up completed. My diploma should have actually have a footnote that I minored in Practical Procrastinology.

Joke’s on me. After all that edifying crisis-solving, I find out what takes REAL talent is adeptly enduring the daily slog through the rote, trivial stuff. Like diapers, making lunch, washing dishes, reading “Hop on Pop,” or picking stuff up off the floor. I guess this is why they say parenthood is the hardest job? Very little about it, at this age anyway, is all that intellectually challenging (though, boy does it help to have a background in science), but it is all. day. every. single. day. And kids love repetition. Every warm-blooded animal on earth manages to “parent” in some small way, even if that means not eating your babies. So when I say, a monkey can do this, I mean it literally. Is it difficult to amuse, dress, entertain, and nourish a little kid? Only sometimes. Is it difficult to do this every day to the exclusion of all else that makes you feel like a person with their own life? Of course.

But so much more is expected of us, of our kids, so it’s not as simple as being a wire-monkey mother (an interesting research study on physical contact used these). You do have many minor crises along the way as well as the pressure to optimize all aspects of childhood so that your kids can excel in life. But after washing out the same cup for the 50th time this week, I wonder if maybe a house monkey wouldn’t be so bad…

50 Ways to Show Your Kid You Love Them to Pieces (toddler edition)

Okay, I put some thought into it and tried to do that more-creative list of how to show kindness, appreciation, and have a sweeter relationship with your child. As I said in the last post, I have read a number of these kinds of lists lately on other blogs and was underwhelmed by the suggestions.

Well, it turns out, it’s actually really hard to put together a list like this without sounding sappy, insane, or random. I just had to think about things I do and want to do for my kid and hope it translates to others. So, for what it’s worth, here is the result:

1. Let them be naked.
2. Give them permission to tear out all the pages in a magazine.
3. Tell them they are the winner of a special “Most Beloved Toddler” award and give them some beads, a medal, or a tiara.
4. Give them a whole sheet of stickers to go crazy with.
5. Once in awhile, ditch your errand and let them drag you around a shopping center.
6. Buy fun straws.
7. Put on a serious puppet show over their crib railing.
8. Count things, describe things, explain things, even if it seems obvious.
9. Task them with throwing (throw-appropriate) purchases into your cart in the grocery store.
10. Paint with them frequently.
11. Tell them about your day, even if they were present for it.
12. Give them their own space, a No “No” Zone.
13. Put weird things on your head and see how long it takes until they notice.
14. Give them a back-rub or foot-rub with lotion, if they like that sort of thing.
15. Let them “help” in the kitchen.
16. Talk about their favorite animal and look at pictures of them online.
17. Make up stories about their toys.
18. Don’t just hug them and tell them you love them often: hug them, tell them you love them, AND tell them you love what they’ve done with their hair.
19. Succumb to the allure of the occasional sugary snack together.
20. Slow dance, with more feeling, to ridiculous 80’s rock ballads.
21. Save them cool things to play with, like paper towel roll tubes and boxes.
22. Pay close attention to things like what size pieces they like their foot, how warm or cold they like to be while sleeping, what volume they prefer your voice to be while reading.
23. Get rid of clothes that are too tight, uncomfortable, itchy, or too complicated.
24. Give them lots of new foods to try.
25. Let them unfold the contents of your dresser.
26. Make your kid something completely unique and fantastical to play with.
27. Smell all the spices in the spice rack together.
28. Accept that you are helpless against the inevitable and give them their own cell phone (it can be on old one that’s inactive, or a toy phone).
29. Praise them for their unparalleled abilities to make a creative mess.
30. Feed birds, squirrels, etc. in the park together.
31. Pop into pet shops or markets just so they can look at the fish in their aquariums.
32. Let them choose their new clothes at the store once in awhile, they may surprise you.
33. Take pictures of them sleeping. (My sister assures me this is not creepy, it’s loving!)
34. Keep track of measurements, health, milestones, sure… but also mark your child’s changes in sense of humor, favorite flavors, attitude towards babies, the sound of their cry, the way they show affection.
35. Wrap them up in warm laundry fresh from the dryer as you fold.
36. Wait for them to put their shoes on and breathe deeply.
37. Open an email account just for them and let their adoring family and fans send them messages. It’s like a virtual letterbox for them when they’re older.
38. Be unapologetic to other adults about protecting your child from things that harm them.
39. Read books together, read on the floor, read on the bus, read in the car, read even when you are totally tired of reading, then ask them to read to you.
40. Donate to a special charity in their name. Tell them why.
41. When they are sick, let them get away with stuff you otherwise would not.
42. Let them help you at the ATM.
43. Educate yourself on childhood development.
44. Take your playtime seriously and your serious-time playfully.
45. Let them splash you in the bathtub. You’ll dry.
46. Take a day, now and then, to devote wholly to things that your kid loves to do.
47. Make conversation, listen to them even if it’s just babble.
48. Thank your child when they help, when they try, and most of all for just being.
49. In all ways, seek out the person they truly are, not who you want them to be.
50. And don’t be stingy with the sunscreen.

5 Common Bad-parenting Misconceptions

Now stay clean kids, mommy needs to impress some strangers.

There are a lot of these, but I am going to give you 5 that I have not only been guilty of making but also have received dirty looks for being the “bad parent.”

1. Baby not dressed warmly enough, isn’t wearing a hat, isn’t wearing mittens, etc.
I give up putting my kid’s hat back on after she’s ripped it off and dropped it on the sidewalk about 10 times. Unless it’s -20 C, I just figure she’ll have to learn about getting cold. But I’ve gotten some rather harsh commentary from passers-by that will attest to my lack of parenting sense in this regard. I’m always tempted to unleash months of pent-up fury on them by saying something like “Oh! A hat?!! You mean like the thing I just put on her 15 times in a row and had to set down grocery bags to pick up off the ground 15 times in a row until it finally partially landed in a puddle and got all wet? Never would occurred to me. Thanks, helpful stranger!”
But I’m too nice. I usually just pretend I didn’t hear them or say “she’s fine.” I get being concerned about random babies’ comfort, but telling someone to put something on their baby is almost never going to result in them putting something on their baby just because you suggested it. Almost no one WANTS their kid to freeze, so zip it.

2. Kids out WAY too late at night.
I used to see kids, little kids and babies, on the subway in the wee hours of the night in NYC and wonder “who are these crazy parents?” But now I realize how one might find oneself out and about in a city at strange hours. We had flights a bit over a year ago that meant we had to leave for the airport at 4am and when we returned, we got in past midnight so we were getting to walk through our neighborhood from the shuttle bus terminal at an hour we rarely get to experience. Some of the people lined up for the nightclubs gave us some pretty surprised looks. I hope it was obvious what our situation was, what with the luggage in tow. But I have also been out walking around very late at night with my baby in desperate hopes she’d fall asleep in her carrier. I would have had no luggage then. I also know kids who are super night-owls sometimes due to their parents’ schedules. They get enough sleep, just on a slightly different timetable. So while I still might ponder a kid on the train at 2am, I’m much less likely to immediately think their parents suck.

3. Yells at their kid in public.
Oh god, no one WANTS to be this parent. No one likes this parent. Not even themselves. There are extreme cases of verbal abuse, don’t get me wrong, and you can probably spot them a mile away. But I can totally see how a person could totally lose it over something that from the outside would look totally ridiculous and insignificant. Like throwing my metrocard on the bus floor. The bystanders have no idea that I’ve picked it up a dozen times before they got on and twice after and during one of those times that I was bent over getting it, my kid managed to destroy something, spill something, throw something else that scattered, make me miss our stop, etc. To top is all off, we’re running late, she kept me up half the night, I think you can see where I’m going with this. It would take a SAINT to keep cool under these kinds of circumstances. Or possibly access to the world’s largest stash of valium.

4. Lets their kid eat/drink something unhealthy.
First of all, looks can be deceiving. Yes, my daughter is drinking out of a large Starbucks clear cup something that looks like iced tea or maybe from a distance, coffee. I have to tell you that since she could drink liquids she has preferred the green straw to almost any other delivery mechanism. I also have to add that I drink my tea weaker than should be legally allowed. Then, I add ice. If she has a sip of it to stop her from flipping out in your presence, you should give me a damn medal. You’re welcome.
When the offending food item is more certain, you may raise your eyebrow, but what you don’t know is how much or how often the kid is really eating this food. Sure, a infant shouldn’t be drinking Pepsi. And if you see that, maybe you should ask if it’s at least diet. But for older kids almost everything is acceptable in small doses. It is all “food” after all, it’s not rat poison. And kids tend not to snack on kale in public. That’s what the junk food is for. It’s payment for their cooperation.

5. Kid is misbehaving.
This one is probably the king of them all. So many people see kids act a certain way and say something like “I would never let my kid get away with that” or “my kids would never be so horrible” or “my kids never got away with that crap.”
Well you will, they will be, and you did.
My daughter is such a sweet little person, she’s on the very low end of the meltdown spectrum in public, but even she has had her moments where the people around us look at me like I’ve raised some little dramallama and haven’t a clue what I’m doing. Kids, especially toddlers, just get tired, cranky, upset, have bad days, just like adults. Only they don’t have the emotional framework yet to repress or cope with how they feel. In many ways they are more honest, if you want to see the silver lining. Sometimes these feeling manifest as a meltdown, sometimes just as manic running around and pulling things off shelves. There are many forms of freak-out in kid-land. I know everyone wants to believe that all decent parents are going to put on their Psychoanalyst hats and work their kid through every situation like this, but it’s just not possible. Sometimes you just need to step back, let them flip out, and try to contain the property damage. And if it happens in a store, you do your best to get out of there, but lines only move so fast.
The hardest part not to judge is when you see a kid in the throes of some really awful behavior. Hitting, kicking, breaking stuff… You want to chalk it up to the parent so you can maybe believe this could never happen to you. But you don’t know what kinds of issues are going on in these people’s lives, you don’t know if the kid has any kind of autism or behavior problems, and you don’t know how hard it is for the parent you’re judging at that precise moment to deal with the situation. Maybe they are having the worst day imaginable? So if you can’t bring yourself to step in and lend a hand, at the very least try not to assume they are a bad parent.

Mommy Hazing

I should mention that my daughter almost broke my nose with a maraca.

It was quite festive out today, the snow was coming down in a pleasing way, it was cold but tolerably so. People were out shopping. We went out to go to the fabric store (Fabricville, aka “Polyesterville”) and get lunch. Our daughter was SO good at lunch and sat in her highchair the entire time, I almost wanted to order more food since she was being so patient. Why can’t she be like this when I’m out with her alone and I really need her to sit still, when her dad isn’t there to take her out for a walk?

Oh yeah right, because she’s trying to break me down so that I’ll be compliant and a pushover in her teen years.

What’s brilliant about her plan is that she doesn’t just make it hard ALL the time, she gives me long stretches of wonderful so that I will be more confused and frantic when she shifts into impossible-mode.

Going to bed is a great example of this. The rule lately seems to be this:
If my daughter falls asleep easily, fast, and without any fight (eg. under 10 minutes, without tossing and turning and nursing forever), she will wake up many times during the night and be more difficult to put back to sleep each time.
If she takes a loooong time to fall asleep and makes me damn near lose my mind getting her there, and I miss all my favorite shows, then she’s going to have a good night.

I suspect that this is because the nights she falls asleep faster are when she is overtired and just crashes, not getting the adequate time to wind down. Therefore, when she wakes up about 40 minutes in, she thinks “I’ve been tricked, drugged, hypnotized! How long have I been out?! What day is it?!”

So generally, she likes to keep me on my toes every night, but in varying ways. And then she’ll go and create an exception to the rule, just to make me second guess everything.

She is brilliant. Did I mention she almost broke my nose with a maraca?

Random things I’ve learned since having a kid

1. Unless you live in the rainforest, buy a humidifier.

2. Babies’ onesies don’t just have that special neckline with overlapping shoulders to accommodate their large heads, even that that is the primary reason. These necklines also make it possible to pull the whole thing DOWN and off in case of a huge mess. Also, you can pretty much never have too many onesies.

3. Buy swimsuits in the summer. If you think your kid is going to need a larger swimsuit anytime during the year before next summer, get the larger size before all the summer-clothing disappears from stores or you will have to search long and hard for a swimsuit in November. This also applies to other seasonal-items (if you are going to Greenland in June or something). Thankfully, there is number 4.

4. Check Amazon. Whatever it is, before you go out and try to find it in person, just check Amazon. This way, you have not only an idea of what commonly exist, but a reference point for price so that you know if you are being ripped off. This is probably a good lesson even if you don’t have kids. (And I do mean amazon.com, not amazon.ca which sucks.)

5. Cloth diapering while an environmentally friendly choice is also a great choice for your pocketbook. Even if you use more expensive options, like BumGenius, you will still save loads of money. If you don’t use them all the time (like me), you will STILL save money. Better yet, if you treat them right, the cloth diapers/diaper covers hold a lot of value and can be resold when you are done! There is a Cloth Diaper Swap on Facebook that is one of the most aggressive sale-sites I have ever been on. Those ladies are freaking serious.

6. You can’t wear heels, you need more flats. I always preferred wearing heels. And I tried to continue, but hauling around my baby and all her stuff while wearing them made my feet ache (a feeling I am used to and can usually ignore), my shins feel bruised, and my knees feel like two delicate little girls who were about to pass out. Eventually, my back got word of all of this muscular-skeletal distress and joined the strike. So, I had to buy more flats. It is preferable you get ones that you could climb a small mountain wearing and that you can put on in under 1 second with no hands.

7. Someday, you will be *that* person that everyone in the restaurant/train/plane/store is staring at thinking “what a terrible parent, why can’t she just get it together?!” You may be lucky and only have it happen once. But it will happen.

8. And a continuation of 7, you will never really feel like you have your shit together. I fondly remember the days before the kid when I really knew that I was capable of accomplishing a series of tasks. I was on time, I was presentable. I had my wits about me. If you are a child-less person and considering having children, you should ask yourself how important it is to you that you always feel like you are “with it.” Because even on the days you are doing a great job, as a parent, you are always one kid-mess away from total functional breakdown. You will also have to lower your standards on house cleaning. Or lose your mind. Your choice.

9. That you will physically hurt when your baby cries: in your boobs (if you are nursing), in your stomach, in your brain.

10. That it’s not you. I spent about 10 months completely obsessing over my daughter’s (lack of) sleep predictability. She was one of the worst sleepers I’d ever encountered. She used to wake up 24 times a night sometimes, from about 6-8 months old. Naps were hell. She is still a bad sleeper compared to her peers. But several months ago, I finally realized: It’s not me. There is basically nothing I can do to make her sleep. It’s just a milestone she will meet when she’s ready. I drove my self crazy trying to make everything perfect. Now, all I do is try to give her a consistent schedule, keep her room dark, quiet, and comfortable, and just hope. If she wakes up, I go get her and do whatever she wants me to do to get her back to sleep. I never “sleep-trained” her since I know it would never have worked. I’m glad I didn’t. The crazy idea that I had any impact on her sleep habits at this age had to be put to bed, pun intended. I wasn’t me. Took me a long time to learn that, but now I appreciate the many areas of her life that this lesson covers.

Green Frog thinks you should get mommy a drink

the rest of you can clean the house...

The crazy things we do to get our babies and little kids to eat their food continues with this installment of: “hey, the FROG ate it…”

I thought my daughter’s molars were bothering her tonight, so I whipped up a smoothie with banana, peanut butter, milk, and soy ice-cream. She had hardly touched her dinner. She had a little bit of smoothie but was mostly ignoring it. I was out of ideas. Until…

She has these puppets her grandmother made her (all the animals from “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”) and her current two favorites are the “white dog” and the “green frog.” Green frog has a big mouth that opens and closes so, I put him on and pretend that he was drinking her smoothie.

She totally buys it. She “trades” back and forth with him until the entire cup is gone.

I move on to her now-somewhat-cold dinner. She eats almost an entire ravioli and some broccoli with the “I’m having dinner with Green Frog” method.

Whatever works, I say, BUT if I have to teach Green Frog calculus so that she will do her math homework, I am going to be cross.