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Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
There are some things you tell your kids and some things you ask. Telling makes it affirmative. Asking makes it optional. Coddling comes from the latter–and parents who coddle their kids incessantly are entirely insufferable. Their children will suffer for their actions. We all already do because it pisses off the parents who are doing the right thing. In the last week two instances illustrate this perfectly. Strangely enough, it was both dads. But I find the majority of my encounters of this kind are with moms, simply because there are usually more moms on the playground. Regardless here goes:
Emmett went down the slide and his little car slipped out of his hands. A boy around 2 or 3 takes it. Em runs over, points and says, “Emmett’s car.” He doesn’t grab, he doesn’t push. He waits. I am next to him.
The boy’s father comes up.
“Sean, that’s not your car. Can you give it back?”
Silence. More silence.
Dad leans over.
“Hey Buddy, can you give it back?”
More More Silence.
My mind: Okay, if you’re counting that’s twice you’ve asked in the 30 seconds my kid is waiting. And are you an idiot? No kid wants to give up a toy–even if it’s not theirs– so why keep asking?
“Sean, you really need to give that back buddy.”
Nothing. More Nothing.
My mind: Okay are you stupid? The proper thing to say is, “Hey Buddy, give it back.” You don’t ask if he can. Of course he can. But chances aren’t he won’t. Clearly your kid is not responding to your passive parenting. Duh.
At this point, we are approaching 45 seconds, maybe a minute. I’m done. I kneel down and physically take the car from precious little Sean’s hands, while saying, “We are going to give that back now.” I hand it to Emmett and we resume playing. I’m furious though.
Do you see how ridiculous this scenario is? We have become a culture of coddlers. So many parents take the path of least resistance when it comes to child rearing. Your kids are acting up? Hand them your phone. Your kid doesn’t want to share their pile of French fries (on a playdate)? Have the other parent order a new batch, even though that kid will never finish his. It’s ludicrous.
Two days later, at a different playground, Fia and Emmett climbed up to a double slide. The kind where you can sit side-by-side. One slide was empty; the other had a little girl around 18 months on it. Fia sat down on the empty one next to her.
“Come on Emmett, slide next to me,” she said.
“He will Fia, we just have to let this little girl go down first,” I explained.
I look at the father who looks at his daughter.
“What do you think sweetie? Do you want to go down?” he asks.
Silence. More silence.
Emmett is on the top, once again, waiting patiently.
“Hmmm honey? What do you think?” he asks. Again.
My mind: Are you f–king kidding me?
Silence again. More silence. And more.
Fia: “Mom, when can Emmett come with me?”
Me: “When this little girl goes down. What do you think?” I say, turning to the little girl.
Blank stare from girl while I fantasize about shoving her father off of the nearby jungle gyms.
I turn to the father: “Is she going to go down the slide?”
Father: “I’m not sure. I think she just wants to sit here.”
Me=dumbfounded. Speechless. Um, okay, so you are going to let her monopolize the slide? Are you an ape? What are you trying to teach your kid? And what about my kid who actually wants to use the slide your daughter is meditating on.
I can’t believe I didn’t say something directly to him. I should have. Instead I told Fia to go on down her slide and that we will find another place where she and Emmett can do something together. I said it loudly but that’s not good enough. I should have told him his behavior and “parenting” was inexcusable.
What are these as-hole parents afraid of? That their kids will “freak?” (Which by the way, is a dumb word to use on your kid. ie: Oh, so and so will “freak” if I don’t do xyz. I catch myself using it sometimes and have to remember how much I hate that word in relation to children. I can’t stand the labeling of our kids. Even worse is when you say “xyz will freak” in front of xyz. If you say your kid is going to freak then guess what? They are going to freak. You are teaching that to them.). Are parents afraid they will actually have to do some work as a parent and “make” their kid do the right thing? That their kid might cry (or “freak”) and you may have to be tough? To be a parent? I don’t get it.
Parenting is not easy. So if you sign up, then do the f–king work it entails to not produce overly whiny, cowardly, and/or bratty kids who aren’t taught the basic etiquette of society. The playground is a metaphor for a helluva lot more. So if you can’t teach them on the playground, how will you teach them in real life?
For all their faults, I have a hard time thinking my parents would have stood for any of this bulls–t. For the handful of things I disagreed with in Stephanie Mertz’s viral rant, she had some excellent points. The helicopter needs to crash and we need to press the restart button on proper parenting.
Bottom line: It’s not Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s: You Tell, Don’t Ask. Got it?
Do you coddle your kids? Take our quiz and find out what your parenting style is.
Cartoon pic via shutterstock
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bully, helicopter parent, ipad, kids sharing, parents who coddle, playground etiquette, RIE, sharing, Stephanie Mertz | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Sunday, March 2nd, 2014
It’s early congrats, but I’m thinking it’s a foregone conclusion that Disney’s latest movie will take home the Oscar for Frozen. One of my best friends, Jenn Lee, wrote the movie, then came on to co-direct it. She is a pioneer at Disney–she is the first female director there. Ever. For a company that has been around since the 1930s, that’s a pretty f–king amazing feat (and pretty f–king amazing it hasn’t happened until now. Though of course if it had to wait until 2013-14, I’m psyched that it’s my friend who broke the glass ceiling). Now Jenn is behind a movie that is quickly approaching the one-billion dollar mark. That’s 9 zeros if you can count that high.
Phil brought Jenn on to help him write “Wreck-it Ralph” after doing the initial drafts himself. They met the first day of film school. I’ve written about their journey before with Ralph. But tonight the spotlight is all on her.
She wrote a piece in today’s LA Times about the hardest part of being a female director. It’s not the writing room or the story room or the endless flights around the world (that while exotic can be exhausting, especially as a single mom raising a 10-year-old girl). What’s hardest she says? The red carpet. As in all the things women have to do in order to make themselves look the part. An excerpt:
I certainly didn’t know that a fitting for a proper boostie-yay would involve standing topless in front of three Ukrainian women, while they placed bets as to whether I was a D or a Double-D.
I didn’t know that I had so much to learn (and to purchase, because unlike men, women apparently cannot be photographed in the same thing twice). Since November, I have rarely lived a day that hasn’t involved hair and makeup or shopping or styling, and I now know more about myself than I ever wanted to. I know that my boobs don’t fit, ever. My eyebrows are wild and should be committed. I have a cowlick … and that is bad.
She texted me last night that in her final fitting yesterday they had to build a special harness for her boobs. It’s not easy being a woman on the red carpet.
I shouldn’t cover my shoulders too much because that looks matronly, but I shouldn’t wear strapless gowns either, seeing as I “just don’t have the armpits for it.” I am shockingly short-waisted and yes, one stylist actually used the word “shockingly.”
But amidst it all, it has been a wildly fun ride for her–and for her friends who get to cheer her from the sidelines.
So tonight, when she’s bound to get up on stage and accept the Oscar with her two male counterparts, don’t look at her boobs. Just look at the gigantic smile from a woman who has made history. So proud of you girl!
(Click here for the entire article by Jenn)
Picture of Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, winners of Best Animated Feature Film for “Frozen,” at the Golden Globe Awards show on Jan. 12, 2014, in Beverly Hills. Courtesy Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / January 12, 2014
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Friday, February 21st, 2014
I don’t think I knew what nail polish was when I was 4. But in this world, Fia knows it all too well. Her friends all wear it on their nails and toes. When friends of ours with older girls come over, they sometimes want to paint her nails. Phil took the stance stronger than I did in the beginning. No way, he said. But now as she gets a little older, I’m torn.
I don’t want to give into peer pressure, but what is really the issue here? We all know kids grow up faster than we did. The whole world moves and grows faster. So where do I make my decisions and pick my battles?
The other day a friend of hers from school gave her a gift: a purse and a package of pretty water-based nail polishes. Fia begged us to let her put them on. Phil was adamant. I was waffling. But he glared at me and said, “United front.” I acquiesced.
As Fia stood there streaming tears, I took her aside, in what I suspect will be one of many “let mama work on him” talks. I just didn’t expect it to happen this young.
“Fia, look at me,” I said, out of Phil’s earshot.
She did as her tiny lip trembled. This is going to be really hard to watch when there are real issues at stake besides blue nail polish.
“Stop asking about it tonight. Let me talk to daddy when you go to sleep.”
She protested a bit, then listened and dropped the subject.
Once she was in bed, I approached Phil.
“How about we just let her have it on special occasions?” I suggested.
He hesitantly agreed.
Fia slept with her purse full of her polishes next to her.
The next morning you can guess what her first question was.
I gleefully whispered, “Yes, you can do it today. But only today. Then it will be on special occasions.”
Her face lit up and she wrapped her little arms around me. “Oh thank you mama.”
We quickly got to the task at hand.
She wanted every color on every nail, so I had to explain to her how it’s done. In the end, we had a blue pinkie and some semi-sparkly pink and peach nails. It was so much lighter than I thought it would be. It was basically like glitter with a hint of color. In retrospect, hardly worth the argument against it.
But what is it about these “girly” things that make some of us hesitate? When do you allow short skirts? Makeup? Is it that society inundates us with how women can “make” themselves beautiful that make parents like us cringe? We know girls and women face tremendous pressure in this regard. But if you push back too much, then does it backfire? What do you gain?
When I took Fia to school that morning she ran up to her teachers and proudly showed off her nails along with the purse full of polish. After the ooo-ing and awww-ing subsided, she handed me the purse, picked up her “work” (she’s in Montessori) and went back to being the 4-year old that she is.
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Sunday, February 9th, 2014
We had Em’s 2-year appointment last week. All the routine stuff checks out fine. She did say if he gets pneumonia again, they would have to look into some immunology testing (gulp) to see what is the underlying reason. All kids get colds and coughs. The issue is, if his continues to turn into pneumonia, then there is some reason his lungs aren’t clearing it on their own. Every time he coughs, my ears tune in and I hope that it’s not turning chronic.
I told my doctor how, um, active he is–a Tasmanian devil on steroids. Albeit, a gleeful, exuberant one. I am actually surprised it took him almost 2 years to have his first ER trip. I also told her how impatient his is. If he wants milk and doesn’t get it 3 seconds before he wanted it (because I’m a mind-reader), the absolute screaming and crying becomes instantly epic. I feel like a racehorse rushing to get him what he wants as soon as possible before the meltdown begins. It’s absurd. It goes against my parenting style of not catering to their every whim immediately. But trying to tell him to wait, and even show him, “Look Emmett, mommy is getting your milk right now,” has no impact. Once he realizes it’s not instantly there, there is no consolation until he gets it. Then he’s fine–as if the multitude of tears and tantruming was as routine as a laugh. Or a cough (bleh).
I told the pediatrician, “It’s like he needs instant gratification.”
Her response was strong: “This is a kid you absolutely cannot hand an iPhone or iPad too in those situations. Kids need to learn to be bored, to be patient, to wait. If you hand him a device, he will never learn. You just have to make him wait. But don’t give in to the technology temptation.”
It reminded me of an earlier point she made at his 18-month appointment about what new studies are showing for kids who are raised electronically (meaning given devices to play with all the time). It is scary sh-t. Luckily Phil and I are pretty diligent in our efforts to keep both kids away from that sort of reliance.
Nevertheless, I thought it was a good reminder to pass along. I wrote a few days ago about how marketers and developers continuingly come up with things to make parenting “easy.” But if you want the easy way out, then don’t have kids. Because if you’re a parent, you need to actually parent. “Easy” now will make it much harder later when they can’t function without constant stimulation.
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apps, attention span, impatient toddler, instant gratification, ipad, iphone, pneumonia, technology, toddler attention span, toddler iPhone, toddler technology | Categories:
Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Thursday, February 6th, 2014
My grandmother lived until she was 97 years old. She raised 7 kids on a cattle ranch in rural South Dakota. By rural, I mean the closest town was 30 miles away and had a population of 12. They had no running water or electricity for many years. My dad and his siblings grew up using an outhouse. They went to a one-room schoolhouse. It was right out of Little House on the Prairie.
How my grandmother would react knowing that a) Huggies has developed an app that tweets you when your baby pees (they say it’s just for a study so parents can know how many diapers they go through) and that b) Stephen McLaughlin is having the internet name his daughter –is beyond me. Actually I know how my grandmother is reacting. She’s rolling over in her grave.
Sure, innovations can be great. My parents (and grandparents) didn’t have a choice but to use cloth diapers and hand wash. Now we have 15 brands of diapers, including organic, to choose from. I started off using Pampers with Fia–the ones with the blue line that appears if your baby outputs 2 drops of pee. Anytime Phil and I saw even a little bit of a blue line, we’d frantically rush to change her. That is, until we realized we were going through some 25 diapers a day (cue grandma rolling over). What a waste, both monetarily and environmentally. So we switched to the brown organics, where we used less but probably spent more to make sure nothing petroleum-based was touching her bum (more rolling over). I am a marketer’s dream.
Here’s the thing that developers and marketers are missing when they throw as much sh-t on the wall to see what will stick: no matter how much you innovate, the basics of raising a baby are innate and primal. A parent cannot raise their baby via an app. Nor should they want to. Though I guess they can name their baby via the internet, like McLaughlin is doing. Right now CTHULHU tops the list. He says it will be a great story to tell his daughter when she gets married. He’s missing the fact that he’ll have to tell her by the age of 2 when she gets made fun of on the playground. And by 3 when no teacher can pronounce her name. And again at age 4 when she’s not able to spell it.
With Emmett, I got over all that first-kid paranoia and went with what is/was cheapest. Except when it came to pacifiers. Since we now have 37 to choose from, you can pop them in and see what sticks, or well, sucks. The only one he took to was the Natursutten–which is the most expensive and not easy to find. I enabled his little habit until last week when I bought the more accessible and less expensive MAM. This, after the rubber on his $12 one was so disgusting it looked like it had been mangled by a rabid puppy–which isn’t far from the truth. Why I’m not making him give it up completely by age 2 is because I want the crutch. I want the easy way out. It helps him fall asleep and soothes him when he’s fussy. So yes, I buy into a lot of this stuff too. But if he’s really sad he needs me. Or Phil. Not a BPA-free device. “Hold you,” he says. No pacifier can replace that.
And I guess that’s my point: In this day and age with app after app being developed, the assumption is we are looking for the easy way out. But the truth is, there isn’t one. Parenting puts you in the trenches no matter how much money or help you have. If you have kids, you should expect to do at least some work. Luckily most of us don’t live in a place where we have to hand-wash cloth diapers in a dirty river. Luckily most of us have electricity and running water and washing machines. Thank god we live in a developed country where our babies won’t die of diarrhea–or in my case two weeks ago–pneumonia. But at some point companies need to stop the madness and we need to stop buying into the more ridiculous gimmicks to make parenting “easier.”
I often wonder about uber-rich celebrities who have babies. Did Angelina use a timed sleep app to avoid crying in frustration when her 15 different babies woke up during the night? I doubt it. Does she tend to at least some of them when they’re sick or does a robot take their temperature? (I’m sure if there isn’t such a device there will be soon). I’m sure she had/has 10 night nurses, but even so, if she was breastfeeding, she would have had to get up at least once or twice and pump–until they develop an app to do that for you too. Did Courtney Cox choose from 30 different nipple creams for chaffing? Did Madonna have to use those huge hospital pads in her underwear after childbirth? Whether or not you have a c-section or vaginal birth, you still bleed. A lot. Will they make one that tweets when the pad needs changing?
I have to assume all these moms had to roll up their sleeves and parent. Why else would you have kids if you don’t want to do any of the work?
As my friend Cassandra kept telling me when Emmett was a baby, “It’s time to mom-up.” I was worried about letting my night nurse go. I went so bat sh-t crazy/delusional with Fia from lack of sleep. I was terrified to go down that same path. So during my pregnancy with Emmett, I had a stash of money saved so I could pay for my sleep. Granted we have no family nearby, and that is different than when my grandma had her extended one close by. And with 7 kids, the older ones helped with the younger ones. But there comes a point when things like apps that tweet your baby’s pee becomes indulgent. I know, because I was–and can be–indulgent. But I hope I’m smart enough and have enough mom instinct to know when to draw the line.
As for having the internet name your kid? Well, that’s just stupid. When the story came out two weeks ago, I flagged it as something to write about. But I didn’t. Why? Because I was parenting from the trenches, taking care of my 2 really sick kids. I was too busy being a mom–and worrying about my kids–to worry about writing a blog based on yet another indulgence of the internet.
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Pioneer pic via Shutterstock
Apps picture via shutterstock
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Angelina Jolie baby, cloth diapers, computer, diaper tweet, diarrhea, hand wash diapers, Huggies app, pacifiers, parenting by computer, parenting with apps, pneumonia, Stephen McLaughlin, technology, tweet | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read