Archive for the ‘ Must Read ’ Category

What My Doctor Says I Can’t Do With Emmett

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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Why Modern Innovations Can’t “Parent” For You

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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Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children
Digital Devices and Children

Pioneer pic via Shutterstock

Apps picture via shutterstock

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Two Kitchen Tips for Super Bowl Sunday

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Here are two of my favorite kitchen tips. The first one is better explained with a picture:

Put wine corks under the handles of your pot lids and you will never need a potholder again when lifting the lid off. I have them on all of mine, and I have for years. The other day a friend of mine said, “You should post that tip on your blog. It’s so good.” I happen to agree. Plus, it’s a testament to how much I enjoy wine.

 

Here’s my other tip: when you finish chopping raw garlic or onion, it can be tough to get the smell off your hands. Simply rub your hands on anything that has stainless steel–a spatula, the sides of your sink, even the pot lid as long as it’s not hot. Stainless steel somehow neutralizes the odors.

That’s my domestic side coming out as you all start cooking for Super Bowl. Or not.

Feel free to share your favorite tips.

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My Preschool Decision With Emmett

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Any preconceived notions I had about raising gender-neutral kids went out the window when I had a boy. While Fia has always been a girl with an adventurous, tomboy spirit, she has also had this soft, ethereal and empathetic way about her. Butterflies land on her. The cat loves her.

Cut to Emmett who any day now is going to fall off this banquette and land on his face. Our first ER visit was last weekend. I’m shocked it took this long.

Em bulldozed into the world with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, a pointy elf-like ear, and a grin that said, “Hey, Mama, you ready for me? Because it’s going to be a wild ride.”

(Pictured here with Phil’s mom)

As he grew, his ear lobe straightened out, but his hair became covered in crazy curls (unlike Phil and I, who have straight hair). And the more the curls came in, the wilder he got. At 5 months we called him Thumper because he would thump his legs up and down in the crib or on the changing table, giggling all the while. My pediatrician declared him the most active child she’s ever seen.

He is also about the happiest child ever and does have a side that will sit still and page through books for 20-30 minutes at a time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he reads by 3. He is also super cuddly and sweet. He’s not a hitter or a grabber. But because he’s more curious than a cat (who only has 9 lives), we are on constant deathwatch.  The other morning I turned my back for 10 seconds to help Fia. Em was gone. I found him standing on top of the toilet tank pounding at the window. Our house is quickly becoming a prison, where we are the guards and he is the inmate trying to outsmart us in his escape.

This is why we decided as soon as he turned two, we would put him in preschool. We asked ourselves what is he going to enjoy more? Being with a sitter twice a week or running errands with me (he crawled into the dryer at Sears last week)–or in a structured, safe environment where he can learn and play with other kids? The answer is obvious. Of course I had the usual mom guilt–for about 3 seconds.

Today is his first day and I think he is as thrilled as we are. The director has been sending me pictures and text updates, “Emmett is doing fabulous. He sat through circle time beautifully, he ate ALL his oatmeal and is loving yard play with his new friends.”

I, too, am doing fabulous. I’m sitting across the street from his preschool catching up on my life, writing, and breathing a big sigh of relief. The boy is happy and safe. And I’m free. In another 2 hours I’ll be ready to grab him back and kiss those curls. Until then, his new friends and teachers can.

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A Must-Read Car Safety Tip For Every Parent

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

You hope it never happens to you–but if God forbid you or whoever is driving your kids were in a car accident, rescue workers wouldn’t know how to identify the children. Adults at least have driver’s licenses, etc. Even if your babies were conscious, a toddler probably wouldn’t know her home address, phone number, etc.

A mom wrote a blog post about putting a sticker on your kids’ car seats that gives basic information. (For some reason, her blog URL won’t come up now.) Basically she said to put your child’s name, birth date, parents’ names, number, pediatrician’s number, and emergency contact information on it. If you have an older child who doesn’t have a car seat but is still too young to have an identification card, put the sticker somewhere obvious in your car.

There is a site–The Ohio Insurance Institute–who made the sticker shown above (called the TIKE emergency info car seat sticker) for people to print out. It’s on their website, along with the following explanation for why they made this sticker:

“In 1995 a six-month-old boy was involved in a head-on traffic collision while riding with a relative. The driver was left unconscious and the boy suffered a life-threatening head injury that required immediate surgery. Police did not know the child’s identity and were only able to trace his parents because an address book was located in the wreckage. Valuable time was lost due to this delay. The boy was airlifted to a nearby hospital for emergency brain surgery.  He has since fully recovered. This sticker is to be placed on the bottom of your child’s car seat to assist emergency personnel in identifying your child should an accident occur which disables the adults in your vehicle.”

It’s such a no-brainer to do this. One of those things where I think, Why didn’t I think of that? Anyway, pass this tip along.

 

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