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Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
I decided to take Fia to church on Sunday. This, after a recent vacation to Mammoth, California where we visited an old ghost town.
Me: “Fia, let’s go look at the old church.”
Her: “Mama, what’s church?”
Cue brakes screeching to a halt. Uh-Oh.
Phil’s father is an Episcopalian Priest. He baptized both our kids. His mom is the epitome of a loving, Christian woman. “Rev and Bev” we call them. Part of the deal in baptizing, besides tradition, is to raise them “in the faith.” However, neither Phil nor I are particularly religious. I would call us more spiritual, even though we both grew up going to Sunday School (and when my family was falling apart in the 9th grade, I briefly became a born-again Pentecostal. Yep. Not kidding). Phil’s experience–which included family time, church picnics and “preacher kid” mischief–was far different than mine.
My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.
“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.
My parents would slam the door and shout, “See you in an hour!” and go tearing off. My mother probably went and got high. My father probably went and made charts (we had a sign-in and sign-out chart growing up. Um, yes.).
I didn’t care about the drive-through drop off and I still don’t. In fact, in many ways, I get it. Woo hoo, an hour of free time! No babysitter, no kids. Where I differ from my parents (in addition to the 99% of things they did in child-rearing) is that I’m way too paranoid to ever leave my kids like that. Even when Fia is 8 or 9. No way, no how.
Not only would I not leave her at church alone, I wouldn’t leave her in Sunday School, even if I was at the church attending the main service. I’m much too paranoid; especially after my “Stranger Danger” post and the warning many of you gave me about “tricky people.”
But here’s where I’m grateful for my religious education: I know the stories. I know a whale swallowed Jonah and Daniel got thrown into a lions’ den. I know the implications and the message behind those stories. Many of the tales/allegories are cultural references too, and I think it’s important to know them. And no matter whom you worship–Allah, Buddha, Jesus–the common thread, at its core–is at least supposed to be about compassion, kindness and being a good person. Those are not bad things to teach your kid. One of my issues though, is I feel like I do that regardless. Must I take them to church every Sunday to learn this? Especially because I feel organized religion–also at its core–is deeply flawed?
I won’t go into my issues or grievances. This isn’t about what you believe. It’s about how to teach what you know to your kids without it feeling hypocritical or obligatory.
Back to my church excursion with Fia. On the way there I explained to her we were going to a church to learn about Jesus. Bev sent her the book, “Jesus Loves Me.” Fia knows all the words, partially because I’ve sang her (and Emmett) that song since birth, substituting “Jesus” for “Mama” and “for the bible tells us so” to “for she always tells you so,” etc.
I told her Jesus was a kind person who helped the blind see, the crippled walk and the poor eat. She asked where he was. Instead of saying, “in all of us” or some proper church response, I didn’t think it through. I got distracted because I was driving.
“Well, he died.”
“How did he die?”
“Some bad men killed him.”
“Oh, oh, I know!” she piped up in earnest. “He was smushed and turned into soup!”
(Pause.) (Pause again.) (Pause more.)
“Well, not exactly…”
And so it goes. My search for answers. To be continued…
Pic of church via Shutterstock
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Baptism, Bible stories, children bible stories, episcopal, Episcopalian, priest, religion, stranger danger, Sunday School, teaching Sunday School, toddler church, toddler religion, Tricky People | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
In general, our love lives are expected to follow one of three predetermined paths. They are as follows:
- Get married, have children
- Stay single, be lonely and unfulfilled
- Be George Clooney
You’ll notice that I coupled marriage and children together. Because, quite simply, everyone expects children once you’re married. Immediately. And they expect you to keep having kids until the novelty has worn off (for them). And why not? What do they care? Those kids aren’t going to invade their lives and refrigerators. In fact, people encourage you to have more children for the same reason we watch reality television shows – because seeing other people struggle is a sick, twisted form of entertainment most of us actually enjoy.
For anyone who watches my already existing children–don’t worry. Sonia isn’t pregnant, as far as I know. I’ve just been hearing a significant amount of talk lately regarding whether I should throw caution (and any semblance of sanity or a social life) to the wind and have a third child. And there seems to be two distinct schools of thought around this. Not surprisingly, both are built around the fact that my life would effectively be over, if it wasn’t already.
So, here are the two sides of the argument, based on actual quotes I’ve heard from friends and family.
CASE FOR A THIRD:
“Dude, once you have two, you might as well have eight.”
Now, this is how I generally feel about cookies or horror movie sequels, but I’m not sure how it is applicable to offspring. I believe the thinking here is that, if you’re already wired to deal with more than one kid sapping your brain cells, then what’s one more? I can at least see where they were going with this one.
“All children are a blessing.”
Now, this is clearly not logical. And trust me, I don’t believe it. Some children are an absolute burden. I’ve seen plenty of examples in my local mall. This does nothing to sway me toward the dark side. In fact, it does the opposite.
“You have two boys. Don’t you want a girl?”
Sure. I’d love to have a girl. I’d also love to see Real Housewives of New Jersey magically disappear from my DVR without my wife leaving me. But some things are out of our control, aren’t they?
“Come on, join the ‘Three Kid Club!’”
First of all, there is no such club. And secondly, this isn’t even a point. It’s just people whose lives are over who want mine to be over too. I don’t blame you, but don’t think I’m naïve enough to think this whole “Three Kid Club” includes a wet bar.
CASE AGAINST A THIRD:
“Are you an idiot?”
A legitimate question to which I have a simple answer. Yes, absolutely. Anybody who has kids on purpose is at least partly one.
“They will outnumber you and your wife.”
Probably the best case against having a third. I mean, if you were in a tag team wrestling match, you certainly wouldn’t welcome a third member on the other team, right? But if that third team member would occasionally hug you and draw pictures? Come on, you know you’d consider it.
“You can’t afford another child.”
Kids are money-suckers. I’ll give you that. I have no real argument against this one.
“Two is more than enough.”
This coming from someone with 14 tattoos, five earrings and working on their sixth cup of coffee.
I’ll admit to seeing merit in both arguments. This is what makes this type of decision so painstakingly difficult. Because the people who are pro-third make me consider the joys of parenting another child while the anti-third folks also make valid points about the very real horrors I’d be signing up for. However, as with anything else in life, this decision will likely be made by alcohol.
Ultimately, having children at all seems downright moronic most of the time. They demand our time, money, attention and guidance 24 hours a day and rarely ever reciprocate. But I’d be interested to hear from my readers, parents or not, about your thoughts on the topic. Do you have three children? And if so, are you mentally stable? Feel free to share your thoughts by adding a comment below!
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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Friday, July 26th, 2013
Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
Prepare to have your tastes judged relentlessly.
Giving anything a name can be a daunting task. A poem, a song, your pet iguana. If you’ve ever been in a position where you’ve had to “title” any of them, I don’t need to tell you that it’s a painstaking, often arduous process. And naming your own child is easily the most difficult of any naming decision you’ll make.
First, it’s a name you’ll be blamed for until you die. Second, both you and your spouse have to come to one joint decision (which is difficult when you can’t even decide on a movie for Saturday night). And third, there is often family pressure to succumb to their wishes rather than sticking to your own (likely predetermined) ideas. Just ask Princess Kate, who I can guarantee you, deep down, would’ve loved to go against royal tradition and name her baby Thor, or something equally unexpected. King Thor does have a nice ring to it.
Before you even start the process of determining a name for your child, there is one thing you need to remember: Everyone has opinions, and most of them are terrible. Or at least they will seem that way to you. After you’ve announced that you’re expecting, and you’ve been grilled relentlessly about the-gender-you-won’t-know-for-months-anyway, you will find yourself inundated with baby names. It’s like being smacked across the face with a Pottery Barn Kids catalog. Most of the information will be completely unusable and self-serving.
Aside from your own indecisiveness, you also have to deal with the aforementioned skewed views of everyone in your life who believes their opinion matters. For example, you’ll have those who will passive aggressively tell you they hate the name you’ve chosen.
“Sophia? Really? You guys actually like that name?” No, we can’t stand it. We’re just really big ”Golden Girls” fans.
Then, you’ll have those who don’t like the name because it reminds them of someone who wronged them in a totally insignificant way in 1973.
“Oh, please don’t name her Francesca. I knew a receptionist named Francesca and she had a lisp and was incredibly promiscuous.” I was grateful for this information, as the last thing I’d want is for my daughter to be a lady of the night with a speech impediment.
The most intriguing bunch are the ones who believe that by naming your child the same name as someone they despise, your child will magically inherit the awful personality traits of the hated party. Generally speaking, this person’s opinion should be treated like a new boyfriend or girlfriend’s attempt at making homemade sushi—pushed to the side and ultimately discarded when no one is looking.
Your best bet is to not tell anyone your chosen name until he/she is born. Pre-parent, I found this pretentious. But now I believe it’s the path that leads to the least amount of drama, bitterness and resentment. In a nutshell, people are much less likely to speak ill of your decision if it’s one they can no longer change. Not to mention you have a new baby. Anyone with an ounce of social grace knows to keep their mouth shut.
With that said, here is a series of pitfalls to avoid. Follow these and you should be able to keep your child out of therapy for a while.
If your last name starts with a “K,” don’t name your kid “Mike.” Instead of being Mike Kaplan, your child will end up being My Kaplan, Mike Aplan, or worst of all, Micapalin (which sounds more like an over-the-counter ED medication).
It’s an honorable act, naming your son after his grandparents. However, if you’re having a boy (and the two grandfathers are Richard and Lester), don’t name your poor son Richard Lester. People tend to abbreviate or shorten names and this one will only spawn ridicule and shame (shorten Richard to Dick…then take it from there). Or, for abbreviation, our newest royal family member: G.A.L.
Speaking of abbreviating names, don’t name your daughter Susan if you hate Sue. It’s like putting a piece of cake in a doggy dish and being angry that the pup licked the icing off. A nickname is going to happen at some point. So I suggest picking a name where you can live with any possible version of it. You can still monogram their receiving blankets with your personal favorite of the bunch.
Before you slap a name on that birth certificate, say it out loud to yourself. Then say it to a few others. Did any of them cover their face and stifle a laugh? Well, it’s probably because you named your kid Dino Marino. If you want to give something a clownish name, saddle your dog with it. Better yet, a goldfish. The life expectancy is much shorter, minimizing the humiliation from their friends.
At the end of the day, this is your decision and yours alone. When my wife was pregnant with our second son, we made a monumental mistake and told everyone our three top choices. This guaranteed one thing: at least one person would be disappointed. In fact, people started referring to the baby by their favorite…while he was still in the womb! We waited three days after his birth and ultimately decided on the least popular of the three, Nathaniel, and announced it to the families shortly thereafter. Sometimes, at night, I close my eyes and can still hear the crickets.
So, stick to your guns, decide on a moniker that sounds pleasant with your last name and one that you’ll be comfortable shouting for the next couple of decades.
Thanks for reading, and look for my blog next week about the thought process behind going from two to three kids. In the meantime, check out my recent appearance on Huffington Post Live, discussing “How to Hire a Nanny.” They had me take my glasses off, so I l0ok blind, but I was thrilled to be a part of the conversation.
What are your baby-naming pet peeves? Add a comment below!
Pregnant belly picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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baby names, baby naming, choosing a name, George Alexander Louis, golden girls, joe deprospero, Kate Middleton, parenting, pregnancy, Prince William, royal baby, royal family, thor | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Joe DeProspero, Mom Situations, Must Read, Newborn Care
Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Yep, you read correctly. North Carolina’s House and Senate just passed a bill that would allow concealed-gun permit holders to bring weapons on hiking trails, playgrounds and other public recreation areas. Oh, and bars and restaurants too. Just in case you and your spouse want a romantic night out, wear sexy clothes, but wear them under your bulletproof vest.
Wow, drinking and driving don’t mix, but guns and playgrounds do? This whole country is becoming one big, fat contradiction.
The Republican governor is expected to sign the bill. No surprise there.
Now I get to add North Carolina to my list of states that I won’t be visiting.
Let’s see: you can get shot doing downward dog in Utah. Yes, the state allows you to bring guns anywhere. Even yoga class. And in North Carolina, your child could be going down his favorite slide, while adults carrying guns frolic in the sandbox. Now that sounds like a helluva playdate.
What am I missing?
Do these lawmakers not understand what happened in Newtown? Do they not “get” that on average, 28 people are shot to death every day in this country? Are the Republicans and gun rights groups this brain dead? Or is the gun lobby just too powerful?
Sadly, all of the above.
According to NBC News, the provision was “opposed by police chiefs at all 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, who said they feared car break-ins and an increase in gun violence on campus.”
Student government associations also opposed the bill.
So the cops don’t want it. Students don’t either. But a handful of ruthless, arrogant lawmakers are deciding what’s best?
Did you know that Olivia Engel celebrated her birthday last July at a princess tea party? This year she spent it in her grave. She was one of the 22 children slain in Newtown. She would have turned 7 last week.
Thanks to the state of North Carolina, it seems lawmakers just put more children like Olivia in peril.
It’s wrong. Just plain wrong.
Playground and gun pic via Shutterstock
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bulletproof vest, concealed weapons, gun lobby, guns and yoga, guns in bars and restaurants, Newton, North Carolina gun bill, NRA, Republican lawmakers, Sandy Hook Promise, Utah gun laws | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Moving to Los Angeles, Must Read
Thursday, July 18th, 2013
Is it too difficult for rental car companies to provide decent car seats to your kids? Apparently so.
We recently went to New Orleans to visit my Aunt Nancy, known to the tots as “Baba Yaga.” Baba lives on the bayou and is a self-proclaimed woman of the swamp. Naturally we did all the things one would do in swamp setting. We caught a wild turtle…
…saw wildly huge grasshoppers, went on a wildlife safari, taught Fia how to hold a fishing pole, went on boat rides, and swam in the hot tub.
The biggest challenge was to keep both kids from killing Baba’s birds. She has two lovebirds. They are gay. Peepers is friendly though only has one claw due to a stroke (during a hurricane) that rendered the other one useless. His partner, Peg, is bitter. And mean. He has a peg-leg. I’d probably be bitter too. Fia was obsessed with holding Peepers. Emmett was obsessed with grabbing Peepers from Fia. Feathers, tears and screams–both from babies and beasts–were a simultaneous occurrence.
In short, it was our normal trip to Louisiana.
Except for the car seats.
Rather than lugging ours, we decided to rent from the car company. We were also flying home late and figured by renting we wouldn’t have to reinstall ours in a dark parking lot with cranky kids upon our return.
But the problem is, despite paying a fee to rent car seats, they are absolute junk. I’ve found this no matter what company we rent from. This time it was Dollar. They had none in their inventory that had the LATCH system. How long has the LATCH system been around? Oh, well, since before 2002. All their rental cars had latches/anchors in them. Just not car seats to go with them. Which leads me to believe their filthy, flimsy car seats are more than a decade old. We kept trading in different ones until we had gone through all 5 of their “inventory.” All were equally horrible, some even missing the straps that hold your kid in. It took us over an hour to install the seats and even then, they weren’t secure.
The thing is, when you call to rent a car and tell them you want car seats, they won’t tell you if they have ones from the Ice Age or up-to-date models. Car companies remain completely vague about what their inventory is and at least every company I called on the phone refuses to commit. I started searching websites.
I came across this one that talks about which car companies offer what. Ironically, it lists Dollar in the top echelon, saying, “Not only does Dollar Rent A Car have car seats and booster seats at all of its locations, but some models of the Dodge Caravans rented there come with built-in child safety seats.”
Um, sure, they have child seats at all their locations and are happy to charge you for them. But what condition are they in? That is the question.
We travel a decent amount. I need decent car seats. Surely there is a company that does this right.
In the meantime, we flew back from Louisiana, leaving Peg and Peepers–and perhaps a Yak or two–breathing signs of relief.
At the airport, we grabbed our luggage and climbed into our car, grateful that our car seats were already installed but wondering if perhaps it’s worth the hassle to just bring our own next time.
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car rental, car seats, Dollar Rent A Car, infant car seats, LATCH system, Louisiana, New Orleans, rear facing car seats, rental car companies, renting car seats, toddler car seats, travel, travel with car seats | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read