It feels so good when you know you made the right call as a parent. That’s how I feel about our decision to start Emmett in preschool 2 days a week. I already think he’s calmer. He is so stimulated there that he seems to have gotten some wild energy out of his system. The teachers tell me he loves to follow the rules, play with other kids, and share. I really think kids need–and crave–structure, other kids, boundaries, etc.
When I was debating on sending him, I had to ask myself what is in his best interest? If you let the guilt trip and judgment from others influence you, you’re doomed as a parent. I want to do what’s best for my kid. And if I happen to benefit as well, ie: getting 2 days to myself, then it’s just an added bonus.
So here’s to following the mom instinct–and being guilt free to boot.
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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
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
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. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.
* After reading this entry back, it became apparent to me that my son may come across like a spoiled brat. Bear in mind he shouldn’t be judged by this blog alone. The story (at least the beginning of it) wasn’t his finest moment (nor mine).
I was mindlessly playing a board game with my 4-year-old son the other day. The name of the game doesn’t matter, or at least it didn’t matter at first. I flipped over a numbered card, moved my yellow game piece. He did the same, giddy with carefree excitement. That is, until he started to lose.
“Hey, you just moved your guy forward and it was my turn,” he grumbled. It definitely wasn’t his turn. It was totally my turn. But I was willing to let his oversight and inherent grouchiness slide. But then, he said more. He knew it was a word he wasn’t supposed to say, which is why he put his hand over his mouth to stifle its annunciation. But still, he said it.
He’d heard it from a classmate, or from one of the Shrek movies, or in passing an arguing couple on a sidewalk. It didn’t matter, because he was getting punished regardless. I snatched him up and stumbled over the game board, sprawling the cards and pieces across the living room carpet. Carrying him under my arm, I bolted to his room and dropped him into a plush chair. In truth, I had no idea what I was going to do. I mean, I wanted to be completely clear that using words like that (especially with me) wasn’t acceptable. But I knew that controlling my own temper was also a factor.
“Listen,” I started forcefully. “You do not use that word with me. The game’s over. Sit here for three minutes and don’t move!” My voice and anger were rising exponentially.
You wouldn’t think staying still for 180 seconds was much of a punishment, but like most kids, mine absolutely hates it. So, he wriggled around in his seat, intermittently sticking his tongue out, razzing me. That didn’t help matters. I started the bathwater, threatening a cold shower, before storming into his room to offer one last chance to repent. I was furious, I was tired, and I was completely and utterly out of patience. I knelt down beside him as he scowled , wearily uncertain of his fate. Then, I did something that surprised even me. I’m not sure if it was my exhaustion, accumulated battle wounds, or the photos of my deceased mother that we’d previously been thumbing through, but my eyes welled up with tears. And I fell, face-first onto his shoulder, partly so he wouldn’t see my eyes.
“Antonio, I need you to hug me,” I whispered, weakly. Slowly, gradually, his hands pressed on my shoulder blades, and there was this moment of serenity where the ominous, running bathwater suddenly soothed us like a brook. I sniffled and left the room.
What happened next surprised me even more. I ducked into my bedroom, pretending I was changing into my pajamas, while really I was ensuring the image my son had of me as a father with his act together remained intact. Maybe three minutes after the hug, Antonio suddenly appeared in the doorway. My wife, Sonia was next to him. He looked reticent, yet eager. And he was concealing something behind his back.
“Go ahead,” she said, patiently.
He took a few hurried steps toward me and handed me a piece of blue construction paper, folded neatly once. It was tough to read, but I figured it out:
“Sorry for being mean. Love you.”
This was his idea. Not my wife’s. She made that quite clear to me, without even saying a word. And something else became clear to me as a result: I’d truly connected with my son on a whole new level.
This isn’t to say that one apology is worthy of a throne, but what needs to be understood here is that normally I’d yell and a forced, phony apology would eek out of him 30 minutes later. Normally, I’d unravel in an unrelenting state of exasperation, failing at every turn to extinguish the fire, instead feeding off my own negative energy and creating a situation where nobody learns a thing. And, naturally, getting an apology from him was like extracting a bottle of Jack Daniels from an alcoholic’s hands. You might not agree with this new-found strategy (or, frankly, the lack of one), but this was the first time I can remember noticing genuine empathy in my son’s actions and expressions. In the past, he’d pour on the chaos, simply not giving a damn that he was pushing me to the brink of sanity (like most kids). But this time, something was different. And I think more than anything, he appreciated not being screamed at, and potentially was mature enough to recognize that sometimes, even adults need some mercy.
While I was embarrassed to have my son view me as vulnerable, if even for a few seconds, what I find myself feeling most of all is pride. Pride that I’m raising the type of person who, when he sees that someone has hit their breaking point, extends a helping hand. That gesture, no matter how minor it might seem, meant the world.
Surely, I’ve had to discipline that same son about 12 times since the writing of that card for various, normal kid reasons, but catching a glimpse of the empathy within that 4-year-old heart is something I will never forget. And I also picked up on a personality trait—this kid is already more comfortable expressing himself in writing than with spoken words. Much like his old man.
Oh, and the name of the board game we’d been playing before the time-out, the hug, and the apology card? Sorry! Can’t make this up.
I’m nothing if not honest. And although a bit embarrassed, I hope you enjoyed the transparency.
Feel free to join the conversation by adding a comment below or by tweeting me @JoeDeProspero. Thanks for reading.
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*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com
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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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