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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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Thursday, October 3rd, 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.
I’ve been a parent for over four years now, and I have to say, I know very little about how this whole thing works. I felt the same way about calculus* in high school. I was certainly exposed to it a great deal, was tested on it regularly, etc. But if someone asked me what calculus was today, I’d pretend I just got a phone call and run away. Parenthood is just as mysterious and just as impossible to truly “master.” Despite this, there are still plenty of people out there who think they know how to handle being a parent (even though they aren’t one). And it’s about time someone wrote down the most common offenders, as these non-parents and their assumptions have been left unchallenged for long enough.
For one, they all seem to think getting a babysitter is easy and no big deal. “Hey, you wanna come out for drinks tonight? You can get a babysitter, right?” Sure, let me troll Craigslist for a few minutes. I’m sure the right fit will pop up pretty quickly. Are you out of your mind? Leaving my kids with anybody is a challenge. Especially with the atrocities that have occurred during the past couple of years while a babysitter or nanny has been in charge of a child. I’m surprised I even trust family most days, let alone some 13-year-old handing out business cards in front of a 711. And even if I did hire a babysitter, I would then have to hire a security guard to watch the babysitter, then another security guard to keep an eye on the first security guard. It’s a sordid mess, really.
Another assumption they make is that I’ve got my life completely figured out now that I have kids. Most parents are probably laughing at that one right now. Please don’t ever assume anyone in your life who’s married with kids has all their sh*t together. There’s no “Do you have your sh*t together” test that we take before conceiving children. Right, Kim Kardashian?
Something that’s often joked about is the misery parents go through as they are forced to endure dreadful kid-friendly television shows like Barney. And I think it’s a bit exaggerated. Frankly, between the mass appeal of Sesame Street and adult-accessible Pixar films like the Toy Story franchise, I end up enjoying my kids’ favorite shows more than my own! Thankfully, programming for kids has come a long way in the past decade, become exponentially more tolerable for parents. I’m even guilty of watching far after my sons have drifted to sleep.
A major misconception is the belief that bearing children reduces the ability to partake in fun activities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Well, we were going to invite you, but then we remembered you had kids.” I didn’t become a kid, I simply raise them! And I need alcohol now more than ever. Please don’t forget that I’m thirsty. I can’t promise I can make everything, but what I can promise is that when I do make it out, I’m still exactly the same person I was before parenthood. Just a really, really exhausted version of him.
Speaking of being tired, people seem to think that, once a child reaches the tender age of six-weeks-old that they start sleeping through the night until they’re 100. Not always true. In fact, in most cases I’ve experienced or heard, children go through phases where they’ll sleep 11 hours straight without provocation, then out of seemingly nowhere will be up three times a night for days in a row. This whole “sleeping like a baby” line is a farce. Babies don’t sleep like babies. They sleep like strung out college students cramming for a final exam.
Do you have a friend who doesn’t have kids who you feel doesn’t truly “get” you anymore? Share this blog with them for some middle ground. They might be resentful that you did, but at least you’ll make your point, which is the point, right?
Feel free to add a comment below and join the conversation!
* I never actually took calculus in high school. I only made it as far as algebra and decided math that complicated was a waste of time. And also because my grades in all forms of math were pretty terrible.
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Saturday, August 24th, 2013
I’ve said it before, but I think I’m going to be saying this for a long, long time. I can’t grasp how the male species has survived. This, after having a boy. An 18-month old boy. A boy who has turned from tame to terror. Albeit, a remarkably happy terrorist.
My friends with boys just laugh it off. They are already in this club and have accepted what it means to have birthed a Y chromosome. For those of us who have girls, it is a rude awakening.
Fia was a wild child. I used to joke she was “like a boy.” I still hear moms saying that about their daughters. Baaahhaaaa. Not even close.
Fia has tons of energy and is still full of spunk. But she isn’t stupid. She didn’t climb up on counters and reach for butcher knives. I wouldn’t turn my back for 3.3 seconds only to find her dangling from a bar. Or climbing in the dryer. Or crawling in a drawer. Or, Or, Or…I could go on and on.
It seems each day I am reaching a new level of madness. It is making me feel like I no longer have control of my house. We are moving and our current place is really hard to childproof. But we are here for 3 more deadly months. Who knows what this tornadic force will do next? I can’t even make supper anymore without him nearly losing a limb. Hello? Calvary? Anyone there?
The thing is, he has about the best temperament of any child I’ve met. He giggles in his sleep and sings in his highchair. And as, um, “active” as he is, he will sit for 30 minutes and page through books. At least he used to do all these things. I’m scared I’m losing that part of him. I’m scared he’s turning into a gorilla.
So what to do? He is starting to get angry when his needs aren’t instantly met. He gets frustrated if he can’t figure out a toy and sends it hurtling across the room. Yesterday I turned my back for 1.3 seconds. He had a glass I had just set down, dumped the water out and as I screamed, “NOOO” he looked at me with that mischievous grin and sent it crashing in a million pieces on the floor. He has discovered that pulling hair makes Fia cry. He thinks “finished” with his food means throwing it all on the ground. “Emmett—NOOOOOO!!!!!” is becoming the dominant phrase in our house.
Oh, but it gets better. He yanked Phil’s prescription sunglasses off his face today and threw them across the room. As usual, we reacted. Phil yelled, “NO EMMETT! “YOU DO NOT DO THAT.” Emmett immediately burst into tears. Wailing. The word NO also equals meltdown. Or, in an act of animalistic defiance, he starts to eat his arm or foot. I am raising a gorilla, a canibal and a crybaby.
My sitter Michele just laughs. She has 5 kids, 4 of them boys. She said Emmett definitely ranks up there as a wild one, but at the end of the day she insists he’s simply “all boy.” She points to how fearless and fun his disposition is. I can’t entirely disagree. My pediatrician has said he is one of the more active babies she’s seen, but the fact that he does (or did??) sit and read and have quiet time made her think he just has a lot of energy to burn. My in-laws say he’s a normal, happy toddler. How can this be? “Normal” is making me pull out my hair. How does the male species justify their insane behavior as “normal???”
I know I’m probably painting a terrible picture of him and it sounds contradictory when I say he is almost always in a great mood. But these little snapshots happen throughout the day. What do I do? Should I start putting him in his crib for a timeout? I feel like he’s too little to “get it.” Am I being had? Will he begin to understand consequences and boundaries at 18 months? Fia is 3 1/2 and I honestly can’t remember when she had her first time out. But it definitely wasn’t this young. She was far tamer. To date, she’s probably had less than 7 time-outs.
When he turns 2, I’m planning on putting him in preschool 2 mornings a week. I think some structure will help. But that is still 6 months away. A lot can happen.Maybe I just need to embrace this chapter. Let it pass. Or maybe I should find a different preschool… one that will take him now.
Looking for advice, tips and a survival timeline. Please.
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babysitter, boy, boy energy, childproof, childproofing, daycare, hyperactive, preschool, sitter, structure, toddler, toddler boys, Y chromosome | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read, Newborn Care
Saturday, August 10th, 2013
Emmett is 18 months. He’s a super active and happy baby. He absolutely loves going to the playground–not only to slide, but to also be around other kids his age. He is definitely a people person. But the thing I’ve found with my second child is that I don’t reach out to moms who have kids his age. I formed my close mom friendships when I had Fia and I actually don’t want to seek out new ones. I love the ones I have. And the person I’m closest with lives nearby. So we always pal around, either with our kids or without.
The other reason I don’t go on more mom playdates with Emmett is I’m often working around both their schedules. She goes to school 3 times a week, so there is pick up and drop off. He naps in the afternoons. On Monday mornings I take Fia to gymnastics. On Wednesday mornings I take Em (this is the class with the neglectful nanny). In other words, I’m juggling too much to have dedicated playdates with Emmett. Plus, this fall it gets even more hectic because Fia is switching to Montessori. Which is a whole other dilemma.
Nevertheless, I have sitters a few days a week for a few hours. When he turns 2, as much as I love my sitters, I think he might enjoy being with kids his own age. Fia’s current preschool allows total flexibility in terms of days and hours. I could enroll him for as few as 2 mornings a week. My pediatrician says she recommends some form of socialization for tots, starting between 18 months and 2 years. Granted, he gets a lot of socialization and stimulation from Fia and her friends. He’s not sitting in a corner all day. But this would be in a semi-structured environment.
It’s a no brainer right? Except, for some ludicrous reason, I have guilt. As in, shouldn’t I be with him? Phil says absolutely not. Do what’s best for him and me. And this is a guy who didn’t go to any preschool– his mom waited until he was 5 for Kindergarten. He’s perfectly social and well adjusted. (Well, sort of.) But I think it was a different time back then. I think there were more stay-at-home moms and preschool was more like daycare. Because the reality is, I’m not with Em every hour of every day anyway. And the reality is he would enjoy it. And I would get my breather.
I guess it’s the perception I’m worried about. I felt judged when I enrolled Fia at 2 years old for 2 mornings a week (though I was hugely pregnant so that alone should have given me a free pass). Judgment by whom, I’m not sure. I just remember over-explaining it to anyone who asked. Which is also stupid since I generally don’t give a sh-t what others think of me.
At any rate, I’m curious to hear from the moms–especially those like me who don’t work full time outside the house, but need a break a few times a week. At this age, do you prefer sitters or preschool? And why? Pros? Cons? Fill me in.
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babysitter, daycare, judgmental moms, mom friends, nanny, play dates, preschool, sitters, socialization, toddler playground, toddler socialization | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Monday, August 5th, 2013
This is such a stupid dilemma I can’t believe it’s taking up brain-space. But here goes.
Fia is starting at a Montessori preschool in a few weeks. I know she will be sad leaving her current one. So my first question is: When to break the news to her? A week before? A day before? I once said it casually, as in, “Fia, you are going to a new school in the fall.” I didn’t think she would actually “get it.” I’m an idiot. My daughter is not. She immediately burst into tears. So I changed the subject. I didn’t want her obsessing months in advance. She tends to be a bit of a worrier and I don’t want her to have needless anxiety.
Okay, dilemma #2: This school will mean a lot more schlepping for me. She is at her current preschool 3 days a week. It is about 6 minutes away. They nap them there (which she loves because she gets to nap with all her friends then wake up and play). For that reason, she goes from 9-4. The new preschool gives you two options: you can pick them up at 1 or at 2:30. They don’t nap them. Either way it cuts into the middle of her typical nap time. Which isn’t a huge deal, except….I DON’T WANT TO LOSE THE NAP!
It’s a 15-minute drive home in which she’s likely to fall asleep then not go back down once we are at home.
But my bigger dilemma is what to do about Emmett. He takes a 2 1/2 hour nap everyday around noon-2:30 give or take an hour on either end. So his nap is going to fall smack dab in the middle of pickup time for Fia. Which means he will either have to be woken up from his nap, or he will fall asleep in the car to and from, thus, not having a proper nap. Which all leads to ME! Their naps are my sanity. It’s this great time when the house is all mine and I can patter around either doing productive things like writing this blog, or unproductive things like napping while they nap.
But even if I had to give up their naps during the week, the naps are a cherished time for us as a family on the weekends. We always do something fun in the morning, then when Emmett goes down, Phil, Fia, Wayne (the cat) and I crawl into our big king bed and snooze. It is heaven. By giving up naps during the week I’m worried that she won’t take them on the weekends either.
I don’t want to hire a sitter for an hour-long window of time 5 days a week. Not that I could find someone anyway. I can expand into a few bigger chunks of time to make it worth their while, but not everyday.
Phil suggested pushing Emmett’s nap to 1:30. That way I can take him with me to get Fia at 1 and they both get home by 1:30. However, pushing his nap is easier said than done. I know he will fall asleep in the car. And once he snoozes for even a few minutes, I can rarely transfer him without waking him up, thus losing the rest of the nap.
So what to do? I know, it’s a huge problem. I’m sure you have all followed the puzzle on this and are ready to give me advice. The overachievers may have even taken notes. I mean, if it’s keeping me up at night, surely it will keep you up too. Then we will all need more naps.
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babysitter, daycare, Montessori, naps, preschool, sitters, sleep training, toddler nap schedule | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips