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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, 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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Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Sunday, November 17th, 2013
I had a sitter the other night who the kids love. But this time they were antsy. Bored. They wouldn’t let me get ready. Emmett wailed when I tried to leave the room.
“Fine, you guys can watch a Super Why,” I said.
Yes, it was the path of least resistance. Yes, it was easier. But according to some new studies, there is a real danger in what I did.
Research is showing that kids who watch a lot of television and play on the iPad, iPhone, etc., are growing up to have “sustained attention” problems. Now before you stop reading and think, “Yeah, yeah I’ve heard this before,” hear me out. There’s some really new–and interesting– information surfacing. You have to remember that middle and high school kids who are growing up with this modern technology are giving us more and more insight into what it all means and the impact it is having. This is important stuff. Here’s the scoop:
When you walk in the door with your phone or text in front of your kid, you are sending a message to them that they aren’t as important (yes, we’ve heard that before). But you’re also sending a message that this device keeps your attention a lot of the time. When’s the last time you sat in the doctor’s office doing nothing while waiting for your name to be called? Or just sat quietly, not on your phone, waiting for your take-out meal to be ready? How many times have you given the phone to your kid at a restaurant because you want to enjoy your meal? I’m guilty on all counts.
All of the above is teaching them that technology soothes. What’s happening is kids are losing the ability to “self-soothe.” They aren’t just sitting still, using their imagination. Kids need to be bored in order to figure out how to become “un”-bored. They need to misbehave to learn how to behave. If they are being difficult at a restaurant, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that giving them your phone is the wrong thing to do. Have them color or play some sort of game. Or leave and give them a time-out. Yes, your meal gets cut short. It sucks. But giving them a phone when they whine is not in their best interest. Especially as they grow.
The brains of infants through preschoolers begin making deep connections that teach them to use their imaginations and creativity to “soothe” for lack of a better word, when they’re bored. Researchers are now finding that kids who grow up watching television when they’re bored and playing on the computer/iPad, are getting to middle and high school and not being able to complete “boring” assignments. For example, if you have to read a boring book and write a term paper about it, which when I was in school, was a reality, you had to just push on through. Nowadays they are finding kids don’t have that deep connection to even get through the work. So academically many kids are hitting a wall. It’s a wall that apparently could have been prevented if parents hadn’t been so quick to let them watch a lot of television or play on the computer.
It then trickles into the work world. They get a job. They are bored. They quit. The consequences are dire.
My pediatrician gave me some tips.
- Don’t even let your kids see the phone. Put it in your purse or your pocket when you walk in the door.
- If you have to go send some emails, leave the room to do it. Tell them you have some work to do for a few minutes and to entertain themselves.
- When you are with your kids, focus on them during the crucial times. She gave an example: 30 minutes of play, then dinner, bath, book, bed=NO PHONE.
- No more than an hour of television a day.
(I’d say we usually let them watch 1 1/2 hours a day. On weekends more. Yikes).
- No TV for kids under 2 (which I know we’ve heard and has been hotly debated by the American Academy of Pediatricians).
I’ve failed on that and now Em gets excited when Fia gets to watch a show, so I’m not backtracking. What I will do is cut down on the TV she is allowed to watch, so he naturally will, too. And honestly, he watches for about 10 minutes then leaves the room and plays with his cars or something.
The thought of my kids growing up not knowing how to use their imaginations to their full ability because their brains weren’t trained properly is really scary to me. I am not one to sit still and I’m not promising when I’m at the doctor by myself, that I won’t pull out my phone while waiting. But I don’t have to write term papers in 8th grade. My brain development is done. Actually I’d say it’s on the decline judging by my meat fiasco last week. So I take that back: Maybe I should work on sitting still and doing nothing. That’s what my meditation app is having me do. Okay, I’m going to make a commitment to do this.
My guest blogger Joe Deprospero decided to stop playing Words With Friends on this phone because he could feel the distraction it was causing at home. If we each decide to change one part of our technology lifestyle, think of the ripple effect that could have. Especially on our families. And you don’t have to go all or nothing. Just tweak.
I did cut down a lot on technology after I wrote about it last year. But this is a good reminder. Anyone else want to join?
What do your everyday decisions say about your parenting style? Take our quiz to find out.
Pic of girl on iPad via Shutterstock
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ADD, ADHD, boredom, computer, imaginations, ipad, iphone, sustained attention, technology, technology addiction, video games | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
Supermodel Heidi Klum is getting flak for paying her kids $1 a day to drink a smoothie. I wonder if all the people who are freaking out have young kids? My guess is that their kids are either grown and they don’t remember what it was like, or they never had any. Because unless you have a kid who is a bump on a log, most people have to bribe in some way or another. Except we don’t call it bribing. We call it realistic parenting. And frankly I’d prefer to pay a dollar, or in my case, tell Fia she can have dessert after her dinner (since she doesn’t understand the concept of money) than not have her eat properly. I’d also rather bribe her with a small treat than the Ipad. Seems like too many parents may be using that as a crutch…but that is for another post.
The other day I was at a birthday party for one of Fia’s friends. A pregnant woman was there too. On the table was a huge birthday cake and then a platter of healthy sandwiches. As Fia ooh-ed and aah-ed over the cake, along with the other 3 1/2 year olds, I said half-joking:
“Hmm, I wonder what she will eat first?”
The pregnant woman piped up and said, “Healthy should always come first.”
I nearly shot her.
Come on. Talk to me when your kid is 3 and in this situation. I would bet my entire life savings that your kid won’t eat the avocado and sprout sandwich first. And I bet that superior attitude of yours will go out the window. Why? Because we were the same way. Until we had kids.
So yes, Fia ate cake for dinner. Followed by a small sandwich. And she survived.
I regularly use bribes. For awhile I gave her a treat after her gymnastics class for participating. A hershey kiss. Not a large milkshake. Or a box of cookies. Just one teeny tiny piece of chocolate. Two classes was all it took to get her out of her shell. And the chocolate I gave her? Gone. Both from her bloodstream and her memory. Now she runs happily onto the mat without prompting.
At a restaurant if she misbehaves, I tell her she won’t get dessert until she sits quietly. I rarely bring out my phone as entertainment. I don’t want to start that habit because for some reason those devices seem to embed in a toddler’s memory and they come to expect it. They also seem like the easiest thing to rely on. But that doesn’t necessarily make it the best (do you guys agree with that by the way?).
Just this weekend we gave her $5. We went as a family to explore downtown LA’s Grand Central Market and Little Tokyo. I told her she could buy whatever she wanted–not that she understands what $5 can get. We talked at length in the car about all the options.
“Mama, what about a giant lollipop?” she said.
“Ooohh, I know! Fia, let’s find you one of those swirly ones. The big round ones that have different colors on them!”
Even though she didn’t know exactly what I was talking about, she nearly ripped herself out of her carseat with excitement.
We even discussed what the man or woman selling it might look like.
“Do you think the lady will have brown hair?” Fia asked.
“Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe blue?” And so on went our speculation.
Sure enough, we found the lollipops. The man selling them? Dark hair. Straight. Not blue.
I had her ask him how much it cost. $1.99. He gave her change. She beamed.
I let her lick it for a solid 10 minutes. We still have the lollipop. We are using it in increments. She ate Udon noodles in Little Tokyo knowing she could have a few more licks after. She ate sauteed spinach at dinner. Same reason. Call it a bribe if you want. But I would much rather have my kid eating well and without a fight for a few licks of this or a few coins of that.
I think that in order to parent properly you need to be practical and prudent. You know when to set the limits and how far to go. Sounds to me like Heidi is doing just fine.
P.S. Here’s a short clip of me talking about it on the show The List.
Picture above is Fia at a salon. She just got her hair cut and I was getting mine cut too. To keep her occupied, I relied on a ring lollipop.
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Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Newborn Care
Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
Barf. Poop. Pee. Fly.
Those four words about sum up my latest airplane excursion with my two babes. I should clarify: my SOLO airplane excursion. As in, no Phil to help me.
I took Fia and Emmett to New Orleans to visit my Aunt Nancy (a.k.a. Baba Yaga, above). It’s a 4-hour flight. I bought two seats, toddler headphones, and an iPad.
This is the first time I’ve flown with them by myself. In Fia’s first year, we went on about 20 flights. I had it pretty down, but I would never say it was fun. I did think my experience as a veteran would help. But it didn’t. Because I’m not a veteran of flying with two kids.
I got to LAX. I check the boards: Flight Delayed. Of course. It said by 20 minutes. At least we were in the terminal and not on the plane for the delay.
We get breakfast. I am slow moving and calm. A picture of peace and tranquility. We sit down to eat. They are both doing great. I have a moment of clarity. Wow, we are off to a stellar start. I kid you not: at that exact moment, Emmett projectile vomits. I hear a collective gasp. I look over to see a table full of young, single, European men staring at me slack-jawed. I look at Em. As the world’s happiest baby, he is giggling. And covered in goo.
“Sorry guys,” I say.
“Well, at least he’s laughing,” one of them remarks. The others just look away.
I pull out my favorite burp cloth and begin to wipe up the mess. Since Em was in the stroller, everything is covered. I throw the burp cloth in the garbage. I don’t even care. I’m not having this, I think. Stay calm. Breathe. This is no big deal.
Then Fia, who no longer wears diapers, screams, “Mama, I have to poop!” I once again see the horror in these men’s faces. They will never procreate. I have single-handedly helped reduce the world’s population.
I scramble like a bomb is about to explode. If I have to clean up sh-t in her pants, then I swear, I’m not getting on the plane, I say to myself. All my inner calmness goes out the window. The real me is back. We rush to the bathroom, nearly knocking over a man with a food tray. I am pushing a barf-laden baby in a barf-laden stroller and dragging an almost-pooping toddler in her almost poop-filled underpants. Why didn’t I just put her in Pull-Ups this morning? I curse silently.
We fly into the bathroom just in time. Thank god I had back-up outfits. At this point, Em is the only one who needs one. We clean up, I get my calm back, and we go to the gate. 10 minutes later:
“Attention folks. There’s been a gate change.”
Groan, grimace, move.
We get to the new gate. Flight now delayed 40 minutes. We sit for about 20. Then:
“Attention folks. Really sorry about this, but there’s been another gate change.”
This gate is completely at the other end. I really must have been truly horrible in my past life.
Finally, an hour later, we board. Which means we land in New Orleans smack dab in rush hour. We will have an hour-plus ride in the car getting to my Baba’s house near Slidell.
I manage to get us settled for about 13 seconds before I see the lucky passenger who gets to share the row with us. I could see his face change as the stages of grief hit: sadness, denial, anger, horror. I smile apologetically. Yup, you got the short straw dude. Sorry.
I am already cursing myself for not buying Emmett his own seat. Since sitting still isn’t part of his genetic make-up, I put Fia in the middle and Em and I at the window. As soon as we take off, I boot up the brand new iPad and Fia watches Olivia. Emmett falls asleep. I look around. Can this be? I pull out my Kindle. I look around again. Am I actually going to read on this flight? I do! For about 20 minutes. I feel like I’ve won the Olympic gold. Moms don’t get to read on planes, right?
About 40 minutes in, Em wakes up and never calms down. He never cries. Instead, he shrieks in delight, jumps up and down on my thighs, pounds the window…I mean, the boy is out of control in his happy energy. I figure people can’t be pissed because I have the world’s happiest baby, right? Fia continues to watch the same episode of Olivia 11 times. In a row. Obsessive or normal toddler behavior? Not sure. Don’t care.
Before we land, I take them to the bathroom. Fia’s backside is soaked. She has peed her pants. I also don’t care. In some cultures people drink their pee. So there.
We disembark, run into Baba’s open arms, and make our way to her bayou home where there is a pet bird, a pet dog, a wild frog, a wild lizard, a toy truck, and a bottle of wine waiting (the latter for me). Vacation is off to a stellar start.
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Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read