Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Blame NBC

I recently read a thread on a parenting board about a veritable Kobayashi Maru of parenting. When taking a small child grocery shopping, do you keep them in the cart whilst loading the groceries from the shopping cart into the car or do you place the child in the car first and unload the car.

My first thought was 'this question is so hard that you needed to solicit opinions on the internet? Dude. Seriously?'

My second thought was to classify this on a long list of middle class problems that a wide segment of the population probably aren't worried about as much as this person is-- lower classes are more concerned with schlepping groceries and baby on public transit or foot, and the upper classes can have the nanny watch the children or the house keeper can do the shopping.

My third thought was 'if this is your biggest problem, lady, you don't know problems.'

My fourth thought was 'Maybe I've been doing this wrong, I better read up.' This was followed closely by 'OMG! I need to blog about this!'

So the discussion raised some important points-- if it is hot or cold, one needs to be concerned about the temperature of the vehicle; just like you can't put an animal in a hot car on a sunny day, you cannot put a baby in a hot car on a sunny day.

Here's the thing. The discussion quickly became a list of ways to get one's child abducted or dead, and possibly one's car stolen. Here were the solutions offered and how they led to disaster:

  1. Keep child in the cart while unloading groceries. Turn back for merest of seconds transferring bag of groceries from cart into rear of car/trunk. Turn back to discover baby gone and skeevy van flooring it out of the parking lot. 
  2.  Keep child in the cart while unloading groceries. Turn back for merest of seconds transferring bag of groceries from cart into rear of car/trunk. Turn back to discover that cart has rolled all the way down the hill, into approaching traffic, and child is now greasy spot on 6-lane highway. 
  3. Start car to start climate-control system. Place child in car. Load groceries. At some point, discover your car peeling out of the parking spot, possibly running you down, and find self with abducted child AND stolen car. Now you are not only dealing with the police, but also with the car insurance company.
  4. Place child in car. Unload groceries. Walk away for 'just a second' to return cart to front of store or cart corral. Upon return, discover child and possibly car missing. 
Seriously. People were very concerned about these. And I'll admit that at one of the local grocery stores I visit, the parking garage is not optimal for emptying a cart; like most parking garages, the floor is sloped, and, without careful management, the cart can get away from me. This is why the Great Whomever gave me ankles and feet and a rudimentary understanding of physics. 

And I get the safety concerns; in the summer, the interior temperature in my car is high enough to fry an egg (or something) and there could be serious problems from the cart rolling away and getting struck by a vehicle. But being so darn worried about abduction just seems absurd to me. 

I went to Google, looked up 'child abduction statistics' and found some interesting numbers. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 800,000 children are reported missing in the United States each year. They are indicating anyone under 18 qualifies as a 'child.' Of those, they say that over 200,000 are abducted by family members, 58,000 by non-family members, and 115 are the victims of a 'stereotypical' kidnapping in which a child is snatched by a stranger who intends to hold the child permanently, demand ransom, or kill the child. 

Understand here that I do not mean to diminish the horror and grief of the families of those 115 children. Or even the other children taken in less stereotypical situations. But also understand here that I'm pretty good at math. According to the CIA's summary of census data, there are roughly 62 million people in this country age 14 and under. Roughly, then, 1.29% of children are reported missing in a given year. (Actually, it is smaller, but I can't isolate a number of individuals aged 15-18, so I'm spit-balling here). Not let us recall here that within this list of missing children, we are including children who run away, moments of confusion over who was supposed to pick little Jimmy up that lead to the police being called before checking at Grandma's house, teenagers who bail for a few days, and custodial disputes between parents. 

So because I'm good at math, I don't worry too much about my child being abducted. Particularly by a stranger in a parking lot. I'm more worried, when thinking about abductions, by someone I know. Since my husband and I currently get along, and most of our family members who want children have children, I'm not super worried about this. 

I am slightly more worried that someone might want to steal my car, and not notice a child in a car seat in the back. But, I drive a 2006 Subaru, and I tend to shop in the sort of stores where there is, at any given time, at least one Range Rover in the parking lot, and a whole heap of Priuses, so I'm probably good on that front. 

But it isn't just this grocery store scenario that brings up the possibility of abduction. My mother-in-law will not take her grandchildren to the playground at the Zoo, because she fears someone will grab them. All the time, I hear people talking about 'all the abductions' and I don't know where these are happening, but if I listened to concerned people, I would never leave my damn house. 

I blame Dateline NBC, which just can't turn away from a story about a pretty white kid taken from their home in the dead of night. I also blame the 24 hour news networks, who have about 35 minutes of legit news every day, and after that, they have to come up with something to fill the empty airspace and convince advertisers that it is worth it to continue to make their absurd enterprise profitable.

That said, when it comes to grocery shopping with my infant, I'll keep baby wearing. If they are going to snatch a baby out of a wrap on my chest, I've got other problems to deal with.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Arguments I've Had Today

Apparently 2.5 years old is prime age for arguments. Since waking up this morning, I've had the following arguments.

1. Regarding apparel:

Me: Would you like to wear jeans and a t-shirt or the pink dress?

Her: I want... MILK!

Revisiting the conversation several minutes and a sippy cup of milk later, the conclusion was emphatically the pink dress.

2. Regarding leaving the house:

Me: Alright, it's time to go to school!

Her: I don't want to go to school.

Me: Would you rather spend the day watching me work and going to the grocery store?

Her: I don't want to go to the store.

Me: Those are the breaks. School it is then.

3. Upon arriving at school

Her: [sighting the building] SCHOOL! (Imagine the tone of voice used by the winners in the Publisher's Clearing House Commercials)

Me: [After pulling into a parking space and unbuckling her carseat] Okay, let's go in!

Her: NOOOOOOOO! (Imagine the tone of deepest dispair used by a crabby, PMS-y woman who has just discovered that the last cookie is gone)

4. Inside the school, approaching her classroom

Her: I don't want to go to my class.

Me: But there aren't any toys here in the hall.

Her: I don't want to.

5. Regarding apparel (revisited)

Her: [Discovering the previously rejected t-shirt and jeans] My t-shirt

Me: Yes.

Her: Take off my dress.

Me: No, you can wear the t-shirt tomorrow. You look pretty in your pink dress.

Her: I don't want to look pretty in my dress.

I don't really have witty commentary on this. I think it should probably, however, be noted that she nearly beat me there a few times. I'm over 30 and a scholar. Seriously. I shouldn't be defeated in a battle of wits by a 2.5 year-old.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


So I've heard dozens of people say that they got dogs a preparation for children. I've always been somewhat skeptical of this statement, as even before I had a kid, I was fully aware that you can't put an annoying toddler in a crate for three hours while you go off for drinks. I was fully aware that the stakes with an animal are lower; there is almost no social stigma if, after getting a pet, you realize you can't hack it and give it up.

But, upon reflection, I can see some ways in which my dog has prepared me for being a parent. With the dog, I had to deal with biological messes much worse than anything the Bug produced in her early months. I've cleaned things out of my carpet that I would rather not think about, and that was before she was in the picture. Now my dog has never puked on me, let alone done it for every day for months on end.

But I did have, in HR parlance, previous experience dealing with hazardous biological situations before the Bug was born. In that sense, being a dog owner prepared me for dealing with one of the challenges of parenthood. It also gave me some practice with dealing with an unpredictable creature with a will of its own and a completely different sense of priorities than I might have.

But recently, I've been confronted with a situation that presents me with a question of what exactly dog ownership is preparing me for. On one hand, all of the above referenced stuff got me ready for being a parent, but now, my stupid dog has a Mast Cell tumor on his side. It is potentially quite serious, according to both the vet and the internet. It requires surgery that is expensive, painful, and not without risks. My dog is somewhere between 9 and 11 years old, and as he is a boxer mix, we can reasonably expect him to live another 5 years at the outside. The question becomes is treating this tumor worth it? At present, it isn't interfering with the dog's quality of life. It would extend his life somewhat, but it is also possible that a year after having this surgery, it is possible that he could develop some other health problem or just not wake up some morning.

This seems not entirely different not from a situation I might face with the Bug, but instead one that looms in the less-distant-than-I-probably-care-to-admit future with my parents if or when they become unable to make their own healthcare decisions. In a sense, my dog is more like an adult with some forms of dementia than he is like a toddler; he is nearing the end of his life, he is unable to fully comprehend the situation, and even if he is, he is unable to express what he might want done. Unlike my folks, he doesn't have a reasonably detailed advance directive that gives me guidance as to what I should do. He and I have never had a conversation about these sorts of issues-- but of course, these conversations with my parents are usually brought on by specific situations, and of course, we can't cover every single thing that could come up before it does. (I know this. My mother and I had a number of conversations about these issues, and I still didn't have a clear understanding of what to do when I was in a position to decide if her medical treatment should have been continued. It is the single most difficult decision I have ever made.)

With a child, the rewards of a curative but risky procedure would clearly outweigh the risks and costs. With this dog, at this age, it is not so clear. I'll probably get him the surgery, in the end. but it does seem to be practice at the sort of end-of-life issues I hopefully will never have to deal with with the Bug.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


So one of the on-going themes of this blog is, I think, my unwillingness to be stuffed into the rigid categories that my society would thrust upon me-- things like 'if you breastfeed, you can neither work, nor use a stroller' or 'if you cannot be perfect, you must give up' and 'if your children are not perfectly behaved, you must hide in your house until they can be.'

There are certain rules that I think go into the category of Good Ideas. Like... 'no running in the street' and 'cite your sources' and pretty much all rules around hygienic food preparation and water safety.

I would be glad to go on about my pain-in-the-arse neighbors who let their children run in the street and behave like wild beasts on the savannah, but instead I'm going to talk about water safety today.

I regularly take my daughter to the pool at our local YMCA. I actually go to a Y that is slightly further from our house because it has a separate, zero entry pool for toddlers and small children. In the posted rules for the section of the pool labeled 'Baby Pool,' the following points are salient: it is specifically for non-swimmers and children under the age of 5. Now, I am willing to accept that older siblings of non-swimmers or those under 5 and the developmentally disabled, perhaps.

However, to the pre-teen ninnies who invaded the toddler pool while we were there this morning, however, I would like to suggest that there is a neighboring larger, deeper pool that would be more appropriate. I would also like to say that if they are going to be in the pool that is designed for the use of smaller children, they should be aware of their surroundings and not, perhaps, play games that involve keeping their eyes closed.

To the lifeguards, last I checked the nature of the job is, is in part to enforce the rules of the pool. Yes, there's the making-the-fanny-pack-look-good, and there is also the watching-for-people-drowning thing, but I'm sure that leaves a few minutes out of every hour to ensure the more general safety of the other swimmers at the pool. I mean, I know that you are seventeen years old, and it may seem like a stupid rule, but before the 'big kids' showed up, I could barely keep up with my two-year old, and after they showed up, she wouldn't let go of me. Since I want to teach her to not be afraid of the water and to have fun in the pool, I'd love an assist from the authority figures, m'kay?

To the [absent] parents of the young people in question, I would just like to note that it is in part your responsibility to make sure your kids follow the posted rules. Since the posted rules suggest that you need to at least be on premises, although being in Pilates class counts, their compliance with the posted safety regulations is on your plate.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ways You are a Better Mom Than Me (And Why I Just Don't Care)

Parenting is competitive. Seriously. On an olympic level. Especially for moms. Don't believe me? Check out the Facebook statuses and photos of your parent friends. They are almost all (mine too) about the wondrousness that is the offspring in question.

The thing about parenting, unlike the Olympics, is that there isn't just one set of rules for it. Some people even adjust the rules just to make sure that they are winning at all times.

I'm not playing anymore. But I'm aware of the ways in which I am loosing. And they're funny. So... the reasons I'm a bad mommy.

1. My 2.5 year old is not yet potty trained. She's occasionally gone on the potty when placed there, but it just doesn't occur to her to ask to go. It also doesn't occur to her to tell us when she's messed her diaper. I figure she probably should have an awareness that dry is better than wet before we can make any real progress on this front. I'll keep asking, but she's not going to make progress on this front until she's ready, no matter how tired I am of diapers.

2. I am no longer breastfeeding my 2.5 year old. She lost interest around the time my production took a nosedive. I know that makes me less mom than some would like.

3. I breastfeed my daughter at all. I get that this might make me a bad feminist or not care about my body image or something. Whatever.

4. I take my daughter to daycare even on days I don't have to work. Firstly, I've already paid for it, and secondly, I think she has more fun there than she would spending the day with kids her own age than with me pretending I enjoy doing Ring-Around-the-Rosie 8000 times in a row.

5. I only work part time. (Since we all know grad school isn't a 'real' job.) I mean, seriously, I know you can bill 80 hours a week at your high-powered job, devote another 20 hours/ week to working out, and then be an awesome parent, but some of us do the best we can. I also know you make more than me with fewer degrees. Haven't I been punished enough?

6. I never, ever wear pearls to do my housecleaning. I rarely clean my house. When I do, it's a big day if it is after I've had a shower and it is for a reason other that 'WTF happened to all the spoons? Again?'

7. My daughter has both watched TV and eaten fast food. I understand we are going straight to hell and she is doomed to a sub-standard life. I hope to redeem myself by mentioning that we drink organically farmed local milk.

Congratulations other Moms. You win. Mostly because I'm not playing. I'm going to have to hang my hopes of a gold medal or blue ribbon on either my knitting skills or on taking up archery late in life and discovering that (against all evidence to the contrary) I'm really good at it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Comprehensive Exams In Social Media

So... I'm working on an eloquent, thoughtful post about what it is like to be an academic and a mom, but at the moment, my brains have dribbled out my ears, so I thought, to give a taste of what it is like by giving you a sampling of my social media posts over the past month while I've been plodding through Comps.

Comps day 1: I'm weirdly excited about my question set. I must remember this is not the time or forum to write a scathing tract calling for disciplinary reform.

Comps Day 4: I had a dream last night that I was having lunch with Kofi Agawu and debating a point I'm making in my 1st comps essay.

wishes she lived in a world where words have simple meanings... the genius who brought her this delicious crepe has never spent 5 days considering the essential nature of the banana or the meaning of the word 'text.' (Consider this the Comps Day 5 report)

Brain no worky. Time for sleeps... back at it in the morning... 2500 words to write by sundown Sunday. 

Plan for today: eat yummy Mexican food, reread some cultural theory, buy cheap kid clothes, eat ice cream, write 700 words. I'm that cool.

My child just handed me my copy of the Turabian Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Am I reading too much into this, or is she saying 'get to work, lady?'

Comps Day 8: A day behind schedule. I think this is fine, if I can get essay 1 sorted today, and essay 2 should be easier, so will take less time, right?

Comps day 9: I seem to be going through all of the stages I usually go through developing a project, but in quicker succession-- excitement, panic, crippling self-doubt, bitter anger. Usually I have several months to cycle through all of this. In other news, I've written the same footnote so many times I no longer need to consult the publication info in the front of the book

Comps Day 10: I have realized that my interest in Charles Ives may stem from a sense that at least my writing is more organized than his. So I'm going to bed... perhaps clarity will be with me in the morning.

People who have an undergrad degree in anything think they know what grad school is like: undergrad w/ more reading, less drinking. That's like saying you know what parenting is like because you used to babysit in high school or you have a dog.

Comps Day 11, you are dead to me. Comps Day 12, I still have hope you can make up for your neighbor's shortcomings.

Mid-day report for Comps day 12: Out of negative word-count territory and in need of a break before they think I'm moving into this coffee shop. Heading to the Magnolia-league music library with a baggie full of change so I can make the copies I need before the weekend.

It is very weird to cite your friends in scholarly prose. I want to say 'so-and-so, who I've been roaringly drunk with multiple times….'

You should see what my kid can do with a bowl of oatmeal.

What is 1500 words between friends? Or between student lackey and established academicians determining her fate forever?

Then it's a good thing my problem isn't a shortage?

It seems like I spend more and more time reading things and thinking 'that sucks' even when it is stuff I'm supposed to respect.

Comps Days 13 and 14 report: I have decided that Scrivener is the best writing tool ever. The more I work through these projects, the more features I start using. Essay number 1 is almost finished and essay number 2 is in progress. Essay number 3... well, according to the schedule, I don't have to worry about that until tomorrow.

Thank you, Google Books for being so utterly useless.

If I'm ironic and no one hears it does it mean I wasn't ironic or just that no one gives a shit? Or that I'm a hipster?

Yes. I know it is weird to sit in the coffee lounge of the YMCA working with musical scores. You don't need to glare at me.

Comps Day 17: Just dug out my dog-eared old copy of Rosen's The Classical Style. This thing might really be going off the rails.

I hate end notes. I always have. I hate them even more in e-books.

Comps Day 18: Wrestling coherence out of an incoherent mass. Also, realizing my paper-saving strategies might be a profit-boosting scheme for my eye doctor.

More in statements in parenting that I never thought I'd hear: 'Don't yell into the toilet, please.'

Comps Day 22: It is amazing just how much of my work process involves making tea and shopping for shoes on the internet.

Comps day 24: I'm quickly reaching the point where hygiene is optional. I've also learned exactly one thing about my discipline: we hate trees

Comps day whatever: moment of truth time. Essay 1: 6524/5000 words. Essay 2: 3275/5000 words. Essay 3: 2853/5000 words. I know what to write, now it is just doing it in crunch time. The editing task does flummox me a bit, though.

Back to the mines. I'm finally confronting the major source of my word overage, so today's goal is to let a couple of respected scholars off the hook. At least for the sake of comps.

Going to bed now. Comps essay number 1, for the spectators out there, is written and edited, but for the formatting and its lack of a title.

Thinks 'Because I Hate Myself' is a bad title for her last essay, no?

Comps, the Final Hours: Me, 3 essays, one PB&J, CBC, and the CMS. 1 Hour of fixing crap, and I'm DONE. If it isn't done by then, it must not be important.

And DONE. (Assuming no technology SNAFU) All research materials are officially grounded until further notice and I'm going out for cake. Then I'm going to sleep.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Late to the Party...

So, did ya see the Time magazine cover that was such a big, fat hairy deal last week? Yeah, me too. If the internet is to believed, you were either appalled and shocked by the nudity, worried about the child, saying 'right on, Jamie Lynne,' or like me, you were too busy actually parenting a toddler to have a knee-jerk reaction to the thing. (See here for a pretty good summary of people's reactions. They also reproduce the image if you live under a rock (but have wifi or 4G) and haven't seen it.)

I do take issue with the article and the cover, but for a very focused set of reasons, and here they are:

  1. The 3-year-old on the cover will be 13 one day. While I actually do think that it is his mom's absolute right to breastfeed him as long as they are both comfortable with it, I imagine his future friends (and classmates and bullies) will google him someday and find this picture. He may not be as confident as his mom in defending the practice of 'extended breastfeeding.'
  2. Now, keep in mind that the Bug weaned herself at 17 months, so it might be different with an older toddler, but that cover image has very little to do with what I think is the actual experience of nursing a toddler. Thing the first: what stay-at-home mom of two toddlers looks that put together? I mean good for her, but I'm lucky my shoes match today. Thing the second: When the Bug was still nursing after breast milk was her primary food source, it was largely about cuddling and comfort and not so much about her nutrition; she had waffles and pasta and cow milk for calories, she had mama for feeling safe and loved... so our nursing sessions were generally quiet, darker affairs, and not the sort of drive-thru nursing depicted in this image. If anything, that is more like what nursing was like when she was in the 6-9 months-old range, when she nursed because she was hungry, but couldn't be bothered to lay down for it. And I will fight anyone who says 6-9 months is too old. 
  3. The article (and surrounding and related content both in the print and online editions) characterizes a battle between parenting styles that has not seemed to exist for me. I was confident enough our parenting choices to ignore criticism as a general rule, and if another family picks a different path, I'm not sure how that hurts me.* Maybe I'm still a Gamma Girl at heart, but I really don't care what people think of me enough for this to hurt me.
  4. The cover, through this intentionally inflammatory image, places the focus on its discussion of 'extended' breast feeding, which is one of the eight (although Time only named three) principles of Attachment Parenting, and it really isn't the most important one. In fact, Attachment Parenting International names this principle 'Feed with Love and Respect,' which sounds pretty acceptable. Because while Grumet, the cover model, was able to breast feed her adopted son, many women aren't in the advantageous situation she was for this, many adoptive parents can't or don't but still practice the other AP principles. By making such a strong statement about the breast feeding issue, the discussion largely sidesteps issues such as gentle discipline and preparation for parenting and birth. It instead focuses on the other hot button issue of AP, sleep sharing, which is one of those sorts of issues I was taught not to bring up at a cocktail party. 
If we are going to discuss how we parent as a society, I suspect that the discussion is one that we will have over coffee and at our water-coolers. It is one in which we will learn surprising things about our family and friends, and things that perhaps won't surprise us that much. It is not one we pick up at our supermarket between the celebrity gossip and the latest 1001 uses for cake mix. In a way, reality TV has done more for how we consider the issues around AP than this sort of media coverage does. Kourtney Kardashian slept with her son into his toddlerhood (I haven't seen any of the new season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians yet, nor do I make any effort to follow this beyond following all three Kardashian sisters on Twitter), Rosie Pope often talks about breastfeeding on her show on Bravo. More and more dramas and comedies assume that mothers will breast feed their children and deal with the issues of infant sleep and bed sharing. This type of presence in the media seems to do more for these issues than does a single problematic picture on a magazine cover. 

[If the prose here-- for that matter, my use of the word prose-- seems a bit 'academic-y' compared to my usual tone, I'm writing my comprehensive exams for my doctoral program at the moment. This is infecting every area of my life. When next I come up for air, I'll tell you all about it.]

*Incidentally, this is also the place where I really tick people off on the marriage equality thing: how does who you marry have any effect on my marriage? It isn't like when I moved to Canada and found out I could marry a woman there I immediately divorced my husband and went a-huntin'. (The other argument I make is about religious equity... half or more of the marriages performed by my minister aren't recognized by our state. How is that equal protection? But that's a discussion for another day on another blog.)

Friday, April 27, 2012


This past few months, I've gotten into a certain rhythm with my schedule. I teach on two days of the week, and I have two and a half days of research, and I have an afternoon that is either for running errands or as what I like to call 'mommy time,' which usually means a trip for ice cream and a pedicure.

That 'mommy day' is usually Friday.

This morning at 6am, I got a text from our daycare provider. One of the risks of using an in-home daycare is this: my childcare is really reliable and somewhat flexible except when there is an illness in the sitter's family. Apparently, she was up all night with food poisoning and so the Bug had to stay home today.

On the surface, this doesn't look like that big a deal. After all, I didn't have a single appointment or formal obligation today. I had two planned tasks: retrive Teddy the Very Important and Irreplaceable Lovey from Mother's Day Out and pick up a postal money order to try to get out of a traffic ticket. Beyond that, my plan was to write my weekday quotient of 500 words and then get a pedicure. So my disappointment at discovering that I could not have the day I had intended would seem a bit selfish.

But. My research is a job, even if I'm the only person I know who really thinks so. It is job number two.

The pedicure? Honestly I need it to remind myself that I'm more than a sociology-reading, gibberish-writing, paper-grading machine.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Some Thoughts on Toddler Sleep

Children's sleep is different than adult's. As adults, we cultivate sleep, we seek it out, we seek out optimal conditions for it. Or we put it off, trick our bodies, and attempt to control it. After we've slept, we evaluate it, categorize it and discuss it. When it isn't going right, we see doctors who specialize in it to help us fix it. In other words, sleep is something we do.

Children, particularly toddlers, don't view sleep in this active sense. For them, sleep is something that happens to them. It sneaks up and gets them Indeed, the average two-year-old doesn't even get that the bad mood and difficulty completing simple tasks is a result of needing to sleep.

I'm sure this has to do with brain development or something. I suspect that a milestone we never talk about us when the wee little people can recognize physical causes to their unhappiness.

Think about it, you never hear a toddler say 'please may I go to bed' and with a few exceptions, you never see an adult slumped over their dinner plate snoring.

But until the Bug reaches the developmental stage wherein she recognizes her own need for sleep, what is there to do? As best as I can figure, the wise course of action is to create optimal conditions for sleep to overtake the Bug. My goal with this is to make going to sleep not scary, and waking up somewhat pleasant. I try to make sure she's warm and clean and has a full belly, that she's calm and knows she's loved.

This is why I'm suspicious of the entire concept of sleep training. If their little brain isn't ready to actively go to sleep, then all the training does is alter the conditions in which sleep happens to the child. I think if she's warm and happy and not totally alone, sleep will develop comforting, happy associations. If she's alone and crying, it will become a scary thing that sneaks up on her.

So, while parenting her to sleep is time-consuming in the short run, I'm hoping it makes for a happier sleeper in the future, when I can say 'go to sleep,' and it will have some meaning for her.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

(or How To Parent a Toddler)

So. The Bug just turned 2. And she is soooooo 2 years old. A favourite phrase at the moment? 'I do.' Another one? 'Mine.' The final favourite communication tool? Stony silence in response from a request from one or both of the parental units.

And of course, although she is huge for her age-- 36" tall and 30 pounds-- I can still just pick her up and put her where I want her to be. But that ends badly. It also doesn't teach her much other than that the people in her life who are bigger than her will simply bend her to their will. This is not the lesson I want her to learn about the world.

So, like something I learned a long time ago about the techniques I learned in martial arts is this: just because I can do something, does not mean that I should. That is, even though I know how to properly punch someone in the throat, the occasions where that is appropriate are few and far between. As with Kung Fu, so with parenting. There are absolutely times when I need to pick her up and move her to where she needs to be. However, most of the time, no matter how crazy-making it is, I need to work with her to convince her to decide to cooperate of her own volition. Because I want her to learn that sometimes she has to do what she is asked to, even if she doesn't really want to.

So I spend a lot of time enforcing this... getting her to obey or cooperate, and enforcing consequences when she doesn't. This is, in fact, way more time consuming than just picking her up and making her do whatever it is that I've asked her to do.

But I think this will help her grow into the sort of adult I would like her to be.

And her independent streak? It will be a great quality when she's 14 and punches that boy in the throat for whatever it is he did that she didn't want him to.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Less Than Perfect

So I'm really good at my job. That is, I'm really good at the job for which I go to a place and spew knowledge at the masses. I've been slacking at the one where I'm an attentive and interested mom and the one where I finish my graduate degree before the apocalypse. But for the teaching gig, I'm in the top 5% of my peers. (Before you make this into me being a great educator, my competition includes an individual who makes presentations interesting by including animated gifs of cats shuffling cards.)

So I've come to a conclusion. I have to stop being so good at job C to be better at jobs A (being a good mom) and B (Ph.D before social security kicks in). I think I'll still be in the top tier of my fellow adjunct instructors of random class that kids take to fill up requirements, but I just can't keep acting like this role is more important than the other stuff. Because if I do that, it may lead me to never finish my degree and for my daughter to wind up on the pole, because she never got enough attention from her mom. She already sometimes calls the sitter Mommy.

I was a teen in the 1990s. Slacking should come way more naturally than it does.