Category Archives: children

Losing The Battle Of The Sexes To My 10-Year-Old

We have tried to raise our children color-blind and gender-blind. And so far, I think we’re doing an okay job of it. Hesitant to pat myself on the back. Eyes wide open enough to see that maybe our bias might slip once in awhile. But feeling pretty confident we’re raising two open-minded young men.

We’re balanced. (And my husband, who practices Chinese Medicine, would be happy with that assessment.) 

That being said, I need to make you aware of a few facts.

1. Our “pediatrician” is a Certified Nurse Practitioner.

2. Our CNP has amazing credentials, works with a group of equally amazing doctors and has been practicing for over 30 years.

3. We, and by we I mean all of us, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our CNP.

4. We would make our CNP a member of our family if that wouldn’t be crossing any personal/professional boundries.

5. We call our CNP Dr. Alex.

6. Dr. Alex is female.

6. My boys are about to hit puberty.

I purposely schedule their wellness visits smack dab in the middle of summer. Germaphobe that I am, I refuse to take them when their birthdays actually fall, late winter and early spring. And we rarely (Thank you, Chinese Medicine!) need to go the doctor except for the wellness visits.

We had their wellness visit this week.

“Well, how are my two favorite boys?” Dr. Alex sings as she walks into the exam room. “I haven’t seen you in forever! How are you enjoying your summer?”

Eyes glued to the floor. A barely audible “fine” squeaks out of one boy. I can’t tell which one.

“#1son, are you still playing baseball? How is the season going?” she asks.

“Okay.” Eyes still boring a hole in the tile floor.

“And #2son, are you playing this year?”

“No. I swim,” said almost in a whisper.

“But you’re playing this fall,” I chime in, embarrassed that my boys are being so rude, so quiet, so not like themselves.

The entire exam goes along this way but Dr. Alex barely notices. Chatting along with me like the “old friends” we’ve become. We both have children in the same university. We’re both about the same age. So she and I have plenty to catch up on. She still tries to engage the boys as she asks them to breath deeply, touch their toes, look up. No response.

There is a glimmer of hope when she gets on the computer and shows them where they fall on the growth chart. #1son will be around 6’2″ when he grows up and #2son around 5’11″. This pleases them both immensely. Their father is all of 5’7″ and #1son is the same nationality as his barely 5 foot sister, so his fears are dashed that he, too, will follow that ethnic stereotype.

But as soon as she turns back to them to ask them if they have any more questions their heads drop immediately to their chests and they whisper in unison, “No.”

I’m mortified.

But she acts like she doesn’t notice. Which surprises me. So, I try to engage the boys. To no avail.

We say our goodbyes until next year (wink, wink) and go our merry way.

“What was that all about?” I glare at them in the backseat through the rear view mirror.

“What?” They both ask, innocently.

“You barely spoke in there. Dr. Alex was asking you questions and you barely answered. You wouldn’t look at her when she spoke to you. That was so rude!”

Silence.

“Well, what do you have to say for yourselves?”

(Insert long, dramatic pause.)

“But Mom! We were naked!”

Just to be clear, they were not naked. They had on t-shirts and underwear. But I guess, to a pre-adolescent boy, that’s about as naked as you can get. (Thank goodness!) 

And with every feminist bone in my body I’m fighting the urge to move them to one of the male doctors in the group.

But I have a feeling I’m going to lose this fight.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under children, From The Mouths Of Babes

To The Parents Of Small Children: Trust Me. I Speak From Experience.

A friend alerted me (us?) to this article on Huffington Post in her Facebook status with a hearty “Amen!” When you bring an exclamation like “Amen!” into the picture, I am intrigued.

So, I read the article. It’s about something I am very familiar with. Infertility. And then pregnancy. And then getting what you want, only to turn around and say, why did I ask for this?

The chaos. The sleep-deprivation. The frustrations.

I know this, having two boys only 10 months apart in age, all too well.

I remember just weeks from my due date and my husband and daughter were teaching our middle son to crawl. I screamed, “Why are you doing this? I can barely see my toes. How am I going to chase a crawling gremlin?!?”

And then, just as our youngest was learning to crawl, my husband and daughter were teaching our middle son to walk. I screamed, “Why are you doing this? I can barely keep up with one little gremlin. Now you…”

But I stopped, mid-rant. What was the point?

Yes, it was tough. Yes, I snapped on more than one occasion. And when people said, “Enjoy these moments now. They grow up so fast!” I knew exactly what they were talking about.

My children are 10 years and then 10 months apart in age. I benefited from the experience of having been-there-done-that with my oldest.

With my daughter, when people would tell me to “enjoy her now” and that “they grow up so fast,” my eyes would glaze over and I would nod politely. I never quite felt the same anger towards those well-meaning people as the author of the Huffington Post article does, but I certainly agreed with him (at that time in my life) that their comments weren’t helpful. His annoyance is much stronger than mine was. He threatens to “break up with you” if you say it to him. He begs all well-meaning people out there to avoid that advice.

Well, with my “wealth” of experience, I’m about to rock his world.

I say?

Say it! Shout it! Climb onto the roof-tops and shout to every stressed out parent out there:

“Enjoy every precious and not so precious moment! They grow up so very, very fast!”

As annoying it may be to hear it the second time around, it made me pause. It reminded me to stop, take a breath and breathe in their sweet, grubby goodness. When my boys were 2 and just turned 3, my daughter was 13. Not needing me. Only around the house between school and gymnastics practice. Hugs were less frequent. And a tuck-in and a kiss goodnight was met with, “Mom?!? I’m not a baby anymore!”

My daughter, 10 years older than the next child, is a constant reminder of how fleeting those baby-toddler-childhood years truly are. Now in college, needing me so much less and at a university 4 hours away, I am missing her so much more. The grimy fingers. The skinned knees. The silly songs. The talks in the car. The butterfly kisses. Even the whining.

Oh sure, there were times when I’d hide in my closet, tears welling up because I thought I was going to lose it. I gave myself time-outs when I’d catch myself at the end of my rope. Parenting is not for the tender-hearted, and yet, it is.

Parenting is tough. Parenting can make you say and do things that you wish you hadn’t. But you pick yourself up, you learn from your failures (and we all have them) and you move on.

Much too quickly.

Because before you know it, they’re grown. They’re independent. They’ve taken all the skills you armed them with.

And they’re gone.

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Filed under children, Lessons Learned

An Open Letter To The Fathers Of Daughters Around The World

father-daughter

An Open Letter To The Fathers of Daughters Around The World:

Starting at a young age, at a very young age, make father/daughter time a priority. Make it a such a regular, natural occurrence that by the time she is a teenager, she expects you to take her out for sushi or ice cream.

When she’s six, laugh at her knock-knock jokes, teach her to fish. Walk the dog with her and dance the Macarena. Listen to her giggle about her favorite television show. Sit in the front row at her school music assembly. Let her fix your hair with barrettes and bows. Tell her she’s beautiful, inside and out.

When she’s ten, indulge her passion for ice cream. Ask about her teachers at school. Know her best friend’s name. Ask about her friend’s friends. Tell her about your friends when you were a kid. Go to every gymnastics meet. Play catch with her in the backyard. Go on a hike. Listen. Watch. Teach. Tell her she is beautiful, both inside and out.

When she is 14, share your passion of sushi together. Have her teach you how to use your iPhone.  Even if you already know. Watch a baseball game together. Go to her cheerleading competitions. Listen to her babble about things that seem unimportant. The important things will slip into the conversation when you least expect it. Listen harder. Tell her she is beautiful , inside and out.

When she is 19, take her out for coffee to hear all about her college classes. Listen as if your life depends on it. Nod. Smile. Offer advice if you think she’ll hear you. Sit silently, if you think she won’t. Just be there. As close as a text. As close as a phone call. Send her a funny picture in the mail. Make sure she knows you think of her every day. Tell her she is beautiful, both inside and out.

You have a power we mothers don’t have. You have the ability to teach our daughter that she is worth treasuring. The partner she chooses will be a reflection of you and all the work you did when she was still a little girl.

Will she pine for a boy and wait by the phone, just as she had to pine and wait for you? Or will she expect to be treated with kindness and consideration and respect? Will she allow her heart to be trounced on, over and over because she doesn’t feel she deserves better? Or will she let go of the frogs and hold out for a prince because you taught her that she is a princess?

Model good behavior with her mother. Show her how she should expect to be treated by her future soul mate.

Do these things, these simple, yet oh-so-important things to make life a little easier for the mothers of the daughters of the world. We tell our daughters that they are beautiful, both inside and out, every day. But they roll their eyes at us and say, “But Mom, you’re paid to say that!” When you say it, they hang onto your every word. Their eyes sparkle. They stand taller. They begin to believe what you say.

And then someday.

One day.

They will find a man, like you, who is beautiful.

Both inside and out.

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Filed under Adult Children, children, parenting

My Son. The Supernanny.

We all have good days and bad days as a parent. We all pray that our children won’t end up on Dr. Phil one day, telling the world how we messed them up.

And then, out of nowhere, when we least expect it, we get a glimpse of how we’re doing.

While folding clothes and watching a re-run of Supernanny, my youngest son sat down. Just to be in the same room. To play on his Kindle. And he started watching.

ABC#00001

“Mom? They should put her in a time out. Shouldn’t they be in bed by now? I can’t believe he even knows that word. How old is he?”

Then a Supernanny parenting question pops on the screen. We have to wait until the commercial break for the answer.

“I don’t have to wait. That’s an easy one. The answer is C!”

Sure enough, he’s right.

“You’re going to be an amazing father someday,” I beam.

“Yeah,” he muses, going back to his game.

“Just remember everything I taught you,” I say, kissing the top of his head.

“No,” he says, “I’ll remember everything you DID.”

…..

Yep.

Today is a GOOD day.

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Filed under children, parenting

For All You Parents Of Multiples

For all you parents of multiples out there…

I-was-planned

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Filed under children

Damn It. I Hate It When Mom Is Right.

“Damn it!”

Hearing this wouldn’t be shocking. Except it was from the mouth of my 3-year-old foster daughter.

I freaked out when I first heard her say it. I gently reprimanded. I talked about good words and bad words until I was blue in the face. Nothing worked.

“Just ignore it,” counseled my mother. “It will go away.”

“I can’t wait for it to go away! We’re monitored by social workers and case workers. She has a visit with her birthmom in just a week. If she says that in front of her they’ll take her away from us. We’ll be labeled unfit parents. We’ll NEVER get to adopt!”

I was clearly distraught. To me, this slip of the tongue, this bad mommy moment that this angelic toddler had heard and was now emulating, was catastrophic. This behavior had to stop and it had to stop NOW.

So, I continued with my reprimands, my explanations and peppered in a few time-outs.

To no avail.

Running into the grocery store for a few things, I was in a terrible rush. Her older sister was still at school and I was due in the carpool line soon. Time was limited. Trying to get Julia out of the carseat, her foot got tangled in the straps.

“Damn it!” she said.

I froze. I didn’t have time for explanations. I didn’t have time for reprimands. And I certainly didn’t have time for time-outs.

Searching my face for a reaction, she said it again more emphatically, “Damn it, Mommy!”

I remembered my mother’s words of wisdom. In desperation, I decided to take her, although ill-advised, advice. So, I simply scooped her up, placed her in the shopping cart and said, “We just need milk, carrots and eggs. And then, we have to hurry over to the school to pick up your sister.”

We shopped. We dashed to the school (well within speed limits, of course) and we went home. I made dinner. We read stories and played. We bathed before bed. We went to bed. We woke the next morning and started our daily routine.

Twenty four hours. Forty eight hours. A week.

All passed by without incident.

I never heard “Damn it!” from those sweet little lips again.

……..

Sigh.

I hate it when Mom is right.

 

 

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Filed under children, parenting, Words of Wisdom

The Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and Jane: The Holy Trinity of Trickery And Fraud

“Mom? Are you the tooth fairy?”

Stunned, I can’t look up from the puzzle I’m working on. “No, Sweetie. I’m your mom.”

My son walked away satisfied.

Oh. God. What did I just do? I lied to my son. But I was unprepared and I knew the inevitable question was next, “Are you Santa Claus, too?”

bunny_king_santa

My husband chastised me. “You can’t lie. If he asks the question it means he’s ready for the answer.”

Well. That might be so. But maybe I’m not ready for the answer.

I’m not. Ready, that is. I fully believe in Santa Claus. Not in the concrete way that children do. But in the esoteric, allegorical sense. Think Miracle on 34th Street or the amazing Colonel Harry Shoup. And the Pollyanna in me clings to this belief for dear life.

I’ve tried to prepare for the inevitable. I’ve practiced speeches in my head. But I stumble and fail. I found this amazing letter that another mother wrote for her child. I’ve bookmarked it, hoping to be inspired when the time comes. But that moment will sneak up on me, just as it did the other day, and catch me by surprise. And I will bumble and fumble for the right words. I pray they come to me.

Think back to the time when you believed in Santa. This extraordinary man, who encourages goodness and kindness and magic. The joy, racing down the stairs, to see what was left under the tree. Finding just what you wanted and he only wanted a cookie, some hot chocolate and a carrot for his reindeer in return.

As my children grow older, I’m trying to come to terms that this magical time is ending. The mysteries of Santa will be revealed. And to those of you who have never lied to your children about this mythical man, you may now smile smugly as I wrestle with my lie and the fear that my children will lose confidence in me. I am a fraud, just as Santa Claus is a fraud, and I may never again be trusted.

Sigh.

“Will you put the dollar under his pillow?” I ask my husband.

“Me? Why me? You ALWAYS do it!” My husband is panicked and I try to get him to take the dollar.

“Well, that way I haven’t lied. I’m not the tooth fairy. You are.” Loopholes. I’m always on the lookout for loopholes.

“Well, I can’t. I mean. Uh. I don’t know how.” He stutters and stammers.

I glare at him. “You don’t know how? What is that supposed to mean? You slip your hand under his pillow, remove the tooth and leave a dollar in its place.”

He sheepishly trudges upstairs and I follow for moral support.

He tries to sneak his hand under the pillow but our son shifts in his sleep. “See? I’m going to screw it up.” He hisses.

I glare again.

He tries again, barely slipping his hand under the pillow and gives up. “I can’t find it. It’s not there.”

Ticked, I snatch the dollar, slip my hand under the pillow, immediately find the tooth and replace it with the dollar bill. My glare has now turned icy and menacing.

“You made a liar out of me,” I snarl.

My husband just stands there, with a sheepish grin.

I guess he’s not ready for the inevitable either.

7 Comments

Filed under children, Holiday, Motherhood

Speaking Of Happy Dance, This One Is Pure Joy!

I just had to share this pic, taken from the Maria Montessori site on Facebook.

Pure, simple, utter joy.

May you have a little in your day today.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under children, Completely Random, The !!!

Teach Your Children Well

Most people who stumble upon or actually choose to peek in on my blog are moms. Almost all are parents who want to raise healthy, happy, well adjusted children. You find practical advice on head lice (it’s still my #1 seller! Go figure!) or find solace in my anecdotes. Or, in laughing at me, you sit a little straighter, knowing you can top Jane in parenting ability.

Now, I’ve never claimed to be a parenting authority.

But I know someone who is.

Madeline Levine, PhD., author of Teach Your Children Well: Parenting For Authentic Success, uses “cutting edge research and thirty years of clinical experience” to help us be the parents we want to be. The best kind of cheerleader for our children. Encouraging, supportive, and nurturing. Her book shows us that superficial success is not what shapes an authentic self.

I am familiar with Ms. Levine’s book The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating A Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids.  I found it so interesting, I decided (since I’m not eligible for the giveaway – and I’m cheap) to request her newest book from our library. There’s a waiting list. Out of the 7 copies, all are checked out with a wait list. Looks like Amazon.com is going to squeeze a book out of me this month. Yep. I don’t want to wait. She’s that good.

Harper Collins has graciously offered a free book (read: GIVEAWAY!) for a reader of my blog. Simply comment below and share a proud mommy/daddy moment, a learning (aka bad mommy/daddy) moment, or simply respond with “I want a free book!” Any comment will do. I’m not picky.

Comment before 12:00pm, EST on Monday, August 13th 2012 and a random winner – from the U.S. or Canada – will be chosen. (Yes. Your fate lies in the sticky fingers of one of my sons.)

Good luck!

Thanks for reading!

And have a happy parenting day full of highs and short on lows!

Update: And the winner is……..Naptime Writing! I guess your two entries increased your odds just the right amount. That and the fact that my son rolled your lucky number on the dice. Congratulations! And thanks, too, to TKW, Robin, Velva, Rudrip and Cool Joe for playing.

7 Comments

Filed under children, Motherhood, parenting

Hi. I’m Jane. And I Nursed My Son Longer Than 2 Years.

(Jane clears throat and steps gingerly onto her soapbox.)

Hi.

My name is Jane.

And I nursed my son longer than 2 years.

Go ahead. Start slinging the arrows. Label me crunchy granola. Slap the handcuffs on my wrists and haul me away to crazy-mommy-jail. (Do they have Starbucks? If so, I’ll go willingly.)

I didn’t plan on nursing for so long. I knew I wanted to breastfeed. (Because, after all, that IS what my breasts were designed for, contrary to popular belief.) So when my pediatrician asked me if I’d given any thought to weaning I answered, “Yes. I read it’s best to nurse until a year old. And that’s when I’m planning on stopping.” She smiled a knowing smile and handed me a pamphlet on the latest statistics (7 years ago) and said, “Well, the World Health Organization now recommends breastfeeding until age 2 or longer, whichever is best for both mother and child.”

This was new thinking for me. But after exhaustive research (because I’m really a research nerd-junkie at heart) I decided to practice “child led weaning” or natural weaning. Yes. I said natural weaning. Because if it’s forced, it is un-natural. (I’m on my soapbox so I can say this.)

Now, I wasn’t the perfect crunchy-granola mom. I tried to practice a “don’t offer, don’t refuse” approach to the “natural” weaning process. But I succumbed to societal pressures. If we were in public, if guests were visiting who wouldn’t understand, I’d gently redirect and say, “Not now.” Sometimes I’d offer an explanation. But he didn’t really care. A redirect was fine.

But the fact that I was still nursing at (OK. I’ll admit it.) 3+ years of age? It was my dirty, little secret. (And not THAT kind of dirty, little secret. If that’s what you were thinking? Please. Just leave now. There isn’t enough room in the blogosphere to convince you otherwise and I’m not about to try.)

Frankly, I find it pathetic that only 57% of women in the U.S. even try to breastfeed their baby, compared to the 98% in Sweden, Norway and 94% in Rwanda. I understand that for some women, breastfeeding isn’t an option due to health issues. I get it. I truly do. But when a 6 month pregnant woman in my bookclub says, “Oh, no. We’re not going to breastfeed. My husband  and I just aren’t comfortable with that.” And she shakes her head with disgust, with a grimace on her face? I’m the one who is disgusted. (And I tried to hide MY grimace but as you all know, I do not have a poker face.)

And I tried. I really tried not to make a comment about the fairly recent Time magazine cover “Are You Mom Enough?” with the 3-year-old nursing. But hold onto your hats, because here I go.

First of all, I never, ever, ever nursed my 3 year old standing up with him on  a step stool.

Second. If you can’t nurse for whatever physical reason? You get a big, fat automatic pass at breastfeeding. No questions asked. But if you “can’t” nurse because it grosses you (and your husband) out? Maybe you aren’t mom enough.

Third. I understand that Time was trying to elicit a response with their shocking cover. But really. Natural weaning and attachment parenting practices should be a non-issue. They are practiced all over the world. ALL the heck over. We’re the ones with the issues that we need to just get over. Plus, different strokes for different folks. Stop the judging and start supporting each other. Maybe more moms would see the light.

And D (now you really know I’m angry because I’m mixing up my argument structure), that blog that wants to punch people in a place that would really hurt because they tick them off? You can be on your soapbox but please back up your argument with facts. Attachment parenting does not mean that you nurse until your child can spell “delicious and refreshing breast milk” and they co-sleep with you until middle school. I know you’re trying out the Time magazine shock technique, but honestly? You come across sounding mean, angry, hostilely judgmental and insecure in your own parenting skills.  But since that’s the point of your blog, I’ll just stop there.

Yes. I’m a crunchy, granola mom. By accident. Because that’s what felt right for me and my child. At that time in our lives. In that moment. I didn’t ask for anyone’s permission. I didn’t ask for anyone’s opinion. I just did it because that’s what felt right. And sadly, for me anyway, I honestly can’t remember the last time my son nursed. It had tapered off to a point that one day, a day I will never remember because it felt like any other day, he decided it would be his last. He didn’t need it anymore.

As it should be.

(Stepping off my soapbox, and ducking from the arrows, I just want to say whatever is was that YOU did about feeding your infant/toddler/child? It’s your business and your business alone. I don’t care what you did. I know what I think is best but that’s just it. It’s MY opinion. Not yours. You go off and have your opinion. Just don’t want to punch me in the throat because of mine.) 

13 Comments

Filed under children, Moms, Motherhood, Soapbox