Category Archives: parenting

Random thoughts about risk

I’ve been thinking today about the cocoon we seem to default into as parents.  The media has us hypervigilant, and social pressure from other parents, grandparents, etc., has us feeling that to invite risk upon our children is to fail as parents.

The first thing that got me thinking was a couple days ago, when my daughter, who is 7, was playing at the next-door neighbor boy’s house.  His grandparents were there watching him (which is common – we know the grandparents pretty well), and I told my daughter to be home at 4:30.  I just so happened to go outside at about 4:28 to take out some garbage, when I saw Lane walking toward our house with the boy’s grandma.  I went and met them and chatted for a moment with the grandmother, who told me she felt odd about letting my daughter walk home alone so she decided to escort her.  “You never know these days!” she told me.  Well, no, ‘these days’ there’s no more crime against children than there ever has been, historically.  It was daylight, our houses are about 100 feet apart.  It really, really, REALLY does not require an in-person escort to see my daughter home.  I think it was thoughtful and sweet that she did it, but at the same time I feel such actions also convey a sense of mistrust to kids that they aren’t capable of these easy things.   Her main motivation seemed to stem from the fear that some ill-intended creepy person might happen by and snatch her from under our noses.  Well.  The teaching of “Stranger Danger” is, by and large, a disservice to kids, and I refuse to indoctrinate my kids that way.  Sure, I tell them if they’re lost who would be the best people to trust (in a store, for example, someone who works at the store, or another mom with kids).  And, I have talked to them about behaviors an adult might engage in that should raise a red flag in their head (asking them to keep a secret, asking them for help to find a puppy, stuff like that).  But I simply will not make them fear for their own safety every minute they are out of my sight for my own (false) sense of security.

Next, a quick conversation I had with my daughter’s bus company today.  Again, she’s 7 – in second grade.  The bus driver had told me once, a ways back, that it was “policy” that parents have to meet the bus.  Well, OK… but really?  Obviously it wasn’t set-in-stone policy because he never needed the 5th grader-at-the-same-stop’s mom to be present.  Is there a cut-off?  He refused to give me a clear answer.  Well, I have a baby at home, and the weather’s getting cooler.  I like getting my daughter off the bus, but with the baby it isn’t always practical or prudent or even possible for me to get to the bus stop (which is not far, it is across the not-very-busy street and one house down from us) every single day right at 3:18 p.m.  I plan to inform him of this, that occasionally I may not be there and it is OK for Lane to walk home by herself, that she knows how to get into the house.  (We have a door with an electronic keypad; she doesn’t even need to remember a key.  Which,  if you are considering getting one, do it.  Tomorrow!  It’s an incredibly awesome convenience.)  However, I didn’t want him coming back at me with “but it’s against policy” bullcrap.  So I called the transportation department to find out what the real policy was.  Officially, I was told, only kindergartners have to be met by an adult to be let off the bus.  However, I was firmly scolded, “there’s policy and then there’s common sense.”  Yeah, well, common sense tells me that empowering my daughter to take care of herself on occasion in a low-risk situation is nothing but beneficial to her self-sufficiency and independence.

Then there was an internet posting I came across just now that lambasted the lack of risk to which we expose our children.  They need to play outside (agree), engage in unstructured activity (agree) be allowed some independence (agree), and car seats aren’t necessary after a couple years, seat belts are just fine.  Um, no, big fat disagree.  I’m totally for letting kids be exposed to risk.  They will get bee stings and scraped elbows and even a broken bone or two, and that’s fine.  They might get scared from time to time, and that’s OK too.  Everyone gets scared.  But moving out of a car seat too soon, or switching from rear- to front-facing, that’s not an acceptable risk to me.  Simply because there’s no real derived benefit.  It might be a little more convenient, or maybe you can save a little money, but is there anything long-term that comes of it?  In my opinion, absolutely not.  My kids won’t gain any emotional benefit from not sitting in a car seat.  My baby won’t increase her self-worth by forward-facing any sooner.

 

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I’m a mom again

We went, we delivered, and we are home. 🙂

It was quite an interesting saga, the lead-up to the birth. Because I have (albeit mild and easily diet-controlled) gestational diabetes, my midwives were itchy to get the baby out, and started talking an induction if I didn’t go on my own by my due date, as I have previously chronicled. I did my research and was OK with postponing any induction until Thursday, if needed. Well, Monday I had an appointment and midwife Sue was generally OK with the few days’ postponement, but we both agreed it would be reassuring to have a biophysical profile done (an ultrasound where they specifically check baby’s well-being, blood flow from placenta, amount of amniotic fluid, stuff like that). So I had that done on Monday as well, and while the baby was looking very healthy and everything else looked good, I was apparently low on amniotic fluid… which mostly means it makes it easier for the baby to accidentally wedge up against the cord in utero and cut off its own oxygen supply. Combined with the gestational diabetes, it was a good reason to not wait until Thursday, but given the baby’s otherwise very healthy status, Sue let me wait until Tuesday morning which also gave me an opportunity to drink lots of fluids and try to get the amniotic fluid up a little. I was told to report to the hospital at 6:30 a.m.

Well, long story short… some strong contractions woke me up at 4:30 a.m., and we left for the hospital at 6:15 a.m. I was, quite fortuitously, seemingly in labor, all on my own. Called the midwife from the car, told her we would be just a little late (there had been a little snowfall and the roads were a little slick) but that I was pretty sure I was in active labor.

Got to the hospital, got checked in and changed into hospital garb, my very awesome OB nurse checked, and I was already at 6 cm. That was about 7:30 a.m.

Continued to progress, got the all-clear to push around 8:40, which was good because I really really wanted to push. I think I was still only in transition because the contractions never let up. I JUST HAD TO GET THE BABY OUT. NOW. Her head emerged almost immediately, they got me to pause for just a second because she had the cord loosely wrapped around her neck, so they slipped it off, and I went about the very quick business of pushing out her shoulders. The midwife had me reach down and grab the baby and finish delivering, and lift the baby onto my own chest. So awesome!! She also asked me to do the identifying… “Lisa — what do you have?” she asked. My first delirious thought was “It’s a baby, duh!” but then I realized she was talking about looking for gender!! I took a very hard look, because even delirious I knew I didn’t want to make a misidentification, certainly my husband would never let me live that down. And once I was incredibly certain there was no penis to be found, declared “She’s a girl!”

She cuddled skin to skin with me on my chest until her cord stopped pulsing, then the midwife clamped it off and Frank did the honors of cutting it. I delivered the placenta and was just exhausted. I knew I’d torn a little (how could I not have, I delivered her way too fast…) and while my labor wasn’t very long, it was very intense. The OB nurse took the baby while I started to get stitched up and did all the weighing and measuring and other requisite birth things, and I took her back about 20 minutes later. She latched on at that point and nursed pretty well. I also decided, in an odd fit of whimsy, that we were going to keep the placenta and buy a new tree and plant it under the tree in the spring. Never even hearing of anyone doing this before, let alone with the complete absence of any discussion between us, my dear husband took these new plans in stride. 🙂

And our baby is, in a word, awesome. She’s a great nurser, she sleeps pretty well, she has amazing periods of quiet alertness where she just does her best to look around and see as much as she can (before her eyes cross from the strain, but then she just blinks a couple times and tries again). She is crazy strong, too… even the pediatrician at the hospital commented on it. If she’s laying on your chest, semi-upright, she can lift her head and chest up and do a little push-up. It took her about a day to pick up that little trick, mostly because it helps her look around better.

Since I avoid using real names for my kids on this blog I shall only give you her nickname, and that is Catie. She is perfect and I am in love. Her birth was a great experience and I am so happy and proud that I got to have another drug-free birth… but I am also quite pleased that I never have to do that again, since we have no intention of having any more kids.

The sweetest little boy on the face of the earth

Hey all!

My pregnancy has been very uneventful.  So I guess it shouldn’t come as much surprise to have something crop up – that ‘something’ being gestational diabetes.  I also had it with my pregnancy with Jake, and it was managed very easily with some dietary alterations.  I only got the diagnosis this go-round a few days ago, so I’ve been back to testing my blood in the interim until I can see the perinatologist that my midwives recommend.  After a few days of testing and eating smaller, more frequent meals that are lighter on the carbs, I’m already getting the hang of it again, and I’d say that the diet modification should hopefully do the trick this time, too.

The kids have had very different reactions to seeing me test my blood.  Lane wants nothing to do with it and thinks it is completely weird and gross and generally runs from the room when I do it.  (Which I think is a very normal and healthy reaction!)  Jake, however… oh my goodness I could just eat him up.  He saw me testing for the first time last night, and his three-nearly-four year-old curiosity piqued. 

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Well,” I answered, “because I have the baby in my belly I have to make sure I don’t eat too many sweet things.  This actually tests my blood and tells me if I’m doing a good job.”

He was still very interested and wanted to see the whole process, so I showed him.  He saw the little dot of blood that emerged from my finger, saw me get my “score” on the meter.

“Can you test my blood?” he asked.

I explained that I would have to poke him with a lancet, and he would bleed just a tiny bit.  It might hurt just a little, but only for a second.  He was cool with it.  In fact he said, and I quote, “That’s OK mommy.  I’m brave.”

So I tested his blood.  He got his little poke, which he said didn’t hurt at all, and when his blood sugar came back at 114, he raised his arms over his head and cheered for himself like he’d just won a race.

Lost

I’m in the car with my kids, and to get from my neighborhood to the “town” part of town, we have to drive down a bit of a hill.  Lane and Jake are going “Whee!” and Lane asks if I can go faster.

“No, honey, that wouldn’t be safe,” I reply.  “If we go too fast, we could get into an accident, and one of us could get hurt really badly or even die.  I wouldn’t want any of us to get hurt.”

Lane says, “Could the baby get hurt?”

“Yep,” I reply.  “If I got hurt badly enough the baby could get hurt too.”

“Or could you die?” Lane asks.

“I could,” I say.  “If another car hit us hard enough I could die.”

“I wouldn’t want you to die,” Lane replies.  “Then we’d be lost.”

My, what a philosophical thing for a six year-old to say, I ponder.  “Well, if anything were to happen to me, Daddy would take very good care of you.”

“Yeah,” she responds, “but first we’d have to find our way home.  We’d have to walk or something.”

My kids are so cool

Lane has decided she wants to make a copy of the book Snuggle Puppy.  Which, in my opinion, is not only one of the cutest little books in existence (could those puppies be any cuter??), but also the cutest song ever.  (The song link will download the sample of the mp3 from Amazon; do not fear!!)   So, she’s using red construction paper, re-writing all the words, and drawing her own pictures.

I also decided, because they were on a good sale, to have lobster for dinner.  Supermarket cooked them for me, I steamed them a bit to warm them up at home.  I bought some jumbo shrimp for the kids, under the general precaution of them freaking out at the sight of a giant red bug on my plate and wanting nothing to do with it.  But, cool kids they are, were more than eager to try the lobster, and more than happy to also try the thyme-garlic clarified butter I made, and more than happy to eat ALL my claw meat. 

How did I luck out with such cool kids?

Hello, insecurities

As Lane has ventured her way through kindergarten, we’ve had to deal with a handful of social issues that have come up.  None particularly crisis-inducing, but just that stuff that happens with a bunch of kids together in a room.  She got in a fight with her best friend and they weren’t talking for a couple days.  One girl, who she’d never been particularly friendly with but is the only other kid from her class on her bus, made a point to tell her that they were *not* friends and Lane wasn’t sure what to do with it.

And as we muddled through these various little things, I felt all those school-age insecurities get dredged up.  I went through elementary school as, I shall say it, one of the most popular girls.  Until about fourth grade (it seemed in my world) being smart and active and friendly and nice were enough that most girls were friendly to me, and I had a plethora of friends.  Then I hit about seventh grade, and being smart and friendly and nice became the assets that made me a target for the more queen-bee-ish of the friends I’d accumulated.  No time in school was particularly harsh, and I was thankfully wise about judging about who my real friends were.  Getting involved in sports helped a lot, too; I and the other athlete-girl-types mostly were straightforward and avoided the general social pettiness in which the rest of the girl population wallowed/thrived. 

To help better understand the dynamics of the stuff Lane would be faced with, but that I never seemed to understand in school, I read Queen Bees and Wannabes not too long ago, which was incredibly insightful.  I borrowed it from the library but I know it’s a book I’ll want to own a copy of.  Happy to say, while I spent a bit of time as a Target/Torn Bystander type while I was learning to navigate the social circles of junior high, I pretty much evolved into a Floater in the Queen Bee/Wannabe vernacular… comfortable in a number of different groups, confident, keeping myself above the fray, etc.  Turns out I did pretty good for myself after all.  I had always thought of myself as more of the victim, and conflict with other girls — especially those super-cliquey, power-hungry types — would give me a cold sweat just thinking about the possibility. The truth is (which I realized while reading the book) was that I handled them well.  No one ever got a second chance to be entrusted enough to be mean to me.  I think my true test of social endurance and personal fortitude happened in ninth grade.  A true queen bee, this mean, wicked, power-hungry girl who I shall call Samantha found out that a junior football player stud-type (who I shall call George) liked me.  (George didn’t like me in a “wow, you’re amazing and smart and I want to get to know you better!” kind of way, he liked me in a “Wow, you wore leggings the other day and you looked hot and I want to stick my penis in you really bad!” kind of way, so while it was, honestly, a bit of an ego boost to be noticed that way, I was decidedly not responsive to his interest in me.)  However, I didn’t make it widely known that I wasn’t interested, I just sort of shrugged it off.  George, however, did make it pretty widely known that he wanted into my panties.  This was incredibly threatening to Samantha, as George was her well-known target of lust and affection and I assume she had been-there-done-that with him, or had publicly aspired to do so.  Therefore, George’s attention paid in my direction seriously undercut her power accumulation and I was a very serious threat, without doing anything at all.  There were confrontations, and rumors spread, and other lovely things, and I distinctly remember being amused by it and feeling above it.  I shrugged it off, I laughed with my friends about it, and when George (with much fanfare, and for some reason everyone knowing he was going to do it) invited me to be his date to a party, I turned him down privately, though I’m pretty sure Samantha never found out I’d said no until she got to the party and he was there without me – I only told a couple close friends I’d said no, and certainly George didn’t go bragging about it.  It was a fun few days of watching her struggle so strongly to try to tear me down for her own ego.  It was an episode I’d never reflected on an awful lot until I’d read the book, and realized how much more power this girl could have had over me if I’d let her.

But I see the uncertainty and the insecurities I felt rear their ugly head as I am starting to help Lane navigate these new waters.  I’ve also caught myself assuming she might be more apt to be a target/victim than an instigator/manipulator.  I really don’t know why I would make that assumption — can a mom with absolutely no tendencies toward manipulative, power-seeking, queen bee type behavior have a daughter who becomes that stereotypical “mean girl”?  Sure, why not.  I honestly don’t see it in our case, but weirder things have happened… so as I’ve started to give her bits of insight into her own actions and those of others, I’ve started to take into account that she could shape up to be a victim, or a perpetrator… but ideally, neither. 

Luckily she  has at least a couple more years before the girl-cattiness starts showing up in significant amounts.  I hope I can guide her to realize being above the fray is way better than trying to win at it, and the best friends she’ll find are the ones who feel the same.

A minute

I have searched the wides for wisdom,
I have panned the seas for sage.
Never thought that I would find it
On so blank and fresh a page.

In you I have found freedom,
Boldness of spirit and mind.
With you I’ve found boundless joy
Much greater than years left behind.

In you I’ve found my religion
My truth, my essence, my wealth.
I could not’ve dreamt a better tutor
Of life or of love or myself.

So lead on, my wind, my north
Show me fearlessness, show me cunning.
Remind me to gaze at the stars
Dare me to best you at running.

Lead, though you may be frightened
I promise, I’m right at your side.
Lead, though doubt may consume you
I promise, it soon will subside.

Lead on, wise child, lead on.