Category Archives: parenting

Does your kid really need a perpetual snack buffet?

I’ve noticed something with other parents.  Now, I hate to generalize, but it does seem exceedingly common.  What’s with having snacks available to kids every single minute of the day?  Jake and I attend this open gym that our town runs.  Basically, every weekday they use one of their community center gymnasiums, fill it with toddler/preschooler-appropriate toys, and let parents and kids have the run of it for two hours.  Most people aren’t there for the full two hours, maybe an hour, hour and a half tops.  Nearly every single kid there has snacks openly available to them.  They walk around with bags of Goldfish.  They nosh on pretzel sticks, and apple wedges, and Cheerios.  Two babysitters were there with three kids between them, and they literally had a buffet set up for the kids they were watching – four or five different snack choices, plus a drink for each kid.  Then there’s the other moms that follow the kids around as they play and pop food in the kids’ mouths as they’re playing.

You may have guessed, but this is nowhere near my modus operandi.  I make sure my kids get something in their bellies in the a.m., around lunchtime-ish, and at dinnertime.  Snacks are happily supplied if a kid says they’re hungry (unless a mealtime is imminent and that food is forthcoming shortly).  Sometimes I keep snacks with me if the kids say they are hungry, but often I don’t.  When I do have food with me, it only comes out if our time away from home unexpectedly encroaches on a mealtime, and the kids say they’re hungry.  It is rare for me to offer a preemptive snack, unless I realize we’ve missed a meal.

I hate to feel all judgmental about it, but gosh, it just really seems like some parents are still stuck on that infant feeding schedule, thinking that their kid will starve if they don’t eat every hour.

Bringing in reinforcements

I waffled on the idea for the last couple days, as I am staunchly a work-it-out-yourself sort of parent most of the time.

But Lane’s struggling.  Emotionally, physically, socially, with the estrangement from the girl that I think was her best friend at school before this.  Lane has a strong personality, so I imagined from the beginning that she might be a polarizing figure — the girl that other girls love, and/or hate.  I sort of mentally prepared myself for dealing with that.  I guess I didn’t predict Lane’s reaction to it.  Playing sick, changing her preferences, begging me not to send her to school.  Her heart’s aching, and so is mine.

So I emailed her teacher.  Just in a friendly heads-up sort of way, and seeing if she’d be open to doing a bit of mediation with them.  I’m still not sure it’s the right thing to do, and we’ll see how the teacher responds.

Ugh.

Really, I have to deal with this already?

Oh, sigh.

Now, let me remind you.  My daughter is five.  She just started kindergarten.  She watches Sesame Street and Dora.  She thinks farts are hilarious.  She was dumb enough to cut her own hair five months ago.

Yet, I am already dealing with a full-on case of girl-angst-drama. 

Before last week, Lane loved school.  Couldn’t get enough of it.  Rejoiced at getting an earlier bedtime so she’d be well-rested for school.

Then this week, something changed.  It was harder to get her out of bed.  She didn’t feel good.  She didn’t want to go to school.  Tonight, there were tears when she pleaded with me to not make her go to school tomorrow. 

Time to get to the bottom of things.

I’d gleaned a couple days ago that she and her friend (I’ll call her Katie) were mad at each other over something.  But when she told me, Lane didn’t seem very affected by it.  So when she had her minor freakout this evening, I dove deeper.  The story I was finally able to extract was that Katie hit her last week, and Lane told on her, and Katie got mad because Lane told on her, and declared they weren’t friends any more. 

Gosh, I hate this.  I was not good at being a girl through school.  I gravitated toward the jock girls, as we always seemed to be slightly more immune to the drama.  I was just never good at navigating through that social minefield.  And now, I have to teach my daughter the ways of this nonsensical world?!?  Ugh.

I did my best, and I think I gave her decent advice.  Well, first, I gave her a huge hug and thanked her for trusting me with the whole story, and now I’m her mom and it’s my job to be her friend and help her and protect her, so she can always tell me this stuff.  I told her that I totally understood that she would be mad that Katie hit her, because nobody likes to be hit.  However, even though Katie did something wrong, maybe Lane could have handled it differently too instead of telling the teacher right away.   Lane’s also a pretty big tattle-tale at home, too, and 95% of the time I make her work it out herself.  Tell your brother you don’t like to be hit.  Don’t play with him if he’s not nice to you.  Blah blah blah.  I told her tonight that while she wasn’t wrong to tell her teacher, that maybe she could have done something differently.  Maybe she could have asked Katie not to hit, because Lane doesn’t like to be hit.  There was a little more talking, a couple rephrasings, a couple examples, a little talk about how maybe she go about making amends with Katie, who before this incident was arguably Lane’s best friend at school and the only one she talked about having playdates with.

And, sigh, again.  I feel so ill-equipped with dealing with this crapola.  I want Lane to be better equipped to deal with all this angst and drama. 

Or maybe I can just encourage her to be a jock.  🙂

Seriously though, I’d totally take some advice here.   Any thoughts?  Any good books to read?  I need help.  I’ve considered shooting an email off to the teacher, just to give her a heads-up about what’s going on between these girls… but how much is helpful to a teacher, and how much is needless meddling?  Would she want to help mediate the situation, or prefer to let the girls work it out themselves? 

Help.

A scary, scary moment

Gosh, I’m getting pretty lax about this whole blogging thing.  Probably most have abandoned me by now.  I’m here… just… distracted.

Anyway, Kate‘s weekly Madhouse has pulled me out of my quiet.  Her topic this week is “the scariest moment” and the topic immediately reminded me of a very scary one of my own.

We’d only moved into our house here a few months earlier.  Jake was a year and a half and mobile, Lane was four and constantly needing to bounce around.  It was late November, and I decided to put up Christmas lights.  The kids helped me as much as they could with stuff on railings and bushes, but then there is a white pine tree in the front of our house.  It’s not super big — maybe 20 feet tall — so I thought it would be cool to deck it out in lights, maybe not all the way to the top but as high as I could manage with our aluminum ladder.  I asked the kids to stay on the front stoop while I was doing it.  Jake had some play cars to occupy him there, so he stayed put.  Lane kept trying to wander closer, and I kept telling her to please, please, please not come over there.

In retrospect, I should never have done it when the kids were there at all.  It nearly gives me palpitations every time I think about it.

I was done with the lights, and climbed down, and just needed to get the ladder down and put away.  I didn’t notice Lane had wandered over when she saw me come down the ladder.  I went to swing the ladder from vertical to horizontal, but it slipped out of my hands, and came crashing down, hard and fast.  It hit the ground about eight feet away from Lane, who I didn’t even realize was right there until I’d nearly caved in her skull.

Brave girl, she didn’t even get startled by it.  I, however, almost had a heart attack.

I think about that a lot.  How different it could have turned out.  It makes me sick with myself.  But like all things parenting, it taught me such a good lesson about the things that just aren’t appropriate to try to do with small kids around.  It taught me a fallibility, and a real feeling of caution that I bring to that sort of thing now; and granted I was never truly careless before, but I do take an extra moment to size up the environment with the kids and ask myself, “Now, what *could* go wrong, even if the chance of it is slim?”  I know I can’t prevent every close call in the future, or even the occasional injury, but I’m sure going to try.

Five

Lane turned five last week.

Not one to be generally sentimental about stuff, I didn’t intend to post much (if at all, given my track record lately) on it.  But Kate has this weekly thing going on, so I thought I’d join in this week as I have a couple times past and wax a bit sentimental on the occasion.

We celebrated her birthday with a two-part party; first we had some of her friends over for a couple hours.  Luckily the weather cooperated, because the planned activities revolved largely around the inflatable waterslide that was part of her birthday present from us.  It was a huge hit, aside from the small issue that our outdoor water supply is well-fed and is COLD.  The adults took turn pinching the hose so the kids didn’t get too blasted with cold water as they made their approach at the top.  The only downside was that the slide we got is only for kids up to seven, and there were definitely a few adults (myself included) that wanted a turn.  That thing looked fun!  If this slide gets a lot of use, then she might be getting a much bigger one for her sixth or seventh birthday.  😀

After a couple hours, the kids and their parents cleared out, and the ‘adult’ party got started.  I say ‘adult’ but it felt like there were just as many kids around.  I say ‘adult’ because the invitees to this part were the choice of me and Frank — his parents, my dad and stepmom (have I mentioned my dad just got remarried?), our neighbors (who have kids), and a few of our friends from college who don’t live to far away who all have kids.  We rolled out the alcohol, and barbequed, and just had a nice time.  I made a Tinkerbell cake for Lane, and I must say it came out pretty well.

All in all, it was a great day.

And, Lane turned five.  Again, I’m not a very sentimental person, but it really is amazing how she’s growing and maturing.  We still have our issues… the girl is obstinate, stubborn, and strong-willed.  She’s very opinionated, and very vocal with those opinions.  We’re working on helping her be a little more go-with-the-flow, but she often tests our patience.  At the same time, she had both a dentist and doctor appointment in the last couple weeks, and both went so much more smoothly than previous visits.  She was cooperative, and brave, and barely bothered by her polio and DTaP boosters.  We’ll see how well she does next week for the first of two additional dentist appointments to fix the cavities she has (*blush* — but in our defense, the dentist said that a couple of them (between very tight molars) probably would have happened no matter how vigilant we were), but I was really proud of her in these situations, which when she was younger would make her completely stressed out and shut down and uncooperative.  And, she’s 43 1/4″ tall — less than 5 inches shy of being 4 feet tall!  I can barely believe my baby could be so tall.

She’s such an awesome kid, living every moment with all the strength of her emotion and all the energy she can muster.  She’ll be starting kindergarten in the fall, and I simply cannot wait to see what that new adventure brings for her.  Love you, monkey.  🙂

The vicious cycle of nonposting

It’s funny, once you get out of the habit of posting on a daily or near-daily basis.  It feels like you have to come up with something really worthwhile to post with again, and then nothing worthwhile comes up (or so it feels) and you continue with not-posting.  And then two or three weeks go by and you can hear the crickets chirping in your blog stats.

And on top of that, I haven’t talked much about the goings-on, so to start talking about the goings-on requires a large catching-up, and that just feels like work.

So, mostly, sorry I’ve been so quiet.  But also, I need to post more, even if it’s mundane and lame.  In an effort to make myself feel like I can talk about stuff here, I’m going to spend today doing a bullet-list catch-up of the stuff that’s been happening around these parts lately, because I know I’ll want to talk about them more in the near-future.  I will need blog fodder after all, if I’m going to start posting more again.

  • I’m still working at the portrait studio where I started working in the Christmas season.  I’m on the edge of giving my two weeks’ notice, for a number of reasons.  One of the foremost being:
  • I started my own photography business.  I registered my business name with the county, and have the paperwork filled out to be able to pay sales tax to the state… I really should go put that into the mailbox.  With the business, I’m going to focus on doing both portraits and events for now (mostly weddings) and see which I like better, or maybe I’ll just keep doing both.  Through the magic of Craigslist and a shiny ad I designed in Photoshop, and a portfolio consisting solely of pictures I took of my friend Greg’s wedding like five years ago, I’ve got one wedding firmly booked — contracts are signed and deposits are made.  Another has been verbally contracted, but the bride and groom live in Arizona (but getting married here) so we’re arranging this long-distance — I’ve mailed her a contract and am awaiting its (hopefully) imminent return with a deposit check.  I hope she doesn’t wig out on me, because it promises to be a wedding fertile with potential future jobs — there are 12 bridesmaids and 9 groomsmen.  Certainly at least a couple of them are also planning a wedding.
  • My dad is getting married Memorial Day weekend.  We’ll be heading to the B-lo in a week and a half to hang out there and I’ll be taking his wedding pictures.
  • My brother got into the college he wanted to get into, and he’s already put his deposit down to reserve his spot in the fall.  I’m totally wickedly happy for him and proud of him, for being brave enough to go back and do the college thing again.

I think that covers the big stuff.  There’s lots of little stuff — the kids are still cute, Jake is talking in full sentences and Lane has an infected toe… and her hair is mercifully filling in to the point where the pediatrician who examined the infected toe today actually said that despite the obvious look of self-inflicted mullet, her hair actually looked cute — and it wasn’t her being polite, I really think she meant it.

I would launch a shitstorm of pain upon you if you did this to my daughter

I’ve been following this story for awhile, way before SCOTUS decided to hear it, thanks to the awesomeness that is Fark.com:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/19/scotus.strip.search/index.html

Long story short, let me sum this up for you.  A student in a middle school tells a school official that one of her classmates has prescription-strength ibuprofen with her at school.   School officials pull this girl, a 13 year-old honor student with no history of disciplinary issues, out of class, search her backpack, and when they don’t find the aforementioned contraband, decide a strip search would be prudent.  The male administrator gets the female school nurse (because that makes it all better, right?!) and they make the girl strip down to her bra and underwear.  They never do find the ibuprofen.

Girl is understandably traumatized and embarrassed.  Parents are understandably freaked the hell out.  The case has been tried and appealed, and appealed, and the Supreme Court will be hearing it tomorrow.

I truly honestly totally completely hope that the Supreme Court upholds the decision of the federal appeals court that found the search was illegal.  Now, I don’t have any problem with school officials having a little more authority than normal over the students under their care.  A school is unarguably a challenging environment to keep safe and school officials do need to be able to utilize a bit of discretion.  Go ahead, search lockers, do random drug tests.  Do not, however, EVER, based solely on the word of another student, march my daughter (or son, for that matter) into your office and insist she strip down to her undergarments in the name of protecting the student body from the evils of pain management.  I’m not generally a fan of litigation, but you can rest assured I would sue your pants off, and then once I had your pants, I would punch you so hard your children would be born dizzy.

That’s not to say I don’t think the administrators could have taken action.  They could have asked some questions, maybe tried to verify the accusation from the other student.  Once they did a reasonable search of the girl’s personal belongings they could have sent her home for the day with the admonition that she should never ever bring prescription or over-the-counter drugs to school.  I remember how I was as a 13 year-old kinda-nerdy, never-been-in-trouble honors student, and that close brush with getting in trouble would have freaked me about and been all I needed to never do it again (or at least be way better about not getting caught).

You, as school administrators, may have some extended protections in the name of the safety of the student population at-large, but your students do not check the entirety of their civil liberties when they walk on your campus, a point very famously made by SCOTUS in 1969.  And in this case, I really really hope the Supreme Court hands the Safford Unified School District in question its ass on a platter.  Cold, with a side of kick-in-the-head.