Random pieces of information- Take 2

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Good advice no one ever told me:

Halloween isn't fun when you are the person carving the pumpkin, buying the candy and enduring the constant pleas of "How much longer until we can trick or treat?"

If you are in your 20's, STD free and unattached - and are of the inclination - you should have protected sex with whomever you chose. Really. I look at these young beautiful women and think about how much time I worried about my "reputation", et al. What the hell was I saving myself for?

Don't bother to fake an orgasm - I mean, honestly. It does nothing for you, and gives your partner zero feedback. If they are doing something that isn't working for you, speak up. In fact, don't fake anything.

TB's adds: Go naked more often, which I agree with whole heartedly

Buy and wear the pretty underwear. For yourself.

Get massages.

Young men in their 20's are idiots. I also look at them and am astounded that anyone finds them charming or attractive. I certainly do not. (I qualify this by saying that they are "cute", certainly. However, having watched them close up for two years now, and seeing these lovely young women look at them adoringly....Sigh. Kind of makes me want to shake them. The same feeling I had when I saw pre-kids, pre-crazy Brit and K-fed, and I wanted to grab her and say "NO!!!!!")If you are in love with one of these men, know that they will not change (see Lisa's Comment). What you see is what you get later on. But with Hair growing out of odd places.

There may come a moment when you think "My partner actually understands me!" and you will be grateful. This moment, of course, may pass. It will come back again, you just can't know when.

Other peoples babies are very cute. Your baby will be the most work/worry/lack of sleep/joy you never imagined. Proceed with caution.

There is nothing more pleasurable than laying in bed in the sunshine. Adding coffee ups the pleasure even more.

Parking in a city engenders a certain ruthless attitude.

Eat what you want.

Reading graphic novels as an adult is really fun.

Spending money on music is never wasted. Yes, you may regret some of the CD's in hindsight (Yes Slow Jams CD I am talking about you)

Drink the wine you like.

You will come to enjoy the joy of someone else cooking for you. When your parent did it, I mean - it was no big deal. If you have had to do it for yourself, you will be wildly grateful for a nice bowl of soup made by someone else.

There will come a day when you weigh - heavily - the two to three days of being hungover for the one evening of drunken debauchery.

Hit me with your wisdom, my loves.

Right next to the Spock cafeteria

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Overheard today as I was walking out of the Multicultural Class:

"Yeah Dude. I'm gonna head over to the Shatner Building and hang out for awhile."

Yes - there is a William Shatner building - a McGill alumnus....

Wriggling off the Hook

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Long before I was a parent, I was an Early Childhood Professional. Some may know this profession as “child care”, or “daycare” – but I stuck with term Early Childhood Professional. After all, I had racked up quite a series of student loans to get that Bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont, and by golly, I was going to work it.

I taught almost all ages at various points in my career. My calling, however, lie with Infants and Toddlers. I kept coming back to this age group. I loved them. I was fabulous with them.

Now, working with a group of 8 to 12 children ages 6 weeks through 18 months could be challenging. I won’t lie. I have been shit and vomited upon in the most clever and unique ways. I have cleaned things from children’s orifices and plucked beans from ears and nostrils. I have administered Ipecac and then held the bucket as the toddler puked her everlasting guts up. I even once rode shotgun to the ER with a bleeding toddler on my lap; from the head wound he acquired after climbing up something unclimbable and dislodging something immoveable.

I watched other people become parents.

While it isn’t widely known, there are actual developmental stages of parenting. Each parent moves through the stages, with each child. If you have a 4 year old and a newborn? Two stages, at the same time. Of course, as we know about children, each parent goes through their development differently.

But here is the secret that I am going to share with you. Closer…..Come here, I want to whisper it to you…

99.99% of the parents were doing fine. Really.

I watched hundreds of couples parent. With almost no exceptions, they were doing fine. Yes, I know what they worried about. I know that they worried that I was judging them, and sometimes I was, for I did not know their pain. I know that they worried that their child would never walk, or never give up the binky, or never eat solid foods, or never win the Nobel peace prize. I watched them compare and contrast their child with the others in the room. I watched them try to bait me into telling them that their child was more or less advanced than someone else’s child. I watched their joy at new teeth, and their exhaustion and pain with teething. The joy of a child becoming a walker, with the pain of the child becoming a walker! The joy of the acquisition of language, then the pain of the incessant “no.”

I watched them develop from insecure parents who weren’t sure about how much their child should eat, to confident parents wrangling toddlers from classroom to car. I watched the cycle start again when they feared their child would never learn to use the toilet, to the confident 4 year old displaying the rudimentary lines of a name.

Of course, as soon as I became a parent, I forgot all of this knowledge. I worried, I obsessed, I fretted. I second-guessed myself constantly. Everything that had worked for other people’s babies didn’t work for my own child. My husband looked at me as the expert. My staff at the child care looked at me as the expert. I was the deer in the headlights. I was the empress with no clothes. I was screwed.

Here, come closer again. I want to make sure you hear this………

Everything is Fine. Your child is who they are. You can not change or modify their basic personality. Nothing you do – sort of serious abusive actions- will damage them. They will succeed at some things and fail at others of their own accord.

No product will make your baby smarter. That is all a load of bullshit. The only thing that affects children is experiences. We are the sum of our experiences. It is how our brains form. Good child care is not damaging your child. They are increasing their experience base. We are social creatures. Children crave other children. Even when they cry and cling to you, they start playing about 5 minutes later. I assure you. Its like the jump that you know you need to take, but are scared to do it. Sometimes the Mama bird has to give the baby bird a nudge.

Parents who are happy are better parents. If that means working, then work. If that means staying home, then stay home. If that means doing part time child care and part time home, then do that. None of the children that I cared for – some now in their mid teens- have stood up, pointed at their parents and yelled “If only you’d not put me in child care – I’d be an Olympic gymnast/best selling author today!.”

People who make parents feel guilty for their choices are self-absorbed assholes. Usually politicians. Or they are trying to sell you a product. Or very insecure other women…who want to have some perverse “motherhood smack down” with you. You know, the Uber-Moms.

Guilt and insecurity are big business. We have swallowed the entire hook, and it is no wonder that it is ripping our guts out.

Now. Stop right here. I want you to think about your happiest childhood moment. Were you outside, playing with friends? Were you alone watching ants or picking dandelions? Or was it learning French with your mother at “Speaking French the Parisian Mommy way” three times a week? No? How about “Baby Physics and Me” classes?

Yeah, I thought so. Me too.

From Ellen Galinsky’s 6 stages of Parenthood:

(Galinsky, 1987)

1 - The Image-Making Stage

During pregnancy, parents "form and re-form images" of the upcoming birth and the changes they anticipate. This is a period of preparation.

2 - The Nurturing Stage

Parents compare image and actual experience during the time from baby's birth to toddler's first use of the word "no" (about age 18 to 24 months). This is a period of attachment and also of questioning. Parents may question their priorities and also how they spend their time.

3 - The Authority Stage

When the child is between 2 years and 4 - 5 years, parents decide "what kind of authority to be." This is a period of developing and setting rules, as well as enforcing them.

4 - The Interpretive Stage

Stretching from the child's preschool years to her approach to adolescence, this stage has the task of interpretation. In this period, parents interpret their own self-concepts as well as their children's. Parents also are concerned with interpreting the world to their children.

5 - The Interdependent Stage

During the child's teen years, families re-visit some of the issues of the Authority Stage, but find new solutions to them as parents form "a new relationship with their almost-adult child."

6 - The Departure Stage

When children leave home, parents evaluate not just their offspring's leave-taking but also the whole of their parenting experience.

Can you pash that dish of oppression?

Monday, October 08, 2007

It is no secret that my politics are.....quite left. I AM that left wing bleeding heart liberal that gets demonized in the press. The fact that my spouse is a bit more left than I am makes for an interesting parenting experience.

Now, aside from the lack of godliness in the home ( which I am sure indicates a lack of "values" or whatever the hell else won the republicans the last election)- there is a decided "anti-establishment" theme to many of the books in our home. Look, there is the Marx reader ( my husband's), See there Alfie Kohn's books on the failings of the American educational system, Behold "Lies my Teacher Told Me" on my bedside. Our child had no regular alphabet in her room - she was looking at the "Alternative Alphabet" - featuring "P is for Peace and Y is for Yoga". You get the point.

So when our daughter comes home from public school with a cut and color Columbus day ship and asks us if we are going to have a Columbus day feast to honor Columbus - you get two dumbfounded adults scrambling for a response.

Terrance's response: "Daddy isn't into Columbus. I don't do Columbus day."

Oh, very helpful. Thanks ever so much. That was quite illuminating.

I bring out the children's book "Encounter" by Jane Yolen- which we read, and re-read at this time of year. Being an early childhood person, I tend not to answer my daughter's questions with the same cut and dry responses my husband uses. I want to engage her thought process and get her to think critically. Terrance thinks that this is a bullshit approach.

So we talk about what the experience of the Native People's must have been like. That discovery isn't the same when you discover something that belongs to someone else. It would be like me walking into her room and "discovering" her Playmobil house and claiming it as my own. Not very heroic.

"That's stealing.", she says.
"Yes it is, honey. That's why daddy and I are uncomfortable with Columbus Day. He may have been very adventurous to sail over the ocean to find and see new things- but he was very unkind to the people he found living there already."

And Emily - as always - absorbs this information to the best of her ability. And says

"Can I stay up late and eat popcorn?"

Fight the power, honey, fight the power.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

My apologies, friends, for being absent - both in writing and reading your blogs. I have been grading papers for the past week, and I forget that this seemingly straightforward task can take on monumental proportions...

Tonight I am awake.

Maybe it is the moon. Or hormones. Or something I haven't considered yet.

But I am awake, and grading papers. Since I am awake, I might as well be doing something useful and this is good. It is quiet and I can attend to these papers.

These papers are taking on lives of their own for me. As I read them, I am absorbing bits of other peoples stories. Life stories. Things they may have never considered before are revealed to me, laying bare on the page. I see in their words the blueprints of future experiences - which may or may not come to pass. They are young. They are old. They know everything and nothing. Some already understand things about life that their peers will never understand. In others I can see a path of least resistance already forming, the water trickling through their young souls forming crevices.

Some are defiant. They will prove everyone wrong. Their parents. Their friends. Themselves.

Others are disturbed. Why did no one tell them about the world outside of their family and towns? How can they be responsible for everything? The world is too big and they are too small.

A few are hostile. They are the victims. They are the ones being made to feel uncomfortable. Stereotypes are kinda true, aren't they?

In some, I see a glimmer. Their consciousness has expanded to allow for possibilities of conversation and understanding. A discussion about who we are as is defined by the choices we make. The ones we make with purpose and intent. That those decisions - the scary and often painful ones? Build our foundations. The realization that reflection on those decisions - even the ones we didn't make, or wish we had done differently - the ability to reflect already sets you apart from many others.
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