|November 20, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
I’ve done a bit of crying about this over the last couple of weeks, and maybe I’ll have more sad moments if Dylan asks and I say no. But the truth is that I feel good about this decision. Better than good, perhaps: it’s completely right, and I’m kind of looking forward to the future.
Breastfeeding has been 100% amazing all around. With all the troubles I had with conceiving and birthing Dylan, I worried that breastfeeding would be one more thing that went wrong. I expected to have various hurdles to overcome, and I expected not to really like it.
Instead, breastfeeding has been perfect. It was never very uncomfortable in the beginning, and the discomfort I had passed quickly. I never had a problem with supply, either under or over. Dylan didn’t have any trouble latching. We never had any real conflicts over him wanting to fiddle with my other nipple, with biting, or any of the other little ways nursing can get annoying.
I have loved every second of it.
Including the end. Once I made the decision to stop, the tapering off went completely smoothly. We went to twice a day, then once a day, with no fuss from Dylan and no engorgement on my part. I’m still making plenty of milk. I can still shoot across the room! I do expect my breasts to take a little bit to catch on that milk-making is no longer needed.
While pregnant, I didn’t really experience Dylan as a separate person from me. Pregnancy is a thing that happened to my own body. After birth, Dylan was a separate person, yes, but because of breastfeeding we were still fundamentally connected. For the first six months he didn’t eat anything but breastmilk, which meant all of his growing and developing was derived from my body. The mother-newborn dyad is so close in so many ways, I felt that we were still very nearly one person.
After a gradual shift through the months, now at nearly two and a half years, we are making the complete separation, and it seems like a great age for it. The end of our nursing relationship is perfectly coinciding with Dylan learning the phrase “Me do it!” Great timing, I think.
I want to write eloquent words to send off this part of my life, but I’m not sure I could do it justice. Breastfeeding was a magical, intimate, wondrous experience unlike any other. It was a solid, calm center to my definition as a mother, and a nurturing, connected center to Dylan’s and my relationship.
As I nursed Dylan this morning for the last time I looked intently at him wanting to capture this moment in my mind forever. I had to laugh, because he looks to me just like he did at 2 days old:
Breastfeeding or not, he’s always going to be my baby.
|November 16, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
On Free-Range Kids I read about a fun “study” that compared a baby’s interest in non-toy items vs. manufactured toys. The non-toys included, “Norway Spruce cones, beer glasses, partially emptied bottles of dietary supplements, and cardboard boxes”. The kid’s grandpa was used as the control. The baby liked grandpa best, the random objects next, and the toys last.
Dylan has always liked real items better than toys. He gets some mileage out of things like his toy toolbox. But give him one of Joshua’s wrenches and he will “fix” things all day long.
If you know what I mean, and you’re always amazed at what your kid enjoys vs ignores, here’s a delightful article for you: The 5 Best Toys of All Time. This author has searched high and low and found the ultimate list. Really, give it a read.
|November 9, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Ever since I heard about unschooling, oh, probably 15 years ago or so, I always imagined that’s what I would do with my child. I didn’t particularly hate school, but I certainly didn’t hold it in high regard. As a nanny, I had various negative experiences with public schools over the years, even with some of the so-called good ones. No matter how you slice it, public school is only a “good enough” solution.
Homeschooling is an interesting proposition that takes a lot of the negative things about schools (rigid subjects, testing, schedules, workbooks, etc) and turns the parents into the bad guys instead of the institution. It’s an improvement, but only marginally.
Unschooling, on the other hand, makes room for the passion of learning and the richness of life, and it really speaks to me.
Children are born passionately eager to make as much sense as they can of things around them. If we attempt to control, manipulate, or divert this process…the independent scientist in the child disappears. — John Holt
Growing up, I couldn’t understand the confusion. Wasn’t it obvious that I could learn math and physics if I wanted to? Couldn’t my uncle see that I had no use for chemistry but that if I did, I’d learn it? Why did anyone care, anyway? And why did people ask me if I knew math and English but they didn’t ask whether I knew about good nutrition or how to shingle a roof? – Sarabeth Matilsky
Artificial learning takes what is simple and natural and turns it into a complex array of objectives, goals, measurements, administrators, supervisors, counselors, and transportation experts. Natural education requires only a guide providing direction, and a learner ready to discover and create goals and values that are personally meaningful. — Linda Dobson
Children don’t need to be taught how to learn; they are born learners. They come out of the womb interacting with and exploring their surroundings. Babies are active learners, their burning curiosity motivating them to learn how the world works. And if they are given a safe, supportive environment, they will continue to learn hungrily and naturally – in the manner and at the speed that suits them best. – Wendy Priesnitz
I have felt some doubt about unschooling lately, because I’m not that great at “teaching” the things that are normally taught at Dylan’s age. Dylan can’t identify any colors or shapes, for example. Part of the reason for that is that I’m a pretty lazy parent. The other part is that we’re just having a different sort of life. Dylan can identify hawks and ladybugs and he holds conversations with our sheep, but shapes and colors aren’t part of our daily conversations.
Yesterday I spent some time with a local unschooling group, and I came away from it feeling very renewed and hopeful about unschooling.
For one thing, their lives are so busy. It’s easy to imagine a non-schooling family doing a bunch of… nothing. But the reality is that (at least in my area) there are so many things to do out in the world and not going to school leaves time for all those wonderful things. Sitting in a classroom all day starts to look like a bunch of nothing!
We have a local homeschooling co-op which is an organization for homeschooling/unschooling kids to attend classes together. It meets once a week, and if you’re looking for “curriculum” type stuff, they’ve got it – art, science, history, literature. It’s encouraging to know that more directed learning can easily fit into an unschooling attitude.
I’ve also learned that a lot of the museums and other learning centers around my area have programs during the day for non-schooled kids. That’s really exciting! Sure, kids in school go on field trips, but it’s really exciting to think of our entire city being a classroom just ready to be explored.
As I’ve written about before, unschooling is about trust. Trusting myself that I am a capable guide for Dylan’s learning desires and trusting Dylan that he has an innate passion for learning that will serve him well if it’s only given a chance. Meeting some other unschooling parents and learning more about what my area has to offer has renewed my trust in our ability to avoid institutional learning and instead learn from the rich life experiences available to us.
|November 7, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Dylan has finally crossed the line and people are starting to care about his bare feet. People expect babies to be barefoot, but now he’s losing the babyhood get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to social expectations.
We walked into Walmart the other day and the greeter said, “He has to ride in the cart since he’s barefoot.” I looked at her like she was a fucking idiot, said, “No, he doesn’t,” and kept walking.
I don’t know if you know this, but people lose their shit over bare feet in public. I spent 8 years of my life as a barefooter, and I probably know a lot of things about bare feet that you don’t know.
No, they’re not cold.
No, that doesn’t hurt.
No, there are no laws against driving barefoot or being in a restaurant barefoot.
No, feet are not gross. In fact, everything you’ve seen or smelled about feet that makes you think they’re gross is caused by shoes.
But the main thing I know from going barefoot for 8 years is that people really, really care about what you have on your fucking feet.
I haven’t been a barefooter for years now. It takes a lot of stamina, given all the shit you have to put up with, and I just lost the energy.
I don’t really care whether Dylan wears shoes or not. I know there’s no reason that he “should”, and I also figure that he’d probably like to have shoes of his own like the rest of the family. I would happily leave it up to him.
However, it turns out that shoes just do not fit Dylan’s feet. Anything that his foot will slide into is inches too long.
Several people in the last week have recommended Stride Rite, since they specialize in wide shoes for kids. We went there yesterday and they couldn’t help, either. Any shoes that were wide enough didn’t fit across the top. His feet are both wide and tall.
I really have given it my best shot, within reason. I’m not going to pay a fortune for shoes, I’m not going to make some myself, and I’m not going to go on an ordering spree from online options that might work. I have exhausted the local choices, and now I’m not going to worry about it.
Everyone else is going to worry about it, though. Cue the moral panic: my kid is going to be barefoot this winter.
|November 5, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting, Radical Self-Acceptance|
From the first time I thought about weaning Dylan, it’s been a complicated place in my mind. We’ve had several fits and starts. Just a few months ago I committed to night weaning him, and that has led to some better sleep for both of us. I haven’t been great at consistency, but Dylan was really able to roll with the changes. That’s a good indication that he’s “ready” to stop nursing, however much he still benefits from and enjoys it.
I started seeing a new therapist a week ago, and she was pretty emphatic that I need to be on medication. I already tried the breastfeeding-compatible options I was comfortable with and they didn’t work out for me. That means breastfeeding needs to end. I cried a lot as she and I talked about that.
It’s hard to let go of breastfeeding since it’s something that has been so good for so long. For all the things that went wrong with my birth, I was surprised and delighted at how everything with breastfeeding was completely smooth and easy and perfect. For all the doubts that come with motherhood, breastfeeding was one of those things I could count on being right.
But having a mother who is taking care of herself and her mental health is another thing that I can do that will nurture and sustain Dylan. The shift has come in the balance of priorities between breastfeeding and my ability to have medical treatment.
I have nursed Dylan for two and a half years. It’s been good. It’s been enough.
The day of that first appointment with the new therapist was the same day I was leaving for Scare-n-dipity, a little burn here in Tennessee. Dylan and I were going by ourselves, so I decided to make it our little honeymoon of sorts. I nursed him as much as he wanted and had a great weekend reveling in the particular closeness we have right now.
Once we got back, we moved to twice a day nursing – just once at night and once in the morning. Yesterday, I dropped the night nursing and now we’ll just do the one in the morning for a little while.
Dylan has been asking for the boob a lot, but he doesn’t get upset when I say no which reinforces for me that it’s the right time for this to happen.
I’m going to miss it, but now I’m looking forward to what will come in our lives next.
|August 23, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
I just started reading Nurture Shock. In the introduction, the authors talk about how we have this myth that parenting is an instinct when, in fact, our only true instinct is to care for and protect our kids. How we go about doing that isn’t “instinctual” by any means. What it is instead?
Parenting as Culture
The primary foundation of our so-called parenting instincts is culture.
Culture is made up of all the complex and interwoven stories we receive about how and what it means to parent. We are parented ourselves. We watch our friends being parented. We learn about parenting in the fictional stories of movies, television, and books. We see headlines and news stories involving parents. We see and hear the titles of parenting books, whether we read them or not.
All of these things and more weave together to create what we think of parenting, what we expect from parenting, and what kinds of parents we choose to be. Regardless of whether you think you’ve been learning how to be a parent your whole life, you have. When you actually become a parent, unless you’ve done a lot of education to become a certain kind of parent, you will be the kind of parent your default cultural training has set you up for.
Parenting as a Skill
I have long thought of parenting as a skill, since I originally approached childcare from an educational standpoint. From the first day I started working in a daycare 16 years ago right up until the present moment, I have devoured information about childhood development, parenting philosophy, and the lives of parents and children. In addition to all that reading and studying, I had a decade of practical practice before ever having a child of my own.
After Dylan’s birth, nurses and doctors kept asking me if I was ready to take a newborn home. It seemed like an absurd question to me. I mean, I had to get used to the wondrous idea that he was my child and I could keep him. But everything else about newborn care was nearly automatic to me. The only thing that was new for me was breastfeeding, and fortunately that went smoothly for us.
Joshua asked me at one point if this newborn stuff was typically harder for some people. I said sure! For one thing, many new parents are learning a gazillion new skills all at the same time. It’s not that changing diapers is hard. It’s not that bathing a baby is hard. It’s that you’re learning each new skill for the first time all at once, on top of the emotional magic of meeting and learning a new person, plus the lack of sleep. It can be a lot!
Not everyone wants to work in childcare for a decade before having a child. I don’t even recommend it – there were a lot of downsides to working in childcare, too. But it’s nice to know that parenting is a skill. You can learn it; you can practice it; you can get better at it.
Improving Your Parenting Skills
The good news about parenting being a skill is that you can improve your skills. Almost anyone is going to improve over time compared to that first nervous day after the baby is born. But, like with any other skill, you can improve on purpose, too.
When something in your relationship with your child goes less-than-ideally, make a note of it. Spend some time thinking about how you would have liked it to go instead and what you might do to improve the situation in the future. Use your imagination to practice. The next time the situation comes up, see what goes the same and what goes differently based on your mental rehearsal. More thinking. More trying again.
If the culture from which you draw your parenting foundation is essentially sound, bringing mindfulness to your parenting skills will get you where you need to go.
Changing Your Parenting Culture
If your cultural parenting foundation isn’t what you’d like it to be, you have a much harder task. You can’t reverse your cultural training. You can never undo the way you were parented, for example, and you can’t take back the books you’ve already read, the movies you’ve already seen, etc. That stupid Sal Severe book is going to stick in my head the rest of my life, somewhere in the back of my mind urging me to turn every goodness in life into a transactional carrot-and-stick.
You can influence yourself, though. Read websites and books that talk about the kind of parent you want to be. I regularly read Authentic Parenting, for example. Ariadne in particular constantly makes me shake my head in awe of the wonderful things she says about parenting. Surround yourself with parents who parent the way you want to parent. One of the things I do is write here at LoveLiveGrow, where I add my own voice to the stream of things that I want to hear. And I constantly surround myself with influences and inspirations that shape how I think about my parenting and keep at bay the cultural influences that I don’t approve of.
|May 15, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Excerpts from Children Talk But No One Listens from s.e. smith:
The sentiment ‘better seen than heard’ reflects a larger social attitude of the value of children’s voices, namely that they have none. Children should remain silent, and they are ‘good’ when they’re quiet, but ‘bad’ when they are not, because they are disturbing the adults and causing trouble. This attitude runs through the way people interact with children on every level, and yet, they seem surprised when it turns out that children have been struggling with serious medical problems, or they’ve been assaulted or abused.
The most common response is ‘well why didn’t the child say something?’ or ‘why didn’t the child talk to an adult?’ Adults constantly assure themselves that children know to go to a grownup when they are in trouble, and they even repeat that sentiment to children; you can always come to us, adults tell children, when you need help. Find a trusted adult, a teacher or a doctor or a police officer or a firefighter, and tell that adult what’s going on, and you’ll be helped, and everything will be all right.
The thing is that children do that, and the adults don’t listen. Every time a child tells an adult about something and nothing happens, that child learns that adults are liars, and that they don’t provide the promised help. Children hold up their end of the deal by reporting, sometimes at great personal risk, and they get no concrete action in return. Sometimes, the very adult people tell a child to ‘trust’ is the least reliable person; the teacher is friends with the priest who is molesting a student, the firefighter plays pool with the father who is beating a child, they don’t want to cause a scene.
Children are also told that they aren’t experiencing what they’re actually experiencing, or they’re being fussy about nothing. A child reports a pain in her leg after gym class, and she’s told to quit whining. Four months later, everyone is shocked when her metastatic bone cancer becomes unavoidably apparent. Had someone listened to her in the first place when she reported the original bone pain and said it felt different that usual, she would have been evaluated sooner. A child tells a teacher he has trouble seeing the blackboard, and the teacher dismisses it, so the child is never referred for glasses; the child struggles with math until high school, when someone finally acknowledges there’s a problem.
This attitude, that children shouldn’t be believed, puts the burden of proof on children, rather than assuming that there might be something to their statements. Some people seem to think that actually listening to children would result in a generation of hopelessly spoiled brats who know they can say anything for attention, but would that actually be the case? That assumption is rooted in the idea that children are not trustworthy, and cannot be respected. I’m having trouble understanding why adults should be viewed as inherently trustworthy and respectable, especially in light of the way we treat children.
Treating children well, treating them as people, and being part of the solution in creating a world where they have a place involves allowing children to speak, listening when they do, and believing what they say.
|March 25, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
I cannot seem to track down my inspiration for this idea, so I can’t attribute it. But, we had a great time! Dylan liked moving the paint around, and I liked that there was no mess!
All you have to do is drop some paint globs down into a Ziploc bag, tape it up to the window, and then (if you have my kid!) sit nearby to make sure un-taping it doesn’t become more interesting than the “painting”.
|March 20, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
The cover does promise a lot. Dieting for kids? Autism? Bribes? Let’s go!
- Germs in your mouth
- Scissor injuries
- Infections under your bandaid
- Grandmas who haven’t kept up on safety fads (Ooh! Scary grandma!)
- Carrying your kids on the stairs
- HFCS – Astonishingly this page never mentions “obesity”.
- Kidnapping – Actual quote: “These days kids get kidnapped every day. If they were on a leash maybe they’d stand a chance.” Okay, seriously? Kids who are in the leash age-range are, what? 1-4? And a leash implies that it’s a time when they should be by a parent’s side, not, say, at school. So, how many times in the US has a 1-4 year old kid been kidnapped when they were supposed to be standing near their parent? I’m going to go with NEVER. If you can dig up one I’m gonna give you a COOKIE. And this quote would still be dumb!
- In more than one place, they printed some tweets. Printing tweets is when you know you’re a loser. (See also: CNN)
- There’s an interview with a blogger. Okay, fine.
- There are 4 stories pulled entirely from Facebook comments.
- There’s a ”hot on Pinterest” section. You know what else is hot on Pinterest? Being on Pinterest.
How many ways can you signal your irrelevance?
This Month In Fat Hate: Oh my god. Apparently this was the We Hate Fat People issue. The VERY FIRST piece of “letter from the editor”-style content shames the author’s fat family and talks about how we can never give up trying to get rid of fat kids. Fuck you, “Ana Connery, content director”. how about your direct some content that doesn’t shame, stigmatize, and oppress your readers?
There’s a little inspo piece about Jillian Michaels adopting a baby from Haiti. Simply printing her name and giving her a platform is a form of fat-hate. In case you’re not familiar with her, Jillian Michaels hates fat people for a living (see: The Biggest Loser). Was this adoption story supposed to be sweet? Instead, it just shows that she’s not just a fat-hating bitch, she’s also a white saviour, baby-snatching racist. Probably not the effect they were going for.
Fuck you to Shawn Bean, too. He’s written a “humor” column that outright calls for more judgment of the bodies of men while equating fat with health and fat with food. This same dude later on makes fun of his kids’ musical efforts. Way to go, dad. You might be skinny, but you’re an asshole.
Then there’s an article called “Should I put my Kid on a Diet”? The article reads, “No,” and then you turn the page for the next article.
Haha, just kidding.
The first line is “Our culture teaches us that there is little worse than being fat.” By “our culture” don’t you mean “our magazine”, Parenting? I mean, you featured Jillian Michaels, and then you had an article explicitly saying that dads should be thinner. You are the problem!
This article starts off with “epidemic” and fear mongering about fat kids, fat toddlers, fat babies OMGWTFBBQ! then asks you to focus on things “that work”. Oh, good. Get back to us when you’ve figured out what those are! You can plop down some same-old-same-old advice in your little list, but that doesn’t mean these things “work”. Have you READ any diet studies? Have you READ the ones that focus on interventions with children? No? Yeah. I could tell.
I literally felt ill reading “A Letter to My Fat Child” in which an anonymous parent calls her child a “reverse avalanche”, accuses her of sneaking food, and admits to lying about the availability of the swimsuit the kid wanted. Congratulations, you’re a horrible parent. And every single person who works at Parenting who touched that shit and didn’t put up a fuss about printing it is a horrible person.
Bad Science: Amongst all the other anti-fat-kid suggestions is the one that all you have to do is deny your kid the afternoon goldfish snack and there won’t be any more fat kids. What an idiotic representation of already biased science.
Other People Who Don’t Need to be Cured: The Autism article features “epidemic”, “puzzle”, “cure”, and shout outs to Autism Speaks, an organization that DOES NOT speak for the autistic people I listen to. It’s funny (not funny) how no one is allowed to just BE. Maybe nothing needs to be “cured” about people with autism. Maybe they don’t need to sit in daily training sessions with people forcing them to make eye contact. Maybe they don’t need huge organizations focused on parents of kids with autism instead of focusing on actual people with autism.
Underachiever: 5 pages of themed birthdays? In case you have too much time on your hands and are a serious show off? Yeah, let me get right on sewing robes for my kid’s Harry Potter birthday party.
Sex: Oh dear. I’m not sure a mainstream mag should be advising me on “sexting”. They remind you to delete the trail when you’re done, and then they recommend sending your partner steamy texts like, “My mom says she can take the girls for a playdate this weekend,” or “Thinking about last night…XOXO.” I think I just died of an orgasm, right here while reading this. This is just the thing my sex life needs. Joshua’s not going to know what hit him.
The other half – ADS:
There’s never much real content in these magazines, and Parenting is looking even more flimsy these days. I take an ad tally as I read. I only count full or half page ads.
6 ADS for healthist stuff. This is “nutrition”, weight-cycling, “fitness”, etc.
4 ADS for harmful baby stuff.
- Similac has some new ingredient that makes it more like breast milk. You know what has had that ingredient all along? Fucking breast milk. You know what currently has the ingredient Similac is going to add next year? Also breast milk!
16 ADS in the Beauty/Cleaning category, also known as “The world is scary!” or “There’s something wrong with you! (or your kid!)”
- There’s a Lysol ad that tries to coin the word “Healthing”, because why shouldn’t fucking Lysol get in on the health obsession. You might think you’re killing germs, but it’s not healthing until you’re 100000% sure.
- The Orajel advertised itself as gluten-free and dairy-free. Is that normally a problem with toothpaste? Or are those the cool codewords required in all advertising now?
- An Always ad tells me that “odor protection isn’t just for underarms”. The ad shows a woman who’s been picked up by a man and tossed over his shoulder, putting his face 6 inches from her ass. How about we make a deal? You stay the fuck away from my ass if you don’t like how people smell?
13 ADS for miscellaneous non-offensive things.
- Turbo Tax advertising is a welcome relief after all this other crap.
- The Chicco carseat looked so awesome I kind of want one. 9 reclining positions!
- The Jello pudding ad with “a smile on your face and another in your belly” is just what I’m looking for in a food ad. How difficult is that?
I’m afraid I may have been too annoyed to be funny with this post. How about you? Any parenting advice or advertisements that have pissed you off lately?