July 2009

Posted by Duff

“Daddy, do you have a penis?” asked The Dervish the other day.

“I certainly hope so,” said her father.

My husband missed the event where The Dervish came upon her knowledge of male anatomy, though we should have seen it coming.  She and I were giving Atticus a bath, and she asked, “Is that a bump?”  I, figuring it best to teach her the textbook terms when she asked (rather than assigning nicknames like “Hoo-Hoo” and “Winky” to that which Atticus has and she does not), told her what it was.

I told her boys have them, and that’s how they pee. I waited for questions about what girls have and how they pee, but the question didn’t come. I figured it best to let her process one thing at a time. She’ll need to know when she’s ready to ask.

“Oh.” she replied. “Can he pee? PLEEEEASE!” (He often pees in the tub, and The Dervish thinks it’s fantastic.)

Not nearly the big deal I thought it would be. Until she starts asking people at the grocery store if they have penises, too.


Posted by Fitz

I’ve been inspired.  You see, I have a relative who I truly look up to.  She is one of those people who always seems cool, calm, collected, and organized, all while being authentic and true to herself.  I like to think that I share some of these qualities, but mostly we just share the same name.  Let’s just call her K for today.

We had a chance to visit with K and her family a little while ago, and I was so impressed to see how she feeds her two gorgeous children.  While The Bean threw most of her meal at me and begged for a YoBaby like a street urchin looking for a penny, K’s kids happily munched on quesadillas with roasted peppers, pepper jack cheese, guacamole, steak and grilled corn.  I have to admit, I was a little taken aback…and duly impressed.

You see, in my house, I’d gotten into a rut where I’d make The Bean one of the four things she’d eat consistently.  She’d eat, and when my husband got home an hour or so later, the two of us would eat.  Sure, we’d offer Beanie some of our food, but she was full then and not interested in trying anything new.  It turned into a vicious cycle where I wouldn’t offer her new foods because I knew she’d refuse them, and she wouldn’t try anything beyond her staples because she knew she didn’t have to.

When I asked K how she handled the food thing with her kids, she said something that I’ve heard over and over again in my head since we saw her.  I’m paraphrasing, but here it is:  “You know, I just got to the point where I decided I wouldn’t make two different meals anymore.  If they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat what is in front of them.” 

I know that many of you are sitting there reading this and saying, “Duh, Fitz.  Of course that’s how you do it!”  I, however, was afraid of what would happen if I took the leap.  Would The Bean starve to death, frightened by the sight of marinated chicken and – gasp! – salad?  Would she try a noodle that wasn’t in plain sauce?  The only way to know was to give it a try.

For the past week, The Bean has gotten a miniature version of our dinners.  Sometimes it has just been the two of us eating if Daddy’s getting home late, and sometimes we have sat down as a family.  All I know is that my Bean seems thrilled to see that we all have the same food on our plate.  She points every item out, and says, “Mommy has sweet potatoes, Daddy has sweet potatoes, and Beanie has sweet potatoes!”  She loves the game where she has a bite and then Daddy has a bite, and has tried more things in the past week than in the past six months.  So far, she has eaten non-breaded chicken, pears, sweet potatoes, pork chops, turkey burgers, fish, and zucchini.  This is HUGE.  HUGE!  It feels silly to say, but getting her to eat a more varied, nutritious diet seems like it might turn out to be one of my greatest accomplishments in life. 

K helped me see that you can get over some of the stories we tell ourselves about why certain things won’t work.  Why our kids won’t like them, the million reasons we have to keep things status quo.  In this particular case, I was a huge contributor to The Bean’s pickiness without even realizing it.  I’m sure we’ll find some foods will still be on her NO WAY list, but at least she’s being a little more adventurous.  With her help and continued advice from K, I think I can be, too.

Posted by AVM

I know the sex of my unborn baby and nobody (well, almost nobody) knows but me.  It started out simply enough.  My husband and I decided that we wanted the sex of our first child to be a surprise.  And so it was.  Our preparation included creating a neutral nursery, stocking the drawers with green and yellow clothes, and being sure to register for carseats, swings, high chairs, bouncy seats, etc that were not gender specific.  In the delivery room (or in my case, the operating room), the joy and emotion of hearing, “It’s a girl!” tops nearly every other experience I’ve ever had in my life.

This time around, I wanted to know the sex of the baby, but my husband wanted that delicious delivery room moment again.  I argued my points (“With a toddler, we have less prep time!  Let’s just find out so we’re READY one way or the other.”), and he argued his (“There are so few great surprises in life – let’s enjoy this last one!”), and it seemed we were at a crossroads.  So in the end and after much grief from both parties, I found out the sex of our baby, and he is still in the dark.  At first it was difficult to keep the secret – I was afraid of slipping a “he” or “she” into the conversation – but it never happened.  And I decided that since my husband didn’t want to know, that no one else should know.  So the secret is mine.  Aside from the random grocery store cashier who I’m sure doesn’t really care, and whose anonymity guarantees that it won’t get back to anyone I know, the secret resides with me.

It’s kind of nice, actually.  I share this one secret with my baby.  It’s me and the little one against the world!  But in reality, I am jealous that my husband is going to have that moment again, and I won’t be able to share it with him.  The thing is, I can’t UNknow.   Once the fact is part of your consciousness, that’s it.  It’s there for good.  If I had it to do over again, and if my patience was better in tact, I would go with the surprise. Having done it both ways, I can tell you the surprise in the delivery room rivals a marriage proposal, your “I do’s”, a death row pardon, winning the lottery – yes, it’s THAT big.  However, for me,  in 5 weeks, the secret will be out.  And, I can’t wait.

Posted by Duff

Thank you,  Graco, for allowing my household to sleep.

When I was pregnant with The Dervish, I registered for the Angelcare monitor and never got around to getting it.  No big deal, I thought. Instead, I just checked on her 55 times a night, sometimes waking her up when putting a hand on her chest to check for breathing. Infants, when they sleep, sleep so very soundly, it’s crazy-making.

It wasn’t until Atticus was born that I stopped this practice (at least where The Dervish was concerned).

But, as babies do, Atticus had his own agenda, and it boiled down to acrobatics. Since he wouldn’t sleep away from me, he slept on my chest. He didn’t sleep well. When I finally fell asleep, I slept so deeply that Atticus was able to attempt a feat of newborn gymnastics without my waking. It was the end of the co-sleeping I’d never wanted to do in the first place.

My son screamed at me from carseats, bouncy seats, sleep positioners, and of course, his back until he was a sweaty mess. And I had a breakdown. We were all exhausted, and he couldn’t be prevented from readjusting himself  to his belly. The poor thing was beyond overtired, and spent the better part of his days and nights howling, trembling, inconsolable.

And we gave up. And took shifts watching him sleep. Even though he rolled over at two weeks and could do a pushup by six, I was (and still am) petrified of SIDS.

And then a seasoned mother of three tummy sleepers recommended the Angelcare monitor. *

The first night we used it I had a lot of trouble falling asleep. Until the alarm sounded. Atticus had scooted too far away from the sensor. Which assured me that the monitor took its job very seriously, and was highly sensitive to lack of movement.

We have slept better ever since. The alarm still sounds occasionally, but only because Atticus already uses the full expanse of his crib and could probably scoot the length of the house if bars didn’t hold him in.

I always said my kids would sleep on their backs, in their cribs, from day one. 

Kids have a way of stomping on “I Never”, though.

The Dervish fell for a sleep positioner and partial swaddle. From day three, Atticus had no intention of staying asleep for more than an hour unless given free reign, and his insomnia was in danger of hampering his development.

Now, he flings dimples at me far more than the frustrated, irrational tears of sleep deprivation. I daresay he is happy. Most of the time. Something that, as a parent, I am not used to.

I still worry, because I usually believe the AAP when they make recommendations. But Atticus has all but told me I have no choice but to trust his judgement.

I will breathe a sigh of relief when he turns one. But in the meantime, the Angelcare monitor helps us all sleep at night. That and having adopted the zen attitude I’d previously reserved for staving off fears of various apocalyptic events.

Nine and a half months to go.

*IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Graco does not recommend that infants sleep on their stomachs and does not state that their product will make such positioning safe.


Posted by Fitz

The Bean’s great aunt recently gave her a CD full of tunes that all, somehow, manage to incorporate her name.  It’s a great CD, she loves it, and I’m sure it will eventually be on the list of things that contribute to my institutionalization.  However, all this is beside the point.

One of the songs says, “Beanie has manners, and that’s what matters!”  This one line in this one song is haunting me.  We’ve been working for what feels like forever on manners – specifically please and thank you – and The Bean gets the concept but doesn’t want to apply it.  When pressed with a “What do you say?” after she demands something, she’ll look at you with a gap-toothed grin and yell, “PEAS!”  That’s good.  When prompted with anything that resembles a request for a thank you, however, she’ll look at you with her huge green eyes and say one of the following:

  • “I NEED it!”
  • “I want it!”
  • “Now!”

And that’s after she gets what she wants! If someone other than her parents give her a gift, she grabs it and runs away, not a thank you in sight.  I know she’s just shy of two, and asserting her independence.  I know that she doesn’t really get why she has to say these things, and why manners matter at all – in her world, it’s all Beanie all the time, and why shouldn’t it be?  What gets me, though, is that she knows what she should do and say.  I see that mischeivious little glint in her eye, the raised eyebrows, the half smile when she responds to my request in a way that does not align with my expectations.  The best was last night as we were finishing dinner:

Bean: “All done! Out!”

Mom: “What do you say when you’d like to get out of your chair, Bean?”

Bean: “OUT!”

Mom: “What do you say, sweetie?”

Bean: “NOT IN HERE!”

While I appreciated her explaining what she meant by “out”, a please and thank you would have sufficed.  It seems like we’re going to have to keep working on manners…probably till she’s about 18 or so.  Maybe more songs will help?

Posted by AVM

My adorable daughter has begun to do something that is driving me to drink (thankfully, I’m well into my third trimester.  Kidding, people!).  In any given conversation, whether it makes sense or not, Lovey will ask, “But WHY?” in a long string that seems never ending. The answer to one “Why?” question leads to another, “But WHY?” which leads to another answer and the same follow up question.  At first I tried to end the line of questioning (after 10-12 answers) with, “Because I said so, Lovey.” I cringed at myself for saying it as it was on my initially long and now quickly shrinking checklist of things I promised I’d never say as a mom.  And the reality is that sometimes this satiated my questioning Lovey, but more than likely another “why” followed.  Now I’ve taken to saying, “Because God wants it that way.”  Now, while we’re not religious people (probably due to a lifetime of Catholic schooling), I figure this answer takes it out of my hands.  It give someone else the blame.  Let God answer the “why,” because I’m all tapped out.  Here’s an abridged example:

Me: Hurry, Lovey, we’re heading off to school.”

Lovey: But WHY?

Me: Because it’s time to go to school.

Lovey: But WHY?

Me: Because this is what time school starts.

Lovey: But WHY?

Me: Because God wants it that way.

I must admit that I thought the “why” line of questioning was a thing of parental folklore.  More wrong, I could not be.  And yet, I know that questioning the world around her will serve her well.  It’s a good thing.  And I’ll probably be begging for this stage back when she’s 15 and decides that her parents know nothing, so she doesn’t bother to ask.  For now, I’ll just keep answering the best I can.

Posted by Duff

I’m coming to you, live, from the front passenger seat of my car. The Dervish, on the cusp of three and eager to drop her nap, snoozes from her backseat throne.

She fell asleep minutes from home, and I begged by husband to take the long way home, for just a few more minutes of Two Sleeping Children. He wouldn’t oblige – he needed to pee – but luckily, we maintained the utopia after shutting off the engine. We haven’t experienced this since before the Dervish turned one, and was a one and only.

Stolen moments like these are just one of the many universal experiences of parenting. Here are some others:

-You will be amazed that your 2-3 year old can produce a turd larger than most adults can, and survive.

-You will leave the house well aware that there is spit up on your clothing and possibly not even care if anyone else notices.

-If you didn’t hide ripped hems with tape or safety pins before, you will now. If you put in that much effort.

-You will use phrases such as “Because I said so” and “Or else” just like your parents did. And you will mean them. And your child will adopt them as comebacks when negotiating with you to show you just how ludicrous you sound.

-You will narrate your bathroom activities to teach your offspring how it‘s done, and you will offer candy, chocolate, stickers and later bedtimes to get them to imitate you. When was the last time you got a sticker for going #2 on the potty?

-You will be deemed funny for whispering in ears, yodeling, walking like a chicken, and singing the falsetto part of “Bennie and the Jets“. By your children, that is. Everyone else will just think you’re intoxicated.

-You will say “No” more times in one day than you previously may have said in one year, before you learn that Stop, Wait, Not Safe and Let’s do this instead are seven times more effective. (A friend’s mother who runs a long-time successful home daycare recommends a loud ‘wrong answer’  buzz sound)

In an effort to communicate with your spouse in front of your children, you will start spelling words instead of saying them. This practice may  may spill over into other areas of you life where it is unnecessary, like a work meeting: “Hey Bill, do you have the numbers on the D-E-T-R-O-I-T project?”

And so on.

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