Monday, January 27, 2014

Cover Your Mouth!

It's that time--we are in the middle of cold and flu season. Yeah, there are flu vaccines, but they aren't always 100%. So, while I think sharing is wonderful in the right circumstances, please
I have already admonished one child and one adult (yeah, that's right!) to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing. Are you next?

If you don't believe me, check this out:


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Get Out!

When mommies get together, we tend to talk about our kids. With the holiday last Monday, followed by two "snow" days plus a two-hour delay, the topic was "what to do with the kiddos" when stuck in the house. Unfortunately, nobody shared anything earth-shattering. However, I did hear of one idea that has potential during milder weather:

Mean Mommy D likes to push her rambunctious daughter out of the house with a timer set for thirty minutes. She tells her child to "play by yourself" and--get this--she locks the door! I can see some parents getting bent out of shape over this, but, truth is, back in the day, kids were regularly shoved outside and told to "go play" and not allowed in the house except to eat, use the bathroom, get first aid or retrieve a toy. Why, then, does this seem so harsh?

D parks her car at the end of the driveway, allowing her daughter to some paved space for riding her bike or using sidewalk chalk, and also making a clear line which her daughter knows not to cross. D also makes sure that outdoor toys are available, and she goes over the rules she has set for when her child plays outside. She also likes to challenge her daughter to "make something to impress" her and sometimes sweetens the deal with the promise of a treat.

So, again, why does this seem harsh? Because the locking of the door enforces the "play outside" mandate? Or because, with information so easily accessible, D can find out where the closest sex offender is...or how close the most recent case of rabies was to her house...or statistics on child abductions?

Why does D's daughter have to be locked out of the house? Because the lure of electronics is so strong she would choose to stay inside and turn into a vegetable otherwise? Last week, when my kiddo was complaining about being bored, I suggested she (a) help me clean; (b) read a book; or (c) find a toy, but what she really wanted to do was watch TV or play on the computer. Suddenly, the threat of a flooded bedroom due to "mad scientist experiments" or multicolored splatters from finger painting in the bathtub didn't sound so bad...

When Spring gets here, I'll be kicking the kiddo outside, but instead of locking her out, I would love it if she wanted to spend her time outside. With plenty of toys and sunscreen and a bottle of water and a list of rules...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Grapes of Wrap

There is so much information out there about making healthy food choices that it's heartbreaking to see a child loading up on crap. I went to the kiddo's school to have lunch with her last week, and I was dismayed to see that her friend was eating Lunchables, Doritos, and a packaged sweet roll for her lunch, washed down with a bottle of water (as if that magically washed away the crap). Seeing that erased some of the doubts plaguing me about what I feed my kiddo. Sure, we enjoy sweets and salties once in a while, but I try not to indulge too much...which leads me to my latest strategy: grape rationing.

The kiddo loves fruit. She has her favorites, but I can't think of any fruit she actually dislikes. That is great, except that she would be a total fruitarian if I let her. Yesterday, she had the day off and we were at the supermarket, and she was begging for grapes. OK, I have a child who begs for grapes instead of neon-colored sugar bombs. Fantastic!! "Hmmm..." I thought, "I would like some grapes, too..." So I got a big bag. And later almost gasped at the big price. A tactical error on my part, it was too late to put the grapes back, nor would it have been OK to dump out half the bag. So, we got the grapes, but I decided that they were going to last the entire week. Before you accuse me of denying my child vital fruit nutrients, rest assured that we have apples, oranges, and mangoes, too. Not to mention a plethora of vegetables. We're good.

But, back to the crazy-expensive grapes. It is so easy to nosh through a whole bag (I'm speaking from experience here), but I decided to ration our stash to make it last through Friday--eight small containers full of green grape goodness. Why eight? Because I want some grapes, too! I will put my name on them if I have to!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Axis of Evil* in the Stock Pot

                                            *Peppers, tomatoes, and onions

A mom is supposed to feed her child. Breast vs bottle, conventional vs matter what our preferences, we need to supply sustenance and nutrition to our offspring. I'm lucky, because my kiddo likes most foods, or at least the ones I typically buy and prepare. Around here, we eat healthy foods for the most part, but there are some things that the kiddo just won't touch--peppers and tomatoes in particular--unless I sneak them into her food. There are entire cookbooks dedicated to the art of sneaking veggies into foods, but I haven't checked them out since the only real bones of contention are the aforementioned peppers and tomatoes, and obvious onions. The onions aren't too much of a concern, because I can only handle them in very small amounts, anyway. I have to laugh, though, because yesterday the kiddo was enthusiastically noshing on some "doctored" black bean soup and corn bread. She quizzed me on the ingredients, and I have to confess that I lied. Well, it was a lie of omission. I neglected to tell her about the sauteed peppers and onions that were pureed and then made their way into both the soup and the cornbread. I explained that the soup was a funky color because I had added a jar of salsa, and any specks in the cornbread were from the mango that I pureed and added to it. Clearly, her questioning indicates that she is starting to become suspicious of my cooking, but she hasn't caught me at pepper dropping yet. The kiddo loves salsa, so I'm not sure why she doesn't like either peppers or tomatoes. I guess that she just hasn't realized yet that she really does like them. I mean, I can definitely taste the peppers in the soup, so if she likes the soup, she must also like the peppers. Out of sight, out of mind?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Weighing Successes and Failures

Last night I attended a meeting of like-minded parents, and we discussed our parenting successes and failures of 2013. While nobody wanted to pat themselves on the back, everyone was eager to confess their shortcomings. Why is it so hard to take credit for what we do right, yet so easy to condemn ourselves? Everyone at the meeting has amazing kids (myself included), so we are obviously doing something right. We deserve to pat ourselves on the back. Why do our failures carry so much more weight?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I Should Do WHAT? Unsolicited Parenting Advice

It's never fun to be on the receiving end of criticism or, worse yet, interference, from someone, no matter how good their intentions are. Yes, that woman may have raised twelve kids, so she knows what she's talking about, but you are an expert when it comes to your child.

Maybe it has happened to you. You are minding your own business when your child acts up or wants something unacceptable, and someone--a family member or even a complete stranger--butts in and offers you some advice, encouraging you to give in to your child.  Certainly they want to diffuse the situation, and end the crying/complaining/begging. But a true Mean Mommy has to stand her ground, even when being ganged up upon by her child and a third party. Especially with the third party! When a parent gives in, the child learns what to do to make the parent cave the next time. If it requires carrying on to such an extent that someone intervenes on their behalf, so be it. That's what they will do. But that third party interference can also send the message that Mommy Is Wrong. If the person in question is older or otherwise appears to have more authority, couldn't that reenforce the child's behavior, encouraging them to believe that they are being treated unfairly? Like when someone offers your child a cookie, and your child really wants it but you decline. Your child whines and pleads, but you stand your ground. The other person snorts and tries the old "One cookie won't hurt him", to which you once again refuse. Then they might have the nerve to say, "Well, I'm sorry, but your mommy said "no" ".  Um, passive aggressive much? Maybe you have a good reason for saying "no". Maybe your child has dietary restrictions, or maybe he or she just ate a whole tray full of cookies and you're worried about a tummyache.

Mean Mommy K was at the pool when her 4-year-old decided to throw a tantrum. Not fun, but every mommy has experienced it. It's a rite of passage that sucks for everyone. Unfortunately, the tantrum thrower was blocking the door, which led a seemingly kindly, elderly lady to try to "help". She addressed K as "Mom" in a condescending tone then proceeded to tell her what to do. Really? Isn't a tantrum bad enough in itself? Is it really necessary to imply that a mom is handling it the wrong way? And is there one "right" way to handle a tantrum?

If you have never been caught in the middle of a child's tantrum (like, if you don't have kids), let me explain what is going on in a mom's head during one:
                              "OMG, please, not now. Please stop. Great. She's not &*^#$@! stopping. What am I gonna do? Crap, people are looking at me. Oh, well. It happens. She'll stop. I just have to ride it out. Kids have tantrums all the time. It's normal. I hate this! Why won't she stop?! People are staring. Really, what am I supposed to do?! Drag her out by her hair? What are you gonna do--call the Mommy Police? Fine! Keep staring!  Enjoy the show! We'll be on our way when she's done. Please stop. Please, please stop. Please...Why won't she stop?..."
Exactly how is offering condescending advice going to do anything but make a Mean Mommy cuss you out in her head?

As for the "helpful" lady offering her advice to Mean Mommy K? Was she really trying to be helpful? Or did she really think that K was hopeless? Or, maybe, was she passive aggressively trying to annoy K so much that she would grab her tantruming child and drag her off to carry on somewhere other than in front of the pool door...hmmm.....

In any case, the only reply I can think of that works without offending is "Thanks, but I've got this". Keep the cussing in your head.

Friday, January 3, 2014

I Confess!

I have to confess to something. A crime. A horrible, terrible crime. One that is punishable not by the long arm of the law, but rather by the ire, fury, and distress of my six-year-old kiddo, which is worse than any jail term out there.

You see, I have committed dollicide. The victim? One Polly P. It was a crime of passion, a crime of opportunity. Polly frustrated me because she was always lying in the way of the vacuum cleaner. Plus, she always left her rubbery clothing, shoes, and accessories lying about. While they were not nearly as painful to step on as Legos, I quickly reached the end of my rope.

So, one day, last fall, I got rid of Polly. I wanted to erase all evidence of her existence, so I also threw out her clothes and other belongings. Just my luck, one of her severed legs surfaced, leading to the hope that she might be found, otherwise intact. A stretchy, squishy blob was found, and determined to be an item of clothing belonging to Polly. Hope sprung eternal (in the kiddo, at least), that Polly was OK.

Until that day, when the kiddo launched an extensive doll hunt in the hopes of determining Polly's fate. Polly was never found, but the kiddo lamented her loss, loudly, until a different toy captured her attention. I was frantic, wondering if my crime would be discovered. Wondering what price I would have to pay for ridding my life of the annoying Polly P.

While the kiddo still believes in my innocence, I am confessing because I fear that I will  again be tempted to eliminate another annoyance and inconvenience that has worked its way into our home: Polly's cousin, also named Polly. The coincidence is not lost on me. This is my chance to make this right, to let the innocent doll survive to be played with until the kiddo is no longer interested in her, and then to let her live out her remaining years with us in a peaceful existence devoid of threats to her person. But what about when I discover Polly lying in the middle of the floor or in the window, or when I find her cheap plastic clothing strewn about? Will I be able to control my urge to throw her in the trash, like I did with her predecessor?

For my kiddo's sake, I must try.

R.I.P. Polly Pocket #1
Good luck, Polly Pocket #2

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Mean Mommy Discovery

The vacuum cleaner: a tool to a clean house, and a way to drown out a tantrum.