When should I Crush her Early Childhood Crush?

I think this is getting a bit ridiculous. Please someone correct me if my assumptions are way off, but I thought the obsession over boys or a boy in particular might not happen until her early teen years.  It’s happening now in preschool!

I always assumed that with our advancing modernity we could expect our kids to experiment with drugs earlier. However, the trend is actually going the opposite direction according to recent annual reports by the NIH – which shows kids are waiting longer to experiment with hard drugs and protecting their little underdeveloped brains to focus more clearly on boy obsession!!!!???!! I’m having a hard time deciding whether I’d prefer she started on bath salts earlier.

Pretty hard to find more damning evidence of mainstream culture encouraging underage marriage than Bratz! These girls are supposed to be teenagers!! All rights reserved by MsWatermelon813

Pretty hard to find more damning evidence of mainstream culture encouraging underage marriage than Bratz! These girls are supposed to be teenagers!! All rights reserved by MsWatermelon813

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The World is a Classroom: Ukrainian Revolution Firsthand Account

The world is a classroom, as I am sure someone would say. No doubt about that. But what is this classroom trying to teach us? I have been thinking about this a lot recently because of the current events in Kyiv. These are heady days here, EUROREVOLUTION! Great opportunities to teach and be taught about the true meaning of democracy.

The revolution is here in Kyiv, Ukraine and it's a great learning opportunity of democracy in practice for Pappa Goob and his kids.

The revolution is here in Kyiv, Ukraine and it’s a great learning opportunity of democracy in practice for Pappa Goob and his kids.  Photo of 12/1/2013

Copyright All rights reserved by anagrudnyi  Check out his photostream, including amazing Ukrainian Revolution photos, on his Flickr.

And honestly I have felt much more threatened at demonstrations in other, more established, democracies than I have here. Here people aren’t trying to destroy the symbols of society, they are trying to get access to those symbols. The government has failed them and for the second time in the last 10 years, they want to hold someone accountable for that failure. Wow, awesome. Continue reading

Easier Childhoods Make it Harder on Parents

I take it for granted that we have chosen to make things harder for ourselves. I mean this in the personal sense and in the societal sense. Personally, I have chosen to share my life with a partner from another country, I have proceeded to produce three children with this foreign partner and then temporarily moved to a third, middle income country in the former Soviet Union. I could have made other choices that would have made things a bit easier. Like have less children or not move with
them.

In the simpler days (without pesky child labor laws) kids would be out working not making it harder for parents by demanding a well-rounded and fun childhood.
In the simpler days (without pesky child labor laws) kids would be out working not making it harder for parents by demanding a well-rounded and fun childhood.

I think we as a society have also chosen to make things harder for parents as well. When we decided that children under the age of 18 were to have childhoods, no matter their socio-economic position, we made a decision that makes living harder. It was easier when kids were broken and put to work right away. Children were largely less happy (this is a normative conclusion, I have no scientific research to back this up, although I am sure that it is out there. I think just the combination of child mortality rates and common sense would back me on this.) but they were occupied. (This depends on how far back we are looking. There was a problem of poor children in newly industrialized citites not having enough to do 100 years ago, but that was about the time that we started to give kids childhoods, i.e. didn’t allow them to work any more.)

There might be a risk to read me as saying that there was no such thing as childhood 200 years ago. That isn’t exactly what I mean. Rather, it was that childhood had a different meaning. We don’t love our children more than our ancestors did, we just love them differently. In the end, I think that while I have chosen to make my life more difficult, I have in fact been able to help my children in a way that parents who are raising kids in the environment that they themselves were raised in might not be able to do. The fact that I live in a transnational environment means that flexibility in solving a given problem is greater as a result of a dominating norm. The problems of children are the same all over the world, but the solutions to these problems are very different.

To give an example I’ll use RAT and girls with ADHD. The process of helping her get better returns from her efforts has been life-long, but it has only been in the last year that we have seen some real results. RAT is a hard worker, who struggled to get anything out of the work that she put in. Despite this she never gave up, which I find impressive.

What this has to do with difficulty is the fact that we were able to use one country’s medical system, another country’s school system and vast array of advice from a number of different countries to create an environment that is slowly allowing her to succeed. (As a side note, this success has a down side: School is getting more demanding, if not harder which is natural for anyone in 3rd grade).

We might have done this without creating difficulty, but I don’t know. My partner would disagree. She would say that if we had stayed in Sweden RAT would have made steps anyway. I am not sure.

Emo-parenting 101: Looking for Parenting/Life Balance

In the end there is not much that separates us from them. We are meant to give to them. We are meant

to be a bottomless source of love to them. But we use them in the same way. We demand of them

bottomless love and at least some service. Service and love. Sounds like a Sunday sermon. But I am

not talking about service to God, or God’s love. I am talking about the future, our children. (A terrifying

thought that something that I produce would be responsible for anything, but hell, why not. I’m pretty

responsible.) I would put emphasis on the bottomless part of the third sentence of this paragraph. Not

that we as parents are tried or that we don’t fail, but the expectation is there, that expectation that our

patience will not end.

Parenting can make us all lose identity, but then they do things like this and you don't care.

Parenting can make us all lose identity, but then they do things like this and you don’t care.

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Does Scheduling Kids Activities Help… or Hurt? Economics of Parenting

I am well on my way to becoming a Tiger-mom and the results are undeniable. At 3 YY (years-young) she’s reading at a 5th grade level, a concert-worthy pianist, and just yesterday was asked to tryout for the world cup teeeee…wait. That was all a dream I had last night. This was one of those dreams where you wake up and for the first couple of seconds you are really satisfied with yourself because you’ve reached great heights and it all seems so real — yet you had nothing to do with it. Like being born rich, or Lebron James, or Gorbachev (no one can tell me that birthmark on his bald baby head had nothing to do with his success).

Striking resemblance? Based on Gorby's success later in life, I'm hoping so!

Striking resemblance? Based on Gorby’s success later in life, I’m hoping so!

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Determining Appropriateness of Threatening Language, or…When is it ok to threaten someone’s child?

“Relax, it was an accident.”

“I’m about to have an accident with YOUR kid!”

That was the less-than-nice encounter we had as we were departing brunch last weekend. The tone of this blog is definitely tongue-in-cheek (and frequently foot-in-mouth) and I regularly like to sensationalize titles, but this was a genuinely weird moment caused by a parent’s fear for their own child’s safety. So… was it ok to threaten my child in retaliation?

I’ll set the stage a little better. We had just completed our meal at the lovely Hi Life in Ballard. A restored Firehouse in one of Seattle’s cooler neighborhoods that’s near AT’s interpretive dance/rolling-around class that has great and simple All-American food (specifically Brunch): Bloody Mary’s, Biscuits & Gravy, et. al. And the best part for my GFGF (gluten-free girlfriend), most of their menu can be had Gluten-free — which was the primary reason we went. Although thinking about the super-glutened B&Gs with a sunny side up egg is starting to make me lose my train of thought.

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Bedtime Stories Illuminate Childhood Aspirations and Crush Parental Ones

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Some of these career choices may be a bit dated (what with cars driving themselves these days and carpentry being outsourced to Sweden/Ikea). Bravo to Richard Scary for not kowtowing to the cultural norm of the day and asking the reader if they want to be a good cook, like their father.

Last night I was reading the great Richard Scary classic, “Best Word Book Ever” or something about words, I can’t remember. It’s really long and there are surprisingly few words in it. When I flipped to the page about professions, I asked the logical question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I may or may not have blocked everything on the page from her line of sight except the doctor/pig and may or may not have lead her a bit with, “…a doctor?” To which she (exasperated) responded, “ewwwwww, no daddy, I’m going to be a Princess when I grow up!”

I followed up with, “Are you sure you don’t want to help people when they’re sick or injured or do something else for work besides be a Princess?” To which she responded dryly, “I don’t want to work when I grow up, it’s boring.”

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Commence Enhanced Sociopathic Behavior Season (or cold season to the uninitiated)

AT is a perfectly nice 3 year old. She hams it up and tries to show love as best as her little sociopathic mind will allow her. This means she commonly mistreats people she loves, but when a new person she is trying to impress is introduced, she frequently says, “I love you, Daddy” and does things that have always resulted in her receiving a great big dose of “awwwwwwww” from the newcomer. This is not unique to her, I believe all 3 year olds are sociopaths.

She really is a sweet and compassionate girl as evidenced by her love and enjoyment of that awful place we like to call the State Fair!

She really is a sweet and compassionate girl as evidenced by her love and enjoyment of that awful place we like to call the State Fair!

I was recently at her school where an expert on early childhood development and behavior was talking about strategies and tactics that employ positive guidance for misbehavior (positive reinforcement). She was saying the underdeveloped frontal lobe was the main culprit for this sociopathic behavior. We all know our brains aren’t fully developed until we are pretty much almost dead, but in very little kids, it’s amazing how little of that lobe has actually grown-in.

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For some reason, it seems to really sting when your child says, “I don’t love you, Daddy”

I think I’m pretty good at not letting what my 3 year old says in the heat of an argument about TV, eggy burritos, or going to bed (our 3 biggest topics of disagreement) really bother me. She will scream, she will throw a torrential downpour of tears and feigned violence upon me, and it’s really stressful and my blood pressure definitely rises, but I am reasonably good at getting her off the ledge without resorting to my own hysterics. That being said, yesterday was the first time she’s ever dropped her trump card, “I DON’T LOVE YOU DADDY!”, and I have to admit, it stung a bit. A lot bit.

Now, I’m as macho as any self-actualized-urban-dad-impersonator (SAUDI) out there, and I was raised not to complain,¹ so I’ve perfected my stoicism in the face of these outbursts. She generally has no idea how upset I am in inside.

Yesterday, however, she was displeased that I was picking her up and not her mother and when I dropped MY usual trump card for everything, “I love you, sweetie²”(seriously, try it on ANYONE in ANY situation, IT WILL WORK), she threw the “I don’t”royal flush response right back in my face. Lame poker references aside, I was floored.

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Go to Sleep! …Please

AT likes her rituals. She demands an eggy-burrito nightly while she watches her programs (Macneil/Leher primarily) — and who am I to deny her this? I once ate a tuna fish sandwich every day for an entire summer when I was a big-wheel trucker in college and I never once got sick of it. The only reason I stopped was school started again and I needed to move on to eating a burrito every day. And I forcibly removed her pacifier at 3 months, and now she sucks her fingers, so I figured she probably might knows what’s best for her.

But recently, she’s taken up the habit of the never-ending bedtime ritual, and to parrot one of her favorite phrases, “I.don’t.like.it” (said through gritted teeth very, very slowly). This never-ending ritual starts with something she co-opted from me, the spell-it-out method¹ of saying what you intend to have happen long before doing it.

Up until very recently, I’ve found it particularly effective to spell out EVERYTHING the two of us will be doing together in advance, not only so I can later say, “SEE!” and “REMEMBER?”, but because it’s really the only proven tactic I’ve had for getting her to do what I want. One example of this is on a typical weeknight after I’ve picked her up from daycare. On these drives home, I always spell out exactly what we’ll be doing (eg. “we’re going home to make dinner, you can watch one episode of wonder pets, and then it’s bath, book, song, and bed — sound good?”). This has worked quite well, until just recently, when she’s been heading me off at the pass and using my method against me.

Instead of me dictating our night in advance, she will say things immediately after we get in the car like, “Just so you know, I’m not tired at all daddy and I’m not going to be tired later”… at 5:30 pm! Of course you aren’t tired you sweet little monster. What am I supposed to say to that?!

Partially my response to this is seasonal, it’s summer after-all and we live almost as far north as Alaska, so it’s generally quite bright when I’m trying to get her to fall asleep at 8(ish), and so I say, ok, let’s read another story, or hang out while daddy gets his at-bat in softball.

But when it’s pushing 9:30 and she is adamantly not tired (yet yawning violently), I’ve tried everything to combat this objection:

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Even this weighted vest I strap onto her for added exhaustion during post-school play hasn’t worked to tire her out! Photo courtesy: DennisSylvesterHurd

Aggressive post-school play. I love to take her to Greenlake or Wallingford Wading Pool and try to tire her out as best I can after a long day of running around at daycare. I have her run win sprints with a weighted-vest with the parachute attachment. Doesn’t Help.

Sugar-rush! I’ll admit this may at first blush appear completely counterintuitive, but I read something recently that stated that the “sugar high” is actually a complete fallacy, so I thought perhaps if I just seceded to her every chocolate whim, perhaps she’d do me a solid and go to bed when I ask. Nyet Chance, and chocolate stains the $hit out of her PJs.

Scalding Hot Bath. You know what makes me sleepy? Hot tubs make me really sleepy. I thought perchance if I ticked up the temp on her bath right before bed it might make her conk out. So far it has only made her look slightly oompa loompa-ish and strengthened her resolve not to go to bed because in her words, “I’m soooooooooo not tired right now because of that bath.”

These 3 seemingly brilliant ploys to tire her out have only made the ritual seem that much more feeble and pointless. Perhaps I should just turn on the TV and let her watch it until she falls asleep? This would free me up to go to bars and dog tracks and other things and then come home to a sleeping toddler (and blaring TV) and I’m sure there wouldn’t be many long term repercussions, and I might make a bit of money. Continue reading