Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Parental ramblings

Things I vowed I wouldn't do but now do:

Snap my fingers. My mom always did this to get our attention when she was on the phone or we were out in public. It drove me crazy. Now I do it. It's handy, not too loud or obnoxious to those not targeted, and gives me a brief moment in which to gather my thoughts enough to figure out what words to use.

Say, "We don't do X." I always thought this was quite false, although my actual memories of it date from it being applied to younger siblings. Maybe Mom didn't do X, but clearly the child did or why would it be an issue? Now I realize that it's more a way of communicating that the prohibition of X is a law of general moral or practical applicability (We don't bite, whine, play in the toilet water) rather than regulations limited to a specific time, place, or age (You may have only one cookie). Of course, my own childhood experience ought to demonstrate that it doesn't really communicate that, so perhaps I need a different phrase. Maybe "We shouldn't do X."

Things I still vow I won't do:

Say, "You're being a bad example." Now, I concede that occasionally, pulling an older child with a strong personality aside and briefly pointing out their potent influence on the younger and more impressionable children in a group can be productive. I'm not talking about that, but rather about the promiscuous use of this phrase in front of other people of every age and condition. I've heard it used in the grocery store. I've heard it used on children not yet two. I've even heard it used when I, as an adult, was the only other person present. Clearly in these cases the parent was not trying to develop latent leadership abilities. I was completely puzzled as to what they were trying to do, when I finally realized the unspoken end of the sentence: "You're being a bad example . . . of my parenting skills." Too bad. Children don't exist to exhibit your parenting abilities, and they're not going to be moved by your embarrassment. Nor should they be.

Take my children out in their pajamas. (Except possibly to very early morning church services.) On the other hand, I have not the slightest qualms about putting them to bed in their clothes; in fact, I nearly always do, since cotton play clothes are cheap and readily available, while cotton pajamas, past 12 m size, are rare and expensive.

Things I refuse to feel guilty about not doing:
Daily baths. D1 at least got them every other day when she was a baby, and she had terrible diaper rashes. D2 gets baths about once a week, but yesterday he got two hot ones in a row in an effort to soak an infected scratch on his leg. This morning, for no other apparent reason, he had his first-ever nasty diaper rash. I'm going to subscribe to the theory that frequent bathing washes away natural protective oils. Fortunately his scratch is about healed.

Baby signing. This is the thing to do these days if you're an involved and concerned parent. We tried a few with D1, and she picked them up, but she usually learned to say the word about the same time. I'm trying to convince D2 to learn "more," but he prefers his own invented sign, which is banging both hands on the tray and hollering at the top of his lungs. He would seldom have cause to use "all done." And I don't know enough other signs to really teach him much. Sure, baby signs are supposed to help stimulate verbal development and improve communication skills. But I bet Demosthenes, Cicero, and Patrick Henry never had such advantages. So I don't think I'll permanently stunt my children if I never get around to teaching them.

Random Conversation:
DOB: I love the smell of Crayola crayons. Basically for the same reason you like the smell of your grandpa's cigarettes.
QOC: Your grandpa smoked crayons?

Random Observation:
If you have a baby who is learning to pull himself up, you should either always wear long, sturdy pants in his presence or shave your legs.


the Joneses said...

Your random observation made me cringe in sympathy.


Libertango said...

I also refuse to do the baby signing thing. (Lots of moms around here try it.) I figured:

1. I won't remember what the signs mean after I show Joshua what they are. That could become frusterating for both of us. Quickly.

2.I would rather encourage speech

And I won't feel guilty either.

Devona said...

I snap my fingers at my dog all the time. After I realized that it worked to get his attention, I have discovered myself doing it to Olivia, too.

Things I swore I wouldn't say (but have and I feel guilty that it has slipped out): "Don't make me..."

My mom said this all the time. Don't make me get up and get you, smack you, pick that up... etc.

No one makes you do anything. You should be disciplining your children because it needs to be done, not because they "made you" step up and do your parently duty.

Kevin & Amy said...

They say you shouldn't bathe pre-pubescent (or however you spell it) children every day anyway. It's bad for their skin and hair.

At least this is what I tell myself to keep from feeling like a bad mom whenever I hear that other moms bathe their children every day. Meredith is lucky if she gets a bath twice a week. Now that it's summer, she's lucky if she gets one once a week 'cuz of the pool.

Anonymous said...

Hey you.

Some great observations.

snapping I use this...three fairly light snaps will always be rewarded with eyecontact from my kids no matter where they are. Well, it doesn't work so good if they are on a park ride or underwater.

sign language For the little ones I suppose it is useful if they can relate that the bawling will stop if you give them a drink when you think it might be only that they are tired.

But we used sign language with our older ones. I got some critical words useful for communicating across crowded rooms to my children. Words like "sit down" "come here" "wait" "Later" "polite" "stand up" "drink" "eat" "leave/go" and of course, "pain".

Works great...like a remote control.

set an example I agree. Most of what parents communicate to children is about themselves. If it admitted the root truths, it would be more like "obey me or else." No need to be mean or wheedling about it--just speak the truth as you would mention that the sun will come up.

old friend jl

Email me sometime at my firstname.lastname at leg.wa.gov