Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Giveaway- Demon Spawn Hat Time!!!

It's been cold, really cold.   And even though I am not able to convince my offspring from warming their heads with hats, maybe you (or a parent you know) will have better luck.

To win, just tell me what your New Year's Parenting resolution will be.  Mine is to enjoy more time to myself, without the guilt and worry about how the kids are doing. 

Winner will be randomly selected on Sunday.

Hat comes in sizes Impious Infant, Terrible Toddler, Pain in the Ass Preschooler, or Evil Elementary Schooler. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa, Is That You?

My eldest daughter, Elana, is almost four.  She's beginning to understand giving, and more importantly to her, receiving.  To Elana, December is a magical month filled with Hanukkah, Christmas, parties, presents and cakes.  It's a time when Daddy doesn't go to work and we visit grandparents.  Since we live in San Francisco, it's also the one time of the year we see snow, even if only for an hour or two.

I remember vividly the Christmas I was her age.  My older brother and I lived with our mom in a small duplex a few blocks from a small and depressed downtown in rural Oregon.  Our parents had been unpleasantly and somewhat bitterly divorced for a few years and my mom, who had just finished earning her elementary teaching degree at a local college, was a first-year teacher in a very deprived Native American town a few miles down the highway.  Our savings account was empty and my mom was struggling to get off welfare.  My brother and I knew that we had less money than our friends at preschool and we prepared ourselves to expect little under the tree come Christmas morning.

On Christmas Eve my mom, Sam and I gathered near the tree to sing Christmas songs, eat sugar cookies and open one present each.  The living room was sparsely furnished: a couch, chair, coffee table and a lamp or two casting a dim light on the tender family moment.  I also remember a large, impressive tree, standing higher than the tallest member of our family.  The tree was decorated with lights, tinsel, ornaments and candy canes, and was as close to perfection as a toddler could imagine.  That night I opened a present from my Aunt Chris.  Although I can't picture the exact toy, I distinctly recall the aroma of Strawberry Shortcake lingering on my pudgy fingers long after I went to bed.  My brother and I went to sleep excited to play with our new toys and even more eager to unwrap the few remaining presents that sat unopened beneath the tree.

That night I lay in my bed listening for sounds of Santa, knowing that he was a very busy man and might not make it to our house.  Still, I listened for footsteps on the roof and a jolly old man crashing through the chimney (which we didn’t have).  I imagined his sled skidding to a stop on our rain-covered roof and the stomping their hoofs while Santa completed his duties. 

The next morning, Sam and I awoke at dawn to find the cookies we left for Santa and the carrots we left for his reindeer appropriately missing.  Under the tree lay a large bag, bigger than anything I could have imagined, filled with toys.  The toys weren't wrapped, and they weren't fancy.  I remember dolls and cars, trains and blocks--the kind of toys one imagines Santa's elves creating at the North Pole.  Santa had come, and he had left his whole sack!  Sam and I looked to our mom in disbelief.  “Mom,” we whispered,  “Santa forgot his sack.  Now the other kids won't have any toys!”  After a few moments of reassurance, Sam and I dug into the bag with an energy only a child can muster at 6am on Christmas morning.

Nearly thirty years later, my mom still won't tell me how the toys in the sack found their way under our tree.  Maybe I don't really want to know; it lets me believe, if not in Santa, in the kindness of family, friends and possibly even strangers.

My kids will never get that kind of holiday.  They are growing up in a world without need or want.  They have both parents in one house and a mom who spends most of her waking hours taking care of their every need.  And I worry that they may never know that kind of pure magic, that kind of belief in the unknown.

I married into a Jewish family; in our home we celebrate Hanukkah, a holiday that brings not one, not two, but eight nights of presents!  Although many of those gifts are the practical type (socks and pajamas), it's still a lot of getting.  To lessen the load, Ted and I decided to make the 6th night of Hanukkah a night for charity- the kids give the money we would have spent on a present to someone in need.  Elana is beginning to understand.  “So, instead of getting a toy, I'm giving money to someone without a lot of princesses?”  She thinks it's nice in theory, and likes the smiles and gratitude she receives when she donates. She still enthusiastically awaits the 7th night, “Tonight we get a present, right?”

This year, after 8 nights of Hanukkah, Elana and Maisy felt pretty confident that they will open a present every day for the rest of their lives.  Each morning when I drop Elana at preschool, she asks hopefully, "Do I get a gift today?"  I was feeling a bit dismayed, especially since Christmas with my family was rapidly approaching and more gifts were coming.  Then a few days ago, I saw Elana counting the change in her piggy bank.  When I asked her what she was saving her money for, she replied “When it gets really full, I'm going to give it to the poor people who don't have food, or clothes, or toys, or a house, or fancy dresses.”

I was about to cry--that is, until she whacked Maisy for trying to swipe a nickel and I had to send her to her room for a time-out.

Monday, December 20, 2010

1...2...3! Mommy needs a glass of wine.

Some days I truly detest my life.  On these days, I loathe the screaming, fighting, wiping of bottoms, and most of all I hate being in charge of it all.  Last weekend I had one of those days.
The exact moment a calm afternoon turns to chaos.
We began the day by attending a holiday/football party at a friend's house.  My husband Ted, who, as I mentioned earlier, is completely obsessed with all things sports (he even considers the World Series of Poker a national holiday) was in his element, surrounded by good friends and Sunday morning NFL.  After he absentmindedly offered our 20-month-old an open package of dry Fruit Loops for lunch when she pointed to her mouth and said "eat", I realized that I was in charge of the children for the immediate future.

The kids were both in funks.  Elana, who hadn't napped in two days and woke up that morning at 5:45, was extremely and monotonously adamant that she would only eat chocolate chip muffins.  Maisy determined that it was a good day to learn how to get her way by emulating her sister.  When I tried feed the girls a more balanced lunch of cheese, hot dogs, and fruit salad, Elana picked at the strawberries and pretended to eat the cheese, before declaring "Yuck" and spitting it onto the carpeted floor.  Before I could reprimand her, Maisy decided that this looked like great fun and joined in with the spitting.  Elana was put in a time-out in the front hall (which she thought was just awesome), and Maisy was redirected.  Following the lunch debacle, Elana proceeded to hoard all the good toys from the other kids playing quietly, while Maisy ran around the living room screaming "Mine, mine, mine."  After rubbing my temples with exhausted hands and glaring at Ted with contempt, if not complete despise, I packed up both children and the spouse, and headed home.
Elana learning to form spit bubbles.
(Photo courtesy of Karin Asensio.) 
Bedtime consisted of Elana earning three more time-outs for 1) spitting on me, 2) ransacking her room, and 3) refusing to clean the mess.  Needless to say, as soon as the door to her room was shut, I was ready to retreat to a dark closet with a bottle of gin.  We happened to be fresh out of gin, so I settled for a cup of hot chocolate and banging my head against the coffee table until I passed out.

Why is discipline so hard?  Ted and I have been struggling with toddler misbehavior for nearly three years.  It started when Elana learned that she could drive Mommy mad by tossing her food on the floor, and then over the months gradually progressed to tantrums, biting, hitting, and the general obnoxious toddler behavior. When trying to find a disciplinary approach to implement, I learned that the prevailing views on this wearing matter are vast and very diverse.

New Age parenting encourages parents to talk to their children, to promote empathy, and use reasoning.  Have you ever tried to reason with a 3-year-old?  (I'd rather attempt to teach a labradoodle chess than reason with my toddlers.)  To look more closely at this approach, I consulted Dr. Sears' (our ever-loving, let's all co-sleep and breastfeed our children until they pass their driving test) website.  The good doc offers these tools for toddler discipline.
  1. Guide little hands.  Help your little one discover what he can and cannot touch/poke/place in mouth.  "Here is a nice ball to toss," and "No, don't throw the antique vase." 
  2. Respect little grabbers.  Be polite and respectful of your child.  Do not grab the jar of Tylenol PM from his explorative hands, he's just learning!
  3. Get behind the eyes of your toddler.  Try to see things from your child's view.  When you enter her room and see her ripping pages from a library book don't think "Oh no, now I will have to buy this book."  Instead try thinking, "That looks like a lot of fun to destroy things that aren't your own!"
  4. Distract and divert.  As soon as you see your child cruising towards misbehavior, distract him by yelling "Let's all jump on the couch."
  5. Offer redirectors.  Find a word or two that signals your child to start a new activity.  For example, when I yell "Elmo," Maisy immediately stops in her tracks and scans the horizon for a red, furry monster.
  6. Set limits.  All children need and want to know their limits.  Limits provide security and comfort.  Try starting with "No James, you can only have three cookies before breakfast."
  7. Take charge.  Be a safe, secure, and loving authority figure.  Let the children make mistakes, then talk with them about how to fix these.  "Little Noah, my love, I know you wanted to slam your brother against the refrigerator because you were mad, but that hurts him."
  8. Provide structure.  If these strategies haven't worked, you probably haven't provided enough structure for your child's needs.  Bad mommy!
    Living in our progressive community, these are the prevailing approaches to misbehavior.  A child who is hitting other children on the playground will not be spanked, but redirected to hit the swings instead. A toddler biting her mother will be told "Teeth are for chewing food, not for biting."  I faithfully tried each method, numerous times, but in the end, Elana still determined that yes, hands are for hitting, and teeth are indeed for biting.  It was time to try something less progressive!

    Last year I devoured Beth Lisick's hilarious book, Helping Me Help Myself, about her year of self enhancement.  In this book she tackles a new self improvement project each month.  She spends one month working on her financial problems, another month is spent getting into shape by climbing aboard Richard Simmons' Cruise to Losepreschooler's errant ways using 1-2-3 Magic, by Dr. Thomas W. Phelan.  After realizing that my own methods in toddler management were producing little progress, I decided to follow her lead and give Dr. Phelan a try.
    Dr. Phelan's approach is pretty simple: whenever a child misbehaves count from 1 to 3, leaving five second pauses between each number for the child to regroup.  After getting to three, a consequence must occur (usually a time out of one minute for each year the child is old).   There is no counting in fractions or decimals (That's 2.6!) and both the counting and the implementing of the consequence must be done without emotion.  The time-out itself is not necessarily a punishment, but a removal from the situation, and most importantly, a removal of the offending demon spawn from the parent's presence.

    I've been working with this approach for nearly a year, and I have noticed many advantages.  Foremost of which is that this method provides a solution for every possible behavior.  Dr. Phelan made me feel that I wasn't alone in my personal hell, and that there was a dim light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.  Every time Elana misbehaved, I patiently counted to her.  After getting to three, I would take her to her room for three minutes of time-out.  (These three minutes usually consisted of Elana standing by her door literally screaming, kicking, and tearing her room apart.)

    The second benefit of the method is that when the time-out is over, you don't discuss the misbehavior any longer- you start anew.  When the timer in Elana's room would beep, I'd call her out and say, "Come on, Elana, let's play!"  I have to admit that most of the time the chirpiness in my voice was very forced; what I really wanted to do was sit her down and lecture her about her terrible naughtiness that was slowly leading to my early demise.  However, not continuing the argument ended up saving me a lot of energy, stress, and wrinkles.

    The third advantage is that my year-and-a-half old, Maisy, learned to count.  As soon as I would say "That's one," Maisy would chime in "two, three." 

    You may be wondering why, after a year on the Dr. Phelan's program, our lives are still in complete bedlam.  The fault lies entirely with us (and by "us", I mean my husband).  There is little consistency in our behavioral plans; basically, Ted plays "good cop", and I get to be "bad cop".  While I try to stick to 1-2-3, Ted likes to talk.  "Now, Elana Badana, please don't dump liters of water onto the bathroom floor."  Ted insists that once the girls are teenagers, he's going to turn on his authoritative parenting persona, but right now, they are just so damn sweet.  Hmm... maybe he needs to spend more alone time with them.  I should go to a spa!

    It is probably unfair of me to lay all the blame on Ted- I admit that I am not a model disciplinarian in the least.  In fact, Dr. Phelan would most likely be physically repulsed when he sees me implement his method.  Instead of the firm "That's one... That's two... That's three," my approach can often be more like "That's one... That's two... Do you want me to get to three?  I'm about to say three.  Okay, that's it, THREE!" Then, every time I relapse into this softer, less authoritative approach, I admonish myself for the error of my ways and vow to be more strict.  I then spend the next few hours on the lookout for misbehavior so that I can properly count to three.  This irritates Ted and confuses the children.

    Some of you may be wondering why we haven't tried a third common approach, yelling and spanking.  I want to start by saying that I do not, in the slightest, judge parents that can correctly utilize these punishments.  I have just found that I am not one of those scary authoritarians.  When I was "saving the world" as a Teach for America, inner-city, middle school math teacher, I learned in the first year that I wasn't very effective as a yeller.  I guess that my students didn't find me all that intimidating, at five-feet-two-inches, standing in front of thirty kids, many of whom were over six feet tall, stomping my foot on the floor and screaming "I said sit down!!!"  Instead of retreating in fear, the students would laugh, and I would silently cry.  I had to develop a different approach that allowed me to keep my composure and the respect of the students.  (Whenever the volume of the room would reach unsuitable levels I would lower my own voice and start giving directions for the next assignment.  Wayward students were immediately shushed by their peers who wanted to hear the instructions.)  Now as a parent, every time I yell at my children, I worry that instead of reacting with the appropriate amount of terror, they may find it amusing. And, if I tried to spank, my weak biceps would produce something closer to a love pat than a punishment.

    I've concluded that effectively managing toddler behavior is nearly impossible.  Maybe Ted and I should just hide in our bedroom until the kids enter elementary school?  This approach sounds the most doable!

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Friday GIiveaway- Helping Me Help Myself

    This Friday win this hilarious book by Beth Lisick!  I read it many months ago, and am still laughing!  Here is what People Magazine had to say: "Her accounts of everything...are not only hilarious but enlightening. Finding useful tips amidst the bunk, she distills the best from thousands of pages of self-help books. Readers will be inspired: If a woman in a banana suit can clean her closet and pay off her credit card debt, surely you can, too."

    To win, just answer this one question:
    • Tell me about a time you were judged by someone about your parenting.
    For example- numerous "helpful" strangers ask me "aren't your children cold?" when they roam the playground in short sleeved dress and no pants on a winter's day.  Yes, they might be cold, but I might also burst a blood vessel trying to wrestle them into a jacket.

    The winner will be randomly selected on Sunday evening.  (I really mean randomly- I actually use a random number generator!)

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Play with Me!

    My 20-month-old, Maisy, is rapidly approaching the age where she isn't content to just play; she wants to play with me.  Elana has been there for some time now, and my God, it is exhausting!  Two minutes of crawling around on the floor, barking like a dog, and pretending to drink water out of a Tupperware container, and I am ready to go back to washing the dishes, folding the laundry, or scrubbing the toilet.

    It's not that I hate interacting with my children.  I do enjoy creating arts and craft projects, completing puzzles, and reading children's books.  However, the imaginative play, the kind that requires me to act like I'm three-and-a-half, is wearing.  I don't want to repeatedly pretend that I am mean Mother Gothel from Tangled and sing out "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!" while running around the house riding an imaginary horse.  I want to sit quietly on the couch while watching the kids do that!

    At least with the other activities, like drawing, Play-Doh and puzzles, I can maintain a semblance of my adult self. With a box of clay, or a carton of crayons, parents can sit at the coffee table barely moving more than just the muscles in our hands.  We can draw a truck, a princess, or Elmo, and use the creative sections of our brains.  At least with puzzles, we can challenge ourselves- I bet I can put this nine-piece puzzle together before that 2-year-old does!

    A few years ago the Boston Globe published an article titled Leave Those Kids Alone!  The need we feel to constantly engage with our children is actually an American ideal.  In other cultures, mothers are not expected to be rolling around on the floor with their children 12 hours a day.  In less wealthy countries, parents do not have the luxury of spending hours engaged with their children- how could a mother have time to play when there are baskets to weave, laundry to scrub, and fields to tend?  Even in other developed nations, such as France and England, the main job of a parent is to teach her child to be independent and self sufficient.  At playgrounds you see mothers sitting on benches- observing- not sliding down the slide and chasing their child on the monkey bars.  In most other countries adults actually think that it's a bit ridiculous to play with children (I completely understand this sentiment!).

    Not only is this an American value, it is a fairly new American value. David Lancy, an anthropologist, claims that parent/child play is a new phenomenon, only recently advocated by child psychologists, preschool teachers, and social workers.  Again, I direct you to Betty and Don Draper, of Mad Men.  Have you once seen them crawling on the floor pretending to be a wild jungle animal, or brushing a doll's hair?  No, family time consists of Betty and Don lounging on the couch while Sally mixes martinis.

    Lancy argues that this ideal of playing on the floor with your child is a byproduct of the culture of "perfect parenting" that is now part of the everyday pressure we face as parents.  Play is now taken so seriously- as though there is a right and wrong way to play.  (Do- encourage fantasy and messes.  Don't- make children color within the lines.  Do- get on the carpet and roll around like dogs.  Don't- use any type of electronic equipment, screen time for children less than two is strictly forbidden.)  Keeping track of what's correct and what's not is impossible, and even a bit ridiculous in itself.

    Last week I brought Maisy, and her cousin, Aviva, to kindergym at a local synagogue.  Both girls are 20-months-old, and at this age they do a lot of parallel play (playing alongside each other), but little interaction.  I spent much of the class sitting in a central location that provided me an adequate view of both girls while they went about their business.  At one point I was resting at the Play-Doh table, extracting dried up pieces of old dough out of tiny crevices in the tools.  A father (and I must say that he had both ears double pierced and was wearing man-tights), sat across from me intensely playing  with his 14-month-old son.  "Thanks for helping," he said when he saw me cleaning the toys.  "No problem!  It sure beats playing with the kids!" I jokingly responded.   He looked up from the car he was building for his son with shock and disgust in his eyes.  Without saying a word, he took his son over to the puzzle station and began pointing out all the different animals in one puzzle.  "Look, a lion.  Lions say roar.  Here's a monkey.  What do monkey's say?"  The kid, too young to care, patiently ignored his father and began chewing on a giraffe.

    Who was getting the most out of kindergym: Maisy and Aviva who discovered all sorts of new activities and figured out how things work on their own accord, or the kid who had his father's complete and undivided attention, while directing his play?  I think that there is an argument for both styles, but I also firmly believe that the former leaves the parent much less burnt out at the end of the class.
    Currently there is a very fast growing parenting movement called "Simplicity Parenting".  (Please note that I am not in any way advocating this movement- it peddles tossing all Disney related toys and squeezing your own orange juice.)  However, it also emphasizes the need for children to have large amounts of unstructured play, without parental interference, daily.  This, I am totally onboard with!

    So here is my new prescription for playing with your children: Sit back, relax on the couch with a glass of wine, and let the rugrats run rampant around the living room.  They will learn to play independently, use their imaginations, and work through problems with their siblings.  You will learn to relax and maybe even enjoy the heavy job that is parenting.

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Friday Giveaway- Sunshine Princess Toddler Apron!!!

    Ohhhhh, I am absolutely, completely, so excited for this week's giveaway!  Sunshine Princess has generously supplied us with an amazing, homemade toddler apron, made from beautiful vintage fabric (it's gorgeous)!

    Liz Douglas makes these aprons out of vintage fabric to a) avoid washing whole outfits covered in paint or flour and b) to justify her vintage fabric hoarding. They are reversable, adjustable and made to take serious punishment. You can find them in San Francisco at 331 Cortland Marketplace at (you guessed it!), 331 Cortland Ave in Bernal Heights.  She is also working on getting some on to her website- where she sells vintage children's clothes and other vintage inspired projects (70's zodiac jean jackets for your toddler anyone?).

    This apron is toddler sized 18-3T.

    To win this apron, all you have to do is answer these simple questions:
    1. In general, are toddler girls or toddler boys easier to raise?
    2. Why do you think so (short answers please)?
    The winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday evening and will be posted at the end of the comments as well as on Facebook.  Lately, I have been having difficulty getting a hold of the winners ("Mommy" and "mc2la" still need to contact me with their addresses).  So, please check back in and make sure you claim your prize!

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Unconditional Love

    I've started jogging, something that I vowed never to do.  However, due to my lovely offspring, I find it to be just the right exercise to distract my mind from the chaos running amok in my house.   It gives me time to think about my blog posts and to listen to music, radio shows, iTunes, etc. 

    (Photo courtesy of Amanda Dixon Leung.)

    The other day I was on one of those jogs and listening to an episode of This American Life.  A mother told her story of raising an adopted child with an extreme attachment disorder.  At times the mother worried that her son would become never actually love her, but she never doubted her love for him.  Throughout the frightening ordeal of helping him find attachment, which consisted of intense tantrums and major physical resistance, and pleas from her husband to find him a new home, the mother never felt the love for her son disintegrate.  She loved him unconditionally.

    I started thinking about this love a mother has for her children- this enormous, all powerful, unconditional love.  My love for everyone else in my life is somewhat conditional.  If my husband cheats, I'll leave.  If my friends are cruel and untrustworthy, I'll make new ones.  But my kids, they could commit multiple homicides and I would forever adore them.

    One of my greatest anxieties lies in my mortality.  I realize that one day I will die, and so will my husband, and so will the kids.  Of course, like all parents, I hope that I die before my children, just not too long before.  Ted and I have discussed legal guardians for the children, in case we are ever on an airplane that crashes in the Andes and our fellow passengers survive by our cannibalization.  My fear, my torment and anxiety lies in this: who will ever love my children as much as I do?  If you have had the opportunity to meet them, you would know exactly what I mean.  There are many moments a day that the girls behave as only a mother could love.  And, even though I know that they won't be toddlers forever, I do worry that they may be very small terrorists for a long time.  I cannot count the number of times I have wished that the California Safe Haven policy applied to 3-year-olds.  If there wasn't this undividable bond connecting parent to child, I don't think that most people could weather the 2-year-old storm.

    Interestingly, this unconditional love we now shower on our children is a relatively new phenomenon.  Only 50 years ago psychologists were advising parents not to kiss their children more than once a year (yes, that's once every 365 days), for fear of spoiling them.  Parents were supposed to help children to be independent.  Seen, and not heard.  It was even believed that over-cuddling babies led to disease and infant mortality.

    Things began to change in the middle of the last century when Harry Harlow began researching the mother-child bond using rhesus monkeys.  In his experiments he separated newborn monkeys from their mothers and placed them in a room with both a terrycloth and a wire surrogate mother.  The monkeys all attached themselves to the warm and cuddly terrycloth mother, even when the wire mother provided the milk.  The cloth mother provided them not only warmth and snuggle time, but also with comfort and confidence.  When the baby monkeys were alone in a new setting with their cloth "mother" they felt secure and able to explore the setting.  However, alone in a new setting (or with the wire mother) they retreated, cried, and even sucked their thumbs.

    Harlow's research pioneered the modern attachment parenting movement, showing for the first time the importance of a child's attachment to her parents.  Since this work, and the work of a few others in this time period, psychologists are promoting a much more compassionate, loving, and active role in parenting.  Spanking is out, cuddle time is in.  Kiss once a year is out, "hug it out" is in.  Long gone are the days when you are told "Spare the rod, spoil the child." Now we hear "There is no such thing as spoiling an infant."

    So, the question we must ask is, have we gone overboard?  Have we tipped the scale too far in the unconditional direction that we now feel the need to worship and praise our child for every word uttered and every diaper dirtied?  And by doing this, do we help our children gain a sense of limitations?  Furthermore, dare I say that maybe we over-love our children?  Maybe over-love is not the appropriate word; should I say over-adore?  As soon as they let out their first scream they become the center of a parent's universe.  Should everything else in life take a backseat to the child and her needs?

    It seems that parents these days are terrified of not providing unconditional support.  If we don't support every creative instinct will our children grow to resent us, to lament to their therapists that we didn't believe in their talents?  Elana's preschool sends home each piece of paper that is graced by her hand.  Unfortunately, Elana spends about 90% of her time in school at the art table so there are many pieces of paper.  Most of these "drawings" consist of a blue scribble next to a purple one.  Since I asked her teacher to please recycle her work appropriately, have I played havoc with her self esteem?

    Dweck, has done extensive research on praise, and has found that all of this "Oh, Ethan, you are so smart!" and "You are an excellent artist, Olivia!" is actually hurting our children.  By praising their ability, or smartness, the child attributes her success to something innate, and not effort.  When a difficult challenge arises, these children retreat, afraid of failing.

    Discipline is almost completely off limits.  We now love and respect our children so much that we use conversation and reason to correct misbehavior.  (If you have ever succeeded in reasoning with a 3-year-old please write in and tell me your magic secret!  I would love to study you like a science experiment.) I think that I am tired of seeing mothers console their children after they bite another kid on the playground.  "Oh Love Bug, why did you do that?  Are you feeling OK?  Do you need some attention?"  Puh-lease!  Is it wrong to tell the child "No!"? Would it crush his or her independent spirit to say "That was bad!"? 

    Although I mourn for a balance in parenthood, I must admit that I also fall prey to these values- overattending to my children's emotional needs and wanting to provide them with total support (intellectually, emotionally, and creatively).  However, through all the screaming, biting, scratching, and tantrums, I wouldn't trade my girls for the sweetest, cutest, brightest, most well-mannered toddlers.  Maybe it is all the time, energy, and effort I have invested in them over their short lives, or maybe it's biological- in them I see myself- or maybe the moments of pure joy and love are enough to sustain this bond.  Whatever the reason, they are my little monsters, and I love them completely and unconditionally.  (The jogging helps!)

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Friday Giveaway- Hat Day!!!

    Brr... It's cold outside.  (At least it is in San Francisco, where it's unseasonably cold right now.)  Don't you know a little demon that would look smashing in this hat?

    To win, just quickly answer these two questions:
    1. On average, how much time a day do you spend "playing" with your child (this includes reading, puzzles, arts and crafts, etc)?
    2. Would you rather play an imaginative game (like she's a princess and you are the evil hag) or draw with crayons?
    Hat comes in sizes Impious Infant, Terrible Toddler, Pain in the Ass Preschooler, or Evil Elementary Schooler.