Thursday, June 30, 2011

Repost: Traveling with Tots

Ted and I were returning with the girls from a friend's wedding in Los Angeles.  It was supposed to be a mildly painless flight from LAX to SFO; the total flight time is less than an hour.  As we were about to board, Ted informs me that two of our seats have been upgraded to first class, leaving just one seat in coach (since Maisy is under two, we didn't bother to buy her a seat).  Why a red flag did not immediately go up in my mind, I don't know, but I responded "mm hmm."  Ted boarded first with Elana and they nonchalantly took their seats in 2C and 2D.  He then handed me my boarding pass for 13C.  In disbelief, and not wanting to cause a scene, I yanked the pass from his hand and trudged back to economy.

After situating the diaper bag, my purse, Maisy's lambie, and Maisy into our two square-feet of space, my seat mate boards.  She is a very lovely, kind, and gentle elderly woman who makes the appropriate comments about Maisy's cuteness.  However, she is also of the size "extra big-boned" and requires the arm rest to be up in order to accommodate her additional love.

Maisy's adorable personality immediately transforms as soon as we pull back from the gate and prepare for take off.  She is just learning how to walk, and refuses to be stationary in my lap for the next 15 min.  Maisy arches her back, screams, flails her arms in all directions, and her face turns bright red.  Passengers all around us look at me as if I am performing an exorcism on the baby.  I try to give apologetic looks, but it is hard to multitask while restraining a psychotic infant.

In the meantime I glance up to first class where Ted is watching an episode of "Glee" on his iPad.  Elana, who missed her nap that afternoon, is curled up in the spacious seat next to him, completely dead to the world.  At that moment I do not know if I could detest my husband more. 

After 25 min of trying to placate a stubborn and determined Maisy, I gather up my things, march up to first class and take over 2C.  Without actually speaking to him, I send Ted back to economy and let Maisy play on the extra wide seat while I wedge myself in the floor space.  Elana is still asleep.  For the next 20 minutes Maisy alternates between playing contently in her seat with my iPhone, poking Elana in the nose, and telling me "no, no, no" every time I try to share the seat cushion.  Predictably, the exorcism restarts as soon as the flight attendant gets the cabin ready for landing. 

As we deboard the plane, Ted (who is carrying a deep expression of guilt) turns to me and says "Well, that flight wasn't so bad," just as I was about to tell him "Well, that flight took two years off my life expectancy."  We have a silent and uneventful drive to our house and I leave Ted to unload the two girls from the car so that I can pour myself a glass of wine.

One friend with multiple children, who was tired of always being stuck with the baby flight after flight, found a clever solution.  A few minutes before the plane was to board she began gathering all the luggage, diaper bags, the stroller, and the car seats.  Her husband, a bit confused, asked her if she needed any help.  "Oh, no" she responded, "you just get the baby".  Although her legroom was a bit crowded that flight, her lap was not.

Another good friend gives her daughter a dose of some drug that is only available in Australia which puts their daughter right to sleep.  I would be all over this, but Ted is adamant about not giving our children medicine that are not FDA approved (he can be so prudish).

There is no faster way to add the dark lines of aging to your skin than to travel with two kids three and under.  It does get better as they grow older.  I am anxiously awaiting the day Maisy can sit still and watch Cinderella on a mini-DVD player.
In the meantime, the the website offers these tips when traveling with babies and toddlers:
  • Wear footware (for you and your children) that easily slip on and off.
  • Allow extra time.  When you have kids everything takes twice as long.
  • Place a small bag with one diaper, wipes, and a changing pad in the seat pocket in front of you.
  • Use disposable bibs.
  • Wrap toys for added entertainment value.
  • At the airport, strap your toddler into a child's harness, lease, or muzzle.
  • Bring a baby sleeping bag so that your precious child does not have to come in contact with scratchy airline seats.
Married with Toddlers offers these tips for traveling with babies and toddlers:
  • A round or two at an airport bar before boarding.
  • A box of ear plugs to offer those passengers unfortunate enough to be seated near you.
  • Treats, the kind that you don't usually let the kids have.  These should include: gummy bears, lollipops, and M&M's.
  • iPad, Sony PSP, and a DVD player to be rotated every 5 min between each child.
  • Benodryl, for the kids and you.  The more potent the better.  I prefer the "thin strips", these are easiest to administer.
  • Extra change of clothes for you and the children, in case they should spill juice, pee themselves, or vomit during the trip. 
  • Best tip of all- LEAVE THE KIDS WITH GRANDMA!!!
So now it is your turn.  What's your best tip for traveling with tots?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Toddler Death Panels

A few months ago the girls and I were in the car listening to the soundtrack of The Princess and the Frog.  At one pivotal point Dr. John sings: 

Hey partner, don't be shy
Come on down here and give us a try
You wanna do some livin' before you die
Do it down in New Orleans.
Ten second later my four-year-old daughter asks; "Mommy, why do people die?" just as I was taking a sip from my travel coffee-mug.  After my coughing spasm subsided, I took a few minutes to collect my thoughts.  What should I explain?  Old age?  Illness?  Accidents?  I knew that this was an important opportunity to be thoughtful and honest, but I didn't want to create nightmares.
The closest Elana has gotten to death was holding this tranquilized parrot at Jungle Island.
When I was her age I was terrified of death.  At night I would lie awake underneath my Strawberry Shortcake comforter, too afraid to fall asleep.  Anxiety that one day I would die, and more likely my mom would die, overwhelmed me.  I understood that there was nothing I could do to prevent this and the thought of total oblivion, the end of everything, petrified me.  Nothing my parents said to comfort me worked.  Heaven seemed too easy an answer and although reincarnation was reassuring, I wasn't sure about the logistics.  This fear lasted months and the thought of death still haunts me.  Needless to say, I was carefully choosing my words with Elana.

"Well, sometimes, when someone gets very, very old, older that mommies and older than grandmas and grandpas, they die."
"Oh, so, you and Daddy aren't going to die."
"That's right."

Ok, I lied.  I took the easy route.  But, I needed time to rethink my strategy. 

Children are aware of death.  They see dead bugs, animals, characters in TV shows and movies.  They (especially boys) pretend that their small hand is a gun and shout "Bang, I killed you!"  They play games like "doctor" and "you're dead", all the while keeping their keen ears open to all words spoken in hushed tones.

Experts agree that when this topic is brought up it should be discussed.  Avoidance may tell the children that the subject is dangerous and too scary for even Mommy and Daddy to discuss.  Parents should be truthful, but careful with the words they use to describe death.  Obviously I failed this test of parenting skills.

So what does a parent do when her four-year-old confronts her with a subject that is uncomfortable for even an adult to discuss?  According to Hospice (Talking to Children About Death), an organization dedicated to helping patients and families cope with death, parents should:
  • try to be sensitive to their desire to communicate when they’re ready
  • try not to put up barriers that may inhibit their attempts to communicate
  • offer honest explanations when children are upset
  • listen to and accept feelings
  • not put off questions by telling children they are too young
  • try to find brief and simple answers that are appropriate to their questions; answers that children can understand and that do not overwhelm with too many words.  
Parents should also feel comfortable not having all the answers.  There will be questions children ask, such as "Where do we go after death?" and "Where are Max and Ruby's parents?" that we may not be explain.  It's OK to say "I don't know."

What Not to Say
While it is imperative to have an open conversation, there are some common phrases parents use to describe death that should be avoided.
  • "Grandpa went to sleep."  Toddler translation: If Grandpa went to sleep and never woke up, then maybe I will too.  (Say goodbye to your easy bedtime routine.)
  • "Aunt Sally went away."  Toddler translation: Maybe Mommy won't come back the next time she goes to work. (Hello separation anxiety!)
  • "Only old people die." Toddler translation: Nobody younger than that very old man at the coffee shop can ever die.  (Evidently, this is what my child thinks.)
  • "She got sick and died."  Toddler translation: If I get the flu, will I die?  (No more peaceful well-toddler check-ups.)
When describing why someone died, parents should be carefully honest.  "Grandpa was really old and his body was exhausted," or "Aunt Sally had a disease that her body couldn't make better."
Books on Death
Literature is often a powerful tool to use to start difficult conversations with children.  Lucky for me, there is an abundance of children's books that deal with death.   Almost all of these stories center around the death of a pet, but to a child, this loss may be as profound as any.

Goodbye Mousie, by Robie H. Harris.
This is a wonderful book to explore a child's first interaction with death.  Follow a little boy as he wakes up to tickle his pet's tummy only to find that Mousie does not respond. 

Lifetimes, by Bryan Melloni and Robert Ingpen.
This book sensitively explains the cycle of life, and that everything that is born must die. 

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death, by Laurie Krasny Brown. 
From the author of the riveting tale, Dinosaurs Divorce, this book simply, yet comprehensively, explains death to the preschool age.

Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog, by Pamela S. Turner.
This story is based on the famous Japanese legend of Hachiko, a dog that loyally greeted his master at the train station everyday as he returned from work.  Although the story is not focused around the passing of the owner, it is a gentle and beautiful tale that can help begin a discussion about death.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Top 10 Mistakes I Hope My Girls Make

Like all parents, I have many hopes and dreams for my girls.  Since they were mere embryos in my uterus, I have imagined their futures overflowing with love and happiness.  Of course I want them to have rich, fulfilling lives, where goals are achieved and triumphs are celebrated.  However, I also want them to make mistakes and learn from their missteps.  Most importantly, I want them to live without the regret of not taking a chance.  As Sophia Loren once said, "Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life."

I compiled a list of the top-ten blunders that I hope they accomplish before they are too old to know better.  Granted, I am writing this list when my girls are still young and innocent, at ages where sneaking an extra gummy vitamin is considered a time-out worthy rebellion.  I trust completely that this list will dramatically change in the coming years.  

But for now, I hope they:
  1. Get a tattoo-  Just one.  Somewhere discreet, where they can easily cover it and conceal from disapproving grandparents and fathers.   
  2. Piss off the in crowd- At least once I hope that they stand against the popular group.  I want them to know how it feels to be on the outside, the minority in the dreary middle school subculture.  May this give them the empathy to treat all, even the crazy people on the street, with respect and tolerance. 
  3. Color outside the lines-  Although they already do this very well, I hope that they keep the ability.  Who needs a perfectly decorated picture of Cinderella.  I much prefer the ones with crazy purple hair, black glass slippers, and scary looking mice.  I hope that they continue to practice their artistic rebellions. 
  4. Break curfew-  I hope that there is a time in high school when all of her friends are going to a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and she is too afraid to ask permission, so she just goes.  The thrill of the experience will be well worth the two-week grounding period that follows. 
  5. Date a bad boy (or girl)- I firmly believe that every teenager needs to do this once, and only once.  When the relationship ends (as it inevitably will), the experience may help them to weed the rest of the losers from the bunch.
  6. Fully embrace the latest fad hairstyle (monster bangs, the shag, a mullet)- Everyone needs no less than one yearbook photo that makes them throw-up a bit in their mouths.  However, experimentation is the passageway to finding your true self (or hairstyle). 
  7. Skip school- And have the wisdom to know when it is appropriate to do so.  The day before a mid-term, no.  The day after the mid-term, yes. 
  8. Question authority figures- Not all the time, but once in a while, when it is well deserved.  And, never me, of course.  
  9. Embarrass themselves- I vividly remember my bona fide version of the arriving at school naked anxiety dream, when I accidentally tucked the back of my skirt into my underwear and strutted off to Social Studies.  Yes, it was embarrassing, and I did spend the rest of the day hiding in the girls' bathroom, but from it I learned that I was stronger than I thought.  If I could live through the shame of flashing my bum to half the freshmen class, the rest of high school would be a breeze. 
  10. Have sex before marriage- I pray that my children do not save their "special gift" for their wedding night.  It has been my observation that chastity just leads to teenage weddings and massive disappointment on the big day.  

Maybe in ten years this list will come back to bite me in the ass, but I'll always have the delete button and my highly honed ability to deny everything.

What would you add/remove from this list?

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Happy Father's Day

    This Sunday is the day we all take a little time to celebrate and honor the fathers that enrich our lives.  While Mother's Day became an official US holiday in 1914, Father's Day wasn't annually observed until 1972, when Richard Nixon signed it into law.  (I think that this speaks volumes.)

    In my house, the rules for Father's and Mother's Day are very different.

    Mother’s Day
    Father’s Day
    Time with children
    This is a day for Mom to get a much overdue break and Dad takes the children to the zoo and to lunch.
    This is a day for Dad to spend some quality time with his children at a park.  Mom may accompany.
    Dad organizes a nice family meal and does all the clean-up without complaint.
    Dad barbeque's. Mom may make salads and may clean-up while Dad bathes the children.
    Cards and flowers
    Homemade cards
    Truly, I question the need for separate holidays at all.   Given that we live in a very diverse San Francisco neighborhood, where at the house on our right lives a wonderful family of twin girls and two moms, and the house on our left is rented to a group of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the traditional one mom/one dad family is not necessarily the norm. (The Sisters are  an awesome charity group.  If you are unfamiliar with them, check it out here:

    I think that we should merge these two primitive holidays into one- "Caregiver's Day", more specifically, "Primary Caregiver's Day". This day would honor and celebrate the parent who does most of the child rearing.  In the (unlikely) situation that the duties are shared equally between two parents, the day can be divided- morning for one, and afternoon for the other. 

    Now, I can already hear numerous complaints from "secondary" caregivers who feel that they deserve recognition for their hard work plowing the fields and sewing the crops.  Personally I believe that each time they sit down to a child-free lunch, or drive twenty minutes without having to referee two children in the backseat, is reward enough.  Feel free to argue, I'm sure you will.

    Father's Day Gift Ideas:
    However, most likely you, like my family, are taking part in this annual tradition.  Many of you may be needing to buy a last minute gift for your husband or father and are simply at a lost as to what to gift. 

    Finding the right present for a man is extremely difficult.  In my case, my husband buys himself what little he wants/needs and isn't a fan of flowers, chocolates, nor man jewelry.  He doesn't play golf, which rules out about half of the gifts/cards marketed to fathers.  And he doesn't fish, another 25% gone.  I often end up buying him something he either a) never wears, or b) never uses.  In our 8-year-marriage I have managed to present him with a few gifts that did not end up in a box, in the back of the closet, in the guest room.  Here they are, in no particular order:
    1. Angry Bird's T-shirt.
    2. Cuff Links made from the original Wrigley Field bleachers.
    3. Framed pictures of the girl, taken by someone other than me with a device other than an iPhone.
    4. Pork products
    5. His two beautiful, healthy children.   
    This year I may give him a homemade statues of Elana and Maisy crafted from sausage links and bacon.  Yum...

        Monday, June 13, 2011

        To the Class of 2011

        Photo courtesy of Karin Ascencio

        By the time a child graduates from college, she may have already sported a cap and gown at least five previous times!  These days every minute milestone seems to warrant a mortar board. 

        Currently my Facebook news feed is awash with proud parents displaying their children's graduation photos.  Some of these are actually legit, like the one my aunt posted of my cousin's high school graduation.  However, the vast majority are not.  Completing two years of preschool does not merit a diploma.

        However, since I seem to be in the minority, judging from the rest of the Facebook friends, here is my letter to the (preschool) class of 2011.  As you read this, imagine that Green Day's Time of Your Life is accompanying a slide show of photos that are mostly of the "you had to be there" nature.

        Congratulations graduates of the preschool class of 2011!  Today you have arrived.  Today you officially become a big kid.  You are leaving the protective realm of nap time and free play to enter the real world of cubby holes and ABC's.  Yes, elementary school is a wide, scary world, but don't be afraid, your parents and teachers have prepared you well- all those long mornings stringing plastic beads and playing with colored sand will not be wasted.   

        As you reflect back on these past two years, take time to remember your struggles and achievements.  

        Remember the day you stuffed both nostrils with dried navy beans and had to breathe out of your mouth until the doctor pried them out with those huge tweezers?  Priceless!  

        Remember the time you cried so long and hard for your mother, that the preschool director was sure that you were having an anxiety attack?  Then she called your mom to come and get you?  Hilarious!

        Remember when the teacher let the class play with finger paints and half the kids decided to get naked in order slather their bodies with paint?  Ha ha!

        But seriously, bravo!  You have successfully made it through two years of grueling curriculum including, but not limited to, the following: dress up play, block building, pretend kitchen games, story hour, circle time, and nose picking.  I know it has been rough, and that there were days when it was difficult to change out of your Thomas the Tank Engine pj's, but you did it.  You made it to school... most days.  

        Even though this day marks the end of your toddler/preschooler-hood, don't be distressed.  There is a whole world of opportunities waiting for you.  Just think, in a year you may be able to read Good Night, Moon, or add using your fingers By this time next year, you may be through with night time pull-ups!
        So, as I raise this juice box in your honor, I will be wishing that it was spiked with vodka.  However, hip-hip-hooray to you, young graduate!  You did it!  Sincerest congratulations on a job well done.  Now, if you could only learn to tie your own shoes.

        Until next year (when we get to do this all over again for your kindergarten graduation) much love,
        The Real World

        Friday, June 10, 2011

        Mommy, Don't Go!

        I wrote this article for a local mothering magazine, The Golden Gate Mother's Group.  It doesn't have my usual snarkiness, but it does have a lot of helpful information.
        Leaving your child with a nanny, at daycare or at preschool can be hard for moms on many levels. Leaving your child while she is screaming, clutching your thigh and pleading with you not to go is excruciating. Although everyone says, “Don't worry.  They only cry for a few minutes," that does little to ease the anxiety and guilt of an apprehensive mother.
        Photo courtesy of Karin Ascencio.
        Separation anxiety can begin as early as seven or eight months of age, but it is usually most severe right after a baby’s first birthday, and can last throughout the first five to six years. Most babies and children overcome their anxiety after a few days, maybe a week, in a consistent childcare situation. Others will struggle longer, and many battle separation anxiety off and on over the course of their early childhood.
        Richard King, a licensed marriage and family therapist working with Kidspace, suggests that a small dose of anxiety is healthy for a child. A little anxiety keeps children from jumping into unknown bodies of water, walking on balcony railings and talking to strangers. 
        Separation anxiety, King maintains, must be managed at two ends—the parent and the child. More often than not, it is not just the child who is anxious. Children quickly pick up on the emotional cues of the primary caregiver, and if he or she is nervous about leaving their child at daycare, then the child may sense there is something scary about being left there. Parents must show confidence in themselves and in their child that they can handle the situation. Know that the situation you are leaving your child in is a safe and loving environment, and that your child will thrive once she calms down.
        What can you do?
        There are many ways parents can help alleviate a child’s separation anxiety. Here are a few of the most popular:
              Allow time for your child to get comfortable with the new nanny, daycare or preschool setting. When introducing a new nanny, spend an hour or so playing together before leaving. If a child is anxious about a new daycare or preschool, walk him around the school, introduce the new teachers and help him to feel at home in the environment.
              Brianne Collecchio, an early childhood education specialist, recommends giving your child control over as much as possible. Would you like an apple or a banana in your lunch? Would you like to wear the pink dress with the flowers, the pink dress with the butterflies, the pink dress with the ribbons or the pink dress with the paint stains? The more areas in her life the child has control over, the more she will be willing to accept the things she doesn't.  
              Bring a transitional object. Sometimes a little memento of mom can provide the child with the security he needs to feel safe in the new setting. King suggests a picture of the mother, or a treasured lovey. He has even had success with a child using a shirt slept in by the mother so that her scent was transferred to the garment.
              Help the child become engaged in the environment. Assist him in finding an activity that he really enjoys, painting, blocks, cars, or twirling in circles with a friend until dizzy, before saying good-bye.
              Consider drop-off rituals. Consistency is key for many children. Having an unwavering good-bye ritual can help the child to feel less anxious. Some routines include reading a story in the book corner or having the child wave good-bye from the window as you leave. 
              Finally, when leaving, always say goodbye—briefly and confidently. Many parents will try to sneak away without the child noticing. This can be very traumatic for the child when he realizes his mother left. It can also lead to the child fearing that his parent could disappear at any given time, without warning. Experts agree that it is best to say goodbye, quickly and just once (no coming back for seconds, thirds, and fourths when begged). By being confident, you let the child know that he has the ability to cope with his anxiety and that you know he is in a safe and loving place.
        King also advises that parents prepare their child for the separation. Allow a lot of lead-time before leaving, even using a calendar to mark the days and times when she will go to school. At bedtime, try going over the next day’s events: “Tomorrow we are going to daycare. Mommy is going to drop you off. You will play, have lunch, take a nap, and play some more, then I will come right back!” Be positive and confident that the she will have a wonderful day without you, and don’t be afraid to tell her “I think you are okay and I know you can handle this.”
        Bubble blowing is also a great activity to encourage relaxation for a child. King likes to make a game of it with his clients—who can blow the bigger bubble? Not only does it engage the children on a visual standpoint, it promotes deep breathing. With a little help, children can learn to apply this method to anxious situations.
        King has also found family yoga to be very beneficial for older children, especially early elementary schoolers, Yoga can help kids concentrate on the elements going on in their own bodies. It loosens muscles and helps to calm the overall system.
        Coping with separation anxiety in babies can have its own difficulties. Since too many words can be overwhelming to young ones, visual preparation is important.  This can include watching mommy get prepared for work, greeting the nanny at the door, and waving goodbye. Also, understand that this is a normal developmental stage, and as with all stages, it will pass.
        When It’s Not Separation Anxiety
        Some children may still be struggling with what appears to be separation anxiety at ages seven and eight. King cautions that these children might be coping with a deeper level of anxiety, maybe a fear of being left alone or a generalized anxiety disorder. While separation anxiety arises around transitions with mom, dad or the primary caregiver, generalized anxiety occurs in a variety of situations, and may manifest itself in physical behaviors such as fingernail picking, hand ringing or pulling out their own hair. These kids often have an extreme need to control the world around them. “Kids who are anxious try to exert control over their environment,” King said. 
        Children with sensory issues may also appear to have separation anxiety. When entering a new environment, these children may cling to their parents and feel the need to retreat. However, the overwhelming stimulus (loud voices, throwing objects, running children) may be bombarding their senses.
        Even though separation anxiety can be agonizing to both the child and the parent, it is a normal part of childhood. With consistent and confident behavior from the parent, separation anxiety can be eased for all involved.
        Separation Anxiety or Manipulation?
        When my own three-year-old daughter was battling this anxiety, I consulted another therapist at Kidspace. She mentioned that the behavior might not be anxiety, but manipulation and that there is a simple test for this. If you are able to buy your way out of a tantrum with a new toy, ice cream treat or a pony, then the kid is a master manipulator. I tested this theory with my own toddler. If she could manage two days without freaking out at drop-off, I would get her a new princess doll. She immediately calmed down and said, "I need Sleeping Beauty," before kissing me on the cheek and skipping off to the art table. The fits were completely extinguished and I was only down $12 and a trip to Target.
        Books for Kids:
        Children’s books can help to ease your child’s anxiety.  These are a few of my favorites:
        Llama Llama Misses Mama, by Anna Dewdney: Llama Llama is starting preschool today, but he really misses his mama.  Read how Llama learned to love school, and his mama, too.
        The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn:  Chester must join the other forest animals at school, but he wants to stay with his mama.  However, Chester’s mom has a special secret, the kissing hand, which helps her love stay with Chester all the night.
         I Love You All Day Long, by Francesca Rusackas.  Owen worries about going to school, but his mom promises “I love you when I’m with you, and I love you when we’re apart.”    
        Mama, Don’t Go Out Tonight, by Sally Gardner.  Daisy does NOT want her mom to leave.  Her worry about what might happen leads Daisy, and the readers, on some wild fantasies.  This lighthearted story assures both Daisy and her mom that everything will be ok.  

        Tuesday, June 7, 2011

        Maisy, Can You Hear Me?

        Apparently, our youngest daughter has been suffering from a mild hearing loss, in addition to constant ear discomfort, for the past three months.  Maybe the tantrums and loud howling should have alerted me to this, but she is a two-year-old, after all. 

        Throughout her first two years of life, Maisy has endured over ten ear infections and four perforated ear drums.  The fluid build up behind her ear drum is so thick that it isn't able to drain properly and is in constant danger of becoming reinfected.  In addition, the fluid's omnipresence in her ear canal is preventing the drum from vibrating, resulting in her hearing ability being likened to that of someone underwater.
        So, Thursday Maisy had her second (extremely minor) surgery in sixteen months, tiny tubes 1 mm in diameter were inserted into her ear drums.  When Maisy had her first set placed, at 10-months of age, the most difficult part of the ordeal was withholding all food and liquid before the surgery.  At this point she was still expecting to be fed bottles immediately upon waking, and could not fathom why her parents were being so cruel. 

        This time, the most difficult hurdle was withholding liquid from me (I didn't think that it was too polite to be sipping a coffee in front of a pair of hungry eyes).  Before the operation Maisy was easily distracted with a gaggle of iPhone apps (thank you Duck, Duck, Moose) and an extreme determination not to take off her new Hello Kitty nightgown to wear some ugly, pale peach, hospital gown (In her opinion, gowns are beautiful dresses worn by Cinderella and Belle).  Eventually the doctors and nurses relented to Maisy's demands and let her wear the nightgown (they also gave into her requirements to not wear the hospital ID bracelet nor to have anything touch her feet).  "She's a feisty child," more than one nurse told me.  I'd like to see them try to change her diaper.

        After signing all the necessary paperwork, the anesthesiologist had me accompany the team of doctors and nurses into the operating room.  I have only been in one operating room in my life and had forgotten how cold and gray they are (I would have thought that all my years of watching ER and Grey's Anatomy would have better prepared me).  OR's look nothing like a pediatrician's office.  There are no posters on the wall, bins of toys, or even pleasantly colored paint.  The bed in the middle of the room is flat and metal and not a pillow is in sight.  In addition, scary instruments are everywhere.  The moment we stepped into the room, Maisy clutched me tighter and began panicking.

        I sat in a chilly metal chair with Maisy on my lap while a nurse restrained Maisy's legs and the anesthesiologist held a mask over her tiny little face.  Maisy fought the mask as best she could, but eventually succumbed to the gas and her eyes rolled to the back of her head.  My heart slightly shattered as I placed her on the operating table and left the room.

        Fifteen minutes later the doctor fetched us from the waiting room to be with Maisy as she woke from the anesthesia.  She was pissed, and readily let everyone in a five-room-radius know.  Numerous nurses came to check on the wailing toddler.  One nurse turned the TV on to Curious George, but even that did not stop her upset.  "Go home," she screamed.  "Go home, now!" 

        A half-hour later we were able to do just that.  Maisy sipped apple juice in her car seat as we trekked back home.  The moment we stepped in the door she smiled, proclaimed her hunger, then skipped to her sister's room to play with Elana's toys while she had the opportunity (Elana was in preschool). 

        After that morning, Maisy's tantrums nearly ended.  I will not go as far to say that these fits of temper were extinguished, but the term "greatly reduced" would be an understatement.  She started eating better, sleeping more, and acting less like a spastic lunatic.  What's more, is that the constipation issues that she has been dealing with since March, cleared up that day!  I am a bit disappointed with this result, though.  I was using her intestinal issues as an excuse to keep potty training at bay. 

        Thursday, June 2, 2011

        The Parental Humble Brag

        Even though the humble brag is a relatively new term, its existence has been around since the dawn of man.  However, with the invention of social networking (thank you Twitter and Facebook) the humble brag has become ubiquitous.  My local parenting forums are overloaded with parents seeking "advice" for their talented children.  In reality, this is just their opportunity to get some (probably much needed) parental praise.

        So, I scoured the internet, my friends, and on-line motherhood communities looking for my favorite parental humble brags.   Here they are, in no particular order.

        Top 10 Parenting Humble Brags:
        1. "I'm my 19-month-old won’t stop talking.  It is driving me crazy!" 
        2. "My husband is so thoughtless.  He had his secretary buy me an $800 bracelet for Mother's Day." 
        3. "I was so sick during my pregnancy.  I only was able to gain 10 pounds!" 
        4. "Help!  My 18-month-old insists on pooping in the potty, and I’m not ready to potty-train!" 
        5. "Two children, best-selling author, thriving career, how do I balance it all?" 
        6. "I am so tired of being asked if I am my childrens' nanny.  I can't help that I look so young."  
        7. "My 2-month-old already sleeps through the night.  Should I be waking her to nurse?"
        8. "Whenever I take my child anywhere, strangers always stop us to admire her.  I can’t even go grocery shopping in peace!"
        9. "How do I support my best friend who’s toddler is developmentally delayed, when my own is so advanced?"
        10. "My husband is really annoying me.  He wants to be so involved in the child rearing.” 

                            To all of the above, I just want to say "I completely know how you feel.  It is so difficult raising gifted children."