Tag Archives: standards

The Juggernaut vs. Joy

So, I have some weird hang-ups about Disney, “princess culture,” the sexualization of girls and the general over-gendering that American childhood culture does to to kids, even really young kids. And for 3.5 years, that was a pretty easy path to walk — Daddy-o and I have tight control over the media Boopsie is exposed to, and we haven’t introduced Barbies or Disney Princesses or any TV with commercials.

However, since we decided to take Boopsie to her first movie, and it was Frozen, which has been crazily successful for picture of a package of Frozen undiesDisney, this has been challenged. Case in point: Yesterday I took Boopsie to our nearby Target. We needed a few first aid supplies and she wanted to pick out some Band-Aids, so she picked out the Disney Princess variety. This was a first and it was a little unsettling, but I just let it ride.

Later, we were hitting up the baby/toddler section and she spotted character undies featuring the characters from Frozen. And I let myself be talked into buying them despite serious misgivings. First of all, I dislike how aggressively every movie tie-in is marketed to kids. Secondly, she didn’t even really need undies. Finally, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a damn slippery slope. Yes, Frozen has a lot of good messages about sisterhood and being brave and strong, but it’s still a Disney movie and there’s still some weird sexuality stuff happening with Elsa. But I folded, and quickly, and you know what? My kid is overjoyed about those undies. She told the cashier. She told friends we saw for dinner. She changed them this morning and came bursting out of her room to show Daddy-o and I the “Olaf” pair she had put on. She. Loves. Those. Undies.

The Disney juggernaut, and their product tie-ins, have brought her JOY. I’m still mixed about the whole Frozen craze, and Disney and I definitely am not a fan of the other “princesses.” But with this experience, I’m going to try and walk this line, and to help her enjoy some aspects of what this part of our culture has to offer.

Once again, it’s likely I’m putting way too much thought into this. But my goodness, she is adorable when she’s talking about those undies…

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Filed under adventures, firsts, lessons, mom guilt

Not a Normal Parent

Every once in a while, I’ll be cruising along when I’m suddenly struck by a realization: I am not a “normal” parent. Now before anyone goes all psycho-babble on me, I realize that there are huge ranges of “normal” and I’m not worried about being “normal”… I basically just have some funny hang-ups.

Case in point: After lots of hemming and hawing (mostly on my part) Daddy-o and I decided to take Boopsie to see her first movie in the theater. Despite my many, many misgivings about the Disney marketing juggernaut and Disney princesses, we decided to climb on the bandwagon and go see Frozen at the cool second-run theater near our house.

As the movie started, a Disney logo appeared on the screen:

Walt-Disney-Screencaps-The-Walt-Disney-Logo-walt-disney-characters-31865565-2560-1440

Boopsie saw it and asked, “What is that?”

Now, any normal parent would say “A castle,” or perhaps even, “Cinderella’s castle.”

Not me. My response? “That’s a logo, honey. A company called Disney made this movie and their logo is a castle.”

Branding education for a three-year-old? Really? Oh my. File that one under “quirky mom.”

 

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Filed under adventures, firsts, Fun, mom guilt

Pacifier Fairy, Part 2

Wow. I was supposed to write this post more than two months ago. In fact, I even drafted it. It was going to be about how we sent a couple of “prep notes” from the paci fairy, and how Boopsie helped pack up all the pacifiers into a plastic bag, and how she helped me set them in the yard. And how she cried some at that bedtime, but slept all night and went on to get over it really quickly.

But then something happened. On the day after I posted Pacifier Fairy Part One, all hell broke loose with our kid. What do I mean by all hell breaking loose? Well, let’s see:

  • She went on a sleep strike… bedtime became a multi-hour battle, naps were treacherous
  • She started having epic, violent tantrums including throwing things, hitting and kicking
  • Her personality changed into one I didn’t really recognize. Boopsie became much more anxious, whiny and angry.

I’m not sure how to convey the impact this had on our family, in part because we are still trying to find our way out. Our attempts to find our way out have included:

  • Scouring the interwebs
  • Hiring a parent coach
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Negative reinforcement
  • Putting a lock on the outside of her door
  • Multiple trips to the pediatrician
  • Reading books… lots of books (more on those to come)

We’re still trying to figure out if we’re somewhere on the continuum of “normal” or if there’s something else going on with Boopsie that we need to address. But that’s what’s been happening in the silence — stress, fear, anger, exhaustion and worry. So much worry. Thankfully, there’s been joy, too, and fun. And I think (and hope and pray) that we’re getting back somewhere more familiar.

All that to say… hello, strangers. More soon.

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Filed under adventures, lessons, mom guilt, relationships, sleep

The Things I Will Say Yes To

In our little corner of the world, Daddy-o is the “fun” parent. He’s usually the chaser and the thrower, and I’m usually the one saying things like, “Don’t shake her upside down! She just ate!” or “Please calm down, it’s time for bed.” It’s not all bad. For instance, I’m often the “comfort” parent, and the one Boopsie wants to snuggle with in the morning (which is awesome unless I want to sleep in a little. Eh-hem.)

The downside of being the “bad cop”/stern parent is that I feel like I say “no” a lot. A lot. It’s not that Daddy-o doesn’t or won’t say no, it’s just that I’m usually a little more on top of what the situation is and where it’s headed. You want Froot Loops at the grocery store? No. You want to go outside in your pajamas when it’s 20 degrees? No. You want to throw the ball “10 more” and “10 more” and “10 more times” before bed? No. You want to wear just your undies at the dinner table? Okay, maybe.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed a few things I seem to always say yes to… I guess these are my parenting weaknesses?

Books. Dear lord, please don’t let me go into a bookstore with Boopsie. It will be at least $38. At least. Thank goodness she’s also a superfan of the library, because we would like to help pay for her to go to college some day.

Art projects. “Mama, can we do a craft?” I usually say yes, even if I’m trying to do something like make dinner. (Because nothing says “recipe for success” like simultaneously cooking and crafting with a three-year old. I realized this was one of my key weaknesses a couple of weeks ago when Boopsie was painting and requested that to paint her feet. Yes, her feet. And yes, I said yes.

painting her feet

Sure, why not?

I mean, what can go wrong, right?

painted preschooler feet

Who can say no to those feet?

Truthfully, it turned out okay. And I was happy I said “yes” when I wanted to say “no.”

My third “yes” has to do with food and the grocery store. No matter what the fruit or vegetable Boopsie wants, I will say yes. Jicama? Sure. Five different kinds of apples? Okay, great! I figure it must help balance the multiple “no’s” she hears in all the other areas.

What about you? What do you say “yes” to?

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Filed under creativity, Fun, mom guilt

Today/A Lesson

Today was not a great day at work.

Today, work sucked. I made an error (a dumb, frantic error). No one died or got hurt (and no one will), no money was lost and no milestones will be missed because of it. But because of the nature of my job, this error was very public. And it meant I received a follow-up phone call from an executive who was frustrated and wanting to “problem solve.” (He was very fair and solution-oriented, but it still wasn’t fun.)

By the time the end of the day rolled around (after my 5 p.m. meeting didn’t show, and the video I needed to upload failed), I wanted to crawl under a blanket and hide for a while. But Daddy-o had evening plans and we’ve got a busy week so I picked up Boopsie and took her to the grocery store. (Because I guess I wanted to flog myself a little.)

When I picked Boopsie up, I immediately realized I was going to be in for a long evening with her. She was wild and defiant. She’s spending most of the next two weeks in back-up care through my company because her day care closed for three weeks (starting last week) without warning. She was exhausted when I got to her (at nearly 6:00 p.m.) and was a scoundrel in the grocery store. By the time we drove home she was stripping off her shoes and socks in the car and whipping them at me from the back seat.

Every part of the evening was a battle. Going potty? Torture. Washing her hands? Despair? Dinner? Well that started with a meltdown and a demand for me to hold her and feed her. I was standing there, calculating my options when it hit me… I needed to drop all the crap and baggage from my day and face her with as much compassion as I could muster. She’s two. She’s exhausted. Her schedule (and therefore a big part of her world) has been completely upended. She went from a home day care to a preschool setting, with an established class of kids she doesn’t know. While she’s doing great (lots of positive reports from the teachers) she is fried. Toast. And frankly, I get it.

So I dropped my expectations for one night. I held her in my lap and spoon fed her sweet potatoes and macaroni and cheese. I stopped doing the dishes to help her draw a turtle. I brought my focus much more to her needs. And you know what? It worked. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I got her fed, bathed and in bed with minimal additional melt downs.

For me, this was just a good reminder that no matter where I’m at, my job is to try and meet Boopsie where she’s at. This was not the night to force issues. Hopefully tomorrow we’re both a little more rested and upbeat and she will go back to feeding herself. And going potty without a hissy fit. And she’ll make it home without throwing things at me in the car.

Until then: Amen, she’s in bed. And I’m going to have a glass of wine.

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Filed under day care, drudgery, feeding, mom guilt

168 Hours – Book Review/Discussion

Today was my first day back to work after a nice long holiday weekend.  After a tough night of a croupy tot and work-stress dreams (and the added wrinkle of an unexpected week-long day care shut-down), I stumbled into the office. By 11:00 a.m. I was so stressed out and cross-eyed from work I felt like I needed to crawl under my desk and hide. I was thinking about how out of control my work “to do” list is and that quickly bled over into how out of control my “home” and “life” lists are. I started panicking about how I would ever get it all done. Or at least most of it.

Several weeks ago I read a book by Laura Vanderkam called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. It’s a 168hourstreatise on time –every single one of us has 168 hours in a week– and how we approach using it. I found it to be very thought-provoking, and my feelings today make me want to revisit it.

In her book, Vanderkam spends some time talking about “The Myth of The Time Crunch.” She lays out the argument that every person, no matter how “successful” they are or how innovative or how obligated, has 168 hours in every week. By defining time in this way, rather than by a single day or a full month or year, we have enough flexibility to “find” time for ourselves and enough limitations to not lose our priorities to “someday.” It comes down to attention, and intention, Vanderkam says:

While we underestimate exceptions, we overestimate other things — for instance, time devoted to small, repetitive tasks.If you pulled out your Blackberry ten times over the weekend, you might give yourself credit for several hours of work, even though each incidence took five minutes. In other words, this totaled less than one hour, even though 10 Blackberry checks will make you feel like you’re in work mode 24/7.

One of Vanderkam’s other tools, borrowed from another author and coach is the “List of 100 Dreams.” These are dreams, big and small, that she says you should use to organize your time and priorities. When I read the book I started a list of 100 dreams. Some of them are:

  • Publish a book
  • Have nice fingernails
  • Travel for 4+ weeks with Boopsie and Daddy-o… a National Parks tour
  • Go on a photo safari in Africa
  • Teach Boopsie to ride a bike
  • Learn to do a good sun salutation
  • Have an emergency fund that can cover a whole year of expenses
  • Dress up (fancy) one time per year
  • Be conversational (not necessarily fully fluent) in a foreign language

This list can evolve and change — the idea is to actively seek out and make progress toward what you want, even if what you want changes. This list, Vanderkam argues, can help you organize your time so that it feels more valuable and you get more out of it. (Because, despite how I spent the last couple of days “Be caught up on Nashville” is NOT on my list of 100 dreams. Oops.)

Vanderkam also encourages readers to figure out their core competencies — what it is they do better than anyone else —  and then ruthlessly focus on those. Cut out the things other people can do better and/or that you hate to focus on your core competencies so you can make progress with those. Refuse or shorten meetings, outsource household tasks that aren’t in your core competencies and focus effort on where you want to (and can) do your best. The discussion around core competencies made me think a lot about the “house wife” trap I’ve put myself in. I do a majority of the day-in, day-out work in our home — meal planning, groceries and prep, majority of the laundry, general life management, etc. I’m having a hard time parsing out the difference between “core competency” and “habitual control freak,” especially when it comes to food preparation and meals. It’s definitely a thought-starter. I also started to think about trying to better define my core competencies at work. I’m pretty successful there, but where should I focus?

In 168 Hours, Laura Vanderkam also talked about intention and parenting, and I appreciated the approach. “The point is to treat your children as privileged clients,” she writes. “You have to think through the time you’re going to spend together because it is valuable.” She warns that if you don’t you can fall into a couple of different traps. The trap I saw we’ve really adopted is becoming a “slave” to the weeknight pattern of dinner, bath and bed.

I have to admit — as nice and comforting as routines can be, sometimes I want to poke my eyes out when I’m trying to come up with a fast, feasible dinner for the three of us. And as much as I LOVE snuggling with Boopsie, the thought of reading Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever one more time makes me want to scream. Vanderkam’s suggestion is to consciously shake things up sometimes, arguing that the occasional fast-food meal won’t kill anyone, and that the adventures, activity and good memories that can result from doing different things are overwhelmingly positive.

Bowl of cereal with berries

Cereal. It’s what’s for dinner.

This is one concept I have tried to really grab onto. Tonight, about to explode from stress and overwhelm, I threw Boopsie in the stroller and we went on a “family walk” with Daddy-o after dinner. Sure, it messed with her bed time a little, but she got to pet a dog (her favorite), see some bunnies, and we all got some fresh air and exercise. More importantly, we did something with 30 minutes between dinner and bath besides sort the mail and pick up toys. Dee-light-ful. Another time, when Daddy-o was out of town, I grabbed Boopsie from day care and made a mad dash to the Minnesota Children’s Museum, saving myself (by virtue of time) from the age-old question about what to make for dinner. That night we had cereal and fruit.

I recommend 168 Hours for anyone trying to find more time in their lives, or even those just trying to organize their thoughts around what they want. It’s non-threatening and accessible. I’ve been pushing Daddy-o to think about what’s on his “List of 100 Dreams” so we see where there’s alignment and get after shared dreams, or at least help each other start reaching some individual ones, big or small.

What do you think? What are your biggest time-management challenges? What routines are sucking you dry these days? What’s on your list of 100 dreams? (Don’t worry, I won’t hold you to anything and it’s fun to think about!)

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Filed under books, drudgery, First-World Problems

Springing Forward

So tonight I was folding Boopsie’s underwear and suddenly I thought, “Holy CRAP… I’m Folding. Boopsie’s. Underwear.” You read that right. And it’s true. Last weekend a small miracle happened: Boopsie decided she wanted to wear underwear. Then we put her in undies. And she peed on the floor. And we put her back in a new pair of undies… and we went for it.

Dora the Explorer undies

“D-D-Dora! D-D-Dora!”

After a panicked call to a friend whose potty-trained three kids and some good advice from her, we decided to go for it. I’m not going to lie. It was a really stressful, cooped-up weekend. But Boo did great. There was a lot of pee on the floor, but also a lot of pee in the potty. And no pee in the bed. (Amaze-balls, people.)

Potty training threw me for a huge loop. I sent frantic e-mails to my friends, who told me to hang in there. I blathered on about it at work. I laid awake worrying she’d wet the bed. And I was in the hot seat most of the time. Boopsie decided that she didn’t want Daddy-o in the bathroom and she wanted my attention every single minute. In short, I went bonkers for a few days. Okay, like six days. We crossed the final frontier when I took her to the Minnesota Children’s Museum Friday night… and she used the potty in a public restroom. BOO-YAH!

Here are some things that helped:

  • Character undies. Boopsie was sort of invested in keeping “Dora” dry. Even so, get like 14 pairs or you’ll be doing laundry every six hours.
  • Random rewards. What worked for us at different times, to incent her to sit on the potty: plastic animals, stickers, Dora the Explorer Band-aids and ice cream.
  • MAKING her sit on the potty. This was harder than it sounds. She was resistant and I was terrified I would give her some intense complex about going potty, thus ruining her life forever. (Yes, I’m serious about this. I really worried that by MAKING her sit on the potty when she didn’t want to she’d end up in diapers and a therapists office for the rest of her life.)

When I reached out to my friends to thank them for the help and advice, I admitted to them that potty training threw my for a loop. One of them pointed out that as a parent, it’s one of the things you have the least  control over. So true. And we all know how well I do (or not) with a lack of control… (Ehrm…yeah.)

We have two more big adventures to contend with some time in the coming months — moving into a big girl bed and getting rid of the pacifier. For now, I’m going to enjoy a glass of wine and then fold some more undies.

 

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Filed under drudgery, firsts, lessons, poop