Category Archives: Kids

Weight Concerns at Six?

 

weight concerns at 6?

 

One of the things that I admire the most about my youngest, that I’m sometimes a bit jealous of, is her self esteem. There are times when it can border on arrogance, cute at six years old, potentially problematic as she gets older, but better than the alternative. Multiple studies have shown that seven out of ten teenage girls have a negative view of themselves, believe that they don’t measure up to how they perceive that they should be. Once formed these feelings of inadequacy are difficult to dispel. Despite our best efforts it’s something that I know the teenager has struggled with at times, something that I had vowed to try and do a better job of identifying earlier if her sister ever felt the same.

What I hadn’t realized is at how young of an age I needed to start my vigilance.

Many times these self image problems revolve around weight. Not actual weight, but how the individual perceives his or her body image and shape versus what they believe it should be. When I was sixteen I hated taking my shirt off at the beach because my ribs showed, ten years ago I would have hesitated because of my massive beer belly. I’m thirty pounds lighter than I was then but last year my daughter still asked when she was going to grow boobs like I had. I think it’s a struggle that many of us can understand.

I can understand it, but I was still shocked and saddened last week when the six year old asked if she could go down into the basement and use the exercise equipment there. She wanted to exercise not because she wanted to wanted to jump around with a calisthenic routine on the Wii or practice her ninja moves on the heavy bag, but because she wanted to lose weight.

My daughter is not a small girl. She’s not fat, actually is very healthy. She plays sports, hikes, rides her bike. We try and encourage physical activity and healthy eating as much as possible. When two of her friends came over this weekend, I was very pleased that they spent three of the four play date hours outside.

We try, but the fact is that this kid loves to eat. She had rotisserie chicken, potatoes, and apple for dinner tonight, but the amount of each that she had was both concerning and somewhat impressive.

She doesn’t think that she is fat, is not yet burdened by insecurity or a desire to meet society’s standards. She wants to lose weight, but also to gain muscle mass in her arms, the better to carry her body weight across the monkey bars, one final playground challenge that she has yet to conquer.

She doesn’t think that, and it’s my job to try and keep it that way. My job to encourage exercise and smart food choices, but also self-acceptance and confidence.  It’s a job that starts much earlier than I realized it would.

 

 

 

 

A Silent Sideline

 

This Saturday was spent, as it feels like every Saturday has been for the past ten years, watching one of the kids participate in a youth sporting contest.

There was a different feel to this particular game, quieter, more subdued.  A certain usually boisterous father uncharacteristically keeping his big mouth somewhat shut for a change.

The reason for this silencing was an e-mail from the soccer league earlier in the week informing parents of a new “silent sideline” rule that had been implemented. Applause for good play was still allowed but other than that we were basically told to stand there and shut up.

The reasoning seemed valid. The stated goals being the development of player on field decision making without sideline intervention, improving the player’s communication with each other by reducing the outside noise level, and supporting and aiding in youth referee retention by eliminating dissension from spectators.

 

silent sideline

 

The reasons were valid but I hated it. Hated it and found myself unable to comply. I understand the need to let the coaches coach, try not to yell instructions at my kid during the game. I understand that these referees are all volunteers, feel that I do a pretty good job of not telling them about their mistakes. I’ve never mocked an opposing player for poor play or scolded one of ours.

I yell things like “nice job”, “nice try”, “nice pass!”  Sometimes I yell “get ready defense”, “spread out girls”, “you’re going the wrong way!”

 

silent sideline

 

Anybody that has spent any time at these games has come across the kinds of parents that these rules are intended to curtail. Jackasses that yell at their kids, that yell at the refs, that embarrass themselves and their children. Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but I’ve found those situations to be very rare.

The e-mail stated that this change had come at the request of a player, leading me to believe that there was some parent at some level of competition that was acting like a fool. I’m fairly confident that it wasn’t me.

As uncomfortable a conversation that I would imagine that to be, I think that the coaches involved in that game should have taken that parent aside and talked to them. Further occurrences could lead to the removal of that child from the team, an unfortunate result that I would hope any reasonable parent would try their best to avoid.

I tried, I really did, and I think it was the quietest I’ve been as a spectator of any sporting contest that I’ve ever attended outside of a PGA golf tournament and even at that I went as nuts as anybody when Notah Begay dropped a twenty five foot birdie putt on the final hole to win.

My daughter is six, playing a sport she’s not very familiar with, and she’s busting her butt, hustling every play, getting better every week. All these girls are. I can give them high fives and words of praise at halftime and after the game but is that really all that fun for anybody, all that exciting to little girls that deserve to be cheered, need that encouragement?

I’ll bite my lip, do my best to tone it down a bit, try and honor the league’s wishes as best I can but if a “silent sideline” is really the result that is ultimately desired I’m probably going to need a muzzle.

 

 

 

A New Rule, The Kid Free Zone

 

A New Rule

 

A lot of parenting seems to revolve around setting rules. We decide on things that we think are appropriate, attempt to implement them and do our best at enforcement. These rules evolve as our children age, edicts against stuffing food up their noses turning to eating everything on their plate turning to washing dishes and after dinner clean up. For every expectation applied there seems to be a compensatory refusal to comply. It’s probably too late for most of you reading this, but if you don’t want to spend your life arguing with a smaller version of yourself about every aspect of their life, you might want to consider dog ownership as an alternative way to satisfy your need to nurture.

There has been a new rule decided on here, one that I have debated for a while and finally decided needed to be be made. Barring special circumstances, previously agreed on exceptions, or sleepwalking occurrences, after a certain time of night the downstairs has been declared an “adults only” zone.

That’s not to say that there are hedonistic, drug fueled orgies happening here. No “key parties” or naked parties in the sauna. We actually do have a sauna in our basement, it’s proven to be a great place to store Christmas decorations and hide presents. It’s been about eight years since it’s been used for it’s intended purpose and about the same amount of time since I’ve been nude outside of the bedroom.

Nowadays “adults only” means freedom to speak, to gossip, to talk about work and even the kids in ways that we might not do if they were sitting on the other side of the couch. It means wings that we might not feel like sharing, language that we don’t want them to think we use, alcoholic beverages and peeing with the door open. It means a few hours a week when we are a couple and not partners in parenting. Some nights it might even mean a bit of sexy time on the couch.

The six year old is in bed by 8:00, the teenager’s assumption that this rule is directed at her a correct one. If she’s reading this I’ll reiterate that it’s not personal. We still like you, still want you around.

Just not right now. You may be sick of hearing this, might think it’s an easy excuse, a cop out, but trust me on this, on all our apparently unfair and ridiculous rules that you’ve spent your whole life fighting: one day you’ll get it, you’ll understand.

If this isn’t persuasive enough, refer back to that bit about possible sexy time on the couch. Do you really want to see that?

 

 

 

All Siblings Argue, No Matter What The Ages

 

There are a lot of benefits to having children eleven and a half years apart. There’s the live-in babysitter now of course, the extra set of hands during those hectic early years. Having one child reasonably self sufficient makes it a lot easier to care for the one that isn’t. Very rarely are they both throwing tantrums simultaneously.

One would think that there wouldn’t be anything for siblings with this size of an age gap to fight about. There is no need to share or dispute ownership of toys, clothing, or mutual friends. No future conflicts over automobile borrowing or boys that they both like on the horizon.

One would think that, but somehow it turns out that this isn’t exactly the case.

 

all siblings fight
when there’s only one string cheese left

 

Kayla, the teenager, seems to think that her little sister is spoiled, getting away with whatever she wants. Her response to this is to offer her services as disciplinarian, nagging in the same manner that she ironically accuses us of doing to her. Alaina, the first grader, doesn’t seem much inclined to listen to her sister, ignoring the chain of command and channeling her frustration at never being in charge into instigation.

They argue over the television. Kayla has a small one in her room but, reasonably, thinks that she should have access to the big screen and DVR from time to time. Alaina, also reasonably, feels that since she doesn’t have that option or her sister’s proclivity to stay hidden in her room anyway that the living room should be a place for her to watch “her shows.” With football season fast approaching both are going to start being disappointed quite often.

Not as reasonably, they argue over food. I would never think of cooking something as nutritional insufficient as chicken nuggets, at least not more than three times a week, but if I were to do so it’s imperative that an even number is distributed. At the grocery store Alaina will count every item being placed in the carriage to make sure that nobody is getting more things that they like than she. The only reason snacks and leftovers aren’t labeled with their names is that I won’t allow it. Sampling something from either’s plate is an incitement to riot.

There is also a surprising amount of underlying jealousy and resentment that occasionally pops up and leads to bickering, usually about the two things that are almost impossible to distribute evenly : time and attention. One on one time with each consists of vastly different things.

The unfortunate truth, a reality that we try to make Kayla understand, is that she can be left alone while I’m at the park or hiking with her sister. Alaina can’t be left alone while the teen and I are at the movies or chowing down on chicken wings.  The result is that the youngest gets to do more things, the oldest better and more expensive things. They both feel they are getting the short end of the stick. I find one more thing to wonder if I’m balancing right.

All siblings argue. Hell, any two people in the same house will argue, as any married couple will attest. What has been equally surprising is how much two sisters with eleven and a half years of age difference will bond, the love they share for each other. I often find myself standing out of sight, listening to them talk and laugh, straining to hear the whispered secrets that all sisters share.

I listen, I smile, and I make sure to eat that fifteenth chicken nugget.

 

All Siblings Argue
sisters forever

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Want To Share

 

We all know that the single greatest influence of our children’s behaviors , at least in the early years, is ourselves. They are constantly watching our every move, listening to every word, mimicking both consciously and unconsciously. It’s a huge responsibility, the molding of a personality.

Some days we do a better job at being role models than others. For the past few weeks I have been a terrible example for one of the very first traits that we try and instill in them as future members of society. I have been a horrible sharer.

It’s not toys that I have been hoarding, not a secret stash of snacks that I have been hiding from the kids or an expensive bottle of scotch that I only drink when my wife isn’t home.

I’ve been bad at sharing my daughter.

Seemingly every day there has been a request for her presence. Texts, phone calls, e-mails from parents of her friends wanting to know what we are doing, when we can schedule play dates and sleepovers. I’ve been ignoring them all.

There have been some legitimate reasons. My wife and I both worked the holiday and will be on again this weekend. She spent some time with my parents, went to a few parties with her other grammie.  The Connecticut Tigers  have begun their minor league baseball season and have been gracious enough to schedule a lot of home games on nights that I haven’t been working. I can’t say enough times how much of a great way this is to spend a summer evening.

 

Selfish with my kid
best smile I could get

 

Mainly though, I’ve just been selfish. I’ve had a few extra days off and I’ve been enjoying them, enjoying the extra time with the kids.  Lazy days reading by the pool, music pumping. Cannonballs, water gun fights, underwater races. After getting the television stuck and spending a morning watching woman’s college volleyball Alaina has invented her own version of the game, though I’m not sure about her score keeping. Yesterday she claimed to have beaten me 120-14.

 

a bad sharer
playing “volleyball”

 

Sooner than I’m ready, these days will pass. The fall will not only bring an end to our water sports but a return to school and the dramatic decrease in our time that my job imposes, a situation not likely to change soon.

So to anybody reading this that is among the snubbed, know that it isn’t personal. I’m sure that it won’t be long before I join your ranks, desperate for somebody else to amuse her for a few hours. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t appreciate the few breaks that I’ve had, the blessed silence that is so unobtainable when she’s around.

Just don’t call me, I’ll call you.