It’s a Trap!

 

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Whenever forced to actually play by herself,  Alaina can usually be found taking care of her “babies.” Some of these are actual baby dolls, some are stuffed animals. She soothes them why they “cry”, feeds them when they are “hungry”. She has been discouraged from giving them any more baths, but basically does a great job of taking care of them. I get the feeling that she would be a great big sister.

Unfortunately, she has also recently come to the conclusion that she would make a great big sister, and has been repeatedly nagging us to go ahead and make that happen. She’s pretty confused about the “how” involved in this, but a few days ago she told her mother that if it involved a race, she was pretty sure that she was fast enough to win.  Apparently babies are a prize to be won like ribbons or trophies.

Surprisingly, Kayla is also interested in this, but I think her motives involve having somebody else to keep her sister occupied. There have been times over this winter when I have considered putting “free babysitting” ads on Facebook just to try and solicit a playmate for Alaina. I’d have taken just about any toddler offered for a few hours of peace on non-school days. A little more practice with sharing certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

I’m sure it would be great for both of them. My little brother is three years younger than me. According to my parents I was always very protective of him as a baby. These early lessons in responsibility helped shape the person I ultimately became.

I can see why many people have another child when their first gets to be Alaina’s age. She is turning into such a “little person” now that it is easy to miss having a little baby. It seems ridiculous that she is going to be four in a few months. Kayla turning sixteen this summer is just as crazy.  She wasn’t much more than a year older than Alaina is now when I first met her.

Since starting this blog I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the moments we’ve had with them over the years.  Looking at pictures like this certainly doesn’t help.

 

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Luckily, I took preemptive measures to avoid falling into this trap. I apologize to anybody that thought this was leading up to an announcement, but you’re going to be disappointed.  It’s easy to forget how much of a pain in the ass these little angels actually are. I really have no desire to go back to the days of dirty diapers and up-all-nights. The toddler and the teen combine to consume as much time, money, and energy as I have to offer.

I’ll just buy Alaina another doll, and if occasionally I pretend to burp it, don’t judge me.

 

Apple for the Teacher

 

 

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This is Alaina’s first year of pre-school, and overall it’s gone very well. She goes for three hours, three days a week, which is probably enough for her at this point, if not necessarily for us. She is very extroverted, so there has never been any separation anxiety. Our only problems seem to come when it is time to go home. She enjoys learning, has new friends to play with, and likes her teacher.

This last one is probably the most important. Kayla is having a much more successful year in high school after transferring, and liking her new teachers seems to play a big part in this. Smaller class sizes and slightly less drama help as well.

I can’t imagine a job that I would dislike more than teaching. Having to deal with snotty little know-it-alls is hard enough when you know that you are responsible for their existence. I can’t imagine several dozen of these a day.  By the nature of my job, everyone that I deal with daily is either sick or injured, the times when people are at their worst. Over 20+ years, I’ve seen severed limbs, childhood cancers, people expire right in front of me. I’ve been puked on, peed on, and on occasion, shat on. I wouldn’t last a week as a teacher.

If I had to switch places for a day though, pre-school seems the way to go. At least the general cuteness of most of the children would help balance out the inevitable frustration. As long as they seem to be making some progress with their letters and nobody gets bitten, most parents are going to be content with the job you’re doing. I’m sure there is much more to the job than this, but my kid is making good progress with her letters and hasn’t been bitten, so I’m content.

The one time I feel a pre-school teacher has a harder time than their counterparts in higher grades is when it comes time for parent-teacher conferences. Sitting at those small desks across from actual adults as you discuss their toddler’s development seems particularly awkward. I don’t know at what age parents begin to appreciate that their child has individual strengths and weaknesses, but at age three your own is still the cutest, smartest, most well behaved child in the world. Your biggest worry is that they may miss out on being President because of foolishly pursuing a career in modeling or brain surgery. No parent wants to hear any different.

We just returned from a conference with Alaina’s teacher, which was pretty uneventful. Apparently she is the cutest, smartest, and most well-behaved child in her class.

At least that is what I think she said. Those chairs are very uncomfortable.

 

 

Role Playing

 

 

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The teen recently had her phone/internet privileges restored after yet another long term grounding from them.  Her most recent transgression was engaging in on-line “role playing”, which apparently “everyone does.”

When first informed by her mother about the latest penalty, I was initially confused. I know about the sexual connotation of the words “role play”, but wasn’t sure how this could be accomplished over the phone.  It also didn’t seem her style.  Kayla is thankfully very hesitant to jump into the more serious aspects of “dating.” I don’t pray often, but I do thank God for that.

I also know quite a bit about the gaming version of “role playing.”  The computer and video game era has made obsolete the days of a bunch of nerds with dice and paper in somebody’s basement, but the concept is still alive and well. It’s been years since I’ve last seen my old twelve sided die, and I don’t have the spare time I once did,  but I’ve still got a level 35 assassin, a warrior monk, and several other characters fighting the forces of evil over the internet.  Book of Heroes might just be the most accessed app on my phone.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t what she was up to.

This new version of “rp” involves setting up multiple social media accounts under different names and pretending to be other people.  The point of this is unclear to me. When used to try and deceive others into a romantic relationship for devious purposes this is called “catfishing”, but that doesn’t appear to be what most teens are doing. They just simply pretend to be other people.  When I used to do this I would pretend to be Doc Holliday or Buck Rogers, not Alan from  Hackensack, New Jersey.

I understand that teenagers go through different phases as they try to figure out who they want to be and forge their own identity. It takes a while for anyone to become comfortable with who they are. Some never do. Kayla has at times been a “goth”, a “prep,” and everything in between.  Most people cycle through the entire cast of The Breakfast Club before they turn eighteen.

But pretending to be other people on-line, complete with profile pictures and made up back stories, won’t be allowed. We have a hard enough time keeping up with her on-line activities without several aliases to follow.  Whatever the motivation, this is still a form of lying. There is also going to be a feeling of decreased accountability if you are saying something as another person.  On the plus side, all of our admonitions about not believing someone on-line is who they say they are should have a little more credence.

I think the message was received, but we’ll keep monitoring and lecturing. It’s what parents do. If Kayla feels the need in the future to do any on-line “role playing”, I know a great guild that could always use another wizard.

 

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Placenta Shake?

I work in a department that is 95% female, so I often overhear things that I can promise would never be heard in any male conversation.  It would seem that this insider’s knowledge into the workings of the female mind would offer me some greater insight, but that has yet to materialize.

One such recent conversation revolved around somebody that a co-worker knew that was engaging in a new practice known as “Lotus Birth.”  For those unaware of what this is, after childbirth the mother of a newborn carries around her placenta in a bowl until the umbilical cord detaches from the baby naturally.  The idea behind the practice is that there is a decreased chance of infection by not cutting the cord, and it allows a complete transfer of placenta and cord blood, thus potentially boosting the newborn’s immune system.

I’ve been unable to find any scientific data to back up these claims, and the opinions seemed pretty unanimous that this was simply another disgusting way for some people to feel superior about themselves and their parenting skills. I’d have to agree with the disgusting part, but if my wife had wanted to try this, I’d certainly have no problem with her sleeping in the basement for a few days until the cord fell off.

As a man, there is still very little that I know less about than breastfeeding or its effects on a new mother.  I know its benefits for the child are pretty universally known and seems to be the way nature intends mammals to gain their early nurishment. There are plenty of good reasons why some women can’t or don’t, and I would never judge them for that, but without a pretty good excuse,  I fully expected my wife to breastfeed, which she did.  As far as I could tell it wasn’t overly terrible for her.  She tried to eat healthy and stayed away from alcohol and caffeine. It’s all about the baby’s health, right?

Which brings me back to that placenta.

How much evidence would you hypothetically need about added health benefits before you did this with your next child?  It’s not like you’re going out in public for the first few days home from the hospital. You wouldn’t need to purchase an extra handbag along with the diapers and bottles.

We all sacrifice constantly for our children.  Our sleep, our time, basically everything that qualifies as “for us” becomes harder and harder to come by.  Breastfeeding probably isn’t very comfortable.  The first few months of a child’s life are nothing but gross, but somehow we all survive it.

So here’s the question: If you were told your child would be 2% healthier and more intelligent if you ATE the placenta over the course of the first week of breastfeeding, would that be a high enough number?  Would you need it closer to 10%? 20%?  If it became a societal norm, how much easier would that first swallow be?

I think anything less than 10%, I’d respect my wife’s decision on the matter. Anything over that though, I’m going to grab her a knife and fork.

Out to Lunch

Alaina has never been a child that we had a lot of success taking in public for extended periods. She is just incapable of sitting still for very long.  Crayons and paper can keep her occupied for a while at home, but in restaurants they are more likely to be thrown at other diners. Places with loud music that she likes can also be a problem. When the rhythm grabs her, the girl’s gotta dance.

On family vacations her mother and I would take turns going out with the teenager while the other stayed at the cottage with the toddler and waited for leftovers.  After a few bad experiences my wife had repeatedly stated she wasn’t taking Alaina anywhere until she was ten.

A combination of stubbornness and stupidity has led me to take her out a few times on my own. I usually know what we are going to get before arriving so that when the waitress first appears our order can be placed immediately. Foods that take a long time to prepare are avoided. Surprisingly Buffalo Wild Wings is where I’ve had the best experiences. I think that there is so much activity going on for her to watch that she doesn’t get bored as readily. My daughter likes hanging out in sports bars.

So I was somewhat surprised when my wife suggested going out to eat after a busy morning yesterday at the dentist. Apart from some early morning shenanigans, Alaina had been outstanding all day. A trip to Target, where she had been allowed to walk beside us, had also gone well.  Did we really want to press our luck?

It turned out my fears were unfounded.  Alaina stayed in the booth the entire time and actually finished all her food. Her voice got a little loud a few times while discussing other patrons and what they were doing, but nothing overly obnoxious. She did ask her mother once if she had farted, but nobody overheard and I’m fairly certain her accusation was false.

 

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I’m beginning to believe that it may be possible to resume some sort of life where we are able to go places and enjoy ourselves with Alaina in tow. The transition from crazy toddler to well behaved little girl seems to be going smoothly. There has even been talk of taking her to a movie theater.

Unfortunately, the entire time I have been typing this, Alaina has been rolling around at my feet, refusing to eat her strawberries because she wants to go back to the “resternaunt.”

That seems a little more like it.

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms