Monthly Archives: October 2009

Top 10 rules for parents

Emmaairport

So since I found out that the Baby Einstein thing was all a big scam, I’ve been thinking about what I would tell new parents (if asked, that is.  I try really hard – not always successfully – not to give unsolicited advice.)

So here are my “rules” for parenting, for if anyone is interested:

1. Relax. Take a deep breath.

2. Hug your kids a lot and tell them you love them at least once a day. Preferably more.

3. Act delighted to see them when you greet them, and ask them how their day was. (And try to pay attention to the answer for 5 minutes. Which I manage to do about 80% of the time.)

4. Talk to them a lot and use big words.  They may not understand all the big words right away, but they’ll figure them out. That’s how they learn language.

5. Explain why when it makes sense to do so, but don’t be afraid to say, “Because I’m the parent and I said so.”  Because it’s important that they learn to negotiate and persuade, but too much of it gets exhausting. And they need to learn that, in life, sometimes the answer is just no, and they need to accept it.

6. Relatedly, tell them frequently that life isn’t fair.  Better that they understand it than go through life with unrealistic expectations that everything is always fair and just.

7. Be as consistent as you can, but recognize that no one is consistent 100% of the time.  Consistent bedtime routines, regular schedules, plenty of sleep, it’s all good. But breaking the rules sometimes is okay. It helps them be flexible and adaptable. And too much routine can make an adult freaking crazy.

8. Don’t get stressed out if your kid seems to like the caregiver more than you. Kids can never have too many people who love them. And kids know who their mothers are. I know this from personal experience, because growing up, we had a very, very close family friend named Marian, whom I adored. She was like a second mother to me.  There were many days when I wanted to be with her instead of my own mother. To her credit, my mother never felt threatened (or if she did, she never let on.) Despite my attachment to Marian, I always knew who my real mother was.

9. Work full-time, work part-time or don’t work. Do what makes you happy (or whatever makes financial sense.) Happy mother, happy kids. (But if you work, find a caregiver who is delighted to see your child every day.  Thank you, Joanie.)

10. Laugh with your kids a lot. But try not to laugh at them. (At least when they’re around.)

11. Relax. Take a deep breath. (I know I said this already, but it bears repeating.)

Any other advice that you sage parents want to add to the list?

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I want my money back

ATT988809

Oh, crap. All those Baby Einstein videos I bought aren’t going to guarantee David’s admission to Harvard? Oops – guess I’ve been duped.

(David who rarely wears a shirt unless he’s leaving the house)

I think Emma was about five when I realized that there’s a reason why most kids don’t get into Harvard, and it’s not that they didn’t watch enough PBS, or they watched too much Barney (thank God those days are over), or they weren’t read to for 20 full minutes a day, or they didn’t play enough Candyland (blech. I hate Candyland.) In many ways, they are who they are from the day they’re born, and the best we can do as parents is stay out of the way and let them be who they’re going to be. (I think Anna Quindlen once said something like that. I know I didn’t make it up.)

It’s nice to be an experienced parent. To not have to get stressed out about how many sight words David knows. Or whether Margaret knows all her colors. Or whether Emma passed her most recent Algebra test. (Ok, let’s not go there.)  There are so many times that I want to say to young parents, “Lighten up. It’s all going to be ok.” (Actually, I do say it sometimes. Not in so many words, though.)

I know, I know. I’ve had my moments.  I didn’t exactly learn all of the lessons the first time around (or maybe I learned them and forgot them in the 10-year gap between David and Emma.) Some of you remember my stress over David not knowing his colors. (In one of my weaker moments, I actually bought colored plastic blocks and drilled him every day for a week before I gave up and figured he’d learn them at some point.)  And my stress over whether he would actually be fully potty-trained by the time he went to pre-school (when he was ALMOST FOUR.) (But guess what? He’s six now, and he goes in the potty every time! And all my stress about it didn’t make any difference!)

I’m not saying that it doesn’t make any difference what we do as parents.  It’s possible to royally screw them up.  But I think that most of us overestimate the long-term effects of the mostly minor daily decisions we make as parents.  Most of it just doesn’t matter.

Now if I could only find those Baby Einstein videos. Where did I put them?

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More excuses why I haven’t been blogging

1. Margaret untethered the hot air balloon in the garage and it took me 12 hours to find her.

2. Had to get ready to host bunco.

3. Spending hours and hours making home-made Halloween costumes. No one will believe that one.

4. Catching up on episodes of Glee. (Good show)

5. Catching up on episodes of Modern Family.  (Great show)

6. Catching up on episodes of Dexter, Season 2. (Great show)

7. Trying to practice my art skills so I can stay ahead of David. Futile. He’s already surpassed me. (Not saying much. I can’t even draw a cat that’s recognizable as a cat.)

8. Can’t keep up with news stories about rich, powerful men getting themselves into trouble because they aren’t thinking with their brains. (Not judging, just saying.)

9. Writer’s block. Oh, the pressure.

10. Trying to find the rake. (If you look at my front lawn, you’ll see that I still haven’t found it.)

11. Birthday parties, parent-teacher conferences, weekend get-aways, soccer, work, doctor’s appointments/H1N1 vaccines, Halloween parties, meetings, 10k’s, piano recitals, book club.

But it’s all good…

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Breaded Cod with Spinach

I adapted this recipe from one I saw in Woman’s Day a few years ago. It’s delicious.  I serve it with a side of boiled red potatoes or boiled noodles with a bit of parmesan and olive oil.

Ingredients:

4 cod fillets

1 cup panko bread crumbs, Italian-flavored

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 lb. spinach

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

Toss  spinach, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts in a large rectangular glass baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs, 2 Tbsp. olive oil and grated parmesan in a bowl.  Roll cod pieces in mixture and place over spinach mixture. (I find it hard to get the bread crumb mixture to stick, so I end up pressing it onto the fish.)

Bake, covered with aluminum foil, in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes.  Serve immediately.

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Dear David, I’m sorry

Dear David,

Please accept my sincere apologies for the fact that I did not collect your tooth and leave money last night.  I can only imagine your heart-rending sobs this morning when you looked under you pillow and discovered that your tooth was still there.  There’s so little in life you can really count on, and you’d think that getting money for teeth would be one of them, I know.

What can I say? I had every intention of making my usual rounds last night.  I had my wings polished and my fairy dust replenished in the morning, same as usual.  I was ready to go.  But then the Easter Bunny and I got into this really long conversation about whether Obama should have won the Nobel Peace Prize, and that segued into the state of higher education in America, and the next thing you know, it was 3:00 in the morning, and I had totally missed my flying window.

I realize that my only job in life is delivering money to the children who have lost teeth. I mean, how hard is it to do one thing well, right? And I assure you that this has never happened before and will never happen again. I will write notes to remind myself to stay away from the Easter Bunny an hour before flying time, so I don’t get sucked into conversations and get distracted. (Santa Claus too.)

I’ll make it up to you, David. I’ll bring you a little extra tonight for “interest.” (As I will have to for all the other children of the world. Man, do the math…can you say “cost over-runs?” Maybe I can get a small budget transfer from Santa. Or the Easter Bunny, but he’s so worried about the rising cost of chocolate that it’s unlikely.)

I look forward to inspecting that tooth. I’m sure it’s a fine specimen that will bring me a lot of money on the open market.

Gotta run. Can you imagine how many of these notes I have to write? Luckily, it’s a lot of cut and paste.

Again, please accept my apology and my assurance that this will never happen again, to you or any other child.

Love,

The Tooth Fairy

P.S. Whatever you do, do not blame this in any way on your mother.  She has a lot on her plate.

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Odds and Ends and Odds

1. Like me, the Ad Contrarian has had a case of writer’s block. Or blog fatigue.  He’s now back after a month off, with this example of marketing at its finest. And I wonder why marketers get a bad name (especially from engineers, for some reason).

2.This spot-on animated parody about a social media guru, also found on the Ad Contrarian’s blog, should be required viewing for anyone thinking about hiring such a “guru”.

3. I must admit that I am really happy that Chicago did not get the 2016 Olympics.  I thought I’d be disappointed. But I was wrong.  I’ve had 46 happy years without living in an Olympic host city, and I expect I’ll have many more.  It would have been a huge hassle, it would have created a huge amount of debt, bad traffic, and attracted a bajillion (or should I say a brazilion) tourists. Meh.

4. Things I don’t care about: David Letterman’s sex life. Jon Gosselin. Kate Gosselin. Whether the Gosselin family TV show continues. Or Tom DeLay quitting Dancing With the Stars.

5. Overall, I’m disappointed in this seasons’ Mad Men.  There. I said it.

6. Readers of a Web site called Ship of Fools voted this the funniest religion joke ever told:

was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: “Stop. Don’t do it.”

“Why shouldn’t I?” he asked.

“Well, there’s so much to live for!”

“Like what?”

“Are you religious?”

He said: “Yes.”

I said: “Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?”

“Christian.”

“Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?”

“Protestant.”

“Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”

“Baptist.”

“Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?”

“Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?”

“Reformed Baptist Church of God.”

“Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?”

He said: “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915.”

I said: “Die, heretic scum,” and pushed him off.

Personally, I think this one is funnier.

7. 4 words that make me unlikely to read further: “Keith Olbermann’s plea for…”

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Spinning the plates

One thing I’ve come to realize over the past few months is that people worry about me when I’m not blogging regularly. If a week goes by with no new posts, I start to get emails from friends and family asking if I’m okay.  Which is nice. It makes me feel cared for. And like my posts matter to some people.  So thank you for that.

So I want to let everyone know that I am fine. I have not gone off the deep end.

But I’ve gotten my ass kicked by Fall.

(I’m probably going to say “ass” a lot in this post, so if you don’t like that word, you might want to stop reading.)

In the Summer, I had myself convinced that I had everything under control. That I could continue to do everything that I wanted to do and still keep all the plates spinning (for those of you old enough to have watched Ed Sullivan.)  Yes, in the lazy days of summer, I was convinced that I could continue to blog regularly, and take piano lessons, sing in the church choir, take care of the kids, and cook healthy dinners. And oh yeah, work full time.

And then September kicked me in the ass.

The arrival of school (including moves from pre-school to kindergarten and from day care to pre-school) brought a cyclone of activities, with curriculum nights (funny, I don’t remember my mother ever going to kindergarten curriculum night. Or any curriculum night. But I digress…) Cross country (for Emma) and soccer (for David.) And let’s not forget the Kindergarten Homework.

Then there are the activities created by the “back at it” nature of Fall.  Hey-we-haven’t-had-book-club-all-summer-let’s-get-together.  That-planning-meeting-at-church-that-we-put-off-yeah-we-should-probably-do-that.

Then there are the Fall birthday parties. I don’t know whether there are more kids with Fall birthdays, or it’s just that every kid with a Fall birthday has a party, but there are a lot of birthday parties (including David’s.)

Then there’s the increased activity (doctor’s appointments, physical therapy) caused by Emma’s back injury, which isn’t Fall-related but happened at a REALLY BUSY TIME. (Note to Emma: no more water-skiing.)

Many days I feel like I’m doing a pretty half-assed job at keeping all the plates spinning.

I have simplified.  I am taking a break from the non-essentials. I’m taking a break from piano lessons. I’m not going to choir rehearsal on a regular basis. And I’m not even running as much as I was. And we know I’m not blogging much.

But we are managing. Actually, we are thriving. We are all healthy (except for Emma’s continued back problems.) Somehow we get to school and work every day. David loves kindergarten and is doing great. Margaret loves pre-school and is also doing great.  Emma is loving her junior year. I’m very happy at work.

Things should get easier when Emma gets her driver’s license next week. (Did I just say that?) And things should calm down after October.  When we’re used to the schedule. And the back-to-school activities cease. And all we have to do is get ready for the holi…

Never mind.

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