Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spilt Milk and Other Bumps

We were at the Children's Museum today. It's midweek, nothing really going on, and it was later in the day so there were not many people there. But there were two things that really struck me today. My kids are 2 1/2 and 11 months respectively boy, girl. There was a smallish boy there, by his walk and vocabulary I'm guessing a small 2year old rather than a larger 18month old. Anyway he fell backwards, not hard, and on a cushioned floor. Bonked his head a bit but, realistically, it couldn't have been more than a brief 'ugh'. But he started crying like he'd been dropped on brick and his mother rushes over and scoops him up, holding him tight, rocking him, soothing him, and he kept right on with this pitiful cry until his mom actually left the play area to calm him down.
My daughter took a face first header on a slope a bit too steep for her to navigate without holding onto something (she let go of the side when an older kid approached), unfortunately she missed the softly padded floor and bonked her head into the unpadded wooden side wall. She picked her head up and started to whimper. I said 'oh! Big bonk!' In an uptoned voice. She thought about it for a moment but decided it really did hurt (big red mark with a little scrape) and started crying about the same time I swung her up. I gave her a kiss on her owie (a-boo in our toddler's lingo) while briefly snuggling her close then tossed her up saying 'bonk, bonk, bonk!' I jiggled her, held her up high, and bounced her while I grinned at her. Took about fifteen seconds then she was giggling and squirming. I gave her another kiss, told her she was okay, and set her back down to play.

Why, oh why do parents teach their kids that every little bump and bruise is a world-ending injury? I've been in the doctor's office and heard 5 year olds shrieking in agony after getting their shots for 10 minutes. My kids give a cry or two until I pick them up and give the nurse a 'why did you do THAT' look as they bury their head in my chest..then they sniff and usually reach out to be held by the nurse. Who always comments on how well my kids do.
It's likely kids are more sensitive to pain than the average adult, through lack of exposure if nothing else, but it's not like that poke, bump, or fall is ACTUALLY as painful as the bone-shattering screaming some kids carry on with. They carry on so because they have been taught by neurotic adults that it's worth that kind of attention.
"Ahh! My baby!" Cries the distraught mother as she rushes desperately towards the 3 year old who just tripped and bloodied a knee. Come on, we've all bloodied a knee! It's worth a grunt and a disgusted look, maybe a grimace or a wince with the next few steps. So why do so many parents think it's proper for their child to weep inconsolably for minutes at a time?
And don't tell me it's the kids! I had a nanny job once with a sweet little 2 year old. First day she fell, not even a mark, and she was wailing while her mother scooped her up and 'oh my poor baby'ed her for several long minutes. She tried the same thing with me later that day. I asked 'you okay?', dusted her off, said 'yep, it's okay' and kept walking. She looked at me like 'wow, really?' Stopped crying and caught back up. It took a couple of days, then she happened to fall again in front of her mother. Her mother started over, anguished look on her face. Her daughter bounced up, proclaimed 'it's okay' and was off, leaving the mom with a confused look on her face.
Children mimic, they are developing, not just physically but mentally, emotionally, and socially. They have no idea how they are supposed to act; they look to their caregivers and read the social cues we provide to determine what is the proper emotional response to something. Sure, as they develop mentally they may vary from your example because their fledgling personality is different than yours, but that's just a wonderful sign that they are on the proper road to independence, and as long as you both guide properly and foster their independence they rarely seem to go off the deep end. But you know what I see? Those same kids who learned 'oh the world is ending!' Anytime something minor happens almost never stray from that, they become 5 and 6 year olds, and even 8 and 9 year olds who still can't deal with the slightest thing that happens. I could still tell in high school which kids had parents who thought a skinned knee was a disaster verses the kids whose parents taught them to pick themselves up and dust themselves off. Because it's not just physical wounds they learn to apply that mentality, it's their ability to deal with the skins and scrapes of the emotions that really get hurt by the mentality.
So please people, next time you see your, or my, kids take a tumble, give em a grin and say 'big bonk! You're okay!' And then expect them to be. Because no one is doing the next generation any good by teaching them to cry over spilt milk.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Yes, Yes I am a Country Kid

I was standing over the kitchen sink doing dishes (no, we don't have a dishwasher) trying to convince myself I wasn't being a bad mom for having Looney Tunes playing on the t.v. while I wasn't sitting out there watching it with him. And by him I mean our 2 1/2 year old. After all, it's the first he's watched today, he didn't watch much yesterday either (and none by himself), and I really needed to get some dishes done.
How I wish I had a decent house with a proper kitchen sink in front of the obligatory window overlooking a proper yard. But I don't; we live in a third story tiny appartment without so much as a patio. Between that and my physical difficulties my children currently spend way more time inside then I ever imagined would be the case. But then I never imagined moving back to the city. I hate the city. And that spawned a post idea; let's begin.
The average kid today spends most of their time indoors. No biggy right? I mean, there must have been lots of times throughout history that kids rarely saw the sun...wait, that would be during times of extreme cold like the Ice Age, or when hiding was necessary like during wars. Ok, bad example.
The average kids today eats whatever is available, regardless of nutritinal value like fast food, premade frozen foods, and anything else the parents can work into their busy lives. No biggy, they can take vitamins and there have been plenty of times in history where kids have had less than ideal...wait, that would have been during times of extreme famine, poverty, and war. Ok, bad example.
A large portion of kids today are missing one parent due to out of wedlock births and divorce. No biggy right? There have been plenty of times when a large portion of kids were missing parents...wait, that would have been during times of pestilance, war, and natural disasters. Ok, bad example.
A large portion of kids today are missing sibblings due to an abortion rate that has reached 60% in some demographics. No biggy, there have been plenty of demographics in the past (and currently) who have had a 1 in 5 or even 1 in 3 death rate among the under 5 group...wait, that was due to unhygenic conditions, war, famine, pestilance, disease, and natural disasters. Ok, bad example.
The average kid today spends a large portion of the day away from their mother/father and in the care of non-biologically connected caregivers in mass groups. Well that's no big deal, there have been plenty of kids who...wait, those were in foundling homes, orphanages, and in times when the working population of adults had been decimated by war, pestilance, or natural disaster. Ok...there has to be a good example around here somewhere...
Here's one: the average kid today has more toys and clothes than ever before. Yes, it's true. Adults and children, society as a whole, has managed to accumulate more possessions than all but the richest men throughout history. But you know what they say, "he who dies with the most toys, still dies".
THIS is the "good life"?
We've got the average family working two jobs, so busy that the family unit and especially the kids, are surviving in situations previously found only during calamity why? So we can all have 2 cars, a big screen HDTV with 500 channels, a wardrobe that needs its own room, a collection of toys that needs its own zipcode, a mother who doesn't feel dependant upon a/her husband, and a father who have a 'fulfilling' career? And this is supposed to be a GOOD thing?
All I'm left with is a rarely heard Bible verse: "Woe to those join house to house;
They add field to field,
Till there is no place
Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!" Isaiah 5:8

Anyone want to trade this 'good life' for a nice little ranch somewhere? Cuz frankly, I'd rather the farmhouse than the townhouse.

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Giant Step in the Wrong Direction

This ladies is exactly why we have so much trouble getting people, especially medical people to treat pregnant/birthing/post-partum women like thinking adults: It's a news story out of The Land Down Under about a mom who tragically smothered her newborn. She laid down to nurse in a side-lay position and fell asleep. When she woke her babe was cold and blue, and had probably been dead for 20 minutes. Now, I'm unsure of the machanics of that, having nursed 2 babies in a side-lay I'm not sure HOW you could smother a baby at the breast from a proper side position. But, I'm a light sleeper. I wake up (even when excessively tired) when my child's breathing changes. My husband sleeps through smoke alarms, and I've seen him fall asleep standing up. Maybe this mom was more on my husband's side of the sleep scale than mine. However it happened, baby's dead. And as tragic as that is it's not the point. Mom chose to room-in, a right we in the US at least have had to fight for. She chose to LAY DOWN and get comfortable for sleep while she was in sole charge of the baby. So what does she do?


Look people, if you want to be treated like an adult then you have to take responsiblity for your actions. If you want the right to informed consent/refusal, then you have to own the consequences of your choice. In no way, shape, or form is this the hospital's fault. And by trying to win a lawsuit this woman is also trying to set women's labor/delivery rights back whole decades, maybe even generations.
What? Should the hospital go back to forcibly removing all babies to the nursery whenever mom looks tired? Maybe moms should have to prove they have round the clock childcare help lined up for homecare before they are allowed to leave the hospital with their new bundle of joy? After all, don't you know, the baby belongs to the hospital until you can prove you are a fit parent.
I'm sorry for this woman's lost. I can't imagine how horrible it must be to think you caused your child's death, and maybe by blaming someone else she's just hoping to hold onto her sanity. But there are other people involved here too. Her husband, her lawyer, and certainly she's had at least some moments of clarity despite the guilt racked grief. What GOOD does she/they think is going to come of getting up in a sworn court of law and yelling "treat me like I'm an incompetent child because i'd just given birth!" I hope, if this woman chooses to get pregnant again, she agrees with absolutely everything the doctor, nurses, and staff want to do to her and her baby, because you can bet after this they aren't going to listen to her cries of 'i do not consent', and, frankly, can you blame them? Let's just hope the judge dismisses this monstrousity before it becomes how all hospitals view all laboring/post partum women. And let's hope some moron lawyer in the US doesn't read it!