Thursday, April 02, 2015

9 Reasons I *Will* Make My Kids Share

Over on Scary Mommy, I read an article entitled 9 Reasons Why I Won't Make My Kids Share.

I was pretty interested in reading the author's thoughts. I still have things to learn, and am open to new ideas about this whole parenting experiment.

But I have to tell you, I found her reasoning largely unconvincing and somewhat shortsighted. I understood some of where she was coming from, but felt like she painted an incomplete portrait of childhood and life in general.

At one point she likens sharing to having a barista tell you, an adult, to give your laptop to someone else to play with.

What?

I think it's much more like when I go to the gym and jump on the treadmill. If there is someone waiting, I need to limit my time on that treadmill to 20 minutes. Sure, I could be a total jackass and stay on, and screw all of those other people. But I'm not.

And I'd rather my kids weren't either.

So, I thought I'd answer the post.

Here are my 9 Reasons I Will Make My Kids Share:

1. Because playing with toys is not like baking a cake. Toys in our house are often communal property, since buying one for every child would be prohibitively expensive. It's fair that they shouldn't be allowed to monopolize something that other people would like a turn with.

2. Because they're not the center of the universe. With the exception of the computer, my kids rarely get sucked into an activity that someone then wants. What happens far more often is that child 2 goes to play with something that has been abandoned by child 1, and child 1 upon realizing that said toy is now desired by someone else, now has to have it back. Because now it's the best toy ever.

I would really like them to understand that they're not always going to get what they want.

3. Because teaching them to share isn't throwing them under the bus. It's parenting them. I hope my kids love playing with toys that expand their imagination, and encourage their creativity. But I also want them to be able to consider the feelings of others.

4. Because it's normal. We absolutely do share as adults. I share my food, my home, my car, my bed, my bathroom (though my husband might argue that I monopolize it), and so much more with the crazy people who live in my house, and that dude I promised to spend my life with.

Yes, we share. From gym equipment, to taking turns at the checkout counter, to zipper merging on the freeway, sharing is a vital life skill.

5. Because I am interested in fair. The world is not fair, and it won't be. But they can be. We can try our best. It can be a value we strive for. Because we recognize when it isn't fair, and I don't want my children just to accept injustice as a fact of life. I want my children to always work to correct it.

6. Because teaching them to take turns and share, gives me the opportunity to teach about choices and consequences. If you choose to take something without asking, or if you choose not to let someone have a turn with something special that they'd like to play with, there are logical and natural consequences.

If you grab it out of someone's hands, that's rude, and you don't get it at all. If you are refusing to take turns and share with someone, then later, when you want them to share with you, they won't want to.

7. Because sharing and taking turns can actually help them learn vital negotiation skills and set boundaries. This isn't bullshit, either. I have watched my kids negotiate how long they will have with a given item, and work it out between them, only coming to me to set a timer for them. That is a beautiful thing.

8. Because while they might still learn to cooperate, sharing isn't always about cooperation, per se. It can be, but sometimes it's just about seeing that everyone has a chance, and that everyone's needs are met.

Besides, these little lessons, are good practice for later, when they really don't want to get off the treadmill at the gym. Or you know, go to school.

9. Because I definitely want to create nicer people. I believe that sometimes kids have to learn that the answer is "no" and that they can't have it right now. But sharing isn't about taking away from one and giving to another.  It's about making sure they both get a chance to play with something.

It's about teaching them that sometimes they have to wait, and sometimes they have to stop.  Because taking turns and sharing requires both of those things. And while it might require a little more work than just throwing one's hands up and saying that sharing isn't important at all, I think it's worth it.

*****
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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Tiger Cubs Go To The Fire Station

It sounds like a nice story, doesn't it? Like a childrens book, beautifully illustrated with information about fire safety, and helpful firefighters.

But this was about a dozen 6 and 7 year old boys.  The blog post really should be entitled The Tiger Cubs Go To The Fire Station And Chaos Ensued.

Knowing what Quinn is like with the other Scouts, I went over some ground rules with him before we even got there. Even with said ground rules established, he still needed reminders during the trip.

I don't know if other parents took the time to do the same, but it sure didn't seem like it.

Which, really, may just be the pull of insanity that grips a bunch of little boys like that. Or maybe dads don't always think of that as often as moms do. I'm not sure.

I know their Den Leader didn't go over any rules. Maybe the thought hasn't occurred to him, and I should bring it up. He's a great Den Leader, but with that many kids, you just have to make sure everyone is on the same page.

We let them run around a bit outside, first. I had hoped it would release some of their energy.

No luck.

Inside, the noise level was unbelievable.

If I were to assign a numeric value to each boys volume, I'd say each was at a 4 out of ten. Just all by themselves.

But if you put 3 boys together, each at a 4 volume, you don't end up with 12 volume. You end up with 36 volume.

The accumlative effect of them is mind boggling.

Still, the tour was wonderful. The boys were, well, little boys.

They explained to the firemen how their own equipment worked. Because they might not know. They're only firemen. Not educated young men like our Sweet Scouts.

They told the firemen that they should be allowed to slide down the poles, as they'd slid down way taller ones before. And they've never been hurt. Kids don't understand words like "liability" and "City policy."

They asked important questions like "Has there ever been a fire in the firestation?" and "Has there ever been a fire on the firetruck?" which begs the question, what kind of firemen do they think we have here? Not very good ones, if they're setting their own fire station and vehicles on fire!

There was a little hitting, some not listening, more trying to impress the firefighters with their vast 6 and 7 year old knowledge of fire.  And there was so much chaos of boys this way and that way, and utterly refusing for the most part to just shut their sweet little yaps.

Then there was a call, and that was it, the tour was over. Our brave heroes had to go off and do something bravely heroic. Honestly, I think they might have been secretly thrilled. The sirens couldn't be as loud as the kids.

I'm still awfully glad I got to go. It's so much fun to watch the kids take it all in. Quinn even said that after becoming a baseball player, he might like to be a firefighter, and a police officer, oh, and a doctor.

He has one very busy life ahead of him.

And I got to see the cute firemen. Turns out, they have to buy their own groceries, and sometimes they get called away in the middle of their shopping. Then they have to go back and do it again.

I think they need a den mother. Someone who can shop for them. And bake them brownies. And you know, I could do that job. Out of the pure goodness of my heart. Because I'm such a nice person.

*****
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Monday, March 30, 2015

Insomnia Can Suck It

I had things I wanted to blog about. I haven't been saying, "Be Quiet" for a whole week now, and that's an experiment worth sharing, right?

And there's stuff. Other stuff. Interesting stuff.

Really.

Unfortunately for me, insomnia has been a most unfortunate friend, and I lack the ability to put coherent thoughts together.

And while such an experiment is exhausted blogging could result in something humorous, I'm guessing it would be unintentionally so, and probably painful (I first typed painfrul. What?). At least for me, and probably for you, too.

Anywho, real blogging to come soon. Maybe after sleeping for more than an hour at a stretch. Because sleeping that little is clearly painfrul.

****
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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Adventures In Breastfeeding: What The Hell Is Periodic Breathing?



I don't breastfeed. Anymore. But I did. I have over a decade of personal breastfeeding experience.

I'm told that's a lot.

These days I work part time, as a Breastfeeding Peer Counsellor. Putting my knowledge and extra training to good use, I start calling moms while they're still pregnant, to discuss breastfeeding with them. And then I follow them through their baby's first year, helping, educating, and encouraging.

I'm thinking I'd like to tell some of what I've been learning, through the stories of my interactions with my moms. Of course names and details will be changed in order to protect the privacy of my clients.

I've had several clients recently who've had trouble with an overactive let down, and have found their babies choking on their breastmilk. This is a common issue, and with a few tips and tricks, they've been handling it well.

But one of my moms called me today, kind of frantic. Her baby stops breathing!

"Is it because of the breastfeeding?"

Not unless you're smothering baby with your breasts.

I didn't actually say that. She's not. I just reassured her a little. It's not the breastfeeding. She's doing great with that.

"Is this normal?"

Well, yeah, it turns out that actually it is. I Googled it.

She'd already called her pediatrician who had informed her that not breathing for a few seconds at a time was normal, but she didn't believe her. She wanted me, a mother, to tell her that her baby was okay.

These are the kind of the calls I live for.

They're easy, as the answer is readily available, and nothing is wrong. Sometimes my hands on experience as a parent actually has some value that can be shared with another person. Not to mention I love being able to help a frantic mom feel better. I remembered from my NICU time that the nurses never worried about when my babies stopped breathing, unless it was a particular long phase. And that almost never happened.

Yes, New mom, it's normal. It's called periodic breathing and babies can stop for up to 15 seconds. They can also breath quickly sometimes, and then more slowly. It happens to lots of babies, and is usually gone by six months old.

Fingers and toes can even get a little bluish. That said, if they start to get bluish around their forehead, lips, or torso, get help immediately.  That's not normal, and is a sign that your baby needs oxygen.

Honestly, though, every once in a while I raise an (respectful, I promise) eyebrow at Mother Nature. Here we are, entrusted with these tiny people for whom we are frequently terrified. And normal includes things like not breathing? Way to freak a mom out.

I try not to tell my moms about all the things that can go wrong in breastfeeding. I tell them that problems exist, offer a few really common examples, and promise help and support should they need it for any reason. But I don't want them worrying about things that may never happen.

So, I get why they don't tell parents all of the normal but weird things that babies can do. But then it's a pretty scary thing to discover on your own. And I've honestly never even seen this one even remotely touched on in a baby book.

Periodic breathing. Who knew?

Well, pediatricians, clearly. And now you, and me, and that poor scared mom. Who I really hope isn't scared anymore.

*****
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

One Nation, Indivisible

I used to dream of imparting wisdom to my children.

"Mother" they would say, "Mother, explain to us the ways of the universe, and educate us as only you can."

I, their mother, would gaze at them, lovingly, and explain the great mysteries of the world, while taking joy from watching their eyes fill with understanding.

Clearly, I had this dream was before I ever had children.

Reality turns out more like this:

"Look, Mom, an American flag!" Quinn's voice bursts out behind me in the van on the way to a Cub Scout dinner. After some discussion about the flag, then the Pledge of Allegiance, and how I use to think it said, "one nation, invisible", we came to their "great mystery" of the day:

"What does 'indivisible' mean?" my seven year old asked. I gripped the wheel and thought about how to explain it in a way he could understand.

"Well, Quinn, you have two legs, two arms, a head and a torso, right? These are different parts of your body. But they can't be taken apart. Together, they form your one body. Quinn's body. And you are 'indivisible'" I smiled, probably a little smugly, proud of my own quick thinking.

Though I couldn't see his face, I could just imagine the look of understanding that was surely passing across it.

"Well," he started, shattering my mental picture, Because the second he started speaking, I knew from the tone, that he was about to pull what I'd just said apart. "Someone could cut me up, with a big knife or a sword." I could feel the wheels begin spinning rapidly in my brain, screaming for extra coffee, and desperately thinking of how to respond to that while simultaneously erasing such a thought from my head.

"Well, not without a lot of bloodshed and pain!"

This was not the right answer. And we both knew it.

"But still, a really big sword and it could..."

And this is when I stopped the conversation, reminded of my place in this world.

Some days I kill it at the mom thing. Other days, it's a battle of wits, and I have left all of mine somewhere else. They remind me that I'm not as smart as I think I am. And while I hate to admit it, that's probably a good thing.

*****
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