I always called my friends' parents Mr. or Mrs. (Kid's Last Name), and only realized years later that for some of them, that was incorrect (mothers who hadn't changed their names on marriage, whose kids had their father's last names). Now I'm starting to confront the issue of what to tell SteelyKid's friends who say, "Uh, SteelyKid's mom—?"

Ms. Nepveu seems kind of formal—my default association with people calling me that is judges and telemarketers—also hard to say, but Ms. Kate seems . . . weird. And I don't want to use Mrs./Ms. Orzel on principle, because I'm not.

What do/did you all do?

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 32


How do you ask your kids' friends to address you?

View Answers

Mr/Mrs/Ms (Kid's Last Name)
0 (0.0%)

Mr/Mrs/Ms (Your Last Name)
4 (14.8%)

Mr/Mrs/Ms (Your First Name)
5 (18.5%)

Other, which I will put in a comment
18 (66.7%)

Ticky?

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Ticky.
16 (55.2%)

I am a god, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by--
1 (3.4%)

I am Iron Man.
8 (27.6%)

I'm sorry, I'm not that kind of doctor.
6 (20.7%)

Who the hell is Bucky?
7 (24.1%)

Tonight, SteelyKid asked whether boys could give birth (well, she said, "born a baby," because that's a hard verb formulation), and thanks to the picture book What Makes a Baby—and especially its Reader's Guide—I felt reasonably comfortable answering her question in an age-appropriate, non-cis-normative way. So, I highly recommend it (passing it on; someone here originally recommended it to me).

Emphatically not recommended, by the way, is the book which prompted this discussion, Tikki Tikki Tembo (Wikipedia). I told her at the beginning that we were going to say it took place somewhere made up (she came up with "Treeland") because it said untrue and mean things about China, which is a real place with real people. And I'm going to recommend that the school take it out of its 1,000 book reading program.

(Hi! The winter and chronic sleep deprivation has made me feel sort of . . . muted, like someone had pressed a button on a remote, when it came to writing here, which then turned into a self-perpetuating cycle. But there was actual sun and mildness today, and this seemed like a topic for you all, and I will try to be more present because I miss you all. Also: Captain America 2 this weekend, and I expect to be blurting out FEELINGS all over DW. (NO SPOILERS. NONE.))

Over a year ago, friends asked me, heavily paraphrased, how did I manage to maintain outside interests after having kids. I wrote part of an email several months ago, and then in a (successful!) push to get to Inbox: Zero, finished it earlier this month. With their permission, and Chad's, I'm putting a slightly edited version of it here for public consumption.

I tried really hard to make it clear that I was writing from my own experience here and that other people's situations may vary, but I probably did less of that in a personal email than I would have in a public post. So consider that disclaimer bolded and emphasized up front: this is what I find helpful and what I thought those friends would also find helpful, but I'm really not judging anyone who finds that other things work better for them or who weighs priorities differently, because that is an awful thing to do (assuming thresholds of safety, care, and affection are met, of course).

and now, the email )

We are taking SteelyKid and the Pip on their first plane trips very soon, down to Florida to see my mom and her husband, and I have anxiety like whoa over the trip. I don't have time to write out all the things we've already planned, but tell me your essential and/or non-obvious things about traveling by plane with a five-year-old and a two-year-old? Either I can feel glad that I've already thought of it or glad that someone else suggested it before we left. => Thanks!

Moxie Madness 2012: "64 mothering [*] calamities go mano-a-mano in a single elimination tournament like you've never seen before."

Or checklists, I guess, but there's something so classic about bingo cards.

I think my favorites are "Partner can't soothe baby" and "Partner soothes baby better than you can."

[*] Though some apply only to women, and others only to birth mothers, most are gender neutral.

1. Perils of professional monofocus: walk into a jeweler's today, tell first person I see that I need rings cut off, get sent across room to second person who looks immediately at my hand and says, never looking up, "Gosh, I wonder how those got so small?" "Well," says I, "I imagine being 37 weeks pregnant has something to do with it . . . "

(The jeweler was very careful and it was considerably less uncomfortable than my attempts to get it off myself. And the engagement ring has needed resizing for a while, anyway.)

2. If I haven't posted anything substantive for a while and you're wondering if I've gone off to the hospital, I have made a post titled as of the date stamp on this post, I am still not in labor; it's marked to not show on reading pages, so people can find it by clicking on the "pregnancy" tag or just my username, as it should always be at the top or very close to it. Still nominally two and a half weeks to go, but people keep asking and I had the idea, so hey.

3. Speak to me of slings and wraps for carrying infants against adults' fronts. We had a pouch-type sling that we liked a lot because it had straps for both shoulders, but I gather that those are now considered unsafe?

The ideal candidate would be simple to get into (I doubt my ability to fasten straps while trying to keep a baby from falling out), would allow easy transfer of a sleeping kid out of it (we would just slip the sling over our shoulders, put it down in the crib, and then ease SteelyKid out), and would either be easily adjustable for very different heights or, at least, be suitable for someone six and a half feet tall. Ability to breastfeed in it is not a priority.

I would be all in favor of using a hypothetical blessed scroll of genocide on mosquitoes.

I gather that topical antihistamines aren't to be used for little kids who swell enormously in response to mosquito bites. Do any topical remedies actually help?

(Please note specificity of question, thank you.)

When non-winter infant and toddler girls' clothing [*] has, as a rough approximation, at least 33% less fabric than boys' clothing (because we require two and three year olds to gender-conform by showing skin!), and when I was able to find precisely two picture books, out of the thirty-odd displayed face out at my local B&N, that had female-identified humanoid-ish protagonists who weren't princesses and who did things.

(One of those was white. The other was a pig.)

Fuck systematic oppressions, I say. Fuck them with a goddamn chainsaw.

Also, recommendations for picture books, or anthology-type-things of fairy/folk tales (about 10 min./tale), that are not sporkworthy are highly welcome.

[*] Not that I am shopping for these at the moment, but it remains a massive irritant.

See the subject line.

(Toys 'R Us had ones whose eyelids went up and down when you moved them. Not in my house, they don't. *shudder*)

SteelyKid is on a big Dr. Seuss kick at the moment, so, some observations:

  • The Cat in the Hat is way better than The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.
  • "We saw ALL the things fall" now makes me think of Hyperbole and a Half, per the icon, in a joke that will probably be forgotten by the time SteelyKid is old enough to understand it.
  • Green Eggs and Ham is not a good model for personal relationships.
  • It is, to my surprise, possible to do the nod-off-snap-awake whiplash thing while actually reading aloud.

    Good night (moon, room, cow jumping over the moon, light and the red balloon), everybody.

SteelyKid having moved to a twin bed, we're looking to establish some more elaborate bedtime routines, hopefully ones that will signal her to stop bouncing off the walls much sooner than she often does. So what are your favorite soothing bedtime books, besides Goodnight Moon? Note she does not have a very long attention span yet, and in fact Goodnight Moon is about as long as she'll sit for being read to.

(Also posted to [livejournal.com profile] plan_survive.)

Reminder to LJ users: )

I don't actually intend to post every day, but after last night's vent I figured I should say that she's much better today, enough so that I sent her to daycare for three hours in the afternoon with a clear conscience and will actually go to work tomorrow.

request for advice on bedtime )

As applied to a popular (U.S.?) children's song.

cut for potential earworm )

A friend is pregnant and asked for advice in screened comments. After some thought, I realized I did have things to say that hadn't, IIRC, come up on the SteelyKid posts to date. So, for the record:

my parenting advice )

Because maybe we're just having a bad run of luck, but Pampers has not been working the last few nights (including, as you can tell, this one).

Chad has the proof.

In unrelated SteelyKid matters, tell me about teaching infants to go to sleep without being held until they're so deeply asleep that being put down in their crib doesn't wake them.

A few weeks ago, I was rather taken aback when a child development book twice suggested that parents "encourage the development of gender identity by using the words boy or girl when you address your baby." My immediate reaction was, "Surely, in our society, the last thing I need to worry about is SteelyKid not knowing she's a girl? And, how bad would it be if she didn't have a strong gender identity?" (Sex and gender are very small parts of my identity. Free-associating "being a woman" gets me "stupid reproductive system," and free-associating "being female" gets me "stupid fashion industry" and "sexism." Other things that often get lumped with sex and gender are separate in my head.)

(My reaction to the book's statements was also colored by the "Avoid" list shortly after, which included "Worrying that telling your baby she is a 'good little girl' is a sexist remark. Political correctness is not an issue when you're teaching your baby gender identity.")

But this made me realize that I did call her "girl" a lot, without conscious thought: "hey, baby girl," or "oh, good girl!" Since then, I've made more of an effort to use her name: it's something I've been trying to do anyway, and it is also one syllable and thus fits the cadence just fine.

Edit: To clarify: it's far more important to me that she be a good (happy, smart, strong, wonderful) SteelyKid than a good (etc.) girl, and so I want to get in the habit of expressing that early. I hope the distinction is self-evident.

* * *

Twice, strangers have assumed that SteelyKid was male. The first person, on hearing that she was not, asked somewhat indignantly, "So why's she in blue?" (She was wearing a brown shirt and was in her car seat, which is gray with green-blue accents. The second time, she was also in her car seat, and was wearing green.)

And yet yesterday, I was sorting through some hand-me-down clothes from a family with two boys. I kept a lot of blue clothes, but found myself setting aside a number that were just too little-boy—for no reason that I could clearly articulate to myself, except that I couldn't see myself putting them on her and so there was no point in keeping them, even though I was aware of the irony and uncomfortable with it. After all, before she was born, some people said that we should find out her sex so people would know what clothes to buy. My reaction was that an infant, who didn't know what pink or blue signified, would hardly care; that I hated the overwhelming emphasis on an infant's sex (i.e., "What are you having?" to mean "Is it a boy or a girl?"); and that I thought color-coding them by sex was kind of dumb. (I didn't usually say this out loud.) And yet.

Edit: To clarify: until SteelyKid has preferences, we're going to dress her in stuff we like, because we're the ones who have to look at it. And we don't like frills or most pink.

No conclusions, just observations.

What are your thoughts about infants and gender?

Edit 2: SteelyKid's reaction )

Lots of people are suggesting concrete actions to take in the wake of the Public Domain Boobs Project. A non-exhaustive list: [livejournal.com profile] miriammoules ponders teaching communication skills—which I suspect has a lot in common with the "Our Whole Lives" sexuality education curricula from the Unitarian Universalists, and let me just say that I am even more determined that FutureBaby should get some variant of this than I was before; [livejournal.com profile] synecdochic has another long meaty post on how not to be That Guy; and as already noted, [livejournal.com profile] backupproject is starting up.

I've been noodling with a related question since quite early in this discussion, the source(s) of self-esteem. cut for length )

So, now I'm wondering how to raise FutureBaby with a fundamental conviction that you are the best judge of your self-worth, based on sensible moral and ethical values (or some other way of phrasing it that avoids both sociopathy and too much dependence on the opinions of others). Not just with regard to sexual behavior, but in everything, starting from day one.

If you all have recommendations for resources, or comments about what worked for you, or things I've overlooked, or anything else that you'd like to share, I'd like to hear it.

Okay, if you've been bursting to give us advice related to FutureBaby, here's your chance:

two questions )

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