EVPHO

Executive Vice President, Home Operations

Archive for the category “Domestic Policy”

Talking About REAL Issues With Your Kids

As a recovering politico hiding out in playgroups in suburbia, I am not, how do I phrase this, culturally aware.  I don’t watch the morning news, I watch Curious George.  I don’t have a ‘first hour at my desk before my real job begins” to cruise the web aimlessly reading whatever interests me.  Most days I am lucky if I click on 1 article from my Yahoo daily new digest app.  We don’t really watch live TV at all anymore, and in the car it is christian radio or Raffi on Pandora… you know, things “safe for the little ears.”

I often joke that facebook is my link to the outside world, but it is a terrible, terrible news source.   My facebook feed is almost always exclusively filled with pictures of other people’s children, other parenting blogs and silly meme’s about women, wine and exhaustion.

But some things are so big, so culturally important, they shine through to my little suburban existence and remind me that there is a great big world out there, and I am still a small part of it.  And these last few weeks, I have been reminded that we as a country are still tackling some pretty big issues.

Marriage equality, police brutality and explosive racial tensions that flare up now and then and bring out the worst in us.

The CEO tries his best to keep me up to speed on current events.  I think we are both as interested and passionate as ever (about the news people… focus!) but talking about some of these big issues, that weigh on our hearts and shock our minds, is hard to do with those cute, innocent little ears always around.   Always listening.  Always asking questions.

For example, the CEO was working from home one day and had an audible reaction to a news story.  Of course I notice and come over to ask if everything is ok, and Associate P does too.  The CEO tells him it is nothing and sends him back to play, but then shows me the video of a cop in Texas treating a teenage girl so brutality I have an audible, expletive-laced reaction.

Well now both little Associates are aware that mommy and daddy are upset and something is going on.  The questions begin…

What is it Mommy?

What happened?

Can I see?

It’s nothing.  Someone was being mean.  No, I’m sorry sweetie –  It is not an age appropriate video.  And I try to move on, and pretend the rock in the pit of my stomach isn’t there.

I have been caught, too often lately, wondering how to respond to my little associates when they see mommy sad and distracted, or yesterday joyous and giddy.  Part of me wants to have this big adult conversation with them about what is happening in our world. I want to begin their education right now. Today. But I don’t want to merely brainwash them with my opinions.  I want to raise them with a foundation of solid morals and clear values, and hopefully have them be able to decide for themselves what and why they believe in things like equality, mercy, tolerance.

So I turn to the good doctor.   Dr. Seuss has a way of discussing big ideas…. modesty, humility, kindness, faithfulness, fairness, open-mindedness, patience, equality respect and love… in a way that illustrates them so beautifully and fanciful, we can discuss them with our children and they will understand.  Almost every story he wrote has an underlying  message, from Horton to Yertle the Turtle, Bartholomew to The Zax.

So if you are a parent that, like me, wants to talk about the REAL issues happening in our world today with your young kids, might I suggest you read and watch three of his best lessons: The Sneetches, The Zax, and Green Eggs and Ham.

The Sneetches teaches about discrimination and equality.  The Zax teaches that the world won’t stop for your pride and stubbornness (I’d like to send this one to every single GOP Presidential candidates.) And Green Eggs and Ham teaches that you shouldn’t say you hate something unless you’ve tried it, and perhaps more subtle, but equally as important: you shouldn’t dislike anyone because they like and advocate for something you disagree with.  Sam is an alright guy!

So yesterday, with tears streaming down my face, I read the happiest of happy endings to my associates:

But Mc. Bean was quite wrong.  I’m quite happy to say

That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day,

The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches

And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.

That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars

And wether they had one or not upon thars.

Top 5 Parenting Tips From UNBROKEN

(Spoiler alert – I do reference scenes and points from the book and movie “Unbroken.” proceed with caution)

This past December I read UNBROKEN, the amazing true story of Louie Zamperini, a US Olympic track star and Veteran who survived a as a WWII POW.  The CEO had read the book before me, and loved it.  We were both looking forward to seeing the movie, and made a date night out of it shortly after it was released.  We sat through the entire movie with no snacks, popcorn or drinks.  We wanted to be focused, undistracted.  It was utterly captivating to watch and we both left the theater in awe of the sheer reality that men can be so strong, of body and spirit.

We walked quietly our of the theater, listening to the conversations around us.  Both of us were a bit shocked by what we heard.  In the ladies room a sassy young thaang in her late teens had complained to her friends, “Well that was a drag.  I mean I get it, he was tortured and survived. Big Deal”  And on the way out we heard another young group complain “I just don’t get the point.  There was no plot.”

WHHHHAAAAATTTT?!?!?!?!

Needless to say the CEO and I were aghast.  Our conversation on the way home quickly turned to our disappointment in the response from those young adults.  Could they really be so numb that they don’t recognize true heroism when they see it?  Were they expecting Louie to have super powers and fight his captors in direct conflict with choreographed fight scenes and a dramatic escape?  Where there not enough explosions for them? Could it be they didn’t know enough about the Atomic Bombs to find that conclusion to the largest war in human history dramatic enough??  Really?

And I don’t think the fact that they didn’t read the book before seeing the movie is an excuse for their response.  I had not finished the book yet myself, and so hadn’t read about the insanity he endured in the prison camps in Japan.  I was still in tears during the scene where The Bird forces Louie to lift the huge pillar of wood above his head, and had to burry my head into the CEO’s arm because I simply couldn’t watch that intense, and long scene.  I whispered to him, “Did that really happen?” just to hear him confirm what my mind couldn’t fathom.  Yes. Yes it did REALLY happen.  To a man who had already endured over a year and a half of hellish starvation and physical abuse.  And yes, he really did stand there and hold it for an incredible, surprisingly long time, proving that while the body may be defeated the human spirit can endure.

So in the days and weeks since seeing the movie, finishing the book and thinking about those bratty kids from the theater, I have been obsessed with thinking about how I can raise our associates to be less like them and more like Louie Zamperini. Obviously those kids needed better understanding of world history, but since I can’t easily influence what is taught in schools these days, I compiled the top five parenting lessons I learned from UNBROKEN.   I don’t think Laura Hillenbrand intended to write this as a parenting manual, so I apologize in advance if my mommy-brain is misinterpreting her masterpiece.

5) “Dirty Food” and “Nutritional Meals” Are Relative Descriptions

Our family policy has officially been changed from the “5 second rule” to the “Does it have maggots or fecal matter on it” rule.  I’ve certainly already been more lax than most moms about food cleanliness and I never really flinch to let my kids pick something off the ground if in our home or at the park. A little dirt never hurt anyone, and Associate A still gets a majority of his fiber from mulch.  But when cookies fell on airplane seats, restaurant floors or most recently the sidewalks of a major theme park, and one of my kids picked it up and popped it in their mouths before I could stop them, I worried.  I even panicked a little, with a few stern words, grabbing his head and forcing open his mouth trying to dislodge the offending, contaminated animal cracker. NO MORE!  Seriously people, I know there are risks with eating germs, and I will continue to teach them that is not a good idea to eat food off the ground, but no longer will I overreact and mommy-guilt myself to death over this.  They will survive.  I may have to amend this rule if they ever get a bout of dysentery, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

And the same is true for worrying about their poor nutritional intake. Associate P is in full on toddler pickiness, and he refuses to try just about everything but his short list of pre-approved meals, assuming they are served in the correct bowl and with the appropriate construction themed utensil.  I have spent countless hours worrying if he is eating enough or good variety.  NO MORE!  Reading what Louie and Phil survived on in the Ocean for 46 days is unbelievable.  The military directions provided with the rations on the lifeboat were to eat a (as in 1) square of chocolate and a few sips of water a day.  So from now on, if all Associate P wants to eat today is two squeeze yogurts so be it. As long as I can give him good clean water, I’m over trying to force him to eat or giving in and letting him eat crap.  I will wait it out, and then when he is hungry enough he will just have to eat whatever healthy ration I offer him…. its not like the options I present him are raw seagull or fish.

4)  You Do Not Need To Be a Cruise Director Mom To Be A Good Mom

Associate P has always been clingy to me (likely because his entire first year of life I spent every moment of his awake time entertaining him, talking to him and stimulating him) and Associate A is currently in a major mommy-obsession phase.  It is hard to ignore there cries for attention, help and assistance in providing entertainment for them, but NO MORE!   I hereby give myself permission to ignore their cries and begin insisting they occupy themselves.  It’s not that Louie’s mom ignored him, but she certainly didn’t follow him around everywhere and schedule his every waking moment.  Moms were not expected to be entertainment directors and chauffeurs.  If kids wanted to participate in an activity they rode their bike, public transportation or walked there.  And most importantly, kids then were allowed to roam, play and live in the world, not just in their own backyards.

Louie had a daring childhood, filled with frequent confrontation with the law, bullies, and adversities that he overcame on his own, or suffered the consequence of his actions.  I’m not saying I hope my kids are stealing, drinking and smoking while in elementary school like Louie was, but it is very clear from this story that Louie had an independent spirit, confidence and survival skills at a very young age.  He took responsibility for his choices because he was allowed to make them… something I don’t think we let kids do enough of these days.

3) Love Your Children, No Matter What

Number three comes directly from number 4.  Louie’s parents led a good life and were good role models, they loved their children and cared for them, but they didn’t try to manipulate their kids to be something they weren’t.  Louie was a handful, and wild and refused to follow the straight and narrow path as a young kid, and they accepted it.  He was disciplined when needed and they let him know they expected more from him.  But his mother still loved him dearly.  And in time, thanks to their unconditional love and the encouragement of his big brother Pete, Louie began to believe that he could be more than just the town thief.

I think all to often parents set a vision of what they hope their kids will be and try to manipulate them to fit into that dream.  Some are more dramatic than others.  I have only seen one or two Toddlers in Tiara’s episodes, but I got the gist of the show.  It was pretty clear those moms should spend a little 1:1 time with a therapist to work through their own body image issues rather than playing dress up with their own living daughters.

But I myself am guilty of this manipulation already… I’m scared to death of my associates wanting to play contact sports, and already hear myself telling them “You see how mommy and daddy like to kayak and row? Did you know it is a sport and you can do it with a team. That will be fun, right?!?!?!”

So NO MORE!  I pledge here and now to love my kids no matter what and to accept them for who they are, and trust that my unconditional love and support will help them realize they can do anything they put their mind to.  And if that means they turn into a soccer star, fine.  I’ll get over my fears.  If they want to play dungeons and dragons all day and DOOM! all night, cool with me.  For them, I will be willing to learn and play too. (No, that does not mean I am willing to learn and play with you CEO.  Sorry. You have to take me to dinner and on romantic dates)

2) Don’t Let Your Kids Be Numb To Real Bravery

Superheroes and legends of bravery have been favorite stories for all of mankind.  From Odysseus to Ironman, everyone likes a good hero story.  But I think more and more, in this society of abundant TV, movies and video games, kids are loosing sight of what real heroism is.  The more I thought about the reaction of those young adults in the theater, the more I began to think about the true subtlety of the violence, bombing, and struggle portrayed in the movie.  I thought the beauty of the movie was the realistic portrayal, and that they didn’t overdue it with fancy graphics, sound effects or gratuitous blood and guts. Maybe without all that jazz, those kids were genuinely bored.  But could they still not recognize that this was a “based on real life story” and that someone actually survived all that?

ES-Louis-Zamperini

Maybe the media doesn’t report the stories of everyday heroes enough.  Maybe society doesn’t celebrate them enough.  But I can’t change any of that.  What I can do is raise children who will know and respect real heroes – veterans, policemen, fireman and the brave citizens who step up in unexpected ways to prevent an accident, solve a problem or challenge status quo.  I want to raise my children to admire astronauts, and understand those REAL men strapped themselves to REAL rockets, filled with REAL rocket fuel, and most of them lived to tell about it and we honor those brave souls who didn’t.

1) The most important thing I learned from UNBROKEN is that the gift of faith in God is by far the best gift I can give my children.

“Though all three men faced the same hardship, their differing perceptions of it appeared to be shaping their fates. Louie and Phil’s hope displaced their fear and inspired them to work toward their survival, and each success renewed their physical and emotional vigor. Mac’s resignation seemed to paralyze him and the less he participated in their efforts to survive, the more he slipped. Though he did the least, as the days passed, it was he who faded the most. Louie and Phil’s optimism, and Mac’s hopelessness, were becoming self-fulfilling.”
Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Phil’s father was a methodist Pastor, and how proud he must have been to know that his son was strong enough in faith, not just to save himself, but to share the hope that he found in Jesus with his friend in their hour of need.  The book goes into much more detail of Louie’s faith journey than the movie portrays.  It was more than just the conversation with Phil on the life raft that brought Louie to Christ, but it is that scene, if you will, that stuck with me.  When I think about the kind of men I want to raise, hands down I want my sons to be the one sharing eternal hope, not cowering in fear of human suffering.

It is so easy to feel alone and helpless in this world.  I imagine floating on a raft in the middle of the pacific is about as alone as anyone might feel.  But when three men looked up at the stars.  Two saw the wonder of the Lord’s creation and renewed their faith that all things are possible through him.  One felt small and insignificant, alone and hopeless.

“What God asks of men, said [Billy] Graham, is faith. His invisibility is the truest test of that faith.”
Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

If you haven’t read the book, I highly encourage you to do so.  But if you are an exhausted mom or dad and picking up a book isn’t in your immediate future, then I hope these five ideas can inspire you to raise the next Louie Zamperini or Russell Allen “Phil” Phillips.

So Now It’s My Fault He Won’t Go To Sleep?

Our two little Associates share a room, and have for about 6 months now, since the little one, Associate A was 15 months old.  His almost 3 year old big brother had super-cool bunk beds and it started with him napping on the bottom bunk and eventually moved in full time.  This was all against my better judgement, of course, but they loved sharing a room and I figured “Why not?  Child-led parenting is a thing, right?”

Associate A did surprisingly well staying in bed for the first few months, or if he did get out would walk to our room and gently knock on our bedroom door.  We took the bunk beds apart to two twins after he demonstrated he had mastered the ladder up.  By then Associate A was 18 months old and had already demonstrated his propensity for nighttime adventures.  Associate P had never once even remotely considered looking over the edge of the upper bunk railings. He is a good rule abiding first born.  A, on the other hand, laughs in the face of danger and would have jumped over the railings faster than I could dial 9-1-1.

So now they have twin beds next to each other, and they go to sleep and wake up at the same times.  Sounds awesome and super easy, right?   WRONG.

The quality of my day, workplace productivity and enjoyment is completely dependent on their sleep patterns lining up so I can have two happy well rested boys at the same time.   Something wakes them up too early, and Associate A will be exhausted by 11am… but if he naps then, Associate P isn’t ready.  P will start to behave like an exhausted psychopath just about the time Associate A is waking up, and I’m no psychologist, but I do know that psychopaths refuse to nap if they think their younger sibling is going to get 1:1 time with mommy.  The day then becomes a slow roll to hell, and by the time the CEO gets home from work I’m usually hiding in the kitchen and throwing snacks at the savages to keep them at bay in the playroom.

The alternative is they wake at a respectable hour, we have fun morning adventure – maybe a park or the zoo  – we come home and eat lunch in the 12 o’clock hour and everyone lays down for a nap together in the 1 o’clock hour – me on the ground between their two beds.  It is a win win, as I get a 20-30 minute nap and  an hour or so to myself before they wake up.  Then we play outside the whole afternoon, and when the CEO comes home we greet him with smiles and a nutritious, home cooked meal on the table.

Bedtime is usually pretty easy, and hands down my favorite part of the day.  But unfortunately, Associate A is teething (2 year molars… shoot me now!) and in a very needy phase lately.  He has become accustomed to mommy laying on the ground between their beds at nap time and so now, at bedtime, insists on the same practice.  He will point to the ground “You stay right there.”

For a while I have indulged this sweet little gesture, and even enjoyed falling asleep for a little evening siesta between my two boys.  They usually ask me to hold their hands, so I’ll lay there on my back, with arms stretched out reaching up to their beds.  Not at all comfortable, but it is sweet. So I’ll cherish those little moments and listen as their quiet breathing turns to adorable baby snores.

But not tonight.  Tonight we took the boys out to eat, and my stomach is fully rejecting the butter-soaked meal.  I’m miserable and just want to put them to bed and poop in peace.  I had tried while they were in the tub, but the P was all “ahh mommy I have to poop”  so I had to get up, get him out and let him do his business, and by the time he was done my opportunity had passed.   They are ready to get out and the next twenty minutes is a blur of toothpaste, wrestling them into PJ’s and wild giggles as mommy keeps farting and stinking up the room.

Stories, prayers, hugs and kisses – ok now climb into bed, everybody got your 15 lovies, toys, books and special blankets?  Great!!!  Good night.

Of course you know there is no way Associate A is going to stay in bed and fall asleep unless I am on the ground next to him… which right now is the very last thing I want to do.  So I’m going to be tough today and say “NO!  You must stay in bed.  Mommy is not in the mood tonight. Go to sleep!”  After another 20 minutes of tears and little feet pitter patting out of the room, I give in and go in to lay down.

At which point a very amused, and still a bit giggly Associate P tells me, “Mommy its your fault A won’t stay in bed.  Your farts are too stinky.  They made the whole room smell and he just wants to get out.”

I can hear the CEO laughing from the other room…. and when they are finally asleep and I come out he tells me this is one of the best days of his life and he wants to remember this forever.  Well here you go sir – may it live on the interwebs forever.

Associate P was right – the bedtime battle was my fault, but I hold firm it is not because of my stinky farts.  It is rather because I have indulged my kids in a routine (staying in the room while they fall asleep) that is unsustainable.

Eventually I will have to be strong enough to withstand the tears, stay firm and stay out. But for tonight, it was just easier to sit in the dutch oven of my own creation.  ugh.

 

Nothing Says I Love You Like a Dutch Oven

Nothing Says I Love You Like a Dutch Oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honey, I’m Home… OMG!!!

Funny story today, worth sharing.

The CEO popped home to grab lunch, only to walk smack into a huge playdate in progress. You could see the sheer horror on his face as he lay witness to so many women and children destroying his house.  He was probably also extremely disappointed to be unable to identify his own children in the crowds of wet, sticky wee ones running around.

He came in, politely smiled and waved to the few ladies he maybe recognized despite our SAHM day attire (ie no makeup, baggy clothes and sweaty).  At least I hope he recognized them.  Some of these women are good friends that we usually only see on social occasions where we have all showered and clean clothes on.  I wouldn’t want their husbands to have seen me today, and as soon as I saw him, my first thought was to APOLOGIZE to my friends… “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know HE’D be here.  Its so awkward!!”   Like when a boss would pop into the after work happy hour… CEO encroachment was a total playdate buzz-kill.

Anyway, he came in and found me cutting cheese – literally – into little cubes for the kiddos.  I gave him the “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!?!” look.  He responded with the “GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!” look.

I felt like a teenager getting busted by her parents for having a party while they were out (not that I ever did that 😉  “Oh Hi Hun.  I thought I mentioned I had a few friends coming over today… um, you want some cubed cheese, watermelon or blueberries?”   I felt the need to apologize … making the mental note I’d really, REALLY have to clean up now.  He will be avoiding coming home all day thinking it will be a disaster zone.

His response was swift, “No I’ll go out and grab something.  See you later.”  Faster than you can say “Daddy’s Home” he was gone again.

I bet some of the women didn’t even notice him.  Most of the kids, including mine, were totally unaware a man briefly crashed the party.  They were too busy splashing in the baby pool, digging in the sandbox or finding every last toy in our house.

But after I scrambled to clean up during my Associates quiet time, it occurred to me that unlike the mad dash to clean after a high school party, I would not be getting in trouble this time.  My CEO would not be mad at me for throwing a party while he was out. In fact, I bet he is glad I did.  He knows I need to be social and see friends, and after seeing just how crazy a playdate can be, I am positive he would prefer I only do them when he is not home.  In fact, I bet he’ll never make the mistake of coming home at lunch again without checking in via text first!

 

 

 

 

 

Love Is An Open Door

I’ve been meaning to write about the highlight of our recent trip to Ohio.  We had a lot of fun – tractor rides, playing in dirt piles, a trip to one of the Top 5 Zoo’s in the country The Toledo Zoo, and spending lots of time with family.

But hands down, the highlight of the trip was seeing my boys and their cousins bond.  I love my nieces and nephews a little too much.  Its unhealthy.  I am probably the most proud aunt you will ever meet.  Because my siblings were close in age, wouldn’t you know it they all started having babies at the same time.  Between the 4 of them they had 9 kiddos born in about a 5 year span.  It was crazy.   And each baby that came was cuter than the last (sorry Drew 😉

I was living out of town for college and then grad school when they were all born and in these adorable toddler years.  I visited back home as often as I could to see them.  But it was heart breaking to have to be reintroduced to them every time.  Little ones just don’t have great memories, and when they only see you a couple time a year it takes a while to really earn the reputation as Super-Fun Aunt Katie.

For me, visits home for the last 15 years have been all about enjoying these kids as much as I can.  I wanted to know them and I wanted them to know me.  But when the CEO and I had kids, it all changed.  I had this crazy fear my kids would miss out on all the crazy cousin fun the others get to enjoy. I worried we wouldn’t be able to see them enough, or when we did there would be too much of an age gap for them to bond.

Thankfully, those fears and most certainly squashed.  Thanks to facetime, my kids see their cousins pretty often.  We also do a pretty good job of still getting together as a family, and my husband is cool with vacationing with my family.  Just last year we were all together for a week, then the boys and I flew to Ohio for another week to keep the party going.  It was great.

Playing Trains With Their Big Cousin and His Old Thomas Set.

Playing Trains With Their Big Cousin and His Old Thomas Set.

And even though we hadn’t physically been with any of my nieces or nephews since that vacation last July, both my boys instantly loved all their cousins like not a day had gone by.  They spent the whole trip playing with their cousins, and had a ball.  At one point, completely unprompted, Associate P declared  “I love Ohio because I get to play with my cousins here!”

I personally felt a little guilty last summer and this visit, because since having kids of my own, I’m no longer crazy fun Aunt Katie who comes to play with my nieces and nephews.  Now I’m a tired mom who sits back and enjoys the break as they play with my kids.  But it was very little guilt and the beers and laughs with my parents and siblings helped me get over it pretty quickly 😉

So when I think of the best moment of our trip to Ohio, it was definitely the beautiful sound of 2 preteens and 2 toddlers belting out “Love is an Open Door” as we enjoyed ice cream with the whole gang.  Yup. That was the best moment of the whole trip.

As I ponder the beauty of the moment and reflect on all the Frozen has taught me, I can say with confidence that family love is the most special force on earth.  We know each other from birth and there is the special something inside us that unites us, forever, no matter what.  No matter the distance and no matter the time.

 

**** I should mention, this post is a shout out to my oldest nephew who turns 15 today.  I can still remember the day you were born like it was yesterday, and everyday since has been a blessing because you are here!  Love you DJS4

 

 

We Really Can Have It All

I very vividly remember arguing with my women’s studies professor.   I could not believe a modern American educated woman could complain about our opportunities and choices.  We are the most blessed class of people to have ever lived, IMHO.   We can take on men in the classroom, board room and bedroom, yet we can demand they treat us like ladies and welcome all the traditional acts of chivalry.  Even after working in Politics, a classic example of a male-centric industry, I never doubted that myself or any other amazing woman I worked with could achieve anything we set out to.  We could if we wanted to.

But the reality is, many women don’t want to.  Many women reach a point in life – I blame the hormones – where they value their opportunity to be mother and they willingly choose to “sacrifice” career.

Girls increasingly outnumber and outperform boys in all areas of higher education, and are graduating with  degrees left and right.  In fact, social science is beginning to turn its concern to the poor boys being emasculated at young ages or left behind as their female peers accelerate.

But opportunity to succeed can’t change the simple fact that women are the ones who have both more of a physical and emotional investment in child rearing.   Women not only have to spend time away from work to give birth to the children, but many women choose careers that will allow them flexibility so they can be more available to their families.

From an interesting 2012 article in The Atlantic

“a big part of the difference comes from an hours gap. The vast majority of male doctors under the age of 55 work substantially more than the standard 40 hour work week. In contrast, most female doctors work between 2 to 10 hours fewer than this per week”

Some might read that and think it is a negative for women.  No way.  It is another example of how women today really do have it made.

This TED talk is so worth a watch and really explains very well that

 “60 years after The Femine Mystique was published, many women actually have more choices than men do.  We can decide to be a breadwinner, a caregiver or any combination of the two.”

I love this TED talk, for so many reasons.  It highlights how modern dads, like my CEO, take pride in being an active parent, help around the house and even enjoy cooking – things not embraced by previous generations.  It highlights that having a partnership where one is a caregiver and the other is a breadwinner isn’t traditional or old fashioned, it is functional and purposeful.  It also has a few great lines in there, like “we need to re-socialize men.” 🙂

But mostly I love it because hearing this self-described feminist explain her ah-ha moment gives me hope that maybe my poor old women’s study professor has had her ah-ha moment too.

“I have come to believe that we have to value family every bit as much as we value work” Anne-Marie Slaughter

YUP! And when we do, we, men and women, really can have it all!

 

 

mmmmm…. pepperoni.

Tonight Associate P had Pepperoni and Strawberries for dinner.  The thought of the combo makes me want to throw up and it was hard for me to watch him scarf it down.

I wonder if that is how he felt when I suggested he try the delicious healthy balsamic chicken and spaghetti squash with spinach, tomato and feta.  Maybe my little man is a high-brow foodie, and behind his screams of “no, no, no” he was really thinking “I can’t believe she paired that together.”

The things kids will and won’t eat changes day by day, even moment by moment.  Lunch was a freak out when I spread the sour cream on his quesadilla…. no no no, woman.  Scrape it off and leave it on my plate so I can dip at my leisure.  Yes, your highness.  Whatever you say.  Anything to get your mouth full of gooey food for a few moments, so it is impossible to ask “why?” or bark orders at me.

Associate A, on the other hand, is at the glorious 1 year mark and growing so fast he will eat anything I put in front of him, beg for more, and finish his brother’s dinner.  Associate P used to be that way.  Then he turned 2.

But, always quick to recover and woo my love back, he asks me to save his dinner not throw it away.  “Maybe next time I’ll eat it.”

I won’t hold my breath.

 

Mom v Toddler: a battle of wills

After another hard fought battle of the wills at nap time with Associate P, it occurred to me I might be too competitive to be a good mom.

When my frustration has climaxed and I am insanely enraged at an incoherent, exhausted toddler, my patience reaches a tipping point. Just when I think I can’t take it anymore, a voice inside me says “you can’t let the child win this one!” And BAM! Patience overwhelms me and suddenly time is no object.

Little does he know his wild flailing and cries for “mommy” and “I’m not ready to lay down” fall on deaf ears. My competitive side supersedes my compassion.

And this, I fear, will only lead me to trouble as he gets older and his willpower and endurance grow. His protestations will increase exponentially and I had better rethink my plan of simply trying to outlast him and start finding some other solutions before this little man runs me ragged.

So, tonight I pray for wisdom, as it says in James 1:5 “if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Never Negotiate With Terrorist Toddlers

Excuse me – that should be ‘Terrorists OR Toddlers.’  I would never refer to my child as a terrorist… ahem.

I know, I know. I should offer two acceptable choices to let him feel some power. I read that book too.

But honestly, more often than not dinner has become a game of let’s make a deal. Sure, it bothers me. Dinnertime is often a low point in the day when negotiations break down and we both end up hungry, tired and crying wishing we could skip all this and just have a cookie.

But perhaps I’m looking at this all wrong. Maybe we are teaching him fabulous negotiating skills that could save us tens of thousands of dollars on a useless business degree someday.

For example, yesterday Associate P saw an opportunity and he maximized it. I had been praising him since he woke up from his nap and he decided to cash in the deal that I offered earlier, “If you nap, we can go to the Library when you wake up.” As we were getting ready to leave he heard me tell the CEO that we’d be back right at dinner time so would probably just do quesadillas.

Flash forward one hour to the drive home. We pass by Surfi’n Turtle Ice Cream Shop and Associate P casually mentions, “We haven’t had ice cream in a while.” I respond in the typical bribing way any good mother would, “Well if you eat all your dinner tonight, maybe we can have some!”

He screams excitedly “YOU’VE GOT A DEAL” This is an unusual response in our normal negotiations so I probe to see the extent with which I got worked.  “So are you hungry for dinner tonight?” “Yes mommy! I love quesadillas. They are my favorite. And ice cream too. I LOVE ice cream!”

yup. he knew what he was doing and the kid ate until his tummy hurt last tonight. He deserved it. Well played son.  Well played.

Why Mommy? Why? Why? …. Why?

Me to Associate P: “It may not have been your first word, but if you keep it up WHY  just might be your last!”

Just in the last few weeks, Associate P has begun asking “Why?” All. The. Time.  I always thought people were exaggerating the extent to which kids ask “Why?” the way the exaggerate every other detail of their children’s lives….

“Johnny has THE BEST laugh”

“Susie is THE WORST eater”

“Bobby asks “Why?” ALL THE TIME”

See, it fits the hyperbole pattern parents use and abuse to describe their little ones. The problem is, this one isn’t hyperbole. when someone says their kid asks “Why?” after everything and repeats it on and on and on and on until the parent can no longer take it, they aren’t exaggerating!

So I suppose it is on us to figure out how to respond and make these truly teaching moments.  Currently, I’m dabbling with trying to give honest answers and turn it around to him to make it a discussion.  Sometimes I say “I don’t know” or ask him “Hmm, do you know?”   A few times one or both of us will say, “I didn’t know that!” to which the other replies, “Yea! We learned something today!”

And often, after the 20th or 100th “Why?” I find myself using distraction to divert him to anything else.

Lots of good ideas in the comments of this babycenter post, “Why Does My Toddler Constantly Ask Why?”

Post a comment if you have a great idea on how to respond to “Why, Mommy?”

 

 

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