metaphortunate: (Default)
You know, mostly people did tell me that it was going to be exactly this hard. I can't pretend I wasn't warned. But there's just one thing that I don't think anybody mentioned? I constantly have that "all my friends are out having fun without me" feeling. And the reason is because y'all ARE. You post pictures about it! And I see these pictures and go "oh…they were here and they didn't invite me…and if they had, what day was that, that was…yeah, no way I could have gone…they probably guessed that…I can't really argue."

Or, you know, you DO ask me, and I can't go, and then you go out and have fun without me, and then I do the sad puppy eyes when looking at your pictures later.

Argh, it's not that I am not socializing enough! I have as much social time as I can handle and maybe just a bit more. I just have a lot of great friends who do really fun things, okay? I wish I got to see you more, it's just that I would need a time turner.
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
Before I had kids, I had heard the idea - from certain homeschoolers and stay-at-home parents - that why would you even HAVE kids for someone else to raise (i.e., send to daycare and/or school.)

Now that I have kids, I know the answer! And the answer is, have you MET kids?
metaphortunate: (Default)
Okay, here's a thing.

The conversation I wrote about yesterday? I know it's wrong. I mean, I have an ear for this, I know that it's funny. But I honestly don't 100% know exactly why.

I mean, it's ironic that my mom is bugging me to break a habit that she has absolutely no intention of breaking herself, right? But is that any worse than me telling my kid to relax and get some sleep when I know there's no chance I'll be doing it myself? And I know what would happen if I told my mom to lay off my coffee habit if she's not going to kick her own, because I've had this conversation before. She would say, with perfect sincerity, that my health and wellbeing are much more important to her than her own.

Which is true. I don't talk about it much, because it's not funny, or cute, or some traumatic shit that I have to work through, which are the main reasons why I talk about my family. It's just been a constant source of support in my life: I have always had parents who care deeply about my health and wellbeing, yea, even above their own. How lucky am I. And if they're sometimes spectacularly bad at figuring out how to support that goal; well, sometimes they're not. They did get a number of things right. And I wouldn't be doing nearly as well as I am without all the love and help they gave me throughout my life, for sure.

But, it's still kind of fucked up to not be able to drink tea for breakfast in your own house without being confronted with how disappointing it is that you haven't reached a goal that you weren't trying for and aren't interested in, right?

There's still something fucked up about caring so much about someone else's health and happiness that you push them to do shit in pursuit of it that is way too hard or tedious or unpleasant to do yourself, right?

I really want to know what exactly the problem is. What is the funny part? What is the fucked up part? Because I know something is wrong, but I don't know what it is, and if I don't know what it is, how am I going to avoid doing it myself?

arms race

Oct. 30th, 2015 08:09 am
metaphortunate: (Default)
US: Please don't give the kids battery operated toys that make a lot of noise.

MR. E'S PARENTS: Here's a battery operated bus that makes loud engine and honking sounds and plays a jaunty little tune! Happy birthday, Rocket!

MR. E: Well, I was able to cut the battery lines, so that's fine, but maybe next time take the batteries out first? They never like the toy as much if it made noise at first and then stopped.

MOM: I got the Junebug one of those Audubon Society stuffed birds that play a tinny recording of an authentic bird call! It's a seagull. Also the batteries are internal and there's no way to access them. And I've already given it to him and he loves it. Your move, bitch.

ME: Hey, that was a real good try. But I think you forgot that your own mother taught me how to sew. I just opened a seam, took out the noisemaker, and sewed it back up as good as new. I even gave him the noisemaker for an outside toy only, how you like that?

MOM: I'm gonna buy them a piano.

ME: No.
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
I now understand all those stupid mother-in-law jokes, and all the grim women on DWIL Nation talking about their husbands' unhealthy entanglements with their mothers. Which is not to say that I think I have an unhealthy entanglement with my kids. I think my relationship with my kids is healthy and wonderful, for kids of the ages of four and not quite two. Which is to say, we have a massive crush on each other.

I wish there were a word in English like "sensual" or "physical pleasure" that didn't carry the connotation of wanting to bone. I don't want to bone my kids. But my pleasure in them is absolutely physical and sensual, and so is theirs in me. They love being picked up and carried. I've been a adult too long; the idea of a giant scooping me up and carrying me away for its own frequently incomprehensible reasons is not at all reassuring to me. But it is to them. I love kissing them, burying my face in their little tummies, tucking them under my chin; they cling to me, crawl under me and on top of me, demand horsey rides up the stairs. I could seriously be happy just touching my cheek to Rocket's petal-soft round little cheek all day. This is physical love. I have a crush. And they have one right back. Rocket has reached the "MY scooter! MY ball!" two-year-old stage a few months early, which is not adorable, except for when he spends the entire time I'm pulling together dinner saying "MY mama!" and crashing into me for a hug. Heating up leftovers has never been so sweet.

And I can see that it's going to sting like hell when I become, as is natural, a sort of backdrop for their real emotional life, which will be played out with their cohort. That's what should happen! They will need to focus on the present and the future, not the past! I hope they will find love which sustains and feeds them, someday, NOT from me and Mr. E, but...

...breaking up is gonna be hard to do.

Gotta keep it in mind, though, because the crush danger, the poly trap where the Disney chemicals from your crush make you ignore your long-term partner, the one who's there for you, but you've been together for a while, and they're not the shiny new thing anymore…the danger is real. The kids are borrowed, for a while. Mr. E is mine if I can keep him. Gotta pay attention.

ETA:

Or maybe it won't be as bad as all that. Last night Rocket was in his room NOT calling "Mama;" go ahead & silently, TO YOURSELF, judge me as a child abuser or whatever, but I know my kid and I know that he needs to sleep and if I go in there he won't sleep, he'll want to play, and if I go in and leave hell sob at the betrayal. So sometimes he just calls out "Mama," quietly, to himself, a few times before he falls asleep.

But not last night. Last night he called out one of his little friends' names. Three syllables, crystal clear. And my feeling was: "Sweet! SHE can come over and get him to go to sleep, then."

fyi

Jul. 8th, 2015 03:12 pm
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
For those of you planning to have babies in the future, I highly recommend harnessing the placebo effect by teaching your kids that the thing to do with a stubbed toe or bumped head or similar owie is to have a parent kiss it and blow on it. It actually seems to make them feel better from these little injuries there's nothing else to do about.

However, be aware that this may lead to having a preschooler who stops dead in the middle of a busy sidewalk to yell "My penis hurts!", yank down his pants, and demand loudly that you kiss it.

fire truck

Jul. 2nd, 2015 08:09 am
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
I hope all firefighters who ring the fire truck bell and wave at small children who just stand on the sidewalk and stare at them silently like tiny cows know that my kids are just too overwhelmed by the FIRE TRUCK and the eye contact and when the truck is about a block away they start waving madly. Check your rearview.
metaphortunate: (Default)
Building on my last post, one thing I'm not sure that the Junebug realizes is that he actually gets more physical liberty than a lot of kids. And I swear I'm not judging. I know that other parents know their kids, just like I do. And I have seen the kids that never stop running and that will fling themselves off any heights whatsoever. I would attach a kid like that firmly to me at all times with handholding or a leash or possibly a clamp. But that's not the kids I have. I have kids that want to climb everything, but carefully, and testing their weight on each step before moving on. The Junebug wants to run and run and run, but he is reliable about stopping at the end of each block before the curb cut! And because he is reliable, I trust him to run down the street by himself. And climb on things. And other things that not all other kids get to do. And we've had some conversations about contexts in which he has to wait for me; not because he's not okay, but because it's scaring adults to see a kid by himself when I've yet to turn the corner, etc.

And we've also had talks about how different families have different rules, mostly around things he's not allowed to do, such as when the school has asked us to hold hands while walking through some areas and some other kids don't do it anyway but we do. Other families make their own decisions; we don't make decisions for them, but we don't have to do what they do, either.

Which is fine as far as it goes. But then something happens like Rocket and the Junebug walking on top of a waist-high wall next to the sidewalk, and his little classmate friend and her sister walking next to him on the sidewalk with their mom, who does not allow them to walk on that wall, and his friend saying sadly, "We're not allowed to do that because we're girls."

AAAARGH WHAT DO YOU DO. :(((((((

I will not criticize other people's parenting!

I will not.

It doesn't help. It never does.

But……………
metaphortunate: (Default)
Last night I got to go out with destinationtoast and she let me harangue her for like half an hour about Fury Road and just why it was so amazing! I HAD MORE TO SAY. I had to stop because the performance we actually went to see had started. She is the most patient friend. <3 Also she is way more plugged into fandom than me right now so has the most interesting things to say about wattpad (I'd never heard of it!) and Tumblr gossip and so on.

I've loved fandom for ages, but lately I have loved fandom, not so much the things people have been fans of! Fury Road is the first thing in ages that has grabbed my mind and not let go. I can't remember the last time I wanted to go see a movie in the theatre again AND AGAIN. And I don't have time, but I want to so badly!

She also asked me about how the kids were doing. Rocket is having this unbelievable word explosion and it's wonderful. He is my adorable squishy jellybean. The Junebug is….

So, as a mother who wants my child to be self-reliant and have initiative and not be swayed too much by other people and be resilient and not a wilting flower overwhelmed by other people's opinions and to have thoughts of his own, I am delighted, because this is all proceeding apace.

As a mother who wants him to WASH HIS FUCKING HANDS AFTER WIPING POOP OFF HIS BUTT BEFORE RUNNING THEM THROUGH HIS HAIR, and wants him to use the potty - or do ANYTHING at this point - without being yelled at, and wants him to respond to very serious corrections about how he needs to not hurt me or his brother or do some incredibly dangerous thing, with alarm or maybe even remorse, instead of laughing his ass off and calling me a poopyhead; as that kind of mother, I AM GONNA BEAT HIM UNTIL CANDY FALLS OUT.

No, no. I will not do that. I will power through this phase with the power of whining on the internet! And with gin. Oh god.

I mean, it's not all bad! This very morning he saw toys lying on the floor and announced that he was going to put them away so no one would trip on them and then he did so! I mean - parental dancing of joy! He is a good kid. But he is in a phase where he is not at all, not even a little bit, interested in pleasing me or following instructions. If I ask Rocket to throw something away for me he drops his toys and comes to grab the thing and toddles over to the trash can, because he is so delighted to be included and then he gets clapped for and cheered. The Junebug just wants me to stop making noises come out of my mouth. Like, literally, I will be trying to get him to bed and he will go all annoyed "Stop that." Kid, you & me both, but I CANNOT.
metaphortunate: (Default)
Advice for new parents:

Learn baby sign. Yeah it's more or less true that it helps the kids communicate earlier than they can verbally. Whatever. The real key is that when your little monkey starts getting large-scale exposed to other adorable gem factories, you are gonna get sick. You are gonna spend a LOT of time sick. And when you've lost your voice entirely, you're gonna be happier if you have a way to communicate with your kid or your partner other than choking out knives.
metaphortunate: (Default)
Who was it I was talking to about the luck of having two kids of the same sex?

Because it does feel like an escape. See, if I'd had a boy and a girl, I know in my soul that I would be absolutely convinced at this point that there are real differences between boys and girls, even at the age of like a year, and that I knew because I had seen them.

If the Junebug had been a girl I would be convinced that I had hard evidence that it's true that boy babies cry more than girls. If Rocket had been a girl I would be convinced that, wow: girls really do show so much more affection and emotion than boys. Even at such a young age.

But they're both boys, so what I have hard evidence for is that n=2 doesn't mean shit. Kids vary.
metaphortunate: (Default)
Primogeniture never made any sense to me until we had two kids.

But when the Junebug was a baby, Mr. E painstakingly handmade him nutritionally balanced homemade baby food, and we have spent hours and hours drilling manners into his head and rules and so on. With the result that he is a great kid. And now that Rocket is almost 18 months old, he's still occasionally eating those shelf-stable vacuum-packed bags of baby mush, and mostly as long as he's not actually screaming at the top of his lungs or shitting on his brother we just sort of let him do what he's gonna do as we try to get other shit done. (Falling is good for them! It teaches them appropriate risk assessment!) And if god forbid we had a third one, I'm pretty sure we would duct tape it to the wall and occasionally fling it scoopfuls of Purina Tot Chow.

So yeah. If we had to pick a king or something, I would have to vote for that first one.
metaphortunate: (Default)
Well, I feel the answer to the question of whether I told the Junebug the right thing has been swiftly answered, inasmuch as he hit another kid with a shovel today.

It's really great when the action-feedback loop is so immediate. Yes. That emotion I'm feeling is probably gratitude.

Anyway.

[livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid had a great suggestion, which was to kick the kick, not the kid. Which is really what I should have been getting at in the first place. It's okay to stop someone else from hurting you. It's not okay to hurt them in revenge: that just takes you down a path you don't want to go.

(I mean, iterated prisoner's dilemma is a thing, but he's too young for that.)

I also found it very interesting that there was a sharp divide between most people from California saying that tattling is absolutely the way to go, and people from everywhere else saying that no, you gotta fight back. This morning I asked my coworker with the older kids about it. She's from California. She said tattling all the way.

So! You have to know your local social norms. I will start emphasizing telling the teacher. We'll do some physical blocking practice. And we'll see how that goes.

-----

By the way, he's not being bullied, as far as I can tell. This is all...kids being physical, the way they do. Today one kid bit a teacher. These things happen.

It's hard because they're all learning with each other. When I was learning to pass clubs, I practiced with some other beginning jugglers, and I practiced with some expert jugglers. It was SO MUCH EASIER to pass with the expert jugglers! They throw clubs that are easy to catch! They caught all my garbage throws! All the kids are beginner human beings trying to learn how to human with other beginners. It's hard. This morning the Junebug mentioned his temporary tattoo that he got this summer. It lasted like a week, he loved that thing. But this morning he sadly asked me why all the other kids kept touching it when he didn't want them to.

"How many times have I told you to quit poking people on the bus?"

"SO MANY." Aggrieved expression. This clearly weighs on him.

"That's because you're still learning how to respect other people's boundaries. So are all the other kids! You have to be patient."
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
Did I do right?

The Junebug came home from daycare the other day with the story of how his friend* Prince** had kicked him when they were lining up to go out to outdoor play. He said it had hurt. That he hadn't seen it coming, that it had come by surprise. That the teachers hadn't noticed or hadn't interfered. Which seems legit, because the teachers tell us about incidents of fighting, and no one told me about that one.

At his daycare they teach the kids to say "No!" and block the other kids with their hands if they try to push or hit or bite. He said that he said "No!" but that Prince kicked him anyway.

I asked what he did. He said he had cried. He said he thought he'd cry till I came.

(That small dry snapping sound you just heard was my heart breaking in half.)

(I should note for the record that when I actually did come to pick him up he was laughing and running around outside, totally non-traumatized, and that he told me the story without seeming to suffer any emotional pain in the retelling.)

I said that Prince should not kick him. People shouldn't hurt each other.

I pointed out that if Prince keeps hurting him (and Prince did bite him the next day, hard enough to leave a mark; and also pinched him, according to the Junebug; and the teachers did tell me about that one) then he should think about whether he wants to play with him anymore, or whether it would be better to play with other kids.

(Note for the record that the Junebug had grabbed Prince's puzzle pieces right before Prince bit him. We talked about how that's not the right way to play with someone else too.)

I generalized from that that if we hurt our friends, then they won't want to be our friends anymore; so he should not hurt other kids.

I told him that if Prince tries to hurt him again, he shouldn't just say "No!"; he should yell it as loud as he can. That way the teachers won't be able to ignore it. I told him that was the one time it was okay to use his outside voice inside. We practiced yelling "No!" as loud as we could, outside. He's, uh. He's naturally gifted in that area. He can produce a very loud "No!" We'll practice some more.

I told him that he must never kick anyone smaller than him, or who can't defend themself. Like, he must never kick babies; he must never kick Rocket.

I told him that he must never kick anyone first. (Visions of Han Solo dancing in my head.)

And then I told him that if someone kicks him again, and he screams "No!" and they don't stop, and the teachers don't help…to kick them back.

Did I do right?

I feel like you should never tell your kids to hurt another kid! It seems wrong! But I could not think of what else to tell him. Kids are gonna fight. Kids are gonna attack each other. I know my parents told me never to hurt anyone else. It seems like the right thing to say. But in reality I remember that I just took that to mean that my parents were completely out of touch with anything like my reality and there was no point in asking them for advice. "Just ignore them," my ass. "Just walk away," yeah sure I'm going to teach people that they can kick me out of any space by lifting a finger. That'll give me a peaceful time in the future, no doubt. My. Ass.

And there is no way in hell I'm going to tell him to tell a teacher. Yeah yeah, in an ideal world that's the way it would work; if there were people in charge of enforcing the social contract in a space, you could report violations to them and they would take care of it. Back to childhood reality: it's social suicide among the kids AND the teachers. Nobody, not even the supposed social contract enforcers, likes, or listens to, a tattletale.

So….what do you tell them? I'm serious. I'm officially asking for advice. If you have a solution that's worked for you, I want to hear it.

I think I did wrong. But I don't know how to do better.

------------------------------

*Yes, friend; one of the two kids he plays with all the time.

**Not his real name.

hi guys

Jan. 29th, 2015 09:43 pm
metaphortunate: (Default)
I'm sorry if I owe you a phone call or an email - or three - it's because I'm so behind that I can't cope, and I swear I will be getting back to you sometime around the 4th of July.

No sooner do I find a new pair of work pants - than one of my old ones develops a hole. Aargh! And pants are really hard to shop for online. And these days finding time to go to a store in person is a sort of invasion strategy development that involves careful timing and personnel deployment. I might get to try around the end of February.

We need to get in an exterminator because we have so many freaking silverfish. I know they are harmless but they are getting so numerous that I am having nightmares all night about them.

I see people online sneering at vegans because they claim their food is cruelty-free and yet their food is actually picked and produced by brutally exploited migrant workers. Guys: is there a non-brutal-exploitation food production option that I am currently unaware of? Is the idea that working in a slaughterhouse is a much better job? Or is it just sneering at an attempt to do something for not doing everything?

Thank god for the internet. I grimly decided that it was time for the Junebug to learn to wipe his own butt. I… realized I had no idea how to teach a kid to wipe their butt.

To the internet-mobile! THE INTERNET DELIVERS.

(At breakfast, me: "Oh my god! This site totally explains how to teach a kid to wipe their butt!"
Mr. E: "How?"
Me: "You use peanut butter!"
Mr. E: "…

…you must be joking."
Me: "On a PLATE.")

It's brilliant! We're working on it.
metaphortunate: (Default)
Rocket has started walking!

…and about half an hour after he started taking his shaky little toddling steps, we got the email from the daycare saying that his cohort is moving up to the next class. He was the very last one to walk. I think they were waiting for him. *facepalm* I feel kind of bad, several kids in the group were clearly ready to move up to more advanced toys and more adventurous activities a while ago. But kids gonna do what kids gonna do, you can't rush them.

Speaking of which, the Junebug was very seriously told to "Be yourself." by one of the extremely friendly homeless guys on the bus this morning. Which I thought was pretty funny. Of course a three-year-old is going to be himself. There is absolutely no one else he can be. Also, however, I don't WANT him to be himself. I want him to be someone who understands that if you accidentally poop a little bit in your underwear you should tell someone right away.

The homeless guys also gave him a lollipop. I was extremely conflicted about this. He was having a great time talking to them - they wanted to show him their rap sheets, and he wanted to point out that there was a "Police! That says police!" badge at the top and tell them about how Curious George got in trouble one time. And I want him to feel okay about talking to people. I mean, he lives in a city, he'd better. And I didn't want to be all AAAH DON'T TOUCH STUFF FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE WEARING HOUSE SLIPPERS CAMPING AND CUTTING EACH OTHER'S HAIR ON THE FREAKING BUS. I certainly didn't want to insult them. And, I mean, a wrapped lollipop. What's the harm? And yet if he should happen to get sick at all I can just so clearly see myself in the pediatrician's office going "Gosh, do you think maybe I shouldn't have let him eat the lollipop from the homeless guy on the bus?"

He's been told he can have it at the weekend. Possibly I will dead goldfish it before then.

Have been doing way too much Cannibal Corpse voice at the Junebug recently. :/ Trying to cut back.
metaphortunate: (Default)
Question for those of you who were once children:

Did your parents or other appropriate caregivers, if any, give you any guidance on wading into the shark-infested waters of childhood socializing?

I can remember about 30 bajillion instances of my parents, mostly my long-suffering mother, hissing at me to say hello to the adults of the house when we showed up, thank you when we got food, goodbye when we left, excuse me when I ran right in front of their feet as kids do, sorry for spilling things all over the carpet, etc. x infinity; but I can't remember them talking much about how to be with other kids. Maybe I have a faint memory of being told to say "Thank you" for presents at a birthday party? When getting into my teens I definitely remember being told not to let anyone pressure me into anything, which was good advice. That's about it.

And it's not because I was the suave little kid who didn't need any help. I was the kind of insufferable fat bespectacled nerdlette who would show up at your party toting a book called Facts About Whales. Seriously, that was my favorite book and for ages I carried it everywhere. Because I have always been committed to popularity. I am 40 years old and when I go home my parents' friends still laugh at me because I was the dork who always showed up at their house carrying some sort of nerdtacular book. And then would sit in the corner reading it while other kids played around me. And if my parents had somehow prevented me from bringing a book, I would FIND a book at the house we were at and read it while other kids played around me.

And yet, I don't remember my parents ever bugging me about it much. Maybe because reading was Officially Educational and they never stopped me doing anything Officially Educational? Maybe because, to do justice to my tiny nerdly social acumen, I had already worked out that nobody wanted to hear about any Facts About Whales, so at least it kept me quiet? I don't know, but I do know that they were totally right not to bug me: I made friends when I found people I actually liked, and I'm doing fine now. So, huh.

But I have no idea what I'll do if & when my kids struggle.
metaphortunate: (uncanny kubrick creamsicle)
Why I am going to hell:

The Junebug has a child's umbrella, and I have an adult umbrella, which is bigger when it's opened but folds twice so it's smaller when it's closed. Today the Junebug was crowing that his umbrella is the biggest, so I explained to him how my umbrella was a grower and his umbrella was a shower.
metaphortunate: (rock's not dead)
We've had to get serious about the housekeeping since having the little monkeys. Crawling babies will eat anything they run into on the floor. AN. EE. THING. Do they take a moment to ask themselves, is this food? Was it food a month ago? Did it fly in the house a month ago? Is it bigger than my throat? Are mom and dad weeping blood and screaming "NOOOOO!" as they race my fat little fist to my mouth? Do they balls. Babies: masters of the fucks ungiven, so we have had to learn some cleaning tips and tricks! One of which I will now share with you.

So maybe you've had dinner. You're cleaning up. You wipe down the table and briskly go to sweep up some of the steady shower of food that falls like plankton rain from the incompetent hands of toddlers. Hold on there, cowboy! Not so fast. See, if you try to sweep the food up right away, if it's something like steamed cauliflower, it'll squish to the floor and all over the bristles of your broom. What you want to do is let it dry out overnight, so you can easily sweep it up in the morning without getting down on the floor and scrubbing. Timesaving! That is just one of the many classy touches that keeps our house so sparkling tidy. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm ready to take over Hints from Heloise. Next week: why sterilizing your baby bottles is a myth!

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