Posts Tagged ‘Parenting


Occam’s Razor, Fugue-ish Feeding, And Why I Love Dissent

Suffice to say, I have just had it with all kinds of medical practitioners. Midwives, nurses, doctors, and specialists…I’ve been awash for the last month in all their sage wisdom.

“Your daughter needs to eat more carbohydrates. She must have potatoes during every meal and desserts after. And, no, rice and beans don’t count as carbohydrates.” “Your daughter needs a tube in her ear to prevent ear infections.” “Her ears are fine.” “She has thrush, which could signal an autoimmune deficiency.” “She absolutely does not have thrush, and she’s perfectly healthy.”

This has all put me in the mindset of Dr. House, especially as I keep repeating the same medical history to each so-called “specialist.” So here’s the mystery we’re trying to solve:

My baby’s spent the first 7 months of her life in the 10-25% of weight, and the 50-75% height. When she started at daycare, she was upset. Really upset. Like, hunger strike upset. She refused all nourishment all day, and any given to her was promptly vomited back up. When I would pick her up, she would only accept breast milk, since she was looking for comfort. This went on till her first birthday, and still does to some extent (she will throw up any breakfast she eats upon entry through the door). It has, up till now, taken a month straight of visits to specialists to explain to her doctors, then, why she has dropped to the 3% in weight and 10% in height (or lower).

Also, they can’t figure out how she keeps catching ear infections.

Egads, man, when did the simplest answer to something become so goddamned elusive? I couldn’t understand this until listening yesterday to the latest “specialist” in baby care, but now I think I get it: They cannot tolerate variations on a theme.

The doctor was pounding me with rapid-fire questions for a half an hour, trying to get me to give her an example of my baby’s daily diet. Thing is, she doesn’t have a set schedule, and her tastes change daily. The doctor could not compute this, and got more and more agitated until she started barking orders at me, telling me EXACTLY what she had to eat and when. Why does my baby have to eat cereal for breakfast and not rice and beans, if she so desires? I got no answer. She did, however, go on to tell me my daughter was likely vitamin deficient, or otherwise malnourished, without a single test result to look at…just because she was confounded by a baby who ate what she wanted when she was hungry.

My husband and I have always been against excessive schedule-making when it comes to parenting, but never have I been more against it than I am now. I used to just think it was healthier for a child to be able to be flexible as far as nap times and meal times go (especially since we are public transportation junkies), but now I think it’s healthier for society in general. This is part of a larger parenting quibble we have with traditional parenting mores: “Because I said so” is a ridiculous answer to any question.

The progressive dumbing-down of societies (all this happened in Spain, but it could be anywhere) is becoming so rampant, it’s starting to terrify me, and I just see this manner of illogically foisting rules on people over whom you have authority as a highly contributive factor. Why not encourage a child (or patient) to know the reason he does what he does, or doesn’t do what he doesn’t do? Kids actually like information (hence the ubiquitous question, “Why?”), and sometimes light-hearted reasoning can really help (My nephew, who won’t eat almost anything given to him, finally ate his fish sticks when I explained that protein is what your body utilizes to grow. The terrifying prospect of being shorter than his baby cousin suddenly spurred his appetite to never-before-seen heights.)

In short, if my child’s doctor doesn’t like my daughter eating dahl for breakfast, then 😛


Can Michelle Obama Teach Americans To Eat Right? Prolly Not.

Don’t get me wrong: I hope she succeeds in her stated goal to encourage healthful eating across the United States. And I really think, if anyone can do it, she can. (Can anyone remember such a collective swoon happening in the States at a couple’s physiques as has happened with these two? Seriously, it’s like we all have a touch of the vapors when they bare the tiniest bit of skin.)

It’s just that, as I’ve said many times before, the notion that being American means overindulging in everything is soooo ingrained, it seems impossible to extricate from our collective consciousness. Her idea to highlight overindulgence in local produce seems smart, since it’s not taking away anything (just modifying it), but it’s still a tough sell. Wearing our hyper-consumption of bacon grease (and spare tires) like a badge of honor has become de rigeur. I hope it changes, since it’s not only wildly unhealthy but also seriously costly to the American taxpayer (yes, more so than smokers or drug addicts), but I lack the hope these guys have.

Part of the reason? They’re already catching flack from our fucking Congressmen about the “tiny portions” they’re being served at the White House dinners. If these guys (who, I hate to say it, are actually role models to a lot of people) can’t suck it up and set an example, I just don’t know if this idea can sell.

It’s not just about the food either. It seems to be a generally accepted notion in the U.S. to sort of expect free lunches, if you will. The legends of people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps aside, we seem to expect to just be given things without working very hard or long at them. It could be my generational lack of patience with everything (blame Sesame Street!), our proliferation of easily-available fast food, or who knows what; cutting corners to get ahead just seems to be the new American dream. Sure, we want the chiseled bodies of our new leaders, but we don’t soooo much want to put in the hours at the gym or eat like they do.

Part of this also stems from our reluctance to tell people they’re not special in some way. From high school teachers no longer being able to correct grammar, to the SAT’s being easier to ace, we seem to be unable to tell our children that everything they do and are isn’t exceptionally perfect, lest we damage their self esteem. I understand this desire. Really. I constantly tell my daughter how wonderful she is, and I loathe the notion that one day she won’t feel that way. But my greatest hope is for her to one day truly accept herself, scars and all, and I know that me constantly denying she has any faults won’t help.

So, yeah, there are a lot of reasons I think Michelle might fail. But, then again, I had many more reasons I thought I’d never see a president elected who is smart, handsome, and in love with his family, so fuck do I know, right?


Motherhood: 1 Year In And Counting

So I’ve not been blogging the past few days, since I was busy celebrating my one-year-old’s first birthday. For ALMOST A WEEK??? you ask. It may sound excessive, but only to those without kids. Those with them, whether or not they agreed to the over-festivities marking the 1-year anniversary of their stint as sleep-deprived vomit sponges, will understand. But, it is for those without that I am chronicling the most important thing I’ve learned over the past year. And for my daughter to read one day, so I can make her feel king hell guilty about the saccharine nightmare into which she’s turned her mother. Anyhoodle (see???), here we go.

The old “Golden Rule” (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) is ridiculous. Well, I’ve always thought that, since my opinion of myself and how I should be treated ain’t that high. As for a guideline on how to treat others, though, I sincerely do not believe you can do better than by treating everyone around you as if they have a baby attached to them. Not in a stroller, but in their arms.

As a Baby Björn addict, I am perpetually walking around with my daughter’s sweet face directly under mine, and it never ceases to amaze me the good it brings out of people. Cars stop for us to cross the street, seats on public transportation are never a problem, and brass musicians performing in enclosed spaces lower their volume at our approach. In general, the populous I have encountered is a totally different one than other people see. And, from my point of view, though, everyone waves to, chats with, offers to help, and visibly brightens their brethren. It’s, for lack of a better word, lovely. Really.

And it doesn’t just apply to others. I am different with people when I’m with her. I’m just different in general. My whole attitude becomes, not only friendlier, but much more chin-up than it otherwise would be. Even in my situation now, working for the worst bosses I’ve ever had by a long shot (which is saying a lot, considering I also worked for a drug addict who videotaped his female employees in the bathroom for his own in-house wanking material), and enveloped in financial, bureaucratic, and other such nightmares. Getting to realize that, at the end of the day, none of that is quite so fascinating as a lip balm container…well, it’s been remarkably enlightening, to say the least. Not to mention it’s relieving to not worry about your own petty shit quite so much.


Filial Piety, American Style

Parenting is weird.  The simulataneous empathy and antipathy of one parent toward another is only the tip of the iceberg.  Oh, sure, we all feel for the poor woman whose baby is screaming on the train, but watch her quiet the screaming with a pacifier/bottle/backhand, and you’re sure to hear various and sundry gasps of indignation (“You’ll ruin the shape of his mouth!”/”He’s going to forever think of food as comfort and not sustenance!”/”You’ll ruin the shape of his mouth!”).

So it was with me and the show we’re currently watching, Friday Night Lights. In this season, the wife of the coach gives birth to another baby, 16 years her older daughter’s junior. Waves of pity washed over me watching this woman guiltily admit that she was upset that, 2 years from finishing the serious grunt work of parenting, she was going to have to do it all over again: the sleepless nights, the lack of time to yourself, all topped off with a few wonderful years with a teenager. Yeesh, I wanted to curl up into a ball at the thought of it. I saw her plead with her husband to have a night off, since the breastfeeding was taking too much out of her, and I completely understood. Granted, her baby apparently doesn’t cling to her like the world’s mightiest chimp, making nights out without her…shall we say, difficult? So, yes, I was jealous, but I understood. I watched her wrestle with the enormity of the task ahead, dying for breaks, deciding to stop breastfeeding because it was too Mommy-intensive, demanding everyone else pitch in, and I was absolutely on her side. I may not have agreed with everything she did, but, dammit, I was right there with her.

Then it happened. They mentioned her baby was 2 months old. I lost it.  “2 months? TWO MONTHS??? She’s gotten HOW many days and nights off ALREADY because it was all too much??? Is she fucking KIDDING ME????”

Once I calmed down, I realized that this isn’t uncommon, nor is it frowned upon in the United States. Having spent the first almost-year of my parenthood here in Spain, I had forgotten the different mentality that exists in my own “Patria,” which seems to imply that having a family ends your individual life. Right away.  Done. You will no longer exist as a person, but only as a mother.  Which is just a crappy thing to tell a new parent or a baby.

Granted, I’m spoiled, since here in Spain having a family is viewed as the beginning of your life, the extension of your being into a new generation. As such, children are not only allowed in all public places, but encouraged. It’s great but can border on the weird sometimes.
Still, there is no worry whatsoever about messes, noise, and the like. The extent to which this is true still surprises me (for example, when my daughter spit up on an older lady’s fur coat on the Metro, she elicited nothing by a smile and a chorus of “tranquila”s while I furiously scoured my bag for wipes strong enough to counter a lawsuit).

On the other end of the spectrum, the same is true for caring for your parents. Viewed a chore and another assault on your personal freedom in the United States, here it is viewed as so unbegrudgingly automatic that the word “duty” hardly even applies. It is unquestioned that parents, once they reach a certain age, go to live with their children, care for the grandchildren, and remain that way until they pass on. Period.

Are these two facts coincidental? An overlap of generations? I’m not sure, but, seeing as I’ve always found retirement homes astoundingly depressing, I’m not taking any chances.