Thursday, October 25, 2007

I want your printing press!!!

A few hundred years ago did kids follow their parents around begging to use their gadgets?

I want your revolver!
I want your phonograph!
Gimme your cotton gin!
I want to wear your corsett!
I want to wear your powdered wig!
Can I touch your loom?

I don't even know what a cotton gin is but you get my point. Were kids always this obsessed even when the gadgets they're obsessed with didn't exist? My kid just cannot seem to get over his obsession with cell phones. He points out when people have them. His face lights up when mine rings. He wants to bring it to me. He wants to put it on the table. In my purse. On the counter. He wants to charge it. He wants to call Aba. He wants to call grandma. He wants to call grandma's haistylist Carlos. Any excuse he can think of to get his hands on that phone. He knows he's not supposed to touch it so he will just stand next to my bag and spy on it. And then tell me, I see your phone. I have almost reached my breaking point on this one. I get that we have been completely inconsistent about phone usage but what am I supposed to do when he wants to talk to grandma. I want him to talk to grandma and he's actually becoming quite the conversationalist. But then I tell him he's not allowed to touch it otherwise, and that is frustrating for him. Nevermind the exposure to harmful cancer causing radio signals, it's just annoying for him to be this fixated on a personal object. He's also fixated, though slightly less so, on car keys, wallets, purses and shoes.

Why? I want to know why? My brother uses his phone as much as I do and his kids don't care about phones. They are obsessed with other things, like dolls and Thomas the Tank Engine, but that seems perfectly acceptable to me considering they are CHILDREN. How did we fail our son? What did we do to encourage his total fixation on our personal items? Why can't he just be obsessed with trucks like a normal kid.

Which leads me to other musings, like, were kids this annoying back in the day? I mean, I'm pretty sure that, say, Mozart, was a pretty annoying three year old, all obsessed with writing his concertos and what not, but what about the average toddler? Is there no record of just how annoying 18th or 19th century toddlers were? I'm just curious. Everyone was so hung up on being proper back then, I just can't imagine a woman in a corsett dragging her three year old through the marketplace by his armpit because he peed in his tights.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Soup Fascist

That is me. I am now the self-titled soup fascist. It's a nutritional ideology rather than a political ideology, but all the same, it's how the current regime operates in our home and I am ruler.

My boss at my day job has two kids, ages seven and five, so she has a wealth of knowledge about child rearing and thankfully we agree on most policies. Although her kids slept in her bed until just last year. And while I understand the family bed works for some and is a culturally acceptable paradigm for many around the globe, I'm the girl who, if I could afford a giant house, would have a "bedroom" and then my own private "sleeping" room. But I digress...

My boss, noticing that her girls were only eating meat and starch, began a vegetarian only policy for during the week to which, after only a few days of protest her kids resigned. We're not there yet, mostly because I just don't know enough good vegetable recipes. Maybe one day. But the part that I have implemented is a first course SOUP. Every evening we have some pureed vegetable soup. And it takes me all of about 15 minutes to make and I can do it one-handed while holding my baby. Get ready to copy and paste:

2-3 cups of water and appropriate amount of chicken or vegetable powder/bouillon cube
Large bag of one vegetable (spinach, broccoli, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower, sweet potato, leek etc.)
1 cup milk (whole or less)
2 triangles of Laughing Cow Light cheese (green packaging)

Boil vegetable in stock
Add milk
Puree again
Add cheese
Final puree

I have one of those blender wands which I really feel is the best invention of the twentieth century, followed closely by maxi pads with wings. If you have to transfer everything back and forth between a blender and a pot then it's almost not worth it because you need both hands and invariably you splash everything everywhere making a bigger mess for yourself. Who needs it. Spend $50 and get the blender wand.

Now the first night I instituted my policy it was met with mild grievances in the form of whining. But I persisted and prevailed. The key was the "doobie" bowl. Doobie means teddy bear in Hebrew and we have a little bowl with Eric Carle animals all around it and a big bear at the bottom of the bowl. So I set up the challenge. Let's see if you can eat enough soup to see the doobie at the bottom. And it worked. He was so excited about the prospect of uncovering the bear that he wolfed down a whole bowl of broccoli soup. It was fantastic. The next night we had spinach. Then mushroom. Then zucchini. And so on. No fail. The kid ingests vegetables. Before if you put something green in front of him he would proclaim, I don't eat leaves. Now he eats leaves, vegetables, tree bark, you name it. If I can puree it and add some laughing cow cheese, he'll eat it.

I know I am not the first mom to think of pureeing vegetables for "selective" toddlers. Obviously, since I got the idea from my boss. And apparently Jessica Seinfeld, wife to Jerry and mother to his three kids, has come out with a best-selling book about pureeing to fool your kids into eating veggies. Good for her. Like they don't have enough money from syndication royalties. But I still feel like this was a major conquest so I'll bask for a minute in a little nutrient-packed, fortified, leafy green glory.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Keeping up with Dr. Jones

Today I brought my son for the first time to see the dentist. He turned 3 on Saturday and I figured it was time. We brush his teeth twice a day but who knows if we're actually making a difference with those little toddler toothbrushes that completely splay at even the slightest bit of pressure. That, combined with the fact that our son basically chews on the thing and sucks off all of the toothpaste when it's his turn to brush, makes me question if we're making a lick of difference in his overall dental hygiene.

But it turns out that the brushing (and the related tantrums) were not for naught. No cavaties and kudos from Dr. Jones for a fine set of choppers. Thank god. The last thing I needed was the guilt of having not adequately brushed. Just getting him to brush in the first place was a struggle. I consulted the Berkeley Parents Network (they usually show up when I do a search, though the advice tends to be a little too earth mother for me) and everyone talked about making it a good experience and using dolls and singing songs yadda yadda yadda. An excerpt:

"Try the Raffi song, Brush Your Teeth, and have her brush as you sing along with Raffi. My 14-month old daughter loves it. We start singing, ''When you wake up in the morning, it's quarter to 1, you want to have a little fun, you brush your teeth,ch-ch-ch- chchchcchc...'' and my little daughter grins and looks for her toothbrush. She'll even ask to brush her teeth at random times of the day by putting her finger to her mouth and going ''ch-ch- ch-ch...''. Not sure if this will work with your baby if they already hate toothbrushing but it's worth a try. G'luck. Mom of 14-month old who loves to brush"

Spare me, "Mom of 14-month old who loves to brush". My kid sees right through your little schtick. They were all like that. Use puppets. Sing a song about teeth. Let him do it himself until he's comfortable. Read books about brushing teeth. We tried everything and it always ended in a lot of screaming and very little brushing. Then I saw this one. This guy had a kid like mine. His post was anonymous, fearing the wrath of social services and the crazed Berkeley parents still nursing their four year olds.

"This is how you can brush the teeth of a non-cooperating toddler: Wet the brush and stick it and the tube of paste into your shirt pocket. (You're going to need both hands for a few seconds.) Lay the toddler on the floor (preferably carpeted). Sit on the floor above their head, placing your knees over the toddlers shoulders/ upper arms. Your feet should be along side the child's body. This effectively pins their arms and prevents them from undesired interference. Now imobilize their head between your thighs by gently squeezing. Now you have both hands free to load the paste onto the brush, and one hand available to open lips (which will be sqeezed tightly closed by the child). I found it effective to slide my finger into the corner of the mouth and follow that with the brush. Brush as gently as possible considering the lip resistance. Let them up to rinse.

During all of this maintain a calm manner and in a gentle voice let them know over and over that brushing is not optional- tomorrow we can do it the easy way, or the hard way - the choice is theirs.
-from a dad wishing to remain relatively annonymous"

Now THAT'S the way to do it. It's the pin and pry method. It worked for us. None of this good ship lollipop crap. Now my son's a great brusher. And we really only had to pin once or twice.

But back to the dentist. I was feeling all proud of my son for opening his mouth and saying ah and ee and having his teeth polished and proud of me for brushing at least enough to keep his teeth healthy. Then Dr. Jones asks if we floss. Are you KIDDING me? I barely remember to floss my own teeth and now you want me to floss my three-year-olds teeth? I mean there is a limit to the extra layers of complexity that I'm willing to build into my morning and evening rituals. Soon my daughter will have teeth. Will I have to floss hers too? Sure, when she only has two teeth it will just be the one swipe between, but before long she'll have all twenty teeth and then we'll all have to wake up at 6am in order to floss everybody in time to leave the house by 8:30. Just once I wish someone would give me some advice that might save me some time. Oh you shouldn't read to your kid at night. It's bad for them. Think of all the extra time you could put toward flossing if you didn't have to read "Goodnight Moon" 400 times every night.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mommy dearest moment

There's nothing worse than when you're having what you thought was an anonymous "mommy dearest" moment in a public place and it turns out that someone you know, or will know, is watching.

On the way home from our family reunion last week we had to catch an 8:30 am flight out of JFK which meant leaving my grandmother-in-law's house at 6 am to return the car and check in with enough time. We woke the kids up and they were fine. Put them in the car in their pajamas. No problem. My husband drops us off at Departures, piles all of our luggage inside, and then takes the car to the rental place while we wait for him.

At about 6:45 my son tells me he has to pee. I tell him he can either hold it or go pee pee in his pull-up. I know that was probably confusing but what else could I do? I couldn't leave our stuff. I couldn't leave my seven month old to watch the bags. I couldn't schlep everyone into the ladies room. And my husband was still at-large.

He finally returns and we put the kids in their clothes and I ask my son if he wants to go pee pee and he says no. Meanwhile he never went in his pull-up and now he's in underwear. Nevermind. We check in, get through security. Now it's nearly 8:00 and my son still has not peed but now he's agitated since he has had to take his shoes off for security AND put his kitty cat in through the x-ray machine. Now everything is no. NO! NO! NO!

Me: Honey, do you want to go pee pee now?
Him: NO!
Me: Sweetie, I know you have to go. It's better to go now than have to go in the little potty on the plane.
Him: NO! I don't have pee pee.
Me: Just come with me to the toilet and try to go.
Him: (screaming and kicking) NO!!!!!

I tried to get him to go and he made a scene. On our way back to where my husband was standing he went limp and refused to walk and of course I refused to carry him. You think YOUR angry muchacho?! I'm about to whip out the wire hangers... So he's screaming and I have him by the armpit, dragging him back to our gate. And he's shouting, YOU'RE HURTING ME! and I'm saying, in Hebrew, thinking that it's okay since no one can understand me, I don't give a rat's ass if this is hurting you. I know. Very mature. So then my husband takes over and brings him to the men's room where he refuses to take off his pants and instead pees on himself.

My son returns and he's wet and now I have to change his clothes in the middle of the terminal because our flight is leaving and I'm telling him, again in Hebrew (the secret code language) that he will not open his mouth for the entire flight. And he will listen to and obey my every command. He's sobbing and I'm this close to having a major come-apart.

We get on the flight and I say I'm sorry for yelling at him and dragging him and he says he's sorry and now we're friends again. End of story. Until six hours later when we're at baggage claim and we run into a friend of a friend - Israeli - who's picking up his Israeli friend, who was just on our flight. Did your son manage on the flight without any more accidents?

I used to see parents, in airports or department stores or parking lots or wherever, dragging their kids around, screaming at them, and think what an awful mother. She's just teaching her kid that yelling is acceptable. She should just listen to her child. People who don't like kids or can't control their tempers, shouldn't have kids... What an idiot I was.

All of that is true but in the moment you become a toddler yourself and then you both spiral into a dark and chaotic place where dragging is acceptable and so is name-calling and threatening. It's an ugly place. And if you're me, you make your threats in a foregin language hoping that none of the other adults within earshot will realize just how pathetic you are.

Until a hebrew-speaking friend of a friend's friend shows up at baggage claim to hold you accountable. And you're left only with the shame of your actions, a migraine, six feet of luggage and the hope that next time you'll remember that you're the adult and that your three-foot companion is just trying to figure it all out.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dumplings, carrots and the power of peer pressure

My daughter has started eating and it is the best. At first I just gave her a little rice cereal which she sort of moved around on her tongue and spit out and played with. I wasn't sure if she liked it but our caregiver said she wolfed down a whole bowl so I thought maybe it was me and the way I was feeding her. I tried mushed pears and she kind of smirked - too sour maybe. Or just too new. I was hesitant to give her table food since she has no teeth and wasn't great at swallowing. Or so I thought. And I worry about allergies and introducing too many new foods.

But then we spent a week in New York for my husband's family reunion. And the two other baby girl cousins who are four months and six months older than mine were eating mostly table food. I continued to feed her mushy stuff which seemed to be going better but then her great uncle gave her a pancake. In tiny little pancake pieces. And she ate them all. Two pancakes in fact. And then she ate a banana straight out of the peel. And she had a lick of my ice-cream and then dove her whole head into my cone. And then she had rice and vegetable soup and mashed potatoes and yogurt. She was an eating machine. And she loved everything. Savory, sweet, tart, fruity, green and leafy. Everything. What a treat! My son only eats from the brown category - cous cous, quesodilla, cheese, yogurt, apple sauce, chicken - so this was a welcomed change.

So yesterday I made myself some steamed chicken dumplings with soy sauce and the baby was grabbing for them so I gave her one in little bitty pieces and she loved it. And I made such a big hoo-ha about it my son decided he wanted dumplings too. So I made him four and he ate them! Something new to add to the brown category! And then today I gave the baby strained carrots which she inhaled. And I went on and on about what a good girl she is. So guess who wanted to eat carrots!?!? This is awesome. New category for orange! If all goes as planned my son will be eating spinach by Sunday.