Because Parenting is all about preconceived hopes and plans going by the wayside. I never really expected to keep any of these, but it's always nice to see the plans of parents get a nice noogie from reality. Thanks for all the advice, world. I've read the articles. I agree your suggestions sound lovely. But yeah. No.
1. I just won't expose her to screen time when she's this young.
Screens are everywhere. Big brother is in my microwave and there's a chirpy google assistant in my watch. Let's be honest. The window is a boring screen. We have one or two devices per room. Every play area. Most friend's houses. Good luck with that.
2. I'll set a good example by being mindful of my own usage. Parenting is all about attention. I will give my child my attention and not be distracted by my own compulsive device-ing
Such a good idea. Probably really important. I'm sure I'm wiring my child for all kinds of attachment disorders and crippling her ability to socially interact, but I need my phone.
I wish I could give my undivided attention to my child at all times. Except of course when she needs to have her own time. But as much as there is something to be said for the marvel and the wonder of a child... as much as it is something to revel in, well I'm just not stoned enough to spend ten minutes utterly rapt with the light switch turning on and off or poking at my foot. Sometimes, my mind drifts. So let's be honest about attention. I don't need that phone around to be off in my own head or otherwise a thousand miles away, and sometimes that happens while my child is about to make a bid for attention.
And then there's the phone itself. The lifeline: Friend!!! Playdate HUMAN CONTACT!!! Logistics! Life management!
What the smeg just came out of my child's ear? Oh god, please almighty google tell me that's supposed to bend like that.
2. Ok, so screen time. Let's not be a hypocrite here. I'm using screens. They can be a useful learning tool, but I will always watch her and interact with her when we watch together.
Except it's the one time I ever have in which I can sit her down and actually concentrated on anything else. And I've seen the cute baby giraffe chasing a butterfly fifty billion times. I like it. But I really need to make lunch. And I could actually use both hands to do it while she's pointing and saying ZZZZZZ at the zebra that comes out mid-video. And I sing along with the songs...
3. No food battles, but I'm not gonna be a short order cook either. And of course, we won't encourage mindless eating by missing meals and letting her run around with food all the time.
Meals are science experiments. She throws on the floor. She mixes. Then... she munches haphazardly through things she's repeatedly repudiated. Her appetites and interests are sporadic and unpredictable. And if she happened to have gotten herself too distracted to eat at meal or snack times, she still will get hangry.
Snacks. She is much less picky sitting in her chair and watching that giraffe video. Lots of healthy food snuck in that way.
My current approach is that she doesn't have to eat at the table, but we'll have meals at the table together. If she throws something on the floor intentionally, then I'll assume she doesn't want it and take it away. Though, often that's not really the case. I won't make a whole new meal, but I will keep pre-approved foods available for her request at all times: frozen peas and corn, green beans, cereal, yogurt, pre-cooked egg, fruits, pre-chopped zucchini/celery/carrots, cheese cubes, snap pea crisps, soy nuts, pouches, and frozen berries.
When she's older, she can have her own shelf of snacks available. And she can eat when she wants to. Until then, she can have certain snacks while running loose. Mostly though if she requests, she'll sit down. And she can continue to hang out at the table for a while with me at meal times, followed by washing her dishes.
I'm sure that will last... until that stops working. Then ... well... that's another bridge for another day.
Because sometimes the tantrum just isn't worth the effort.
4. Our culture is way too obsessed with hygiene and it's a problem. The hand sanitizer and lysol just breeds super bugs. Regular hygiene is superior. Besides it's building immune systems to allow exposure.
Try washing your hands "properly" with an angry snot monster who's moaning because she's accidentally pulled the top off of her play potty while attempting to climb in it to reach some scissors you'd rather she not have?
Or after wrestling the baby alligator that your child becomes upon first poop hitting diaper.
Try making it to the sink in a way that doesn't involve several tons of water on the ground and toddler-hair full of unused soap. If you succeed, I give kudos to you and your Stepford Toddler.
Mine, however? Seriously how did she get snot behind her knee, and is that poop above her ear, and what the heck is that on the... no I do not want to know and... oh I'm sure whatever she just ate off the floor was food. Who can say. Why not lick the public trashcan? It's probably cleaner than our floor and definitely her hands at this point.
Try cleaning a house that's been slimed with the snot of a toddler who doesn't quite blow her nose. Realize you are now using any soft material in sight to mop up the nose-faucet before she continues lapping it up with her tongue. Realize, also, that you have been sick just as often as she has, which is largely a majority of her life.
Enjoy hearing the blow by blow (sniffle sniffle) of the progressing misery of that child who threw up just a few hours after running around your house and sliming everything. And feeling overwhelming sympathy, but also maybe this desire to curl up in a ball and scream "SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP" while running through the house lysolling every single inch of heavily touched home? Just as you were recovering from that cold that you got just after the last stomach bug just after that bad cold that you got just after...
In theory, it's great to get all that immunity in one big three year long dose of agony, but actually... um... after alternating some kind of horrible cough and stomach bug on and off since she became mobile enough to put things in her mouth, you hear about how fun hand foot and mouth disease is on top of a influenza and rotavirus and you think maybe those sanitizing cart wipes start to look more appealing.
5. I'm not going to force norms on her by obsessively gendering things or imposing preconceived notions of mammas and daddas or boys and girls.
Ok, I'm not forcing. Sure, she has a lot of cute girly clothes now, but who can resist?
I don't really gender my words much out of general vagueness and uncertainty. Most animals and toys are "its". Children are "kiddos" and people are, well, "people." When talking about bigger and smaller animals in books, I don't usually assume the bigger animal is the "mamma" or "dadda." Although occasionally there are books in which that's explicit.
And ultimately Chaya doesn't probably understand the real idea of gender and sex distinctions, but she is human. And humans categorize. She's currently divided the world of strangers into mammas, daddas, and babies. She'll seriously spend an entire outing dividing people into these groups and shouting out which group any individual pertains to while pointing.
I'm not entirely sure what these categories mean to her. Babies appear to be anyone under about 14 years of age. Mammas are typically women or girls, but not always.
|Andrew Jackson is a Mamma|
I do think there's typically slightly longer hair involved. She's a little more selective about which people are daddas, but they are almost entirely male. Mammas are a wide range of ethnicities and definitely include some men.
Of course mamma and dadda also refer to things owned by me or Andrew. And she clearly distinguishes between her mamma and other "MAHMAS', but it is fascinating to see her sorting people this way. And wondering what qualities she is attaching to these terms. And how that will evolve into more fixed or fluid concepts of parental roles and differing genders.
And of course I can't control what exposure she has to preconceived notions. Everyone treats her "like a girl" and who doesn't talk about "boys!" even at this age. There are naturally some typical differences rooted in biology and these just get more and more entrenched starting at this age. But, well, I look forward to folding and buying her all that Princess stuff. Honestly, I'm ok with Princesses. I was a princess. Just so long as she's a princess who still feels comfortable with any desire to roll in mud (or not!) and to make noise (or not) and to take risks without fear of failure.
And well, now that we're nineteen months in, I'm sure many other great ideas will evolve and develop and maybe modulate.
I have no preconceived notions about potty training (other than not pushing it). I have some grand aspirations for discipline of course. I look forward to hitting the brick wall of reality on those as well.
In the meantime, it's still a pretty fun ride.