Saturday, March 24, 2012

The incorrect, but popular, method of bringing a child back home.

It could happen
(This photo provided by jusben)
Ryan likes to test me by running away. Like most 2-year-olds with six months experience, he's very good at it. He slinks away from my side, usually to look at something innocent like a butterfly or a blade of grass at the far end of our yard. I allow this because not doing so would stifle his independence and his natural curiosity. But, once he realizes he has some distance between us, he starts to s-t-r-e-t-c-h that distance out slowly as if there is a rubber band connecting us and he's seeing how far it will go.

I react in one of two methods. The preferred method, of course, is to firmly tell him to come back. This works once in a while, especially if I have something valuable nearby to bait him with, like gummy snacks or a bumblebee. But usually, he continues to watch me as he takes sideways steps away. Although he's good about staying on the sidewalk, there is always a chance that he will make a break for the street and I know that at that moment an 18-wheeler or a derailed train will hurtle itself down our quiet neighborhood street and strike him. Worse still, and more realistic, a passing car could recklessly hop the curb and get him. Although I realize this could happen with me standing next to him, my mother-bear mentality tells me that I would be able to stop the errant vehicle and save my boy.
But, after exhausting my attempts to get Ryan to come back, including counting to three, threatening a time-out, and using the old standard "I'm leaving, goodbye," the possibility of Ryan being struck dead forces me to rely on the second method and last resort in getting a child to come back to his mama.
I run after him.
Running, of course, is just what he wants me to do. Like most moms, I lose all credibility and authority when I run, especially when he also starts running and I end up chasing him down our block, passed the neighbor's houses and the playground crowded with teenagers across the street. I have never been much of a runner. As a high school field hockey goalie, most of my running occurred wearing large leg pads, forcing me to run with my legs somewhat apart. Fifteen years later, my husband confirms that I still run like this and likens me to Chilly Willy anytime I move faster than a light jog.
I'm convinced Ryan knows this and that's why he runs. He looks over his shoulder at me, laughing, and suddenly we've gone from Mother and Son to two crazy people running down the sidewalk sharing a good time. When I catch up to him, it's impossible to compose myself and give him the stern lecture he deserves. On a good day, I scoop him up without speaking, carry him back to the house, and plop him in his timeout chair. But most of the time, I start laughing before I get to him, which causes him to laugh harder, and we collapse to the ground together in a fit of giggles.
This is, of course, not the right way to do things. But I know that way too soon, Ryan will be able to run much faster than me. I won't be able to catch him and he won't want me to. So for now, I run.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rick Santorum is a dangerous madman, part 1

When I was pregnant, a routine ultrasound discovered a heart problem with my son. The doctors recommended an amniocentesis to look for Downs Syndrome or any other genetic problems that can be related to the heart. We wanted this information so we could get ourselves, and our healthcare providers, prepared for whatever issues our child could be facing.

If Rick Santorum has his way and eliminates amnios as an insurance-covered procedure, thousands of women would have to forgo the test, unless they are able to pay out-of-pocket. But the cost of an amnio ranges from $500-$1000, a hefty sum, especially for a pregnant woman.

In my case, the amnio confirmed that there were no genetic problems. I was relieved and focused on finding the best care for my son. Without the test, I would have spent the remainder of my pregnancy wondering what else might be wrong with my baby. Instead, I met with surgeons and made treatment decisions knowing that we already had complete knowledge of what we were dealing with.

Rick Santorum sees amniocentesis differently:

"Amniocentesis does, in fact, result more often than not in this country, in abortion." Santorum during a CBS News interview in February.


"The bottom line is that a lot of prenatal tests are done to identify deformities in utero, and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions." Santorum on Face the Nation.

The fact-checking site, PolitiFact, proved that these statements are actually false.

It's true that some women may have an abortion after receiving the results of an amnio. That's their right. But many women get the results, find out about a problem like Downs, and use the next few weeks as a time to educate themselves about what to expect. They find resources and support groups that can help. They use the time to reframe their ideas about parenthood and have a chance to mourn the loss of the child they expected while preparing to embrace their special baby.

Rick Santorum would take that away from most women because some may abort. He would punish us all to prevent other women, who may have a horrible prenatal diagnosis, from getting an abortion.

You might also be interested in reading Rick Santorum is a dangerous madman, part 2, which details how Santorum insults and alienates ethnic groups.

Rick Santorum speaking to students at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Gage Skidmore

Sunday, March 18, 2012

How I spoiled a 60-mile car nap with a candy raid

It was only 7:00pm, just 10 minutes in an hour-long drive, and Ryan was already nodding off quietly in his car seat. To some people, mostly people without kids, a child sleeping peacefully in the backseat is a sweet picture. But to the parent of a preschooler, it’s the sign of a sleepless night and a child who is squirreling away his energy.
Photo by Paul Anderson, Morguefile

Before a child hits 3, car sleeping is so wonderful that many of us plan our day around them. When my son was younger, I believed that a car nap was worth twice as much as a nap in his crib. I took the long way to Target—the detour through quiet farm land that added five miles to the trip, but also allowed for 20 minutes of peaceful toddler slumber.

But when a kid turns 3, car naps become the enemy. A scant 10 minutes asleep in the backseat means a long night of extra drinks of water, a third or fourth reading of Brown Bear Brown Bear, every potty excuse in the world, and the likelihood of a bleary eyed child who falls asleep on the couch with a blanket over his head so he can't watch CSI: New York (okay, maybe that’s just in my house). A car nap means that Ryan impedes on my time, that brief hour before my bedtime when I can watch grown-up TV, pay bills, and catch up on email.

And that’s how I ended up at a road side quickie mart midway between Pottsville and the tiny town of Womelsdorf at 7:10, encouraging Ryan to pick out a sugar filled snack much to the bemusement of fellow travelers. Only five minutes into trip home from Nana’s house, Ryan asked for his blankie, a sure sign that sleep was imminent. The thought of him nodding off nearly brought me to tears as I considered the laundry and writing I had waiting for me at home, neither of which is conducive to a preschooler’s demands.

I tried the standard options—opening the windows to blast him with fresh air, playing “find the red car,” and putting on his favorite CD of Noggin tunes, all to no avail. He was dropping into the car sleep position—head cocked to the left and propped up by the comfortable head rest of his car seat. His quick disinterest told me that this was the time to call in the big guns, to break all the rules of parenting for the sake of keeping him awake long enough to get him to bed at a normal time.

“Do you want candy?” I asked as we pulled into the quickie mart. This couldn’t just be a quick snack, it had to last long enough to hold his interest and keep him occupied for at least half of our trip.

I fished three dollars out of my pocket, surely enough to buy a snack and, if lucky, a diet soda for mom. We paced the short four aisles of the store as I pointed out great snacks like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Big Mouth suckers. Other people in the store looked at me like I was mad as I offered Ryan Milky Ways and even ice cream cups. I was willing to take the hit on the messy car seat if it made him happy and kept him awake.

We finally settled on a bag of M&Ms, a perfect snack filled with sugar and individual pieces that had to be dug from the bottom of the bag, both tricky and time consuming for a preschooler. I even had enough left over for my soda.

As we climbed back into the car, a motorcycle pulled up next to us. The sheer excitement of this encounter alone probably would have kept Ryan awake for the rest of the trip. We made it home awake and full, both of us, as Ryan foraged out the yellow M&Ms and handed them up to me. It wasn’t the best example of parenting, but sometimes the best memories are made from breaking the rules a bit, as every time we drive by that quickie mart Ryan reminds me of the time we stopped for a whole bag of M&Ms and I’m reminded of the time I outsmarted the car nap and got a good night’s sleep.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rick Santorum is a dangerous madman, part 2

New Yorkers—The next stop on Rick Santorum’s alienation tour

I don’t know what shocks me more—Rick Santorum’s beliefs or the fact that, as someone who needs to win over voters, he feels it’s a good idea to share his ideology, even when it trivializes and belittles whole groups of people.
I am, by no means, a political expert. But I imagine that most politicians try to encourage voters by befriending them and making nice, so-to-speak. As Santorum blazes a path of prejudice across the country, I’m surprised there is any one left who hasn’t been offended by him at some point during his campaign.
Since his feelings about women and gays are well-documented and will likely be the focus of a future blog post, I’m skipping them for now. Instead, here is a rundown of the communities who should think twice before voting for Santorum.

**UPDATE: I was barely finished this blog post when Rick Santorum gave me more material. Santorum was in Puerto Rico to campaign, but he also shared his thoughts on what Puerto Rico needs to do to become a state. Although Puerto Ricans, as a whole, are divided about where or not they even want to become a state, Santorum let them know that they need to speak English before joining the United States. "As in any other state, (Puerto Rico) should comply with this and every other federal law -- and that is that English must be the main language.”

The problem is, there is no federal law that lists English-speaking as a requirement for become a state. Perhaps this is one of Santorum’s own laws. Who knows, there could be ten more arbitary laws just waiting to hit the books if Santorum is elected.**

New Yorkers—just last week in an interview, Santorum stated that the reason he gets criticized for his value-based ideals is because of "the media, who live in the New York area. Because they don't know anybody or very few people who share those values, so they just assume the rest of the country is like them." I know plenty of New Yorkers with strong values, even ones who are in the media.
Black people—Santorum recently said that he doesn't want "to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money." Interesting that he singled out black people as recipients of government aid since, statistically, there are more non-blacks receiving welfare. Santorum, for the record, addressed these remarks. He would like us to believe he actually said “blah” people. But he didn't, he said “black”.
Protestants—speaking to a Catholic audience in 2008, Santorum said that "Protestantism in this country, and it is a shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it." I'm not even entirely sure what that means, but it's obvious that Santorum is not a big fan of Protestants.
Muslims—when asked about profiling in November 2011, Santorum indicated the act should be done to "the folks who are most likely to be committing these crimes. If you look at -- I mean, obviously, it was -- obviously, Muslims would be -- would be someone you'd look at, absolutely."
The only people left who might vote for Santorum seems to be white, male Catholics. Sooner or later though, Santorum is sure to support a bill banning Viagra since its main purpose is to aid erections which, like contraception, is "a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be."

You might also be interested in Rick Santorum is a dangerous madman, part 1, which explains why he's stand on amniocentesis and abortion is wrong. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mama Never Told Me takes a fun stab at advice-givers

I vividly remember gazing at my newborn about two days after I delivered him when the nurse startled me by asking "Do you think you’ll have more?"
More? I thought. I haven’t even brought this one home yet so let’s see how it goes.
Author and Mom Emily Van Do understands. "As soon as I was on my way out of the hospital, I was hit with 'when's the next one?'" Van Do recalls. "I don't know if it was the pain killers or the fact that I just went through a day of labor, but I was off my game! I wasn't expecting to be confronted with such a crazy question so soon."
This question and others like it laid the groundwork for the second book in Van Do’s Mama Never Told Me series. The first book, published in 2009, revealed some of the unbelievable comments that a pregnant woman hears on a regular basis, mostly about her weight and obvious body changes. The second book covers similar ground while including comments that surprise many moms due to their almost-confrontational manner. Take, for example, the random mom we’ve all encountered on the playground who brags that her daughter spoke in full sentences at six months. Meanwhile, your own six-month old is happily making goo-goo noises.
Van Do has found a simple way to address these one-upping moms. "I mention in the book that I mostly tell people 'I am clearly an inadequate mother...'" Van Do says. "I notice that people will tend to feel almost sorry for me because it looks like I'm being so hard on myself. At the end of the day, you have to know that it's the mom who is bragging about her kid who has those insecurity issues."
In Van Do’s life, well-meaning neighbors showed up with advice based on old wives' tales (when was the last time a doctor recommended rubbing whiskey on a teething child’s gums?) and playground parents offered what can only be considered plain-old bad advice—such as "Germs are healthy for babies" while her toddler is spotted eating dirt.
Van Do slaps each of these bad-mannered comments on her pages and pairs them with quirky illustrations. The new mom in the book remains silent on every page, but we know what she’s thinking and can imagine what she—or we—might say in response to some of the crazy quotes.
Both Mama Never Told Me books are fast and fun reads for moms on both sides of the delivery room. And we can expect to see more in the series as Van Do’s acquaintances, and even perfect strangers, continue to offend and blindly advise her. But it’s all just material for the next book.

Both books in the Mama Never Told Me series are available through and Author Emily Van Do can be followed on Twitter at @mamanevertoldme.