For the first time ever on *this* blog, I’m doing a list post. I used to resort to these at my old blog when I suddenly had a bunch of things to mull over, but none of them were really substantial enough for a full post. So – today, a true hodgepodge: a little of this and a little of that. Drowning in cream & butter… because I want to eat all the things. (I ate two suppers last night. A very nice ratatouille which was all balanced and healthy and stuff, and then a toasted veggie sub before bed because BABY WANTED IT. Yuck. I am going to be enormous by the time this baby arrives. I just turn my head when I step on the scales at the doctor’s office – I most truly do NOT want to know).
1. In our jurisdiction pregnant woman are giving the choice to have some early genetic pre-screening for certain diseases; notably Down’s Syndrome, Trisomy-18, and spina bifida. I always struggle with whether or not to have the tests. I fully support a woman’s right to choose but by the time you have the second round of blood tests you’re 20 weeks in and the pregnancy is, for me, fully real… and I’ve never yet figured out what I would do if any of the tests showed anything. Hubby is firmly on the side of “let’s find out now” so every time I get the tests done despite my ambiguity. And lo, the tests came back fine. So fine in fact that the results showed I have the ovaries of a 15-year-old. I asked the doctor if I could swap them for the all-the-other-body-parts-of-a-15-year-old. She said not legally. Boo.
2. Today is Stand Up Against Bullying Day at Thing #1’s school. The students are encouraged to wear pink and this is supposed to encourage all students not to bully one another. The basis of the effort is a beautiful story. What it’s turned into is a farce that allows schools to say they are doing something to combat bullying when actually what they’re doing is sweet fuck all, frankly. And this year they decided to try and make money off it, too! The school was selling pink t-shirts at $10 apiece with the money raised going to undefined “anti-bullying programs”. Uh, no. Thing #1 participated last year and got laughed at on the bus for wearing pink socks. This year he didn’t want to get involved and I can’t say I blame him. Certainly we didn’t buy the t-shirt.
3. This week I’m potty-training the very quiet boy I look after. He’ll be three in November and – TMI Alert! – he has the vilest diapers known to man or beast. His diapers are so bad that his mother actually took him out of the big daycare he was in because they kept sending him home sick, convinced that no healthy child could make that kind of smell. (I’m not exaggerating. Her first question at the interview was about my sick policy as it pertained to horrible poo.) His parents didn’t seem all that interested in the actual mechanics of training; they were all for the end result, but were totally clueless about how to even start training. So I declared him ready and we started, using Smarties as a reward and going to the potty every 20 minutes. After his nap he always, always, ALWAYS has a horrible toxic poo. His regularity is my best weapon during the training period. Yesterday after nap he peed very nicely and then said he was “all done”. I praised the results, gave him his two Smarties, and sent him into the playroom. Then I quietly watched him take every large toy we have – fire trucks, a toy lawnmower, a baby stroller, and so on – to build himself a fortress of solitude. He looked around furtively and when he didn’t see me peeking around the door, squatted in the middle. I nabbed him with a cheerful “let’s try the potty again, big guy!” and ten minutes later, he was happily munching on his Smarties while I thanked my lucky stars that mess wasn’t in a diaper. His parents think I’m a genius. I explained my approach to both mom & dad and they are following it at home, with good results there, too. I expect it won’t take more than a few days. He’s small for his age and quite non-verbal, and for him to be able to conquer such a “big boy” thing is unusual – his own pride is far better currency than those Smarties.
4. My niece will be two in October. She’s the total opposite of my non-verbal late bloomer – this kid talks ALL THE TIME, and she’s capable of making mental connections that would be beyond older children. Her tantrum phase is really getting rolling here lately; she hates being told “no”, or even being told “please wait a moment”. She’s as cute as a button so she gets away with a lot, and as an only child (and the only grandchild on the other side of the family) she is a leetle spoiled. I’m working with her on the notion that other children are important, too… that it isn’t always about her… that sometimes she needs to wait her turn (with the baby coming I’m especially concerned about her diva tendencies). This week, her response whenever I thwart her is to frown, hit me, and say “bad BABY!” in a scolding mother-hen voice. I have no idea where she got this from. I checked with her mom and my mom, and they’ve both experienced the same thing recently. It’s so hard not to laugh, but we are all working hard to break that little habit and soon.
5. And finally, yesterday there was quite a discussion on Twitter about the Laura Ingalls Wilder series and whether or not it’s appropriate to read to young children. I am reading them to my boys and they LOVE them; even Thing #2, at not quite 3 and a half, sits rapt each night for his chapter. However, I am editing on the fly; some of the attitudes of the time would require far too much explanation at this stage, and while I think they will be teachable moments when the kids are older, for now I’m choosing to skip the bits where Ma says “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” and Pa performs a song about darkies in blackface for a town talent contest. One of the “good lord, I don’t remember THAT” anecdotes on Twitter concerned Farmer Boy and the death of a teacher at the hands of some of the students. In this chapter – right at the beginning of the book – young Almanzo is going off to school for the first time. He is wholly preoccupied & terrified because the “big boys” (sixteen and seventeen year olds) go to the winter term each year solely to “thrash the teacher and break up the school”. The story goes that Almanzo’s teacher is a gentle and quiet man who “would never whip a boy because he couldn’t spell a word”. Over the course of the first chapter we learn that the last teacher was beaten so badly by the big boys that he died of his injuries, and that he was a friend of the current teacher. In chapter two, the big boys rush the teacher’s desk, only to be soundly thrashed and tossed unceremoniously outside by the quiet Mr. Corse, wielding a leather blacksnake whip with a lead handle, given to him on the sly by none other than Almanzo’s father.
Now, I did read this chapter to my boys, with lots of pauses for discussion and questions and explanations. I didn’t have an explanation for parts of the story; as hubby pointed out, in New York State in 1868 there was a fully-functioning legal system and it is never explained how the boys escape punishment for beating several teachers and murdering another. But it didn’t seem to traumatize them unduly, and when they talk about the book it’s always about Almanzo having his own team of steers or about the acres upon acres of vegetables he planted in the spring.
Nicole wrote about this, too: go read her post for additional perspective on these much-beloved books.
Whew. That was a long one. Snack time! And then nap for The Baby (who was up seven times last night, his exhausted mom tells me) and puddle-jumping for the rest.