Tag Archives: Parenting

What I learned from T.V. about Parenting Judgement and Guilt

Do you ever watch “Parenthood”? It is one of my favourite shows on T.V. Mostly because I wonder if they have hidden cameras in our house. The emotions and experiences of the parents, struggling to be the best parents they can be while still being human (ie. flawed), are so real. It is one of those shows on T.V. where the dialogue is so real and so moving. Even experiences I haven’t had as a parent (yet) I totally relate to their reactions and emotions.

But the last couple times I watched it, (along with some of the discussion on my “Pick em up, Put em down” post and some other posts I have read and that Erica Jong article and the reaction to it, ect. ect.), I have been thinking about the parenting archetypes the show (and other forms of media and social media) portrays.

I believe that how the media (including blogs and other forms of social media) portrays parents has a big impact on a) how we see ourselves and b) how we see (and perhaps sympathize, judge, or understand) other parents.

Probably the most common parenting (and one of the most bothersome, in my opinion) is the clueless, disengaged Dad. You know, Homer Simpson-esque? And like every Dad on a commercial where the Dad is the butt of the joke. This archtype really bothers me. Like a lot. Not that there aren’t kinda clueless Dads out there, just like there are clueless Mom’s. But it does such a disservice to all the amazing Dad’s out there to have everyone assume they are clueless, because the media tells us that all Dad’s are clueless.

On Parenthood, this archtype is played by the Grandfather of the show, and they do a really really good job of humanizing this character. It is not as offensive to me because he is so real, caring, loving and really trying to be a great father and grandfather. He knows he is flawed. He feels regret and guilt. Just like all of us do sometimes.

One of the other archetypes on the show is that of the controlling, high powered, working Mom. It is that character that often makes me shake my head and wonder- maybe I do that sometimes… hmmm…. is that what that looks like to everyone else? Again, because of how real the characters and the emotions of the show are I feel both sympathy for the characters, as well as being able to relate to them. So when they do something ‘wrong’, it causes me not to see them as the ‘other’, not to judge them or say ‘I would never do that’ (even if that is the case), but instead to use it as a lens to question my own parenting.

And along with the typically parenting archetypes; the perfect does-it-all Dad, the worried about everything slightly too involved Mom, the all fun and no seriousness Dad who needs to grow up, the Mom who is struggling to find herself, her career, her partner…; there is also a stay at home Dad– presenting a much needed perspective on something that far fewer men than women do. Showing it not only as real, but also as coming with it’s own set of challenges.

Again, I like these depiction of parenting archetypes; these characters. They are real. They are complex. They seems to cover the spectrum of how parents are portrayed in society, and makes them less like archetypes and more like real people.

I also value the archetypes they didn’t include. The ones I am not sure really exist all that much, except in the minds of those who portray them. The parenting scapegoats of society.

The lazy, disengaged, yelling, selfish Mom who never holds her child and leaves them to scream while sipping her glass of wine.

The coddling, never put their baby down till their 3, never let the kid out of a meter’s range, no boundaries or discipline, no use of the word ‘no’, martyr Mom.

If we are really honest, those two archetypes are often what is portrayed in the media and the world of social media. The two extremes on a huge spectrum with no consideration for what is in between. And I don’t even think it is intentional. It is all part of that ‘easier to make an argument when you build it against a strawmanwomen’ thing, along with our tendency to stereotype the ‘other’. It is not a coherent and coordinated attempt. But when we hear over and over again about all these mothers who let their babies scream for hours on end without batting an eye or mothers who provide no boundaries what-so-ever and spend the first 5 years always within 10 meters of their kid– well those images add up. And all the milder versions of those images make us think of the extreme– those add up too.

I get that many people feel that they have met women like that, while others feel that those parenting archtypes are a myth. There is no way to argue on that point, it is a she said/he said/she said/ he said argument. I have no idea who you know and what those people are like. I can only speak to who I know and what those people are like.

But I do believe most real people exist in the middle. And even if they don’t, they are real, complex individuals. With whom if we met and got to know for long enough; if we strove to really understand them; if we could take a peek into how they feel; the guilt and love and trying to do their best and not always doing their best and flawed human that they are; we would have sympathy, not judgment.

Yes. That is what I learned from T.V. about parenting judgment and guilt. When we catch a glimpse in the real emotions and real lives and real trials of any parenting, regardless of what category they most closely fall into, it is hard to judge. So let’s just not.

And let’s provide a space for nuance and humanity in our descriptions of parenting styles and choices we don’t agree with. Just for kicks.


ControverSundays: Other people’s children

So here is this weeks topic: (quoted from Perpetua’s blog)

“Hypatia proposed a great topic this week: disciplining other people’s children.  I’m going to expand that a bit and call this week’s topic “Other People’s Children” to incorporate those grounds on which one might find it appropriate or necessary to intervene in someone else’s parenting.”

As this is a HUGE topic, I am going to narrow it down a bit for the sake of my sanity. And so this post doesn’t end up being a 10000 word essay- because you all know I can get a bit long winded at times. So here is the way I am going to narrow it down. Take all the parents in the world and put them on a scale from ‘good’ to ‘bad’ (assuming this is possible.) Now draw a line at the point, under which is the subset of parents that shouldn’t be parenting. What defines this line and where it is- I am not going to go there. It is not black and white and it is way too complicated. Suffice to say there are some times where I believe the government should step in when a child is in danger. Define danger however you feel comfortable- I am not going to go there. But wherever danger is, I don’t think individuals should be stepping in at that point- I believe it should be the government.

Okay- now take all the parents above this line. That’s who I am going to talk about. The parents that are really trying to be the best parents they can. Some are better then others, but they love their kids.

Now that we have that cleared up, I am of two minds about this whole thing. Do I think there are some not-so-great parents out there? Yes. But let me just say that part of the point I have tried to make (a number of times in a number of posts) is that I don’t think the individual choices you make as a parent determine if you are a good parent or not. I believe there are crappy ‘attachment’ parents, good ‘helicopter’ parents, crappy ‘co-sleeping’ parents, good ‘cry-it-out’ parents, crappy ‘baby-wearing’ parents, good ‘push your kid a bit to hard’ parents, bad ‘all organic’ parents, good ‘fed their kids too much junk food’ parents…. ect. You get my drift. This is why I think it is so important not to judge each other on our ‘choices.’

I also believe that every parent makes mistakes. And every parent (within the definition above) loves their kids and wants the best for them. We are all good parents at times and crappy parents at times. That being said, there are some messed up kids out there and in most cases, I think it is the parents to blame. I do think it is valid to sometimes judge each other on the end result of the combination of all our parenting choices and HOW those decisions were carried out.  But I wouldn’t judge those parents to be bad people or unintelligent. I would judge them to be misguided, unfortunate and ill-equipped. Or maybe I am being too judgmental. I don’t know. I mean, we are all at least a little bit messed up, aren’t we? We all have our issues. But I believe that most of us turn out okay. And I have seen great parents have some pretty challenging issues with their kids. Kids are more then just their parents influence. But I believe that how parents react to those issues can have a huge impact on the adult that child becomes.

So back to the point- what do you do about other people’s children? The short answer- I don’t know. Would I step in if my daughter and an other child were having a disagreement in the playground. No. Not right away. (I think parents step in too much and it is important for developing social skills for kids to be given the opportunity to resolve their own conflicts) Would I step in if a kid was hurting my kid on the playground and their parents were not doing anything about it? Yes. Would I take that kid over to their parents and politely ask them to ensure their child understood it was not appropriate to behave that way? Yes. Would I step in a discipline that kid if they continued to harm my child and their parents still didn’t do anything about it? I don’t know. We might just leave the playground. I am not one to cause a scene.

Would I provide what I believed to be appropriate consequences to my daughters friends if over at our house without their parents? Yes. And if there parents had a problem with that? Then that child would not be invited over again. (When I say appropriate consequences, I am talking pretty middle of the road stuff- like time outs or loss of a privilege. Nothing extreme.) And by the way, that would go both ways. If someone disciplined my kid in a way I felt was in conflict with my parenting style? Then my daughter would not be going to that house again.

Would I step in if I saw a parent struggling with their kid throwing a tantrum at the mall? Probably not. I would think about offering help. Because I know it is hard and because I know next week it will be me. But I would likely not step in because I know I wouldn’t appreciate it. I don’t do well when people offer me help, beyond opening the door for me. When my kid is freaking out at the mall I always feel embarrassed. When I feel embarrassed I don’t respond well to offers of help from family, let alone strangers at the mall.

Would I step in if I saw a parent hitting their kid and telling them they were worthless. I don’t know. Part of me screams YES and part of me says… it is really not my place. But hasn’t this parent probably crossed the line that I spoke of above? So that is my out on this one.

What if I say a parenting talking a bit to harshly? Not abusive, but harshly? Again, probably not. We all get frustrated sometimes and do something we regret. It is no excuse. But we are human and we do screw up.

Would I say anything if a parent was feeding their baby french fries? No. I would cringe, but I wouldn’t say anything.

I think I would only ever step in under 2 circumstances:

1) As I mentioned above- if their kid was harming my kid.

2) If I felt I could help in a gentle and subtle way that would be appreciated. I remember when I was in university and I worked in the kids section of a big book store. There was an older grandma with her granddaughter who was probably 5. The granddaughter was throwing a fit because grandma said she wouldn’t buy the girl a book. I am going to hazard a guess that every time that kid goes with Mom or Dad- she gets a book. And grandma obviously did not agree with this. But after 10 minutes of struggle, grandma was at a loss. So I approached the girl and told her that grandma said she couldn’t have the book today, but that it would be here next time and she could look at it then. The girl, being smart, called me on this claim “what if you sell it?” So I put the book in a secret cupboard and told her I wouldn’t sell it. The girl calmed down, grandma thanked me. I helped. I felt great. I would do that again.

There have also been times I have wanted to tell a parent how impressed I am with them. I remember when I was about 6 months pregnant my husband and I were at a store. There was a father with his 3 or 4 year old standing just inside the door, to the side. The girl was throwing a total tantrum. The Dad was doing amazingly. He was calm and kind. He told her that he understood that she was upset but that her behaviour was not appropriate. He stood there with her until she stopped her tantrum. He didn’t give in. He didn’t yell. He was in control while still letting her express herself. I wanted to give him a medal.

So overall? There is not many times I would actually step in. We all make mistakes and seeing a parent make one mistake doesn’t mean they are bad parents. If they are anything like me, they will realize their mistake later, feel horrible and learn from it. I can’t judge someones parenting skills by one interaction, nor is it my place to. And as such, I would tend to give them the benefit of the doubt that I am likely seeing them at their worst and believe it is none of my business.

This begs the question- what if it is someone I know? Someone that I see has a pattern of parenting behaviors that I feel is detrimental to their kid. Honestly- I know I would want to say something. Something kind and supportive. But something to jolt them into realizing what they were doing wasn’t working. You know, Dr. Phil style “Is that working for you?” But I really don’t know what I would do. It would probably depend. It would depend on who they were, how well I knew them, how I would think they would take my suggestions.

So, in conclusion, other peoples kids: it depends. And, I don’t know. Ask me in a about 5 years. Then ask me again in 15. How’s that for controversy?

Here are the other posts so far:

Our Lady of Perpetual Bread Crumbs

I Know Why You’re Single

Now You’re in the World

The Mothering Life

Fearless Formula Feeder

Never say never

Okay, lets be honest. What do the majority of first-time pregnant Moms spend most of their time doing? Reading, right? Researching, in fact. Eating up every morsel of internet and book learning they can on how they are going to raise their little monkey(s). When you are pregnant, all of a sudden you start paying attention to every parent and child interaction you see. You ask every Mom how old her baby is and put them on the developmental scale in your head so you can try to imagine your baby at every stage. Hoping to gleam some kind of idea for just what you are in for, because you are, in truth, excited but terrified.

And in the process of this 8 month (give or take) binge of information, you find a little voice whispering into your ear, ‘I will never do that….’ It is quiet at first, but it grows louder with each book and web page you read. The bigger your belly gets the more convictions you have. But they all exist in the abstract, because you really have no freaking clue what you are talking about. (I can’t be the only one who said about 1 week in, “Wow, I had no idea this was this hard/much work/overwhelming/all-in-compassing.”)

But, at some point, most (if not all) Mom’s face a moment where the reality hits them and the ‘I will never do that’ wall begins to crack.

Side Note: I am not advocating throwing all your convictions out the door at the first sign of struggle. Nor that you should not engage in this pre-baby research-fest if you so choose. There are a lot of complicated decisions we make as parents and it is good to have some opinions going in, cause you won’t have time to discuss it over dinner with your partner/friends/family once baby arrives. What I am saying is that some convictions you hold more strongly then others, and those you hold less strongly… well, sometimes they go out the window. Usually, we feel at least some guilt over these decisions, but we shouldn’t. Being a Mom/Parent is hard and we need to give ourselves a breaks. We should also forgive ourselves, because 1) we are human and 2) those decisions were made before we had any freakin’ clue what we were talking about.

So I thought I would share with you just a few of our (husband and I are pretty good about deciding most things together) ‘nevers’ that went right out the window once reality struck. Don’t take this as advice that anyone else should follow suit on any one of these things– do what works for you. But for those of you that also have a path of shattered ‘nevers’ behind you- you are not alone!

I am willing to bet that for a good number of Mom’s the first moment of challenge to our pre-baby beliefs is labour. I was certainly in the camp of really wanting to have a 100%, no drugs, no interventions natural childbirth. This is a very popular stance to take. As my friend Cheryl said in her comments to one of my posts “Some Mom’s wear their non-epidural birth like a badge on their sleeve.” There are also lots of Mom’s who decide they want drugs or interventions- that’s fine too. No one likes the idea of being in pain and we all deal with it differently. But, there are lots of good reasons to strive for a natural birth. (Do you think I have sufficiently covered my butt so no one thinks I am judging…? Gee, you’d think I have had a lawyer look over this post.)

Luckily though, I had the good sense to say to my husband when we were taking our pre-natal class “Yes, I want a natural birth. But I also want all the information on my other options, because I don’t think it makes sense to rule out anything when faced with an experience I have never had before.” Good thing I had already given myself an ‘out’, because after 4 hours of sitting in a waiting room in labour, I was told I wasn’t far enough along to be admitted and I would need to go home. In retrospect, it was more the emotional anxiety of not feeling like a had any ‘medical’ support (I had support aplenty from husband and mother) then it was the pain. But at the time, when they said, ‘would you like a shot of morphine before we send you home?’ I said, in a small voice, ‘yes.’

Conviction: 0,  Never: 1

Not sure I would do that one again as the morphine made me pretty sick, but it worked to calm me down… so I am fine with it.

The next one, I am pretty sure, (although my memory is pretty fuzzy from about March to September of 2009) was the pacifier.  A tricky topic for most. Said to cause problems with breastfeeding, especially if introduced too early. Also accused of interfering with babies ability to learn to self-sooth and for babies getting too attached to. There is also the reality that if they can’t sleep without it guess who has to be the one to keep picking it up and sticking it back in their mouth when they spit it our or throw it out of the crib? (hint: it starts with a ‘Y’ and ends with a ‘ou’.)

I can’t remember what was our exact reason for why we vowed to not give the monkey a pacifier. It was probably breastfeeding, but at the point we caved and gave her a soother breastfeeding had already gone very very off course. I am pretty sure it was later then the recommended 8 weeks, but I really don’t remember.

What I do remember is the darn thing works. Sure, we still have our limits we try to stick to, I guess to avoid her getting too addicted. Her soother is for bed, or when she hurts herself and is really upset, or if she is in the car and freaking out, or if she is teething really bad. It’s flexible, but we try to keep it away for most of the day. It works. Especially for falling asleep.

Well we are on the topic of pacifiers, I should also tell you that I was in a store one day with monkey happily in the front carrier.. when I spotted a small stuffed animal with a pacifier on the back of its head. And I said, outloud, “Who needs a stuffed animal with a soother on its head??” To which the sales lady said, “Well, a lot of Mom’s love them because it is easier for baby to hold and harder to throw it across the room.” And then I thought…. “I need a stuffed toy with a pacifier stuck to its head.” Now, the little monkey, has two. One with the pacifier now removed and an other stuffed animal with a loop to attach a soother to. She sleeps with both. For every nap and every bedtime.

When she transitioned from that really newborn stage where you just put them down and they fall asleep, into that stage where the moment you put them down they wake up screaming, the next ‘never’ took a hit. Rocking to sleep. Debate is fierce in ‘how to get your baby to sleep realm.’ As I have mentioned in a previous post, I read that book with the lady who claims she can whisper to babies BEFORE my daughter was born. And at the time, it seemed like a good idea. If you don’t start rocking they can’t get so attached that you will be doing it when they are 2 right? What she failed to mention is that IT WORKS. So we did it until…..

Right around 4 months old she started resisting our tried and true rock to sleep method. She would scream, arch her back and refuse to let us rock her. Perplexed and unable to come up with anything ‘soothing’ to help her go to sleep, we crossed the next ‘never’ off our list.

Cry-it-out. Strikes fear in the hearts of many a parent. The idea of letting your baby cry until they fall asleep is none to appealing. But I stand by the fact that it works for some babies. (see my post on Sleep for more about what types of babies I believe it is does and does not work for) It worked for our baby. It really wasn’t that bad. Most of her crying was more like whining. And when knew when she reached a certain panicky tone that she wasn’t going to sleep and there was something she needed. Then she got an other bottle, or a new diaper or a nice cuddle. But still not something that any sleep deprived parent should attempt without a glass of wine in their hand.

I have already said enough about our breastfeeding struggles and the eventual switch to formula. It was certainly on the ‘never’ list.

Oh, and we also have the swing/bouncer. Before the girl was born, we talked about how we didn’t want to fall into the trap of too much stuff. Partial because we were living in a small apartment at the time, and partially because we felt it was a bit over the top. It was an environmental, less consumer culture, less overwhelming domination of our life kinda thing. We also felt it would be no big deal for us to always swing or bounce her. We turned down offers for jolly jumpers, swings and bouncers left, right and centre.

But at about the point where monkey was being rocked to sleep at night, but I couldn’t get her to sleep during the day, we gave in. Why? Because I was spending a good 12 hours a day with a baby in a sling or front carrier, trying to get the baby to sleep. I love being close to my baby, but my back was killing me. I needed, for my sanity, to be able to put the monkey in something that would allow me to get at least 2 feet distance once in a while. I needed to reduce baby wearing to under 8 hours, or I would have gone off the deep end. So we took up an offer on a swing. She hated it. It didn’t put her to sleep. She would not be fooled- she could tell the difference between real Momma movement and fake ‘powered by battery’ movement. Guess which she preferred?

When she was a little older and we realized how much she liked to be upright and in motion, we borrowed a bouncer from a friend. She LOVES it. A little less now that she has caught on that it is our only way to keep her in one place while we go into the kitchen to make lunch.

We also gave in on the ‘baby jail’ AKA playpen. There are times you just want to use the washroom ALONE. The playpen comes in handy.

Lastly, and most recently, we gave in on the ‘cheesy plastic toys.’ We are not huge fans of how much plastic there is in our lives. We prefer more environmentally friendly material like cloth or wooden, especially if our baby is going to be chewing on it for the better part of 2 years. But recently, we pulled out a Fisher Price play house with little people from when I was a kid (so the thing is about 27 years old) and she LOVES IT way more then all her ‘eco-friendly’ toys. We also got a Fisher Price car, with annoying sounds and lights. Oh how we hate it. But she loves it. And a happy baby makes for a happy Momma. So I am going to be less judgmental of those plastic toys. We will try to buy them used, so at least they are 1 of the 3 ‘R’s.

And just in case your wondering what my prediction for next to be crossed off the ‘never’ list? Baby leash. Yeah, I really dislike the idea of putting my child on a leash. But, you can ask anyone who has seen our daughter and they can attest that she moves more then you think is possible. She is on the brink of walking and I am scared. She is going to be able to get across that supermarket faster then you can say boo. And I am going to need some way of not losing her in 2.3 seconds. Don’t tell my husband though, he still hates the idea.

Attention all Moms

I know I am not the first person to say this. Nor will I be the last. But Mom’s, could we please just lay off each other?! What is it about being a parent that sends us all into a tizzy of judging everyone else?

I will admit that I am not innocent. I have certainly looked at other Mom’s and thought: “Why is she feeding her toddler those french fries?” or “How much did she spend on that outfit for her baby?” Things that are trivial and quite frankly, none of my business. I try to keep them to myself. I would never say them to the Mom directly. Although it is not much better that I sometimes share my judgy thoughts with a friend. I need to try harder.

I have my opinion on some of the great Mommy debates. I think babies should eat healthy, unprocessed food. Women should be supported to have natural births, when possible. And kids do best sans a helicopter over their head.

Part of the reason I started writing this blog is to have a space to say what I feel, regardless of if anyone is listening or not. Of course, the ideal would be that I could join a chorus of voices to encourage our governments to change their policies. Like having better regulations on sugar and salt added to baby food. Or more government support of the midwifery system, so Mom’s get care that is geared to encouraging natural births.

Of course, I have to admit I would also be happy if something I wrote encouraged a few parents to change what they feed their kids or encourage a healthy self-esteem by not protecting them from ever failing. But I try my best to say what I want to say, without condemning others for doing something I don’t agree with.

There are some Mommy debates I am more neutral on. I fully embrace a ‘I will do what works best for my baby and my family- and you do what works best for your baby and your family.” Like breastfeeding or bottle feeding, staying at home or going to work, pain medication during labour or not, or whether or not you use a cry-it-out or no-cry method to get your baby to sleep.

That being said, what has really started to bother me over the last couple days, is just how poorly we Mom’s treat each other when it comes to these types of issues. Especially on the internet. An article I read yesterday even suggested that for some, it has reached the level of bullying. (http://bit.ly/d7c5Ml)  We aren’t exactly sending the best message to our kids, are we?

So far, my experience on twitter and blogging has been very positive. There does seem to be a good community of positive and supportive Moms to connect with. I have been lucky offline too; I have only heard, but not experienced, the dreaded ‘being stopped on the street or at the mall by an other Mom offering ‘helpful’ unwanted advice.’ It seems, though, that the online debates are where things really heat up.

As others have said, there is something about both the anonymity and immediacy  of the internet that seems to heighten the mommy wars. People see something, feel immediate outrage, write down how they feel and post it, without really thinking it through. They are addressing, mostly, people they don’t have address face to face. While they may not mean to, there are some Mom’s who feel judged and criticized by their statements. They may have a good message, but it gets lost in their tone of superiority.

Twitter was all a’twitter the other day about a live segment on the Today show with a baby being born via c-section. I am sure the Mom’s who criticized what happened were just trying to voice that natural births are not as well supported in our health care system as they should be. But the tone seemed very different from that. Some comments I saw practically called the c-section tragic and implied that showing a c-section on TV was the moral equivalent of showing someone smoking… with all those impressionable young people watching. Just a bit extreme.

And so not the point. The issue is our health care system (in both the US and Canada) and most doctor’s bias towards situations they feel they can ‘control.’  What happened on the Today show was just a TV show going for ratings, by showing something that will stir people up. Voila- it worked! Unless you are actually going to argue that showing a c-section should be banned from the airwaves, let’s drop the attitude and accept that c-sections are a valid option and there is nothing wrong with someone making that choice. You may not like that choice- but it doesn’t make it wrong.

I could hazard a guess that what is actually upsetting people is that, like most TV discussions of health, the topic being discussed was WAY over-simplified. As a result it did not accurately represent the issue in a balanced manner. That is why you get your health care advice from your trusted health care providers, not the TV. It maybe be irresponsible reporting, but there is nothing new about that in the ‘news’ industry.

This is just one of a large handful of issues that I have read online in the last couple weeks, where the tone of the discussion turns me off. Makes me feel dirty. Makes me feel like we, as Moms, could stand to be a lot less judgmental. Some bloggers have experienced ‘swarms’ of ‘pro-/anti-somethings’ descending on their blogs, name calling and insulting a different point of view. It bothers me.

Sure, lets take a stand for the things we believe in. Let’s say our piece when something strikes us as wrong. But before we do, lets take a deep breath and consider how our words and tone might make an other Mother feel. Think about what you really want to say and what really bothered you before you let loose via the multiple online channels at our fingertips. Let’s try to take the finger pointing, name calling and judgment out of the equation. And, above all, let’s give each other a break. Being a parent is hard, let’s not make it any harder.

My baby eats books…

So, our little girl likes to eat books. A lot. Actually, she is pretty indiscriminate when it comes to anything made of paper. Sticky notes, magazines, newspaper, credit card bills, she likes it all. It is a miracle she has not discovered toilet paper yet. But I know the day will come….

At first I thought that she had a book eating system. It seemed that she was willing to chew on the books that weren’t quite up to her literary standards. For a while, she was content to quietly flip through and appreciate the baby classics without chewing them to shreds. Her chewing seemed dependent on the book. I was so proud of my budding literary critic.

The first book she destroyed: Is there a Gorilla in the band? Not exactly a baby classic. I mean, it is about a gorilla in a band. That’s it. No meaningful subtext what-so-ever.

I was okay with it. I mean, she enjoyed destroying it so much. How could I complain? And there must be at least some fiber in the pages she pulled out and ate, right?

But with her second attack she upped the ante. She struck a classic. Sacred in the realm of baby books. Thats right, as you feared, she ate:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Kinda ironic. Didn’t she know this is a classic? We read it together at least 5 times a week. She loves it. She laughs when the caterpillar turns into a butterfly (sorry if I just spoiled the ending for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of reading it yet).

My dreams of a budding literary critic were dead. I guess I thought since pretty much everyone on both sides of the family loves books her DNA would be programmed to appreciate books, not eat them. I have a copy of Goodnight Moon from when my brothers and I were kids and it is a little worn, but not destroyed. It survived 3 kids.

It started innocently enough. My husband passed her the copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar one day to keep her occupied. When I came into the room I said: “Honey, why did you give her that book? That is a reading book, not a chewing book!” (Wow, reading that sentence back makes me sound a wee bit crazy… but it made sense at the time.) The corners were chewed beyond recognition. It seems, once she realized that she ‘could’ chew it, she figured she would go all the way. In a matter of days she had pulled apart the pages, chewed every part she could and pulled the book in half. Tear.

What’s next? Goodnight Moon? Pat the Bunny? She must be stopped.

The persistent ‘Phantom Baby Cry’

My daughter is 10 months old. She is not a big crier. She didn’t have colic when she was little. And all it takes now to stop the crying is either bedtime, food or a cuddle with her lovey (a mini blanket/ stuffed giraffe with her soother attached).

Despite this I often suffer from the haunting of the ‘phantom baby cry.’ Like all the time. Not a day goes by that I don’t stop what I am doing and think I hear her crying when she is actually sound asleep. At dinner. While watching T.V. During naps. When I wake up in the middle of the night. I stop and listen. Nope, just my phantom baby crying in my head. Kinda like having a ringing in your ears, except it sounds like a baby crying.

I wonder what this means? That I can’t ever relax without being on high alert? Is this my bodies way of reminding myself that no matter what the girl ‘usually’ does it could all come crashing down at any moment with an earth shattering crying fit? Or is it just like when you were a kid and went to bed after a day at the wave pool (or the ocean, I guess, if you are lucky enough to live near one) you could still feel yourself being rocked back and forth by the waves (also, maybe this just happened to me). Except that was nice, and phantom baby crying in your head is not. But both harmless and just a reminder of the day.

Please tell me I am not the only one. Please someone with older kids tell me it eventually goes away.

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