Posts Tagged ‘childrearing

23
Jan
12

There Is a Tablecloth On My Battlefield

If there is one thing that might make me snap as a parent, causing me to fly through the house punching holes through walls and tearing down wallpaper with my fingernails, it will be my daughter’s eating habits.

My 6-year-old wonderful, artistically gifted, verbally advanced, sensitive darling who is the pickiest damned eater I have ever had the misfortune to live with and be unable to employ threats of violence against.

If she had her way, her diet would consist of the following, and probably only the following:

  • Milk, chocolate milk and orange juice
  • Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries
  • Bacon and hot dogs (occasionally supplemented with chicken or steak)
  • Green apples, grapes, mandarin oranges and the occasional banana
  • Annie’s Shells & Cheese
  • Tootsie Roll lollipops and gummy anything
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Processed cheese sticks and extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • Hot fudge sundaes
  • Yogurt
  • Corn, but only sweet summer corn and only on the cob, heavily salted
  • Gravy (mashed potatoes are considered an inefficient delivery device that merely impedes her ability to drink the gravy)
  • French fries
  • Salt or soy sauce, with or without food that requires it, and preferably deposited thickly enough that you cannot see the food beneath it

Now, of course, I give her credit for eating fruit. More power to her. But she’d still rather eat her weight in bacon instead (with the exception of fresh summer strawberries). Also, she occasionally has good taste in cheese and likes yogurt. But as you might notice, the emphasis is on grease/salt/sweets and there is nary a vegetable to be found except for the corn, which is available for only a month or two during the year.

I get that kids can be picky and might eschew veggies. But this is a child into whom we must struggle even to get “normal” kid foods sometimes.

She eats hot dogs, but without any bun or condiments. She will grudgingly eat a hamburger, but just the patty. She hates spaghetti.

This is a girl who recently dipped her French fries into her chocolate milk and declared it delicious, yet won’t eat pork cooked in a sweet mandarin orange sauce even though she likes both of those foods, too, individually.

We can’t get tacos in her. Or sandwiches (except for the occasional jelly sandwich). A banana chocolate chip muffin is acceptable, but rarely is blueberry, and never is a cinnamon-crusted one, much less anything that trends toward pretending to be healthy. She professes to like scrambled eggs but I suspect that’s just an excuse to have something on which to pour salt so that she can hasten her arrival at gross hypertension before she reaches college, because she always picks at them and dawdles when eating them. She’ll eat pancakes, but mostly to get the maple syrup, which she will try to scoop up as often as possible while avoiding the pancakes.

This is a girl so stubborn about eating that if you give her a meal she doesn’t want to eat, she will feign being full or ill and go to bed starving rather than eat a single bite.

It’s maddening.

And to top it all off, if you give her food she adores, she’ll beg to eat it in the living room while watching TV rather than sit with her family.

So many parents wish their kids wouldn’t eat them out of house and home.

Me?

I’d give my left nut for her to make us go broke buying her organic zucchini, Brussels spouts, mixed greens, broccoli and green beans.

But for now I’ll settle for her eating her hotdog with a bun or shoving some spaghetti in her craw.

20
Jun
09

Pre-Father’s Day

So, tomorrow is Father’s Day. If my little girl wasn’t frequently mentioning that she and Mommy need to work on my secret gift, I’d probably not even realize it was coming.

That isn’t to say that I don’t think it’s a fine day. It’s a good excuse to call my own Dad, since he isn’t the most talkative sort and weekly or even once a month phone calls would probably be stretching our conversational material. Much better to interact with him in person, where long silences can be comfortable instead of awkward. I mean, silences on the phone have got to be the most awkward of all.

Also, it isn’t that I don’t like being appreciated myself as a father. I really do.

But I guess I just feel a little weird, and even guilty, at having a whole day that is supposed to be about me, simply because I have highly motile sperm (with the rapidity of which Mrs. Blue has conceived on the couple occasions we went off the birth control options, I could have myself a very old-school Catholic-sized family apparently…apparently, fertility is not one of the problems we face.)

I mean, I love when my wife recognizes me for good fathering (she also has been known to lambast me about some things, too, so don’t go sending me a “perfect father” trophy). I adore when Little Girl Blue tells me I’m a great daddy or when Son of Blue gives me his honest and loving admiration and respect, just because he feels moved to do so. Those things warm my heart. They are honest and can move me almost to tears sometimes.

But at the same time, I don’t feel like a fantastic provider right now because, frankly, I’m not. Career changes and economy have not been kind. So, when I think about all the things I couldn’t do for my wife on Mother’s Day…or her birthday…or Valentine’s Day…or our anniversary, I feel a strong sense of guilt that Mrs. Blue and Little Girl Blue are working so hard to give me things and bake me things and cook me things. (Son of Blue is away at a political science-style camp, so he’s not involved in all this.)

In the tradtion of Wayne and Garth from “Wayne’s World,” I just want to shout, “I’m not worthy!” Maybe I am, but I don’t feel like it. Not worthy enough for a day to be devoted to me.

Maybe that’s my own Dad in me. He never really cared that much to celebrate his birthday or Father’s Day or anything. He’s a humble guy, and that’s probably rubbed off on me.

Anyway, Happy Fathers’ Day, a day in advance, for all my fellow dads out there.

26
Jan
09

A Kiss Before Bedtime

A wonky wireless home networking system kept me from doing any kind of post last night, and the in-and-out connection has been playing havoc with me today, too.

I will probably post another installment of the Cleansed By Fire novel sometime today, if the gods of the Internet are kind to me, but here’s a quickie post to make up for having posted nothing yesterday and to give you something if you aren’t a sci-fi fan.

pinklips-kissMrs. Blue doesn’t like it when I ascribe semi-diabolic  motives to Little Girl Blue’s actions. She’s agreeing me with more often than she used to now when I point out such things, but I remember in the past year or so many, many times when I would suggest our little girl was playing us a bit, and I would get the stank eye in return from the wife.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My 3-year-old is not some devil child. She is challenging at times, but she’s also loving. And she’s whip-smart. To a certain degree, I like seeing that she has enough intellectual power to find subtle and tricky ways to get what she wants. I have to stay one step ahead of her, and that sometimes wears out my own brain, but I’d rather have that than a child who goes into brain-shutdown/drool mode in front of the TV on a regular basis.

The latest trick in her book is asking for a kiss at bedtime.

No, no, you don’t understand.

It’s not the kiss goodnight that’s a problem. I’m more than happy to give out one or even several kisses and hugs as I lay her down in bed.

It’s when she gets up, 5 minutes later and I ask, “Why are you up?” and she says she wants to give me a kiss. And I do. And I tell her she must go to bed and stop getting up. Five minutes later, she needs to give me another kiss, or a hug. And so on.

Now, she will from time to time say she needs a damp cloth to wipe her eyes, or another drink of water, but by and large, she will whip out the extra affection as an excuse to get up more often than not these days.

And this poses a real challenge for me as a loving father.

I know she’s stalling and trying to put off going to bed. And she probably enjoys yanking me out of my office every 5 minutes too, since it’s right next to her bedroom and it’s not like we can let daddy do his thing. 😉 But the real quandary for me is this:

I don’t feel right saying, “No, you can’t have a kiss.” Nor do I feel good scolding her about delaying her sleep after I give her one, even though I sometimes have to.

And she’s smart enough to know this, which is why she added this trick to her arsenal. She found an excuse that at least partially defuses my ability to get cross with her. Oh, sure, I eventually do reach a point at which I may have to threaten to deep-six one of her Dora DVDs or something, but for the most part, she gets to delay her bedtime (which is already way late by most family standards) and give me very little room to operate in a disciplinarian mode.

Like, I said, this girl is smart.

It’s that kind of skill that might serve her very well in life as she figures out how to navigate the hell that is other people (other annoying people at least…I’m not such a misanthrope that I think all people are trouble). But it’s going to give me some headaches, and many gray hairs, until she begins harnessing those skills for good instead of selfish reasons.

02
Dec
08

Two-fer Tuesday: Kids by Miz Pink

pink-cat-childI love my kids. Sometimes I’m not so sure about other people’s kids.

Okay, I’m usually not sure of other peoples kids. Its easier to get annoyed at them but still I often smile when I see a strange baby or some other person’s toddler or preschooler galavanting around.

But as nice as kids are to have, the more important thing is being able to raise them right and the problem is that a lot of people have kids and don’t consider that.

They don’t consider whether they have the resources or patience or skill or support or anything else to put the kid on a good path.

Too many people have kids for reasons like this:

  • Hold on to a man they are afraid of losing/pin down a woman at home that man is afraid of losing
  • Because kids are so cute (or worse yet, “my kids are too big to cuddle now and I want something new to play with while I make them fend for themselves”)
  • Because I can
  • Because I don’t care to be responsible enought to bother with birth control.
  • Because if I can’t afford it, the state will pay/I can give it away/the other parent will take care of it while I split.

Having kids and raising them is a huge responsibility. I see some Christian brothers and sisters online who seem to think that the problem with today’s youth is that they don’t marry soon enough. These folks think that if kids got married and had kids earlier they’d be more responsible. I shudder to think of that. I think of big families in my extended family tree where they started young and what happened was a lot of bad parenting because there wasn’t enough maturity, or time for the kids…and then older kids are placed into parental or baby sitting roles that they aren’t ready for. I’m all for pitching in, but there were folks in my family in recent generations that basically handed the babies off to the older kids and didn’t do crap themselves half the time.

God entrusts us with these new lives and he expects us to take care of them and to take the job seriously. To do anything less is an affront and an insult.

13
Nov
08

Page 123…Ignoring the Child

book-cover-children-of-godWas passing through the Caffeinated Thoughts blog and saw this post, titled “Page 123 Meme.” Even though I wasn’t tagged as part of this meme, and thus under no pressure to follow it or to tag anyone I knew, I was intrigued.

The idea is to pick the book nearest to you that has at least 123 pages, go to the 123rd page, find the fifth sentence, and then post the next three sentences after that.

Out of curiosity, I grabbed the closest book, the science fiction novel Children of God by Mary Doria Russell, and flipped to page 123 (by the way, this book is a sequel to Russell’s The Sparrow, that previous book being far superior…but Children of God is damn good, too). I worked with the assumption that in finding the fifth sentence, I should only count complete sentences and not the partial one that starts off the page.

What I came up with was:

“Her parents ignored her. Best thing that could have happened! They were so busy fighting over Carlo, they never got around to making a mess of their daughter.”

And I thought, “What the hell? Might as well make that the kicking off point for a blog post…” And, as it happens, it actually fits into a new position my wife has just taken on.

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jesus-child-and-holy-spiritSometimes, perhaps, it is better when a bad parent simply ignores a child. I’m not offering that up as advice, mind you. I think that bad parents should strive to be better ones. I think that parents who choose to ignore any of their children should wake the hell up and start paying attention. We should all seek after love and aim to give love to our kids.

But having said that, some parents can only hurt their children. And if a parent is abusive, or emotionally toxic, or a hopeless addict, or in some other way only fit to screw up a child, maybe it’s better for the child to not get much from that parent.

The problem is that the child is ill-equipped to raise himself or herself. There are exceptions of course, but by and large a child left to his or her own devices and denied the love and support of at least one parent will end up screwed up anyway. Whether more or less screwed up than the effed-up parent(s) would have made them, who knows?

For this reason, it is critical that we be there for those kinds of children.

Mrs. Blue just started work for a Christian-based organization that provides a place for at-risk preteens and teens to hang out for a few hours each day, get a snack, be safe and get some positive reinforcement from people who do care. As my wife has discovered, many of these kids have parents who really don’t give a shit about them.

But we cannot rely simply on organizations like that to do that work. If you know a relative who is a physically or emotionally absent parent, and the other parental partner isn’t any better, step up and be a role model or a supporter of that relative’s kid or kids. At least try.

If you are in a position to interact with kids in the neighborhood and not be mistaken for a child molester, keep any eye out for those who seem to want or need a connection with a sane adult and who don’t already have one at home.

Volunteer for organizations that help at-risk kids. Be a mentor or Big Brother or Big Sister.

Not all of us can do these things. But all of us should look to see if we can, and we should be open to the possiblity of doing so if the opportunity arises. Everyone who does step up is one more person who might be able to save one more kid from a destructive path.

04
Nov
08

Two-fer Tuesday: Suffer the Children by Miz Pink

pinkshirt-latina-girlFirstly my thanks to everyone who wished me well when Deke announced the arrival of Mini Pink Model 3 into the world. I probly shoulda responded over there but that post seems too old now so my thanks to you here instead. We’re all healthy and well and mostly happy (if you have kids you know why I’m qualifying that). And I hope to be sharing great tales from this the third and final round of child raising by yours truly.

I will also say that I might be more than a leetle grumpy right now and if that soaks through on to this post please bear with me. I’m feelin postpartum. No not postpartum depression (though I’ve been down that nasty piece of road before) but postpartum LIFE. Lack of sleep lack of timely showers lack of enough caffeine lack of ability to take certain medicines because I’m breastfeeding lack of personal time lack of my routines lack of….well you get it I think.

So, suffer the children, huh?  Hey Deke the little girl ain’t suffering right now but she’s putting Sir Pink and I thru the wringer.

But this is my topic for the first twofer Tuesday back on the job. And I actually have something to say that fits the topic I guess being that I’m a third time momma now.

Actually, TWO things…..

First, if you see me raising my voice to my child in public or just quietly scolding my child or even giving my child a swat on the behind do not, under any circumstances, get in my business. Sure, if I’m wailing on my kid with a full fledged butt whooping and you feel you must call some authorities or tell me to stop because the child is in actual danger, that I can understand. But you won’t find me doing that. And you certainly don’t have any business telling me how to speak to my child either. You don’t! I know lots of moms out there on the discussion boards who think it’s their business to tell other parents how to parent but it isn’t. It just isn;t. Short of actual abuse…real abuse…it ain’t your kid so it ain’t your business.

Second, if my kid is “acting up” in whatever qualifies in your world as acting up and I choose not to discipline, scold, correct or redirect my child, don’t even think of tell me I should. Don’t. Again, just like with the annoying interloper on the otehr end of the spectrum, it ain’t your child and it ain’t your business. Unless my child is physically hitting you or directly and materially intereferring with your ability to do something or somehow about to cause harm to him/herself of someone else, stay the heck out of it. I get to decide when my child has crossed the line. Not you. Deal with your own child. And if you don’t have one, get your own.

Now that I have that off my chest, time to feed Mini Pink Model 3.




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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