Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Not a Helicopter Mom, A Parachute Mom

Are you familiar with the term "helicopter parent"?

According to Wikipedia, "
Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters they hover closely overhead, rarely out of reach, whether their children need them or not. It is also called "overparenting". Parents try to resolve their child's problems, and try to stop them coming to harm by keeping them out of dangerous situations." Wiki also points out that it is an "ineffective parenting style" .

If you know me at all, you know that I don't plan or try to be a helicopter parent. And hopefully I'm reaching that goal! I've tried hard to let my children learn thru trial and error when at all possible. No, I didn't let them run out in the busy street and get run over by a car... not effective. And I have no desire to see my children dead, or to be reported to DCFS! But I have let them fall of bikes, trip over rocks, break toys that they didn't want broken, lose toys that they wanted to take in the mall, etc. I've let them live life and try to let them learn a lot on their own. I'll suggest to them, "Hey let's leave your favorite dinosaur in the car." But if the argument is good/long/strong enough, I've let them bring that fav toy into the mall. Hopefully we don't lose it, but we have lost things and it's been upsetting for my children. Yes, it sucks at the time... but the next trip to the mall, they didn't argue when I asked them to leave their toys in the car. Lesson learned!

I clearly remember a playground incident when Trev was about 2 years old. I was sitting nearby, under a tree, nursing Blake. One moment I looked over and T was happily playing, the next time I looked over (30 seconds later?) he was being held upside down by a boy probably 5 or 6 years old. WOW!!! I flew across the playground, grabbed him and helped him get right-side-up again. A few seconds later the other parent appeared and took her son away to talk with him (thank goodness, cause I don't know what I might have done). Do I enjoy this memory? Nope....Trev was obviously scared. But I wouldn't change that I wasn't hovering right over him to change that it happened. Do I think the other parent should have been hovering over her child? Nope... she saw the problem right away and responded by removing her child and disciplining him. No one was hurt, Trev went back to playing shortly after, and all was fine in the world (oh,and Blake was still interrupting him when he's eating!!!).

Okay.... right turn, Clyde....

Recently I read an article about car seats. (Stay with me here, this will all tie together I promise.) In the article, the author used a great analogy..."the whole idea of the car seat is to act as your child's parachute in a crash". The full article can be read here but the basics are this... The car seat is a child's parachute in the event your car crashes. It slows them down and helps them come to the slowest and gentlest stop possible. If their parachute (aka car seat) is loose, the forces of the stop are much more jolting potentially causing them much more harm than necessary.

This is such a well written understandable analogy. In her article she goes on to talk about why big puffy coats under car seat straps are bad. After all, you wouldn't want a big puffy coat between you and your parachute harness right? But I digress. As much as I fully agree with her point and am a big proponent of car seat safety, that's not the point of my post today (shocking, I know, can you believe it!!!).

Upon thinking about it further, this principle extends far beyond the car seat to me, it's a valid parenting analogy.
I want to be a parachute parent. (I'm trademarking that term right here, right now!).

To go back to Wikipedia, "the word "parachute" comes from the French para, meaning "to prepare for" or "to protect against".

I want to help my child stay safe, and slow down enough not to get hurt. I want to help them glide safely through life and land in adult-hood (gee, that was cheesy!). I want them to remember what I've taught them, carry it with them, and use it when they need it. But I can't and don't want to be hovering over them every second of the day, to do it for them. They have to carry their own parachute and know when to pull the rip-cord. I want to prepare them for life and the challenges they will face so that I know that they can handle them.

So there ya go.... I've got my new philosophy. And yeah, my kids still don't wear puffy coats in their car seats. They've got their parachutes on, and I want those straps tight... just in case.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The little girl who demanded....

Tonight after dinner, Trev took a shower. Nothing remarkable in that. He went and did most of the work himself, and came downstairs in his jammies with wet hair, ready to play Wii. Again, nothing remarkable. Blake and Iz are waiting down on the couch, Wii remotes in hand. Daddy turns on the Wii, and Izzy runs for the stairs. Now that's remarkable!

No she can't truly play the Wii, but don't tell her that. She grabs a remote anytime she sees someone else with one, and sits on the couch and pushes buttons and shakes it around and watches the screen and squeals in delight. She thinks she's playing. So why, when it's Wii time, is she running for the stairs??? She was talking away, telling me what she wanted. If only I understood!

We figured maybe she was ready for bed. So I followed her upstairs. She demanded I take off her clothes, and then she removed her diaper. I was ready to put her in jammies... she had other thoughts. Off to the bathroom she ran! Yay, I thought, she wants to go potty. Nope... she stopped in front of the cabinet and opened it. It was only then that I realized what she wanted....

She grabbed a crayon and climbed in the empty bathtub. And then she talked/yelled at me until I turned on the water. So she got a bath.... just like Trevor, just like she wanted!

And then she used her crayon. And told me what she was doing. Listen for yourself....

In case you're not fluent in baby/Izzy speak, she said "I drawing Elmo". And she did!!!!

Oh and then she poured buckets of water all over her head! And to think... this is the girl that used to hate the bathtub!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

PTOs and Play-dates

It's a parenting rite of passage I guess, and I'm just getting thrown in and figuring this all out - or trying to at least.

For the last year and a half, I've willingly and regularly attended the PTO meetings at Trevor's school. I figure it's my job/duty as a parent (especially a SAHM), since it's at night during the week I don't usually have a conflict and since I'll have a kid at that school for the next 11 years (yikes!!) I should really get involved and find out what's going on around there.

His school has about 450 students, and at most I've seen 15 parents in that room, and 3 teachers. I don't understand. The 15 moms (I've seen a dad only once that I recall) are the same 15 moms that run all the events/fundraisers/programs that are needed/expected/desired by the remaining 400 families/teachers. And yet, half the people in the room don't fully know what the purpose/goal of the PTO is... and the rest of the 450 families surely don't. It's no wonder that fundraisers are only vaguely successful when most of the people being asked for money don't know what it's for. The apathy and lack of involvement/interest absolutely boggles me.

What I don't know is how to fix it, or even help it much. I'm guessing that sooner than later, I will be jumping into a bunch of those committees (not that I haven't done a few already) and I'll be on the PTO board sooner than I expected. If I want the best for my kids and their education, what other choice is there? But once I'm part of the board and the committees... then what? How does it change so that more people are aware and involved? Ugh....I think I just found my new full-time (not for profit) job. Oh wait, I already have one of those!!


On the other topic (sorry, no logical or entertaining segue's here!), Trevor got invited to his first play-date at a classmates house. To this point, we haven't known many of the kids in his class very well, other than getting invited to their birthday parties (that topic is worthy of a whole seperate post!). I spend time each week in his classroom helping out, so I know many of the kids, but I don't know the parents. Before he started school last year, we hung out with a group of my friends and their kids where the mom's were all friends so we were all together always. So, this whole notion of "Hi, I've never met you but sure my kid can come to your house and play for 3 hours without me there and then you can drive him home is fine" is kinda weird for me.

But T came home with a note that E would like him to come play sometime soon. And he talks about E alot and they play soccer against each other and I know he wants to go play (and I don't want him to be left out of this part of childhood), so I called and talked to E's mom and after deciding that after school is already rushed, we agreed that T would go there and play on Saturday afternoon. Why there? Because they invited us, and because a classmate lives around the corner that they are both friends with. So Saturday came, and we called to say we'd be over soon.... except no one was home. All afternoon! Talk about sad Trevor. We left a message but didn't hear back til Monday. So aside from dealing with T's heartbreak over the lack of play-date, I still haven't fully done this whole "play-date" thing and am still over-anticipating it (in true me-style) until this Saturday. I'm not an over-bearing, worrywart, helicopter type parent by nature....but still, this is uncharted territory for me and him!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Little Girl Who Cried "Stinky"

Yeah so it's been almost 3 months since I've written anything! I have no excuses, so I'll just try to move on and ignore it!!

Happy New Year! I do have hopes to write much more this year than last. I really view this blog as a "fancy" journal for keeping track of milestones and achievements and funny stories for the whole family. I missed quite a few of those in the last few months, so hopefully I can start this new year on the right foot!

As of yesterday, Izzy is 21 months old. However, she's already joined the ranks of the "terrible 2's". She's mastered the word "NO!" and will throw a fit (complete with lying on the floor) if she doesn't get what she wants.

She's growing up much faster than I remember either of the boys doing so. The highchair is gone, she'd rather sit in a booster at the table with the rest of us. She's been drinking from a big girl cup or a straw cup and has little patience for "sippy cups" anymore! Two nights ago, we converted her crib into a toddler bed. She's fallen out twice (once each night) but otherwise has had no problems going to sleep (for naps too) and staying in bed. It seems she still thinks she can't get out!!! A thought I'm not going to change!!!

The most obvious way in which she seems to be growing up is her increased awareness of all things potty-related. She's no longer willing to sit in a wet diaper, and if it's a poopy diaper, she will IMMEDIATELY inform you and demand a diaper change. She'll voice her demand by coming over to you and saying "stinky". In the last few weeks, this has escalated to wanting to sit on the potty and try to go. Again, this demand is voiced by the word "stinky".

All of this is great and wonderful. But lately, the demand to sit on the potty comes every 20-30 minutes, and rarely is accompanied by any results. 20 minutes later she will come over to me yelling "stinky" again and wanting to sit on the potty. But in the last few days, it is rare that she does anything more than sit on the potty for 3 seconds and then get up and run all over the house nekkied and laughing like a maniac. Dare you try to put her diaper back on, she'll pitch a fit that she needs to go "stinky" again!! She demands to sit on it, but won't do anything! So now she's the little girl who cried "stinky".

I know I should be thrilled that she's showing interest in being PT'd so early (especially compared to other members of the family!).... but I can't handle all this terrible 2's drama already!!!