Friday, April 29, 2005

Parenting 101

This is something I posted on some message boards back in July 2002. As I do with just about anything that I consider important enough to keep, I saved it, and the replies that I received, in Word. I'm going to try to copy my entire post, plus the important replies, here. As I hope I made clear in my posts on raising a child with disabilities, I like to share what I know, in order to to help prevent people from reinventing the wheel. Hope this isn't too long.

Parenting 101

You would think that people would have a least a clue about raising children from remembering how their own parent(s) raised them, or from watching other parents at work. But you’d be amazed at some of the things I’ve heard. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

When the Young Tech was still an infant, our pregnant neighbor asked me whether it would be okay for her to go jogging and leave her baby home alone. (!) I explained to her that someone had to be with a baby at all times, in case of a fire or other emergency.

Recently, a co-worker commented that the hardest thing about having a baby was not giving birth, but realizing that her baby wouldn’t let her sleep. This is news?!

As I was saying, you can’t make this stuff up. Therefore, in the interest of protecting future babies from clueless parents, I hereby present this introductory “class.”

First and foremost, parents are responsible, morally and legally, for their children’s health and safety. One must *never* leave a young child home alone!!! Babies get hungry and thirsty, need to have their diapers changed, and *cannot flee in case of danger.* If you leave a baby home alone long enough to go down to the corner store and buy a package of diapers, and that’s the moment when the boiler decides to explode, you’ll come home to a crispy critter.

And don’t forget the medical check-ups and the vaccinations. Always remember that, before the advent of the polio vaccine, people *died* from polio. Rubella (also known as German measles) was a leading cause of deafness, blindness, and mental retardation before the advent of the MMR (measles, mumps, Rubella) vaccine). Parents are responsible, morally and legally, for their children’s health. It may also interest you to know that, in many places, an unvaccinated child cannot enter school, or even college.

Helpful hint: Infants’ or Children’s Tylenol—don’t leave home without it! We once had to take our son to the nearest Emergency Room at 3 o’clock in the morning because he got an ear infection while we were visiting my aunt and uncle. Don’t let it happen to your kid. *Always* take Infants’ or Children’s Tylenol with you when you travel with a child.

Second, rare, indeed, is the infant who sleeps through the night. Parents of newborns should expect to be sleep-deprived for many months. So don’t be surprised like my clueless co-worker.

Third, older babies and toddlers may let you sleep more at night, but you won’t have a moment’s peace during the day once your kid learns to walk. Toddlers *do* run into the street if you don’t hold their hand; they *do* run into the swings in a backyard or playground and get clobbered in the head if you don’t stop them, they *do* put anything and everything, including dangerous things like bleach or knives, into their mouths if you don’t put all your utensils, medicines and cleaners into locked cabinets, they *do* stick their tiny fingers into uncovered outlets and get themselves french-fried, they *do* stick their tiny fingers into computer A drives, VCR, CD-, and DVD-player openings and get stuck. Please haunt the local houseware or hardware store, baby store, or pharmacy and pick up contraptions for locking and blocking dangerous places. And don’t forget to put a baby-gate at the top of the stairs, or you’ll have a child screaming all the way to the Emergency Room to set a broken arm. While we’re on the subject, never yank a child below the elbow to try to get the kid moving in the right direction, no matter how short s/he is—that’s how the Young Tech ended up with a dislocated elbow. And speaking of babies falling down the stairs, baby walkers—those wheeled contraptions in which a baby is suspended in a cloth “sling” so that the baby can “walk” before s/he’s able to stand upright without support—are dangerous!!! When your baby’s legs are strong enough to enable her/him to walk without support, s/he’ll walk without support. What’s the rush? Let Mother Nature take her course.

Fourth, there’s no way around the fact that parenthood curtails one’s social life. Strollers are wonderful things—they enable one to take a baby or toddler just about anywhere without undo wear and tear on a parent’s back or arms. However, they won’t stop a tired child from crying for an hour straight in a restaurant until he falls asleep, or crying through a movie or concert, so be considerate. Also, a day will come when your child will be too old for a stroller. (Our son’s preschool yelled at us when they found out that we were still using a stroller for our then-three-year-old). Not only does taking a kid out of a stroller make every walk to the subway take twice as long (and practically necessitate taking a cab home when it’s late at night, to avoid having a tired child cry for the entire walk home), but also, please understand that, once there’s no stroller for a child to sleep in, bedtime means home-time. Once your kid’s too old for a stroller, you’ve have to be home by 8 every night for at least the next 10 years, unless you can get another adult (relative, friend, or babysitter) to stay home with the kid.

Hint: The telephone answering machine (*not* Voice Mail!) is a real godsend for parents. Just teach your child *never* to answer the phone unless s/he hears *your* voice on the answering machine, and no one need ever know that you left your 11-year-old home alone while you went to the corner store for a quart of milk.

Finally, understand that every child is like a bottle that’s not being recycled—“No deposit, no return.” There’s no guarantee that your child is going to be the perfect angel of your fantasies. Some come with hearing or vision problems, some with learning disabilities, some with mental challenges, some with emotional disabilities, some with physical mobility challenges, some with behavior problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, some with physical health problems, and some with more than one of the above. If you’re not willing to raise whatever child you end up with, don’t bother having a child. And remember that you child’s welfare comes first—there may be many occasions when the only way to help your child achieve her/his maximum potential will be to park your ego at the door. Don’t let pride stand in the way of your child getting the help that s/he needs.

Children—They may make life a bit more challenging, but they’re sure the most lovable things on earth. :) You never know what they’ll come up with next. Enjoy the ride!

End of lecture. There will be a test after you’ve had your first child. :)

Damian Vryce:
If I may add a few:1. In addition to childrens tylenol, never be with out liquid benedryl (an antihistimine). Since your child is new to the world, you may not know what they are allegeric to. Benedryl will minimize the effect until more powerfull meds can be reached.

2. Ranger S., gave a few tips for living in NYC about the subway. For those of us who use a car: a child seat is a must! It is not an option. It is not about cutting your kid some slack or giving them some freedom. No matter how much they complain, whine or cry, they are buckled up. That crying will be nothing compared to what you go through if they end up flying through your windshield in a collison.

And for those parents who like the idea of walkers, please consider using the Exersaucer....a walker type device that has no wheels but allows the child to practice keeping his/her balance while upright.

Ranger Shoshanah [that'd be me]:
I knew there was something I forgot--*car seats!!!* It's not only folks who *do* own cars who need them--it's also folks who *don't.* Not every rental establishment has them. We once missed a wedding because my poor hubby had to run from the place that rented us a car to another branch of the same rental company that had car seats before we could strap the dear boy in for the ride to Grandmom's. Needless to say, we bought a car seat immediately thereafter, even though we had nowhere to park it but the livingroom. But that sure beats the horror story I heard on TV tonight--a two-year-old died because his father was holding the kid in his arms in the back seat of a car when a collision occurred. *Never* hold a child in your arms while in a moving car, no matter how much the kid complains. You *must* get your child used to riding in a car seat from the earliest possible age--better to cry than to die!!! Breastfeeders, either pull over or give in to necessity, temporarily, and give the baby a bottle, but *don't* take the baby out of the baby seat as long as the car is moving!!!

Infants' Benadryl--what a great idea. I wish someone had told me that one when ___ was rushed to the hospital from preschool after breaking out in hives from his first taste of peanut butter. See--you *can* teach an old dog new tricks.

It's amazing how much a child changes your life. I thought I understood what it would be like, but until the moment Kiera was born, I was pretty clueless. Sure, I'd read a lot, knew what to expect, etc. but I had absolutly no IDEA that I could love someone so much so instantly. Children are an amazing blessing.

That being said, I will admit that I had difficulties with the transition into motherhood. Most of the problems were due to post partum depression, which I am now recovering from, thanks to the help of a good doctor, Paxil, and a healthy diet, exercise, and daily routine that we can all be happy with.

I will add one thing: Obviously, your child's health, safety, and well-being have to be priority, but make a little time for yourself as well, even if it's just an hour a day. You'll be a better parent for it. I've learned this from experience.

How can anyone imagine leaving an infant home alone??? The very idea is so inconcievable for me......Even if you do have one of those rare babies to sleeps through the night (which mine is) you're still going to lose out on some of the sleep you were getting. There is always housework or other tasks to be done that didn't get done during the day or couldn't be done until the little one was down for the night.

Parents don't get to be sick. It doesn't matter if you have a headache, sore throat, stuffy nose, or an upset stomach. When that child needs you, you have to be there.

Another thing.... and forgive me if I offend anyone here.. but this whole putting the child in bed with you thing.. sure, it may seem more convenient, and you may like the bonding time, but it's unsafe! A short while back, a mother who lives down the road from us suffocated her child when she rolled over on her in the middle of the night.... Now she has to wake up every morning and live with that fact. Suffocation and injuries from falls are a big rist for babies when they are placed in adult beds. Please, just make the effort to get up and walk the few feet to the crib at night. Also, never leave your baby unattended on an adult bed. If you're visiting someone else and the child gets tired and needs a nap, spread a blanket out on the floor and let them sleep there. Putting pillows or blankets next to a child on a bed to prevent them from falling off is even worse than not having them there, since they present more of a suffocation hazard.

Routine, routine, routine. I can't stress enough how important this is. Children of all ages need it. Babies and toddlers are learning so much in their first few years. Everything changes for them almost daily. They're going through so many physical and mental changes, the whole world is just whizzing around them at 100mph. Having a well established routine and schedule gives them some bit of order to grasp onto and makes them happier and more secure. I've already learned that if Kiera's routine gets messed up then she's cranky, fussy, doesn't sleep as well, doesn't eat as well and is just generally unhappy. My best friend's 15 month odl son stood in my kitchen and wailed for 3 hours yesterday because he didn't get his afternoon nap on time and couldn't be calmed down enought ot ake one then.You don't have to be a strict clock watcher, but establishing a routine and a schedule will make life easier for everyone. In addition to making life for your child easier, it will also make your days easier to manage. That was oen of the biggest problems I had after Kiera was born. I felt like I had absolutly no control over my life anymore. Once I asserted myself and got myself and Kiera into a routine that would allow her to get the sleep she needed and allow me to get housework done, have a little me time, and have plenty of play time with her, we both got happier. I even manage about 6hrs of sleep a night and an afternoon nap (whole she sleeps).

Wonderful advice. Absolutely correct that you should never leave your young child alone at home, not even to run to the corner store, but also remember: if you have driven to the corner store, you must never ever leave your child unattended in the automobile while you quickly dash inside. So many dangerous things can happen in just a moment's time...a toddler could somehow manage to get the car in gear; a car parked on a hill or on icy area could roll; your child could be kidnapped; if it is summertime and hot and you have left your child in a locked vehicle with the windows rolled up, your child could die!

“*Everybody* Must Get ‘Stoned’?!”, Part *&^%$#@!!!!!!

So there I was, between temp. assignments, thinking that I’d have plenty of time to get the apartment cleaned and the kitchen kashered for Pesach and get all the shopping done. Famous last words. Last Tuesday, at about 1 AM, my husband landed himself in the Emergency Room with a constricted esophagus—he’s been having trouble swallowing for about a year and a half—and stayed there until about 7 the next night. We ended up cleaning and shopping almost until Shabbos. I threw something remotely resembling Shabbos dinner together at the last possible second while the hubby was doing the last of the shopping. We barely made it under the wire.

Yesterday, I figured that the hubby was feeling well enough that we could finally take out some real plates, instead of paper, and have a nice Shabbat Yom Sh’vi-i shel Pesach and Acharon shel Pesach. Famous last words. Yesterday afternoon, I came home from my annual torture session with the ophthalmologist—I’m sensitive to light even without dilation drops in my eyes—to find that my husband was beginning to feel the effects of his 5,464th kidney stone. I lay down to try to help my eyes recover—that usually takes me at least three hours—but, within an hour, broad-brimmed hat parked on my head as my only eye protection (I broke my sunglasses and haven’t found a decent replacement) and backpack full of nuts, dried fruit, matzah and macaroons—not to mention chocolate to keep me awake—we were en route to the Emergency Room yet again.

On the other hand, it could be worse—I spent Wednesday in a hospital waiting room distracting one of my girlfriends while her husband underwent six hours of open-heart surgery. (He's recovering nicely, baruch haShem.)

My Mi-Sheh-Berach list is growing by leaps and bounds. :(

So much for a Moed Tov. :(

And now, for some lighter reading--Rule Numero Uno for public-transportation users

Any adult carrying a child in his or her arms needs a seat, period. So get up and give that adult your seat. Period.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

“Motherless Child”

I read the Renegade Rebbitzen’s post “In search of the "labor of love:" The RenReb wants her mommy” at some ridiculous hour of the night (morning?) last night, and found it even more depressing than being completely ignored on that message board (see previous post) after going out on a limb.

“The rebbetzin seeks comfort.The rebbetzin wants her mother.”

Likewise, I’m sure—but what mother?

I posted an anonymous comment to the RenReb’s post, but, on second thought, I've decided to bring that comment over here and add to it the few words that I couldn’t post as long as I was trying to hide my identity. Since no one in my family knows that I’m writing a blog, and since they wouldn’t know this one was mine, even if they read it, given the fact that—confession time—I write this blog under a pseudonym, it makes no difference what I say about my family here. So I might just as well post something that describes how I really feel, and get it off my chest, after all these years. Frankly, I could use the catharsis.

“It was difficult enough when my parents made aliyah and left us to raise a child with disabilities without help and without grandparents.But I knew I was truly alone, and could never "go home" again, the day, some years later, that I asked my mother for some cooking advice and she told me to look it up in a cookbook.

Ever since then, I've considered myself a pseudo-orphan. My parents are both still alive, baruch ha-shem, but I no longer consider them a real part of my life. I grew up real fast that day.

But I still remember a day a few years ago when I was sitting in the shul choirbox learning an Israeli lullaby. It's probably a mental block, but I can't remember the name of the song, or very many of the lyrics. What I do remember is that the song spoke of a grandmother with her grandchild. I was choking back tears, knowing that my son had never had that kind of experience with either of his grandmothers, and never would.”

There was only one treatment available at that moment for the depression I felt after reading that post and commenting on it. So there I was, at some outrageous hour of the night/early morning, rocking from side to side on my computer chair and harmonizing along—in truth, it sounds better without my harmony, but I’m incapable of not harmonizing along—with this. (See the Saturday, April 16, 2005 post “Lullaby” at Thanks, Dr. Skier, for having such a fine "bedside manner." I find your song a great comfort.

Sci fi fan(atic), a.k.a. Obsessed

Blame it on my son. When I was a teenager, I got addicted to a soap opera and swore that I’d never again watch a show with a continuing story line . But my son has this bad habit of watching some pretty interesting TV shows. Not only did I get hooked, I became so obsessed with one particular show that he finally forced me to go cold-turkey by insisting that I stop watch the reruns. Then he ruined the whole thing by getting me hooked on two other shows. Sigh.

So I spent a couple of hours writing what I hoped was a very well-thought-out three-part series of posts on the relationship between the male and female leads on one of these shows. I went a bit out on a limb in my analysis, posted my “masterpiece” this past Friday afternoon (as if I had nothing more important to do right before the Shabbat leading directly into Pesach—now you know I’m nuts), and spent three days holding my breath to see whether I was going to collect kudos for my insightfulness or get “shot down” for being a looney bird. Imagine my shock when I got back on the Internet last night after maariv, hightailed it over to my favorite science fiction message board—and found that no one had posted a single response to my tome, despite the fact that three whole days (including a weekend) had passed since I posted it. I can’t remember ever having felt so humiliated on the Internet.

My husband, bless him, being more rational than I, said I should give it more time. Sure enough, I checked out my favorite message board today, and found two very thoughtful replies.

I feel much better now, thank you.

So many blogs, so little time

Some of my fellow and sister bloggers may have noticed that I don’t comment on their blogs as often as I used to. I assure you that I’m not ignoring you. It’s just that, at this point, I have so many blogs on my Favorites list that it can take me as long as three weeks—even longer, if I’m involved in a major project at the office, as opposed to just answering phones—to read my way down the list. I’ll get to your blog, eventually.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Check out this article from last week's Jewish Week, "Stop the Exodus from Passover"

Yes, Virginia, there is something to be said for skipping the hotel and making Pesach (Passover) at home.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

“The flowers that bloom in the spring (tra la)” have something to do with the King

With a tip of the hat to Gilbert and Sullivan, I begin my annual effort to remember the words to that brachah: . . . shelo hisar (?) b’olamo davar . . . l’hanot bahem b’nei adam. Every spring I memorize that brachah—and by the next spring, I’ve forgotten it all over again.

Ah, here it is, straight from the Birnbaum siddur (prayerbook):

“On seeing trees blossoming:
Baruch ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ shelo chisar b’olamo davar, uvara vo b’riot tovot v’ilanot tovim l’hanot bahem b’nei adam.”

Praised [is the One . . . ] Who has withheld nothing from His world, and has created therein good creations and good trees to

Nuts. Even I know enough Hebrew to know that l’hanot is the infinitive form of a verb. “ . . . for the enjoyment of mankind” doesn’t cut it (on either grammatical or feminist grounds).

Artscroll siddur? Zip. Can’t find any miscellaneous blessings in there.

Hertz siddur, with my modern-English edit and without the sexism: “ . . . with which to give delight to the children of the human.”

(Does anybody have a good, non-sexist translation of the word “adam?”)

Praised [is the One . . . ] who has withheld nothing from His world, and has created therein good creations and good trees [with which] to [give] delight [to] the children of the human.”

It’s not that I’m such a literal believer. It’s just that I like to say a prayer of thanksgiving whenever I see the beauties of nature, so that I’ll be more aware of them and not take them for granted.

And the beauties of nature are what I’m seeing right now, all around me.

First came the crocuses, then the daffodils, then the lilacs. Then my husband reminded me to look up—the trees were beginning to bud. Now the trees are beginning to blossom, and I saw my first tulips today.

I love this time of year!!!!!!!!!!

Baruch . . . sheh-kachah lo b’olamo. Praised [is the One] Who has such things in His world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A Dearth of Imagination

Some years ago, the folk-singing trio Peter, Paul, and Mary recorded a parody called "I Like Rock and Roll Music." (Much of it was a friendly parody of the four-part-harmony rock-singing group The Mamas and The Papas.) Here's a quote from that song:

"But if they really say it,
the radio won't play it,
so they have to lay it
between the lines."

At the time, I found those lyrics quite amusing. Now, I'm not so sure.

One of my favorite Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance performances is "Never Gonna Dance." (I believe that performance is from the film "Swing Time.") Not only was that piece beautifully choreographed, danced, staged, and filmed, but even its title is memorable. "Never Gonna Dance" is surely one of the most touching and poignant euphemisms I've ever heard.

Far be it from me to wish to return to the days of censorship. There's certainly a place for frankness concerning "adult" material in the media. But must everything be laid out—and I do mean "laid"—in front of our eyes all the time? Are we losing the ability, or the desire, to use our imaginations? Is there no place left in literature, creative art, and/or performing art for "reading between the lines," and for the beauty that can sometimes be a direct result of the fact that the artist can't say or do everything, or prefers not to? There are times when I truly miss the traditional ending to a romantic scene, the good old-fashioned "fade-to-black."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Charles and Diana, Charles and Camilla: I blame British tradition for this mess

British tradition demanded that the heir apparent marry a virgin. That’s the only reason why Charles married Diana in the first place. If he’d married Camilla to begin with, there never would have been a heartbroken Diana, and this whole ugle mess could have been avoided.

Having said that, I hope these two get it right, this time.

Parshiot Tazria and Metzora—Calling all Dermatologists

. . . but first, there will be a short delay while every female who has the chutzpah (nerve) to give birth to another female gets the privilege of being declared ritually unfit for twice the amount of time that would have been the case had the baby been a boy. Too bad I’m HTML impaired: Where’s a good roll-eyes emoticon when I need one?

What a delightful pair of readings—two whole weeks of “leprosy,” or whatever disease the Torah’s describing.

On a historical note, is this one of the earlier descriptions of a quarantine procedure?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Mnemonic devices (memory aids) for Jewish ritual

My memory being what it is, I need all the help I can get. So here are a couple of mnemonic devices that I've come up with to help me with Jewish ritual.

For the Yamim Noraim (High Holidays), my mnemonic device is "ha-melech zocher et ha-shofar." That's the only way I can remember that the order of the prayers in the Amidah is Malchuyot, Zichronot, Shofarot.

For the special parshiot of this time of year, I just came up with this one this morning: Anachnu notnim shekalim lizkor et ha-parah ba-chodesh ha-gadol. The order of the special parshiot is Shekalim, Zachor, Parah, haChodesh, haGadol.

They sound dumb, but they work.

(Check out the post time on this one. Well, it beats counting sheep.)

Update: Youchers--it's mnemonic, not mneumonic. There's nothing quite like posting a spelling error all over the worldwide web to make a person feel slightly undereducated. Thanks to the good doctor PT for pointing out that my spelling more closely resembled that of an illness than what I had in mind.
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