Not Babyproofing Takes Work

So I’m at home with Gianna today.

It’s been fun, and aside from doing some behind-the-scenes stuff with the blog and making a ham and bean soup, I have mostly played with her. While I sit at the laptop, she has been roaming the living room and the kitchen, playing with toys and exploring. And as usual, she has spent some time looking longingly at the tv remote and the laptop keyboard (some of her most-wanted-things in the world).

Usually, she looks at these things, glances at me, then wanders off without touching them. She knows she isn’t supposed to grab them, so she doesn’t. Of course yesterday she came walking into the kitchen carrying the remote and smiling at me, but I hadn’t been in the room when she went for it, so she did.

That’s part of our non-babyproofing approach. Since we leave non-harmful things within her reach, it gives her an opportunity to learn her boundaries. Sometimes she still gets things we don’t want her to have, but in general she’s learning.

Today was no exception, since she decided it was time to play with her diapers.

The Diaper Holder

While I was on the laptop and not watching her, she grabbed every diaper from the holder on the side of the playpen and crawled away as fast as possible toward the door in the picture. Of course her knees thumping against he floor caught my attention, so I got up, took them away, and returned the diapers to the holder.

She did the same thing a few more times, but on the third attempt, she looked at me before she reached for them.

By having the object of her desire down at her level, and accessible, she learned that I don’t want her to get them. So far so good!

This approach only works if you’re paying attention at the right time (same thing works with dogs, which I learned from Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer). You have to pay attention to what your baby is doing, be willing to allow them to break the rules, catch them at the right time, then correct them.

It takes more effort than just plunking them in the playpen (or babyproofing everything), but it’s worth it.

Do you babyproof your place? Do you have a “problem” child? Do you let your kid get into everything? Most parents have more experience than I do, so if you want to weigh in, please do!

Hey! Gimme That Camera!

Kids want what they want, and they want it now. Should we just give in? Sometimes. Maybe. Maybe not.

Have you experienced other people’s kids running all over the place, grabbing your stuff, throwing it around, treating your house like a playground? Maybe you’ve seen kids doing the same thing in the mall or grocery store, wherever. I expect most people have dealt with these little “cuties” at one time or another.

I can’t claim to have all the answers. I sure as hell don’t! But I have observed one reason I think increasingly more parents let their kids run amok: FEAR.

I have seen a lot of parents who are afraid that if they don’t indulge their kids’ every whim, they might somehow screw them up for life. They think their kids need to run around without boundaries so they can develop creativity, independence, individuality. They’re afraid to assume a leadership position and tell their kids “no.”

I call bullshit on this “parenting method.” These parents are misguided as hell (and it drives me crazy).

These people fail to recognize that if you indulge your kid too much, give them everything they want, even babies (especially babies!), you make them the boss. You let them choose what’s good for them. If I handed Gianna my new camera, what would she do with it? Plop it in her mouth, bang it against something hard, then toss it on the ground, of course. That’s not good for anyone, since it might screw up my camera, and it teaches her that it’s okay to grab other people’s stuff. And where’s the creativity in that? There’s nothing creative or educational about grabbing whatever gadget you come across and “exploring” it by smashing it against stuff.

That’s what baby toys are for.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Kids need to make their own choices. If they don’t, they’ll become wishy-washy, indecisive adults. Nobody wants that for their kids. I knew a kid growing up whose parents ruled with an iron fist and never let him make a decision of his own. They second-guessed his every move, criticizing him all the time, cracking the proverbial whip over just about everything he did. As a result, he is one of the most indecisive, hesitant people on the planet.

I don’t want Gianna to end up like him.

And really, seeing the result of their dictatorial parenting method, I wouldn’t ever do that to my kid. I want her to make decisions. Even now, at 11-months-old, Gianna gets to make some. They don’t include just seizing the tv remote or screaming in the grocery store, but as much as she can, she gets to choose which toys she plays with, some of the food she eats, and even when she’s going to take a nap (if you can believe that, although it’s true).

So in all my infinite wisdom, (yeah right–what the hell do I know?) what’s my answer to all this?

Balance. Like everything else in life, it comes down to balance.

Too much free-roaming playtime and your baby might become a monster. Too much playpen lockdown and your kid might be stunted. You need to constantly monitor what you’re doing as a parent. Are you giving the kid the right amount of free roaming playtime? How about the right amount of playpen time? We often realize we haven’t had Gianna in the playpen for a day or so and have just been letting her roam free, so we put her in there for a while.

It’s your job as a parent to determine when your kid is ready to make certain choices. As they get older, they should gradually be given more responsibility, which allows them to make more choices. It’s your job to prepare them for adulthood.

In Gianna’s case, I want her to become a responsible member of society, someone who contributes to the good of everyone. I know, I know, she’s going to have a green mohawk, wear anarchy shirts, pierce weird body parts, maybe snort coke off mirrors, all that crap. I’m preparing for that eventuality too (boy, I hope that doesn’t come to pass). In order to make this happen, we’re striving for a balanced parenting approach. So far, so good.

Did I just piss you off? Do you agree/disagree? Thoughts? Please rip me apart now! Let’s get the discussion going. I’m ready.

Feeding the Baby: Boring Task or Fun Stuff?

Before having Gianna, I would have thought doing daily kid-related chores (changing diapers, dressing her, feeding her, etc) would be boring, humdrum tasks I wouldn’t want to do. I figured it would be like my own mind-numbing morning ritual of showering, shaving, and putting in my contacts. If you had asked me if I thought feeding her would be fun, I would have said no. I would expect it to be just like changing a diaper.

But you know what?

I get a huge kick out of feeding her.

Feeding the baby
Gianna loves applesauce

I probably love feeding her as much as she loves applesauce.

After doing a bit of thinking about it, I realized that I like it for many reasons:

1. She gets a lot of satisfaction out of eating adult food.

2. It’s a great way to take time out of my day to connect with her on a very personal level.

3. I like introducing her to new foods and seeing her reaction.

4. I love to hear her say “mmmm.” if she finds something particularly tasty.

5. It’s gratifying to see her not touch the spoon or bowl or anything except her water bottle when she wants a drink. (We have taught her when to touch things and when to leave them alone during mealtime. When I feed her breakfast, I like to set my coffee on the tray right on front of her, well within her reach. And you know how many times she has knocked it over? Zero. Of course I don’t walk off very far and allow her the chance to spill it.) There is just something about seeing her become well-mannered that makes me feel good.

I guess there’s also the fact that this stage won’t last forever–she’s 11-months-old, after all, and pretty soon, she’ll be using her own silverware and feeding herself more than just finger food. A friend recently told me that the first few years are a golden age and that I should really try to savor it. I have been thinking about that a lot lately, especially as I watch her make such huge leaps weekly.

Every time I feed her, I am reminded that she will be a big kid soon enough.

And now we join one of my least favorite segments of society . . .

Yes, oh yes–mark your calendars, folks. Apparently Melissa and I have become idiots and lost our minds completely; she is now pregnant with a little creature which will become a human one of these days (February). Jesus Christ, I need to re-read that. Pregnant. Pregnant. Starts with a “P.” Hmmmm . . .  I am going to be some kid’s dad? Holy shit!

Over the last few months, we have discussed our advancing age and whether we truly want to continue going forward without kids. She said I either had to get a vasectomy (which she has been after for years) or that we needed to find some new method of birth control. She is tired of taking the pill–she has been taking it for almost 17 years, and just didn’t want to deal with the hormones anymore. I agreed 100%, although I have never been all that excited about getting snipped. I figured that as soon as I went to that extreme, she would change her mind and suddenly want kids.

So. After a couple conversations, we decided to say “Fuck it!” and just get pregnant. True to form and as happens with just about everything else in our life, as soon as we decided to go forward with it, it happened: we made the decision, she got her period, ovulated, then bingo! Pregnant.

The little creature is exceedingly tiny right now and honestly we shouldn’t have announced it to the world at large just yet, but what the hell? If we miscarry and the little thing dies, I guess that’s life. If it takes solid root and flourishes, so much the better.

Now is where I talk about one of my least favorite segments of society–parents.

As a few people may know, I am judgmental. I like to analyze people and group them together , making gross assumptions and harsh statements about them. When you take any of these groups and break them out into individuals, they are generally fine. I like some high school kids, I like some parents, I like some “grandma’s babies,” etc, but in general, when gathered together as a whole, these groups really irritate me.

I don’t like misbehaving, screechy  kids. I don’t like parents who think their kid is the center of everyone’s universe (newsflash, they aren’t!!). I don’t like parents who let their kids do anything they want and train them to be little monsters. I don’t like “mommy talk,” which is where moms try to outdo each other in demonstrating their knowledge of kids (another newsflash–I don’t give a damn how much you know about kids!).

I am more into the George Carlin philosophy on kids (you will have to look into that if you want to know what that wise man said about kids and their parents).

Lastly, I am making the public pledge here and now to not become one of these stupid parent types who does all the crap I listed above. And I hereby give you all the permission to bring it to my attention when I do and set me back on the right path. The last thing I want to become is an annoying parent. Well, I would really hate to be a “grandma’s baby” even worse, but I am safe there, I suppose.

Life will apparently be interesting between here and early February.