Bad Parenting With Good Intentions

I don’t believe in having a parenting philosophy, because if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that children are not consistent and no matter how many books (or blogs or message boards) you read, they will find ways to surprise you.

But one semi-philosophy I have, one guiding belief, is in disappointment. It’s OK to experience disappointment on occasion. It’s good to not get everything you want. You’re not going to be the best at all you attempt, and learning how to respond to to that graciously will serve you well.

I blew this lesson last week.

My son is drawn to a boy at his day care who (on good days) is a bit bossy and (on bad days) a bit of a bully. We hear stories of bad language, roughhousing and more from my son, all of which we take with a grain of salt because, well, he’s not even 4 yet. But Friday, as we pulled away from day care, my son told me this kid had taken my son’s show-and-tell, a beloved toy helicopter, and chucked it over the fence.

Day care was closed, son was snapped into his car seat, and I started to drive away, thinking the lesson here was that it stinks to lose a toy but you need to learn responsibility. Go through the disappointment and stop letting certain kids take advantage of you at show and tell.

But. The crying.

I made a U-turn, returned to the scene of the crime and tried to grill my son on where exactly they were standing when the copter took flight. This did not help (something about a tunnel, a door, not that door and a guess). I tried. I drove slowly, turned around, drove by again, scanned the ground and nothing.

We drove away. There were whimpers this time, and I felt awful. Felt like all I was doing was punishing my kid for something a bully did.

Before I knew it, we were at Target and I was looking through all the bins and racks for a similar helicopter. Which I found. Not the same one, but close enough, the last helicopter surely in the whole freaking Target.

I bought it. He was happy. Three days later, he was even happier because daddy managed to track down the original lost helicopter and return it to him.

And now he has two helicopters. And no lessons.

I’m OK with that.

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Gratitude

A friend of mine currently has two amazing, beautiful children (one the same age as my son) who are recovering from a weekend in the ICU. Both are doing better, but it has been on my mind all the time.

So when my son dragged out his bedtime last night, when he insisted on extra kisses and another glass of water, when he crawled into my bed and demanded I rub his back, when he made farting noises with his mouth instead of laying still and trying to sleep, when he told me my face wash smelled yummy and tried to lick it — I didn’t protest. I didn’t think about the bad habits we were getting into. I didn’t think about how I really needed to implement a firm bedtime routine.

I thought about gratitude.

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What kind of blog is this anyway?

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Before I had my son, I read a lot of running blogs because that’s what I was really into. Then, I got pregnant and couldn’t get enough mom blogs. I really lucked out shortly after returning to work when I took over the Tribune/TBO.com mom blog — it combined what I was most interested in with a paycheck. Jackpot!

Except then I got laid off, and my blog went with it. I started this blog and a couple months later felt like I lucked out again, landing a social media job that allowed me to continue to blog professionally about my new industry.

I love having a job that allows me to write and stretch my creativity. But as the months have gone on, I have felt less of a draw to write here. I don’t know if I’m just spent by the end of the week or if I’m posting so much on other platforms that I don’t have enough material. Recently, though, I have noticed I’m experiencing something else … blog jealousy.

Not over other bloggers’ exposure or interaction. Over their subjects. I started thinking about all the topics I could cover if I had a running blog instead of a parenting blog. About the race reports I would write, the diets I could document, the solidarity I might feel with other fitness bloggers. It’s not a coincidence that I started thinking about this as I trained for a half-marathon and got serious about running a full one (January!).

Then I talked to a friend who questioned why my blog had to have a theme at all.

Thinking that I should switch from being a parenting blogger to a running blogger makes it sound like you’re one or the other. And I should know from following the Another Mother Runner community that there is plenty of crossover. Part of my motivation to run, after all, is to show my son all the things a mom can accomplish.

Yes, I am someone’s mom. I like to talk to other moms about gross things my kid does and take pictures of cute things he does, too. I have lots of questions and opinions on parenting. I also have friends and hobbies and goals and work and there’s a good chance I may like to write about that stuff, too.

It’s freeing to think of it that way. Why limit myself in my writing? This is my blog, I make my rules, and no one is telling me what to write except for me.

Don’t worry — no race reports yet. But I’m not making any promises for the future.

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First-Time Mom Worries

I didn’t realize parenting would involve quite so much worrying.

Early on, we were regulars at the pediatrician’s office — not unusual for first-time parents, I know. Some of it was routine stuff, some was us being overly cautious, some was because everything was so new we had no idea what was normal for him.

(I remember getting his first prescription filled — Zantac for reflux — and the pharmacist asked me what flavors he liked. I was like, um, I don’t know, we just met.)

Gradually we stopped calling the doctor all the time. His immune system strengthened thanks to day care (ha), and he outgrew the reflux. But the worrying and the immediate assumption of doom and gloom? Still there.

He bumps his head? I’m running all the tests for concussions.
Doesn’t eat much at dinner? Might be the flu.
Runny nose? Why is it going on forever?
Cough? Pneumonia and/or collapsed lung.
Mosquito bite? Looks unnaturally large, might be a severe allergic reaction or possibly a poisonous spider bite.
Sleepy? Flu.
Fever? Meningitis.
Mole I don’t remember seeing? Oh, god, skin cancer.
Bruise? Oh, god, leukemia.
Rash? Measles.

I probably need to think less about symptoms and worst-case scenarios and more about how lucky I am to have such an active, smart, engaging kid. I have seen parents handle news far worse than I have gotten with grace and determination. I hope to never have to find out for myself how I would react. And maybe I’ll outgrow the constant worrying?

Except, oh God, he is going to be in elementary school before I know it and eventually he will be driving and going to parties and meeting girls and all kinds of bad things can happen. And I don’t even want to hear about college.

Outgrow worrying, ha. Not likely.

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The Smell of Thanksgiving

I hate onions. I love Thanksgiving. And weirdly, Thanksgiving to me means the smell of onions — and I can’t get enough this one week of the year.

It always smelled like onions when I woke up Thanksgiving morning. Downstairs there would be chatter of my mother and grandmother in the kitchen. I’d come into the room, and they’d be piling chunks of white bread into a huge, speckled casserole dish, where it would get mixed with onions, celery and a good amount of butter and become stuffing that night.

I’m not sure I ever ate that stuffing — I was more of a turkey skin girl (my dad always slipped me the first slice when he started to carve) — but that backdrop of laughter and the decidedly non-breakfast smell of stuffing in the kitchen was what kicked off my Thanksgiving, as I shuffled to the family room to watch the Macy’s parade.

A couple years after I got married, I started making my own Thanksgiving dinners. I chose a variation of my family’s stuffing, a version with apples and pecans, but it had the same base. And the second I sautéed the onions with the celery (in the butter, hello!), I smelled it. Thanksgiving.

I won’t deviate from that. I started putting together the ingredients for my stuffing and a recipe I kept from my grandmother’s table for Amish potato filling. They both start with chopping onions till my eyes sting. But as soon as those onions hit the butter and celery, I lean over and inhale as deep as I can. I tried to make sweet potatoes for a couple Thanksgiving, and it just wasn’t working for me. I needed onions. Won’t touch them the rest of the year, won’t even make these dishes the rest of the year.

These Thanksgiving dishes do taste good. But Thanksgiving is way more than taste. It’s tradition. And as much as I like eating stuffing and filling, I like knowing that up in Pennsylvania, there’s a kitchen that smells just like mine.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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A lesson in timing

Last week, my friend posted this adorable face on her Facebook page, and I couldn’t resist.

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Our cat of a dozen years had passed away in December, and we always knew we would get another one. We just didn’t know when.
But this little guy, a rescued stray, had something that put him over the edge — extra toes. He’s a Hemingway cat. I’ve wanted one since the first time I visited Key West. He’s also about three years old, calm, friendly and affectionate. A great combo for our family. We arranged to pick him up in a week.
And then I messed up.
I told my son we were getting! a! kitty! and he predictably got excited and wanted to know when. Um, next week, I told him.
Next week means nothing when you are 3.
After show-and-tell day, I tried.
“But I want the kitty to come home now!” he cried. And he cried some more. And every day since then, he has asked me when the kitty is coming, why we can’t get him now, where is the kitty, when is it and “but I want the kitty now!” Today after school he had one of those meltdowns where he just sinks to the floor in the middle of everything and cries.
I have learned my lesson. No more promises and building anticipation. Next announcement I have is going to be made the day of the event. Whew.
(But I can’t wait for kitty either)

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Popular names, Pottery Barn style

I got a Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids catalog today and one went straight into the recycling bin. I’m pretty sure you can guess which one I poured over.

I used to be a home decorating junkie, but once I had my son, a whole new world of decorating opened up to me — kids’ rooms, kids’ accessories, kids’ storage. Yes, our microwave cart is falling apart (one door fell off and the other no longer closes) and I actually duct-taped it closed when we had company. But I can’t get very interested in that purchase. Not when there are “Where the Wild Things Are” bedding sets and hooded towels that look like animals and wicker baskets in the shape of whales out there. Whales!

But that’s not the main thing that compels me to read the PBK catalog.

It’s the names.

Pottery Barn Kids features a lot of personalized items, and I love to see which names they feature. There’s a certain style to the names. Some fall on the Top 10 most popular name lists.

But a lot of them are just short of that. They’re pretty, kind of classic, kind of unusual but not unusual enough that people will wrinkle up their noses and wonder where you came up with that one. They’re basically what the company thinks will appeal to their customers, probably for the same reason the products appeal to the customers — we’re mass-market but don’t like to think of ourselves that way.

My son’s name, Nathaniel, hasn’t made the cut yet, but I suspect it will one day. It’s writerly and classic, not common but not unusual. That’s why we picked it.

Like that style, too? Here are some of the new ones I spotted in the latest catalog:

Girls: Celia, Georgia (interesting!), Claire, Harper (adore), Alex, Blair (did not see that coming), Riley, Sydney (This would have been on our girl’s list if my brother didn’t have a cat named Sydney), Abby, Blythe, Reese (Blair and Reese are giving me a “Heathers” vibe).

Boys: Emmett (hmm, not bad), Liam, Henry (love), Cooper, Hayden (shouldn’t be a surprise with the popularity of Aiden, also in the PBK catalog), Tanner, Sawyer (I miss Lost), Miles (more Lost).

I wonder how you get the job of being the PBK name-picker-outer?

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