I Hate Kindergarten

So this is the beginning of Week 3 for us, and I’m really hating it so far. My frustration is two-fold:

1. Kindergarten (at least the public K we’re at) is absolutely not set up for working parents. The drop-off time is decent, but then I’m supposed to sit in the classroom and read with him for 20 minutes before I leave. So I’m going to be late for work every freaking day of the school year, plus we now have a too-long goodbye ritual that is working him into a frenzy. And he won’t even sit with me to read because he likes to read by himself, and we read so much at home all the time anyway.

Of course, it doesn’t seem to be set up for the SAHMs either, judging by how stressed-out they all look, too.

And that list of school supplies? Not the list his teacher gave us. So we had to go out and buy $30 worth of stuff (not all available at the same store) that didn’t all overlap with what we’d previously bought. Why we couldn’t just all come in with $30 and have the teacher place one big order from Staples.com or OfficeDepot.com for the classroom is beyond me.

Grr. And that’s not the actual bad part.

2. My older one was in preschool 3 half-days a week for the previous two years, so school is not a new experience for him. But this is just killing him. It’s all about the ritual, with no substance so far that we can see. He’s bored, and is starting to act out. He ended up with the bitchy, princessy K teacher, not one of the sweet exuberant teachers, and he’s totally chafing under her scolding and mean rigidity. The teacher now thinks he’s troublemaker (but by the 6th day pf school she hadn’t figured out that he can read). And he’s freaking out about school and cries and doesn’t want to go. When I finally got to leave (damn that long drawn-out reading time crap) last Wednesday he broke down into sobs (and this is a kid who will not cry in public) and tried to run away out of the classroom.

Everyone keeps saying he needs to adjust to the routine. But what kind of routine turns a kid who was super-excited about school into a kid who says he wants to run away so he never has to go back? And I’m completely torn between trying to get him switched into one of the other sections with a kind and pleasant teacher, or keeping him in this class because there’s another kid who’s reading fluently so there’s a tiny chance that the teacher might come up with something to keep them challenged.

My other plan is to try to make some playdates with the other kids in the class, so at least he can enjoy the other kids, even if the teacher is mean. So far it’s been tough, though, since I’m working, and we had two days off for Rosh Hashanah last week (NYC public school holiday schedule).

I hate this. And I’m not alone. Kel and Dawn are feeling the pain, too. Kel writes:

"My 5 ¾-year-old started public kindergarten last
week.  He has been in day care since he was 6 months old, then was
transitioned into a very good, very expensive Montessori preschool
until this year.  He’s a bright kid and we have been warned about his
becoming bored.  He seems to act out when bored.

I’m biased, but would say he is a good kid.  Polite.  A
leader.  Very social.  We hear all time from other parents what a
pleasure he is to have over or have as their child’s friend because
he’s so good natured and polite.  We work on that, we praise and model
those behaviors.

had a twenty day break between the end of Montessori and the start of
kindergarten.  He was home with his other mom (he has two) and his twin
toddler sisters.  During this vacation his behavior seemed to
deteriorate.  He stopped listening and worse, he became
argumentative.  I’ve heard the phrase "But Mom…" more in the past
month than I have in the past 5 years.  I wasn’t home (she’s the stay
at home Mom for now) so as I only had to put up with it for four or
five hours a day, I just chalked it up to being 5.  It was harder on my
partner, of course, and we finally came to the conclusion
(justification) that perhaps his behavior had to do with starting a
completely unfamiliar situation and meeting brand new children for the
first time since before he can remember.   He  has no control over what
is happening, so he is trying to grab some control in the only ways he

school started.  Or rather the first two days after the holiday were
actually the pre and post school program open house run by the YMCA for
all those kids who will be in that program (my partner hopes to go back
to work as soon as we get the girls settled in preschool).  Despite the
orientation which highlighted the separate room for kindergartners, it
has (so far) been a free-for-all with the 5 year olds running with the
8 and 9 year olds.  He was injured slightly the second day when he fell
off the stairs to the classroom (a real accident from all accounts),
but kid-on-kid violence seems to be ignored for the most part.  We have
been assured the program will get much more structured as everyone gets
homework assigned and routines are established.  Unfortunately this
experience may have escalated our problems.

The actual kindergarten class seems fine.  There are 18
children in the class.  The teacher seems bright and focused.  He is
far beyond the work they are doing, but we expected that and hope the
teacher will create other assignments for him once it all gets
going.  In the four days of actual school, he has been in trouble on
two of those days. His teacher tentatively (diplomatically) told us
this morning that he was having a very hard time listening. Then,
today  he interrupted circle time and then continued to misbehave
(making raspberry noises) after being set in a chair away from the
other students.

Tonight he was wild with his sisters, far beyond the usual
older brother rough housing and it took nearly 30 minutes to get him to
explain to me what he did today in class.  He said he couldn’t describe
the noise he was making because it was an accident.   No TV and no
dessert later, he promised to work harder at listening and being a good
citizen.  He is supposed to start soccer this week, but we have now
offered up losing that as the consequences of further misbehavior.

On the one hand, I feel the need to be very rigid in my
response to what is happening.  I don’t want him labeled as the wild
child.  If he gets away with this, it will escalate.  On the other, I
want to let him get settled and not pounce too hard.  I don’t want him
to dislike the whole school situation.  Other than letting the teacher
know we are on her side and will be supportive of whatever actions she
takes and will also provide additional reinforcement at home we don’t
know what to or how long to wait should his behavior get worse.

are working on the Y program administrators and will pull him out of
that program should it not improve, once we find a nanny who can pick
him up at 1:30.

Any help you or your posse want to suggest will be gratefully accepted."

To me, it sounds like your guy is missing the structure he had at the Montessori preK. The free-for-all is probably wigging him out and may even be scaring him, so he’s reacting really poorly.

I’d like to invite you to switch your son in for mine at school, because my son’s teacher is extremely rules and structure-oriented, to the point of being nasty. Barring that, I’d see if you could figure out how to add more structure until the school shapes up. It sounds like soccer will be excellent for him (combo of structure and physical exertion) and maybe you guys could do some kind of greater structure in the evenings (more dinner-related chores or prep for school from him, for example).

Dawn’s problems are slightly different, but still follow the I Hate Kindergarten theme:

"My six year old
daughter is a very shy girl until you get to know her, and she has gone back
to school after the summer holidays tho she is getting upset about this. She
cries just as the school door opens, not before and not at home . I really don’t
think she is getting bullied or anything like that, but i know if no one has
asked her to play she thinks no one wants to play with her. How can i help? It
is getting me so upset and at the same time angry."

Poor thing. It sounds like making some playdates with the other kids in her class is exactly what will fix this problem. If she has some time to play with another kid one-on-one after school, that kid will probably be more friendly to her during school. I’d try to figure out if there are any one or two of the kids she talks about in a positive way, and try to get them together after school or on the weekends.

Does anyone have suggestions, comments, sympathy, or commiseration for any of us? Anyone else hating Kindergarten? Anyone have an opinion on whether I should stick with the crappy teacher so my son can be with the other kid who’s reading at his same level, or try to get him switched into another class (which I may not even be able to do)?

DVD Review: Bedrest Fitness

Bedrest Fitness is an exercise DVD by Darline Turner-Lee, a Physician Assistant and ACSM Exercise Specialist in Austin, TX who specializes in women’s health.

I’ve never been on bedrest, so I can only imagine how frightening, boring, enervating, and disempowering it must be for a pregnant woman. Worrying about the baby constantly, and being stuck in one place and unable to do all your normal things must be just hideous. Then add in the fact that you know your body is weakening because you can’t move your muscles like you usually do. How are you supposed to recover from birth and take care of your new baby if you don’t have good muscle tone?

That’s the problem that Darline addresses with this workout DVD.

The DVD overall is just lovely. Even the menu screen is soothing. Darline has a calming, reassuring manner and explains every exercise as she goes through it. She points out a few moves that may not be safe for women on the strictest bedrest so they can avoid them, while women who can move around a little more can do the entire sequence. She works on arms and shoulder, legs, back, and core, using an exercise band to provide resistance.

My favorite part about the DVD is that Darline is a real woman. She’s not a perky exercise instructor. She’s big and pregnant in the video, and when she scoots around on the bed to get into position for the next exercise you recognize the effort it’s taking her to haul another person with her.

The pace is gentle and easy. I think real type As would get impatient with the pace, but for women stuck in bed anyway, the pace makes sure they’re not overexerting or doing anything they shouldn’t be doing.

I’m so thankful someone’s done an exercise video for women on bedrest during pregnancy, and so pleased that this one is so thorough and encouraging. It would be a stellar gift for a friend on bedrest, as it is truly useful and will help the mom-to-be maintain her physical health so her recovery from delivery is faster and her first few months of caring for her baby are easier on her body. You can order the DVD here on Darline’s website for US$29, which includes domestic shipping and a rubber exercise band (the only equipment you need to do the exercises).

Q&A: toys for a 2-year-old deconstructionist

Hey, by now I’m sure you’ve all fallen victim to this Quechup scam, but if you haven’t, don’t join. It goes through your email and spams everyone there.

Now for today’s question. Dawn writes:

"I have a question I hope you can help me with. This is my third child and he’s
the first who is taking everything in the house apart.

He has taken knobs off of furniture, unscrews all the caps
off of the bottles in the fridge & piles them up in the middle of the top

Climbs up to the counters and the armoire with a chair that
he pulls over from the dining room and tries to reconfigure my computer

click on icons when I step away for a moment. We know he’s trying to test his
limits but "no" doesn’t seem to be working.

I can’t keep him from opening up the fridge (I tried
the fridge lock but he broke it the first week) and am consistent on saying no
but he

Still goes back and does it. I have tried redirecting him
but he seems to be focused on dismantling the house.

It was suggested to get him toys that he could take apart
& put back together that are age appropriate but

I can’t seem to locate ones that don’t cost a
fortune or aren’t at about age 5 like the ikea toolbench."

Think about how proud you’re going to be of him when he’s a rich and happy adult doing something involving taking things apart and figuring out how they work! He’ll probably support you in your old age.

But you’re in a tough spot right now, because all the obvious things you could be giving him to take apart–old computer keyboards, old computers, broken electronic equipment–have parts that are too small for a 2-year-old.

I wonder if it would be possible to make him some kind of 2-year-old-appropriate workboard with a sheet of pegboard, some rope, a bunch of huge washers (too big for him to swallow), some shorter lengths of PVC pipe, and a bunch of other things you find at the hardware store. I’m thinking there has to be a way to affix the rope to the board in loops that you could twist and tie things to, so you could switch up the configuration of things. He could take it apart and reassemble the washers and other stuff, and you could keep changing it so he wouldn’t get too bored.

Or you could just get him a Rubik’s cube.

Anyone else?

Discussion: Parenting tapping into rage and hurt

I read all the comments on Shandra’s question yesterday, and it struck me that I don’t think we’ve ever talked here about how much becoming a parent can crack open all sorts of powerful and negative emotions you thought you had a handle on or didn’t even know you had in the first place.

I found that parenting each of my children, especially when they were teeny tiny, tapped into completely different but nasty emotions in me. Not that I felt bad about my children. (Other than the fact that they weren’t sleeping, wanted to be held all the time, had robbed me of my identity as a person, etc. etc.–the usual new-mother mindf**k.) On the contrary, it made me wonder how anyone could fail a child when the things children demanded from you were so basic.

Looking back, it’s interesting to me that my two kids each tapped into something completely different, and I reacted in different ways to those feelings.

(Are you guys getting frustrated that I’m not being specific? I am, but so many people in my family read Ask Moxie that I just can’t be direct. Besides, this is really about you–I’m just trying to start the conversation off.)

How, also, do you deal with these emotions when you can’t be open about them with the people who inspired them in you? Besides posting them here, of course. 😉

I feel like I’m not hitting the ideas and words correctly today, like something about this is off, but I’m hoping you’re all getting the essence of what I’m asking: Were you surprised by how angry and sad you could feel about how well you were doing with your own child, and how afraid you were that you might not be able to keep it up? Were you able to turn to the generation above you for help, or was it a second abandonment, even if only in little, around-the-edges ways? Do you think it ended up being healing for you, or do you think it cracked open some things that you’re still having problems navigating through?

As usual, to post anonymously, put a fake URL in the URL box, and a fake email in the email box.

Q&A: Who do you trust with your child’s well-being

Shandra writes:

"Short background: I was a victim of incest by an extended family
member as a child; my parents failed to protect me and my mother’s
narcissism, in particular, was also a factor in being Somewhat Messed

My son is two now and I got a pretty much
dream job that’s a perfect match for me – the kind of timing that
doesn’t happen very often. 

So I carefully
visited a lot of daycares. I have a nanny who still watches my son once
a week, but we could not afford her full-time, and also I generally
have felt that if it’s full-time care of a toddler, a centre may be
safer because the staff get breaks and things. I chose this centre
because they were open and friendly and warm, the physical space was
good, and most importantly a toddler from our playgroup has been going
there and thriving (on the surface) and her mom recommended it. It’s a
Montessori. My parents wanted to be my son’s full-time caregivers, but,
see background, above.

forward to today, 4 weeks into the full time daycare thing. It was
grandparents day and my parents went, and they are appalled at how
miserable they perceive my son to be and want to have a huge family
meeting and g-d knows what all else. I called the school and my son’s
teacher said that yes, he was upset when they were here, the way that
he is upset when we drop him off and pick him up, but that he was fine
the rest of the day, except at nap, because he often is a little teary
at nap, so they had to rub his back for him. 

does cry at dropoff and pick up, and he does tell us that he does not
like school (although he also says he likes the blocks, painting, his
friends, and his teacher).  I would say until today that I thought he
was having adjustment issues but was generally fine – eats, sleeps,
laughs, plays, etc., fine when he is at home. My mother spidey sense is
horribly upset at walking away from my son every day, but is not going
off that he is being damaged awfully or anything like that.

yet I feel like I should take my parents’ concerns seriously because I
am kind of invested in the dream job and that may cloud my judgment.
My husband, who does all the dropping off, thinks the school is fine
and that our son is having some trouble adjusting (but not horrible all
day crying or anything) and that it is really too early to tell any
more than that,

So my core question is, how
do you know if daycare is working or not working? How do you know
whether to trust the staff when they say your child is okay? I am
ambivalent because (see incest survivor, above) I have no trust in
anyone really."

This one’s a gut-punch, for sure. I’m so, so sorry for the incest and your damaged relationship with your mother. But I’m so happy for you for your job!

It sounds like you’re in a huge conundrum: Trust yourself in this situation, and you’re risking being a mother like your own mother was, who didn’t protect her child from horrible emotional damage. Or trust your mother, and potentially protect your child, except that how can you trust your mother when you know she’s not trustworthy?

Now I certainly don’t have any idea whether things are going well at daycare. But I do think there are somethings you can tease out about motives of the various parties involved here:

Your husband: You know his main concern is for your son’s well-being, with yours and your family unit’s coming a close next. His opinion and judgment counts for a ton.

Your son: He’s 2, and all he knows is that he wants to be with you, because that’s the way it’s always been. Transition times are tough for this age, so he cries and clings. (I actually think it’s worse when they don’t cry and cling. The other day I left my younger one with our new babysitter B–a friend from church who is 22, energetic, goofy, and thinks he poops rainbows just like I do–and he wouldn’t look at me when I tried to kiss him goodbye. That about killed me. Even though I know he has tons of fun with B. Don’t you love how I turn everyone else’s problems into mine? Charming, I know.) But he’s also adaptable and looking for a good time, and is probably loving hanging out with the other kids and all the new-to-him toys. In short, he’s an unreliable witness about the daycare center, because he may love it while he’s there but hate being dropped off and picked up. To a 2-year-old, that’s completely logical.

The teachers at the center: IME, daycare providers and teachers will definitely tell you when your child is having problems. They want you to be able to help from your end working on the adjustment thing. And it doesn’t help them one bit to have a miserable kid in their class, since it distracts them from the group as a whole. I just don’t think they’d be telling you he’s fine if he was miserable, because it goes against their best interests.

The other playgroup mom: Her only motive, it seems, is to tell you about a place she likes and her daughter is happy at. Presumably she’s your friend (or at least friendly acquaintance), and she wanted to offer a good solid solution to your childcare problem.

You: You know you’re only looking out for your son’s best interest, but your own faith in your abilities to judge a situation is shaken because the story you tell yourself is that you don’t trust anyone. The overwhelming feeling I get from reading your email, though, is that you don’t trust your parents. So you’re in this conundrum now in which not trusting your parents could potentially turn you into your mother. But trusting your parents could drag you under emotionally, because it means that a) you failed to protect your son initially, and b) you’re still that same scared kid who couldn’t do anything to help herself.

And finally, your parents: They wanted to be your son’s full-time caregivers, and were hurt when you didn’t ask them. They clearly have major lingering feelings (guilt, fear, denial, something else) about not having protected you when you were young. Maybe wanting to take care of your son is the way they think they can "make up for" what happened to you. Or maybe they are just in denial that anything that bad happened to you, and think they can do a better job with your son than anyone else can. At any rate, to me it sounds like they were predisposed to hate the daycare from the beginning, because his going to daycare instead of being with them reflects badly on them. Of everyone involved in the scenario, they’re the ones with the cloudy motivations. But you knew that already.

I can’t really come up with a way to summarize that this isn’t going to tell Shandra what to do, and I’m not going to do that. I am going to say that she knows more about herself than her parents can afford to give her credit for. This is sort of a real-life version of Prisoner’s Dilemma, only in this case, Shandra knows who the other prisoners are, and what their motivations are.

Other thoughts?

Q&A plus photo: Breasts leaking, and I need new glasses

We’re still sad.

But on to today’s post. First, a question from Melissa:

"I have an 18 month old son that I exclusively
breastfed for 16 1/2 months.  I quit gradually cutting out one feeding
at a time.  In July, we finally quit that last feeding.  It is now
September and I still have milk in both breasts.  How long does it take
for that to "dry" up?  I am not leaking and there is little stimulation
because they are still very sore.  Every time I take a shower, it is
like I am going back in time to when he was a newborn; it just

I get this question every couple of months, so I’m finally just posting it. It totally depends for each woman.
Some dry up within a week (probably the same women who had a harder time getting
supply up to begin with), while others still have some milk for months,
and I’ve heard of women having milk for a year or more after they wean!

If it’s bugging you enough to take action, you could drink tea
you brew out of sage leaves and mint, put cabbage leaves in your bra
for a few hours at a time, and drink a lot of red wine. If none of that
works or you want to get really serious, take Sudafed (the
old-fashioned kind that dries up all your mucous membranes, not the new
non-drowsy kind) for a week or however long you can take the total-body
dessication properties. That should seriously curtail your milk supply. (Conversely, if you’re trying to build supply, stay away from all those things.) Avoid Guinness beer, oatmeal, and almonds, which increase your supply.

If anyone wants to share data points on how long it took to dry up after weaning, feel free.

And now a picture. I walked into the deli across the street the other day and saw this granola bar (click on the photo to see it bigger):


I, of course, misread "Blueberry Noni" as "Blueberry Yoni." I won’t post my first thought, but my second thought was "the yoni hat." And then I laughed so hard the checkout girl thought I was losing it.

I have you all to thank, so I thought I’d share.

Q&A: recommendations for potty training books

Gretchen writes:

"Okay, I’ve read through the potty training posts I found on your
site, and they seem to echo a lot of what I’ve picked up from reading
the potty training chapters in the toddler care books I have.  But
since Her Royal Highness doesn’t seem to care that she’s wet or dirty,
and refuses to give me any warning that she needs to go, things are
getting a bit messy over here, and we’re on hiatus until after we get
back from vacation.

I’m going to the beach with my parents and my husband to help
watch the kid, so it’s the perfect time to catch up on some reading.
There are approximately 400,000 "how to potty train your child" books
out there, and I have no idea which ones are sane and which ones are
full of, well, you know what.

We’ve already missed the boat on elimination communication as an
infant, since HRH is going on 29 months old.  We’ve taken the low-key
approach, the "look here’s a potty, here’s how mommy goes to the potty,
wouldn’t you like to try, here’s some lovely underwear, let’s try to
keep Dora dry, oh you’ve had an accident, that’s okay let’s just clean
it up and try again."  Interest in the potty ebbs and flows, and the
usual M&Ms or stickers or temporary tattoos don’t seem to provide
the necessary motivation.  Now we’re to the point where she pees on the
floor, comes and gets me and says brightly and with perfect elocution,
"That’s okay, everybody has accidents sometimes!"  Grrr…

I’m not sure if I’m looking for commiseration – there are 10,000
other potty-training moms on CafeMom, and 9,993 of them have it worse
than I do.  I guess what I’d like is a list that says do this, this,
this, and this, and here’s what you do when the kid does this.  I don’t
care if it’s the "right" way to do it, the "old" way to do it, or what,
but I’d like some instructions.

So can we open it up to the readers to give reviews of whichever
potty-training guides they’ve used?  That way I can pick one or two to
request from the library before I go on vacation, and I don’t have to
pack a separate trailer just for the potty books :)"

And, yes, we do have to throw this one open to commenters, because I’ve never read a single potty training book. Of all the random parenting things to have no issues whatsoever with, I got potty training as my free pass. My older one got seriously interested in potty training (toilet training, toilet/learning/whatever you want to call it) at around 16 months and we kind of just did it gradually and I never felt "stuck" in the process long enough to need more than my grandmother’s advice.

She raised 5 kids, and said that kids can’t really potty train until they can see what’s happening and connect it*. So the summer after they turn 2, you should let them run around outside in the grass with pants off as much as you can, and once they can see themselves pee and poop they’ll figure out what’s going on more easily. So we did that (the summer before he turned 2, actually, because he was so fascinated by it), and soon he was going in the potty whenever he was home and pantsless. My problem was figuring out how to get him to stay dry while we were out and about with him in training pants. I was about three days into the problem when we left to visit that same grandmother, and I’d decided just to ask her to train him while we were there. But then he got stubborn and trained himself on the plane rides.

So you can see that I had extraordinary good fortune in potty training, and am therefore not one to be giving advice to anyone about it. (Tip #1: Have a kid who will potty-train himself.) I think if I were home all day with #2 we’d be making way more progress, but he also seems to be on his way. I just lucked out.

But I know that all of you out there have read the books and have tried all the methods. So please help Gretchen out by giving her some ideas of what you think works and what doesn’t. When you’re writing your recs, try also to add details of why you think one particular method did or didn’t work for your kid (age and sex of kid, temperament of kid, comfort level with change, etc. etc.). That way she’ll be able to see which descriptions seem to go along with what her daughter is like, and use those recommendations specifically.

Also, anyone who wants to commiserate about the fact that Gretchen’s going to be reading potty training books instead of novels (trashy or otherwise) while on vacation, please do so. Yeesh. Remember before you had kids? If only we’d known back then to enjoy being able to actually choose what we wanted to do with our time…


* I guess this is the same concept behind those pull-ups that change color when the kid pees in them. Only my grandma’s method is free. And am I the only one who thinks the apocalypse is truly at hand now that they’re making disposable diapers that intentionally feel wet when they’re peed into? It’s like making glue that pulls things apart instead of sticking them together. However, if you’d like to buy Pull-Ups, please click through and buy them here so I make some money off the apocalypse.

Q&A: telling your mom you’re going out with someone

This question made me feel old, but mostly just because of the smilies and lingo. Usually I trim out any preliminary stuff and long time/first time comments, but I left it all in here. Anonymous writes:

"M’ello Moxie,

             Just today I found your site, &,
I thought these kinds of sites were only on movies! XD But yeah,
anyway, I read that you’re a "mother giving advice", &, I’m not
really sure if this is a question to go with your site, but I’ll just
try it, anyway.

Okay, well, I’m a 15-year old, male, just, making
the best of life. ;D Love the internet, video games, (Seeing how you’re
a mom, I’d like to say the video games series, "Pokemon" is excellent
for kids. Seriously, it does involve math to train the creatures. But,
not just math, but High School Algebra/Geometry. :O I always wondered
why it’s rated, "E" though… XP)  reading, (&, again, I
noticed you’re a reader yourself. Just thought I’d recommend, "Dr.
Franklin’s Island". One of the best books I’ve ever read, but, I just
can’t remember the author at the moment… |D) drawing, wishing I was
born Japanese, whateverz, but while online, I met this girl on a

I’m 100% sure, she’s not one of those "s3x" pervs, ‘cuz,
I’ve live-chatted with her on a webcam, & even talked to her on the
phone. At first, it was just talk on the video games, anime, HTML web
building, we both shared together the same interests, but then, it got
to, I-like-you’s. (It’s been over a year or more since I began to talk
to her. & before I start ranting about her…)

Both of us live
on the separate ends of the US, (Random fact: & we even share the
same religion! Christian. ;P) but by the end of this coming school
year, I’m going to move, not where she lives, but, a few states apart.

that’s where I am. |D As wildly twisted, as it sounds, I’m not trying
to, like, push your limits or anything! This is where, as you said,
"give advice to moms". (<– I doubt that’s a quote. ^_^;) But what I
mean is… What would you do if your son told you all of that, above?
Or, even better, what would you do in that kinda, "situation"?

I don’t really want to know the punishment, (Hope there isn’t! X_X) just, the reaction… (If you get me. o_o;)

finally, the last factor: My mom’s a single parent, who, ever since I
went to Middle School, told me, "not to date" anyone. @_@ (Because of
her time with my father wasn’t, "heartwarming"… :\) & now, I fall
in love with a girl, in secret. (I’m gonna sound like a +A student or
something for saying this, [Well, I sorta am; I finally got accepted
into English 2-Honors, &, just for the bragging of it, Bio-honors
too! 8D] ‘cuz my story gives me the "deja vu" of Shakespeare’s, "Romeo
& Juilet"; seeing what separates us is distance. XP)

Erm, well, I dunno. It seems hard to describe… You know? I just hope
you understand it all, & by chance, I can get a response to it all.


~A fan. ;D (As of, today; seeing how a Google’d search for, "how to tell mom you’re going out with someone" found your site. XP)

I’ve been re-reading this over & over again, doubting whether to
send this or not, &, to tell you the truth, I actually sound
somewhat, I dunno, I can’t think of a word for it, but, "proper" is all
I got… o_O;

P.S.S: After some more doubting on the departure
of this email, (I’ve been typing this, for, 40 minutes, tops.) if this
does get status as a "question" for your site, please, feel free to
post it. 😛 Just, keep me anonymous(<–sp? Even with honors,
spelling’s my drawback. >_>) though. |P

Finally, sorry if
I wasted your time, (Hope I didn’t… D:) but between the whole,
"cross-fire", I’ve gotta say, thanks. ^_^ (<– & sorry if you
don’t get the "smilies"… I. CAN’T. HELP. IT. XP)"

I love the word "whateverz" so much I think I’m going to start using it myself all the time. Especially in work meetings.


It sounds like there are a few things going one here. One is that you’re in love, and you’d really like to be able to tell your mom, because being in love makes you feel great and you want to share it with the person who’s most important to you. (I think your mom would be absolutely thrilled to know how much you want her to know you, BTW.)

The other is that your mom was still (as of a couple of years ago), and may even be now, feeling profoundly burned by her relationship with your father. It makes her feel very protective of you, and made her make the comment that you shouldn’t date anyone to you a few years ago. But I don’t think what she really meant by that was that you shouldn’t ever date anyone. I think what she meant was more along the lines of "This has been such a painful experience for me and I never want you to go through what I’ve been through. I want you to know yourself, be true to yourself, and only become romantically involved with people who will be honest with themselves and you, and treat you like the treasure that you are." I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that she might not even remember that she told you not to date anyone, because it isn’t the dating that scares her so much, but the broken heart and derailing of your life that could result from a bad relationship.

So. What do you have here? You have a son who loves his mom and really wants to be able to share the wonderful feeling of being in love with her. And you’ve got a mom who loves her son so much she only wants him to be in healthy relationships, but is not so excited about love in general. I think if I were your mom, I’d really want to have the chance to talk to you about what I figured out in hindsight about how I got into a bad relationship, and what would have helped me avoid it if I’d known it when I was younger. So maybe that’s where you should start, by asking your mom to tell you about what she’s learned about herself and what she wished she’d known about herself and relationships. It’s a conversation you can have without her having to tell you specifics about her and your father (which, eew) or having to badmouth him (you’re definitely old enough to understand that sometimes people just can’t be good for another person even when they’re not necessarily bad people in general).

Having a conversation like that is going to open up the communication so you can tell her about your relationship with your girlfriend (Can I even call her that? Is there some smilie for "the girl I’ve never met IRL but who knows me better than anyone else"?). I think when you do tell her she’s going to have a lot of conflicting feelings. She’ll probably be happy for you, worried for you, curious about the girl, grateful that you’re so far apart physically (don’t think we don’t start worrying about STDs and pregnancy when our kids are really young), a little angry that you didn’t tell her before, nostalgic about whoever it was she was in love with when she was 15, and proud of you all at the same time. But she’s definitely going to be glad that you told her. And you are going to feel extremely relieved to have some transparency between the two halves of your life.

(Oh, and FWIW, the smilies don’t bug me, but you’re addicted to commas. I think your English 2 Honors teacher is going to have some work to do on the comma-love before it’s time to write college application essays. ;-P)

Any moms of teens out there want to comment? Or does anyone want to share what happened with the person they dated when they were 15? Mine ended up seeing someone else behind my back after playing cat-and-mouse with me for two years. You?

Update on sleep problems, and food

An update from Anonymous (who was writing that she was smacking her baby to get her to sleep)! This is why I write this blog–the support you guys gave her helped her totally rethink what had been happening in her house and come up with a creative and clever way to shift things around so she could get herself into a better place to be able to mother her child the way she wants to. Yay everyone!

"An update on the sleep issues. I was so encouraged by the
comments that i started to feel better. But i knew that we had to make
a change so i thought about things and realized that we spend a lot of
the week just getting take-out food which really begins to add up. So i
talked to my husband and we agreed to cook at home or get frozen foods
for a week so we could get a babysitter in and i could get some time
for myself. That, and the fact that she just started sleeping a little
better right around her 11 monthday, last week, has really improved
things. She is still not sleeping through the night but i have gotten a
few nights of 4 hour chunks which along with a couple of mornings to my
own have made a lot of difference. Thank you to you and the commenters
for not being judgmental and really helping me realize i am not

Now i know it’s probably not fair to ask another question so soon
but just in case you can answer to this. As i mentioned we get a lot of
take-out. That’s how it’s always been.. I feed my daughter everything
we eat (except i limit the sugar). I know that outside food is not the
healthiest and for her i always try to give whatever is healthiest in
the options plus supplement with some jarred veggies and fresh fruit.
What is the best approach to feeding your kid if you don’t cook a lot
at home?"

Ask away, Anon. I think you’re just such a sharp cookie for stepping back and looking at how you could shift things around to alleviate some stress instead of sinking into a morass of self-loathing. But I’m guessing that you’re probably not doing too badly already food-wise. I don’t know about "outside" food not being the healthiest. If you’re comparing a Big Mac to homemade pasta primavera, definitely, but if you’re getting falafel sandwiches or pad thai vs. Hamburger Helper, you’re probably better off with the outside food nutrition-wise.

It sounds like you’re on the right track with adding the veggies and fruit. In a few months she’ll really start being able to go to town on raw veggies (tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, etc.) and you can just ply her with those in addition to what you’re eating and call it done. (A friend of mine jokes that Midwesterners add frozen peas to everything. Guilty as charged, but if it gets some more nutrition into the kids without a struggle, why not?)

You could also try commenter Elizabeth’s trick of adding frozen spinach to smoothies. You really do not taste it. Honestly. (Surprisingly delicious, but gross-looking: chocolate ice cream, milk, spinach.) I’ve started making breakfast smoothies with raw spinach, and it’s a really easy way to get a ton of greens without having to chew them. (OK, I should ‘fess up that most mornings I show up at work with a truly disgusting concoction that my coworkers have nicknamed The Sludge, but which really actually tastes fine: frozen açai berries, frozen blueberries, frozen mango chunks, raw almonds, greens powder, flax seed oil, kefir, raw spinach, raw mung bean sprouts, and a little water to thin it out. Breakfast of Champions. The 2-year-old loves it, too.)

What do other who aren’t cooks do about this in-between stage, when the baby is aging out of jarred vegetables but isn’t really into raw ones yet?

About Me

My name is Magda Pecsenye, and I write Ask Moxie.

I'm an ordinary mom of two kids (both boys, ages 8 and 5) who
started blogging and making comments on other people's blogs. Some of
them thought my comments were helpful, so they asked me to start an
advice blog. I thought it would be funny, so I did. That was in November 2005.

I've been a married SAHM, a married WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WAHM, and now I'm a divorced WOHM. I live in NYC, which I hate, but have been stuck here for a variety of reasons for years. If I was allowed to, I'd go back to the Midwest, to raise my boys in a house with a yard and room to run around and just be kids, where I could afford to buy something, and where they could see their grandparents every month.

I don't know where my parenting bent lies. I think you know your own kids best. I probably fall on the slightly crunchy side of things. I was definitely left of the mainstream when my kids were babies, but I find that as they grow older the divide isn't as big anymore, and it seems like parents are just people trying to love their kids and hold things together.

I think everyone's doing a much better job parenting their kids than
they think they are. Most of the time the advice I give is either 1)
cut yourself a break because you're doing the best you can, 2) cut
yourself a break and ask for some help so you can get a little
perspective and self-confidence back, or 3) you think you have one big
insurmountable problem but you really have four small ones, so pull them apart and
solve one at a time.

I'm really not sure how it happened, but for some reason the
comments section of this blog is pretty flame-free. Maybe because I'm fairly anti-dogma, so people can say "this worked for me but it might
not work for you" instead of having to put up a big façade all the
time. Or maybe I'm just lucky. Or maybe the flamers are just storing it up and will release a big ball of flamey fury on my comments section at a predetermined date.

I get 10-12 questions a day at this point, and try to answer a bunch of them privately when I'm not working or being with my kids or shoveling out the apartment or sleeping. It's kind of random the questions that end up on the site. I try to pick a mix of serious and not-so-serious.

Lots of people write in about sleep. I think sleep is the thing that's making parents feel the worst about themselves in our generation. Not only does lack of sleep make you feel physically horrible, but there's also such an industry of sleep advice out there that people feel like they're bad parents if their kids aren't sleeping perfectly. I file that under the same category I file the SAHM vs. WOHM "wars"–nice try, but we're starting to catch on that it's just a distraction to get us to not notice the lack of institutional support for parenting, at least in the US. See also: pacifier vs. no pacifier, off the bottle by 12 months or else, what do you mean you don't have the Britax??, and anything involving the acronym MILF.

My thoughts about sleep are that you'll have a better time as soon as you figure out if your kid gains tension by crying or releases tension by crying, since then you can work with the way your kid is to figure out how to get him/her to sleep. Also, there are some universal truths about sleep that your kid probably conforms to, at least loosely, so start there before you get really worried. Finally, in approximately 18 years the way your kid sleeps won't be your problem anymore, so there is an end in sight, albeit a distant end.

What else? My favorite books are The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, If on a winters' night a traveler by Italo Calvino, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. My favorite parenting-related books are Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott and Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott. I listen to a lot of Stevie Wonder, Fred Hammond, and Jorge Ben. I don't like pancakes, raisins, or scallops. I'm not allergic to poison ivy. I watch too much reality TV. I refused to wear vests in the '80s and I refuse to wear them now. I am happier than I have a right to be that I don't have to deal with strollers anymore.

What do the rest of you want to say? Either comments on my strangeness, or comments on your own strangeness? Vests: yes or no? If you could be any character in a Pixar movie, which one would you be (I'd be Flo)?