Random thoughts and class gifts

1) I know you all have all seen the video of the smoking baby by now (a2-year-old who smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day–I can't find the link right now but if you have it handy stick it in the comments). I'd just like to
publicly state that I think it's not, in fact, a baby, but an adult
little person hoaxing us.

2) You still have time to read NutureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman in time for us to talk
about it June 11. Topics include race, lying, tattling, sibling
relationships, gifted children, and many more. Each chapter is a standalone, so you can read it in 15-minute chunks (probably better anyway so you have time to think about each topic).

3) Class gifts for teachers for the end of the year. What are you doing?
Once again, I'm happy that here in NYC the standard is to collect money
from parents and then give one collective gift of a cash card to each
teacher. No competition for parents, and teachers don't end up with a
bunch of well-intentioned but potentially-unwanted knick-knacks. What's
the standard where you live? Is it different from the New Year/Holiday gift in December?

Whoa, sunscreen

By now you've probably heard about the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) analysis of studies on sunscreen done by the US's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that basically says sunscreens are not doing what they say they're doing, and may actually be causing skin cancer.

If you haven't heard about it, here's a pretty clear story from AOL Health and here's the actual EWR report and searchable database of what sunscreens are decent and which ones are bad.

I read it through once and panicked, and put my head in the sand for about 18 hours. Then I ,put on my big-girl panties and realized I had to figure out what was going on. But I need some help, so if you all could help us all figure out what this all means, I'd really appreciate it.

What I *think* I'm getting from all of this:

1. Sun protection isn't just about sunscreen. Stay in the shade, wear protective clothing, hats, etc.

2. Continue to use sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens are safer than chemical sunscreens are because chemical sunscreens can do things to our hormones. Nanoparticles of mineral sunscreens may not be safe. But we don't know for sure yet.

3. Don't use sunscreen that contains retinol or Vitamin A products because in tests it increased incidence of cancer.

If anyone out there who understands reading scientific studies can confirm, deny, or expand on that, you'd be doing us all a great service.

Now, to be selfish here for a minute. I don't honestly really care about sunscreen theory in general. I'm just concerned about my kids first, and then me. Two priorities:

1. I want to find a sunscreen that my two fair-skinned kids can use that will protect them (understanding that there's no such thing as perfect protection).

2. And I want to find a few products that I can use. I use retinol on my face at night because I'd rather not look my 37 years, and, honestly, I'm not going to stop. So I need to find a facial protection product that's a) not going to make things worse, and b) will give me sun protection. And I need a product for my body (probably what the kids use).

So please help sort all this out, so we can stop staying inside out of fear of using our normal sunscreens.

Joe D.

Yesterday my friend's husband died. Their son is 8.

A year ago, everything was fine. Then came the diagnosis (whisper when you say it: cancer), surgery, fight, complications, fight, complications, surgery, complications, fight. Hospice. End.

I complain all the time that I "don't have any time."

I don't think that phrase means what I thought it meant.

A thought on the current state of things

It occurred to me* that maybe we wouldn't have all the problems like oil spills that could have been prevented, corporate scandals of all ilks, and tampered medications for kids if we hadn't been so focused as parents on drumming into our children's heads that they should never "tattle" on other kids.


*as I was reading NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman, which is an outstanding and fascinating book that's switched my thinking in a bunch of ways. Want to read it, too, and then we can talk about it on June 11?

Q&A: moving child from preschool in one language to preschool in another language

N writes:

"I was wondering if you or your readers might have any suggestions or
advice on moving a preschool-aged child to a new daycare. More
specifically, moving to a daycare where the language spoken is different
from the child's language?

Some context: My wife and I are very keen on raising our nearly
3-year-old son to be fully bilingual in English (his primary language)
and French (my wife's primary language). From the age of 10 months he
has gone to the same daycare where the sole language spoken by the
caregivers is the language he is fluent in: English. We're thinking
about moving him to a French day care, but are a little concerned about
how traumatic / frustrating this might be for a child who speaks very
little French.

If anyone has any experience in this situation, or experience with
switching daycares, I'd love to hear how it went for you, how your child
adapted, and the challenges you faced."

I think this is one of those situations that's going to suck in the short term. So if you're prepared for that now it'll be easier on all of you.

the thing that will probably help most with the general switch is to tell your son about it with enough time so that he can prepare mentally, and so that he can say goodbye to his current caregivers and friends there, but not so far in advance that he gets worked up about it over time. That sweet spot seems like a week or two. (If you can keep in touch with the other kids and the caregivers he likes, that's a very good thing.)

Making sure he's seen and spent some time at the new place before he starts there full-time will help, too, so he has a firm idea of where he's going and that there are fun people there, too, and nothing to be afraid of.

I'm not really sure what to do about the language switch, since you haven't been speaking too much French to him before now. Maybe you can figure out what the phrases and questions and commands he's most likely to need to understand right away are, and start using them at home. That way he'll at least understand a little when he first gets there.

Have you talked to the director and staff at the new school about ways to ease the language transition? They might have some more solid things you can do before and during the transition to make it go more smoothly for him and for you two.

In the long run, it will have been easier for him to switch now than when he's older. So it will be a benefit to him. Knowing that, though, the first few weeks might be tough.

Has anyone been in a similar situation and have advice to offer, even if you didn't switch languages?

Q&A: midnight tantrums

A writes:

"So, J is 2-1/2 (will be 3 in August).  Some nights, he sleeps great –
either all the way through (9:30pm-8:30am or so) or only has a minor
wakeup.  But 3-4 nights a week, one of us will go into his room because
we hear him crying, and he won't be consoled.  It doesn't matter which
parent goes in, he wants the other one.  He won't let either of us pick
him up.  He doesn't want a different pacifier, or a drink of water, or
his nose blown, or anything – he just kicks his feet and grumps at us. 
If we try to leave, it goes into full-blown temper tantrum.  Eventually –
after 15 minutes or more – we can usually get him out of the crib
without a fight.  But there's still at least 5 more minutes of trying to
convince him to accept a pacifier and go back to sleep.  This isn't a
nightmare – he doesn't talk when he has a nightmare, just cries, and in
these temper tantrum episodes tells us very clearly that he doesn't want
any of the things we're offering.

Of course, this is always at like 2am, so it's completely
exhausting.  We've tried talking about it during the day, to no avail.  I
would be okay with him being awake in the middle of the night if he
would leave us out of it!  It's been happening for at least a month, so I
feel like we're at the point where we need to DO something and not just
assume he'll grow out of it.

Any thoughts?"

Have you ever had a nightmare that your partner did something really horrible to you, and you wake up and you're really angry at him/her, even though you know intellectually that it was just a dream?

That's what this makes me think of. I wonder if he's having some dreams in which he doesn't get what he wants, and that triggers a waking tantrum. And he's made at *you*, mostly because you're there. But maybe also in the middle of the night while you were asleep you actually did do something that made him really, really angry, in his dream.

It's not a night terror. It's not a nightmare. It really is what you're saying, a middle-of-the-night tantrum.

And I pretty much have nothing. You could just wait it out. If J is like my older child, the tantrums (at all times of day) should stop around the age of 4. If he's like my younger child, they will probably stretch on forever.

Has anyone else experienced this? Did you figure out anything to do about it? Was there anything that *didn't* work that A should not even bother trying?

Waiting for school placement

Are there any of you still waiting to find out about school placements/acceptances for your children for next year?

I did not talk about our wait (for a NYC public school Kindergarten spot) online because I thought (and still think) it could come back to bite me (the long arms of the internet being what they are).But we got a spot last week.

I still don't think I should talk about it. I'm still a little shell-shocked, actually. I know I was kind of paralyzed on a lot of fronts, not knowing where my baby was going to school.

Is anyone else still in limbo? Preschool? Kindergarten? Older grades? (College?)