Discussion of NurtureShock, Chapter 6 “The Sibling Effect”

We're talking about NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman allsummer. One chapter every Friday. Jump in whenever you'd like. The first week we talked about Chapter 1 about praise.
The second week we talked about Chapter 2 about sleep.
The third week we talked about talking about race with
The fourth week we talked about why kids lie and how we're
inadvertently promoting that.
Last week we talked about
intelligence testing for preschoolers for school placement purposes.
This week we're talking about how having siblings socializes children.

This week's chapter is entitled "The Sibling Effect" and it discusses
why siblings fight and whether only children are less socialized than
children with siblings are. I was particularly interested in this
chapter for two reasons: First, my sister(-in-law) is an only child, and
she's one of the best people I've ever met in every way. Even if she
was the only only I'd ever met, she'd be evidence enough for me that
onlies don't have problems relating to other people, so I wanted to see
what the research said. Secondly, I have two boys (ages 8 and 5) who
cannot keep their hands off each other. They are either hugging each
other or punching each other, but more often they're punching each other. They fight what
seems like constantly. (It demoralizes me. A lot.) I wanted to find out
if that was going to get any better.

Here's the traditional wisdom: The basic premise of "needing" to have a sibling or five so you won't
end up unsocialized is that kids learn to interact with other people by
interacting with their siblings. So kids who grow up alone won't be as
well-socialized as kids with siblings. (The book didn't go there, but
I'd also say that I feel like there's an idea in the culture that
siblings need to be 3.5 years apart or less or else they won't socialize

Turns out (of course, because this is NurtureShock), that this is
completely wrong. Kids don't learn to socialize with siblings at all.
The biggest predictor for how well two siblings get along is how the
older one gets along with their best friend at the time of the younger
sibling's appearance in the family.  That held true across all age
spacings, sex breakdowns, etc.

*Really* interesting, isn't it? If you read the chapter, you probably
took a few minutes or days to think about this. If you're just reading
it now, feel free to let that digest before you go on.

Here's what's really happening. With a friend, kids have to learn how to be kind, monitor the other person's feeling, share, find things they both want to do, and all the other stuff that goes into being a friend. If they don't, their friend won't want to be their friend anymore.

A sibling, on the other hand, is always there, no matter what the kid does, says, or forces them to eat. You can be kind and generous to your sibling or truly cruel and brutal to your sibling, and they'll still be there the next morning. You're stuck together, and how you act toward each other doesn't change that.

So there's no feedback loop of socialization with a sibling like there is with a friend. Of *course* the sibling relationships come out of the habits of friendship that have already been learned by the older one.

(The book didn't go into this, but I think this explains so much. Why siblings spaced together under 15 months or so tend to be either thick as thieves or mortal enemies–the older one had no practice being friends, so they have no model and it's a blank slate. It also explains why some spacings seem better than others–if those developmental ages are tough for the older child socially anyway, it makes sense that that will carry over into the sibling relationship.)

This also, of course, explains why there is no replicable difference in how socialized only children are compared to kids with siblings.

Now, here was the part that actually made me feel both worse and then much better: The way your kids interact now is not likely to change until the older one leaves the house. So if your kids fight a lot now, they're going to keep doing it. However, if they're fighting, they're also probably pretty engaged with each other, so you could take a more detailed look at how they interact. The chapter talks in detail about a program designed to help siblings enjoy playing with each other more, and what the leaders of the program were focusing on was that engagement. They weren't trying to stop the fighting, but instead to increase the fun the kids had with each other.

That was a big switch in my head. I've been thinking, "Why can't they just leave each other alone??" But I really don't want them to. I want them to enjoy each other. And if enjoying each other and doing fun things together also means they fight as part of it, I'll take it.

I'm going to try to replicate some of the stuff the program was doing to help kids have more fun together. I've already been trying to make the focus of our house activities they can do together instead of separately, and I think I'm going to keep doing that but extend it to other areas, like meal prep and chores. I'm also going to focus more on the way they engage with each other and worry less about the fighting. I've been talking to some adult male friends who have brothers, and they report that they *still* will wrestle and beat each other up when they're together, but they also seem to genuinely enjoy being with each other, too.

Who else read this chapter, and what did you take away from it? What did I miss in my summary?

Thoughts on food

I have been thinking about something. And if there's one thing I've learned from writing this blog, it's that if I'm thinking about it, so are a bunch of you. (It's weird, isn't it?? It makes me feel sometimes like I'm Sigourney Weaver in "Ghostbusters." Or at least Sigourney Weaver in "Galaxy Quest.")

Anyway, what I've been thinking about it critically examining what my kids and I eat and making a focused effort to improve it.

Now, for those of you who have kids who are, say, 14 months old, who are still eating organic baby food and have never had sugar, you are probably thinking I'm nuts. But for those of you with older kids, you know that by the time your kid is 3 or so, and is out more in the world, and certainly when they go to school, food starts to get away from you. Unless you're there every single second, you don't have control over everything your child eats. So even if you pack lunches that are nutritionally spotless, the other nannies could be slipping your kid stuff on the sly, or snacks at school could be not-so-healthy.

For me, I know that food slid a lot when I started the divorce process. It was a combination of feeling just physically and emotionally exhausted all the time and wanting my kids to feel loved, so we started having a bunch of snacks. And Newman Os may be better than Oreos, but they're still highly-processed, super-sugary pseudo-foods.

But now that I have more room to breathe all-around, I've started to be hyper-aware of what we're putting into our bodies. I joined the Food committee at my kids' school (the upshot of the first meeting was that we are going to make very slow progress on this as everything in NYC Public Schools has to go through everything in triplicate twice over) and I started following Mrs. Q's blog http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com/. She's a public school teacher who decided to eat (and photograph) the lunch the kids at her school were served every day from the beginning of 2010 to the summer. Wow. Read it, and follow her on Twitter at @fedupwithlunch.

I am pretty sure that the crap we eat (we meaning my family but also our culture in general) is what's compounding our energy problems, poor sleep, lack of focus, and problems getting along with other people. I think if I could lay the basis for more healthy eating consistently, then occasional snacks wouldn't trigger binges like they do now.

So I'm looking for ways to start. Just to start moving things to a better direction. So this week I've been making oatmeal for breakfast instead of cinnamon toast. And the little one loves it. But the big one doesn't. We haven't figured out a whole-grain alternative for him yet, but are working on it. He hates hot cereal.

Next step: Go vegetarian for 2 of the 3-4 dinners I serve them a week. (We're already at 1.)

Here are my questions for you:

First, do you have any general thoughts on this?

Second, do you have any recipes for whole-grain cookies that do NOT contain raisins, because I cannot stand raisins and neither can my older son? They can be no-bakes.

Third, why is it harder to take small steps toward something than it is to go on some radical change plan? Is that all humans, or just me?

Q&A: reprimands hurting your child’s feelings

The other day Tertia and I discovered that we've got the same problem going on in both our houses. Her Adam and Kate (who are 5) and my younger son T (who is also 5 but a couple of months younger than A&K) have started crying if we reprimand or punish them and telling us that we've hurt their feelings.

Now, on one level, it's awesome that we have kids that are so self-aware and self-actualized that they can stand up for themselves when their feelings are hurt.

But. It sometimes seems like a way for them to try to weasel out of the situation they were in.

So the question is: How do we honor our children and their feelings, while at the same time not let these claims manipulate us into dropping discipline?

In the long run, kids need limits and they need to learn acceptable boundaries for action as much as they need to identify and stand up for their feelings.

Another compounding factor is that my son T is prone to crocodile tears. I think he just likes to cry (even as an infant he was a Tension Releaser and needed to cry himself to sleep) and can almost make himself believe it sometimes. So I wonder if his feelings actually *are* hurt, or if he just *wants* his feelings to be hurt.

What I've been trying to do is:

  • discipline in a way that is about the behavior and not him so it's less likely that his feelings will be hurt to begin with
  • acknowledge his hurt feelings and express sympathy for them, without apologizing for disciplining him
  • bring the topic back to the episode and discipline ASAP so the focus goes back onto teaching him limits and appropriate behavior

I try to do a little "safe, respectful, and kind" check to make sure that what I said and the punishment I doled out was all three of those. If I was too mean or harsh, I'll apologize sincerely. But he still has to be accountable for what he did.

Does anyone else have kids who say their feelings are hurt when you call them on bad behavior? How do you handle it?

Q&A: 7-month-old nap strike

Stephanie writes:

"I have a
7-month old. As this of moment, she sleeps well at night. Also at this
moment, she is on what I would call a nap-strike, or semi nap-strike in
case I am being too dramatic. In the last week, at least one of her two
daily naps have shortened horrendously, to like 15-25 minutes. Although
she has always been a relatively short napper, it has never been this
bad. I follow all of the "rules" – early bedtime, regular schedule, she
can soothe herself, blah blah blah. Everyone says if you do that, their
naps will lengthen. Well, I have waited patiently and things are going
downhill instead of up. How can this be?

If solutions are to be offered, that would be interesting. However,
now I am trying to breathe and (hope!) this is only temporary. I don't
want to be poring over WeissbluthHoggFerberSomeMomWhoPostedOnYahoo.
Can someone please tell me that they have been through this and it all
turned out OK? Thanks."

I can absolutely promise you these two things:

1. You are not the only one who's gone through this, and

2. It's not indicative of the future.

One of the many, many dirty big secrets about baby and kid sleep is that it doesn't get progressively better. It goes in fits and starts, so you can be cruising along just fine, or at least limping along well enough that you can survive, and then out of the blue it all seems to fall apart. And you think you've done something horrible or your municipal water system has switched and it's causing your baby to freak out or your baby hates you or that your child will Never Sleep Again. But none of that is true.

If you think about all the patterns that appear in nature, one of the most common (and beautiful) is the spiral pattern. You see it in seashells and flowers and animal horns. And you also see it in baby development in general and their sleep in particular. Instead of being a linear progression, it spirals around so when it's on one side of the curve the sleep is good, but then as it comes around the bend it gets worse again.

What you can't necessarily see in the moment is that even as it's rounding the "rough nights" side of the spiral, the sleep is building and getting bigger and more solid, as the spiral grows outward. So you're looking at the good/bad cycle, and then all of a sudden your child is 7 and puts on her own pajamas and brushes her teeth and goes to bed by herself and you have to wake her for school in the morning.

I am going to guess that the short naps are because she's learning some new physical skill that isn't letting her sleep. She'll probably start crawling or pulling up soon (but she may not start sleeping again because then she'll be on to learning to walk). Or there may be some other socio-emotional development going on. Or maybe she's teething. Or maybe there's something else that we can't recognize because we haven't studied it yet.

If she had never slept longer that 20 minutes, I'd say it might be possible that she was just a catnapper (I've heard of a few, and it's brutal on the parents). But since her naps were longer before and just got shorter now, it's a nap regression of some sort. You could attempt some careful observation to see if you can figure out what's going on. You could also try changing her environment to see if that does anything. But really, the thing that will fix it is waiting until she hits the next nap stage and they stretch out again.

Do NOT get caught up in thinking you have more control over her sleep than you do. If you're setting the stage for sleep as much as you can, and teaching her that sleeping is safe, then she's sleeping the way she needs to be at that stage of development. You can't make her sleep any more than you can make her crawl when it's not her time developmentally to crawl.

Who else had a baby whose naps spiraled in length instead of getting progressively longer and longer? Does your kid sleep now?

Staying calm (or not) for the kids

Yesterday was an extremely stressful day, filled with driving back from a visit to family in Cleveland. The drive should have taken around 8 hours (including stops), but there was a lot of construction so it took closer to 10 hours.

And then I hit an enormous snarl trying to enter NYC at the George Washington Bridge. There had been an accident in the city that snarled up traffic so badly that a trip that usually takes anywhere between 10 and 45 minutes took 4 hours.(Google Map for illustration, if you care. The traffic started right around exit 69 on I-95 North and it took almost 4 hours to get to exit 73, which is marked Route 67 Lemoine Ave on the map. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=george+washington+bridge&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=51.443116,114.169922&ie=UTF8&hq=george+washington+bridge&hnear=United+States&ll=40.856961,-73.971548&spn=0.024214,0.055747&z=15&iwloc=C)

I was stuck, in the middle of lanes of traffic that weren't moving for 10 minutes at a time and then only inching forward, with two kids asleep in the back seat (after fighting with each other all day and screaming and making me stressed out), and I knew there was no way out because I was in the "express" lane with no exits, and then my Low Fuel light came on.

And I just lost it. I started crying, not so silently. And I'm a Tension Increaser so crying doesn't make me feel better AT ALL and just makes me feel worse.

And I cried and cried until I was sick of crying, and a friend texted me to turn off the car (since I wasn't going anywhere anyway) and I did, and the kids woke up. I told the kids we'd be OK. And then I got out of the car and went to ask a trucker if he could see if I could exit right before the bridge, and he said I could, and when I explained that I was out of gas he felt sorry for me. And the next time there was a teeny bit of movement he blocked for me so I could cut across 4 lanes of traffic and drive on the shoulder off the exit, then to a gas station, and then home.

Let me tell you, I was a badass as I was escaping to the exit and asking the bridge cop for directions to a gas station and then going back to ask him the best way to get into the city and home. Swaggering, even. (Well, for 3 am and having to pee.)

(Then I finally got to sleep at 4 am and got up at 6:30 am to clean out the car and take it back to the rental place before work. I would really like to thank my ex-husband for all the help he gave me in the middle of the night last night.)

So what was the difference between feeling-sorry-for-myself me and The Fast and The Furious me? Two things:

1. Had to hold it together for the kids. I didn't want them to be scared, so I stopped crying and pretended I knew what I was doing.

2. Once I went to talk to the trucker I was doing something about my problem, and then once I was driving I was really Doing Something about my problem.

So here's my question for you: Are you cool in an emergency? Always? Never? Sometimes? Is it different when your kids are around?

And what's the worst (almost)-running-out-of-gas story or road trip story you have? (And raise your hand if you've ever peed in a disposable diaper while stuck in traffic. I have, and it was more funny than horrible.)

Discussion of NurtureShock, Chapter 5 “The Search For Intelligent Life in Kindergarten”

We're talking about NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman allsummer. One chapter every Friday. Jump in whenever you'd like. The first week we talked about Chapter 1 about praise.
The second week we talked about Chapter 2 about sleep. The third week we talked about talking about race with your
Last week we talked about why kids lie and how we're
inadvertently promoting that.
This week we're talking about intelligence testing for preschoolers for school placement purposes.

This week's chapter is called "The Search For Intelligent Life in Kindergarten." Here's my full disclosure: I have a son in the "Gifted and Talented" program at NYC Public Schools and one going into the regular Kindergarten in NYC Public Schools in the fall, so I'm on both sides of this debate.

Bronson and Merryman looked at test scores of kids who were tested the year before Kindergarten (most were 4) to be admitted to "gifted" programs or special private schools. Then they looked at achievement levels of those kids vs. kids in the "regular" classes a few years later. What they found was that there wasn't much correlation to how kids scored when they were little and how they did later on.

The basic takeaways are:

  • Intelligence is fluid and shifting when kids are little, and doesn't start to "settle" until closer to 3rd grade.
  • Test scores for 4-year-olds correlate really highly to family background. The kids who are pepped for the tests, even if it's just by being paid a lot of attention to, are the ones who score highest. (duh.)
  • The kids who turn out to be the smartest later often do not show that in testable ways until they're older, and may be quite uneven. Traditional testing rates a kid who scoes high in one area and low in another as low, but Bronson and Merryman found out that that very unevenness is often a sign that a kid's going to turn out to be really smart.
  • All (yes all) of the creators of the intelligence tests used to place kids in "gifted" programs recommend that they not be used for school placement until 2nd or 3rd grade, as intelligence isn't beginning to settle until then.
  • By testing so early, a lot of the kids who should be in "gifted" classes in 4th grade are missed. And lots of the kids who get in in Kindergarten really can't keep up and should be in classes that go at a better pace for them. The early testing is hurting a huge group of kids by missing the mark seriously.
  • If you like numbers, read this chapter because it has a ton of numbers to prove the point right above this.

I can't say I'm surprised by all of this. I also disagree with "gifted" classes in general, and wish class size could be small enough and the school day planned differently so teachers could differentiate fluidly and it wouldn't be an issue. But that's on the Pigs Fly list, I suppose.

NYC Public Schools just announced that they're going to start the "Gifted" testing of kids at age 3. That's really not that smart, in the face of all this research. Perhaps the people running the NYC DOE G&T program were tested into the administration too early.

Thoughts? Experiences?

Q&A: how to communicate with toddler when we are apart for two weeks

I'm doing that Fast Company Influence Project thing, so click here and it'll tell how much online influence I have. (Is this going to be just a glorified slam book? I hope not…) And now to the question.

Kathrine writes:

"This weekend I brought my 28 month old son to my parents house for a2 week "vacation" (for everyone except my parents).   The idea was that
he would get out of the summer heat in the city and be in a cooler
climate, have lots of time outdoors, go to the pool, dig in the dirt,
and do all the things he loves… only with his grandparents, not his
parents. I'm also due with my second child in six weeks and needed time
to get in a few weeks of work and dissertation writing before baby

I started explaining two days before I left that I had to go back
to NY to go to work and keep his dada company and that we would see him
soon.  And we together talked about all the fun things that he would do
with his grandparents.  We started a journal so he and his grandmother
could write down what they did each day.  Each time we talked about it
he was quiet and thoughtful, but didn't resist the idea or protest.  I
left yesterday and when he woke up from his nap and I was not there he
cried a little, asked where I was, but had a fun afternoon with my

So now our question how much and in what form we should communicate
with him while he is there.  Specifically, do you think it is a good
idea to speak on the phone every day with him, perhaps to call via skype
so that he can see us as well?  On the one hand, and based on
experience when one of us (my husband or me) has been traveling, it
does make him sad to see us on the computer and he says things like
"mama should come out of the computer", and cries afterwards.  On the
phone he also says things like "you should come here" or "I want to go
home and be with Dada now".   On the other hand, we can't just not talk
to him for 12 days.

Do you have any advice on what we should do, how to keep in touch
without making him upset every day?  Or is there no way to avoid his
being upset, but it is still important for him to hear our voices every

Two weeks is a looooooong time for a 2-year-old, so there's no way you can not talk to him during that time. Especially because he's just coming out of a big separation anxiety stage (the one that hits some kids like a ton of bricks right around age 2, accompanied by another sleep regression from around 24-27 months) and needs reassurance that his parents are still there.

He's still too little to really understand why he's there and you're not, or why you're at home and he's not, or the concept of "vacation." (I, on the other hand, would kill to spend two weeks at your parents' house outside of the city.) He is having fun with your parents, but is probably still perplexed and maybe even worried about where you are and when he'll see you again. So yes, even if it upsets him, you need to talk to him every day.

I think that since he's so young, it might be helpful if you could video Skype so he can see you. It will also probably help if there's an activity for the call so it's not just him getting upset and you trying not to get him upset. Reading books to him over Skype (with a copy that one of your parents holds for him there and you reading from a copy at home) might be an activity he enjoys, or singing songs with him. You also might make a countdown calendar of some sort and count down another day with him on the phone. (Making construction paper links in a chain is a classic, so he can rip off another link each day.)

I'm betting that your parents are able to distract him so that he doesn't stay upset for long after the call. (It's the classic "kid cries when you leave but if you hide quietly on the other side of the door you hear laughter in 3 minutes" scenario.) But it might help you if one of your parents could snap a pic of him happy and send it to you after you talk so you know he's not upset all the time.

This is a challenging situation, for sure, because he needs to hear from you even if it makes him sad in the short term.

Has anyone else been in a similar situation of being separated from such a young toddler? How did you stay connected while not making your child more upset about the separation?

Q&A: late potty training problems

An anonymous mom writes:

"Ok, hanging my head in shame here. 

My 4.5 year old is not fully potty trained.   Let me clarify.   Hewill pee on the potty at daycare, but no where else.    If the teacher
catches him starting to poop, she runs him to the bathroom for him to
finish.   Most of the time though, he poops in his underwear.    At
home, he is either in a pull up or will hold it until bedtime when he
has on a pull up.   I have tried putting him in underwear at home, but
he either holds it or goes in his pants.   I have promised him a bike, a
table, Spongebob sheets if he starts using the potty.   He says "I only
pee at school!".   I have tried to talk to him calmly about why he
won't potty at home and all I get is "because I don't."   I should
probably add, he has had many developmental delays, but has caught up
fairly well.     He starts Pre K in August and will be in Collaborative Class with a Special Ed teacher.    She has assured me
this is no big deal and every year she has a kid who is resistant and
still in Pull Ups.     I really feel at this point he will not be able
to go to Kindergarten because he won't use the potty.  I also have
noticed the other kids are teasing him about pooping in his pants.   He
is my only child and I have no confidence in my ability to potty
train!!!   I am starting to lose my temper and get frustrated with him because he is so stubborn, but I know that is not the right answer
either.    Help!!! 

P.S.   He will often "sit" on a little potty at home, but can sit
until the cows come home and do nothing."

I am posting this very specifically because I know Anon is not the only parent with this issue, and I want to make sure everyone else who's having this issue isn't feeling ashamed at having a late potty-trainer.

60 years ago, a kid who wasn't pottytrained by age 2 was off the norm, and his mother was feeling like a failure (because dads had nothing to do with pottytraining back then, of course). So if you think of the age at which a kid is supposed to be pottytrained as a changing target, it might help you focus on your kid instead of being overwhelmed by how he's the one still in diapers.

Now: Listen to the teacher. She has seen hundreds and hundreds of kids. If she says that there's one kid in diapers in preK every year, then there's one kid. This year it's your chance to be that one kid.

The biggest help she might be is in enlisting the other kids to help your son with the potty instead of teasing him. She will surely have some ideas for this, and peer support and pressure can be one of the best ways to get older kids to use the toilet. (At this point the reward system doesn't seem to be as effective–if they'd wanted the reward enough they'd have trained months ago when you first offered them something.)

You might also consider putting your son in Pullups for daycare just so he isn't pooping in his underwear. And absolutely ask the daycare providers to help you with the teasing issue. They have the power to redirect those kids and make a teasing environment in the classroom not OK, so sit down with them and ask if you can work on this together, and point out how awful the teasing is, and ask for their help.

I know you feel ashamed and isolated, but the thing that will help *you* the most, no matter when your son trains, is to come out about it and ask for help from the other adults in his life so you're not suffering by yourself and feeling guilty.

Anyone else out there with a child who has trained later than the current norm?

Help her

You might have a problem today. Maybe your kid didn't sleep lastnight from the fireworks, or you weren't ready to go back after the
long Canada Day weekend or you're dreading going back tomorrow after
the long Independence Day weekend. Or you've been cooped inside with
the heat and your kids have been fighting with each other.

Maybe you even have real problems, like your marriage is falling
apart or you aren't exactly sure how you'll pay your rent next month or
someone you love is sick.

But you don't live in Iran and you're not a mom of two who's about to be stoned to death.

Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, a 42-year-old mom of two in Iran, was
arrested and convicted of adultery in 2006. At any minute they are
going to bury her in a pit up to her chest and then stone her to death.
They are going to use small stones, so they hurt and draw the process
out as long as possible.

You can read the whole story here at CNN.com.

I don't know Ashtiani, and I certainly don't know what really
happened, but I do know that death, especially a super-painful death, is not an appropriate punishment for adultery. And I know that in Iran it is not uncommon for men who
want a divorce to turn their wives in for adultery. I also know that
Ashtiani didn't understand or speak the language her court proceedings
and trial were conducted in. And her "confession" to the adultery came
after she suffered 99 lashes of a whip, and that she later said it was

What. The. Fuck?

The only way the Iranian authorities will stop this and not stone her to death is if the world calls them out. You can help.

1. Contact your elected officials and call their office. Give the
person who answers your name and address and phone number and say "I'm
asking [official's name] to condemn the Iranian government for its plan
to stone to death a mother of two,Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani." To find your elected officials in the US, go to http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml. In Canada go to http://canada.gc.ca/directories-repertoires/direct-eng.html. Could readers from other countries post the links to find contact info for your government officials in the comments, please?

2. Pass it on. Link to this post and the story on any news outlets
you can find. Post it on Twitter and Facebook, and email it to your
friends and coworkers.

3. If you're on Twitter, tweet to the United Nations and ask them why they aren't stepping in to help. "@UN When will you intercede on behalf of #Ashtiani? http://bit.ly/bCeWGe" is all you need. (That links to a post by Jessica Gottlieb about the stoning.)

Thank you. Hug your kids the next time you see them. And I hope your day gets better.