I’m blocked. Anyone else?

There is so very very much going on in my head and my life and at work that I am blocked. I could use good thoughts or prayers, if you have any to spare.

I know this isn't strictly a parenting topic, but a frequent commenter who maybe doesn't want to be named asked me (just in conversation), "How do I figure out what I want to be when I grow up?"

It's a really good question, isn't it? I think sometimes parents spend so much time being grown up–wiping butts, making meals for people who may or may not eat them, taking people places, putting aside our own needs to make sure others' needs are met–that it's hard to figure out what's next.

If you've figured it out, how did you do it? If you haven't figured it out, how are you coping with not having figured it out?

Free pass for anyone with a kid still in diapers.

Q&A: Posting pictures of your baby on Facebook?

New mom Angie writes:

"I'm wondering how to handle baby photo sharing – what if he decides that he doesn't want to be on facebook? It will be long before he can make that choice :/"

I've been thinking about this for awhile. I never mention my kids' names here, and try not to tell specific stories about them unless it really really applies to the topic, because I don't feel like I have the right to expose themto the whole world just for the heck of it. And I know this is very public space.

But there are other areas that are not so public. I don't think msot people would think twice about posting their kids' photos on a photo-sharing service that they had to allow specific access to, so that grandparents and other relatives could see photos of the children.

But what about Facebook? It has privacy controls (in theory) so you're able to limit who sees your photos. But at the same time it's not really protected (they keep messing around with who owns the content you upload and where they can use your photos, for example).

And, as Angie says, what if your kids decide they don't want to be on Facebook?

I have started asking my kids before I post anything they say or do on Facebook, and give them approval of the wording before I hit "update." But you can't do that with a baby.

How are you guys handling it? The privacy issue, first? And then who has the right to your kid's image, you or them?


Book Review: Stop Reacting and Start Responding by Sharon Silver

I promised the review of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be right after Christmas, but what I discovered is that I can't read ebooks on my computer. As soon as I got a paper copy I started whipping through this book, and here's my main takeaway:

Buy it.

As those of you who have been reading here for awhile know, I love Sharon Silver not only because she's been such a friend to us here, but because she's the only one I've read who seems to really get, deeply, the toddler/preschooler age. Even my very favorite parenting books* are great for the theory and mindset switch that puts you and your kids on the same team, but they don't help you with the "what do I do in this exact moment?" for kids under 5. Sharon does. She knows what words are going to inflame the situation and what words will ease it. So I've been waiting for her to write it all down for us.

Sharon's book is absolutely in the same parenting philosophy that I think most of us are trying to work toward: Setting boundaries in a firm and loving way gives your child the tools to be successful and frees you up to just love them unconditionally.

Just writing that made me feel good, and I hope it made you feel good to read it. Thinking about having such a large part in creating an adult human being who is such an asset to the world is kind of thrilling. But then the problem is that all those pre-adults are 16 months and 27 months and 3.5 years and 4.5 years, and it's not so easy and inspiring. Sometimes it felt like a war zone, like a constant battle, to me, and I can feel the weariness in your voices at the struggles of those ages.

In reading Sharon's book, what hits you is that that feeling of being in a constant battle with your toddler or preschooler comes from the fact that you're reacting to each new situation as it hits. Sharon's goal with the book is to give you the tools and specific words to use so that you can respond, not react, to a situation. When you respond calmly once, it gives you a little emotional space, and then you can get your feet under you a little bit and respond, not react, to the next one. Every scenario she lays out is individual, so you can go into just that 2-page chapter and get the words you need for the situation in front of you. But if you read all the chapters, and start using the words whenever you can remember to, all those sets of words are going to work together and pretty soon your whole perspective on the interactions will change.

This is NOT a quick-fix book. Notice that the words "magic," "instant," "miracle," etc. do not appear in the title. This is about showing up and being right in the middle of it with your kid. As I said earlier, I've been waiting for Sharon to write this book, and I felt a little sad that I missed the preschooler years to use the techniques with my own kids, who are now almost-9 and 5.5. But as I started reading it, even the very first page (page 17) hit me like a ton of bricks. That one page alone is worth the cost of the book in explaining what's going on when we discipline our kids and why we think it's not working exactly when it is. Then I started reading the other chapters and understanding what had been happening, what mistakes I'd made (but not blaming myself, because Sharon writes it somehow so you feel like you can learn from your mistakes), and what I could say to my own much-older kids to turn around some current situations that were bothering me.


1. Buy the book. It's absolutely worth the $12.95, no matter what age your kids are.

2. If you buy the book and are somehow worried about reading it (I've been there–sometimes you just don't think you can hear what you "should be" doing), read page 17. Just page 17.

3. Sharon gives you the exact words to say in any given situation, but somehow they're structured so you can still be yourself within those words. You're still the parent, and Sharon's just giving you the tools.

4. There is no free lunch. Parenting is hard, y'all. But you're doing a good job and you can catch a breath and do an even better one.

Has anyone else read the book yet?


* My favorite parenting books, besides Sharon's, are Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott and the two best spin-offs from Ginott–Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen and How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish. You'll want to read all three at some point, for sure.

What are we really doing, anyway?

Last night, my friend Susan said this:

"So much of parenting is guessing if you are doing the right thing, isn't it?"

Ohhhh, yeah. My response to her was "What's maddening to me is knowing that my kids won't remember the stuff I agonized over, and will be really affected by the stuff I never noticed."

I think about all the stuff my mom and dad were so tied up in knots about, and how I don't even remember so much of it until they bring it up now. And then about the little moments that I know they didn't put a ton of thought into that have been so big for me. I wish I knew what to spend time caring about with my own kids, and what to just let go.

I was so struck by this that I asked Susan if I could put it up here to talk about. What's your response to Susan's question?

Really really early teething

A friend (and regular commenter here) has a baby who is a week old. He is already cutting two teeth. When she mentioned this, I said, "Wow–my second was cutting teeth almost that early! It was awful!" and then we started talking a bit about it. At one point my friend said that she'd been frantically googling early teething and was getting scared because apparently sometimes early teething can be part of something else, so she was glad to hear that it had happened to my son, too.

So I thought I'd put my story and the basic facts of hers up here on the internet so anyone else googling frantically in the middle of the night newborn cutting teeth or newborn getting teeth or baby has teeth or newborn biting me or teeth?? or getting teeth at 6 days or OMG stop it with the teeth already can find a little signpost.

My second son's story: Nursed and slept like a champ from the get-go. Then at right around two weeks old he started drooling and being fussy and having drool stool and I saw two little teeth right there under the surface! Away went the sleep, and he was just generally peeved all the time, and the teeth were surging surging and there was a little sharp point on one of them, and then right before it broke through all the way, they sucked back into his gums! And then broke through for real at six months. But he had teething symptoms that whole time, from two weeks until they broke through at six months.

Flash forward: He's 5.5 years and has all of his teeth. They are small and have some spaces between them, but they bite just fine. Our dentist has said that that's normal, but that he also will probably never need braces because he has plenty of space between his teeth. Yay!

My friend (who might comment, but she has two older children and a newborn, so I don't think commenting will be her highest priority) says her son's teeth are poking through on the bottom, and have been since a few days after birth. He is biting her while he nurses (because he's so new to nursing) and doesn't really want to nurse because it hurts him. It's taking her whole bag of nursing tricks to help him eat. He's totally healthy, though–fat cheeks, responsive, and a sweet little dumpling. She brought up the possibility that these teeth coming through might not be his baby teeth but a third set, which I hadn't considered. But hey, any way you can shake down the Tooth Fairy…

Any other stories of aberrant teething–either relaly early or really late? The only late teething story I know is my friend's brother, who didn't cut a single tooth until he was 14 months old, but who is now happily married with a child and a post-graduate degree and a good job.

Q&A: weird whining on wakeup

Emily writes:

"Our daughter Maia was a pretty good sleeper from I'd say 7 or 8 months through her first year. Then, around 13 or 14 months, she suddenly started waking once during the night. Part of this was sickness – since daycare started she's gotten sick at least once a month. Part of it was also cognitive, at times (wanting to read, just wanting to be held) and I am sure teeth came/come into play, as well (she got her first two at 14 months, the second two have been pushing out for the past 3 weeks).

But then in the last month she has not only been waking once a night but shifted her morning waking from 7:30 to nearly 5:30 at times. She also wakes differently. I'm sure it's her normal pattern (we all wake up in the night) but she can't soothe herself down for whatever reason. So she starts to whine. It's a weird whining-yodel and it can last for over an hour. If we don't go in, it generally turns into full blown crying and screaming. We've tried ignoring it and we've also tried some modified CIO but nothing has worked.

All I can think of is that she simply needs us right now – that's my gut. A lot of the time she does need Tylenol for her teeth…but then also wants a bottle, which is something she's totally grown out of at this point. But yikes, the wakeups are killing us and I'm starting to worry that we're just fostering her screwy schedule.

Any advice?"

The 13-month waking thing is very common. It's a Wonder Week and happens to lots of kids. Many of them go back to sleeping after a few weeks, but if she's got teething on top of it it wouldn't be super-unusual for it to continue. Add in new kinds of movement, weird weather, holidays and all that hubub, and it's infuriating but not unusual.

It's the whine that makes me interested. This stretch from 15-18 months is kind of crazy because it's really when kids start to realize that they are not you, but are, in fact, separate. Which is why there are so many crazy power struggles at this time, and they suddenly want to do everything themselves, and have full-on temper tantrums, etc. (Often it manifests particularly in refusing to eat certain foods or all foods, because sometimes the only control kids feel is over what they put in their mouths or what they swallow.)

So I wonder if the whine is kind of her barbaric yawp at knowing she's she and not you. And also her way of getting you close because it's really effing scary to realize you're an individual. You feel like she needs you, and I think she does, because otherwise she's staring down the barrel of the nothingness that comes from being alone in the world. Aside from Elmo, of course.

I am always going to tell you to trust your instinct. If you feel like she needs you for some reason, go with it. Soon she'll turn 18 months and it'll all go to hell anyway. It will all change soon enough anyway, and you'll know when you need to respond differently.

The early wakings I've truly got nothing on. Five years of Ask Moxie and I can't get a handle on it for love or money.

Anyone else feel like their child was having an existential crisis at this age?