Thursday, May 29, 2008

No, it's fine. No really, it's fine. Stop asking or else.

So we're out garage saling, because it's a fine way to spend a sunny afternoon, and I'm waiting for The Other Half to finish looking at baseball cards so we can move on -- standing in the slightly shady driveway, jouncing the little one on one hip. The seller's mother, a sweet-seeming older lady, spied us (kid alert! kid alert!) and came over to chat. Which was fine. 
"Can he walk yet?" Well, no. (And I always feel like I'm supposed to apologize for it, or feel bad for it, like he's already behind and he'll never get into Ivy League now.) "Do you want to put him down so he can crawl in the grass?" No, I say, he'd probably try to eat the grass. Because that's what toddlers do. But she can't let it go.
"Are you sure you don't want to put him down? Do you live in a condo? Oh. That explains it. Because he probably hasn't seen grass too much. Maybe he's a little afraid of it." Then TOH walks over and she asks him all over again, as though the entire conversation with me didn't matter, or maybe I'd change my mind if my big tough husband made me.
What I wanted to say, but didn't in case TOH actually wanted to buy baseball cards from this lady's son, was, "We're not afraid of grass. There's plenty of grass where we live. I don't want him eating the grass because I have no idea what kind of pesticide fertilizer crap your son has dumped all over his lawn." Which strikes me as at least semi-reasonable.
Not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things. Just further exemplifies, to me, how older-generation moms have no way of relating to younger moms other than trying to tell them what to do. 

Sunday, May 25, 2008


There's a small box sitting on the landing of the staircase, waiting for me to do something with it. Which I would, if I could figure out where in hell to bring it. On the box is this ominous message: "The fact is: Many toddlers aren't getting adequate nutrition."
The fact is, many adults aren't either, but hey, I digress. The box with the scary slogan is yet another freebie in the mail from a formula company, packed with little glasslike bottles full of, I'm going to assume, the most nutritional substance known to man, without which my kid is going to shrivel up and blow away like a tumbleweed. Since the only things I feed him are fresh fruits and veggies, oatmeal, cheese, eggs, pasta ... yep, no way he'll survive on all that.
Like new parents aren't stressed enough about what to feed their kids -- they need their mail to tell them they're still screwing up?
OK, fine, I'm biased to begin with -- I breastfed. If you need to use formula, I respect that; it's foodstuff, not poison. My ire is for the omnipresent formula companies. Ads all over the magazines. The index card they handed me at the OB-GYN's office, offering a free diaper bag, no obligation, that would obviously come full of formula samples. I refused to fill it out, which was a good thing since they gave me one at the hospital anyway. 
Now that was all aggravating enough. I in no way find it appropriate for a doctor's office or a hospital to be effectively endorsing formula, not when the official medical consensus is that breastfeeding is better. That's kind of like a cardiologist sending you to a steakhouse for lunch, isn't it?  
But mailing these boxes of formula to my home, well after we're home from the hospital, that's beyond obnoxious because I never once bought this stuff. So why keep sending it? Why was I even on their list if I never filled out that card? Shouldn't they be mailing free formula to people who actually want it?
The last few batches I had of it sitting around, I checked the expiration date to make sure it was still good, then brought it all in to a food drive. (Along with the diaper bag.) This time, there isn't one going on, so I'll have to find somewhere else to bring the box. 
I'd pitch it, but I can't stand the idea of wasting food. Which just figures.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dinner and a crash

We've been taking the kid to all kinds of restaurants. We've eaten in white-tablecloth establishments with suited-up waiters and "family-style" joints with Formica-ish booths and a 3,000-decibel noise level. And all these places offered crappy, crappy highchairs. 
Same style in all, of course -- minimalist wood structure, no padding, basic seatbelt, separate strap between the legs. That's OK. But the frayed belts, busted latches and rickety, swaying structure are not OK. What are they, kidding? Is the staff secretly placing bets on which highchair will disintegrate first, with an over-under on how long it'll take the kids to stop screaming after they hit the floor?
Last time we got a chair that appeared to think it was in the middle of a windstorm, I asked for another one. The waiter brought one, which was nice, but it only swayed slightly less, which was not. 
Over the weekend, we got one with a cracked latch. I thought, well, maybe it'll be fine, settled the kid in place and picked up the menu. It was fine, in that the latch didn't break open till we got the check. Granted, he didn't go anywhere -- just slid down in his seat until the middle strap stopped him. But if he'd been reaching for something at the time, or been off balance in any way, that could've been a bad scene.
And yes, the adults at the table should be watching him, you're absolutely right. But the whole point of these chairs, allegedly, is to keep the child secure so you can enjoy your food without worrying that the child will take a header onto the hardwood.
I've thought about why restaurants would spend tons of money on the food and the presentation and the ambience and then let their highchairs deteriorate into torture devices. And the only conclusion I can arrive at is that, like Lewis Black's candy corn, all the restaurant-approved highchairs ever made were made in 1911. And the restaurateurs, who for some reason always seem surprised when you walk in with a child and ask for a highchair -- you mean the child won't be standing in a corner while you eat? -- remember, then, that oh yes! They do have highchairs. And they send someone down to the cobweb-covered corner where the highchairs are kept, next to the yellowing newspaper clippings about the Teapot Dome Scandal, and that person hauls a chair out into the light, where it promptly disintegrates. 
Maybe next time we get a bum chair, I'll invite the maitre d' to our house for dinner, hack two legs off one of our chairs and have him sit in that.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

So someone explain to me how fear-based parenting became the norm. 
Use the wrong crib and your kid will die. Use the wrong carseat and your kid will die. (Install it yourself, without getting it checked over by a cop, and your kid will die.) Use fewer than 15 monitors, with sound, video and I don't know, infrared, and guess what. 
Parenting classes and magazines seem to cover the gamut from "how your baby can drown in half an inch of water" to "how your baby can spontaneously combust if you stick a teddy bear in the crib."
(On that: If we're not supposed to put toys, bumpers, blankets, pillows, etc. in an infant's crib, why then does every single store selling cribs display them chock full of darling blankie sets, matching bumpers and plush menageries? A little consistency, it's all I ask.)
Now hey, I'm not suggesting these precautions are all bad. I'm certainly not suggesting throwing caution to the wind and letting the baby drive the car, say, or giving the kid shrimp in peanut sauce for the first solid feeding. But there's a difference between keeping parents informed, and beating them over the head with worst-case scenarios until they're afraid to make a decision without calling the pediatrician at midnight or haunting their parenting boards of choice until some other poster gives them an answer.
Which even still would be acceptable if it didn't seem like a relatively recent trend. Allow me to sum up every single derisive older parent at once: "I guzzled martinis and smoked cigars throughout every single pregnancy. We put all of you to sleep on your stomachs. We fed all of you formula. We didn't have these fancy car seats or play yards or sleep sacks. And you all turned out fine."
First of all, boomers and Greatest Generationers: At least our husbands change diapers. Second, I may disagree with those practices (as much as I miss martinis) but I like the attitude. We shouldn't have to stress this so much. Just keeping your kid clothed and fed -- even despite his nifty new trick of sticking his fingers in his mouth to make himself puke -- as well as keeping yourself clothed and fed, is enough stress. We don't need to add to that by giving in to the paranoia. C'mon, if we're spending this much time freaking out about whether we're doing everything wrong, we're probably doing something right. Right?