“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” - A Haley

April 14, 2009

rusty chain
Originally uploaded by shoothead
Just a few random links for you today:

Outlaws no more, breastfeeding mothers get legal protection (Boston Globe

Bad Parents and Proud of It: Moms and a Dad Confess Wall Street Journal

Laid-off moms learn what they've been missing Connecticut Post

If you've followed this site (or know me) you know that I've worked two jobs for ages. Right now, I'm "on furlough" from my part-time evening job (yes, that's me, another victim of the economic downturn) and so I'm enjoying evenings at home with my son. Its a struggle on the financial front, but on the personal front the struggle will be going back. For me, having dinner every evening with my son feels like a luxury. Spending every weekend with my family is a thrill.

My son is now old enough to complain every morning when we all get dressed and get in the car to go to our separate destinations for the day: "I don't want to go," he says, "I want to stay home with my Mamma."

Oh my darling son, I want to stay home with you, too.

“All the time a person is a child he is both a child and learning to be a parent.” - Benjamin Spock

April 7, 2009

Originally uploaded by Roger Smith
During the winter, I must admit that we sometimes take our son to the local outlet of a National Chain Restaurant that has a giant play structure inside. Perhaps I should feel guilty for feeding my son four or five chemically altered chicken nuggets, but that guilt is heavily balanced by the opportunity for him to run and climb and swing on the giant playground equipment for an hour or two in the dead of winter, when its 14 degrees and there is two feet of snow on the ground.

The last time we were there, as we were leaving, we passed a man who was hauling a weeping child out by the arm.

"If you let anyone hit you again," the man said to the boy, "I'll punch you in the mouth."

My husband's mother (my son's beloved Mimi) spanked her boys with a wooden spoon. The boys laugh about it now; they were a military family and moved often - the boys love to tell the story of how once, when moving, their mother found a cache of wooden spoons - dozens, perhaps - that they boys had hidden away, in the forlorn hope that if there were no spoons to be found there would be no spankings.

I feel like, over the past few days, I've been running into spanking everywhere I look. Matt Haughey (noted blogger but not normally a parenting blogger) wrote earlier this week about how his parents would "whip" him and his brother with a belt, and how his grandmother, too, was a feared wielder of the wooden spoon. Ohio is considering a bill to outlaw "paddling" in public schools, and I find myself wondering how, exactly, that hadn't been done years ago. I was shocked to learn that although the State has a "limited ban" six school districts reported 110 paddlings of students during 2007-08 school year.

I like to think that we, as a society, have moved past hitting children as punishment, but I know it isn't true. I remember, long before our son was born, having dinner with another couple, friends who had two small daughters. Both parents (she a nurse and he a teacher) told us that they had spanked the girls, that sometimes "a good swat on the bottom" was the only way to teach. I remember glancing at Josh nervously during that conversation, realizing that we did not know these people as well as we thought we did, wondering where else our philosophies of living diverged. Before my son was born, my husband told me that he would "consider" spanking our child (natural, I suppose, as a child of a spanker himself) if the offense was grave enough. Now, though, I know he can't imagine himself ever doing it, ever pulling our small son over his lap, ever hitting our son for any reason. I'm confident in that, confident that neither of us would ever do it.

I found out recently, however, that Sarah, the woman who cares for our son during the day in her home, spanks her daughter. One of the reasons that the daughter (Hannah) gets spanked is because she sometimes bites my son.

I don't feel like he's in danger there. Sarah has gone through the process to become a certified in-home daycare provider, and I know she's taken classes and has random in home visits. I also know that Sarah is fairly religious (enough so that she has faith-promoting bumper stickers on her car), and that spanking is somewhat more common in highly religious households. Mostly, I guess, I just don't get it. She has a degree in early childhood education. She's warm and nurturing with the children in her care, and my son is comfortable there. I have no thoughts that she would ever hit him or hurt him in any way.

Now I'm faced with a quandary. Its not up to me to tell her how to parent her own child. We tried once before to move him out of her care (with disastrous results). And, of course, there is the issue that we're not exactly in a position right now to afford an inevitably more expensive childcare solution her "in the city". So what do I do? What would you do?

"Rest is not idleness" - John Lubbock

April 4, 2009

Originally uploaded by selfnoise
We've been overscheduled for weeks. My husband and I, working through projects, moving with purpose from one necessary task to the next. My poor son, increasingly resistant to leaving the house: fighting getting dressed, fighting even the suggestion of an evening trip out for "chicken and fries" and an evening of romping on the playscape. Last weekend was spent mostly in cars, driving all day through six states, attending an event, then returning home again.

Through it all my son was a trouper, but as this morning dawned foggy and gray, that sort of persistent half-light that both precedes the dawn and follows it, I have declared today a day of rest. A day to stay indoors and do nothing.

My son was awake at five this morning, besodden and soaked from an epic diaper failure, and by the time I got him dry and clean he was ready to start his day, play trucks, eat breakfast. I made him wait for the sun to wake up, but we were still downstairs far earlier than we would have been on a work day.

A little while ago my son gave up his trucks and climbed up on the sofa with me, laid his head on my arm and just sagged against me. It was not quite 11 am. I carried him upstairs and laid him down in bed where his father was still sleeping, worn out from too many days of burning the candle at both ends. Now they're a-snooze together and I'm sitting here in a quiet house. The sun is trying to burn away the haze but isn't having much luck. We have nothing we must do today except feed ourselves. Later I may tidy up or try to sew, but right now we're all content to be warm and snug together, enjoying the quiet and peace of rest, inside the house and out.