Friday, November 16, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Hey, Kid! Go play with sticks."

Recently, my parents, our good friends, Doug and Carol, and Leon and I had a conversation about today's overly parented child.

You know the type ~ the poor child whose parent obsesses over every tiny detail; calls the teacher with insane worries and requests; actually watches their high school student's class-by-class attendance online via Power School and calls the teacher immediately if Junior is late to class, demanding an explanation; the early childhood parent more worried about Sally being gently disciplined (because it will most likely damage her fragile sense of emerging self) than by the fact that Sally can't recognize her alphabet letters; Helicopter Parents.

That bane of childhood who have taken all the fun out of growing up: no more home-baked birthday treats (somebody might have a peanut allergy or somebody’s parent might use fatty oils and real sugar); no more bicycles without helmets (though we still have school buses without seatbelts, go figure); no more climbing trees and playing sword fight with sticks or eating dirt or exhausting oneself playing with the neighborhood kids till all hours; no more hopping fences. We want a well-packaged childhood; after all that’s what’s safest for the children (plus, they don’t ruin their baby UGG boots and Ralph Lauren, monogrammed backpacks).

When I look at the rules and regulations of today's pre-middle school set and the obsessive tendencies of parents even on the high school level, I wonder how my generation escaped childhood alive. I mean, for crying out loud, didn't my parents love me?! They let me carry a backpack loaded with books and didn't give me a wheeled suitcase to haul my things! I could be crippled or maimed! Are they going to pay my chiropractic bills? They didn't feed me organic everything ~ I actually ate Mac and Cheese made with (gulp) powdered cheese PRODUCT! I ate cookie dough batter made with (brace yourselves here) RAW EGGS! I could have high cholesterol or worse! Dangerous hoydens.

Lest you think we intend to raise Sydney with no rules or sense of safety ~ let me be clear to say that Leon and I fully own that the world is a "dangerous" place. We also appreciate the opportunity to make smart choices and protect our child in a world that largely feigns deep care for the young, but consistently creates systems that threaten them. (And I do love baby UGG boots … come on, seriously cute!) The point is not to be typically-American and pendulum swing 100% the other direction (I mean, after all we seem to live in a culture that absolutely refuses a moderate position on anything from politics to how I feed my baby) ... The point is, all this perfectionist parenting scares me just a little because I have a tendency to ... (I'm sure this will SHOCK most of you) people-please and push for perfection.

Seriously. The other day Leon and I got into a discussion about which language to introduce Syd to (in addition to English of course) from the start. I don't want a million toys, books and games with 15-different languages, so I want to pick just one. You know: Mandarin is all the rage but Spanish is so practical ... oh dear. Here we go ... Gen X parenting! STOP the madness.

I am slowly developing this theory about my generation as parents; we who graced TIME magazine as the apathetic generation; whose Boomer parents were criticized for leaving us to fend for ourselves as latchkey kids and ATARI addicts (and who, true to form really didn’t care all that much about the criticism). The result is … I think we are truly overcompensating.

You can almost hear the inner mantra: “WE won't raise our kids that way. WE will be involved parents. WE will make SURE people know how completely in tune we are with our child's every need. BE GONE peanut butter; BE GONE getting to know neighbor kids whose parents I don't know (and don't care to walk down the street to get to know ...); BE GONE childhood wildness!”

We'll see how Leon and I do once our little girl is here. Truth is; I was raised to be inventive and imaginative. Super-sized plastic Fischer Price kitchen that (as a friend recently wrote me) is larger than my living room? Who needs it! I loved building a clubhouse (and one very inventive time, a house boat!) out of large moving boxes. Crazy bike-like toy that attaches to my television so that my child can peddle like a mad gerbil in a cage and get some exercise? Go ride your bike outside! (Oh, wait … our neighborhood eschewed sidewalks for larger lawns … )

But maybe Sydney will want these things? Maybe she won't appreciate a mom and dad who tell her to play with sticks? Maybe she won’t want to lick the cake batter bowl because she learned about salmonella at school? Will we be able to provide our child with a sense of old-fashioned play and adventure and risk in a 2008 world of risk management, helmets and home-baking free classrooms?

I think we owe it to her to try ...

Then again ...

Maybe I am just inviting disaster. How does one say, "It's all fun and games ..." in Madarin anyway?

For more on this topic, check out Chris Mercogliano’s new book, In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids' Inner Wildness. [Click here] to read an interview.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

You Know You are an Ultrasound Junkie When ...

Each week, Leon and I visit the maternal fetal medicine unit at St. Joseph's hospital where we undergo a variety of tests. We have an ultrasound done and Syd is tested for biophysical indicators. It's a timed test, 30 minutes and once she passes her indicators, we just sort of watch her in there. Then, we move on for a stress test (which means I get strapped up to an external fetal monitor and they watch her heart rate and my contraction rate.)

The long and short is that we spend loads of time looking at, deciphering and enjoying our baby girl via ultrasound.

Yesterday, she met all of her indicators early in the test. So, the tech switched over the 3-D so we could enjoy those images. Here is one of the best ...

But, as you all know ~ ultrasound can be ... tricky to watch. You know the FRIENDS episode where Joey says (about Rachel's ultrasound DVD), "What is it?" to which Chandler responds, "I don't know, but I think it's about to attack the enterprise!" For all those out there who have pretended to see an arm when told it was there, who have mistaken their babies heads for their feet, and who wish we could have crystal clear imagery ~ we share this video from a recent SNL ...

Let me add a disclaimer that my wonderful hubby is NOT like the hubby in this video! Leon epitomizes support, encouragement and sensitivity. But ... even HE would love this technology ... and the NFL endorsement ... (If the video "sticks", be patient and let it buffer through once, then you can watch it again and it will play smoothly!)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Empty-ish Nesting ...

It's been another great week here at hospital camp! Experiencing our first week following the fall play, we had much more of a sense of relaxation and calm, which was really nice, actually. A successful doctor's visit on Wednesday revealed that we are holding steady ~ Sydney is doing wonderfully (she passed her biophysical tests with flying colors!) and so we continue to give thanks. I have learned to readjust my sense of "good news" and for now ~ no change is excellent news!

Leon is deep in nesting mode. What does this mean? Well, it means tackling projects that bring organization and structure to our home pre-Baby. Now, those of you who know us well are probably thinking, "How can Leon possibly BE more organized?"

Oh how little you know.

It is very possible.

First, Leon has completely revamped all of our major closet spaces (linen, etc.); he has totally reonovated the storage in the laundry room (something I have been hoping for for some time); today he is condensing his already uber-organized garage into even more convenient storage; and then he is starting on our basement [insert ominous music], which again many of you know has long needed organization. It's downright scary down there. I have long had a theory that we absolutely MUST bring order to the basement chaos. There is something symbolic about living a centered existence when your "lower levels" are a madhouse ~ so it will be exciting to see that space re-imagined!

This organization projecting is so important to him that he generated his own funding. He sold [gasp here] his very cool PSP with all of its games and movies.


Leon SOLD a video gaming item, which is clearly a sign of some sort of mental condition or impending fatherhood ... one of the two. Of course, he still has his super cool PS3, so life is not totally in a state of some unnatural chaos.

In general, we are pretty sure that this nesting is Leon's way to blow off steam and stress as we grapple with pregnancy challenges. For my part, I am spending time working (probably more than I ought, but for cryin' out loud ... I'm confined, with a laptop and a mind full of ideas for my work at LCMS ... it's rather exciting to be giving energy to that work right now) and in the evenings, I am cataloguing my acres of recipes ... loving to cook the way I do, I have piles of recipes and dog-eared magazines and clippings, etc. that need order. Order is a big thing for us right now. Might as well enjoy THAT while we can ;-) I've already designed the Thanksgiving menu and have planned out how I can use my allowed and alloted "stand up time" each day/week to accomplish prep for that (I love preparing for that meal; it's a completely special tradition for my Dad and I); and have started plotting Christmas presents/cards, etc. Go Jamesons!

OH, and I created a Meez (she's over in the right hand margin ...) who I can manipulate to be more active than I am allowed to be. Hehehe.

Other than that, we give thanks for a fresh week and more opportunity to pray for and "grow" our baby girl. Please continue to join us in those prayers!!

+Gret & Leon