Sounds just like my grandpa, who in the 1950s had a house full of teenagers

Last week, I posted this article written in 1959 on my Facebook page. It struck a nerve with a lot of people. 385 people shared it and 121 people liked it.

What are your thoughts?

teenagers

– Mama

Developmental Milestones and When It’s Time To Call The Doctor

Dear Brenda,

I have a three and a half year old boy. Since I can remember he bangs his head when he is awake or asleep. He doesn’t feel any pain, or so it seems. He doesn’t get angry when he does it. He is a very sweet child, but he has his way of doing things. He is very, very neat and precise for his age. He started mingling with other children in his class about 6 months ago. Both of my children are in half day in school.

Most of the times it doesn’t seem as if he understands me. If he hurts his sister, sometimes for no reason, and I talk to him firmly he just nods and continues to hurt her.

I’ve tried everything, talking, shouting, naughty corner, but nothing works. He’s going to ‘big’ school in a year and a half and I’m concerned that the teachers won’t understand him.

At the parent meeting his teacher told me that he is very advanced for his age, but he has strange ways, e.g.; when he’s playing with blocks, (and he wants to play alone) he first sorts all the colors together, then all the shapes. If anyone interferes he gets very upset.

If things go his way, he is very sociable.

Do I need to worry?

Dear Worrying Mom,

Watching our babies grow is what parents do. We want to know that their language, thinking, social and emotional skills are where they should be. What if they’re not? What if we notice something about our precious one that’s atypical? Well, what if. As a parent you need to follow through on your concerns. Here are some of the things that caught my attention.

Head banging. Our babies are used to a rocking motion while in the womb and will rock their bodies or bang their heads to soothe themselves. This behavior can occur when they are over or under stimulated, and it usually stops by four years old.

“Most of the times it doesn’t seem as if he understands me.” This caught my attention too. As did this, “If he hurts his sister, sometimes for no reason, and I talk to him firmly he just nods and continues to hurt her.” It makes me wonder if he is able to read the social and non verbal cues, for example, that crying might indicate that his sister is in pain, or if he can tell from Mommy’s face whether she is happy or sad. These are developmental milestones.

It would probably be best to bring the concerns you’ve written about here to the attention of your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will be able to rule out medical reasons for his behavior and then might be able to get to the bottom of some of these concerns. If there are any problems, it is better to start therapies earlier, as they would be more effective.

You’re a great mom. Be well.

– Brenda

Parenting Under the Influence – Mommy’s Time Out

I did it every night with my former partner. We did it with our friends and their kids too. We did it at every wine bar in a 10-mile radius. Every life moment was an occasion to turn our wineglasses up while we noshed on cheese or chocolate and talked about our divorces, our jobs, how freakin’ hard parenting was, the body count in Iraq, politics and AYSO soccer. It was a ritual. It was how we bonded and how we remembered who we were, before we were moms. Though we loved the joys that came with parenting, balancing was difficult and sometimes being a bit tipsy helped us walk the straight line of being a mom post Clair Huxtable.

So when I would come across the occasional book about Moms who sip wine and play dates that included martinis, I would chuckle and think no more of it than that, yes we were Moms, and yes we drank. Didn’t we deserve a moment?

Until this exchange:

“Hey babe, ready for your story? Wanna hear Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo?

“Mom?”

“Yes love?

“Your breath smells like wine.” We were snuggled in her twin bed, sharing her pillow, her head propped against my shoulder. Her feet were warm against mine and she smelled of Ivory soap.

“It does?”

“Yes, all the time.”

Then it became like a scene from “The Sixth Sense.” And there were these moments, it was as if I was sifting through her memory, and in each scene there was a bottle and a glass. Those are not the memories I want her to have.

‘Parenting Under the Influence’ has become this mommy jokey thing that’s actually kind of sad. It makes me wonder why we drink to cope? Shouldn’t we put down the bottle long enough to see what we can let go of? Shouldn’t we demand those moments we deserve from our significant others and not from a bottle of pinot grigio?

Do you parent under the influence?

– Aunt B

Sleepaway Camp and the Single Mom

“You’re gonna love it!”

We’re talking about sleepaway camp and the Tween isn’t totally convinced. I start singing camp songs and she looks up and raises an eyebrow. We are in our usual spots for the morning, I’m behind the stove cooking breakfast and she’s sitting at the counter with her nose in book.

“There’s campfire every night and you’ll sing songs and one night you’ll sleep in the meadows and—.” She cut me off.

“Are there boys there?”

“No boys,” I replied while I slid a fried egg around the pan and flipped it over.

“No computers, no TV, no iPods, no cell phones, no Nintendo DS players, just sunshine, fresh air and goofy camp fun.”

Sleepaway camp will provide the Tween with some much needed time away from me. She’ll develop her self-confidence and independence, and make friends outside of her community. She’ll do things that may seem a little bit scary, without me there. Mostly though, she’ll experience silliness at levels unknown to the outside world. From the pranks and campfire talent shows to the kum-bah-yah moments, camp is one long gigglefest and what kid doesn’t need a dose of that?

Can I really afford it? No. I can’t. But I can’t afford not to give her this experience either. What I found is that quite a few camps offer full or partial scholarships. You can use this website (http://www.summercamp.org/guidance/pamphlet.html) to help you determine if your child is ready for summer camp and which camp would be the best fit. I would also encourage you check out your local YMCA and Parks and Recreation departments as most offer a camping experience at affordable rates.
As the Tween ate her fried egg and toast, I sang reveille. “That’s what they play to wake you up in the morning!”

“Oh boy,” she turned the page of her book.

To be continued after the Tween returns from camp.

– Aunt B

Sex or violence? Which would you rather your child see?

Do you shield your child’s eyes whenever folks get all kissy on the screen? Do you do the same when someone pulls out a gun? Which freaks you out more?

When you see sexual images on the screen do you think of the over sexualization of women? Or do you worry about body images and self-esteem and what affect this might have on your son or daughter? Do you wonder how young minds are shaped by barrage of gunfire, flesh eating zombies and decapitations? What’s too much?

As a parent, part of our job is to act as a filter for our children. We want what’s appropriate for them, and it seems that we constantly have to figure out where those lines are, and know how our children perceive sex and violence.

While sex is explainable, people fall in love, they kiss, and affection is a sign of love. Here in America (and elsewhere I hear) sex sells everything, and I find the word “inappropriate” coming out of my mouth a lot.
I stumble when I try to explain violence. Yes, it’s okay to be angry. No, it’s not okay to kill someone just because you’re angry. And how do I explain gratuitous violence that’s just good for a laugh or video games that give points for killing people?

Why do we struggle with “Brokeback Mountain” and celebrate “Saw IV?” Why are we obsessed with what pop tart of the week is or isn’t wearing underwear and barely blink when our children gun each other down in the street.

Which freaks you out more when it comes to what your child is exposed to, sex or violence?

Chime in.

– Aunt B

Council of Dads take care of dying friend’s daughter

Parenting Moment #168 — Must I attend EVERY soccer game?

Weekends used to mean yard sales, pajamas until noon, Food Network, lazy days, spontaneous days. I am the proud mom of a little jock-ette and now weekends mean sports. The AYSO monster gobbles them, track swallows them whole leaving this single mom with very little to get the essentials done. I’m the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. I’m the mom, still in business attire, dragging her lawn chair down the field.

Now don’t get me wrong, while I was never athletic, I’m very happy my daughter is involved in sports. She loves the camaraderie, the competition and I love that she is having fun and getting exercise. She spent a weekend at her Dad’s house. I thought, mmm… slow morning, a little writing, some tea, I can skip this one… right? Ring!!!

“Hello?”

“B—are you coming to the game or what? The Tween-let is really upset that you’re not here.” Her Dad is whispering into the phone.
“Uhm—I hadn’t planned on it.”

“Well can you come? The game is about to start and she’s starting to cry.”

Geez!

According to the NY Times, Richard D. Ginsburg, co-author of “Whose Game Is It Anyway: A Guide to Helping Your Child Get the Most From Sports.” Dr. Ginsburg answers the question, “Should I go to all of my children’s games?” He replies:

This is a fascinating question because times are so different now. Our parents came to the games when they could. If they had a commitment, it wasn’t a big deal to miss the game. Now, many parents feel they are not good parents if they miss any of their children’s games. So what do our kids want?

Because I’m the top spot, I wonder if I really need to go to all of the games? Can I do a drop off, run the errands I need to run and come back? I wonder how other single parents do this? Do you drop everything? Or do you attend to your needs first?

– Aunt B

Parenting Moment #167

“B– When did your daughter start sleeping through the night?”

It’s Friday night and we’re at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, my daughter is the oldest there, a tween. The other children, a six-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy are being appropriately squirmy. My tween is reading a book. I glance at my watch.

“I’m still waiting, I haven’t had a full night of sleep since I was eight months pregnant.” Laughter floats around the table as we dip our imperial rolls in peanut sauce and the smell of curry hangs in the air. Even though we’re all laughing. It’s true.

At least once a month or so the Tween will wake several times a night, crying, unable to put herself back to sleep. Those nights are my worst parenting moments; let’s just say my patience is thin at 1am, 3am and 5am. What triggers those episodes? A bad dream usually. What she wants is to be soothed, for me to rub her back or cuddle, what I want is to sleep. She cries. I yell. It’s ugly.

According to the folks who study sleep for a living:

  • If your child wakes up with a nightmare, gently lay them down and say “go back to sleep, now”. It is very important not to try to talk much about it, because talking doesn’t work. Just soothe them however you usually do (for example, by gently stroking their hair or back) until they can relax and go back to sleep
  • .

Yep. That works at 1am, but by 3am and 5am, I’m d-o-n-e. Done.

In all of these episodes, the brass ring, what she’s reaching for is to sleep with the Mommy. For the sake of sleep do I let her? I know several parents who let their tweens sleep with them. That just doesn’t work for me. Or should I try to adjust?

What would you do?

– Aunt B

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