On A Serious Note: Pregnancy Loss

One of the hardest parts of my job is being aware of the shockingly high likelihood of pregnancy loss. I have seen so many women go through this, time and again, and it never gets easier. What stands out to me the most is the feeling of isolation that comes after. It is impossible to process on your own. There are no words that can sufficiently express your thoughts and feelings. How can anyone possibly understand what you’re going through?

I am sharing a post with you, written a very funny and brilliant woman, Jean Villepique. She just so happens to be my very first instructor ever at Second City. Improvisers generally have a unique take on life, and are able to take on any battle with humor, and guts. And I mean GUTS, like, chutzpah, balls, however you like to say it.

It is a wonderful read for anyone dealing with pregnancy loss, either personally, or with family and friends. I hope you can appreciate this post as much as I did. And please know that you are not alone.

In case you missed it, it’s right here.

Modern-day Parenting Is NOT In Crisis!

Does anyone remember this article from the Huffington Post?

5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting Is in Crisis, According to a British Nanny

I’ve hemmed and hawed about it, and I’ve decided to share a few of my thoughts in response.

Here’s the thing: I’m not about to throw a list of problems at you and not offer up solutions. Also, people need to understand that there is no one “correct” solution. Families are diverse. So instead of a laundry list of the things parents are doing wrong, I’m going to write something actually helpful.

1. A fear of our children.

Umm…what? Okay, let’s talk about the sippy-cup test. If your child is unhappy with the cup they are given, the way I see it, we have a few options.

The proactive:
• Buy all of the same color of sippy-cups – Problem solved.
• Ask the child what cup they would like before pouring – Hey, even I have a favorite cup. And I’m a grown up.
The reactive:
• Make the child wash the cup – If it were me, it would sound something like… “I’ve already dirtied this cup. If you want a different cup, you’ll need to wash this one out, because I don’t like having a bunch of dirty cups sitting around.”
• Say, “Sorry, I’ve already used this cup. You can have the other cup at dinner. Be sure to remind me.”
The reality:
• Parenting is hard. Work is draining. The world will not, I repeat WILL NOT, fall apart if you give your child the sippy-cup they ask for because you’re exhausted, and you’re trying to get out of the house, and you still have work to do, and you just want to get past this moment in time… Maybe you say something like. “Next time, please tell me before I pour.”
• Or maybe you say, “No.” Yes, it can be that simple.

I’ve just given you six options to this huge catastrophe that is ruining America. You’re welcome.

And by the way, if you need me to come up with more, I can, and I will. Go ahead, throw your circumstance at me. Okay, what’s next? Oh yes…

2. A lowered bar.

It’s not a lowered bar that’s the problem here. The problem is that we’ve adopted this mentality that our number one goal should be to raise obedient children. Umm…no, that’s not going to cut it. You’re supposed to be raising a functioning member of society.

Your children learn the behaviors that you model. No amount of barking commands at them will make them better people. Speak to them how you wish to be spoken to. If you want them to be generous, be generous yourself, every day. “Respect for elders?” No, respect for EVERYONE. Children deserve respect as much as anyone. Though, let me tell you, I know quite a few adults who don’t deserve any respect at all.

If you want your children to do chores…then do chores. See how that works? Modeling appropriate behavior is the way to go every time. If you can’t be responsible and respectful, why should your children have to?

3. We’ve lost the village.

Yay! This is a GOOD thing! Have you met most people? Do you honestly want any old person to impart their usually screwy ideas on to YOUR children? I should hope not. If you want to give child-discipline carte-blanche to anyone, make sure it’s someone who shares your values. Someone who is the kind of person you want your child to be. Someone who doesn’t still subscribe to the tired, old ways of punishing children, which have been proven to not work, over, and over, and over again. Positive guidance, that’s what you want. Only give carte-blanche to people whose only method of discipline is positive guidance.

I do agree that parents are too judgmental. But I have to tell you, it’s been my experience that it’s all lies when it comes to their own children. If you don’t believe me, go sit in on a parent discussion group at a Gymboree class. Or work in early intervention and do home visits…oy vey. Parents lie. If you are not yet a parent, be prepared, you will lie too one day. It happens not because of the desire to raise perfect children, but rather to raise children better than someone else’s, as if it’s a competition.

Good news! It’s not a competition. Development is not linear. All children have personality traits that are valued by society, even if they aren’t identical to other children. So, no worries.

4. A reliance on shortcuts.

The world is becoming more streamlined, not less. Technology is advancing, not retreating. Just because you didn’t have an iPad, doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t be allowed access to one. They are, after all, going to need to be more tech savvy that you can ever imagine right out of the gate. If you didn’t grow up with it, you don’t get it. But you need to. When it comes to technology, the better you are with it, the more meaningful the activities will be that you introduce to your child. YOUR skills will help your child use technology for some pretty amazing things, like publishing their first book at age four. I’m not kidding.

That said, there is a pretty simple solution, and that is to not introduce them to TV shows so early. Let’s be honest, all of the technology we let children use is somehow based around a TV show. I’d love it if we could just take commercialism out of childhood altogether. However, this is the world we live in. If your child watches the Backyardigans all day because you have a migraine…oh well.

If you want your children to be able to occupy their time with blocks or crayons, then give them opportunities to do so. I’m talking hours of free play, not the 15 minutes between ballet and soccer.

If you want your children to know where a good meal comes from, cook with them. Or don’t. If it will make you insane if your child drops flour all over the kitchen, then just don’t do it. Nobody needs that stress.

If you want your child to be curious about the world, and persistent in reaching goals…guess what? YOU have to be that way too! Do you see what’s happening here? Your children learn what you DO, not what you say.

5. Parents put their children’s needs ahead of their own.

I happen to agree with this one, but I see it as a lesson in boundary setting. Absolutely, you are not your child’s butler. Oh and by the way, you’re not ANYONE’S butler. Unless, of course, you ARE a butler, then never mind. But for most of you, remember, you’re teaching your children how to be functioning members of society. Boundaries are a HUGE part of being a functioning member of society!

If YOU have boundaries, then your children will learn how to set their own boundaries, AND to expect that other people have boundaries too. There is nothing wrong with saying no. What isn’t good is when we blame children.

Effective boundaries should sound something like, “Please speak to me in a kinder tone”, not “Don’t talk to me like that!” Do you see the difference? The first one is actually how you might want your child to handle someone who is being loud, or rude, or angry. The first one says, “Hey, I don’t like it when ANYONE speaks to me that way. Please stop.” (In fact you can add that in.) The second one has an air of “what the hell is wrong with you!?!” It immediately puts people on the defensive, yes even children can be defensive. It often leads to all out fighting. Again, nobody needs that stress.

If you remember that your boundaries are about how YOU expect to be treated (and hopefully how you treat others), and not about pointing out all of the inconveniences your child puts you through, you’ll do just fine.

Here’s the truth. These problem have been around since the dawn of man. Parenting hasn’t changed, the accessories have, the environment has. The next generation will have a whole “new” set of problems, and so will the next. It will never be perfectly balanced, and that’s okay. We’re trying to live in real life here, not in a book. Life throws curve balls, and people strike out all the time, yet life keeps going. As long as there are parents, there will be mistakes. None of which are likely to put an end to humanity all by themselves.

My number one parenting rule: No freaking out!

Look What’s Happening Here!

Potty Mouth Fundraising!

Optional

I talk to a lot of parents.  Every so often I say something that triggers a chain of thoughts that I have to share with everyone.  This is one of those thoughts.

Parenting is hard.  It is hard for everyone.  Some people think that wealthy families are better off because they can afford nannies.  I’m here to tell you that even most really well-paid nannies really aren’t all that great. So, get that idea out of your head. ALL parents struggle in many different ways.

As a parent, you don’t have to be perfect.  You only need to be present.  In fact, making mistakes is a really healthy way to parent.  Imagine raising children who aren’t afraid to make mistakes, and more importantly, aren’t afraid to admit to them. What a fucking concept. You can’t even believe the difference it makes in the way your child develops into an adult.  You’ve just got to trust me when I say this.

I don’t know how we got it into our heads that suddenly, we must know everything the minute we have a child, but this idea is utterly ridiculous. I didn’t know anything about plumbing when I moved into my first apartment, but I’ve learned some things since then.  When you work anywhere in the vicinity of children, you learn how to plunge a mean toilet, really fast.  And I imagine I have plenty more to learn. 

It’s OK to not know everything all at once. Here’s a clue, if you are asking the questions, you’re probably doing OK.  In fact, you’re already ahead of the game.  The first trick to good parenting is to wonder how badly you are fucking-up your child. If you have ever wondered this, congratulations! You are well on your way to being a great parent!

The second trick is to not worry about it so much. You can accomplish this by not listening to any bullshit some idiot is telling you just because they think they know your child better than you do.  This includes me.  Many people can offer-up some pretty useful general advice. But very few are going to understand the intricacies of your family dynamics, while at the same time, having a decent working knowledge of child development.  Again, this includes me.

In the past, people have accused me of being too “textbook.”  Umm…  I am probably the least traditional parent educator ever.  You know why? Because I cuss. I’m not kidding. I don’t give a shit, I will tell you the truth.  Sometimes the truth is, you gotta do what you gotta do. This means that hard and fast rules are really stupid when it comes to parenting.  Life happens in the gray area.  I don’t care how badly you want it to be black and white. It’s not, and never will be.  This is a good thing!  Because it means everybody is growing and learning together!

I should mention here that I don’t want anyone to blindly follow my advice. I think people should question everything. Developing parenting skills is like completing a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the clear blue sky.  I’ve been around the block more than a few times, and even I need to shake things up once in a while. What I’m saying is use the best information you have and remember, that like everything else, it is constantly changing.

And stop being so hard on yourself!  I mean it!  Sometimes the measure of a good day really is if everyone is still alive at the end of it. 

If you don’t love it, don’t buy it.

This is gonna be a quickie!

I have this really awesome friend in Chicago who was a boutique owner and absolutely fucking amazing at her job.  Man could she sell the shit outta some clothes!  And everybody loved her.  Well, I’m sure they still love her…but let me tell you why.

She never let anyone leave her store with something they weren’t absolutely in love with.  Clothes shopping is a real pain in the ass, I mean, does ANYONE enjoy it anymore?  Well, people loved shopping with my friend.  She would spend hours with people, and she knows how to dress a motherfucker too! You didn’t really have to do anything with her, SHE did the choosing, you did the trying on.  And when a customer let out an “eh”, or “I’m not sure.”  It was FUCK IT!  Back to the drawing board.  “If you don’t love it, don’t buy it.”  And believe me no one ever had buyers remorse, and she was friends with EVERYONE!

What does this have to do with parenting, you ask?  A lot.  Because there is A LOT of shit out there to try on in the form of parenting advice, and everyone has an opinion.  Most people don’t know that I absolutely HATE v-neck shirts, so if you throw me the most beautiful blouse in the world…and it has a v-neck…well, I don’t love it, so I’m not buying it.  That doesn’t mean I’m wrong, or that there isn’t a shirt for me, it just means that THAT shirt isn’t for me.

Parents, you need to take your child-rearing advice the same way.  Everybody is going to tell you some kind of way of doing some stupid shit that just feels all wrong and v-necky to you.  So hear me now, if you don’t love it, don’t buy it.  

 

Perfect Swaddle

Yay! Finally Baby Larry has arrived, and I can share my step-by-step swaddle instructions!

This swaddle uses two regular old receiving blankets, like the kind you can steal from the hospital. It doesn’t matter what size they are, or if they are even square.

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Fold the first blanket into something resembling a triangle, roughly the length of your baby.

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Fold the second blanket completely in half, and lay it on top of the first blanket about one inch higher.

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Lay your baby in the center with his/her shoulders about one inch above the top of the blankets.

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Fold one corner of the top blanket over one arm, and tuck under baby’s body.

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Wrap and tuck the other corner.
If your baby is small, one blanket is enough. But you can adjust this swaddle to fit your baby as he/she grows. You never need to buy fancy, expensive blankets.

For bigger babies:

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Wrap and tuck one corner of the bottom blanket.

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Repeat with the other corner.

There you go, the best fucking swaddle ever!

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Space is left around the neck and shoulders so that baby can’t get his/her head nestled into a pocket of blanket, and then start breathing only carbon dioxide.

The legs are left free so you never have to worry about hip dysplasia.

There is no age where you have to stop swaddling. If your baby rolls over WHILE SWADDLED, it’s time to stop. But I have seen 12 month olds who love to be swaddled and remain on their backs while swaddled, even though they’re perfectly capable of rolling over, and even walking.

So get yourself some cheap ass blankets and go to town!

People Are People

Get ready to have your mind blown…

What the hell is wrong with these idiots?

What the hell is wrong with these idiots?

Did you know that your kids are people?  Even your newborn is a person!  A whole entire person, albeit a small one, with a whole entire range of emotions and ideas!

Do you know how I know?  I mean besides all of that science mumbo-jumbo that gets thrown around (read Dr. John Medina).  I know because I was once a child.  Crazy.  I know.  I consider myself lucky to have very vivid memories going all the way back to toddlerhood.  If for no other reason than I can pull from them in order to help myself understand children.

The most prominent thing for me is my “inner voice”, you know, the thoughts you think, and the “voice” that narrates them.  I do a lot of thinking.  I remember doing a lot of thinking as a child.  Here’s the thing, that “voice” is the exact same voice I “heard” when I was an itty bitty.  That voice HAS NOT CHANGED in the least.  You know what this tells me?  It tells me that I’ve always been me.  That children are always the same person.  Of course, as grown-ups we know many of the changes that lie ahead, but kids don’t.  They can’t, because they learn through experience.  And frankly, how much experience can a three year-old have?

On my fourth birthday (which is Christmas Day, go me!) I got a baby buggy, like an old-school pram thingy.  I loved it!  I remember thinking something along the lines of: WHOA!  THIS SHIT IS TIGHT, YO!  I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.  Anyway, bonus for me, not only did I have a brand new, sweet-ass ride for my dolls… I.  WAS.  FOUR!  FOUR!!!  Come on people, go there with me.  HOLY SHIT!  I’M FUCKING FOUR YEARS OLD!  This is as old as I’ve EVER been!  I am CLEARLY fully grown, and I’m ready to take on the world!  Look out, bitchez!  I’m four, and I’m coming for you!

Do you remember being four?  Try.  Try to remember how you felt.  Hell, try to remember how you felt on any day when you were little.

Yes, having your birthday on Christmas blows.  But at least no one was concerned about safety back then, and I got to walk my happy, four-year-old ass two blocks down the street to my “Gramma Charlie’s” house (where we had family gatherings), IN the snow… WITH my awesome baby buggy… ALL BY MYSELF!  Actually, I walked it alone before I was four, and in all kinds of weather.  But GOD DAMN IT!  Today I’m FOUR!  FUCK YEAH!

Seriously, I tear-up remembering how happy I was to be four.  I wore THE BIGGEST smile while I was walking, all the while, absolutely BURSTING!  When I got to Gramma Charlie’s with my buggy, I announced to everyone, “I’M FOUR!”  And the grown-ups were all like, “that’s great”, “happy birthday”, and shit.  Obviously they had never been four, because this shit was off the chizz-ain!

The point here is that no matter how young, in your child’s mind, they are always the same person.  Think of who you are now, and then think about how you like to be treated.  That is all your children want…  To be treated like a person whose feelings matter, and whose thoughts are validated, and to be respected as an individual.  Trying to control children, dismissing them, thinking that this time while they’re little is just an obstacle to a time when they can do everything for themselves and your life will be so much easier – is a recipe for disaster.  This time DOES matter.  Every fucking day matters.  Not all people have memories going back so far, but even if you don’t remember being little… it still happened.  And it shaped who you are right this very minute.

Your kids are people, treat them as such.

And PS, now that you’re a parent, your life will never be easy again.  I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you this, but it’s true.  “Newborn” is as easy as it gets.  For the rest of your life you will lose sleep over, have your heart broken by, and worry about the safety of your children.  At least newborns can’t drive, say they hate you, or marry a total asshole.