Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Am What I Am

Hi, my name is NoMo and I have a confession: I don't like to cook.

I don't like it. I don't derive any pleasure from doing it. In fact, it stresses me out. Timing everything so that it's all hot at the same time. But not too hot or it will burn the mouths of babes. Worrying if you're going to make people sick by undercooking the chicken. Worrying if you overcook the chicken that no one will eat it. Angry because you spent a lot of time making food and a certain somebody won't eat it because it's not grilled cheese. This is not fun for me.

I DO, however, love to bake. But you can't just bake goodies all the time. Brownies for breakfast, lunch and dinner is not cool. Especially when you have two little mouths to feed. (I'm pretty sure an all chocolate diet for kids is frowned upon. I'm not 100% positive though - I didn't read the handbook.)

I was reading Domestic Goddess Kgirl's post at Playdate about a working mother's meal planning, and I was just floored by how she's got her act together. I swear, one of the toughest things about going back to work is not rushing to get the kids out the door and to two different daycares, not rushing through a backlog of work, not rushing through lunch doing Christmas errands with less time than usual because you have to leave early, not rushing to get to two different daycares to pick up the kids and get them home before their mouths and there stomachs complain too loudly - it's that after all this, I then have to find something for dinner. And find it fast. This week I've foisted the dinner-making on Mr Earth, and have been much less stressed because of it.

This past year on mat leave, I have tried and tried to better myself in this arena. Once a week, I would make a healthy, balanced dinner from scratch. Not reheated, not defrosted, not from a can or a mix. From scratch. (And yes, I'm aware that once a week is abysmal, but remember, I am The UnChef). The boys and would go to the local markets and get fresh meat, fresh produce everything. I had some help from this awesome book that my friend at Random House sent me: The Good Food for Families cookbook. It's pretty great - it has lots of easy to follow recipes, advice about what to serve with the main dish, how to make the family meal kid-friendly and stuff about the Canada Food Guide. It's so user-friendly that I actually came to enjoy cooking a meal. The kids still didn't eat it, but oh well. The Boy doesn't venture far off the grains section of the Pyramid, and the Little Guy was just starting solids. I felt pretty good about myself. The quintessential Family Dinner. We even went around the table and shared our "three (favourite) things" of the day.

Needless to say, that has fallen by the wayside since going back to work. It actually fell by the wayside earlier than that, who am I kidding? And now that the Little Guy is turning out to be such an adventurous eater (beets! parsnips! salmon! bok choy!), I want to get some of that back. I feel so pressed for time, though. At the end of the day, I'm just happy if the four food groups re represented. I already spend so much of my evenings prepping for the next day so that I can get out the door and to work on time, if I add prepping a meal, I fear that I will lose any "me" time that I've scrounged for myself. Ack! Get out the world's smallest violins and play a sad song for me will you? Parenting is hard and I should suck it up.

Cooking is not my talent. No sir. I am good at many things, and that is not one of them. I need one of those doohickies from Star Trek where you just tell it what food you want and it appears. OH! That reminds me - something I AM good at: spotting the hotties. Get yourself on over to Playdate and see what Hollywood hotties made Mama Drama's list. You'll be surprised.

Monday, October 06, 2008

My in-laws are great, BUT..

...they're not always the most sensible people out there, ya know?

So they come over to our house for a visit on Saturday (and thank god they did because I swear it's the only way that my house gets cleaned), and they brought presents for the boys:


What's wrong with cookies, you ask? Well, these aren't just any cookies. These are Cookies, with a capital "C". Gourmet gingerbread cookies smothered in hard candy icing. Yummy! BUT. They're GINORMOUS. They are the size of a small child's head. No word of a lie. My mother-in-law (Mr Earth's stepmother) took the cookie meant for the Little Guy out of the bag and waved it in the baby's face saying "Look what I got for you!", and he backed away screaming and crying from the sheer size of it.

In fact, just so you don't think I'm exaggerating (because I do tend towards exaggeration on occasion, ahem), I photographed the Cookies in question with a tape measure for reference:

Then I photographed the boys with the same tape measure (please excuse the blurry photos - I get all shaky when I'm so close to baked goods that I'm not allowed to eat..):

They were trying to do something nice - which I appreciate, I do! - but no good can come from this situation. The Boy is THREE. Maybe your three-year-olds have more sense than mine does but he will:

A) Try to eat the whole thing - because it's his Cookie and he will not share - end up with a tummy ache, and start crying.

B) Have a flying fit because I broke off a small piece that he could eat now, saving the rest for another day, and start crying.

C) Spend the week asking what happened to the Cookie (I hid it), and telling me that Granny's going to be so sad because we *lost* the cookie (I ate it). He'll start crying, I'll commiserate. And later on I'll start crying because I have a tummy ache.

Any way you look at it, it ends in tears. And this is not the first time that they've done this.

And while it's highly unlikely that the Boy was going to actually get to eat that cookie (see above reasons), there is NO WAY the Little Guy was ever going to touch it. I have to assume that "the Little Guy's Cookie" was actually meant for my (um, OUR) consumption. Surely, surely, they don't think that he would be allowed to eat it...?

So now I have two cookies I have to eat. I could throw them out, but let's face it, I have no self-control. I wish I could convince Mr Earth's stepmother that books would be better objects of her shopping prowess.

I'd be a lot thinner.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

3 Going On 13

I thought it wouldn't happen quite so soon. I thought I had at least a few years grace. But it's official. The Boy hates me.

I get that kids go through Mummy-phases and Daddy-phases and it's completely natural, but holy crap it's hard to deal with. Especially because, in the moment, it does not feel like a phase at all. It just feels like complete and utter dislike. I can do no right.

Every morning starts out pleasantly enough. It's a fresh start. Today is the day that every will go smoothly. Then I do just one thing wrong. Just one little thing. Like not helping him with his socks right away. Like insisting he eat something other than bread. Like asking him to open his mouth so I can brush his teeth. Like making him cereal when he wanted toast. Like asking him to either walk or sit in the stroller (not sit on the curb and sulk). I am such a Bad Mother.

And then the screaming starts. And the crying. And the wailing. And the sulking. And the shouting.

"Stop being mean to me!"
(See: Bad Mother)

"You're not going to be my friend anymore!"
(Well, I'm still you're mom, and I love you. So there.)

"You're not coming to my birthday party!!"
(I got news for you, kid. If I'm not there, there IS no party.)

I only think those responses - well, except perhaps the last one - I don't say them out loud. But the constant screaming and insulting really grates on the nerves, you know? And then I start to lose my cool. And I am not nice. I scream back sometimes. I'm not proud of it. I want to stop. I want to get through one morning without the spewing of anger - from him or from me.

I'm supposed to be the adult here, but I am not doing my job well. Just call me "35 Going on 3".

Tomorrow's another day. Right?


Friday, September 26, 2008

Before and After

Today was interesting. The kids and I were playdating on the other side of town. After an early lunch, we took the kids to a little park close my friend's house. It was one that I'd never been to, but she and her kids frequent regularly. Her son's preschool uses the park as their outside space, and the nearby high school students find it a pleasant refuge. A group of boys were hanging out on the bench near the entrance, dishing the dirt. Another little grouping was enjoying the grass under a tree.

It was pristine. An empty cola can lay on the ground near the pergola but it looked awkward and out of place. The park was essentially empty, most kids undoubtedly home napping, but ours had decided that sleep was for the weak. So there we were. A fabulous play structure rested smack dab in the middle of newly laid sand. Bright fun toys were scattered about waiting to be investigated. The boys leapt out of the stroller. Heaven.

The lawn was freshly mown and bright green. The sky was refreshingly blue and the air was crisp. One lone tree blazed in it's autumnal glory. Somewhere off in the distance, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace. I remarked to my friend that it had a melancholy effect, like something grand was coming to an end. We trundled the babies around in the back seats of our strollers, hoping that they would fall asleep.

We stopped momentarily and noticed him at the same time. A willowy young man with thin dark hair and skin the colour of thai iced tea. He was wearing nylon athletic pants and a light jacket. Nondescript. He walked silently, seeming to glide across the grass. We were both looking at him and he turned his head and smiled at us. It was meant to be a smile at least, but it reminded me of The Gentlemen from Buffy's Hush. My hackles raised. We kept walking the babies in a circle.

The young man walked to the far corner of the park and began to undress. Not undress, redress. He was changing into women's clothes. We half-watched in amazement, not sure where to look. Then he started walking around. No, gliding around, like a geisha practicing her walk. Unsure. He did this for a while.

We tensed, waiting to see what would happen, but nothing did. We questioned the kids in the park to see if they came there often, and whether they had seen him before. They did, but they had not. We were prepared to protect the kids if necessary. The boys on the bench valiantly offered to take him to task if he came after them. But all he did was quietly put his masculine clothing back on, and slink away in the direction from which he came. He didn't take the women's clothes with him. Upon investigation, it seems he had a box for them stowed amongst the trees.

The kids played on, oblivious. My friend and I wondered what, if anything, we should do. He didn't do anything. As far as we know, all he wanted was an audience for his actions. And he wanted an audience. He may have been furtive, but he did nothing to hide his actions. Not even the transformation from before to after. We have no indication that he would harm anyone. But the potential is there.

Four years ago, I would have found this incident merely interesting, possibly humourous. Part of the reason that I love the city, and want to stay here, is that I want my children to grow up with a wide array of cultural experiences. I want them to be safe, but not sheltered. I want them to learn that all people, no matter what race, gender or sexual orientation are worthy of the same consideration. I think living in a big city is a good way to do this.

Today, I am a little ashamed that upon seeing someone who for all I know is completely harmless, my first thought is of the potential danger to my kids. It's a survival instinct, but that doesn't necessarily make it right.

It's a fine line between protection and exposure. This parenting thing is hard.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Parenting or Personality?

We were out at the No Frills not too long ago, shopping for some last minute dinner (PC Butter Chicken, if you're The Boy, eschewing the stroller, was running around ankle-biter style, endlessly commenting on the things in the store and asking repeatedly for chocolate. The lady behind us in line smiled and remarked on how happy and well-behaved the Boy seemed to be. I didn't hear the comment exactly because I was off somewhere wrangling one of the kids - I can't remember which but does it really matter? My current occupation is Kid Wrangler Extraordinaire, and if I'm not with one kid, then I'm with the other. Let's move on to my point. Mr Earth replied that "Yes, we're very lucky". To which, the lady answered:

"Oh no, it's not luck, it's the parenting."

At first I thought that it was a lovely compliment, and I was quite flattered. Ever since then, though, I've been mulling it over in my head and wondering if it really is our parenting that has created the Boy, or whether the Boy is simply a good-natured, (mostly) easygoing kid.

Before you start thinking that this is a braggy bragamondo post, I've had people describe the Boy as a "handful" (yeah, that waiter didn't get a tip, nosiree..) and I've had my fair share of disdainful looks while the Boy is full out tantruming (is that a word?) in his stroller. Screaming. At. The. Top. Of. His. Lungs. Usually because I turned left when he wanted to go right, or brought fishy crackers when he wanted bunny ones.

You see, I don't think we've done anything especially wonderful and ground-breaking as parents. Just tried to be there for him, play with him, talk to him and treat him like a person. And try not to scream too much, even when we're tired. And we're tired too much. I'd like to believe that all the Parenting books I've read have shaped me into SuperMom, but the reality is that I read those books and think "What a great idea!", try to incorporate the idea into our lives, but my mind is a sieve, and great ideas go out the window when I'm tired and someone is screaming. Or I'm tired. Wait, I think I said that already..

Whatever we did right with the Boy, is something I'd like to repeat with the Little Guy. I'd like him to fool people into thinking he's well behaved too. Heh, heh. But how can we do that when we didn't "do" anything? Or worse, how can we do anything at all if personality is the the key, and not parenting?

Mostly I'm an average parent. A lot of times, I'm rather poor. Sometimes, I have moments of brilliance. Those moments, though, are few and far between.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

I was reading a post over at Metro Mama's and realized that she is absolutely right. We moms are all really good at sharing our angst and shortcomings, but it's not often - or, more importantly, not often enough - that we share the good things. She was talking specifically about laughs and poems in this instance, but since I'm fresh outta laughs, I thought the least that I could do is share with you some of the ways that I AM a good parent, despite all my protests to the contrary:

  1. When I'm with the Boy, I am WITH him. Present. I don't blog, watch tv, talk on the phone (except when absolutely unavoidable), or read. I may not be there all day, but the time I have with him is quality time.
  2. I stick to a firm-but-flexible schedule. The Boy knows what to expect of his day, and we avoid a lot of tantrums by keeping naps and bedtimes predictable.
  3. I always look for opportunities to give the Boy a choice. I keep it to choices he can make: a choice of two dinners, a choice of two shirts. I think it gives him a sense of independence.
  4. I rarely leave the house without everything we could ever need for every possible scenario. I'm an ultra-planner that way.
  5. The Boy's comfort and happiness is foremost in my thoughts. I actually sit at my desk at work and worry whether I've dressed him properly for the day, and plan days together to make sure that he gets a nice mix of indoor and outdoor time.
  6. I can make the Boy smile or laugh just by looking at him funny.
  7. I've managed to raise a generally sunny and upbeat Boy who narrates his life like a Young Driver's of Canada running commentary, but set to music. You'll often hear little songs floating around our house like: "I sitting on a chair now! I sitting on a chai-air!"

I think seven is a good number, so I'm going to stop there. What I would like to know, though, is how do you think you're a good mother?? I know you all are, or I wouldn't be reading your blogs every day. As with Metro, I like to surround myself by stronger players.

And, since it's against my nature to be a total Little-Miss-Sunshine without any clouds whatsoever, why don't you skip over to Mommy Blogs Toronto and read my latest post on a rather embarassing failure from my theatre school days? It's a doozy. Fun times.

Monday, April 16, 2007


If you were going crazy, would you know it?

The thing is, I've been thinking about fear a lot lately. I could claim that it's a result of studying Gothic Horror fiction for the past few months, but I really don't think that's it. You see, a while back - I don't know how long, but it's less than a year, I witnessed something horrifying. Mr Earth, the Boy and I were taking the subway downtown, although I can't recall why. I was on the pay phone getting information about a book I had on hold, and Mr Earth was off to the side entertaining the Boy in his stroller. I was facing the escalator that we would be going down as soon as I got off the phone. I watched as a frail little old lady stepped onto the escalator. I watched as the lady went head first down the escalator. I listened to the descending cry of "ahhhhh!" as she fell to the bottom. If it had been a cartoon, I would have laughed, but it wasn't. It was real. It was surreal. I didn't know what to do and I froze. I sent Mr Earth down the stairs to see if she was okay, while I stayed with the Boy. I would have called an ambulance, but the TTC workers had already done it. Turns out that she got up and actually walked to a bench to wait for the ambulance. I was shocked because I was sure that result would have been different. It's been a long time since this happened, and I can still hear the sound of her scream.

Now, I see accidents everywhere. I'm afraid to walk down the stairs with the Boy in my arms because I think I'm going to fall. I'm afraid to drive with the Boy in the car, in case I get into an accident. I'm afraid to let the Boy anywhere near stairs, or ramps, or especially uneven ground. My heart clenches whenever we have to take the stroller on the subway. If the Boy is standing on the couch, I want him to get down so he won't fall and hit the coffee table. If he jumps on the bed, I think he's going to land on the floor. I could go on, but why? It's awful.

I don't stop him from doing anything. I still carry him down the stairs. We've driven on the highway to see my parents. We go places on the subway all the time. I do let him run and jump and climb. But there I am in the background: hovering, warning, cringing. I get so tense that I give myself headaches and my heart races. I don't want to be that kind of over-protective mum - the one that never lets their kids do anything fun. It's funny too, because I'm incredibly lenient about things that other moms are horrified at. The Boy has eaten whole grapes since he started on solids (I tried cutting them up, but he would have none of it). He has eaten food that has fallen on the floor. He spent the majority of his first year sleeping in strollers or mini-matinée theatres. We don't stay home every time I think he has a cold.

I guess what I'm most worried about is the possibility that this fear has nothing do with what happened on the subway that day. If it was, it would go away in time. I worry that the fear was always in me, and that day at the subway was just the catalyst. What I don't want is to raise a Boy who afraid. He doesn't deserve that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Good Morning Sunshine!

Don't know how your day started, but here's a brief glimpse into mine...

Nomo: I'm hungry. Do you want cereal for breakfast?
Boy: Don't wanna cereal. WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
Nomo: Ok ok, how about some toast?
Boy: (Pause) Sniff. Yeah.
Nomo: Ok, toast. Let's put your Mr. Froggy bib on.
Boy: Don't wanna froggie bib. WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
Nomo: You have to wear the bib.
Nomo: Do you want butter on your toast?
Nomo: Alrighty then. Why don't we put butter on it just the way you like?
Nomo: Here's your toast.
Boy: No wanna toast. WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
Nomo: Ok, I'll just sit here and eat cereal then, because that's what I want to eat.

Do you notice a pattern in this conversation? I thought so. To which pattern were you referring: the incessant crying, or my mounting frustration? Enter the Terrible Two. I've done all the reading, I know that toddlers have difficulty communicating and this results in tantrums. I know that you should keep them safe and let them have their cry. I know that you should offer choices so that they feel more in control. Sage advice. But what do you do when the tantrums make you consistently late for work? What do you do when you offer a choice, the Boy chooses neither, so you choose and he loses it? How does this very wise advice play out in real live situations? Or, what, for the love of God, am I doing wrong??

I'm afraid that this conversations paints a poor picture of the Boy. He really is the funniest, quirkiest, most congenial little boy I know. (I'm not biased, of course..). Unless, however, you do something he does not like, or ask him to do something he doesn't want to do. Or offer him a food that displeases him. Then he goes from zero to scream in .5 seconds. And all hell breaks loose.

I know, I know - I should be grateful that I have such an easy-going child the majority of the time. Believe me, I am. I get down on my knees every day and thank whatever gods are listening that such a high-strung person, like myself, should have such a good-natured child, like the Boy. But I would argue that it is precisely this easy nature which makes me wholly unprepared for when Mr. Hyde makes his appearance. I fluster. I flounder. I flop. I lose my cool. And I was not cool to begin with.

It doesn't help that we're both a bit under the weather. (That's not the reason for the breakdown of communication, but it's a factor.) It doesn't help that I've, characteristically, bitten off more than I can chew with this whole school thing and I'm freaking out about the work that must be done in the next three weeks. (This is totally not his fault, it's mine. I try not to let it affect my relations with the Boy, but I can't seem to separate it. Poor Boy.) It most certainly doesn't help that I feel like I'm hanging by a thread.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

This is the Moment

This morning, I was making my way through the milling rush-hour crowds that the Yonge & Bloor subway station - late as usual. I honestly don't know how working mothers get to work on time. It's a skill that I have yet to master, and it's been a year. Anyways, I was stuck behind this tall guy wearing a furry hooded jacket who was walking v e r y s l o w l y, feeling very much like Princess Leia behind the Wookie. (I know I'm showing my age with that reference, but that quote still cracks me up: "Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?". Hee, hee!). Turns out this guy was walking so sluggishly because he was busy checking his IPod. Not only is this a pet peeve of mine, but there are few better ways to set off my already fractious morning temperament. I think that people should focus on the task at hand. I'm all for "stopping to smell the flowers", but you're more likely to hear me say "walk like you have a purpose". You can stop and smell the flowers when you get there.

After my temper cooled a bit, I stopped to review. Why was I so angry? Why does it bother me when people put on makeup while driving, read books while walking, or talk on the phone when they're in the loo? I am a multi-tasker at heart, it's part of what makes me who I am. How can I criticize others when I'm not happy unless I'm doing seven things at once? In fact, much to my dismay, I've come to the realization that I'm guilty of multi-tasking when I'm with the Boy.

Last night, I was pretty much at the end of my rope. I had a bad day. I got through the Boy falling and hitting his face on the corner of the table, struggling through the snowstorm with the stroller, angry people yelling at me at work, and my boss interrupting a client call to tell me that I was wrong. I had had enough. The thought of picking up the Boy should have filled me with excitement, but instead I was dreading the energy I would have to spend entertaining a toddler for the next few hours. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and sleep. For a few days. The only way that I could get through that time was to do other tasks simultaneously. It calmed me to know that once the Boy was in bed, I could just crash, instead of doing the multitude of tasks that I do on a regular basis. He watched while I shovelled snow. He ate dinner while I did dishes, he stuck stickers on his shirt while I got things ready for bed. I was not being the best mother I could be. But what hurts the most is not what happened last night. I did what I had to do to get by. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not ashamed. What I am ashamed of is that I do things like this on a regular basis. It's so easy to make phone calls while the Boy is playing. To fold laundry. To check emails. To check blogger comments. To not be there for the Boy. To not be in his world. To not be in the moment.

Now, I don't think that you have to "be there" every moment of every day. Especially not if you're a SAHM who is there all day long. Kids need to learn to play independently. They also need to learn that while it might be fun to play all day, that there are chores to be done that are necessary to make home life run smoothly. But I'm not a SAHM and my time with the Boy is even more precious. Do I use that time to focus exclusively on the Boy, or do I continue on my day as if I was there with him all day long? Is there a happy medium? I'm not sure. For me, it's kind of a slippery slope. I'm either completely Boy-focused, or I do one little thing. And then another. And then another.

I think that I need to realize that this is the moment. Every moment that I let slip away is not going to come back. And these are the moments worth living for. The moments to be proud of when the day is done. I should listen to my lovely little Boy whose new sentences include "Mummy play a bit" and "No, sit awhile." Or, to quote Mr Earth's favourite composer, William Finn, "The living was the prize. The ending's not the story."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Baby, it's COLD outside...

I had a long talk with yesterday with one of the teachers at the Boy's daycare. Apparently, the Boy doesn't like the cold. This wasn't altogether revelatory news to me. I mean, who really likes the cold? After all, we live in Toronto, a place where they call in the army to deal with a snowstorm...I digress.

The Boy REALLY doesn't like the cold. The toddlers go outside for two one-hour blocks each day, weather permitting. The teacher said that the Boy won't play, he just sits down and cries, asks to be held for the whole hour, or asks to go back inside. Aside from my heart breaking at the rather pathetic scene playing out in my head, I recognized that I really don't know what to do about this situation.

Mr Earth and I are no toboggan-lovin', snowshoein' winterbabies, but we certainly don't hate the cold. In fact, as long as I'm properly dressed, I like to run in the winter more than any other time of year. We take the Boy outside at least once a day, regardless of the weather - usually for a walk in the stroller. Bub and Pie wrote recently about the ordeals and rewards of going outside and admittedly, we haven't really taken the Boy outside to actually play. This is in part due to our aversion to snow play, but mainly it's because I don't think the Boy would have a good time. I think he would:

A) Not play, and ask to be held the whole time.

B) Not play, cry and ask to go inside.

C) Not wear his mittens, and end up with frostbite.

Sound familiar? So, the question is: How do you get a two year old who doesn't like the cold, to enjoy playing outside? You can't reason with him, because he doesn't understand. I can't dress him any warmer than I already do (if his snowsuit was white, he would actually be the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Baby). I can't take off layers, thereby giving him the mobility that I know he craves, because he would be too cold. I don't want to force him to spend time outside, because he would more likely see it as a punishment than an attempt at fun.

If it were left to me, I would probably let it go, wait for summer, and hope that he likes winter more next year. However, it becomes an issue when he is the only kid at daycare who doesn't want to go outside. That's a problem that must be dealt with. So tell all your kids like the cold? Have they always liked it, or did you have to convince them? What's your secret?? I am at a loss.

Monday, January 22, 2007

TV My Friend

What I have to say may shock you. It sure as heck shocked me. I don't think TV is all that bad for kids. Now before everyone gets up on their soapboxes and pulls out the virtual tomatoes, please let me assure you that I have done my homework. I have read all the studies that children under two should not watch television at all and children over two should only watch very limited amounts. I agree with the studies, and I certainly don't dismiss their findings. Still, for some reason that I can't figure out, I don't feel that TV is the enemy. The Boy just turned two last weekend, and he certainly falls into the age category of children who should not be watching TV. I would be lying if I said that he didn't.

We haven't gone whole hog, here. The Boy is in fulltime daycare, so he doesn't watch it then. But every morning when I wake him up, we take a sippy cup of milk into the computer room, sit down on the bed, say hi to Patty from Kids CBC and watch about twenty minutes of Arthur, Pinky Dinky-Doo, or Go, Diego, Go. It's a nice, relaxing way to greet the day. Sometimes The Boy watches the whole time. Sometimes we read a couple of books from the ever-present pile on the bed. Sometimes The Boy just explores the piles of "storage" in the room.

Often, after dinner, The Boy will ask to go downstairs and watch Treehouse. I don't like to make a habit out of it, but the reality is that from 6:30pm till bathtime at 7pm, Treehouse is often a part of our evenings. I know that the time could be better spent playing, but after a full day of work, a half hour trek from the daycare where we're singing songs and pointing out signs, after making dinner together and sitting down to eat and talk, sometimes, I'm just plain tired. And sometimes, I think the Boy is just plain "played out". Wouldn't you be after a manic day of play at daycare? That's hard work! I think that it's okay to just chill out. Maybe veg a little. And when I feel that it's getting to be too much of a pattern, I just tell the Boy that Treehouse is sleeping because it is very tired, and we should find something else to do. The Boy seems to accept this as natural. It won't work forever, I realize, but it does for now.

The Boy is not glued to the TV by any means. He'll watch a bit, then go play, then come back and watch whenever he hears a song. I don't use TV as a babysitter, but rather as another activity. When we watch TV, we watch it together. We learn Spanish with Diego, and answer his many loud questions. We parrot motions with Four Square. We sing along with Hi-Five. We learn to jump with Grover. We talk about what's happening. I try to make our TV watching as active and interactive as possible.

Our TV watching does have limits. We don't watch TV with commercials. We try not to watch between 8am and 6:30pm on the weekends, although I have broken that rule on occasion. (That rule goes to pot when the Boy is sick..) Once the Boy is aware of the concept of time, he will be limited to one hour of approved TV per day (with special exception for "Mommy Movie Days" when we go out to movies just the two of us..I can't wait for that!). There will never be a TV in his room, no matter how much he begs and pleads. To show my commitment to that, there is not even a TV in our bedroom, and never will be.

I also try counter this habit with a print and imagination rich environment. In Casa Earth, books abound. In fact, they run rampant. They are literally falling out of bookshelves. I think the Boy has almost as many as his parents, and we are avid readers. Magnetic letters crowd the fridge door. We point out city signs on walks. We visit the library. For toys, we eschew the battery-operated for the imaginative. The Boy's current faves are a drawer full of spoons for "digging snow", the vintage Little People castle with the trapdoor and secret rooms, and the Little People garage with the slide and elevator. (I tried to get the vintage one, that doesn't make gas and phone sounds, but got outbid on Ebay). But I digress, and now I sound like I'm justifying my actions. Maybe I am.

My point is, I realize that many people have very strong opinions about this subject. I do too, but right now, I'm just trying to go with the flow, and do what works for us. I really hope that I haven't "ruined his future" and "destroyed his brain", because, well...that's gonna suck. I guess I'm gonna have to deal with that later. I don't purport to be an expert on anything, especially motherhood. Mostly, I'm just trying to make it through the day with my love for The Boy (and my sanity!) intact. Is that so wrong?