Newborn Madness

Would you pierce your baby girl’s ears?

Sun Hat: Purple with white flower

I always wondered if I'd had a baby girl, would we get her ears pierced?

During my first pregnancy years ago, my husband and I talked about getting the baby’s ears pierced if the baby turned out to be a girl.

We disagreed.

He thought we should go ahead and do it soon after birth. He is from India, where babies’ ears are pierced very early.

He even approached it from a practical standpoint: she will likely have her ears pierced at some point in her life. Why not help her avoid the pain later and have it done for her when she’s a baby and too young to remember?

I argued that we should wait and let her pierce her ears at an “appropriate” age.

I had to wait until I was a teenager before my parents would let me pierce my ears. It was a grownup privilege, to be earned, in my parents’ way of thinking. Not the least because it’s a (mostly) permanent – and cosmetic – change you’re making to your body.

It was thought to be along the lines of wearing makeup, which was also a no-no until I reached a certain age.

Now that I’m actually a grownup, I can understand why they felt like that. I agree that it’s important to avoid focusing on physical aspects of beauty from too young an age, to give girls a chance to develop confidence and a sense of self that doesn’t rely on cosmetic enhancements.

But do earrings even qualify as something along those lines? What about cute girls’ clothing, then? Where would you even draw a line?

From a practical view, I worried about the baby’s clothing catching on the studs in her ears.

To be fair, I hadn’t done any research. I hadn’t really taken notice of babies with earrings or talked to other moms who had gone ahead and pierced their baby’s ears. I am mostly going on a gut feeling here.

Well, my husband and I never had to disagree for long – we now have two boys, so the question never came up again.

But I always wondered, what if we’d had a girl? Would we have ended up piercing her ears?

What about you? Did you pierce your baby’s ears?

Healthy Family & Home

Call in the fun – how to get your kid to do anything

Have you ever wanted your little boy or girl to do something so bad that you tried everything to get them to do it – but in the end just got nowhere?

I’m going to call this the “But you’re my mommy!” syndrome.

It strikes kids everywhere, from babies with wills of steel when it comes to how they want to eat (no bottles thank you very much!) to preschoolers who insist that you have to help them pull up their pants every time when you know they can do it themselves.

Rebelling against mom is just part of being a kid, possibly.

My son paired up with another little boy for his swimming lessons this summer. I thought for sure that sweet boy would be swimming after a few lessons, as he was so close when we started. But what do you know, he flat out refused to do everything the instructor asked him to do, ending most lessons in tears of refusal. His mom tried everything from encouraging and applauding to offering rewards and finally in desperation, threats.

Then when all seemed hopeless, dad stepped in and had him swimming the very next time they hit the pool!

When my sister visits us, she loves to take my son under her wing and teach him to do something new. Last year she had him gliding on his balance bike all over the community. This summer she took him to the pool every day she was here, and she had him swimming before his next lesson.

Perhaps part of the attraction of another person’s encouragement is that the pressure is off. After all, we mommies are constantly with our kids, urging them to do this and that. Suddenly fun things like practicing swimming become a chore.

There’s no sense in rebelling against a fun auntie or playful daddy.

Thanks to my sister goofing off in the water with headstands and summersaults, my son decided he wanted to try some tricks, too. In his excitement, he took a deep breath and launched himself into the water, floating face down over the steps for a count of 10. Then he was grabbing dive rings underwater. Then finally he was kicking and moving his arms and actually swimming. It all happened without trying.

It was fun and games – he didn’t know she had an agenda all along.

He might have been swimming eventually with my urging and encouragement, but it would have certainly taken a lot longer and would have been less fun.

I’m just glad when that growth happens, when he wants to do something new for himself. And if I have to call in some extra fun to make that happen, so be it. We all win in the end.

And it’s a good reminder for me to keep it light, too. Especially when I really want him to do something.

Preschooler Pandemonium

Your first day of preschool

It’s a huge day. Your little one is going to school for the first time. It’s the beginning of a formal education that may continue well into your child’s twenties.

That first day of preschool is full of meaning for us as parents.

It means your little boy or girl is growing up.

Someone else will be taking care of him and teaching him things for a large part of the day. It means he won’t need you quite as much as he once did.

It means she will have a chance to make friends on her own. She might be good at it, or she might not. But this first day of preschool means she will be attempting lots of new things – some will be met with success and some she will fail, at least the first time.

It’s hard to see our children take this big step towards independence. Until this day, we as parents have orchestrated their little days and nights as much as we could, attempting to expose them to experiences that would mold them into healthy, resilient, loving kids.

Now we let them out into the world to practice the things we’ve taught at home, and learn new things along the way, too.

The first day of preschool is not always pretty. It’s excruciating to watch your little girl crying on that first day. Perhaps even every day for the first week.

But take heart, parents. I stood side by side with other parents agonizing over their little boys’ and girls’ tears, as we watched through the blinds of the classroom out to the playground that first day.

A few parents cried. Some wondered if they’d made the right decision, if their children were really ready for preschool.

The teachers reassured us that the children would stop crying within 15 minutes, and then no longer cry at morning drop-off after a week.

It was hard to believe, standing there with your heart in your throat watching your little one bawling and trying to get back to the gate to run after you.

My son said one boy cried the entire morning. But then we saw that same boy at morning drop-off two weeks later, and he was running ahead of his mom to get to class!

At my son’s preschool, the teachers were affectionate and respectful of the children, carrying them if they needed a soft touch and using their names properly from even that first day.

As the first day of preschool draws near for you and your child, prepare your heart. Know that that day might not be easy, but such big steps rarely are. And even if your child is the one who cries the entire first week, she might be the one running ahead to get there faster a week or two later.

Preschooler Pandemonium

boys-and-video-games-should-we-be-worried

My almost-four-year-old son can’t wait to get home from preschool to practice tennis on the Wii. I tell myself that at least it’s a sport he’s playing, and not a shooting game. Albeit a virtual sport.

Our family really isn’t into video games. Still, golf and tennis on the Wii have become a daily bonding ritual for my husband and little boy. They keep score and compete, as boys need to do. My husband even practices after the little one is in bed! And my son practices while Daddy is at work.

With all the virtual fun they are having, should I be worried?

Dr. Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift, calls out video games as a factor contributing to the rampant lack of ambition among boys today.

He notes that the satisfaction of achievement without the real-world risk is helping create young men who would rather spend time in virtual reality than in real reality, and thus are lacking the drive required to succeed in real life. It’s part of the reason that “a third of men ages 22–34 are still living at home with their parents—about a 100 percent increase in the past twenty years”.

I can see just how it is addictive. My son watches as his score goes up, getting closer and closer to pro status. He feels like he’s really good at it, and that makes him proud.

A pediatrician who writes for The Daily Kos shares his observations from the 2,000 plus kids who pass through his pediatric practice. Nowadays half of the boys who come through his practice list their career aspiration to be in the video gaming industry.

He explains why this focus on video games is a problem for young kids in a follow-up comment to the original post:

“The largest problem inherent with video games and other forms of modern media is not so much what children are seeing, it is with what they are not doing, tethered for endless hours to their electronic gadgets and mesmerizing screens. They are not having conversations. They are not having family meals. They are not reading. They are not playing outside. They are not building, creating, or pretending. They are not taking time to just veg. And they are not getting to bed on time, or sleeping enough.”

As concerned parents, we are aiming for balance and a focus on physical sports. We make sure he plays with other toys and games, and we are probably not going to introduce other video games beyond sports themes.

My husband and I are hoping that our son’s interest in virtual tennis and golf will help fuel his interest in the real sports. After all he’s not even four yet, so for now, this is the version of the sports that he can do best. He has just gotten his own golf clubs and has started playing on the golf course with daddy. And for now, he prefers the real thing if given the choice.

However, when he gets a bit older and starts spending time at friends’ houses, I know it’s a possibility he could be drawn into circles that focus on video games.

We hope by then that his interest in real sports will help keep him on the real playing field.

What about you? Are video games a concern for you and your sons?