Category Archives: Parenting/Children

Game Night Dinner

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Navigating the social world with a different idea in food, while not having tons of time to cook and prepare the healthy alternative is definitely challenging. Going to a Game Night on Friday, and the organizer proposed that we should be there by 6:30 because we’ll have “snacks” and therefore didn’t need to eat dinner before. “Snacks are not dinners!” I couldn’t help protest. “Well, if you bring substantial snacks…I’m bringing stuffed mushroom…” Someone else suggested Pig-in-the-Blanket. Um…I put more vegetables, leafy greens, as well as non-processed food in front of my child at meal time. We’ll be eating beforehand for sure. I guess I’m just an uptight Mom. I don’t expect to break friendships because of food preferences. On the other hand, I’m seeing more needs for me to be vocal about my beliefs in healthy eating. Ideas certainly don’t get communicated by osmosis.

Now the interesting question is what will I bring to the party… Something I’ll have time to make, and that at the same time also doesn’t deviate from the nutrient-rich food I advocate… And then after that I have to prepare for a Sunday lunch. Thinking, thinking, thinking…

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I guess there are a lot of mothers who stay home…

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It seems only not so very long ago that I was making heart wrenching choices of choosing daycares, and suddenly I realize it’s time to start thinking about kindergarten for next fall. I find myself browsing our city’s public school website and gasping – the school only goes until when???!!!! Don’t other parents need to work too? What do they mean the the morning class switches with the afternoon class in the January? After-school program? Huh? She’s only going to be in kindergarten.

Thinking back, I really was blessed. I started going to kindergarten at three. In Taiwan, the kindergarten had the “small” class, the “middle” class, and the “big” class. The names of the classes had nothing to do with the size of the classes, but the age of the children (as I sadly found out one morning after my mother had told me that I was old enough to go to the “big” class). So, instead of going to preschools for 2 years, and then kindergarten for 1 year, as in the US, the preschool and the kindergarten were combined into “kindergarten”. Every morning the bus would pick me up from the gate of the elementary school where both my parents taught, and then in the afternoon the bus would drop me off at the same spot. After drop off, I would simply go inside to my mother’s or my father’s class, and went home with them.

My two younger sisters didn’t go to kindergarten at all. That’s where my grandmas came in. Each of my amahs took care of one of my sisters, and neither of my sisters went to any kind of school until first grade. I never thought about this before, but now I wonder what other parents did. Certainly not everyone was as lucky as my parents to have a job where the kids can go hang out at their work. Although, I think there were an abundance of amahs who were more than willing, eager even, to take care of their grandkids. I think this child care model is akin to the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child”. As a year 2009 mom living in a first world country, I really don’t see a “village”. I see a society that has more wealth than ever, and yet even a basic need such as child care is a challenge to be “worked out”.

When I Bring Out the Scare Tactics…

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“Let me wipe off that purple stain on your lips.”

“No, I want to see it in the mirror first.”

“You know, Sweetie, you could learn to be more cooperative when Mommy or Daddy tries to help you, rather than always being so opinionated.”

“I want to see it in the mirror first.”

“…that means sometimes you could just do what Mommy or Daddy says when Mommy or Daddy tries to help you.”

“What if I am in a hole in the ground?”

“Excellent example.  Say if you’re in a hole in the ground and Mommy drops down a rope and asks you to hold on to the rope, so Mommy can pull you out, and you say, ‘No, I don’t like holding on to a rope!’  That wouldn’t be very helpful, would it?”

“Maybe you should find a ladder instead.”

“Umm…no, a ladder wouldn’t work because it would take too long to find one, and if a big bear comes and tries to eat you up that wouldn’t be very good.”

Dirt, Germs, and Everything Gross

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“I was watching a PBS series on Yellow Fever,” said my husband. “I’m sorry I forgot to tell you, since you’re interested in infectious diseases and all.”

I took a semester-year long of a biology class on “Infectious Diseases” many many years ago, and for a while the conversations between my then boyfriend and I were peppered with “Heptitus B” and “blood feeding bacteria”, etc. Ever since then I was proclaimed the “expert” of infectious diseases in our family and with our circle of friends.

It’s true that I won’t kiss my husband (or anyone for that matter) after his face has been slobbered by his parents’ dog, and I insist on handwashing after petting any animals, house cleaning, diaper changing, using the toilet, riding the subway, coming home from work, and before meals.

But all our hygienic practices started to fall apart as soon as my daughter started to crawl. Every speck of dropped crumb, dust bunny, utensil, she’d pick up and thrust into her mouth without the learned hesitation grownups have. Anything except food.

After she witnessed us cleaning with static wipes and brooms, she started helping us on that front. Picking up a piece of tissue paper, she’d first wipe her own face, then hands, then floor, then baseboard, then desks and all the remaining surfaces. Then, she would bring out the broom and hand it to one of us, and then sit in the dust pan.

Lately though she’d point at a piece of lint or hair on the floor and yell excitedly. At first I couldn’t figure out where she picked up the “new learning”, until one day I thought she picked up a dead bug, and while I jerked it off her hand, I shrieked involuntarily for fear she’d put that into her mouth. Then I thought, “Oh.”

The pediatrician told us this is a good time to start fostering good habits, like brushing her teeth and washing behind the ears. So far we’ve been able to coax her to open her mouth as long as we use the Grins and Giggles toothpaste and not the other kind that she didn’t like. And after she allowed us to brush her teeth, she demanded to hold the tooth brush to practice on her own, which then led to my husband and I falling over each other trying to keep her from also brushing the toilet seat, diaper pail, floor, and the radiator.

From the trend of things, it really wasn’t terribly surprising yesterday when, during laundry sorting, we turned around to find her wearing a big boxer on her head. I think she’s building her immunity.

Left Out of the Dollhouses

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Researchers at Yale Child Study Center reported that preschoolers (ages 3 and 4) have a more than 3 times higher expulsion rate than their K-12 elders. (Note: Direct transfer to other schools or programs didn’t count as an expulsion in the study.) I had no idea preschools institute expulsions. Somewhere between training the kids to use a potty to teaching them the words to Lamb Chop’s Sing-Alongs, the teachers had gone bald from tearing her hair out and had to tell the parents, “I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Smith, your child is out of control, and we can’t have him in this school anymore for other children’s sake.”

“Is there any other school who would have the resources to deal with free spirits like our Bobalah?”

“Ha, good luck! Er…maybe at a school where the teachers have access to a child psychologist down the hall whom the teachers can send the child to instead of having to come up with creative and effective disciplinary techniques without spanking the kid.”

Not that I have any reason to worry about my daughter M, whose defiance and tantrums are all well within socially acceptable limits. But coming from a family of teachers and with both my parents being elementary school teachers at one point, I’m quite familiar with the antics a child can raise, and of which the parents invariably begged my parents, the teachers, “Please, teacher, do some parenting for us.”

“What do you do when your child break rules at home?”

“We send him to his room.”

“And what does he do in his room?

“He plays his Professional Wrestling Tournament video game.”

“Have you tried taking his video game away?”

“Oh, but he wouldn’t like it. He kicks and screams until we put it back where it was.”

“So, how can I help you?”

“Discipline. Hard core, tough love discipline. We beg you, teacher. We’re relying on you to help him to grow up into a law-abiding citizen.”

See here for the actual text of the paper published by the researchers.

Jingle Bells! You know…Ho Ho Ho and Presents for Pretty Girls!

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My husband’s birthday is coming up. And since my own birthday is in the same month and following his, I have to make his extra special so he has a proper model to follow in preparing for MY birthday. He already told me that it’s very cheesy to give him the 4 DVDs that we have to buy by the end of this month in order to fullfill our DVD club obligations. And for the cake, dare I repeat the once a year tradition of making THE JOY of COOKING German chocolate cake with a 1 1/2 -year-old who’s ready to dip her hands into the incredibly gooey mix that Mommy is stirring? Oh, yes, she’d want to hold the mixer, too. And to get a better view of it all, climbing onto a chair and standing up with hands in the air like a trapeze artist is a must. What’s more she’ll add some colorful seasonings to it, such as a tiny piece of paper torn from the glossy Bed And Bath catalog that she pulled from the recycling bin, Cheerios, block toys, bib…she’s great at improvising.

And since December follows right after November, it’s also time to organize a list of all the people worthy of receiving our greeting cards, and all the people worthy of presents in addition to greeting cards. And if I want to re-gift something from the past years, I have to make sure:

(1) The gift in question wasn’t given by that person; and

(2) The gift wouldn’t be seen by the original giver either during or after giving; and

(3) The original giver won’t expect to see it when he/she visits our house.

But first…a trip to the Cheesecake Factory is in order. The re-gift list will have to wait.