Sunday, 7 May 2017

Other Kids' Parents

We flew down to LA this past weekend for a mini Ex-pats reunion. Our friends Barney and Robin served as hosts. I should say from the start, I really didn't like Robin the first time I met her. We ended up going shopping, and I had to watch her try on (yes, pose in front of a mirror) various $800-$1,000 purses; I wrote her off as a pretentious LA bitch. Yes over the years, I would come to learn that she is more down to earth. She was one of the first to whom I disclosed our fertility struggles, and she was surprisingly supportive. We bonded further when we were pregnant and new mothers together, often texting various questions or admitting when aspects are hard. However, outside of motherhood, we have very little in common.

Still, I was looking forward to getting together and meeting their daughter Little Myrtle (who has the same name as the other Little Myrtle and as Robin is again pregnant after another first attempt, so the nickname fits). Yet, I would learn that motherhood can unknowingly change the dynamics of your friendships, especially when it seems like your friends are mothering your kid. I have to acknowledge one rookie parent error; when we visit another kid's house, I have to ask their parents 'what are your house rules?' Where is food allowed? Shoes on or off? I get the no shoes rule, we do the same thing in my house, but are you allowed to walk one foot in the door before you remove the shoes, or do you have to take them off as you pass through the threshold? Also can you also appreciate that my daughter's shoes Velcro in the back so that she can't take them off herself before you scold her for not taking off her shoes? If she tries to climb up on the couch, is that allowed or is it considered 'climbing on furnature'?

I feel that I should have asked these questions, so that I could have done more to teach Kate about how we behave we were are a guest in someone else's house, and maybe I wouldn't have felt that I was walking of eggshells, so afraid I was going to get admonished for doing the wrong thing. But what really getting to me was the way she was interacting with Kate.

"Kate, do you know what colour this is?"
"Kate, can you sing a song?"
"Kate, [after she placed a sticker in the wrong spot of a sticker book] that sticker is improperly placed. Can you say 'improperly placed?'"

I should realise that she was just trying to engage her, but it was annoying the shit out of me. "She knows her colours." I informed Robin, while wanting to add; she's a bit overstimulated in a new environment, and you're a stranger, please don't expect her to perform. Of course, I interpreted her questions to Kate as an interrogation of my parenting skills, where she was checking in to see that Kate was learning appropriately.

At the same time, the visit did serve as a useful learning opportunity. Little Myrtle is about two and a half months older than Kate, which is a significant gap for their ages. Her speech is very progressive, she's speaking in small sentences. She can recognise letters and numbers very well. We probably should do more singing with Kate, although I think she does quite a bit at school, as she knew 'The Itsy-Bitsy Spider' and 'Wheels on the Bus' before Robin tried to take credit for "I got her to sing 'The Itsy-Bitsy Spider!'". We definitely need to work on manners, expecting her to say 'please' and 'thank you'. Maybe I just feel so resentful as I was able to make these observations myself without Robin pointing them out to me. Or rather, I feel that I didn't need her to tell these things to Kate, and make me feel like I'm not doing my job as a parent. In what ways are friends allowed to extend parenting to our kids?

I'm in such an unfamiliar territory; yet I also have to admit that I'm guilty of judging other people's parenting in the way I felt it was done to me. I went through the Denver Development check list with my cousin's sons to make sure they were meeting their milestones, and I actually got down on my hands and knees to show my cousin's nine month old son how to crawl. I've been silently critical of the ways Myrtle is raising her little Myrtle. At the same time, I was acknowledging our deficiencies during this trip, I was scoring the areas where we are ahead. Kate is physicially stronger. Kate is ahead in potty training. We use less screen time. We serve healthier foods. I lost my pregnancy weight (okay, that last one was just me being petty).

Why do we do this? Parenting is really hard. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are better at disclipine. Others are more creative at thinking up games and activities. No one is perfect. We're all really making it up as we go along, just trying to get from one day to the next. We're on the same team. But how do we work at teammates? How do you incorporate your friends who are parents with your kids?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Right Now -May 2017

Celebrating: We've had a few birthdays this past month. My Dad's was over a week ago, and my aunt's 80th was over this past weekend. We attended a party for a colleague's 4 year old son and Kate has been singing "Happy Dirthday" since then.

Reading: I finished Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi. I had a free subscription to Rolling Stone for a year and I love Taibbi's writing style. It was probably the only section I read of the magazine. I also just downloaded Diaper Free by Three on to my Kindle. A friend who is a Urology PA recently posted an article written by a pediatric urologist who concludes that just about every pediatric urologic disorder is the result of potty training too early and he insists the ideal age is between 3 and 4. I've been reminding myself that he is a specalists who justs sees the problem cases and not normal healthy kids, but it freaked me out a bit, so I had to do some back up reading, even though the points in Diaper Free were already stated in the previous book I read (almost on the borderline of plagiarism)

Watching: I haven't yet cancelled my subscription to Netflix, so I'm still making my way through the Gilmore Girls. I had conversations with a few people who felt surprised a what a spoilt little bitch Rory had become in the revival, but then realised she was always like that. I think I found the episode that reveals just how obtuse she was. (Spoiler Alert, Risa!) In season 5, Rory practically stalks Marty (aka 'Naked Guy' from her freshman year) and invites him to hang out with her, even though he clears doeesn't want to. He reluctantly agrees to get together for a Marx brothers movie marathon. She makes quite an effort; dressing in costume, hanging movie posters around her room and offering an array of snacks. There is an awkard tension at first, but the both seem to relax, especially as Rory has her legs over Marty's lap. Then Logan shows up to see if she wants to join him and his friends for Chinese food. Rory knows exactly how Working Class Marty and Spoilt Rich Kid Logan feel about each other as her first encounter with Logan was to confront his disparagaing and demeaning behaviour toward Marty. Nonetheless, she offers little resistance and Logan invites Marty along as "if you're going to be hanging out with Ace, I should get to know you outside your uniform." A pointed dig and a bit territorial. (BTW, the nickname 'Ace' seems really ridiculous as we now know she was a failed journalist) Poor Marty is forced to listen to the rich guys brag about their drunken escapades at their fancy foreign private schools while he watches Logan play with Rory's hair. Then he's subjected to more humiliation as he can't pay $75 for his share as he doesn't have the cash in his wallet nor his bank account. Rory lends him the money just so he can save face (Logan payed for her) which does beg the question why he didn't just give a credit card. Rory is sensible enough to pass up the post Chinese food night clubbing and walks embarassed Marty home, where he admits he has feelings for her and she reveals that she likes Logan, just in case it wasn't obvious. Then she begs Marty to still be her friend, making you wonder if they ever were truly friends, and suggests coming back to finish their movie marathon. Logan has to spell it out for her that Duck Soup is one of his favourite movies and doesn't want that movie to be tarnished with his memories of such a shitty night.

I also finished watching the second season of The Detour. Although the ending was strange, it's a brilliant series and worth watching just for the parody of Hamilton.

Listening: I really don't listen to any pod casts, but when I google searched Insane Clown President to check the spelling of Matt Taibbi's name, I noticed there is an audio version of the book narriated by the author. Almost exactly 10 years ago, I struck up a conversation with the most intimidating perinatologist in our department as he noticed by copy of Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them. A few days later, I was in clinic when he paged me. I was struck with panic. It is never a good thing when the perinatologist is paging you. Except this time he wanted to share that he bought the audio version of Lies after he read a chaper of my book and wanted to share that I had to hear the words in Al Franken's voice. He was right, listening to the audio version enhanced my experience of that book.

Drinking: I've been making my own version of Cacao Almond Milk. Safeway sells it, but at $3.49 for 8oz, it's a rip-off. I read the ingredents and bought some cacao powder, liquid dates, and Himalayan sea salt. Now I can make it whenever I want for much less.

Eating: I've been struggling to find a balance. I completed another Whole 30 in March and my game plan was to follow the Whole 30 rules during the week, but give myself some freedom on the weekends. Sounds easy right? Well I think I've been over doing it on the weekends when I am compliant, or I'll bend a little during the week, as I'm not doing a "true" Whole 30. As a result my weight fluctuates with my eating. If I have an occasional glass of wine, baked treat or Friday night pizza, my weight will balloon to pre-pregnancy digits at 155. If I avoid temptations, I can get down to 151. I have to decide which is more important to me.

Wearning: An old but favourite long sleeve Nike shirt and gym shorts. This is kind of a pervey question.

Loving: So many things, I'm feeling like I have a good rhythm with work and family and I never thought I'd be this happy.

Anticipating: We're going away this weekend to visit our friends Robin and Barney in LA. They have a daughter who is 3 months older than Kate and are expecting their second.

Hoping: Trump gets impeached soon.

Following: I haven't done so yet; but a few of my teammates follow [Olympic Gold Medal swimmer] Nathan Adrian and I'm tempted to join because he posts pictures of his cats.

Wondering: If I am doing the right thing by potty training Kate now versus waiting until later. My instinct tells me that I am, but that article got in my head a bit.

Trying: New recepies, fitting in some more exercise. I've had to miss some swim practices or gym nights due to my work and husband's work schedule. I started a sticker chart and I'm trying to at least get some squats or push up done on the nights I miss.

Planning: I have to figure out meals for the week we come back from LA. We land at 2 PM and I'll need to hit the store and do meal prep

Contemplating: How to best spend my time when I have a parent's day out on the Saturday before Mother's Day. My plan is to clean the deck, so I can set an outdoor play area for Kate. I also should do some gardening. I know I will have unrealistic expectations for what I can get accomplished. I should hit Lowe's earlier in the week so I don't waste time on Saturday.