Good gracious google!

Q:  what chores did children do in the 1950s

A:  My mom says she cleaned the entire house before school each day.  And walked uphill both ways to get to said school.  Barefoot, in the snow.  And they liked it.  (Actually that part about the snow and liking it are lies– there’s not that much snow in CA, and she never claimed to enjoy it.)

Q:  enrichment activities for 2 year olds

A:  Besides the iPad that they break?  Um, reading books, dancing, parent and me classes, listening to music, going new places, going to playgrounds…

Q:  we should measure country’s success by how happle its people are?

A:  Probably not.

Q:  do we have more opportunities for education than our parents?

A:  Yes.  Most of us.  Though inequality of opportunity is still a major problem in the country.

Q:  what was bell curve that some kids could sleep through the cracks

A:  Those on the right tail may sometimes sleep in class if they’re not being challenged in school.

Q:  i want a child is it the right time?

A:  Up to you!  And potentially your partner.

Q:  how would you handle a crying baby interview

A:  PICK HIR UP.  Check hir diaper.  See if ze needs burping.  Try food.  Look for signs of pain.  Bounce around, or sway, or sing, or give the baby your car keys.  They love keys.

Q:  interview questions for a mother of a 5 year old

A:  “What’s a good book you’ve read lately?”

Q:  can you use silly putty to hold up your vertical blinds when they break off from the plastic at the top

A:  Doubtful.  We use clear plastic packing tape.

Q:  what happens if you don’t make a grade of b in a graduate program?

A:  You make an A?  Or you have to retake the class?  You may even drop out and go into the work force.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 1 Comment »

RBOC

  • Dear Daycare, why do you always call me first?  My husband does 98% of drop-offs and at least 80% of pick-ups.  He always answers the phone when you call him.  You only get me when I’m in my office.  It says on our card, “Call First” with a big arrow next to “Father’s cell.”
  • Also, no, I would not like to drop by daycare to “encourage” DC2 to get hir picture taken.  If ze’s afraid of the photographer and doesn’t want hir picture taken, we’re fine with that.  Did you notice how we didn’t fill out the form requesting professional pictures?  That’s because we don’t want them.
  • The first new daycare we looked at was great!  Sadly they don’t have an opening in the younger twos room until January and they won’t accept DC2 in the older twos room until January (“liability reasons” “choking hazards”).  Sigh.  One of hir former teachers from the good montessori said hi!
  • The university daycare said yes, we’re still on the list but because of when DC2’s birthday is and when we signed up, we won’t be off the list until next September at the earliest.  Two of my colleagues’ kids are there and they love it.  (We’d be there too if we’d signed up when I was pregnant, but we didn’t know our favorite daycare would go under, and if we’d signed up, we would have gotten off the waitlist before it went under and would have thrown away that slot.  So… without a crystal ball…)
  • I’m now at the point in my career where people introduce themselves to me at conferences sometimes.  Like grad students!  It’s super weird.  But kind of cool.  :)
  • Five months later, finally get DH’s second-to-last travel reimbursement.  They swear it won’t take as long to get the next one.  $1,700 is a lot of money to not have.
  • DH has been cooking for 14 years.  This year we noticed that he has been improvising on recipes for quite some time without a single disaster.  I’ve been cooking since I was 7 years old, so when we married I’d already been cooking longer than that.  It really is just experience, not necessarily a natural ability.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 19 Comments »

How to fix some random kid (and grown-up!) problems

We get a lot of comments, both good and bad, about how much stuff we make our oldest kid do.  Ze, for example, makes hir own lunch for school, has a list of household chores to do (mostly limited only by height restrictions), and is in charge of remembering things like homework and recurring special things like pizza money on pizza day or that Wednesday is special uniform day.

It’s expecting a lot of a 7 year old (and even more of a 6 or 5 year old, which DC1 once was!)  But it’s something we need to do to keep our household running in the absence of a full-time live-in housekeeper.  As full-time working adults with high-level jobs and a 2 year old we just don’t have that kind of mental load.  And DC1 is capable and it isn’t usually that big a deal when we all forget things.

Except occasionally DC1 forgets to wear the special uniform 3 weeks in a row and we get an email noting that if there’s a fourth time, then demerits will follow.  We’re not sure what demerits are going to do, but they sure sound scary.  Or DC1 will forget chores or homework and blissfully spend the evening playing board-games with DH, only remembering long after bedtime or the next morning that there’s an assignment due.

So here’s what we do that works.

Uniform, pizza money, and school holidays/fairs are all put on DC1’s wall calendar.  Each day at bedtime ze crosses off the day and sees what is listed for the next day.  If it’s the special uniform, ze takes it out of the closet and hangs it on hir dresser knob.  If it’s pizza money, ze demands it from DH and puts it in hir back pack.  If it’s a holiday, then we’re reminded.

For that long list of chores, during one of DH’s business trips I made DC1 make a full checklist of all the chores ze has to do each night.  Homework (or workbooks on weekends), piano practicing, making lunch for the next day (if applicable), putting away the clean silverware, loading the dishwasher, feeding the kittens, helping fold laundry (if applicable).  (See, we’re tyrants!  DC1 never gets to do anything fun.)  Once all of those chores are done, DC1 is free to spend hir time as ze wishes on weekends, and can do anything except video games on weekdays (since even the checklist couldn’t help DC1 remember hir chores if video games are an option).

Of course, it’s not enough to do the homework or make the lunch.  Those items also have to make it into the backpack.  So there’s a new rule that they have to go into the backpack as soon as they’re done.  They’re not allowed to sit out on desk or counter where they can be forgotten and then I have to turn back to get them on the way to school and everybody is late.  Because I hate that.

So… calendar, checklist, and automation.  That’s how we keep things together with DC1 during the week and that’s how we’re able to give DC1 so many responsibilities.

Related:  financial diffraction talks about using her calendar to keep track of money

How do you and yours get out the door in the morning every day of the week?  Any tips?

On judging how poor people spend their money

DH has some extended family whose spending choices compared to their lack of income drives me nuts.  They’re always spending money on luxuries when they have the money (often on luxuries for other people) and then have no money when a small emergency strikes or their taxes were higher than expected or another debt comes due or what have you.  At Christmas we always feel like we have to send money to help out with the latest emergency, though we resist during the rest of the year when there isn’t a good excuse to give.

And it’s really easy for us to judge.  Back when we made little money, back when we had debt, we were frugal to the bone.  We got out of debt by spending money on no luxuries and sending every penny to the debt.  Then we built an emergency fund.  Then we started saving for retirement.  Only then did we loosen up and spend on things we didn’t need.  (Though to be honest, we started eating meat again after the debt was gone.)  I wanted us to be secure before we bought anything we’d wish we hadn’t in an emergency.

But honestly, these days, who are we to judge?  We spend a ton of money on luxuries, just different ones.  We have different priorities.

I think nothing of spending $200 on our annual umbrella insurance, who am I to judge a $200 game console purchase?  How can we judge a $1K granite-topped bar (relatives bought after a windfall) when DH has a $1K ergonomic chair (that he saved his allowance to get)?

The thing is, with us, our money is ours to keep and shelter.  We have no family to impress with conspicuous consumption.  They know we’re doing just fine and they live far away.  We have no childhood of deprivation to try to make up for (though neither of us had much stuff because our parents were often low income, we always had security, we never felt deprived).  We don’t have relatives telling us that we need to give any savings to even more impoverished family.  We’re not caught in the trap of having to spend the money now or give it away.

Possibly most importantly, even when we were living on low incomes with high basic expenses, we knew that situation was only temporary.  We could always and can always tell ourselves that we will have things in the future, when we are out of school and have real jobs, and it’s true and we’ll believe it.  It’s harder to think that way and stay deprived when you haven’t graduated high school and keep failing the GED.  Or when you’re a grandfather in your 30s.  If you don’t buy that  luxury now, you may never get it.  You may never have happiness or an item to show off.

Why can’t people just set up automated savings accounts that put the money away so relatives don’t know about it and people don’t feel the need to spend it?  Because when you’re low income, savings accounts can be dangerous.  Even the most basic bank accounts are expensive when you hit an overdraft fee that you can’t cover or bounce a check or make a mathematical error.  And sometimes you need to draw on that money and everything is empty and instead of just having no money, you have fees and more debt.

And yes, we think we would be perfect and save our way out of poverty, but it’s hard to say what we would really do in those kinds of situations.  We don’t have the pressure.  It’s easy for us to say we’d never be in that situation or we’d get ourselves out as soon as possible, but what would we really do?  People behave remarkably similarly when they’re deprived in experimental settings.  I’m not sure that my willpower is enough to dig out of that big a hole, especially if I didn’t have hope to go with it.

Is yours?

Link love

Theology and Geometry had her baby!

how many of these have happened to you?  Definitely more than one here!  Insecure men outraged that smarter man recognizes sexism and apologizes to women.  Someone was stupid on the internet.

My mom says this article makes more sense than any other ACA article to date

Fascinating article on Whole Foods in Detroit.

What do you do if your grandma is a murderer?

Cultural appropriatation in the birthing community.  (Though I will maintain that the zipper pocket makes my super-expensive ring sling worth the extra money!)  Our Babies, Ourselves has a section on baby-wearing around the world and throughout time, and is a great read.

On having said racist things.

Only after a man called Bill Cosby a rapist did anybody listen.

Oh Slate, why ya gotta be so addicting sometimes?  Honest trailer for The Little Mermaid.  It’s not your kids holding you back, it’s your husband.

So the huffington post directed me (via a clickbait headline) to a mommy-blog and I was all, I wonder what the GOMI people have to say about this blog given that huffpo linked me to it, it must say something.  And my first hit was this forum page that has some really good points on it that make me feel less crazy, you know?

The seriously troubling racial history of that Kim Kardashian Champagne Shot.  And that photographer is a serious racist.  Disgusting.

This pretty much sums it up.

Not surprising, but still.

baby groot!

Live kitten cam!

Apparently Barbie can’t do it.

Cool alternative to advent chocolate.

How to explain papers in a non-academic interview.

How could anybody say no to this?

Why stock picking is a losing game.

 

 

Ask the grumpies: Potluck dishes

Debbie M. asks:

What’s good for potlucks?

Spinach balls! Pasta salad.  Casserole?  Cookies.  Cake.  Rolls.

This is a hard one for #2– lately I’ve been bringing things like “soda” and “cups” to pot-lucks.  It’s not that I don’t like to cook, it’s just that I don’t have the time or that’s what I’m assigned.  I think the last pot-luck I was assigned to bring Pocky.

One pot-lock I brought a chicken pate thing that nobody ate at all.  It was delicious later with my RAs, but sad at the time.  (#1 has tried this recipe and ATE IT ALL UP!)

My Swedish rose cookies are always a hit (butter cookies with a thumb-print of raspberry or strawberry jam in the middle).

If asked to bring a salad, I will often make champagne salad , which was my mother’s potluck standard.  It’s kind of like a healthy ice cream, for some definitions of healthy.  I make it with whipped cream instead of cool-whip.

#1 is too tired to cook most of the time, but I generally try to bring something I’d like to eat; something easy; something that’s ok at room temperature; or something I had lying around anyway.  Ain’t nothing wrong with bringing a store platter of hummus, pita, cheese, grapes, etc.  I can barely get up the motivation to cook my OWN food sometimes!

Golly gee wiz, I just don’t know.

Grumpy Nation:  The potluck season is upon us.  What is good for potlucks?

On preschools and biting: Part 2 — what works

There are lots of reasons that kids bite.  Many of them relate to developmental exploring our senses things and teething, particularly with early biting.  This post isn’t focusing on those– this post is focusing on biting for behavioral/emotional reasons.  Feeling bored.  Feeling frustrated.  Feeling threatened.  Not knowing what else to do to get what you want.

We bought a couple of books.  One of them is really good, On Biting.  The other one, The Biting Solution was less so– the advice basically boiled down to, here’s some questions to ask… then figure out your own solutions with the kid’s help.

The thing about biting is that generally it really is a symptom that something else is not going well.  Same as any kind of conflict.  Treat the underlying problem, not just the symptom.

In DC2’s case there’s a couple of things going on.  The first is, well, let me quote DH here:

Environment:
Many RI and some RII children are very possessive.
Several RI children use physical violence as the first response to any issue, including biting, hitting, kicking, grabbing, and pushing.

Conflict resolution:
The teachers handle all problems the same way.  They lecture the aggressor, almost always using phrases that emphasize how the teacher is sad about the action.

Result of current methodology:
The victim learns that other kids will try to take things from him/her, and must develop a response. Typically he/she becomes more protective/possessive of things. Since he/she is observing/experiencing physical violence, quite possibly that becomes his/her future response.

The aggressor learns that the teacher is quite regularly sad, and that the other kid gets to have something he/she wants.

If the teacher didn’t see the start of the issue, she often treats the more angry child as the aggressor and the more sad child as the victim.  Sometimes that labeling is incorrect and both the aggressor and victim learn that physical violence can work.

The second thing, that we found out recently, DC2 is a bit bored.  When there’s more to do and more to play with and more interaction, there’s less time to get into these kinds of scuffles and any one toy isn’t as important.  I wouldn’t have thought of this, but it’s in the book and the current temporary solution addresses this issue (temporarily) even if not the lack of conflict resolution.

I hate the way that so many things about this parenting thing have forced me to become an expert on things that I’m not trained in.  I shouldn’t have to know more about PCOS and infertility than my big-city OB/GYN (I’ve had better luck with my small-town docs!) and I shouldn’t have to learn more about biting in a group childcare setting than someone who has been running a daycare for over a decade.  But there you have it.

How to run a daycare:

Culture

In a good daycare, culture will be consistent across classrooms.  Instead of relying on the teachers coming in knowing what they’re doing, a good daycare will train the teachers in the culture of the school.

At DC1’s first school, they had property rights.  Whichever kid was playing with a toy would get to play with it until she was done.  If another child wanted to play with the same toy, he was encouraged to trade toys.  If the first child didn’t want to trade, then she didn’t have to.  Those were the rules that everybody followed.

At DC2’s second (religious) school, they focused on sharing.  If a child wanted to play with a toy that another child had, he asked politely.  Assuming that the first child hadn’t just picked it up, she would say, ok, and then hand it to the first child.  A teacher would praise the interaction in the background because yay sharing.

In both of these cases, the teachers were consistent across all rooms and all ages and the kids trained each other.  It was amazing seeing little hellions start at the school and turn into angels within a week.  (And new teachers go from being completely lost to being completely in charge!)  Because culture is strong.

When we asked at this current daycare what their culture was, the director told me, “taking turns” which means that when the second child grabs the toy from the first child, the teacher is supposed to say, “It’s not your turn yet” and then wait and remember to give the toy to the first child when it’s that child’s turn.  She admitted that usually by that point the second child had forgotten if the teacher remembers.

When I asked the assistant director, she said no, taking turns wasn’t what they did, it was sharing.

When DH asked the teachers, different teachers gave him different answers.

In any case, none of them are actually doing what they say they’re doing.  There is no method for sharing/trading/property rights other than violence.

Spreading culture

In a good daycare, not only will there be training from the director and from lead teachers, but teachers will work as floaters (an additional teacher or substitute teacher) on a regular basis and occasionally switch rooms.  They’ll share playground time.  They will train each other and help each other.  The director will also float on a regular basis.

What they should do

There are a number of different options for dealing with conflict.  The best stop conflict before it starts and makes each conflict that does occur into a learning experience so that conflict is less likely to happen in the future.

When something happens, they should talk with the victim first.  They should engage the aggressor in the discussion as well.  They should explain why the action was wrong, not just that it made the teacher sad.  And, importantly, they should talk about the alternatives to physical violence.   What should the child have done instead?  If there’s a good and consistent culture at the school, the child will know the answer to this question.  If not, then the school needs to decide what the answer is going to be and start teaching it.

As we said before, the best thing is to keep conflict from happening in the first place.  When there’s a strong culture and kids know what they’re supposed to do, that helps.  So does that 6th sense that many great daycare teachers have.

Here’s DH again on conflict prevention:

When a child starts to get frustrated, the only responses being used are redirection or lecturing. Redirection is not being done with engagement, but more like just shoving the child off in a different direction.

The teachers are not seeing problems before they start.

And on communication:

“Use your words” is a fine phrase, but being more specific is more educational.  Teach children gestures and words to help them communicate. The 18 mo room teacher, for example, does a good job teaching kids how to handle issues with other kids.  She teaches them body language and phrases.  “Stop”, “no”, (hand up palm out).

There should be no discrepancies between what is told to parents and what is actually done inside the classroom.  Directors and teachers and kids should all be on the same page.

So where are we now?  Well, we visited a few more daycares and got on the waitlist for one of them, a new Montessori where two of DC1’s former teachers are now teaching.  The director said all the right things and believes in continuing education for the teachers and has Montessori certification.  It’s a bit more traditional Montessori than we’re used to, but the culture of the school seems to be good and it seems to be conflict free from what DH saw.  There will be slots available in both the 2s room and the 2-3 year room in January.  It’s also very close to DC1’s school so we’ll be back to only having to do one set of pick-ups and drop-offs.

In the mean time, the current Montessori requested that we move DC2 up to the next room (I’m guessing too many other parents complained).  All of the kids in the new room are 6 mo to a year older than DC2.  The teachers are still not perfect, but they’re a lot better.  Instead of constant Lord of the Flies behavior and screaming in the morning, DH only counted 4 incidents of violence in the 90 min period he observed when DC2 was transitioning.  The kids are mostly better behaved.  (DH related a fun incident this morning– the bully in the room kicked down another child’s block tower, and the morning teacher told the child that she could make another block tower and kick it over herself, and then all the kids there turned to the teacher and told her, “No!  We don’t kick toys!” So maybe some cultural training going on in the new room.)  The teachers are more alert and more cuddly and excited.  DC2 hasn’t bitten since ze was moved.  (The teachers do not seem to have been informed that they shouldn’t praise DC2’s intelligence in front of hir, despite conversations with the director who said of course it would never happen.) DH suspects DC2 will get bored of the room before ze ages out of it.  We think this solution will work until January, but we’ll definitely be moving then.

Update:  related post from Wandering Scientist

Update 2:  Yesterday when I picked up DC2 (which I do one day a week) when I walked through the I room on my way back to the playground there were about 8 kids and no adults in the room.  I waited for the teacher to return (with a child who had just made a break for it) and on my way out told the director that there had been no teacher in the room when I went through.  Before I made it out of the parking lot, the director came out and told me that it wasn’t the teacher’s fault, a kid had made a break for it, she hadn’t been gone any time at all, it was a parent’s fault for leaving the door open, etc. etc. etc.  And I said I’d just informed her because I thought she would want to know.  And she said that she was just telling me that it was a safety issue and that’s why the teacher left the room and it was just for a second, and I said that they should have better systems in place so that a teacher wouldn’t have to leave the room. And then she asked what I would suggest, and I suggested having/calling for a floater, or opening a door and letting another teacher know the situation, and she said that she could tell that something wasn’t working for me and they’re doing the best that they can and that if I was having problems with them I should set up a meeting.  The conversation only ended when I got out my phone to call DH.  I’m pretty sure they will be glad when we’re gone.  But I couldn’t say anything then because we can’t be gone until January.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 245 other followers