Ask the grumpies: teen drivers

omdg asks:

How do you feel about teenagers and driving?

#1:  Terrified.

#2:  They have to learn sometime, right?  Kids today don’t seem super eager to get behind the wheel like kids in my generation (#notallkids).  Most of my friends with older kids report forcing their teenagers to get learning permits.  I’m not sure what the change is.  It’s not like we’re living someplace with great public transportation.  Maybe it’s more of the kids spending time with parents and enjoying doing so and not being off on their own much thing that’s been happening.

Ask the grumpies: anything you wish you’d done before marriage and/or kids?

yet another pf blog asks:

Is there anything you wish you had done before you were married? How about before you had kids?

#1:  One of us doesn’t have kids so the point is moot over here. (#2, got anything?) What would I have done differently before I got married? I can’t think of anything. Being with my partner has made the rest of my life easier and more fun.

#2:  Hm, I got married young.  I can’t really imagine single life before marriage.  I mean, I did date some losers in college, mainly because I didn’t know how to say no and a small amount because of the novelty of guys thinking I was amazing.  Those are not good reasons, so it was a huge relief in grad school to be able to stick my hand up and point to the ring when loser guys hit on me.  So definitely not dating other guys (or other people, more generally– I used to think I was DH-sexual, but now I’m fairly sure I’m… what was that word I discovered on captain awkward?  I can’t remember but it’s the one where you have to really get invested in a person before you find them physically attractive, so it seems like asexuality, but it really isn’t.  That’s what I am.  Except younger Pierce Brosnan– he’s still hot, but who knows, maybe I just liked Remmington Steele.).  Everything else I can do while married, I think.

Before kids we didn’t have money.  Now we have money.  Perhaps I wish we had money before kids?  Though getting money at the same time as kids was pretty useful and caused our standard of living to go up instead of down, so maybe not that.  Yeah, I got nuthin’.  I’m not big into regret… maybe it’s time spent in LA with the constant message that everything happens for a reason.  Or maybe it’s just the sunk cost moving forward training in economics.  I guess I wish I’d published more!  But I wish I’d published more after kids too… it’s sort of a never-ending thing with an academic career.

Grumpy nation, is there any day seizing you wish you’d done in the past?

Ask the Grumpies: Opportunity costs to timing kids for physicians

OMDG asks:

Frequently in my line of work (medicine) people will make statements like, “It’s cheaper to have a kid during residency than as an attending because you are giving up much less in salary and because you don’t have to find coverage for yourself.”  I’m wondering what your thoughts are on this.

See, any extra time you take for maternity leave during residency beyond your vacation (which it typically 3-4 weeks a year) gets added on to the end of residency and delays your start of being an attending by that amount of time.  It would seem that the opportunity cost of taking time off for any reason as a physician should equal the amount you would earn at the point in your career where you are making the most money regardless of when you take the time.  There may be other costs/benefits of having kids early vs. waiting as well which are more intangible (finding coverage for your clinical work, paying for childcare when you’re making a lower salary, building your practice).  Is this just another situation where doctors don’t understand opportunity cost/are bad at economics, or am I missing something?

Ask the grumpies thanks you for answering your own question so well and so clearly.

You’re right, they’re not thinking through to the long term/general equilibrium/etc.  We don’t really have anything to add to your excellent explanation other than that this argument is similar to the one we often hear about when a woman (and it’s always a woman) should be a SAHM.  People seem to fixate at the point in time analysis and ignore long-term costs.

And, as you well know, there is no good time to have a baby for a professional woman, so have one when/if you want one regardless of professional considerations (as you did!).

Ask the grumpies: How to play with little kids

Leah asks:

How do you play with your kids when little? Anything I should be doing, or is interaction of any type sufficient?

Short answer:  Any type of (positive) interaction is sufficient.

Longer answer:  The books mostly say to do what I do naturally, probably because my mom was trained as a head start teacher before I came along.  The following will speed things up in the areas you focus on, but so long as you’re not leaving the baby alone in a darkened room, they will pick things up just from experiencing the world and focusing in one area may slow down another.  Basically they’re sponges so it’s all ok.

Talk to your baby even when ze can’t talk back.  Pause for responses as if you’re having a conversation.  Start with baby signs.  Narrate what you’re doing.  Make eye contact.  Create rituals together: these are soothing to babies, kids, and grownups!  Maybe there’s a certain game you play or a song you sing.  But don’t get rigidly attached to the rituals.  Say silly things, sing and dance.

Tummy time!

You don’t have to treat your baby like a delicate flower– babies are surprisingly sturdy.  If you want an earlier walker, carry your baby against you in a sling rather than in a cradle carry or a stroller.  Avoid jumpies, walkers, bouncers, or anything that allows movement without a person actually walking.  Spot your baby while ze practices standing or leaning on things, but don’t feel like you have to give 100% support.  (If you don’t want an early walker, don’t worry about this stuff.)  Carrying baby in a sling while you go through life will also help develop their vestibular system when you bend, twist, tilt, crouch, etc.

If you want great small motor skills, provide lots of things to practice small motor skills on.

If you want an early reader, read a LOT and trace your finger under the words you’re reading.  Babies (and dolphins!) can also sight read from flash-cards, which is rather remarkable, but I’m not convinced that’s actually a useful skill.

If you want an early counter, include counting in your day-to-day activities.  Count swing pushes.  Count baby lifts.  Count fingers and toes and cheerios.

If you want an early pottier, read The Diaper Free Baby and introduce the potty now.  Whenever now is.  Get in tune with your child’s peeing and pooing habits and get out of the diaper and over a potty during those times.

Maybe ask your kid to tell you a story about what their toys are doing.  Say “wheeeeee”  and “once upon a time” a lot.  Show them how to make goggles with their fingers.  Let them entertain themselves [with appropriate supervision].  Take ’em to the park and let ’em loose.  Get a dog [Ed: ??? NO DO NOT!!  This suggestion was quite obviously placed by the one of us without kids.] and let them tire each other out [ed:  you can see that this suggestion is not unlike the “have another baby to tire the first one out” suggestion].

Grumpy Nation:  How do you play with babies and toddlers and little kids?

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