parenting


I really appreciate the feedback as it helped to get different perspectives as well as validated my feelings that what is going on is not normal. I couldn’t focus my thoughts enough to write all that went down regarding the mark but I have now even though it seems disappointingly irrelevant at this point.

I saw the mark on Bunny’s bottom, early Saturday evening as he was undressing to take a bath. It was such an unnatural color that at at first I was sure it was paint or marker – that he must have sat in egg dye or something. But when I casually asked him what the mark was, he confusedly looked behind himself and exclaimed he didn’t know, almost as though he hadn’t noticed it before. At that point, I looked closer and realized, it was not, in fact, any sort of paint or marker or dye, it was his skin. Not only was it bright, bright red but it was also warm to the touch, much like a sunburn and it was slightly inflamed, the red part of the skin, rising slightly above the fair part. The difference, though not apparent at first, was actually very distinct, as the mark was precisely rectangular. That’s when I grabbed my camera, under the guise that if he could clearly see the mark, maybe it would help him remember what happened, but even though he gamely agreed, he absolutely could not tell me how he got it.

Understanding that he might be afraid, I told him that I would absolutely not be angry with him no matter what he told me, but that it was important that he share with me how he got hurt so that I could keep it from happening again. Bunny didn’t get upset or angry. On the contrary, he was practically disappointed when he couldn’t remember anything, as though he were letting me down. I tried specifics as well. I asked him if a kid had done it or a grown up; he said neither. I asked him if either his mom or his dad hat hurt him or caused the mark. Again, he said no. I knew he had attended a birthday party earlier in the day and asked him if anyone had hurt him at the party or if he had gone anywhere or done anything that might have caused a mark like that. Again, nothing.

I asked him if it hurt, and he shrugged casually saying it stung a bit. Finally, after spending nearly a half hour gently trying to coerce the information out of him, I gave in. I told him to read a book and that I’d be back to help him into the bath in a few minutes. First I called Dr. D’s hospital, knowing it was a long shot (he’s an ER doc, after all) then I nervously called Winifred. Trying to keep my voice light and airy I asked her if Bunny had gotten hurt at the park during the party. Bewildered she said no, not that she knew of. Why? I explained that I had discovered a mark on his bottom.

“Oh that!” She exclaimed. “Yeah, I saw that. He must have gotten it at the party. It’s weird isn’t it? Almost looks like a burn.” Yep, I agreed. She continued that she’d forgotten to have Dr. D look at it before he left for work that afternoon. Completely unconcerned she thanked me for calling and mentioned that if Bunny wanted, after his bath, I could put some calendula cream on it and that was that.

For the second day in a row, I was shocked by the response from this mother, this social worker and was dismayed that this otherwise very caring and intelligent person could be so completely blasé when confronted with information questioning the very safety of her son.

It freaked me out.

And what do scared 19 year old girls do when they find themselves in crummy, overwhelming situations?
I called my mommy.

Luckily, we live only ten minutes away from Calamitous Casa, so I hurried about, anxiously cleaning the kitchen while Buddha rambled in his highchair, waiting for my mom to come save the day.

Unfortunately, gone are the days when simply her presence could make even the worst of scenarios, bearable, but she did hang out with Bunny and kept him occupied while I dealt with Buddha and the dinner clean up. And after their bath (during which nothing suspicious happened) she read books with him while I put Buddha to bed. She didn’t fix it all, but knowing she was there definitely calmed my nerves. I was having visions of calling CPS and them laughing at me and then getting fired only to be arrested for abuse myself and escaping from jail and having to kidnap the boys and escaping to Mexico. (Which strangely enough, my biggest logistical setback to this fiasco was the fact that neither of their cars easts are in my car.) Once they were both asleep, I thanked her for coming over and asked her to please call the therapist friend to which she gladly agreed.

Now this therapist lady, friend of my mom’s, is pretty cool and I trust her because ever since my soon to be 8 year old cousin Pepper started seeing her a while back, he’s slowly become an actually tolerable human being. I’m telling you, this woman is a miracle worker. Anyhow, my mom is friends with her through church, so she spoke to Miracle Worker Therapist Lady on Sunday and shared with her what I had observed the last couple of days. MWTL agreed that the penis incident was rather unusual and a bit too specific and she shared in my surprised that Winifred, a social worker herself, wasn’t more alarmed by the behavior. She continued that because Bunny didn’t say who or what caused the mark or how he got it, there’s apparently nothing I or CPS can do about it. Even though isolated they are strange, and combined they are rather suspicious, the two incidents alone (or together) are not enough to warrant calling the authorities as there is no concrete evidence to support any theories of abuse. She did say that I should continue to be vigilant of Bunny’s behavior in case anything else does occur to further implicate an abusive situation.

So I was rather disappointed and a bit peeved that everyone else seemed to be playing down what happened and shrugging it off as though I’m some sort of hypochondriac nanny. After Winifred left today, I did casually ask Dr. D if he figured out what had happened to Bunny’s bottom. He distractedly muttered that his conjecture was that Bunny must have sat upon or scraped it against something while at the park, but that it was healing fine … and with that he returned to the elusive land of lucid-only-to-himself-and-his-genius-thoughts bubble world that he is a frequent resident of.

So there you have it. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the end of the road at the moment with regards of what I can reasonably do. It sucks, really. I’m stuck in this warped limbo, just waiting. On the one hand, I want to be wrong, I so want to be wrong. I want nothing more to happen, no more touching, no more marks – I want to just be overreacting. And on the other hand, I almost wish something else would happen, that Bunny would exhibit the behavior once more, as it would give me a reason to take action. But as it is, I’ve been gridlocked. I’m playing the waiting game.

Whoever said patience was a virtue needs to be shot – or whatever the pacifist alternative to that is.

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I had one of those days today.  The ones where I just want to go home, get a hug from my mom and curl up in bed and be thankful that unlike other (real) parents, I can go home and detox from the crazy little munchkins that rule my life.

Calling Bunny a handful would be like calling the grand canyon a crevice. If there is one word to describe him, it’s volatile. But no, today I’m not going to get into Bunny’s extensive behavioral issues. No, I’ll save that for when I’m really in need of blogging fodder. Today, there was one main issue that really, well, for lack of a better term, freaked me out.

It was almost time for me to go home and after an excruciatingly long day with the two of them (damn you Easter/Passover!) I was looking forward to collapsing in a heap on my bed. Of course, just when I think that Bunny is really shaping up, he reminds me why it is that I am so thankful for the fact that he has school five days a week now. I was giving Bunny and Buddha a bath this evening, which under normal circumstances would have been a somewhat daunting task anyway. But the fact that Buddha had only napped for 40 minutes this morning was not helping matters. Mostly, however, it was Bunny’s ever increasing hysterics that were beginning to unravel me. Though I had calmly given him a twelve minute warning (and then reminded him again at 5 and 2 minutes respectively) that we would have to collect his toys and head inside, he had adamantly refused to cooperate and instead had insisted on yelling and sprinting wildly through the backyard before finally flinging himself in a small pool of mud that he had previously created with the garden hose. We were already a good twenty minutes off schedule by the time I finally had settled him down enough to be able to go inside and start the bath. Anyway, despite my best efforts at redirection and my reminders that he needed to control himself and settle down, he continued to spiral out of control, only becoming semi-calm for moments at a time – just long enough to fool me into believing that it would stick.

In the immediate minutes following, despite my warnings, threats and directions he pulled Buddha’s hair, took away his bath toys, and poured water on his head. In any other moment, I would have taken him out of the tub and secluded him outside so he could be by himself and calm down, however Winifred had planned on taking the boys out to dinner at five and it was already five after five so I did my best to protect Buddha while simultaneously trying to scrub the mud and grime off of the both of them. So when the incident happened in the tub, I was on my eighth hour at work and frazzled.

“What are you doing?” I asked in my most calm voice possible despite the fact that I wanted to rip him out of the tub and send him outside, mud, water, sand and all.

“I’m putting my penis in Buddha’s bottom.” He informed me in a rather pleased tone. And indeed he was attempting to do just that. Sitting directly behind Buddha he had scooted forward and was tugging at his penis directing it straight towards Buddha’s unsuspecting little heiner crack.

“That is not okay.” I replied in an as matter-of-fact tone as I could muster.
“Bunny, stop.” I instructed him, giving him a moment to acquiesce before continuing.
“That is not alright. You need to keep your penis to yourself.” And with that I put my hand on his shoulder and urged him to the other side of the tub.

Maybe if it had ended there, I wouldn’t have worried, however, less than a minute later, as I was reaching for the shampoo behind me, I caught him, yet again, straddling Buddha while touching his penis to his bottom. Perhaps  too harshly, I  again demanded that he stop immediately and reiterated that he keep his penis to himself.

“Why?” He asked me defiantly while laughing.

Refusing to be baited into one of his classic arguments I simply repeated that he needed to control his behavior and keep his body away from Buddha’s. This is the same mantra I use whenever he is physically aggressive towards Buddha (hitting, kicking, pushing etc.) When he refused to back off, I picked up a fussy, sudsy Buddha and placed him on the opposite end of the tub, instructing Bunny to stand up while I finished rinsing him off.

Finally, after a full blown tantrum during which I had to physically drag a kicking and screaming Bunny out of the tub and out of the bathroom itself, and after I consoled, dried and dressed a cranky Buddha and had buckled him into his car seat, I dashed inside to have a quick word with Winifred while Dr. Doormat was helping Bunny into the car.

I’m not sure what I expected from her, but considering she’s an LCSW, her off-handed reaction was certainly not it. With a nonchalant scoff and a roll of her eyes she explained, unperturbed that some of “the kids at school are playing that game” and that she herself had previously witnessed a similar interaction with one of his friends in the showers after swim class. Flabbergasted I shared with her what I had said to Bunny about keeping his body/penis to himself and she nodded, adding that that was practically verbatim what she had told him earlier. And with that, she brushed me off and hurried out the door.

Maybe I’m completely overreacting. Maybe my radar is too sensitive to these things, but something does not sit right with me about this at all.
Last October we found out that one of my other moonbeams, little Abuelito, had been sexually abused by a young male, teenage sitter and the way it came to his parents’ attention was due to his acting out the molestation with another child.

So perhaps, I’m simply overly cautious  from that experience, but I just have a bad feeling about this.

My father has seven brothers, of which at least two were/are excessively friendly with some of us female nieces. One of my very first memories, albeit fuzzy, dark and faded, is of being an underwear clad four year old exclaiming “no” to my uncle MoFo in response to his behind-grabbing invitation to sit in his lap. I learned very quickly to try and avoid him at all costs. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to deem it abuse, especially as I have no definitive memories of him doing anything more than simply touching inappropriately and making lewd comments, it definitely makes me that much more inclined to want to protect Bunny and Buddha at all costs.

I’ve been pouring through my child development textbook and reading all I can online and haven’t been able to find anything definitive regarding this type of sexual play in children. On the one hand, play acting and exploration are a normal part of a child’s burgeoning sexuality, but the incredibly specific nature of this incident doesn’t feel like ‘normal’ playing to me. It’s not as though I don’t have experience with the sexual explorations of young children. I’ve been witness to preschool boys comparing penises and of young siblings touching themselves or each other in the bath, but I have never seen anything to this extent before and it unsettles me. And what’s worse is Winifred’s off-handed reaction to it all. Up to this point, I haven’t really disagreed (and if I have, I’ve kept it to myself) about any of her parenting choices, but it makes me uncomfortable that we have such drastically different points of view about this.

And again, it’s very likely that I’m overreacting, but I talked to my mom about it today when I got home and asked her to please call a child therapist friend of hers so I can get an unbiased, professional opinion about it. I guess I’d just rather be safe than sorry.

In the past two months Buddha has grown by leaps and bounds (literally sometimes) and I realized that his babyhood is slowly fading away and that I better freaking write all this down so I can remember later on. Plus, I have this secret fear that there’s something wrong with him (a result of his traumatic birth) and by documenting his milestones and development I’m thinking I can catch something if there actually is something to catch. Which there probably isn’t and I’m being paranoid, but whatever.

Anyway. His verbal skills are improving. Not so much the quantity of new words but the quality of them. Practically every day he surprises me by pronouncing something just a little bit better than he could the day before. He does, however, say two new very distinct words one of which is “cat” which surprisingly enough he pronounces perfectly. The other is “brahbeh” which is how he pronounces Barabas. (The fact that he’s Jewish just makes this even funnier.) One of the neighbors has a dog, whom she lovingly named Barabas (She’s Winifred’s boss otherwise I’d totally interrogate her about it.) and Buddha likes to chase the pup around calling out “Brahbeh! Brahbeh!.” Also, we have figured out that apparently all those times when we thought he was saying and signing “fish” he was actually saying “nurse.” Heh. Poor kid.

His musical inclinations are incredibly obvious. He is constantly singing. His baby babbles are almost always to a beat or rhythm and often times have a bit of a tune. It’s delightfully amusing to just sit and watch him eat his food whilst belting his heart out.

His problem solving and logic skills, while fascinating to observe, are unfortunately requiring us (me) to be super hard-core vigilant. Last week he figured out how to reach up and turn the knobs on the stove, so we had to take them off and put them in a drawer so he wouldn’t be able to turn on any of the burners. Well, just today he pulled a fast one on me. We have several baby gates set up so that when he’s in the living room, he’s sort of in an enclosed space and can’t venture into the laundry room, or any of the bedrooms or bathrooms. Unfortunately the kitchen and dining room aren’t separated from the living room by any doors or walls. Well, mister Buddha walked over to one of the baby gates and grabbed one of the step stools that we have set up for Bunny so he can get over them, and then proceeded to push it all the way across the room, into the kitchen and placed it directly in front of the stove. Before I knew it, he was standing on the stool and pushing the buttons that control the oven. Less than a half hour after I told him no and removed both him and the stool, I found him with a different stool in front of the stove. Well this time, in his glee he managed to fall off and ended up making a total face plant on the kitchen floor which split his lip. After he was sufficiently calmed down and contentedly sucking on a teething toy to soothe his lip, I again removed the stool and figured that maybe this incident would have taught him a lesson.
No such luck.
Apparently the logic of that is still a wee bit too advanced for him because later on in the afternoon I had to remove him, yet again, from his perch in front of the stove.*sigh*
Overall though, he’s not really a high maintenance kid. Most definitely not like Bunny, anyway. Yes, he enjoys pulling Bunny’s t-shirts from their hangers and taking all the socks out of his drawer but generally speaking, he’s not overly mischievous – just incredibly enthusiastic and insanely merry. He delights in the simplest things. From how a straw pops up from one of his cups to how he can open and close to drawers, to just running around and giving people hugs. He’s truly an extraordinarily cheerful little guy. On many occasions I’ll hear him giggling only to see that he’s simply cracking himself up.

What a kid.

… is the expurgated book. – Walt Whitman

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By the time I was five I could read and write in two languages. Reading was second only to breathing. There was never a limit to what I could find out, so long as I kept reading. Throughout elementary school, I was constantly getting into trouble with teachers and with my parents for reading at inappropriate times and for preferring to read than doing any homework. If allowed, I’d read rather than play with my friends or even eat. I would get so lost in whatever worlds in the pages that everything else ceased to exist.

I developed fascinations with certain subjects and would spend weeks reading only about those topics. I became obsessed with slavery and with the Civil War, then with WWII and with the Holocaust. I was completely fascinated by Ancient Egypt and then Rome. I couldn’t get enough of the Middle Ages and of Royal genealogy. I researched and read volumes about dynasties from the Romanovs to the Plantagenets. Ancient female figures and monarchs became my heroines. I would dream of being Aspasia or Cleopatra or Eleanor of Aquataine and in desiring to be like them I read everything I could about them, which sometimes included very obscure and mature literature.

My teachers both adored and detested my presence in their classes. I was enthusiastic and incredibly inquisitive but also indignantly precocious. Too often I would question the veracity of their information or often times simply inform them that they were wrong. And on many occasions, they were. No matter what subject we learned about in school, I would inevitably go home and read far and beyond what was in the curriculum, if it was of interest to me, and most things were.
My standardized test scores were through the roof. In the third grade, at age seven, I was admitted to a Gifted Children’s program. At ten, my vocabulary and reading comprehension were those of a college student’s.

But not because I was extraordinarily privileged in the quality of my education.
It was simply the result of being given the freedom to educate myself. My parents didn’t own a TV until I was nearly six years old, but we did have a two room library. When we lived in Central America, my mother made sure to speak with and read to us in English and when we moved to the states, she did her best to continue to do so in Spanish.

If I had a question about something, I was encouraged to look it up. And in the days before ubiquitious internet, we would pack up and head to the library. I was frequently irked by the 30 book limit upon my child library card. See, we could only go to the library once every two weeks. How was I to survive that long with only 30 books to read? The library at school was an absolute joke, as far as I was concerned. We traveled very frequently but I survived and actually looked forward to the many international flights and several cross country road trips we took because all I ever wanted to do was dream and read.

There was never a single moment that my parents denied me my right to read. Not on the basis of content, at least. On certain occasions when I really misbehaved I would get punished not by getting grounded from television but by having whatever book I was reading, temporarily taken away. It would get returned only upon completion of whatever chores or homework it was that I had been avoiding due to said book. As far as what I read, however, my parents never placed limits. At ten, when my fascination with the Holocaust reached it’s peak, my mother refused to allow me to rent Schindler’s List and I was livid. But it was a movie. I could read the book, if I wanted, but the movie was off limits.

I remember one particular instance when I was fifteen. At twelve, my younger brother had been turned on to the subject of satanic cults and came home from school filled with questions regarding the matter. My mother very calmly told him that she didn’t know much about the subject however she was sure they could find plenty of information at the library. And they did. It was less than a month before my brother lost interest, much to my mothers relief.

At ten, at the height of the Lewinsky/Clinton scandal, I was a habitual reader of every morning’s newspaper. My mother was not at all pleased to have to explain all about oral sex and the impeachment process to her sixth grader, however I was never forbidden to read about the sordid and horrible things going on in the world. And if I ever needed to discuss or have things clarified, my parents were very willing to help.

Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of toys, especially not by American standards. But we always had a steady stream of books coming to our way. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. What I lacked in dolls and videos, I more than made up for with words and dreams. I remember being so sad, when at eight my floor to ceiling bookshelf got so filled that I had to move some of my personal collections to a different shelf in another room of the house. I had no idea how truly fortunate I was to have such a dilemma.

See, my parents believe, as do I, that the only true evil in this world, is ignorance. Reading is the most important means of educating yourself. Without the freedom to read and learn at will, we have nothing except what other people tell us. The only way to form an opinion is to be educated on it. They also knew that denying us information could only bring about conflict.

There are a lot of things I dislike about how my parents raised us, but the way that they shared with us their appreciation and love for books is something I will always be thankful for.

Which is why it cuts me the core and really just pisses me off to read about yet another censorship story.

And for what? Because of the word “scrotum”?
Are you kidding me?

I won’t even go into the ethics and absolute immorality that is book censorship, because that is a whole other can of worms that I’m just too tired to go into.

But scrotum?
Seriously?

For the love of god. It’s a body part. One which 50% of the population is in posession of. I could understand if the word were something like copulation or ejaculation, as those are words much more indicative of something too mature for small children. But scrotum? A noun. A simple little noun. Just a run-of-the-mill body part is creating this uproar? What exactly is so threatening about this word? I don’t get it. A scrotum is just as much a part of the male anatomy as penis or testicles and most boys are well aware of what those two words mean. I just fail to see how a child reading or hearing this word could possibly be upsetting. What is it, exactly, about our sexual organs that make people so jumpy? These are children. They have bodies too. How is knowing the correct term for a body part going to negatively affect them at all, unless they are taught that it is something to be ashamed of or hidden? A scrotum alone is not dangerous or volatile in any way. Hiding the word away isn’t going to hide away it’s existence from the 3 Billion people that possess it. All boys, by the age of two are well aware of their scrotums, even if they don’t know what they’re called. What is denying them a word going to accomplish? What can possibly be accomplished by causing an uproar and trying hide such a basic and integral bodypart?

The problem is that people equate knowledge with immorality. It’s the age old apple in eden complex. Knowing and understanding their bodies isn’t going to instigate a sudden onset of hyper-sexualization in children. If anything, teaching them the scientific terms from an early age, could only improve their future sexual health as they will already be familiar with the concepts once they are old enough to be taught in greater detail. There are many things in this world that children need protecting from, but the knowledge of their own bodies is not one of them.

What kind of ridiculous, puritanical world are we living in where people will go to such astonishing lengths in order to do what? Delay in the inevitable? I mean, really. There are just so many other issues, much more worthy of distress than this word.
Knowledge, in and of itself, is never a dangerous thing. It is only the absence of knowledge that gets us all into trouble.

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Breastfeeding is a hot topic these days. I’ve especially become aware, just recently, of how prevalent it is in the blogging world. A discussion on Blogging Baby regarding the recent UK study which indicates that there is a correlation between epidurals and lowered breastfeeding rates, really got me thinking. It especially brought to light something that really bugs the hell out of me: the indignant refusal to take responsibility for one’s decisions. The findings in the study basically indicated that babies whose mothers received epidurals were less likely to breastfeed. This was pretty much *duh* information for me but apparently it’s not for many people. In fact, it’s caused quite a bit of an uproar. I don’t really understand why. See, for me it’s pretty simple. When women agree to receive epidurals during labor they are agreeing to the injection of powerful drugs into their bodies as well as to those of their as-of-yet, unborn children. This is not a secret. That is the point of an epidural, afterall: drug induced numbness. Some of the most common side effects of Fentanyl, the active ingredient in most epidurals, is fatigue and drowsiness. Now, these are drugs that are powerful enough to numb and paralyze grown adults so why does it come as a big surprise that these strictly controlled narcotics would have a negative and/or sedating effect on an infant? It’s pretty damn obvious. So I gotta think there is a lot of misplaced denial going on. And the root of the problem is with the guilt. Parenting and motherhood especially, come with a lot of guilt as it is, so it’s really not a surprise that women don’t like to be confronted with their own shortcomings. But here’s the thing. Adulthood, and parenting as a result, are all about responsibility. It sucks, I know. Boy do I know. But I’ve seen this often, and especially regarding breastfeeding, that women are simply unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. See the way I see it – you make a decision and then you live with the reprecussions. Period. Choose an epidural and you choose to drug your child. Period. But know that that is the decision you are making. Don’t try to minimize your choice by arguing with science. Often times women, and especially mothers, are afflicted with a martyr complex. You know the one. The one where mothers put their children’s wants and needs far before their own. And, in fact, it can almost be a test as to how selfless a mother can be to the point that if and when they do put their own needs in front of their children’s they feel guilty about it. Case in point: epidurals. The fact is, that an epidural is not in the best interest of any child being born vaginally. It’s not a matter of speculation; that’s simply the way it is. An epidural is a comfort measure, soley for the sake of the mother. Choosing an epidural means putting your own comfort above the best interest of your child. The problem is that women can’t seem to admit that. But why not? That’s the truth. The problem I have is not in the epidurals themselves but in the women who refuse to admit that their decision is a purely selfish one. And really, what is so wrong with that? Sometimes being selfish is a good thing. Having never gone through childbirth, I can’t say I won’t ever get an epidural myself, but if I do choose one, I will do so knowing that what I’m doing it for my sake and my sake only. I will not try to justify that decision with pseudo-scientific delusions that my choice was without its risks. Similarly, if you choose not to breastfeed, fine. Really, fine. I’m all about female empowerment. Our bodies, our choices, afterall. But, by choosing not to breastfeed you are making the decision to deny your child adequate nutrition. Too blunt? Too bad. It’s not about demonizing formula or judging that decision. It’s about straight up medical facts. Breastmilk is not superior to formula. On the contrary, it is simply the adequate standard and it is formula that is inferior to breastmilk. Choose not to breastfeed? Fine. But own that decision. Own it. It is yours. There is nothing wrong with making your own choices. What I have a problem with is people making choices but not taking responsibility for the results that their choices influence. If you are going to formula feed because that is what is easier for you, then great. But don’t try and justify your decision by undermining the values of breastmilk or making excuses. Take your decision and own it for what it is. Admitting that you don’t always put your child’s needs 100% before your own isn’t the mark of a bad mother. But refusing to take ownership and responsibility for the ramifications of your decisions does make for a less than stellar adult.

I’m an ER addict. Never mind that the show has been around since I learned to read. It’s an oldie but a goodie and every Thursday night, without fail, I loyally sit and watch in amazement as my fantasty doctor lover (Goran Visnjic) and his fellow doctors slice people up and manage to look insanely sexy though covered in guts and blood. Tonight was no different, despite the fact that my mother and I are in the middle of Pennsylvania on our way back to the west coast. Now, recently, my favorite character, Abby (portrayed by the lovely and talented Maura Tierney) gave birth to a baby boy. Because it’s ER and all, the birth was predictably, very dramatic but they didn’t kill the tyke off like they did Carter’s baby so woo hoo for that! My insane and occasionally unhealthy love for newborns went into overdrive and for the past three weeks I’ve been looking forward to seeing cute little baby Joe on my screen. (Especially since it’s been nearly a year since Buddha was that age and baby fever has hit me hard this year.) So color me a little suprised when Abby mentioned to her hunkalicious slice of Croatian meat, aka Luka the baby daddy, that she’s interested in hiring a nanny. I instantly raised my hand and demanded to turn in my resume. After all, I was recently fired by the bitch from hell, aka, Baroness Bomburst, so I’m pretty much free to nanny any fictional, newborn children of my favorite television characters. Anyway, later in the ep after a rather disastrous mommy and me class Abby met up with a group of nannies at the park! Hooray! Yay for nannies! I felt very much like the ER writers were sending me a personal shout-out. Except not. Right from the get-go one of the girls shared her fear that she might be pregnant with her boss’s child to which another nanny informed her that “the only father who doesn’t want to bang his nanny is already doing it” or something along those lines. Uh oh. When asked if she’s a nanny, Abby replied yes and was then privvy to lots of juicy nanny gossip, involving how the girls use their bosses’ homes and cars and clothes etc etc and overall how they pretty much abuse their positions as caretakers. I was floored, and though I know the scene was supposed to be humorous, I felt a little offended. I have never stolen anything from my families. I have never used their clothes or cars or homes without their permission and I have never slept with any of the fathers or tried to. (Nevermind my intense crush for Big Bad Lawyer Daddy.) Not suprisingly, at the end of her day when her insanely sumptuous Croatian Sensation offered to rethink the nanny prospects, Abby declined, insistent that they could do it just the two of them. Oy. Glad she’s confident in her parenting skills and all but this nanny hate has got to go. I think there are more mature, responsible, loving nannies out there than the other sort and I’m a bit disillusioned that the portrayal of us on the show (my favorite show!) was so negative. I know that nannying has gotten quite a bit of press lately but have there been any good recent representations in the media of the dynamic between a nanny and a family? I’m curious, because I’d definitely like to see some.

If I wanted to be squished and kicked and unable to listen to my ipod over the din of a temper tantrum then maybe I would have gone to Philadelphia with Mrs. P and Dr. Doormat. Instead, I chose to attend a family wedding this past week. Big mistake. On SO many levels. Of course, the universe had to remind me that my life revolves around munchkins because my seat was directly in front of a family with two children under the age of six. My seat in particular was directly in front of the boy’s seat. Boy looked about four or five and he didn’t stop kicking and/or jostling my seatback for the entire three hour plane ride. Three hours of getting kicked in the back. Glorious. The litttle girl on the other hand, who looked to be three or four had three tempter tantrums throughout the flight. One hour into the flight and my devotion towards humans under the age of ten completely dissipated. I wanted to strangle the little tykes. As I sat there fuming though, I realized that it wasn’t the kids’ that I should be irriated at but the parents. These children had no concept that their behavior was affecting everybody else on the flight. Not only were they disrupting me, but they were loud enough to be heard by every single person on the plane and yet they seemed fully oblivious to this. And the mother? She would simply sigh and mutter soft words of lord knows what to them. The father on the other hand, said absolutely nothing. I know not all parents are cut out to be “bad cops” but for both parents to just sit there and allow their offspring to disrespect an entire plane full of people apalls me. It’s rude and shameful. These parents clearly could not set boundaries nor could they discipline properly. The kids were wild. I’m not advocating corporal punishment but enough is enough. Bunny, for all his faults would never have had the gall to behave that way. And had he lost control of his emotions, we would have instantly been in a tiny plane bathroom having a timeout together and talking about his behavior and it’s effect on the people around him. I know it’s embarrassing when kids act out in public but that’s no excuse for avoiding discipline. Children need to understand that there is a world outside themselves but continually catering to a child’s inherently self-absorbed moods can’t come to any good. Sometimes children need to be humored but any sort of public arena is not an appropriate time to do that. Mr. T knows that if he disrupts other people or is unable to behave in an appropriate manner, he will be removed from whatever social situation he’s in. Granted that’s not possible on an airplane but at four he is already beginning to understand that other people’s needs are valid as well. Humans are inherantly selfish beings. Empathy is a learned trait and the longer children are allowed to behave as though they alone matter, the development of important social skills are delayed. Being able to function in any society involves having a degree of compassion. I see more and more that children are not taught the value of other people’s feelings and it worries me. I hope for the sake of that mother that she comes to her senses because already those children are far too self-absorbed. I wish parents would realize that there’s more to parenting than making your kids happy. Parenting is about teaching and children need to be taught, now more than ever, the art of compassion.

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