Day Care Parent Conference Day

I can’t believe Punkie is old enough to be having another parent conference week at day care.  I guess he obviously is, since it’s happening.  If you recall, I had a fair amount of confusion leading up to his first conference, last year, around what I would ask or what we could talk about.

This time around, I want to know things like what kind of classmate is he?  Is he kind of pushy or aggressive, or does he stand back and watch, or does he help his classmates?  I also want to know what he excels at and what he has a little more trouble with.  Does he enjoy dance party afternoons, and what does he do when they try to get him to finger paint.  We can work at home with him on whatever he needs help with.

That’s probably what I’m supposed to want to talk about, and I honestly do.  But I also want to know something less politically correct.  I want to know which one of these kids bit my baby.

About two weeks ago, Punkie came home with a bite mark on his arm.  The teacher explained to my husband, who picked him up that day (and most days), that there was a disagreement over a toy and Punkie was bitten.  We didn’t ask who bit him and the teacher did not offer.  However, THIS parent wants to know which kid did it.  Is it his friend whose name he learned and repeats at home, or was it some bigger kid from another class?

I mean, let’s be honest.  I can’t do much about it.  And I’m sure this is why my husband didn’t ask who did it.  Kids bite sometimes and it’s not like Punkie will understand me if I coach him to use conflict avoidance strategies to avoid future bites.  But I need to know.

 

Easter

easter redacted 3easter redacted 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think Punkie had a nice Easter with his family, but he seemed a little confused at times.  WHY are we in a field searching for eggs?  WHAT is that brown bunny thing? WHY are we in a ballroom eating brunch?  And WHY is there a basket of stuff here?  And I didn’t really know how to explain it all to him in a way a toddler could understand.  I just gave everything a name and we rolled with it.

He busts out a couple of new words a day at this point and it is so cool.  I LOVE hearing him try a word for the first time.  On Easter, a balloon was tied to his basket and he said “buh boe” for balloon and it was adorable.

He has also now likes to chant “Daddy” – he’ll go “dah dee…dah dee…dah dee” and it sounds kind of like, in the movie Rudy, where the student body starts chanting “Rudy…Rudy…Rudy” during the big game.  You guessed it – adorable.

 

Forced Self Awareness

cool redacted

All of the baby books and websites say that, since Punky is 14.5 months, he should be imitating us.

Unfortunately for me, this is true.  Check the box, Punkie does that now.

I had NO IDEA that I had so many verbal tics.  And, having my kid point them all out is kind of horrifying . . . and, if I pretend I don’t care about the knowledge that I sound kind of like an idiot, maybe a little funny.

The newest one was revealed to me yesterday.  Punkie has a drawer and a few cabinets in the kitchen that he’s allowed to ransack.  They contain things like plastic spatulas, placemats, potholders – things that won’t hurt him.

It was early, like 5AM, and Punky and I were alone in the kitchen.  I was washing his bottle while he ransacked his drawer for the 500th time.  Suddenly, a plastic spatula was tossed into the kitchen sink from behind (like a softball pitch), and a little voice behind me said “cool!”.  I turned around to see the back of the footie-pajamaed kid as he exited stage right.  He was moving fast – he basically had a puff of cartoon smoke behind him as he sped away.

I thought to myself, “huh, Self, where did he learn that? Must have been daycare.”

And then, all day, I heard my own voice utter “cool”.  Continuously.  All day.  Cool.  Cool.  Cool.  WTF is wrong with me?  Who says that all day?  Apparently, this idiot does.

Teeth

ha ha

Punkie is getting his teeth, finally.  He didn’t get his first tooth until about two weeks ago — he was 13 months old and toothless!  Now, he’s working on his third tooth in two weeks.  Friends, these are crazy times in the Punkie household.

Wait . . . wait . . . wait . . . wait . . . . BOOM.

I’m not entirely sure that I’m handling his teething pain properly, although I am doing what the doctor recommended.  When Punkie is in the throes of teething pain, he’ll grab the cold teether from my hands and throw it at the wall.  Other times he might play with it and quickly leave it behind.  I end up giving him some Motrin or Tylenol.  On a rare occasion, I might give him a little of each, depending on his level of distress and the timing of doses.

A friend recommended Hyland teething tablets, but I was reading online about how they aren’t entirely safe, so I don’t want use them.  I read about teething necklaces, but, after getting to know Punkie the way that I do, I’m not entirely sure putting a noose . . . er necklace . . . of beads around his neck is a good idea.  I also read about numbing stuff that you rub onto the gums, but there are some doomy sounding warnings around that.

What’s getting me going, though, is that he won’t show me his teeth willingly.  I’ve been reduced to planning a surprise attack and wrestling with a baby.  I have to wait until he’s trapped in his highchair and REALLY FAST put my forearm across his forehead, hold his arms down, and get my finger into his mouth before he realizes what I’m doing.  Otherwise, Punkie will suddenly display ninja-like reflexes and ward me off.  The sneak attack is key.

But he shows my husband willingly.  That doesn’t seem entirely fair to me.  I’m just sayin.

Get Yourself and Your Kids Vaccinated

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the measles outbreak in California and how high the rate of unvaccinated children is there.

It’s one thing to say “I don’t believe in vaccines” (albeit a very stupid and selfish thing), but it’s another thing entirely when the willful ignorance and the fear mongering of one small group is jeopardizing the lives of small children too young to be vaccinated and people with medical conditions who cannot be vaccinated.  We live in a community and these vulnerable members of our community rely on us – it’s called the herd immunity.  We have a responsibility to the people around us.

I don’t curse often.  But fuck the people who refuse to vaccinate their children for no good reason.  And if you’re one of them, fuck you too.

They don’t believe in vaccines, or they think vaccines cause autism.  Well, medical fact tells us that (A) vaccines prevent life-threatening illnesses, and (B) they do not cause autism.  “Belief” is irrelevant.  We’re talking about facts here.  Facts are true whether you believe in them or not.

Voluntarily unvaccinated children should not be in schools.  They should not be playing sports.  They should not be at the mall or grocery store.  They should not be at Disneyland.

Just keep your voluntarily unvaccinated children away from my kid.  He’s too young for me to vaccinate him and it should NEVER be left to the discretion of random strangers whether my kid gets the measles and suffers brain damage, or, worse, dies.

The measles are highly contagious and preventable.  One infected person went to Disneyland and now there are 89 cases linked to that one person – the number grows every single day.

I read an article on NPR.org, I believe, about a father in California who, with his family, lives in the U.S. county with the highest voluntarily unvaccinated rate in the country.  This guy’s son has been fighting leukemia for 4 1/2 years and his immune system is too weak for him to receive vaccinations.  It’s the same medical condition that would make a disease like measles catastrophic to this kid’s health.  It could kill him.  When the father asked the superintendent of the kid’s school to ban voluntarily unvaccinated children, he was told the school would look into it.  Contrast this to a parent meeting the same father attended at the beginning of the school year where a school employee implored, nay BEGGED, the parents to not allow peanuts into the school because a child could die.  Really?  Why is that community valuing the lives of peanut allergy kids above the lives of leukemia kids?  The leukemia kid is going to school in the middle of a measles outbreak with kids who aren’t vaccinated.  That superintendent and every single anti-vaccine parent in that school may as well be playing roulette with this kid’s life.  Fuck them.

I read on CNN.com about a 6 month old baby in Oakland, California who was quarantined in her home for 28 days because some asshat parent who visited the same pediatrician’s office refused to vaccinate their kid, who then showed up at the doctor’s office with measles.  This is not a mere inconvenience to this family.  The parents had to miss work and then pay to bring a family member in from out-of-state to care for the quarantined baby while they waited to see if the baby would get the measles and potentially die.  Shame on that pediatrician for allowing unvaccinated children  to co-mingle with infants while at his or her office DURING A MEASLES OUTBREAK – that is clearly malpractice.  And a big fuck you to those parents for making a stupid decision and putting the life of a baby they never met in danger.

This issue is completely and wholly unbelievable.

Black Eye :(

redacted shinerMy baby has a black eye.  I mean that in the literal sense, not that his reputation was besmirched or anything like that.

I‘m told that he climbed onto a basket (toys are kept in plastic baskets at daycare) and fell off the basket, face-first onto a block.  Apparently there was blood and crying.  Daycare called my husband, who went there and checked on Punkie.  Then my husband called me and told me what happened.  He also tried to warn me that he seemed alright but it looked bad.

I know getting a shiner was very painful for Punkie and being injured for the first time (aside from a couple of bruises) was probably very scary for him.  But he’s okay now.  He was a little clingy for a few days, but he really is okay now.

Now that I know he’s okay, I can admit that this whole episode was very upsetting to me, on several levels.  First, my baby was hurt.  I regret very much that someone else, not me, was there to comfort him and clean him up.  This is a really emotional thing for me, I guess.

Second, I didn’t know until my husband had gone to daycare and then called me.  So, the kid’s mother is the last one to know that Punkie is bleeding from the eye.  We had considered this type of situation when we chose this daycare.  We knew that this daycare was highly recommended and that it was very close to one of us during the day and that one of us could be there quickly if needed.  It all made such logical sense in the abstract.  When Punkie hurt himself, everything went as we had planned . . . and that, it turns out, feels terrible.

Three, I can’t stand that I’m so upset with myself over this – the kid is fine.  For real.  And here I am, three days later, still stewing over it and whining on my blog.  Look at the photo I posted above – he’s smiling.  That photo was taken 3 hours after the injury happened and he’s smiling.  How serious could the injury be?  Serious enough to make me a nut case, apparently.

Oh, but why is he smiling, you ask?  This brings us full circle to my first point – he’s smiling because his mommy (me) picked him up from daycare that day and he wanted nothing more than to be hugged and held by her.  And I wasn’t there when it happened – someone else was.  Someone who doesn’t love him cleaned up the blood, held ice on his face, and snuggled with him.

The good news is that he’s okay now.  He has a shiner that my dad can have a good laugh over (“[Punkie] is a boxer for Halloween,” “you should see the other guy,” etc.) and it’ll be a topic of fond conversation in the (distant) future, when we all look back at the photos from my sister’s wedding and see a smiling, black-eyed baby in a bow tie.

Mommy’s Milestone – First Babysitter

This is going to sound preposterous, but Punkie is 10 1/2 months old and we just hired our first babysitter.

We’ve asked family to watch Punkie occasionally, but this is the first time we hired someone to watch the kid.  He seemed to really enjoy it, like a play date.

In contrast to all the talk of baby’s milestones, this is a big milestone for me.  I had some admittedly anxious moments around leaving Punkie with a babysitter, but we interviewed her, I called references, and I submitted the background check request on care.com.  It seems like we picked a good one.

I’m disappointed that the reason I hired the babysitter to watch Punkie is so I can work over the weekend, but it’s good to have someone available.  Maybe we can go to a movie.  Or a restaurant.  Both?  Wow, that would something.

Champion Power Napper?

Punkie is exhaustedPunkie isn’t sleeping enough.  During the week, he just doesn’t sleep much at daycare.  For example, he slept for 20 minutes yesterday and less than 45 the day before.  Sometimes in the evening, before bedtime, he abruptly stops playing and just lays down on the floor (like in this photo).  By the weekend, he is usually completely wiped out and he tends to take marathon naps to catch up.

And he isn’t sleeping all that wonderfully at night.  Some nights, he is excellent – he sleeps straight through to the alarm.  A lot of other nights, though, he wakes up yelling or, if he sleeps through, he wakes up ready to start his day one or two hours before the alarm.  We’re talking before 4AM, people.

The small amount of sleep would be fine if he seemed to be doing okay, but he’s really tired.  The poor guy is tuckered out.

What’s happening is that, during the day at daycare, they don’t have the time or ability to sit with him until he falls asleep.  He seems to need that in order to fall asleep.  On a weekend, if I sit with him for maybe 10 minutes when he’s tired, he’ll fall asleep and stay asleep for an hour or more.  At daycare, he’s now one of the older babies and the staff is spending time with younger babies who just need more attention.  For a while, daycare insisted on swaddling him (an 8 month old baby), even though I told them to stop, probably because of this very issue.

And, to add insult to injury, they called him the champion of the power nap.  Really?  Obviously there is a problem here and it just makes it worse when they make light of it.

Not to take a snarky detour here, but the newer crop of young babies seem to be especially needy.  In fact, at least two of them are screaming every time my husband picks Punkie up or drops him off.  Does the poor kid listen to screaming every day?  This can’t be good for him – it must be very stressful to listen to that continuously all day.  And what kind of impact does that have on him?  I have no idea.

This is really breaking my heart.  Often, I wonder if I should quit my job and stay home with him so he gets what he needs.  The staff at daycare are really nice women who seem very, very fond of Punkie, but they just aren’t his mother.  But, if I stayed home with him, WOULD he get what he needs?  He would lack the social interaction that he really seems to enjoy.

I wonder if this kind of guilt and second guessing is felt by all working moms.

Maybe this is a problem with this particular daycare, but I suspect it’s like this everywhere.  The state mandates one staff member for every 4 babies, so the daycares in our area all staff 1:4.  We’d have to hire a nanny to have a smaller ratio.  When we originally set up child care for Punkie, I opted for a daycare because of the lower cost and because I was concerned about one person being alone with Punkie all day without any supervision – a nanny can be wonderful, but another nanny can abuse, neglect, or injure your child.

My husband and I recently toured another daycare that was highly recommended by one of my husband’s colleagues.  I think we’re going to switch when an opening is available at the new place.  It’s so unclear, though, if that’s the right decision.  First, there’s the potential of upsetting Punkie with an abrupt change in his day-to-day routine, baby friends, and teachers.  Second, the grass might not be greener – it’s possible that this daycare has the same issues or, heaven forbid, worse issues.    I just don’t know.

This is What I’m Talking About

No sooner did I hit “Publish” on my last blog, “Is Egg Freezing the Key to Gender Equality,” in which I talked about what it will take to make women equal participants in the work force, did I come across this gem:

http://abovethelaw.com/2014/10/judge-refuses-to-postpone-hearing-because-maternity-leave-isnt-a-good-enough-excuse/

This is what I’m talking about.  I have heard so many of these stories in the context of the legal profession.  I have lived a few of them myself.  Until now, my favorite was from my first job out of law school with a BIGLAW firm – a colleague of mine was a litigator and she was required to wear a skirt of a very specific length (it couldn’t be too long – yes, you read that correctly) when she appeared before one particular judge in town.  During that time, I can say without exception that every single time I saw a woman leave the office at night (yes, NIGHT) to pick up her children or decline to work a Saturday because of a family commitment, her dedication to the firm and to her career was questioned.  Similarly, when a male attorney declined to work a Saturday due to a family commitment, he was considered to be “a great guy.”

In this story on Above The Law, a female sole practitioner had the NERVE to try to take six weeks of maternity leave.  As a sole practitioner, she didn’t have partners to cover her court appearance so she filed a motion for continuance in an immigration case.  Many immigration cases take YEARS to work through the courts, so asking for a six week postponement (less in this case) is not a lot of time.  And her clients and opposing counsel were all cool with it.  Don’t get me started on how six weeks is a completely inadequate maternity leave, but, nevertheless, that’s all she was looking for.

The judge sat on her motion for some time and then denied it one week before the hearing (after the kid was born).  Apparently, in his opinion, having a child is not “good cause” to postpone a hearing.  Like she had asked to postpone because she had a hair appointment that day.

Having no choice but to appear in court on short notice, she appeared in court with the baby.  She was new in town and didn’t have family nearby, her husband was out of town, and a day care center will not accept a child younger than 6 weeks of age.  Of course they won’t, because only a complete and total asshat expects the mother to go back to work that soon after having a baby.

THEN, in open court, the judge humiliated this lawyer by questioning her parenting skills . . . because she appeared in court as required by the same judge.

So, let me draw some conclusions about this judge’s perspective: (1) a competent lawyer cannot accept clients while pregnant, (2) a competent lawyer cannot take maternity leave without withdrawing from the practice of law entirely, and (3) when a judge, knowing an attorney just had a baby, compels a lawyer to appear and she is forced to appear with a baby in tow, it’s the attorney’s fault.  Interesting.

How it is that a profession who, above all others, ought to know better, is so often on the “HEY I’M A STUPID JERK” side of this issue?

This story makes me so angry.

On the bright side, I am pleased to see that this lawyer filed a complaint against this judge.  I hope they require this idiot judge to at least pretend he’s a better person in the future.

On the very bright side, this lawyer can now go work for Facebook and they’ll reimburse her for the cost of getting her eggs frozen . . . so she won’t have to inconvenience anyone with pregnancies until she’s older.

Is Egg Freezing the Key to Gender Equality?

I saw an article this week that talked about how Facebook and Apple are offering a new benefit to their employees through health insurer Aenta.  They will cover the cost of a woman electing to freeze her eggs so presumably she can have children via IVF later in life.

Wow, I have very mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, I appreciate an employer who recognizes that some of their employees are struggling with life/work balance issues and they’re attempting (at not insignificant expense) to help them with it. And maybe this is some kind of genuine, albeit ham-handed, attempt by a male-dominated industry to recruit women.

Some women will benefit from this very much.  They really will.  And this is a good thing.

However, I read an article that speculated whether this move will create gender equality in the workplace.  Lets not get carried away here.  It isn’t the condition of a woman’s eggs that creates an environment where she makes less money than a man doing the same work.  It’s a whole lot more than that.

I can’t help but think that paying for women in the workforce to freeze their eggs is just avoiding what is really needed to help women balance families and careers.  We need affordable, quality child care in this country.  We need paid maternity leave guaranteed by law.  We need decisions around a woman’s health (including birth control) to be solely between her and her doctor.  And, of course, we need equal pay for equal work.

A lot of loyal employees at Apple and Facebook are going to freeze their eggs, dust themselves off, and go back to work.  But when are they going to find the perfect time to get pregnant and pop that kid out?

As someone who personally delayed having children, I don’t know if it’s easier now, at this later stage in life, than it would have been when I was younger.  I may make a little bit more money now, but I still pay an arm and a leg for child care and I still took an unpaid maternity leave that was just too short.  But now I am older and have less energy at the end of a long day.  And I’m still trying to figure out how to get it all done at work and at home, just like a younger me would have had to do.

Also, not to get too dark here, but am I the only one who wonders what message these companies are sending to young women entering their workforces?  To me, it seems like the message is that these women will need to delay having families in order to be successful at those companies.

In any case, I do very much support whatever a company wants to do to allow its employees to make their own decisions about when to have a family.  I just don’t think we should read too much into this egg-freezing-as-an-employer-benefit trend.