Friday, March 13, 2009

Three is old enough for a butt-whipping.

Me: Luca had a rough afternoon. His teacher said another kid pushed him down twice on his bad knee, and he won’t walk like he was this morning because his knee hurts.

Paolo: Oh yeah? When that kid gets older, like three, I’m gonna punch him!

Me: Paolo, I am so proud of you for wanting to protect your little brother. I am also happy that you know it would be wrong to rough up a little guy. Even though you’re mad at Luca’s classmate for hurting him, hitting is never the answer. Tripping is so much easier to get away with.

Failing my children in new and exciting ways

I have not had a particularly strong week as a parent. At the park on Sunday, I sat Luca on my lap to go down a slide, and his foot caught and twisted up behind him. He didn't cry much when it happened, and it wasn't until after his nap and late lunch that I realized he couldn't walk. Sam was on a bike ride, so I left a note saying I'd taken Luca to the Emergency Room because something was wrong with his leg. Due to the brevity of my message, Sam showed up an hour later looking ten years older. In my mind, the note clearly referred to the slide incident, which I had not stopped thinking about since it happened. See, it's actually a common accident in which a kid sitting on his mom's lap gets his foot wedged between her and the slide and breaks a leg. I kept obsessing because I KNOW better, and I HAD made sure that Luca's legs were on top of mine when we started. However, in Sam's mind, Luca had contracted flesh-eating bacteria and was facing amputation.

Luckily, the X-ray showed no fracture, so we were sent home with a diagnosis of sprained knee. Luca adapted pretty well: he reverted to crawling for a couple days and is now walking again with just a little hitch in his giddy-up.

The injury done to Paolo this morning was emotional, but no less painful, according to my hypercritical, I mean helpful, husband. Paolo realized in the car when we'd just about reached school that he was still wearing his pajama bottoms. Instantly I remembered that he'd joined me in the bathroom half-dressed to use the potty, and then we'd brushed teeth together and gone downstairs. He'd never returned to his room to change his bottom half and, hence, still had on Batman pj bottoms. I tried to laugh about with him, but he was really upset. I made a snap decision to get him to school on time and bring his pants later. Even though no one would EVER guess his solid black pants were pajama bottoms, Paolo was mortified, and I had to push him into his classroom, promising to be right back.

When I explained to Sam why I was dashing in and out of the house with a pair of pants, he pinpointed that moment - the moment I heartlessly shoved our son into a mocking classroom - as what was sure to become Paolo's first memory, one of utter humiliation. What I SHOULD have done, according to Paolo's father and Paolo's teacher, was come back home, let Paolo finish dressing, and be late to school.

You know you haven't had your best week when the highlight is that you didn't break your kid's leg.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Breastfeeding Backlash

My husband set me up with a slew of crap to read and view on my lunch break about all this unreasonable pressure on women to breastfeed their babies, not to mention the guilt they are made to feel for choosing formula over breastmilk. I mean, gah, it’s so unfair!

Shut up. Shut the hell up. Why are doctors and scientists and mothers trying to rationalize breastfeeding? Why does the debate continue to rage? It couldn’t be simpler. You carry a baby for nine months, you give birth to said baby, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO THAT BABY DOES NOT END THERE. If it did, your boobs wouldn’t fill up with milk three days later.

We don’t need to understand breastmilk on a molecular level or to conduct long-term studies of breastfed vs. formula-fed children to decide what the best food is for a baby. Common sense tells us that a mother’s body, which has been nurturing and growing a baby during gestation, will produce the perfect food on which her baby will thrive. Her body knows more than a crapshoot of chemicals in a can. True, a formula-exclusive diet will not kill a baby…anymore…unless you live in China…but it’s not the best diet. It says so right on the can of formula.

Of course there are circumstances in which mothers are unable to feed their infants, and they have every right be pissed at getting the stink-eye from strangers for whipping out a bottle of formula. Let me be clear: it is the unwilling, not the unable, who rub me the wrong way. Women who are unwilling to breastfeed argue that breastfeeding is awkward, weird, inconvenient, painful, shape-altering, and difficult to continue while working. Yes, it is all of those things. It is also many wonderful things, but I won’t enumerate them because, apparently, that propaganda keeps getting shoved down our throats.

Breastfeeding isn't a trend; it's the next fundamental step after giving birth. A mother who chooses not to bother for only selfish reasons is shirking her duty. And her complaints of being made to feel guilty for putting formula on her baby shower registry? Well, maybe she should feel guilty. I can’t say this enough: If you are going to have a baby, HAVE a baby. Otherwise, what’s the point? You will have sore nipples, you will be sleep-deprived, you will get peed on. It is all part of having a baby, YOUR baby. You would lay down your life for your baby. You won’t lay down a boob?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Please always be with me.

I glared at the message light on my office phone Monday morning and rolled my eyes impatiently while the robotic voice announced that my missed call had come Sunday morning at 7:02. Surely a wrong number. Finally, the message played: just some incomprehensible noise, almost as if someone were mouthing the phone, and then “gah-gah-gah” – click. I quickly scrolled down the Caller ID to confirm that the call had come from my house. It was Luca; my baby called me.

I still don’t know how he did it, but it sure made my day, and it made me realize anew how he has made my life. It amazes me that a short eighteen months ago (Happy 1½, kiddo!) I didn’t know this boy at all. And now, how unimaginable my life would be without him. I lose my breath just contemplating it.

Who has made your life, colored it in, given it fire and meaning and joy? It doesn’t have to be a child; it could be a friend or a lover. Who are the people that you didn’t start this life with, but without whom your life would be a shame? Tell them, even if you whisper it while they’re sleeping, even if you just leave them a message.