Monday, February 26, 2007


Charlie was highly active as a fetus. I could count on him to do all manner of acrobatics and calisthenics between 4 and 6 am (which is still the time he has the most trouble sleeping). I never really needed to do a kick count. I felt blessed as I tend to be anxious and there is nothing as comforting to a pregnant woman as feeling her baby move about, not because all this activity would supposedly equal brilliance.

Charlie is now a highly active infant. He wants to bounce and mouth and flirt and interact. Sleep is elusive to him. Shutting out the highly exciting world is oh so hard. Through all of this activity, I have been told time and again how all of this means he is smart or gifted. He is building neurons, highly engaged, and gathering vast amounts of information. Somehow this smart thing is to be a panacea. I have to say that at this point, my husband and I would be delighted to have a slightly dim child if said child would only sleep.

My mother once told me that IQ means very little. What actually matters is what you do with the intelligence you have. This has been borne out to me so very many times it makes all the reassurances that Charlie is brilliant cold comfort at best. I want to raise a happy child, a fulfilled child, a child who can find a place to be himself. His innate intelligence doesn't have much bearing on any of that. I taught any number of children who wouldn't be classified as smart by even the most generous definition. I remember having a conversation with the school psychologist about one girl I worked with. She was such a sweet soul but would probably be just barely functional in reading and maybe functional in math. We speculated that she, like her mother, would be a wonderful mother. She would perhaps do some in-home day care and her husband would need to help her with the bills and such. She was shy but had a core group of friends. She was liked by her teachers and peers. She participated in rodeos and helped keep her siblings in line. In short, she was happy. She had a place that she belonged. She was as fulfilled as a 4th grader could be and would probably continue on that trajectory. Why does there have to be the implication in the world that just because she wasn't classified as smart or gifted, she isn't as valuable or happy or cherished? While some of the children I knew and know who are reportedly brilliant (and there are so very many that I rather wonder if it has any meaning anymore) are just as happy and fulfilled there are any number that are floundering under the weight of expectation.

This article casts an interesting light on all of the smart business. The basic gist is that it's better to praise children for working hard than being smart. There are apparently a number of parents that disagree with this and perhaps I will, in time, as well. But, I doubt it. When I taught I learned to praise effort as much as outcome. Trying again and again was key. As a person, I appreciate praise for what I actually control much more than what I was born with. After all, I have never been praised for being 5 foot 3 and I don't particularly think anyone else has either. It makes about as much sense to praise a child for being smart. This adds this subtle assumption that you either have it or you don't. It makes self-improvement and the acquisition of new skills moot.

I rather think that the next time someone reassures me of my child's brilliance I will have to respond with some witty comeback. Unfortunately, I don't seem to be smart enough to think of one...

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Mouths of Babes

Charlie, the inquisitive child that he is, would like to know the following:

1. Why we only have 1 mouth. This makes it impossible to both chew on a pacifier and stick all those fascinating objects in your mouth- using your hands to explore simply isn't adequate.

2. Why Mommy keeps handing him a teether instead of letting him gnaw to his heart's content on the remote.

3. How to actually swallow the banana instead of gooshing it out.

4. Why he must wear socks in winter when they interfere with his continuing quest to stuff his entire foot into his mouth.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Charlie had some rice cereal to celebrate Valentine's Day and loved it! He fussed every time we had to take the spoon away to get more. He was adorable and will, perhaps, manage to sleep a bit.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Walk On the Wild Side...

I have an unholy hankering to own this tank top...

I suspect it has the same psychological root as my desire to own this nail polish.

Let the reclaimation of my sense of self beyond devoted mother begin!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Don't Take the Baby's Side

So, I joined the La Leache League a few months ago. I like nursing, I needed to get out of the house, and it seemed like a good way to meet other people who would also eat blue potatoes. I generally like it pretty well. However, I have noticed that I always feel a little irked at some point in the meeting and I have finally figured out why.

The leaders always take the baby's side.

When one mother was discussing how she really didn't enjoy nursing at 2am, the leader's response was to enjoy that together time now and how you shouldn't worry about the clock and how you should give yourself permission to sleep at 2pm instead. All of these are wonderful sentiments but when it comes down to it, it really sucks to be awake at 2 am (and 1 am and 4 am) nursing. This response is fairly typical and somewhat problematic. Anne at Bun in the Oven, often references the LLL's purported painless nursing with a good latch. While that might be true after a few weeks, the first week or so will hurt.

Part of motherhood is knowing that sometimes it sucks and doing it anyway. At the same time, it's vital to feel like it's ok to think it sucks, that baby poop smells too, that there won't always be sunshine and daisies and that it isn't just that you need to adjust your attitude. The road to valium addiction is paved with a perpetually positive disposition. Sometimes you just have to take the mommy's side. It doesn't mean she'll abandon her baby or stop picking the baby up when he cries but she will know it's ok if she doesn't smile when the baby cries at 3am.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

This I Know...

Charlie should take 2 naps of about 2 hours in length and 1 of 45 minutes in length. Over the last month I have rocked him through at least 50% of these. All of this trouble with getting him to sleep really has me doubting myself as a mother so, as an exercise, indulge me as I practicing saying this I know...

Charlie smiles a lot when he dreams.

When Charlie frowns in his dreams, a whisper from Mommy helps it go away.

I can now tell where Charlie is in his sleep cycle by how he is breathing.

The glider is key, closely followed by the butt pat.

Cloudy days are your friend.

Our driveway is the favorite spot for all trucks to turn around in and, for a private, gravel, dead end road, we get way more traffic than you would expect.

Beagles are great dogs for families with children but perhaps not the best choice for families with bad nappers.

Charlie likes The Beatles.

There is a vein that runs right down the middle of Charlie's skull.

Charlie likes to sleep on his stomach.

Charlie sleeps better in his crib than in a family bed although he might like a family hammock as rocking is his crack.

Sometimes God indulges desperate mothers and the baby will sleep through the dogs barking and the phone ringing. Of course, sometimes God doesn't...

The amount of time Charlie will sleep peacefully in my arms is directly proportional to how desperately I have to pee.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Let there be hope...

Adventures in sleep continue. There had been a glimmer of sunshine earlier this week and then he started teething... sigh. My husband keeps pointing out that someday Charlie will be a teenager and will be sleeping far more than we might like.

I have taken to watching those shows on Discovery Health about families with multiples. I keep thinking that if those couples with the 4 kids all at once now posses a clean house, presentable hair, and have regained the ability to compose complete and coherent sentences then, someday, surely I will too.