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Sunday, June 1, 2008


It takes a village to raise a child. Or so the Germans would have us believe. (If you get the joke you are awesome.)

Back in the day, yo, we could rely on our parents, and our grandparents, and our neighbors and our neighbors' grandparents, to pass along any little tidbits of wisdom they had acquired throughout years of living and raising children. It's a lot more difficult to engage those elder voices now. We live too far away (and we never call), and we discount oral tradition wisdom in favor of new and well-footnoted research into child development.

Usually this research just confirms what the elders would have told us a century ago; tried telling us fifty years ago; and was ignored thirty years ago when we were born. The legacy of that shift away from elder wisdom was, I opine, a gap in our knowledge: a mythical time in which we forgot what we knew before, but we were pretty sure it was bogus anyway because the new science was going to replace just hadn't managed to do so yet.

And so: Us. A floundering group of parents who have had their elders stripped from them to be replaced by experts. Experts who write books. Experts who appear on television and tell you that you are stupid.

I can't get into the parenting books that are out there. Not that I know anything about them to dismiss them so easily; I don't know why I've always been so stubborn about this one field of book-learnin'. But I have been. Emily bought all the pregnancy books, and I skimmed some. She bought all the new dad books for me, and I shelved them.

So. Anyone know what the definition of "chagrin" is? Whatever it means, I have it in spades right now. Recently, as part of my continuing effort to rock the bloggy world with my awesome body, I've actually started going back to the gym. I can almost do a chin up. I think. I haven't tried real hard.

But I ran into a little problem a few weeks ago that kept me from really hitting the gym hard this past month. It had to do with Erin. And I had no idea what to do. Because I have moved away from all of my elders, and hardly call them, and find it easy to dismiss what they would tell me anyway as being old-fashioned and ignorant. But I also hadn't read any books by the professional-elders of parenting, the child-psychologists.

So, there I was, floundering. Until I remembered that I have an awesome bloggy friend, Heather. Heather is the Baby Shrink, and she gives excellent advice that doesn't make you feel like you've been beaten with the "neglectful, stupid, hopeless parent" stick.

I sent an e-mail to Heather asking her what to do, and she responded with an excellent message. She has posted the exchange over at her site, and if you are curious to see this woman in action it is well worth checking out. Learn how to deal with that sudden, shocking separation anxiety your one year old might be going through.

I really want to thank Heather for her great advice. She is a great resource, and much easier to interact with than one of those books. She has no index or table of contents. Just an e-mail address that she is very easily contacted at. (Editor's Note: She actually does have an index and table of contents: her archives and categories list on her website. And being clickable they're a lot easier to use than a book. Still, she's so good over e-mail that I use that as my first option.)

Plus, I don't have to wade through mounds of "bad son" guilt to talk to her.


SciFi Dad said...

An indirect jab at Ms. Clinton? Is that the joke?

As for the separation anxiety, I don't tend to experience it first hand since I'm the one who's always trying to get more time with my kid. (My wife's a SAHM, and therefore is in a position more similar to yours.) However, I have heard the stories, and I think it's pretty normal. Change is scary, both for you and for her. Don't beat yourself up about it.

(And more importantly, are you going to have the game on tonight? It's on during dinner on the west coast, I think. Will your wife let you make an exception?)

for a different kind of girl said...

Her suggestions are incredibly sound and seem grounded in true life. It also completely trumps my mom's suggestion that I give my kids a shot of whiskey, hide all sharp objects, and then tuck out fast after yelling "Look! Santa Claus!" and pointing behind them.

Yeah, I felt guilty, so remembering I'd forgotten to lock up the firearms, I turned around at the corner and came home. By then they gave me the emo kid sighs and were all "Blah. Why are YOU here?"

When I asked my mom if she did this to me when I was growing up, she got quiet, then yelled "LOOK! Santa Claus!" and pointed behind me. Last thing I heard was the door slamming behind her. Haven't seen her since.

BabyShrink said...

The reason I know Erin is going to be great is because you are thinking about these things and weighing your options. And it's not true that you were clueless: you just needed a little reinforcement for what you already knew. I need the same thing, lots of help, support and reassurance from time to time. This parenting thing ain't exactly hard science! And the stakes are pretty high!

(Now as far as the joke goes, please clue me in. The only joke I know about Germans was the old Monty Python "Joke to end the war", the joke they hoped was so funny, they would broadcast it in hopes the Allied soldiers would laugh so hard they would croak. The lame German version of the joke was "Two peanuts were walking down the strassa. And one was assaulted. Peanut."

Hmmm. I'll have to try that with my 2-year-old. I think you're on to something! ;)

Aunt Becky said...

You're describing exactly why I don't read parenting stuff. Period.

DeeDee said...

I dealt with some separation anxiety of my own with A2 when I decided to put him in two day preschool this past year.

I'm not a major fan of "how to raise your child the correct way for this day and age" books myself so I relied on my own mommy wits.

I figured that the ol' dump and run method would work although it would seem a little harsh the first few times.

It works though. I explained to him before we got to the door what I was going to do and as soon as the teacher walked to the door I handed him to her, smiled at him and told him in my best mommy voice that I would be back soon.

The first two to three times were brutal, more so for me I think, but after that it was a piece of cake. He realized that I wasn't dumping him forever and that as soon as he saw me come back that I would be full of kisses and hugs.

That isn't to say he didn't have to clutch on to a favorite toy every single day I took him up until the very last day but like I said it worked for us.

My husband is more of a softy. We've missed many a Sunday church service because he refuses to to the hand over and leave thing and A2 knows it.

Guess I'm not very awesome 'cause I didn't get the joke. *damn* I just knew I was too.

Land of Bean said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that didn't get the joke, because all I could think was of HiCli. I'm working on that as a LiLo-esque nickname. Probably won't catch on. I love the peanut joke, tho!

I'm totally with you on the parenting books. Every couple of weeks something new will come up and I will feel lost all over again. All I can say is thank god for the internet and blogging. That's my village.

Mandy said...

Ah yes. We went through the separation anxiety with Nate. Jake is just starting. Fortunately for us, Nate's didn't last too long. I hope you have the same experience.

ScientistMother said...

So this has nothing to do with your post, and I really REALLY wanted to leave this comment last night at the end of the 3OT, PPHHHTTT!! Next to my home town team, I have always loved the wings (who can't like shanahan), but when its come to pengs vs wings I have to go with the first love of my life, mario lemieux's team.

MereCat said...

Geez, I feel you on the separation anxiet. I put my daughter in a new room at church drop in today and she grabbed on to me with feet, teeth and nails. I felt horrible. As for the elder removal, that was very insightful. I'm glad we have good friends that can offer advice.

catnip said...

What a cool resource! I never liked any of the parenting books either. I got much better advice from friends and family. Separation anxiety is horrible, good for you for working through it!

Backpacking Dad said...

Scifi Dad: I told you to stop talking about hockey. See what you did?

FADKOG: Your mom stole my silverware with the same trick.

Babyshrink: I love that joke.

aunt becky: because you're stubborn like me :}

DeeDee: you're still awesome. I'm the lame one, because the joke isn't a very good one, and probably my wife and I are the only ones who get it.

land of bean: I like HiCli...but is it "High Cligh" or "Hee Clee"?

mandy: that really is a great picture your son took of you two.

scientist mother: we can't be friends again until after the Finals are over.

merecat: the clutching is the saddest thing to have to witness. How can I just leave her there when she grabs me, looks up into my face, and bawls her eyes out? I need to start being more of an asshole about it. :}

catnip: nice work on the first chapter!

BookMomma said...

Checking her out now, and most likely bookmarking the page. I'm a librarian, and therefore inclined to turn to the Parenting Center in my local branch as a big resource, but it would be nice to have a highly recommended blog to consult as well!

I've found utter crap at the library (like this one) and really good ones, like anything written by this guy. Of course, that's just what works for me...

Thanks for passing along the tip! I really enjoy BD and I sincerely think you are one of the best writers out there. I always find something insightful, funny, and entertaining when I visit.

Backpacking Dad said...

bookmama: wow, thanks. I would lament your low standards but I'm too vain. You have excellent taste :}

kgirl said...

dude, you're hilarious. your twitters alone will have me back here.

Montanadad said...

The very same thing happened with my daughter at around 10 months. After months of taking her to the YMCA daycare so I could play noon basketball, she suddenly started having a really hard time letting me go, she would hang on for dear life and the daycare provider would have to pry her from me. Of course after I left little Carolyn got very upset so I started bringing in her favorite stuffed monkey for her to play with, which in babyshrink terms might be called a "transitional object." Anyway, she still cries a bit when I leave but for only around a minute or too and then she's fine. She'll cry a little too when I return, but only because she sees me and it takes a while for the daycare provider to bring her to me. Sometimes I want to jump over the counter and grab my baby. Good luck with Erin, from reading your blog it sounds like you're a great SAHD.