Squarespace Blog / "daughter"
For those of you following, you know this is Aymee's special once a week spotlight... for those of you that are now... this is Aymee's special once a week spotlight... lol Its amazing... and always amazing and a great read :) Leave her some comment love...
Sour Grapes of RiskRecently, we’ve heard nonstop about Abby Sunderland and her solo sailing attempt across the world, and everyone’s opinion on it: either the condemning of her parents, or the praise of Abby. The whole situation touched on what Adam and I have been discussing between the two of us for a little while now: what is the right level of shelter for our child? Where do we draw the line between adequate parental protection and outright smothering? Too little protection will lead to a lack of growth at best, and injury or death at worst. However, smothering from us will also breed lack of growth, rebellion, and the potential for mental and emotional disorders such as excessive anxiety. Adam and I also feel many recent generations, including our own, have been coddled too much. Years ago, I read an article whose title summed it up beautifully: “The Pussification of the American…” It makes me think of the Grandpa cliché, “When I was your age, I had to walk 10 miles to school…in the snow…barefoot…uphill...” etc. Most of us rolled our eyes and thought, “Whatever, Grandpa.” While the story might be embellished, the moral is true. They had it rougher than we did, and I get it. Technological and social advances have made our lives easier in every way, and when we grow up knowing nothing else we take these things for granted. Grandpa was only trying to teach us to appreciate what we have. My grandparents were heartier than I am at my age, and I think admitting that is the first step towards gaining their wisdom and strength.Adam is strongly opinionated on the subject of how much to shelter a child (quite opposed), while I am often more conflicted. I always like to error on the side of caution, and evaluate risks to the nth degree. Sometimes I can be too careful. But I also strongly believe in the old adage, “Everything in moderation.” This is the dynamic of our marriage: our opposites attract and we balance each other quite well. Once such discussion came about when Adam learned the suggested age/weight/height for the different stages of the car seat we chose (it’s a convertible seat—newborn through booster). Adam’s first response was, “What the hell is a booster seat?” After I explained, and he learned that Minnesota law requires a child to be in a booster seat up to 7 years old (that’s a second grader, mind you), 80 lbs, or 4’9” tall, he exploded in a rant about how outrageous the law is, and proceeded to passionately remind me how he didn’t start wearing a seatbelt until he was eight years old because Missouri law changed to require it. Sound familiar? “Whatever Grandpa…”Many regulations and guidelines have come about in response to an ever-evolving society with new dangers and concerns, as well as in response to more accurate, advanced science (i.e. changes/additions to seatbelt laws). These are legitimate needs for change if we are to improve and survive. But then there is also the gradual dumbing down of social and parental guidelines over the years as the result of ignorance and laziness on the part of the lowest common denominator, and our culture’s inherent need to place blame. Yes, we as a society have a certain responsibility to look out for our fellow man and the right to protect ourselves from him, but where do we draw the line? In a culture of excess like ours, we simply don’t know when to say “that’s enough.” At what point do we say, “This is no longer government sanction territory. This is now individual parental responsibility?”The other night, I heard a tragic news report about a local four year old who choked on a whole grape at her daycare. The broadcaster ended the report by saying investigators were looking into “where the child got the grape.” …???...?!?!...”Where the child got the grape?” I thought, “What average four year old can’t handle chewing a whole grape (barring accidents like these)?! Shouldn’t the investigation be asking, ‘Was the child unsupervised? Was the staff of the daycare first aid certified in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver? If no, why not?” In the article, it mentions “‘The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) lists whole grapes as a choking hazard for young children. ‘Although children under age 4 are most at risk for choking on food and small objects, youngsters in their middle years can choke too,’ the AAP says on its website.” So can anyone else! I can choke on a small object, but that doesn’t mean I’m not mature enough to chew it. Accidents happen, and we should be responsible enough to educate ourselves on how to respond appropriately—like first aid techniques, especially if you’re looking after another person’s well-being. Furthermore, kids make mistakes, and sometimes do stupid things like cram their mouth full of food despite their parents/guardians teaching them otherwise. The article goes on to say, “The AAP urges parents and other caregivers to cut food for infants and small children into pieces no larger than a half-inch and then instruct the child to chew food thoroughly.” For the record, a half-inch is about the size of an average grape. Also, what parent doesn’t say, “Chew your food?” In discussing this with one of my co-workers, his response was, “Does that mean it was Perkins [Restaurant’s] fault when I choked on a piece of bacon when I was a kid? No. I was fat and scarfed my food too fast.”Anyone who knows me knows I don’t see eye to eye with my dad on many things. But I am reminded of something he used to do when I was little, and I think it’s really smart. My dad hated shopping. Like most men, if he went to a store he had a purpose for being there. He was in, and out. Through virtue of this, he walked very fast—with purpose. Sometimes my little youngster legs had trouble keeping up, and sometimes my youngster attention span would steer me off course, resulting in me getting lost often. But I wasn’t lost to my dad. He would purposely let me get “lost” all the while standing off in a corner somewhere out of sight, watching me. Every time this happened I would get scared, then compose myself, find the front desk, tell them I was lost and ask them to page my dad. They would, and he’d then step out from the corner, revealing to me he’d been there the whole time. I learned at a very early age to take care of myself by being proactive, while he was still there in case something terrible happened. Kudos Dad.How is it good parenting to try to protect our kids from every bad experience they might ever face in fear of the worst scenario? Isn’t it better to teach them morals, give them guidelines and boundaries, and be there to kiss the booboos? Furthermore: to let the booboos happen. To give them the space to ride by themselves, comfort them when they fall and skin their knee, but still be right there in case they fall off the deep end and need some real rescuing? Isn’t it our responsibility as caregivers to know the life-saving techniques of CPR and the Heimlich maneuver and to act immediately in an emergency rather than say four year olds aren’t developed enough to chew their food out of fear of an accident? Sometimes, we all have to learn the hard way. Some of us had to burn our hand on the stove because we were too stubborn to listen to our mother say, “Don’t touch that. It’s hot and will burn you.” If we protect our kids too much, they will never learn from their mistakes: be they embarrassing, painful, or scary. I believe it’s our responsibility, and pleasure, as parents to be the lighthouse, the band-aid, the emergency responder, the cleanup crew, and the safe house. How else are they supposed to learn to survive on their own, and become responsible adults?Another less life-threatening example, although no less life-changing, is the argument of sex education in school. Regardless of one’s personal opinions and beliefs, the school should not be the only place our children learn about sex. Much in the same way school should not be the only place our children learn to read and speak. I am a big proponent of parents being involved in their child’s life. So, I am supportive of the parent who goes to PTA meetings, and voices their opinions about what the school should teach regarding sex and other subjects. If we do not voice our opinions, they will never have the chance to come to fruition. Schools have parent groups like PTA because they want us to contribute to the curriculum. But what if your values are in the minority of a majority vote? It is not a public school’s responsibility, much like it not being a government’s responsibility, to instill your family’s values in your child. That’s your family’s responsibility—AKA the parent’s responsibility. The parent who forfeits the opportunity to teach their child something—be it the alphabet or sex ed, regardless of whether or not the child learned about it in school, does so out of laziness and fear. How irresponsible of us!All in all, I think the right answer is there is no right answer, for we are a melting pot of values and cultures. None of us fit into the cookie-cutter world of government regulations perfectly. These laws and guidelines are there to help us decide what’s best for our individual child. We should follow the laws and use the guidelines to educate ourselves toward a more informed decision that best fits our family, as well as keep a level head when it comes to whether or not to sanction every bad possible circumstance brought to the table because we’re afraid. Restricting our kids from doing things that involve risk instead of educating ourselves and our families on how to handle such risks will inevitably hold our children back. Coming back to Abby and her sailing adventure, Adam brought home a great article touching on this very thing. I think it’s a wonderful read for all parents: http://www.startribune.com/local/96344934.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUnciaec8O7EyUsl
p.s. Amber's edit: Aymee... love this post... you know I am and i have crazy irrational fears... ie. If my kid sleeps past 8:15, hes probably dead... if he walks into the parking lot, he will most definitely get hit by a car... and if your standing at the top of a flight of stairs... someone is bound to fall down... im a panic'd anxious mess at any given time of any given day... thanks childhood/teen years PTSD is great. Anyways - most people having these fears go into freak out mode when confronted with "scary" situations... but not me... im so damn worried about being OVER protective because i'm crazy that Im the opposite... i may be panic'd on the inside... but on the outside im cool & collected (most the time) for example... yesterday we went swimming... me - and two toddler boys (that can't swim... imagine me, panic'd mess alone with two boys...) and its a tough task, but its worth it getting them out daily for some fun in the sun...USUALLY both have arm floaties... but zave's had a hole in it... shit so I couldn't let him "swim" I carried him around and let him sit on my raft... I can't count how many times he tried to jump off the raft and into the water. I was getting so frustrated... finally I said one last calm & collected time... Zavery, if you jump off that raft your going to go under water (he hates that) Sure enough, he leaped off the raft. I let him go... he sunk like a rock and i swooped him back up... helped him catch his breath... said, ok... are you alright? (Yah, snort, whining, boo hoo) Are you gunna listen to me? (Yah, snort, whining, boo hoo) Are you gunna jump in the water again without your floaties? (No....) and he didn't. problem solved. I could have spent that whole damn pool trip fighting to keep him from jumping... sometimes they just gotta figure it out themselves.
Another edit from me: Aymee... Maddie - ugh... this post killed me in all the greatest ways possible... eyes welled up with tears through the whole thing... As you know, I feel the same way about my grandpa - and my memories of him are so clear... i can still smell him. A mix of tobacco, zippo, and oil... mmm such a wonderful scent. Too bad they dont sell it as cologne. It literally breaks my heart that I will never see him squeeze on the boys... he would have been so proud of me... 2 boys in his sea of 5 girls. Such a mans man... ugh... i wish. i wish. i wish... I love you mimi and maddie, your not even here and I already love you... and miss you so so much... im homesick for the fact I havn't gotten to rub your mamas belly... and kick my hand and watch you wiggle about... and i miss you because i know i will not get to see you NEAR as much as I want to... think of me as the ultimate "god" mother... I will shower you with gifts, so youll know im always thinking of you even though im not there... and ill make your mommy ALWAYS show you pictures of me and the boys so you don't forget us... and maybe even tell a few embarrassing stories so your mama can giggle... i love you both dearly... mama - give maddie a little squeeze for me... or a wiggle? Or a hand kiss? I dunno whatever you can do to let her know im thinking of her ;) Love you. Amber
Another amazing post by future Maddies mama... Aymee. Loving your posts mimi... :)The “Whoa” MomentI don’t know about you, but every once in a while, I have moments where the earth seems to stop spinning on its axis and the gravity of a situation hits me hard. This usually only happens during major life milestones. Graduating high school, getting married, turning 25: these are all instances where, for me, time stopped for a moment and I thought to myself, “whoa.” Either the reality of being pregnant hasn’t hit me yet, or I am very serene about it. I haven’t been able to decipher which one. Adam seems to be breaking this “oh my god” freak-out moment into smaller, more manageable panics and lubricating them with whiskey. He says I was born to be a mother. Yes, in a scientific sense: this is what I’m designed to do, and so maybe that plays a big role. Because this is my most primal purpose, I’m not having that moment of “whoa?” Has nature taken over and put my conscious on autopilot? What I fear is that I’m not taking this seriously enough. As soon as I typed that out, I realized how ridiculous that is. I’m on my second baby book, I religiously follow the dietary suggestions, track weight gain, exercise with the proper restrictions/precautions, I read and play games with my unborn child for brain stimulation. But at the same time, I haven’t had that world-stopping moment. In the first trimester, I would say, “It hasn’t hit me yet because I need to feel her kick.” But that wasn’t it. I’m now in the third trimester where she kicks all the time, and it’s still so surreal. It’s like a movie; as if any minute now, a director will yell “Cut,” the walls of my apartment will part to reveal a set with cameras and crew, and someone will bring me bottled water and powder my nose. Throughout most of my childhood and teenage years, I was so focused on growing up that I didn’t often stop to smell the roses. My first “whoa” memory is sitting on one of hundreds of plastic folding chairs in the middle of the UMSL gymnasium floor amongst my peers, a sea of red caps and gowns. The gym was humming with over a thousand people, students, teachers, parents and other family, talking all at once. After the speeches, I watched as one by one, each row was lead up to the stage. As I was standing in line on the ramp next to the stage, waiting for my name to be called, I thought, “This is it.” The only chapter in my life I could remember was now closing and another chapter was opening before me at the other end of that stage: one that held mysteries as deep as the ocean or space. They do a good job of trying to prepare you for what’s on the other side. I had a plan for my future; I had it all figured out (ha ha). But no one can accurately convey what it will feel like in that very moment when all you know is ending. My next “whoa” memory is from my wedding day (I had two that day). I especially love these for obvious reasons. Adam and I both woke up that morning without an alarm clock, refreshed and relaxed. Adam wanted to do nothing that day but keep relaxing until the big event, so he went and did his own thing while I made last minute errands and preparations for the wedding that night (this is my version of relaxing). After decorating the club with my mom’s help, I picked up the flower to wear in my hair from the florist and leisurely got ready at my apartment. In my perfect black strapless satin cocktail dress with tiny velvet polka dots and vintage heels, looking and feeling like a million bucks, I got into my car and drove to the club. On the road, everything seemed to slow down. The air felt heavier to breathe. My skin tingled. I felt like I was floating. I don’t remember the song on the radio now, but it was perfect for the moment. These were the last few minutes of my life that I would be a single woman. After that my life would never be the same, and I knew it. Much like graduating high school, I didn’t know what lie on the other side of that stage. But Unlike graduating, I knew Adam was a part of that unknown and that made it less scary, and more exciting. As I pulled into the parking lot of the club, life came back up to speed. The night went on as planned. The crowd waiting outside was let in and the tiny club packed wall to wall with friends, relatives, and even a few strangers there to see the bands. There was that humming again. The hum of a hundred or so people talking at once. It was time to start the show. I began looking around for the people we needed: our friend who was to marry us—check, my mom (and maid of honor)—check, Adam’s best man—check, and Adam…where was Adam? The room started to spin. I saw a sea of faces but not the one of my fiancé. An ounce of panic started to boil in my stomach. And then at that very moment, I heard “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys (our intro music) replace the hum of the crowd. The room stopped spinning, and at the center, right in front of me, was Adam. Our eyes locked, and we both smiled a smile that I can only imagine happening again when we hold Madeline in our arms for the first time. Maybe I’ll have that “whoa” moment when she’s born and we lock eyes for the first time. Oh god, I can’t wait.
Post 6 from the amazing Adam Thurston... LOVING this new segment :) And I know the followers are too!! Thanks, Adam, for sharing with my readers and I... even though we're so far away... it will be like we've been there all along... :) p.s. you can find his blog here... follow him :)
Mentoring MondaysTeaching you to be a Lady while you teach me to be a Dad
Hi Madeline. Just 3 months and change until we can be together. Getting close now! When I look back at the past blogs I’ve written, I notice that they tend towards the safer sides of things. They’re full of what I call “warm fuzzies” and are full of general “oh you can come to me for anything” and “you know I’ll always love you.” While that’s true until the end of my days, there are more serious and darker things that everyone finds out about eventually. Now you’re not even born yet and this is stuff you don’t and won’t need to know about for some time. But I know other parents and soon-to-be parents read this blog and I thought I might throw my two cents out there and see what everyone else had to say.
All children have nightmares about monsters in their closets. They always have and they always will. Now I could be wrong on this but I don’t think there’s ever been a documented case of a monster in some poor kid’s closet. Why and where kids obtain this fear, I’m not sure. But I remember being afraid of them too. I hid under my covers to the image of Michael Jackson from the video Thriller. And this was a good decade before any of us knew that kids had every right to be afraid of Michael Jackson! I always imagined his face menacing me through my bedroom window. When I rationalized to my five-year-old self that I was on the second floor and it wasn’t possible for him to stand in midair, my mind immediately conjured up Michael Jackson standing on the Wicked Witch of the West’s broom with her sitting on our roof, legs dangled over the side and cackling at the moon. I don’t feel like getting into the science or the semantics of why kids are afraid of imaginary monsters. I’m more interested in preparing them in a healthy way for the real monsters they might encounter.
Fake “monsters” are easy and I will always say that Seseme Street did it best: most of their puppet characters were monsters. Genius! It just takes a lot of the anxiety right out of the situation.
“Daddy! Daddy! There’s a monster in my closet!”“Well was it Cookie Monster or Harry Monster? It could’ve been Animal lost on his way to band practice!”
Seseme Street did a lot of the hard work for us. They even tackled death head-on when Mr. Hooper died and the adult cast mates had to explain death to Big Bird. So how do we, as parents, prep our kids for the real life monsters? The child molesters, pederasts, abductors, etc. The list is nearly endless. I always say “knowledge is power” but I certainly don’t want to overwhelm or petrify my daughter by telling her about these things. The flip side of the coin is her being in a situation and maybe not be prepared to handle it. Obviously we, as parents, have a duty to teach our kids about strangers and what not but where do we draw the TMI-line? For example:
Parent: “If a grown-up that you don’t know asks you to get in their car, you should say no.”Child: “Why?”Parent: “Because they’ll invariably take you to a ramshackle cabin in some deserted woods and rape you.”Child: “What does ‘invariably’ mean?
Well, you get the idea. What is the best way to prepare our children for the horrors of the world. I will try my best to protect my daughter, with my life if necessary, from the monsters she encounters in her life. But I would be remiss if I didn’t teach her about them.
So speak up, fellow parents and parents-to-be. How, what, and when is it appropriate to discuss some of the real horrors and monsters in life? I’d like some insight/discussion on this.
And Maddie, sorry. The grown-ups had to do some talking. I love you and will see you in about three months and one week.
I love you very much
Post 5 from the amazing Adam Thurston... LOVING this new segment :) And I know the followers are too!! Thanks, Adam, for sharing with my readers and I... even though we're so far away... it will be like we've been there all along... :) p.s. you can find his blog here... follow him :)
Teaching you to be a Lady while you teach me to be a Dad.
What you’ll teach me.
Hi Madeline. I read a book to your mother’s stomach last night and you rewarded me be kicking exactly where I was holding my hand. I have to say it was actually one of the coolest moments I’ve ever had in my life. You haven’t even drawn breath yet and you’re already making your old man into a softy. Don’t tell anyone, okay? I’ve got a rep to maintain.
So this week I thought we might put a little twist on this series. Thus far I’ve just been passing on general knowledge to you. But a big part of parenting (I’ll wager) is also learning from your kids! “How Daddy?” Why, I’m glad you asked little Maddie! One thing no parent ever wants to see is their child in pain.
See, when I was a kid I rode bikes, skateboards, roller blades and what not. I never wore any protective padding or helmets or any of that crap. Hell, my mom, your grandmother, didn’t make me wear a seatbelt until I was 8 because that was when the grand state of Missouri mandated that it was law. As far as the afore mentioned mobile habits, I got hurt. A lot. And what I did was pick myself up , dust myself off, and do it again and again until I didn’t get hurt. All that was expected from us kids was to be in when the street lights came on and to not hurt ourselves too badly. Nowadays most parents are so scared of their kids possible getting a bloody elbow that they (the parents) wrap their kids in bubble wrap and put those stupid wrist leashes on them as if they were pets. I think it’s over reactive and I’ll go a step further; I think it’s irresponsible parenting. I’ve always liked the bit from Lewis C.K. where he says something like “I’ve gotta take care of you! They took your footprint at the hospital and gave you a Social Security card! You’re on the grid motherf*cker! They’ll come for me if something happens to you!” For better or worse, I think that’s what most parents think. To me it says, I’m afraid that if you get hurt, other people will think it’s my fault and/or I‘ll feel bad.. I say a kid that isn’t covered in dirt and with a couple of Band-Aids hasn’t been being a kid. A kid going out and playing by themselves or with friends is an important and vital part of growing up and I’m not going to deny that to you. I’ll trust you because I’ll have already taught you some important basics. Such as:
Learn to walk before you run! This is an old adage I heard a long time ago and it’s stuck with me ever since. I love it because it applies to so much in life. Learn to walk before you run. Learn to climb before you jump. Learn to ride on four wheels before you attempt two. I suppose the point is to just pace yourself. That way you’ll seldom place yourself in over your head.
Don’t talk to strangers. (Soon we’ll devote a whole blog to that and I’ll tell you my near-abduction story from when I was a kid.)
Play in groups or be in as public of a place as possible. I’ll also explain the obvious yet necessary importance of this in the afore mentioned upcoming blog.
Back to the blog topic, I suppose the point is that you’ll be teaching me to relax a little and not be so tense about your safety. Now don’t get me wrong. Parents are generally always committed to the safety of their kids and I am no different. I’m just going to not try and take it overboard. Nor does this mean I’m going to let you run around with scissors or manhandle firearms. Just that I’m going to be constantly teaching you about situations and/or actions and then letting you take your own first steps towards them. And as stated on previous posts, I’ll always be there to catch you when you fall. Should you fall and I’m not there to see it, come home and I’ll kiss the booboo, apply a Band-Aid and, if you want, send you on your way for more adventures.
If we look at the subtitle to the blog, it is “Teaching you to be a Lady while you teach me to be a Dad.” I suppose I’ll have to learn to live with another “Lady” in the house. The other lady of course being your mother. But your mother is my peer. She’s also used to my sarcasm and unique form of wit which mainly means I make her roll her eyes and smile several times a day. But you aren’t going to grasp sarcasm and unique wit for quite some time. This means I have to relearn how to speak. I need to be a male role model for you after all. I’ll need to learn a new form of patience. Whether you mean to or not, you will test me in ways I’ve never experienced. I imagine the main thing I’ll learn from you is the afore mentioned patience. I tend to be somewhat reactionary and just want to fix problems as they happen. The thing is, you’ll have to learn to fix things too. So as soon as I’m done learning it, I’ll teach you patience. I’ll even loan you my Cliff notes. See, we’re in this whole thing together. Father/daughter. We’re both in uncharted territory for each other. But I’ll steer us to safety. I don’t have a map but I can see the lighthouse. A wise man once told me that being an adult doesn’t necessarily mean that you know the answer to everything. It just means that you have to make the best decision that you can. That thought used to scare me. It doesn’t scare me as much anymore. As I raise you and you temper me, I’ll know more and then be in a better position to make better decisions. This in turn will help me to teach you to make better decisions. Which means together you and I will hopefully be two pretty smart people. So that’s the plan, Maddie. We’ll get there together.
I love you, Maddie.
Uncle Adam - this one got to me... everyone knows i have no father/daughter relationship aside from the once a month, "how ya doing? love you." text... and every post I read makes me more and more excited for Ms. Maddie to get here. Shes got a great daddy already... keep up the great parenting. Your miles ahead of MANY other "dads" out there... i knew you'd be great...