Friday, March 23, 2012

Am I already this out of date?

Ben has been using the iPod and other touch screen devices since he was about 18 months old. So now, two years later, he's very good at it. One of his favorite iPad games is Angry Birds. In the game you have to fling birds with a slingshot at pigs in various types of structures. The goal is to knock down all the pigs. It's a good game for him because he has to aim and judge distance and trajectory.

He plays it a lot and this morning we were playing together. I was attempting to pass a level and since I don't play it very much I failed. Ben gently took the iPad from my lap and said, "This one's pretty hard for you, Mom. I can do it."

And the sad thing was, he did.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Four months!

At four months Sam's entering the big baby race:

Weight: 17 lbs. 9 oz. (that means he's gained 10 lbs. 1 oz. since he was born) - 90th percentile
Length: 26 in. - 85th percentile
Head circumference: 41.5 cm - 50th percentile

So his head size is holding steady, but his weight and height shot up in the percentages. He's wearing 6-9 month clothing and is threatening to grow out of it soon. But we're used to big, fast growing babies in our family.

I mentioned how Sam discovered his hands and now he's discovering that they can be used for more than just sucking. Babies this age are like drunk people. When he sees something he likes he grins, drools and makes a grunting noise. Then he bats and grabs at the thing, usually missing it and possibly falling forward. At least he's a happy drunk. As long as he's not tired and he's been fed he's very agreeable. He's much more aware of people and his surroundings, but he doesn't have preferences yet. So Sam recognizes me, but I can hand him off to someone else and he's just as happy.

His sleeping continues to be good. He doesn't sleep through the night every night, but we're at about half and half. I'm not nearly as zombie-like as I was when Ben was this age, but zombie-ness does have its advantages. Zombies just stagger through life, not worrying about anything, and when I was utterly sleep deprived that's how I was. However, when I get almost-but-not-quite-enough sleep I get really grumpy. So I've just been unpleasant for the last four months. Ask Heath, I'm sure he'll back me up on that.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Cult of the Helicopter Parent

For anyone not parenting right now, you might not be aware that the expectations for parenting have become much more "hands on." Gone are the days of (as my mother said) throwing your kids out of the house until lunch and then throwing them out of the house again until dinner. It's partly due to fear of kidnapping*, partly due to the fact that a lot of households are two income, so kids are at daycare and partly due to this idea that you should be entertaining/providing "teaching moments" for your kids all the time. I read an article recently that claimed working mothers today spend more time with their children than stay-at-home mothers did in the 50's. I don't know if that's actually true, but it seems possible.

At first I bought into all that. Of course, you can't really leave an infant alone very long, but you don't always have to be entertaining him. However, with Ben I pretty much did that. Sometimes I would work around the house with him as my shadow, but usually I'd wait until he was asleep or Heath was home to finish the bulk of my chores. As you can imagine that was both tiring and boring, and it also taught Ben that we'll ALWAYS play with him. So lately I've been trying to do some re-training and teach Ben to play by himself. It hasn't been easy because he's like Heath - he never wants to be alone. Just yesterday he chose to sit in the bathroom and do nothing while I took a shower, rather than play in his room by himself for 10 minutes.

Right now we're in that in-between stage where he's not quite ready to give up his afternoon naps, but sometimes he's not tired enough for one. So on those days we have a rule that if he doesn't nap he has one hour of quiet time in his room. At first it was a disaster. "Quiet time" was really "crying time." Then he stopped the crying, but he would scream and yell and jump on his bed. Now I think we've finally gotten to the point where he understands and is usually fairly good with it. He'll play in his room by himself, but he has yet to make it an entire hour without calling for me or coming out of his room.

I've also been trying to play with him less throughout the day. Even typing that sentence feels so WRONG, like all the other parents are judging me. But considering that I used to play with him ALL DAY LONG, I'm trying to be fine with it. He's pretty content sometimes to play by himself if I'm in the same room. So if I'm doing dishes or cooking he'll color or play Play-Doh at the kitchen table. If I'm folding laundry in the living room, he'll play trains, etc. Most of the time he still expects us to entertain him, but he's getting better. Even extroverts need to learn how to be by themselves sometimes.

I hope I can continue this in my parenting, encouraging independence despite pressure from society or other parents to keep an eye on my kids at all times. We live in a safe neighborhood, with a nice playground two blocks away and Ben's future elementary school just down the street. I feel like he should be able to walk or bike around by himself by third or fourth grade. I just don't know if he'll have any other kids to walk or bike with.

*Seriously. I've talked to a lot of different mothers in the past three and a half years and the vast majority are very reluctant to let their kids out of their sight for any length of time for this reason.