Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Teaching the tricks of bad parenting

"So," my friend Anne asked me one afternoon. "Have you ever lied to your pediatrician?"

"Probably," I said thinking of Eric's pediatrician. He's a bit of a worrier, and I never like to worry a doctor. They might decide they need to perform more tests and I really hate those.

"I lied to my doctor about 'tummy time'," she said. "I told him we were doing it when we weren't. It would just make her scream and I couldn't take it, and I really didn't want a lecture." Tummy time is the latest iteration of TBT (Total Baby Torture) wherein you put newborn babies on their tummies for a minimum of 10 minutes per day. The theory is that since we now put babies on their backs to sleep, to prevent SIDS, they aren't developing important muscles in their backs and necks. Either that, or there a bunch of doctors giggling out behind the ER smoking and telling each other: "I told a new mom to put her baby on his tummy for an twenty minutes. I'll bet that kid screams for a week after that!" Then the doctor in the green scrubs will say, "Yeah, well that's nothing *I* told a new parent to put their 2 week old on her tummy for a week." Mwa HaAA laughter will follow. Most new babies howl in righteous anger and rage when placed on their stomachs. New babies cry all the time for inexplicable reasons. They scream and scream and it's like a dentist drill into a parent's skull. That scream, that cry is a white hot pain that you'd cut your own arm off to soothe if you thought that was what it would take. It's insane to cause them to cry when all you need to do to get them to stop is flip them over.Then your pediatrician goes and tells you to do something that will CAUSE all that helpless screaming?

I don't think so.

"She'll be fine." I told my friend.

Then today another friend with a new baby was going through convulsion of guilt over her 3 week old daughter's hatred of tummy time. The baby hated it so much that she flipped from front to back, something 5 month old babies usually haven't mastered yet. It's such a dammed if you do, dammed if you don't kind of thing. If you do it, your baby screams and makes you physically sick. If you don't you are guilted by your pediatrician.

So, I said: "Do what I would do. Lie."

New babies love to be on their stomachs when they're on top of a person who is lying on their back. They hold their heads up and look at your face. For some insane reason, the medical profession doesn't think this counts as "real" Tummy Time. They're horizontal. They're on their stomach. They're not screaming. What's the problem?

So, I told her to just do that and tell the doctor. "Sure! She spends lots of time on her stomach every day." She'll like it better in a few weeks, and nobody on God's Green Earth could take that screaming voluntarily.

Get a clue Doctors, please. This parenting gig is hard enough without any of your stupid torture. I almost never put my daughter on her stomach unless she was on my chest, and now she spends most of her time that way. It's just not that important.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

For better or for for worse: For richer or for poorer

On the day before and on trash day, my neighborhood is full of people going through the recycling looking for cans. Today I saw a muscular late 30-something guy in a Harvard t-shirt combing through recycle bins on my street. Sometimes it's an elderly Asian man who picks up the cans and bottles daintily, with dignity as if he's bagging them in a grocery store. But there is this couple that does it that breaks my heart.

They drive from house to house in a 90's corolla-type sedan. They are probably in their late 60's. She sits in the car while he digs through the trash wearing yellow rubber gloves. They both have a look of grim shock and resignation. Then I noticed something about their car that I hadn't seen before.

An empty car seat in the back. Are they trying to raise a grandchild on a fixed income? Is this what it comes to? Collecting cans? I can tell by the look on their faces that they can't believe it's come to this. Driving through affluent neighborhoods collecting dirty cans. Digging through garbage bags. Somehow I don't think this was their retirement plan.

I'm wondering if I should ask them if they need any kids clothes. We've got bins of stuff that is slated for the salvation army. Would they be insulted if I asked? Perhaps I'm reading too much into the situation.