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Posts Tagged ‘kids’

A friend of the blog and soon-to-be eccentric Swiss baroness recently said to me: “I was a much better mother before I had children.”

This made me think, because I am a really, really awesome dad now that I don’t have children. I’m a playful, loving, fun, and wise father for these future offspring. But is that because I don’t, well, actually have them yet?

Granted, I do actually have 7 nieces and nephews, and I am an awesome *actual* uncle to them. But it’s a lot different being an uncle than a father. (For one thing, there are no givebacks.) They all turned out great, but I may have to acknowledge that their actual parents had something to do with that.

But what will I be like when I’m tired, or trying to juggle home, work, and parenting responsibilities? Sometimes I worry – okay, worry is my natural state of existence, so most of the time I worry – that I will struggle to find the balance. And I do wonder if my friend is right, and it will all be uphill from here.

So, let me ask you, readers of the blog, what are your secrets? How does one find the energy, the patience, and the perseverance to be a good parent – actual or imagined?

Will I wield a Jello Pudding Pop or Red Light Saber?

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We were watching Mildred Pierce this weekend, and young Veda terrified us. She was precocious. But not in that adorable, cute way. Veda was snobby, cruel, evil, awful, and quite frankly frightening. We were scared. Will that happen to us? It can’t happen to us! We won’t make it!

So for our Hump Day Blog, we ask: What child personality is most terrifying to you? Feel free to add your own fear in the Comments section (alliteration optional)!

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What does Lulu's name say about us?

What you name your baby says more about you than your baby, according to this post on Parents.com. This should go without saying. Unless you’re planning on naming your baby “Baby,” “7 pounds, 11 ounces,” or “Nipple-Clencher”, then I doubt your baby’s name will actually provide much insight into its personality.

For the busy reader, I’ll paraphrase their findings for you:

1. If your child has an unusual name, you crave the spotlight. Examples: Pilot Inspektor, Kal-El.

Because the best way to get the rest of the world to pay attention to you is to make everyone think you’re an asshole.

2. If your child has an old-fashioned name, you’re on the conservative side. Examples: Agnes, Homer.

So expect a run on old-fashioned names like Rush, Mitt, and Dubya in the near future.

3. If you choose a creative spelling, you dare to be different. Examples: Ryder, Rocko.

Or you’re illiterate.

4. If you choose a family name, you’re sentimental.

Or possibly just vain.

5. A pop culture name means you’re looking for a confidence boost. Examples: Monroe, Lennon.

Because nothing raises one’s confidence like raising the bar of expectations for your child.

6. If you go with a unisex name, you focus on success. Examples: Kelley, Mason.

Or perhaps you were given unisex hand-me-downs.

7. If you name your child after a destination, you’re adventurous. Examples: Memphis, Brooklyn.

Unless you actually live in Brooklyn. Then it simply means you’re lazy.

So what do you think, readers? Does a baby name say more about its parents than the baby? And if so, what does it have to say?

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If the Steelers had cheerleaders and Lulu liked to smile, she'd only wave pom-poms for the Steelers!

One of the things I was thinking this evening while watching the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Philadelphia Eagles in preseason football (well, besides thinking that the state of Pennsylvania has one team that looks ready for the Super Bowl and one team that doesn’t) was this: Are my football-watching days numbered?

I know that every prospective parent-to-be in the history of ever is concerned with the loss of leisure time that comes with being responsible for a little crib-critter. It goes with the territory. But still, there must be a way that one learns to balance one’s responsibilities with one’s desire to function as a human in the world. How does someone manage to be both a parent and someone who wants to watch football, to read a book, or to know enough about pop culture to know that the ending of Lost sucked and the ending of Harry Potter was pitch-perfect?

I know my priorities will shift as a parent – and who knows, I might simply not even have the time to remember what my former priorities used to be – but I imagine that to remain relatively sane one must find some time in the day to do the things he or she loves to do.

So tell me, parents, where do you find the time for yourselves? What are your means of escape? Is it all in the scheduling? In finding some untapped reservoir of energy after the little knee-high private eyes go to bed at night? Or is it all in trading favors with one’s spouse? Or bribing your parents and siblings?

Maybe I should just resolve myself to the understanding that somewhere around the year 2030, if I’m lucky, future Patrick will be waiting, older but wiser and ready to resume life as he once knew it. That is, unless the Mayans have it right and we can all just cash it in in 2012.

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One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately – with the risk of putting the cart before the horse – is just how many children we might like to have one day. (Of course, as a trying-to-conceive couple, we’d count our blessings to have even one little tax deduction.)

There’s a part of me that thinks one is all we’d want – Team Freeman would transition seamlessly from a dynamic duo into a terrific trio. Our baby would have the benefits of our undivided attention, and our home would make a cozy little clubhouse for three.

But I am the third of four siblings and Gilly is the middle child of three, and I can’t help but think that in time we’d want our branch of the family tree to provide a little more shade.

So, just what is the ideal size of a family in the 21st century? Is one little mischief-maker enough? Or do we provide him/her with a partner in crime? Two does seem to be the magic number for many modern families, but as middle children, both Gilly and I know that even a pair of knee-high hooligans would still be missing the larger family dynamic that we both grew up with.

Outnumbered on BBC America

Is three the magic number in an ideal world then? But here’s the thing with three – how do parents cope when they are the ones who are outnumbered? I’ve been wondering this ever since we started watching this funny – and at times frightening – BBC America comedy called (as you may have already guessed) Outnumbered. The parents have three children: the eldest, Jake, 11, is a quiet pre-teen beginning the process of withdrawal from his parents; the middle child, Ben, 8, is a bundle of boyish energy who, like a Bizarro-world George Washington, cannot *not* tell a lie; and the youngest, Karen, 5, is so precociously inquisitive that she would halt any parent in his or her tracks. They seem like the perfect family unit – and the parents seem at their wits’ end in every way imaginable.

One child seems hard enough to keep up with, so how does one manage to double or triple (or more) the odds? Does the difficulty in raising children increase exponentially with each addition to the family, or does each successive child actually make a parent’s life easier somehow?

For now, we’re just concentrating on having that first child – knock on wood, it will be sooner rather than later – but down the road we’ll have to make a choice. So let me ask you, readers – what is your magic number? And what *do* you do when you’re feeling outnumbered?

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Naughty Lulu in Timeout

As I spent the better part of the morning dealing with Lulu’s rambunctious behavior, I realized that I have no clear idea of where I stand on the subject of discipline. I feel comfortable in saying only that I am woefully unprepared to hand it out (Gilly agrees).

While I feel relatively confident – as confident as one can be when dealing with the little nibblers – in saying that I will fall somewhere between the extremes of Severus Snape-strict enforcement and Where the Wild Things are levels of abandonment, it’s that wide swath of middle ground that’s giving me cause to ponder.

Do I reward positive behavior and withhold for negative? Do timeouts really work? Is the occasional spanking a bad thing? Do I raise my voice or keep a neutral tone? Do I let Gilly deal with it?

I’m an uncle seven times over, and let me tell you – it’s easy being an uncle. In fact, if you’re doing your job right, sometimes you even instigate their misbehavior and then simply return the child before you have to deal with the consequences. But, from what I’ve been told, there are no givebacks where parents are concerned.

I suddenly realize I have tons of questions and very few answers. I suppose like so many other things in life parental discipline is another one of those Things-You-Figure-Out-As-You-Go-Along, but it might be helpful to have a strategy in place first.

Now, Lulu, we need to have a talk…

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Lulu Potter

Patrick and I declared, early in our marriage, that we did not want to have kids.  For the life of me I cannot remember why we stated this, but we did and took it off the table. <Yank!> For a couple of decided kid-abstainers we sure enjoyed catching up with our friends’ kids and our nephews and nieces. We even enjoyed doing stuff kids did: playing video games (I was obsessed with Animal Crossing); munching on loads of candy (well, that’s just me); and reading Harry Potter (and similar books, but NOT Twilight)….

Admittedly, we didn’t just like reading Harry Potter; we were kind of obsessed. Patrick and I waited in long lines together during the midnight madness to get our prized copies of the 6th and 7th book. We were engaged when we were in line for the 6th book (and took the book along to our honeymoon). We had been married for two years when we waited in line for the 7th book. We each got our own copy of that final book so that we could read simultaneously. We got home at 2 AM, tucked in on either side of the sofa and read all night. We were careful to keep pace so that we could exchange glances of surprise, excitement, or heartbreak. When we got to the end, it felt wrapped up. I was crushed that this was the end, but where could it go from there?

Last night we finally saw the last movie. Like each movie that came before, it could not beat the book, but it was fantastic to see the characters and plots I loved to read (and re-read) about come alive.

Spoiler alert: For those of you not in the know, the story of our three favorite Gryffindors ends with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, now grown up, seeing their own children onto the train bound for Hogwarts. Four years ago, I thought, “They are all grown up now. The end.” Tonight, I excitedly thought, “Harry Potter has kids and I want them too!”

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