BRIEF THOUGHTS ON PARENTING:
1. Lack of Privacy -- George (opening the bathroom door): Are you done pooping yet, mom?
2. Spit -- Spit is a great tool for parents. It not only cleans grubby little faces, but its great for sticking the suction cup bases of toys down to the tray on a swing or high chair.
3. Toys -- Any toy is fascinating if a kid hasn't seen it in a while. My three-year old is having a blast with all the baby toys I just unpacked.
4. De-Solv-It -- This miracle cleaning solution not only smells like yummy oranges, but actually takes regular, unwashable crayon scribbles off the walls. Not that I'm recommending letting your kids decorate the walls just to test it, of course.
THOUGHTS ON THE DAY: On this day when many stop and reflect on the Supreme Court's 30 year old Roe v. Wade decision, others have said just about everything that there is to be said more eloquently than I can. I've been opposed to abortion ever since I've known what it was. I couldn't fathom someone considering that option and I still have a hard time imagining someone choosing to abort. I never felt personally involved until I had a baby though. When my son was born, I had someone's eyes to look into and imagine all those eyes that would never see. A year and a half ago, I got pregnant for the second time and my husband and I were excited to be adding a second child to our family, but at 14 weeks along we discovered that our baby had died at 8 weeks and I had a partial molar pregnancy, requiring not only a D&C but monitoring for months to make sure I didn't develop cancer.
Knowing that I was going in to the hospital for a procedure that some women chose to do to eliminate "a bunch of cells" made that miserable trip even worse. I spent time imagining all the women who chose to have their children ripped out when I would have done anything to keep mine and all I could do was weep. Miscarriage is a miserable experience that was made worse for me knowing that other women who could have had healthy babies chose not to.
My miscarriage had a happy ending. If I'd had that baby, I wouldn't have my four month old daughter. But I can't forget that baby nor can I forget or not cry tears at the thought of the 40 million souls whose mothers didn't want them.
MORE ON MUSIC: Being a parent really does give you a whole new perspective on things. Watching The Simpsons one night, we suddenly realized what everyone was complaining about for all those years. That doesn't mean we don't like the show and won't still watch it, but we certainly won't be letting our kids watch it until they get a lot older. Besides The Simpsons, I've also discovered that a lot of the music I listen just isn't appropriate for little kids. I don't listen to Eminem or anything either. In fact, most of my favorite music came out when my parents were young. I'd never considered how many swear words the Kingston Trio have in their songs until I played them around George -- not to mention all the wacky leftie politics. And then there is Tom Lehrer. While I'm all in favor of my kids hearing his song of The Elements at an early age, I do not want to explain The Masochism Tango any time soon. The Doors are just too weird and scary. I think by the time we weed our music collection to make it "kid friendly" we'll be reduced to Glenn Miller, some early Beatles songs and maybe some U2. I need to go back on the hunt for more kiddie music.
WATCH WHAT YOU SING: I'm good at memorizing song lyrics. Let me hear a song once or twice and I'll know most of the words. My husband can sing the same hymns that he's sung his entire life and he still needs to look at the words. Our three-year old is more like me. He knows the words to an amazing number of songs. He even knows all the words to the second verse of Jingle Bells, which I, at least, find impressive. I'm finding, though, that my misspent youth (or more precisely college years) are now coming back to haunt me. I memorized a lot of rather risque lyrics to formerly innocuous songs, so as to better make fun of the fraternities and sororities around me, but I'm now finding it awfully hard to switch back to the real words of these songs. And since my son is good at learning lyrics too, I know he'll remember whatever I sing. While I have no problem not swearing in front of my kids, since it wasn't something I really did anyway, I must guard my tongue carefully so that I don't hear my sweet 3-year old singing "tip me over and I put out" instead of the more traditional words to I'm a Little Teapot. Who knew there were so many ways to screw up your children?
SARCASM DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO THE CHRONOLOGICALLY CHALLENGED: Apparently, children under ten just don't get sarcasm (or counter-factual information as they apparently call it in the research biz). The kids tend to take the sarcastic statement literally and even when they know it isn't meant literally they still don't see the humor in it. I'm not sure if that means parents should stop using sarcasm around children though. How else will they learn it?
THANK GOODNESS SHE'S GONE: In case you missed the interview with Madeliene Albright this morning on NPR's Morning Edition, she spent the interview telling us all the things Colin Powell and Condi Rice are doing wrong and all the things she did right (like get North Korea to abide by parts of their 1994 treaty -- ignoring the fact that getting UN observers in and freezing the rods at the one nuclear plant didn't get the North Koreans to stop working on nuclear projects or anything useful like that). She ended the interview with the deep thoughts that the DMZ was "creepy" and "a bad place." Really? I never would have guessed.
ANOTHER REASON TO GIVE BREASTFEEDING A TRY: A recent French study indicates that breastfeeding appears to reduce an infant's pain during some procedures and actually makes it possible for some babies to ignore painful procedures all together. Of course, my daughter was so incensed after her first shot last month that she couldn't latch back on because she was screaming too loudly, so it doesn't always work. Still -- chalk this up as another plus for the nipple nazi cause.
GAGGING APPROPRIATE: My local paper, The Tennessean, rarely fails to live down to my expectations. Usually, I wish this PC-filled newspaper would publish more local reporting, instead of filling space with wire service national and world news stories; after all, I can get good national and international reporting from the big boys, like the Washington Post and the NYT, on the web. But when the Tennessean does venture into the world of "original reporting," it doesn't do that very well either. (Synopsis: endearing story of American black women who go to Belize to hang out with black women there; discover they're all "sistas" who need to overcome the white power structure that makes them hate themselves because they have black skin. Not making this up.)
I'M NOT CRAZY. I JUST HAVE CHILDREN. My three-year old currently loves Brinton Turkle's books about Obadiah Starbuck (no relation to coffee). He especially loves Obadiah the Bold, where Obadiah gets a spyglass and dreams of being a pirate. So like Obadiah, George carries his spyglass (commonly mistaken for an empty papertowel roll) everywhere. Only sometimes, my young pirate decides he's tired of carrying his spyglass and passes it off to his first mate (commonly mistaken for his mother). Which means that I can sometimes be seen wandering through stores with a baby in a sling, an overstuffed diaper bag on the other shoulder, an empty papertowel roll in one hand and a protesting (doesn't matter what we are doing, George protests just for the fun of it) three-year old holding the other hand. Children. They really do light up my life.
ANTI-ACTIVISM ACTIVISM: And what's with "activists" always trying to "raise" our "awareness" about this or that? Do they think we're sub-literate imbeciles who, because we're subliterate, haven't read a newspaper in the last ten years and, because we're imbeciles, wouldn't have understood one anyway, and therefore just don't get it when it comes to HIV, domestic violence, global warming, sexual harassment, human rights, globalism, etc. and must therefore be educated in the ways of righteousness by professional spokes-nannies for non-profit organizations wielding slogans composed of monosyllable words and ideas?
Wow. That's the longest rhetorical question I've ever written.
Anyway, I've thought about becoming an activist myself, a kind of anti-activist activist who raises the awareness of activists who aren't aware that I am aware and that they're really ticking me off. First, I'd raise awareness among human rights activists who aren't aware that they're mainly a pack of preening hypocrites who froth at the mouth at the prospect of prosecuting a Pinochet but wet their pants at the prospect of kissing Castro's backside and who've perverted the right of self-detemination into the right of psychopath dictators to grind the faces of their citizens into the dirt free from any interference from the United States. Then I'd move on to the anti-globos, and raise their awareness of the fact that their theories of human governance and economy have been tried out in Russia, China, and Cambodia, and didn't work out so well, and if you don't believe me, check out Cuba where, assuming you can detach your face from Castro's cheeks, you'll see that they're still not working out so well, and were you also aware that we're aware that you're actually just middleclass punks who never had to get a summer job and don't want to get jobs which is the only reason you're out breaking windows, so could you at least drop the Marxist pretensions already? From there, I'm not sure where my activism would take me. Animal rights activists? ("Are you aware that rib roast, gently roasted at 180 degrees for several hours, to a nice medium rare, is extremely succulent?") Consumer rights activists? ("Are you aware that I don't want to pay twice as much for everything so that you can eliminate a 0.0000001% risk of harm?") Environmental activists? ("Are you aware that pesticides, combined with genetic crop engineering, have and will continue to save millions of lives the world over? You are? That's why you're against them? You think we're a virus? That needs to be eradicated? Like 'that Mr. Smith dude said in the Matrix'? Are you aware that he was the bad guy?")
My mission is clear.
OH GREAT. Now my wife's gone off and become a pertussis "activist." Next she'll be trying to raise pertussis "awareness" at the breakfast table. But I will draw the line at wearing an "awareness" ribbon. Hear that? I'm not wearing that #$@%& ribbon!
Yes, dear. Let me find a safety-pin.
PUBLIC HEALTH ANNOUNCEMENT: My 3 month old daughter has pertussis (a.k.a whooping cough). I have discovered that nobody, especially physicians, knows much about pertussis, so for anyone who wants to know, here is my FAQ on the subject (derived mainly from WebMD, Pertussis.com and Dr. Greene.com).
I was innoculated as a child, so what do I care? or I'm so ancient that there was no vaccine when I was a child, or my parents were some of those left- or right-wing nutjobs who though vaccination was a plot to make us fascists or communists, respectively, that I never got innoculated, so I actually had whooping cough as a child and am immune now, right? Nope. Pertussis immunity wears off.
I'm not whooping, so it must be something else, right? Nope. Infants and adults often do not whoop.
I have a lingering cough after a cold, but I feel fine otherwise, so I'm not contagious any more. If it is pertussis it is highly contagious until you go on an extended course of antibiotics. A study out of Vanderbilt University Medical Center showed that most coughs that linger more than 14 days are pertussis (which starts with cold-like symptoms), so if you have a lingering cough, go get yourself a two-week supply of erythromycin.
Why didn't you get your child immunized? Are you paranoid [see above] or just incompetent? She had her first DTaP shot, but until you've had the full series of three DTaP shots, you are not immune. So drop dead.
Isn't pertussis viral? Why would erythromycin help? While some doctors think pertussis is viral ("Why would I prescribe antibiotics for a viral infection?"), pertussis is caused by a bacterium, helpfully named bordetella pertussis. Got that, Mr. MD?
Okay, I've taken my antibiotics, why am I still coughing? The antibiotics are to keep pertussis from being spread. Once you have it, you just have to wait it out. Tough rocks.
How contagious is it really? It is very contagious. Some doctors recommend that if you've have spent a total of five hours in the same room with an infected person over the course of a week or sat next to an infected person for any length of time, you need to go on preventative antibiotics, because between 70 and 100 percent of susceptible people exposed to pertussis will catch it.
Any other questions?
Now, most important, if you are coughing, even if you feel perfectly fine between coughs, do not under any circumstances, ask to hold my @#$%*& small infant! Grrr. Got that?
CAT REPARATIONS: Bill Frist is facing heat from PETA for his past sins of performing surgery on cats during medical school at Harvard. Although the senator has already denounced his actions (taking cats from shelters under the pretext that he would keep them as "pets") and apologized to cat lovers everywhere, it is not enough. I wonder if the family whose lives he may have saved in Florida this week are equally appalled by his studies.