name='p:domain_verify'/> The Red Accordion Diaries

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What to Do About Other People’s Parenting (or How not to be a Dick): A Handy User Guide

by Molly S. (guest blogger)
As a mother I am practically legally obligated to participate in many online forums and discussions regarding parenting. Typically things sail very smoothly on most of the ones I participate in until someone posts about the dreaded topic of “other people’s parenting”.

Some (mainly fictional) examples include:

I saw this mom at the park today, she was just sitting on the bench checking her iPhone and her two year old was just running everywhere, I felt so bad for him

My niece’s step-sister’s aunt posted this picture on Facebook of her 18 month old in a car seat and he was FORWARD FACING! Ugh, some people just don’t even care about their kids

My friend Bertha is still breastfeeding her three year old, I mean I’m all for breastfeeding, but come on!

How should I tell my coworker that the baby Bjorn she has is probably going to damage her little one’s hips for life? I mean I showed her the custom made Tula I got for my son and she acted like it was too expensive, I guess some people just put their kid’s health second.

What do you guys think about cloth diapering? I’m SO grossed out that my daughter’s teacher said she is doing it. Also, why add all that laundry to your life?

These posts are typically followed by many parents who feel personally judged by these comments. Then fights ensue, people dig in their heels, feelings are hurt and the administrators start deleting posts. (And as an administrator on a rather large Facebook group- I make myself a White Russian. Circumcision debates alone have caused me to kill a bottle of Kahlua.)

So, in order to stop these fights I have made this handy user guide on what to do about other people’s parenting. Let’s pretend you are at the mall playground, and you see Annie do/talk about something that you would never ever ever do to your little Jimmy.

  1. Is it an emergency? And I mean real emergency. Is her kid about to be set on fire? Did she pass out and her son is now trying to eat unidentified purple pills from his diaper bag?  Then call 911. Do not stop to update your status or take a picture of little Sam leaning over her pale limp body.

  1. Is her child in serious danger? Did she confess that she is selling him over the internet in order to finance her Beanie Baby addiction? Did she throw him in the trunk when she left to take him home. Then call either the police or Child Protective Services. I don’t want to diminish the seriousness of child abuse or the necessity of people reporting it -- in fact I wish more people would report it when they see something happen to a child. But please remember that many actions (such as not vaccinating, feeding them rice cereal at 4 months or letting a five year old play outside unsupervised) are not usually actionable, for good reason. So please really consider what serious danger is. Also, notice I said report it, not solicit advice from 25,000 strangers on Baby Center.

  1. Are they doing something that is unsafe or not the best practice? These are typically the actions that don’t require a call to an authority, but maybe aren’t the best for their kid. Are they forward facing a 14 month old in a car seat? Are they giving their five year old only soda to drink? First recognize that oftentimes you are only given a snapshot of anyone’s parenting. Maybe the soda was all that was left in the house that morning and their food stamps don’t come in until next week. Maybe the only carseat they have is forward facing. These are the situations where you have an awesome opportunity! You can help! And by help, I don’t mean publicly shaming them on Twitter. I mean you can sweetly send them a private message (or even better mention it to them over drinks that you are springing for), you can loan them a better car seat, you can tell them you didn’t know about how dangerous it is to put a Bumbo on your kitchen counter until your friend sent you an article. Now this is a risk, anytime you call attention to something a mother might not be doing right they can feel judged or attacked (mainly because as mothers we often feel judged or attacked for our personal decisions for our family). If the mother snaps back at you or ignores your well intentioned advice then do the hard thing: walk away. People have a million different battles they are fighting, and what might seem significant to you, may not be something that they have the time or energy to address at the moment. So walk away. Don’t post about them, don’t take pictures of their kids and ask what to do. Just walk away and say to yourself “Not my monkeys, not my circus.”

  1. Is your child impacted? Is your child being bit by their blood thirsty toddler? Did their teenager tell yours he can drink at his house, because his parents allow it? The best option is to remove your child from the situation. You can do this by just leaving, ending a friendship or calling the parent and setting some firm boundaries. Soliciting advice on what to do personally to protect your child is in my opinion totally fine. But when soliciting advice it is important to say something like this: “I do not want my child to consume the amount of candy that he does when he is at my cousin’s house, does anyone have any suggestions on how to bring that up with her?” NOT “My cousin allows her kid to go sugar crazy! They eat so much I know they are going to get ADD. What should I do?”

  1. Are they doing something you feel passionately against? Do you truly believe that kids should never eat red dye? Do you think that disposable diapers are ruining the environment? Then by all means be an advocate for your cause! I personally run into this issue often because I feel very passionate about ensuring that children are vaccinated. So, I post articles with research on vaccine safety, I join groups where vaccines are promoted and I donate money to vaccine outreach. What I try really hard not to do is this: “All of these dumb parents who don’t vaccinate should really just sign over custody of their kids to the state.” Why? Because that is just being a dick and parenting is hard enough without having to deal with dicks.

  1. Are they just doing something differently than you would do it? Would you have removed your daughter from the park while they are having a tantrum, instead of waiting it out? Would you have pumped instead of switching to formula when you went back to work? Would you never homeschool your kids? Well then notice they are doing something differently and wish them well. There are 7 billion people on this planet and they all required 7 billion different types of parenting. To assume that what works for you or your kids would work for theirs is presumptuous at best, judgmental at worst.

After following this handy guide you can see that it is almost never necessary to post online about other people’s parenting. This parenting shit is hard, and most of us don’t know what we are doing. And if by chance you do find yourself violating one of these rules and get called on it (I certainly have), instead of digging your heels in, try listening and learning. When you know better, you do better. Oh, and really try hard to not be a dick.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Yellow Submarine Birthday Party and Cake. For my two-year-old.

We threw together a last-minute birthday party this weekend -- just some family and neighbors and some of the wee boy's babysitters -- and it turned out so spectacularly wonderful that some of the attendees may have been fooled into thinking I've got my act together.

To be completely honest, it was all our friends Beth and Kris who pulled it off. Until one night last week when our husbands went out to "the game" together, the party was maybe going to happen and the theme was going to be: birthday. But then we stayed up late talking, and I mentioned that the Wee Boy had actually asked to have a "Yellow Submarine party" and wasn't that funny because he's almost two and knows all of the lyrics to a Beatles song, and then suddenly Pinterest was involved.

And this happened:

  • We also had a Make-Your-Own-Sub-Sandwich Bar, complete with meat (again, thanks, Kris and Beth!), which is a weird thing for us vegetarians. We also had roasted vegetables, five kinds of cheeses (thanks, GrandDude!), garden tomatoes, and several kinds of pickles. For the kiddos, we had hot dog buns available instead of the giant subs. There was a brief discussion of Helmann's vs. Duke's, but that is for a future blog.

  • There weren't many kids there (we honestly aren't mentally prepared yet to have a for-real kids birthday party that has loads of two-year-olds running around), but for the few we had, we had a little coloring table for coloring your own submarine. I downloaded a printable image and the kiddos made submarines of all colors. This picture is of some of the aftermath, so try to imagine the table without juice boxes and sub sandwiches and applesauces:

  • My big triumph was, of course, the cake. You may not remember this about me, but I love to bake. I was feeling super happy about the party, and I honestly think a lot of that was because I took several hours and baked things from scratch. So very much from scratch that I knew all of the ingredients -- enough so as to ensure a peanut-free-mom that the cake was safe.

The recipe was a simple yellow cake with a 4-ingredient buttercream frosting. It was so so delicious, if I do say so. There wasn't a single piece leftover, so I guess people liked it. Yay!

Also, there is his name. I haven't mentioned it in the blog yet because
I'm weird about stuff like that. But I want you to see the cake, so oh well.

  • How to put an image on the cake: I printed out an image of the yellow submarine and cut it out. Then I lightly put it on the top of the frosted cake and traced the image with a toothpick. When you peel the image off, it will take a lot of the frosting with it (but that was okay with me because it meant the paper wasn't actually touching the final frosting). I outlined the toothpick tracing with red frosting, then freehand drew the rest of the design with an icing tip.

Voila! And feel free to pin this on the Pinterest, hee hee.

For those interested, his absolute favorite gift was: a suitcase. He had asked for his own suitcase for about two months now, and I wasn't sure he meant it. But he opened up that suitcase, ignored everything else (including a PILE of yet-to-be-opened-gifts), and rolled that suitcase away telling everyone he was going "to the airport." He walked down the stairs and rolled it all over the yard, then back up the stairs. He even packed a book, a toy car, and a pouch of applesauce for the road. That's my boy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Baking with the boy.

Earlier this week I wrote a really snarky and angry blog, and then I did not hit publish. Impressed? I am. The world has enough snark and anger these days -- especially these days when we are quick to comment, like, attack, etc. Anyhoo, it was just a whingy post about how some of my friends seem to think I don't work for a living, which is infuriating on many levels because it's amazing that some people don't understand that "music" is actually a career for me -- whether it be teaching music or playing music. But whatever, I'll just listen to that new Taylor Swift song and think how many more haters she has than I do...  Hmmmm, I guess I just snarked a little after all. Forgive me.

Today I am basking in the fun, exciting thing that is BAKING WITH MY CHILD!

I'm baking him his first birthday cake. Well, technically it's his 2nd birthday, but I didn't make last year's cake, so it's his first cake made by me. And I am soooooooo excited about it. I'm not Pinterest-crazy -- well, let's remember that I am not a detail person, so anything I may attempt is more likely to end up on Pinterest Fail -- but I'm just super excited about making baked goods for a little boy who loves baking things with his mommy.

Yesterday, all of my appointments were canceled (full moon, happens every month) and rather than growl about all the lost income, I decided to bake. I know you shouldn't eat away your troubles, but you can bake them away, right?

Here is The Wee Boy experiencing the joy that is licking the batter off of the mixer:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The guilt of parenthood.

My kiddo goes to preschool now. It's the greatest thing in the world. I'm telling you this because you probably think you are supposed to sob and cry and fake misery at the thought of your little creature growing up so big and being gone from you for a few hours each day. Guess what? Not all parents feel that way ... remember, don't believe what you read on Facebook.

I'm starting to feel like myself again. I completely adore The Wee Boy, and I LOVE going to pick him up, and I love our snuggles (yes, he still sleeps in our bed), and I love playing trains, and I love going on walks, and I love when he helps me cook (boy can crack an egg one-handed and not get any shell in the bowl!), and him at almost-two is pretty much the cutest thing in the world, and I'll be sad when he has to shave one day and doesn't want to snuggle. I swear I'm appreciating the now, gathering my rosebuds, etc, etc.

But being gone from him a few hours a day is so so so so so so so so nice.

I'm still getting caught up from the past two years of getting absolutely nothing accomplished (read: two years of business receipts, bookkeeping, taxes, accounting, emails, phone calls, and all that fun stuff I needed to do for my businesses, but simply couldn't manage while being on kid-duty), but I see a light where soon ... very very soon ... I might be able to actually concentrate on, not just the business of my business, but the ART of my business.

As in, I might actually be able to book a few days in a recording studio and finish the album that is five years overdue.

I keep reminding myself of a conversation I had almost two months ago with my most-famous-friend, whose name I will not drop here, but anyone who knows me or reads my blog could probably figure out to whom I am referring. Anyway, he told me that his wife, who also happens to be a musician, sometimes also hires a babysitter so that she can play piano, and that I should not feel remotely guilty about doing just that. I think that's pretty good advice. And now I don't feel guilty.

So here's my advice: don't feel guilty. Especially, don't feel guilty for not feeling guilty, people. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Talking to grownups.

I'm saying yes to things these days (exception: no-pay gigs). Last night I went as a guest to a swanky cocktail reception and dinner down at 21C to celebrate the opening night of the new Actors Theatre of Louisville season. I used to go to those sorts of events all the time, but it's been years and years. I left the country. I had a baby. I haven't put out a new full-length album in an embarrassingly long amount of time. And I have fallen off the radar it seems.

But I said yes! And I ran into lots of people I knew, and even a few people who recognized my name (LOVE a name-tag event). I also met a long-lost cousin who happened to be getting honored at last night's event. So now I'm looking forward to a family reunion of sorts.

Most important of all: I talked with adults. I admit completely that I have forgotten how this is done. If anyone I spoke to last night is reading this, then allow me to apologize for forgetting how conversation is supposed to happen. I felt like a child allowed a the grownup table for the first time, trying desperately to use at least three words from my most recent vocabulary test. But I survived. And I had a really, really nice time.

Enough about me, though, right? (Hey, it's a blog ... what do you expect?)

A few links for weekend reading:

See? I told you it was cheaper to use Uber than own a car.

I'm playing a set at this event on Saturday ---------------->

Oh, I give up. I'll get you some more fun links next week. I used up my smartitude talking to adults last night.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Scottish family recipe: The Clootie Dumpling!

Back when I was living in Edinburgh, I made good friends with a lovely woman named Marianne, aka The Crafty Granny (it's on her business cards, and yes, she is very crafty). She is a staple in the Leith Folk Club, one of my favorite venues ever, and she adopted me as her own during my time living abroad. As someone whose grandmothers died when she was very young, I loved having The Crafty Granny in my life (okay, okay, so she's not actually old enough to be my grandmother, but it's okay to pretend, right?).

Not long after we moved there, Marianne invited me over to her flat to learn how to make a special Scottish dessert she'd grown up making -- a recipe she tells me (and many others confirmed) that very few people nowadays know how to make.

Marianne hails from the Isle of Barra, grew up looking out on a castle in the sea, and has the most beautiful and lilting accent you've ever heard. She's also an amazing cook. What she shared with me that afternoon (and evening too, as it takes a while to cook) was an old family recipe for: the clootie dumpling.
Rather remote, no?

Unless you are Scottish, you are probably wondering what in the world a clootie is. It's an old Scots word (yes, "Scots" is a language) meaning cloth, specifically a rag or strip of fabric. "Cloot" is the original word, and "clootie" the diminuitive form. (I guess maybe it's a particularly adorable piece of rag, that it should deserve a diminuitive.)

Anyway, a clootie dumpling is a dessert -- or pudding, if you're British -- and research shows that recipes vary from region to region.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Taking the bus with my toddler.

This morning the wee boy woke up at sunrise (again), but rather than play trains and make breakfast, we walked up to Breadworks and shared a bagel. Then we -- and this is very strange for a Highlands-living mama -- TOOK THE BUS TO PRESCHOOL.

Like not a yellow schoolbus, but a straight-up publicly-funded TARC bus.

The Wee Boy LOVES taking the bus. He announced to everyone in Breadworks, "Bye-bye, friends. We're going to the bus stop," and off we went.

Here he is waiting on the bench waiting for the bus with his ukulele

We hopped on, he climbed on my lap, and then proceeded to sing, "The wheels on huge bus go round and round round and round round and round..."

By the second verse, a few other passengers had joined in. 

I dropped him off at preschool, and immediately hopped back on a bus going to Mama's Hip. It took all of three minutes to get there because apparently TARCs travel at warp speed. 

Pretty good investment for $1.75.

Quick tips:
1. Ditch the stroller. Babywear if you need to. Or at least bring just a small umbrella stroller. It's way easier to move around.
2. Always carry exact change.
3. Sing loudly.
4. The driver doesn't actually say, "Move on back!" Prepare for disappointment.


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