Origins of interpersonal problems

In her consulting practice, Dr. [Amy Cooper] Hakim says, many interpersonal problems boil down to a failure to communicate directly about the real problem with someone who can actually resolve it.

Good advice from the Rob Walker Workologist Sunday advice column in the Times, this one from 22 January of this year.

I appreciate this as lately I have seen so many iterations of this type of problem, where there appears to be a real problem but the person affected doesn’t seem to be willing to move very far to solve it.

Heather Havrilesky’s solid work advice

And let’s be honest, it’s harder to be a real person in real time than it is to live in a fantasy world. The real world takes real risk. You have to show up instead of distracting yourself with your whimsical, sexy imaginings. You have to get out of your own head. You have to work really fucking hard at things that don’t seem to matter at first, and you have to work really fucking hard to figure out what things might seem to matter eventually.

From this Ask Polly column, which showed up today in my RSS feed.

Despite the salty language, this half-paragraph appears to be pretty good advice for the particular job I’m doing right now, which is personnel recruitment. It makes me feel like I’m going back to my old days doing marketing for my delivery business. What she says, especially the part about getting out of your own head, is kind of important. I feel as if I want to get my pitch down perfectly before calling people; if I screw up I would be shy about calling them again.

Storage places

I was a happy customer of the Extra Space Storage on West 142d St & Lenox until we moved into a larger apartment. It met all my criteria:

1. Near subway and bus line, so you can visit your stuff along the way to somewhere else and not pay a second fare;

2. Near a liquor store, for an endless supply of free, new clean boxes;

3. Near a goodwill, so I could drop off stuff I didn’t want anymore without having to cab it or drive it away.

It was my practice while the stuff was in the storage locker to keep going through it and combining contents of boxes into new boxes and getting rid of things I certainly didn’t want any more.

Cloth diapers

1) What type of cloth diapers are best:

I love ‘pocket’ diapers, which are a diaper that you put ‘inserts’ into, and which very closely resemble regular disposables when they are stuffed: ) HOWEVER, we also use and love g diapers: (they have a lot of the accoutrements at good prices) which offer less laundry *by a LOT* because the outside of the diaper doesn’t get soiled every time. g diapers were more leak-causing in the beginning, but overall, they definitely save a lot of wash. we wear them backwards, like traditional diapers: )

2) snaps or velcro (velcro is also referred to as aplix or ‘hook and loop’):

I like the adjustable nature of velcro (gdiapers has it), but it sticks to everything in the wash, so I have come to love snaps best.

3) What brands?:

the brands of pocket diapers i have used:
fuzzi bunz,
green acre,
happy heineys and
bum genius (AWESOME customer service)
(those are my favorites that i own). All can be bought online. I did
NOT like the gro-via diapers (too
frustrating…bad/too strong velcro) or the swaddlebees (the part that touches baby’s bottom dries
like a cheap towel on a line…stiff and rough…not inviting). i have
been told that kawaii diapers are great
and less expensive.

4) How many diaper cover/pocket diapers do i need and what size?:

OK, here is where cloth diapers either become really expensive or really cost-saving. if you buy g diapers, you are going to need only 6-10 gpants per size (there are 4 sizes, teeny, s, m, & l – but don’t get a lot of the itsy bitsy size!!), each of which come with 2 plastic liners. then to stuff them, you have tons of options (see inserts: ) gdiapers also give you the option of using disposable inserts (GOOD IDEA to start with when you are going out with the baby…further reducing your laundry…). If you go with pocket diapers, you can buy ‘perfect size’ diapers (small, medium, large weight ranges) OR One-size (abbreviated as OS) diapers. GO WITH THE OS DIAPERS!! In that case, buy an assortment: try a few OS pockets with snaps, a few with velcro, a few that are just covers (bummis has a 2 size system i think and are great) and try a few different brands to get a sense of what you like.

5) What about the INSERTS?:

Inserts can be confusing but remember this–you could use old towels and that would be a great insert…anything to catch the pee will work: ) the more absorbent, the better. You will need about 12-18 to start.
My favorites are hempbabies flat diapers, little weeds and bigger weeds (super absorbent but expensive) or anything with hemp, the gdiapers inserts are nice, but i found that they didn’t work as well in actual gdiapers as they did in pockets. By far the most versatile option is prefolds (this is just for what they look like – there is really no difference between Indian, Chinese, etc) – they work in everything!! and they are less expensive. for g diapers and pockets on small babies, go with infant sized prefolds (otherwise
it’ll be too bulky), and you can size up for the larger sizes in. NB: With knickernappies, the extra trim fit makes it hard to use inserts that are not foldable (like prefolds and hempbabies) – they are SO trim that DH cannot even stuff them and leaves it to me with my nimble hands.
Most absorbent: microfiber! I also LOVE bumgenius and fuzzibunz inserts, but they are made from microfiber and therefore CANNOT go next to the baby’s skin – they MUST go in a pocket diaper OR can be wrapped in cotton, fleece or anything else to keep them off the baby’s delicate tushy. * you can totally use microfiber towels from any car maintenance store, or walmart, etc in a pocket diaper!! * try to sample these too – you can pretty much use anything and should not be deterred by the vast variety of inserts!!

6) Accoutrements:
Diaper cream: VERY IMPORTANT – do not use regular diaper creams on cloth – it will ruin the ability of the cloth to absorb anything. you probably won’t need much of anything since usually cloth diapered butts are not prone to rashes – but my fave is the gro via magic stick – smells delicious (calendula and lavender!) and you don’t need to get it all over your hands
Liners: Liners come in handy after the baby is ~6 months or is starting to eat solid foods…until then, poo is more liquid and not a problem to wash out…these are toilet-paper like rolls of what seem to be dryer sheets. you lay them on top of the diaper between diaper and baby and they act as a poop hammock, and can be dumped right into the toilet, so poo doesn’t get smushed into the diaper — yay! no more scrubbing poop with your bare hands! once morten figured this out, he became a devotee of liners. there’s not a bad liner…if you want a few to try – I can provide: )

Diaper pails, diaper pail liners and wetbags: You will need a diaper pail, a waterproof bag to put in it (in which you’ll tote your bag of dirty diapers to the washing machine, you can use a trash bag to start with : ) those are waterproof! and some travel bags to put dirty diapers in (wet bags). for laundry bags, draw strings or elastic is fine, since it is meant to fit the pail, but for wet bags GET ONES WITH ZIPPERS!! drawstrings will not cut it.
Cloth Wipes: If you are handy, flannel wipes can be made out of any extra receiving blanket (of which you will probably have a lot!), but if you want to buy them, i recommend 2-3 dozen flannel imse vimse or hemp wipes – SO absorbent, and you just toss them in the wash with your diapers and you can even fold them tissue-type and put them in a regular wipes box so they pull out one at a time, just like the disposable ones. i also use disposable wipes, because — let’s face it, there are those times you just do not want to touch what you are about to wipe up!!

7) Washing your cloth diapers:
We use charlie’s soap for diapers, and seventh generation for the other stuff (g pants & g liners go in the wash on warm like any other t shirts you have). Diaper covers and pocket diapers should not be bleached unless you are having a true emergency *like a diaper rash that is a staph infection and you need to kill it or throw out the diapers…or if you get them second hand – and want to be sure they are safe for your baby* so maybe 2x over the life of the diapers. Diaper Inserts can be bleached for getting the stink out — after awhile, especially microfiber gets a stink when wet…like ammonia, and you need to soak them in a mild bleach wash and then rinse rinse rinse… GENERAL washing rules: a cold soak and/or rinse with no detergent (you could do this in your tub) followed by a hot wash and cold rinse with a diaper friendly detergent like charlie’s, rockin’ green, etc… we used to wash twice, but it’s not necessary.

8) I have a lot of diapers. oh yeah, and i’m a sharer… Most of my diapers that are too small for our current children are at my parents’ house (upstate) and must be retrieved, but I have some that I can give you. ALSO – if your wife is at all skilled at sewing, i have 18 blue, green and yellow (boy baby friendly!) bum genius (2.0) one size diapers that just need to have their velcro replaced (I have replacement velcros and instructions, but my sewing class doesn’t start until the fall!). I can also provide you with a wide variety of inserts to try out, and some to keep. let me know what you are thinking and I will put a little package together: )

9) METRO MINIS: A great little shop in NYC – sadly located in a weird place, 75th and Park Ave. they do free diapering workshops, and sell all the things you may need to cloth diaper, plus other things you might love for your green little baby! so you know, their prices are remarkably competitive for an nyc shop, so you should shop guilt free — and do you research before you go to the diaper workshop because they offer a discount on cloth diapering stuff you buy the same day as you take the workshop: )

10) Questions?
Every good list is 10 things. so feel free to ask any further questions!!


Bridget Jones’ Parenting Advice

‘THEY ARE CHILDREN!’ Mr. Wallaker roared. ‘They are not corporate products! What they need to acquire is not a constant massaging of the ego, but confidence, fun, affection, love, a sense of self-worth. They need to understand, now, that there will always—always—be someone greater and lesser than themselves, and that their self-worth lies in their contentment with who they are, what they are doing and their increasing competence in doing it.’

‘I’m sorry?’ said Nicolette. ‘So there’s no point trying? I see. Then, well, maybe we should be looking at Westminster.’

‘We should be looking at who they will become as adults,’ Mr. Wallaker went on. ‘It’s a harsh world out there. The barometer of success in later life is not that they always win, but how they deal with failure. An ability to pick themselves up when they fall, retaining their optimism and sense of self, is a far greater predictor of future success than class position in Year 3.’

Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy, by Helen Fielding, pages 354-55

This seems like worthy sentiment, and pretty concisely phrased. By complete coincidence (I picked up Bridget off the highlighted shelf at the local Queens Library branch, and this other one I put on hold from the NY Public Library) I was reading Parentology: Everything You Wanted to Know About the Science of Raising Children but Were Too Exhausted to Ask by Dalton Conley.

So I asked, ‘How did he score on the rest of the verbal assessment?’

They proceeded to sheepishly admit that [child] Yo had scored eleventh grade on vocabulary (through an oral test, obviously, since the little dude couldn’t read) and at a twelfth-grade level on reading comprehension (again, when being read aloud to). Not wanting to alienate the teachers, I suppressed the sly smile of a proud parent, which threatened to crack my countenance…

Over the course of months and years of practice and refinement, I developed a particular style of reading aloud to them. Call it nerdish. It involves defining words along the way. In this manner, I could read texts to them that would seemingly be way over their grade level, rife with complex sentence structures and new words.

—Conley, p. 50

Conley and I went to the same high school so in some way I can see where he’s coming from. And speaking as someone who had a big vocabulary relatively early in life, I can relate on a personal level to his kids’ accomplishment. And Conley is quite frank about how much he particularly enjoys reading aloud, and I think he wouldn’t deny that he is pleased that his kids too enjoy being read to.

But when I picked up the Fielding book right afterward, I realized how hollow Conley sounds. Preschoolers aren’t judged based on their reading levels. As a parent, I know how the fantasy goes, because I’ve read it in so many Robert Heinlein juvenile novels: at some point in a young person’s life, there is the opportunity to step into a special world where one is recognized as a smart person with certain useful learned skills.

The deflating balloon of this fantasy is that even in that special society, the young person will still have to get along with other people. I will admit to having difficulties getting along with other people at times, and I will even admit to seeing these difficulties as central to several important points in my life. In hindsight, I go along with Mr. Wallaker’s central point: you have to be content with who you are.

I’m not that far along in Conley’s book, but I find his focus on hacking his kids into little superbeings to be a little misguided. Maybe later on in the book he discusses how to make his kids gentler and kinder. But that to me is the important thing in raising children, not their reading scores.