Another motherist piece here: Grandma can’t work as a babysitter for unborn child, mom cries, writes about it.

The commenters hit all the usual points: it’s unfair to the grandmother to expect this, old people are bad carers, relatives are the best carers, it takes a village, etc. What I found most interesting were the clues in the article that the old lady lived in Staten Island, and the kid lived on Long Island. Perhaps this would be more attractive to her if she didn’t have to drive along I-278 and the Belt Parkway every morning and every afternoon.

Leaning on, not leaning in

The goal for me is not to lean in or out, but to lean on. My marriage means nothing if I can’t lean on my wife and if she can’t lean on me. To do this best, we have to do what the military calls “cross-training,” where I figure out how to do what she does and she figures out how to do what I do, so if either one of us is not there the world will not stop.

After reading this Pacific Standard story, I perceive the crack in the bark of the writer’s tree so: by claiming her liberty to “lean out,” she keeps her spouse from exploring the same opportunities. One of our playground pals feeds her infant exclusively by breast, so her husband has no ability to wake in the night and feed the kid. Of course, it’s no problem for Mom, who asserts her ability (and readiness) to just roll over, let the kid latch on, and then return to sleep. This goes to my point of cross-training, that it’s our obligation as family members to be able to pitch in for each other. Limiting the feeding to one specific person rubs crosswise against that.

I have no idea whether this particular Dad would actually enjoy waking up at night to feed his daughter, but why should he have to give up that opportunity? Dad in this family is the breadwinner, and Mom stays home raising the kids. Specialization is for insects. I don’t say that everyone at any time has to be willing to step into another role, but in my own experience I have learned that different roles are fulfilling at different times in my life. I would hate to be stuck in one particular role.

Expectations of Formal Schooling

New York Times web site comments, for instance on the language-gap study article here, are for people to publicly align themselves with the most anodyne beliefs imaginable, not for raising points of debate.

My dad and I have discussed this several times. I am always struck by the limited vision of people who home-school, such as blogger Penelope Trunk; they don’t believe in school but they believe in the reward system that our society has developed. Did they think that somehow there is a shortcut? What lesson does this teach their kids, that special people (like them!) don’t have to check all the boxes in order to achieve the reward of being a doctor or philosopher?

These kinds of studies take for granted that everyone wants their kids to reach the same goal. There’s more than one box of apples at Fine Fare.

I have befriended lots of people who never went to school at all and never learned to read, and they were and are good people, worth emulating in many ways.

On the subject of the study itself:

These kinds of studies have two typical problems, and this particular one has at least one, small sample size. Only 48 kids were studied, 20 rich ones and 28 poor ones.

The other problem can be inferred from this sentence from the press release:

By 18 months of age, toddlers from disadvantaged families are already several months behind more advantaged children in language proficiency.

Understood that the average of rich kids is probably higher than the average of poor kids, but how widely distributed are the scores? It could be that there is substantial overlap between the two groups, which renders the study useless for predictive purposes.

Also unclear is how the kids in either group were recruited, since 18-month-old kids don’t answer the telephone or browse Craigslist, there is probably a substantial bias toward families who are proud of their kids’ language-acquisition skills and willing to spend time to showcase them.

Daycare vs. Nanny

Day care wins hands down. Background here is this post to the local parent listserve:

Looking for advice on finding a good caretaker who is able to do backup care when the nanny is unable to come.

Referrals or tips on finding someone appreciated.

Alternately, does anyone drop their baby off at a daycare center for a day here and there? I’m open to it but worried that without it being a routine it would be super stressful to my baby.

I told the mama last September that she should send the kid to day care. To elaborate:

Much less paperwork. You are not hiring an employee when you send your kid to day care. I will not bring up the ethical issues of paying your employees under the table.

Provider’s sick days are not your problem. Same with difficulties getting to work. Bear in mind that the people running group family day care are not commuting an hour each way every day; they live right there on the premises. Your provider will be better rested and better able to deal with your kid.

No need to supply toys, books and other materials.

No need to keep your house clean. Outside normal tolerance, of course.

No need to develop a social circle for your child.

Meals and snacks may be included in the cost.

If you want to spend the whole day or a half day with your kid, the flexibility is there. You can’t send your employee home on a whim (bear that hour-long commute in mind).

Cost is less, too.

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!!


When and how to learn about NYC schools?

From parentandme1

Re: When and how to learn about nyc schools?

Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:25 am (PDT) . Posted by:

“Tracey Keij-Denton” lieferacey

This is an excellent question, and one that I wondered about since I was pregnant with my first kid 5 years ago. After having gone through both Pre-K and K applications, I would say, if you want to be sure you are on the ball and not rushed, but you also want to exhale for a little bit and not worry, I would say summer of the year your kid turns 3. So if your kid was born in 2011, you’d start the research this summer. Your kid starts Kindergarten fall of 2016 and can start public Pre-k fall of 2015. The pre-k application will be due in February or March of 2015. So if you give yourself he summer to do research, you can plan to do the tours in the fall and not feel rushed. If you can’t make one tour, there will be another one. If you leave it until January scheduling can be a nightmare, especially for work I g parents.

As another poster explained, Pre-K is important because if your kid gets into the Pre-K they have priority for the school. My regret is when Wed toured schools I should have been looking at them for both the Pre-K and the elementary school, and perhaps taken more notes. You won’t cover everything, but you’ll know what questions to ask later and this list is very helpful for that.

Touring the public schools with Pre-k first will help you explore both, and then you’ve got another year to look at schools without Pre-Ks before the Kindergarten application process takes place in February of the year your kid turns 5.

Six point plan, no metrics involved

I read this Bike Portland post this afternoon and got a little befuddled.

The six points are:
1. We need to make it easier to choose to bike or walk
2. We need to not be afraid to take a few risks
3. We need to not be afraid of what creating congestion might do
4. We need to find a way to create “temporary” projects that show us what can be done
5. In the area within two blocks of a school, there should not be parking or loading zones
6. We need to do a much better job of mitigating construction

Thanks, Kari Schlosshauer.

With my military experience, I tend to examine manifestos and such from a how-would-you-do-this perspective. If you were King of Portland, Kari, how would you enact this plan? How would you judge whether or not you were making progress? What would you tell people who came to you asking how they could help?

The issue with all bicycling promotion is that it’s ridiculously easy to implement. Take away free on-street overnight parking. I’ve learned that my two cousins who live in Brooklyn with small children both have automobiles. Both grew up going to Quaker school and are clearly on the enlightened side of the spectrum, but because they own cars they are now bought into the motor vehicle economy. Me, I have two small children and our family saves a literal krap-ton of money each month by not having a motor vehicle. And we have more family time, because not having the means to make unnecessary trips to furniture retailer Ykea means not making unnecessary trips to Ykea.

Luckily for me, my neighborhood makes it easier for me to not have a car because only the folks with no job can find the time twice a week to move their cars from one side of the street to the other.

So when I read Ms. Schlosshauer’s six points, it seems to me that she is trying to have it both ways; persuading motor vehicle owners that they can live in a bicycling paradise and that it won’t really change anything in their lives. The easiest way to do this is to claim that your platform is “for the children,” because it puts opponents on the defensive; who is against children?

The problem is that winning arguments and persuading people to give up their cars are two different things.

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.