1. I routinely tell any one of my three children that they are my favorite child. Mostly, I say this when I want the child to do something for me. Like get me a hot chocolate. "You were always my favorite child. Could you get Mama a cocoa?" I also say this to them when I feel guilty for forgetting to pick them up at school or when taking them for a vaccination.
2. I have no opinion on babysitters or day care other than the more I need to get away from my kids for a while, the lower my standards fall. I think this is generally true for most people. But I would never say that out loud in a room full of parents who are taller than I am.
3. I think parents need about 3% of the stuff that is marketed as "necessary to be a good parent." In that 3% that is genuinely useful, I'd include a pair of sturdy shoes with a non-slip tread, a wicking base layer, earplugs, and a multi-vitamin.
4. I think most kids from infant on up need about 2% of the stuff that is marketed to help kids have safe, happy, productive childhoods. In that 2% that is genuinely useful, I'd include a pair of sturdy shoes with a non-slip tread, a wicking base layer, a helmet, a multi-vitamin, and a library card. If you want to get fancy, maybe a harmonica.
5. I think most typical kids can be parented well via these golden rules of dog training.
Have Fun- If you’re like many of us, the moment you see your new puppy or dog is the moment you start seeing all the pheasants he’s going to bring in, the championships she’s going win and generally the finely trained specimen you expect him/her to be. Slow down. You have a new dog, a new hunting partner and a new member of the family. This should be fun for both of you. Keep training sessions short and sweet, and have fun. A dog that’s happy to be learning will be happy in the field.
Remember Training Goes Both Ways- The term trainer implies that all your only job in this situation is to teach. This is not true. When training your dog, there are also a number of things you need to practice and require of yourself. Train yourself to stay calm, no matter how frustrating a training situation might be. Your dog will have good days and bad days, but never take your frustration out on your dog. This will greatly hinder your training. If you need to cut a training session short, or just walk away, do so. Also, train yourself to make a point to get out with your dog.
If You Can’t Reinforce It, Don’t Teach It- Remember that your dog learns more than what you intend to teach him. If you give a command when you have no way to reinforce it and he ignores you, he’s learned that when he needs to listen is conditional. Obviously, this is a revelation is difficult to unlearn, so make sure if you want your dog’s attention and adherence, you have a way to get it.
Be Consistent- Consistency is key. Remember that training is teaching you and your dog how to communicate. The expectations should be clear and concrete. If your dog has to guess what outcome you want, you are both set up for failure. Try to make sure your dog knows when it’s time to train by training at around the same time everyday, using the same equipment and follow the same basic structure.
Don’t Give Up- You are going to make mistakes. Your dog is going to make mistakes. This is the nature of training and humanity in general. Don’t throw your hands in the hair and give up just because things are going wrong. Take time to assess the missteps of both you and your dog and learn how to correct these in the future. The tough phases will pass and you and your dog will have better communication because of them.
6. I think that kids standing by and saying or doing nothing while other kids are being bullied - or kids not paying attention enough to the other kids around them to notice whether or not their peers are being harassed or shunned (i.e. the "I didn't know about it even though it was happening every day a few feet away from me" defense) - are kids who need a figurative good kick in the pants. Possibly a series of figurative kicks in the pants over the course of years. I think from preschool on up, kids need to be actively taught and expected to be stewards, protectors, and advocates for each other's good physical and mental health, as well as learn to be responsible for their own well being. That's not hippy dippy talk. That's "Don't be an ass to your classmates, pay attention to what is going on around you, and don't put up with other kids being an ass to your classmates. Or else, kid."
I think this is not a topic a lot of parents would want to read about because it's exhausting just being a squeaky wheel for your own kid, let alone everyone else's. I think some people think that as long as their kid isn't a bully or being bullied, all is golden. (I think most kids when they feel bad about themselves are capable of taking it out on other kids. Even kids who come from homes with driveways, Ikea curtains, and piano lessons.) This is a topic I would want to write about on a parenting website. That would be a problem, I think.
7. I'd refuse to take a side on any of the time-worn Mommy War debates.
8. I use run-on sentences, fake words, and too many commas.
Today's book is Bears In The Night, by Stan & Jan Berenstain
This is one of my favorite Bright and Early Suess-style books. It was always one of my kids' favorites, as well. The fact that the bears had a lit lantern in their room and used it to crawl out an open window onto a roof and down a tree sort of flip-flops the whole notion that little kids are meant to be kept safe and sound from the big, bad boogie men of night, and instead are themselves agents of shadowy deceptions and moonlit chaos.
Bears In The Night says to little kids, "You are not in danger. You ARE the danger! You are the one who knocks!"
Until Tuco the Owl shows up.
Then it's, like, whatever, yo. I'm hiding under the covers. Bitch.