10 November 2009

How do they do it?

Last night, Horatio was tired. He'd had a long day at work and when he came home, it didn't get much better. The boys were a little wired and Zack had a loose tooth, which always creates chaos in his life. Horatio even commented that it's a good thing he is not the stay at home parent because he thought he'd have lost it by dinner time.

So, he went to sleep at 9 and by the time I went upstairs, at 9:20, he was asleep. I heard Dwight coughing so I asked Dwight been coughing a lot or had just started. Horatio said he had not been coughing but it soon became clear that the coughing would not stop any time soon so I took the inhaler and went to give it to Dwight.

In the process of climbing the bunk bed ladder, I shook the nearby dresser a little and a pottery robot that Dwight had painted in 2005 fell, hit a wooden chair and crashed into 100s of pieces. I expected to see Horatio running in to make sure everything was ok, but the hallway remained quiet. I picked up the big pieces of pottery and then went to get the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed up the small bits so no one would step on the shards in the morning. Everyone slept through it, including my darling husband.

What I want to know is, how does he do it? I wake up if one of the kids sneezes. I can practically hear when they stir in their sleep and there lies my husband, sound asleep from the moment his head hits the pillow.

I always remember to check the door and window locks and put the bar behind the sliding door and set the alarm when Horatio travels. Perhaps I ought to be as careful when he is here, now that I know that an intruder could come in and practically take the pillow from under his head without him knowing!

05 November 2009

Time management?

Sometimes a mom doesn't have time to go to the bathroom. When my "non mom" friends hear this, they shudder and shake their heads in disbelief but, sadly, it is true.

When the washing machine buzzes at 8 in the morning and the wash is soaking wet, indicating the machine is broken, a mother's whole day is thrown off completely. What was once a day filled with leisurely run errands to Target and Trader Joes becomes a scramble to find a repairman, a neighbor's machine to spin the clothes, a plan B for dinner and other ways to occupy an almost 2 year old.

When the repairman comes at 10:30 and stays until it is time to pick up the kindergartner at the bus stop, lunch needs to be made and a toddler must be settled for a nap, a mother knows what she must do...

When leaves are all over the floor from 4 boys and their friends going in and out of the house 45 times per day and they need to be vacuumed up, it must be done...

The laundry must be folded, towels replaced on the bars. Playdates have to be scheduled. The cake you promised the kids has to be baked and iced and when the spatula you used to put the icing on the cake falls on the floor you have to clean it up. By then, it's time for dinner to be made so everything else must stop even if it can be made in the microwave.

The trash and recycling have to be taken to the curb and the compost container is starting to smell, so it has to be emptied and cleaned.

Homework has to be dealt with and diapers have to be changed and baths must be given. Teeth must be brushed (mom's own, too, if there's time), books must be read.

Sometimes, these things all run together and a mom forgets to stop and take a break and sometimes she forgets to eat or take her vitamins or even take a shower. But, in the end of the day, she knows she's done her job and done it well and has the hugs and kisses to prove it.

02 November 2009

What are they thinking?

Several people have forwarded the stories about the refund offer from Baby Einstein. My first reaction was excitement about the prospect of getting $15.99 for each of the dvds I purchased over the past 5 years, but that thought was fleeting. I quickly reconsidered and here is why...

I, like countless other moms, have purchased and let my children watch these dvds. The kids love them and I, like many others, enjoy the few minutes the little one sits quietly watching so I can get things accomplished around the house.

Depending on my child's mood, I will put in a Baby Einstein video, Blue's Clues, Ni Hao Kai Lan, or something else. Do I like the educational value these programs offer? Yes. Do I think they will make my child smarter? No.

Maybe I should rephrase that statement... No, of course not. It seems ridiculous to me that parents would think that watching a video would make their children smarter. It might help a child learn colors or letters or numbers sooner than if he or she was watching Spongebob, but the child will eventually learn these things. An early reader is not necessarily a smarter child. Does listening to classical music make a baby smarter? Perhaps. The jury is still out on that one. Listening to Mozart might help children (and adults, for that matter) focus on a task, but a rise in IQ is questionable.

Another issue is whether watching tv does harm to our kids. My personal opinion... No.

The most important thing to do with our children is expose them to lots of things and provide them with the opportunities to learn and explore things that interest them. These actions help our kids become eager learners and enthusiastic school children.

I have three school aged children. Each one has learned to read at a different age and by a different method because each is motivated by different things. My oldest son is now 11 years old. He started reading fluently before he turned four. He watched shows like "Between the Lions" and dvds like "So Smart" because he liked them. One of his favorite activities was to play with foam letters and numbers. He learned to read because he loved the game it was to him.

My second son knew all his letters and their sounds when he was 18 months. He learned them from me, he dad, his brother and from videos and loved the fun he had with them. He did not read well until the end of kindergarten and is a great reader now, as a third grader. He has a wide range of interests and isn't afraid to try any of them.

My third son knew all his letters and sounds as a preschooler and started reading simple words before starting kindergarten. He watched plenty of videos and got plenty of input from me and from others. His teachers say he is doing great as a first term kindergartner. He has many interests and I'm sure he'll do just fine in school.

All three boys watched plenty of tv from toddlerhood on up to the present. I think the programs have enriched their development because they offer reinforcement to the other fun ways they learn and grow under our direction. I do not think the programs made them smarter, and I don't think they have stunted the boys' development. Just like any other element in our lives, tv is a tool and a toy and can be a healthy part of our kids' lives.

The Baby Einstein franchise is just one of the many great ones in the many choices out there. Perhaps it was irresponsible of them to claim that their videos are educational but aren't we, as parents, responsible for knowing what is best for our kids? Our kids all have potential, we'll always have to work hard to help them make the most of that potential. Let's not hold an entertainment company responsible when parents shirk the responsibility of raising their kids themselves. Don't expect a video of any kind to do your work for you.

The bottom line is, if you have a kid? Be a parent. Perhaps The Baby Einstein company could lower their prices as a gesture to parents who take the high road and do not take advantage of the offered refund. I leave that up to them. I will not be sending in my dvds and I will continue to let my 22 month old enjoy them as part of his fun path through childhood.