Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Wasting Away in Frantic Parentville

There is an enormous difference between the way we parented #1 in the early 1990s and what #6 is getting in the early 2010s. Two decades, six siblings, and thousands of sleep-deprived hours can take a person a long way down the road to Mellow Town. Having resided in both places, I can assure you that Mellow Town is a lot happier place to hang out than Frantic Parentville.

A side-by-side comparison is useful:

Frantic Parentville (FP, circa 1993) - Babies must sleep on their backs. Do not overwrap the baby as to keep from over-heating.
Mellow Town (MT, circa 2013) - Swaddling is genius. So is letting a baby sleep on his stomach if he refuses to sleep well in any other position. I had major mother-guilt about the times I flipped a wailing infant onto his or her stomach in the middle of the night until my favorite pediatrician assured me that a non-smoking home with a modern baby mattress has a much lower risk of SIDS than simply back-sleeping.

FP- Use copious amounts of anti-bacterial gel, soap, wipes, surfaces, etc. as to keep your baby germ-free.
MT - Lay off the anti-bacterial everything. You are making yourself and the rest of us less healthy.

FP - Schedule feedings, changings, and sleeping as to keep your baby from becoming a tantrum-throwing, parent-controlling tyrant (Growing Kids God's Way, anyone?).
MT - Balance, balance, balance. Enjoy your kid, pay attention to his/her cues, follow your instincts, and don't let anyone make you feel like God does not approve of your child's eating/sleeping/potty training lifestyle.

FP- Start saving for college the very day you learn you are pregnant so as to ward off financial ruin for yourself and all potential offspring.
MT - Save if you can. Spend if you must. Junior college never hurt anybody and if your plan is to make certain your kid can support you in your old age, turns out plumbing is a pretty stable and lucrative career.

FP - Begin an allowance for your little darling around the 2nd birthday so as to guarantee financial responsibility. Use the three bank system (giving, saving, spending) or else.
MT - Nothing wrong with allowances, but watch how easy it is for kids to slip into the selfishness of doing a job for pay instead of simply for the good of the family. (Two dollars per week for six kids equals $11,232. Might as well save that and make sure someone gets a year of college. Or that mom gets a good car down payment.)

FP - Avoid baby talk so as to keep both you and your child from sounding silly.
MT - Baby, that lisp is the cutest thing I've ever heard. Don't you dare let your third grade teacher shame it out of you.

FP - Have multiple thermometers handy throughout the home and check fevers of all children often and well.
MT - Thermometer hasn't worked in years. Rule of thumb is: 1. You're warm, take it easy. 2. You're hot, have some ibuprofen and an ice pack. 3. You're burning my hand with your forehead. Get in the car, we're headed to the ER.

FP - How can we possibly raise well-adjusted American children without at least one magical trip to the Magic Kingdom? We can give up Starbucks for five years or so in order to save up.
MT - Summer vacation time again? Call up the grandparents to book a long weekend and frappuccinos for everyone at Starbucks on the way. Cooking s'mores and chasing fireflies in the backyard is all we really need to secure fantastic childhood memories.

Less is more here in Mellow Town.

Hanging out with #1 and #6 on the first day of college.

Can't even imagine how mellow we'll be the day we drop off #6 at college.