Saturday, November 28, 2009

Seeing the strengths in every child

We’ve started a weekly playdate with a friend of mine and her son. This friend and her husband both started college at age 15. It is no surprise that their son appears to be a little genius, probably the smartest baby I’ve come across.

I’ve been so excited lately with River’s increasing communication. Mark and I were both thrilled with his first complete sentence. But it took a little steam out of our excitement when this little boy, Samuel, came over, climbed onto the bar stool (which River cannot do), then announced, “I’m sitting on the white chair.”

“That’s an incredibly complex sentence,” Mark said. “He used a personal pronoun, a conjunction, a preposition and the correct color.” He was floored, the same way he is when he watches the Your Baby Can Read commercials and says, “I wish River could do that.”

Samuel is a special kid and Mark early on commented that he wanted Samuel to be in River’s peer group. Samuel’s dad also commented early on that he spotted the “sentience” he saw in his son in River and that was the first time he’d seen it in another baby. So I imagine they see something in River that will benefit their son.

It can be hard not to compare though and especially for Mark, to not feel disappointed. Yes, Samuel is a brilliant linguist at age 22 months. But he doesn’t eat well, he gets hurt often and requires vigilance due to his climbing, he still wakes his parents up twice a night, he doesn’t separate well and he has some health issues. OK, so River isn’t yet using complex sentences. But he eats, sleeps, separates and socializes without problem. He’s incredibly easygoing and his physical cautiousness means we don’t have to watch him so closely and he almost never gets hurt.

Each child is a unique little package, with their own strengths and challenges. I can admire the strengths of other children, but overall, I’m still proud of River’s entire package.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More preschools

Yesterday we went for another preschool visit and accidentally, ended up getting a peek at three different options. At our first stop, we thought we were visiting a preschool, but it was actually a daycare run by the same institution. I knew it was the cheapest option, but still, I didn’t like the vibe I got when we walked in. It felt cramped, the teachers looked tired and frustrated and unengaged. The facilities were overcrowded and while they had a lot of activities, I didn’t have a lot of faith that the teachers actually implemented them. The kids were 90% Hispanic, which I loved. I would love for River to be able to spend time with those kids, who may be poor, but seemed like nice children and have hard-working parents. Unfortunately, the quality of care seemed to be too low for us to consider it. Mark thought it seemed so bad that he thought the $5/hour charge was way too high. I felt sad that I can’t give my son the chance to be friends with those kids. And that the kids don’t have the exposure to better quality education and more diverse classmates. They are starting out disadvantaged and they will arrive at kindergarten just as disadvantaged.

Then we went to the nursery school. That seemed like an OK option, but Mark was more impressed with the 3-year-room than the 2.5’s. “It just seems like another warehouse,” he said, referring to the 2.5 class.

One of the six kids in the 2.5 class screeched Nyaaaa, nyaaaa in an aggressive, high-pitched voice. The teacher mentioned that child is in speech therapy. “Is that the kind of atmosphere we want him in, where he is around kids who just make weird noises for no purpose?” Mark asked. “Do we want him coming home and making obnoxious noises?”

I’m starting to see his point. I do think River would lack for stimulation in the 2.5 class because at 23 months, I think he is already beyond a lot of the typical 2 year behavior. He’d be better off around older kids. But then, I don’t feel so great about an English-speaking group of older kids. We spent 15 minutes in the 3s class observing. One kid came over with a plastic crab. “Oh look, it’s a cangrejo,” I said to River in Spanish.

“No it’s not!” the kids replied angrily. “It’s a crab!”

As River buzzed around the room, playing with different toys and muttering to himself and to me in Spanish, I could definitely feel the 3-year-olds eyeing him strangely. Unless he’s getting something really substantial out of the program, I don’t want him to feel ashamed because he speaks another language or to feel pressure to be like the other kids. I don’t want a couple of little kids to turn back all the work I’ve put into raising him bilingual for the past two years.

We still have a few more schools to look at, including the Chinese one (which is unfortunately, quite expensive). It’s not a question of River being ready. I think he’s ready right now. But we’re starting to question whether or not preschool will give our son any real advantage compared to what he has now (especially for what they cost – in the $10-$18/hour range – plus requiring the parents to put in a substantial amount of volunteer work). Perhaps continued home care, with regular visits to library story hours and the park, with some playdates, might be sufficient for a while longer. If nothing else, it will allow him to remain comfortable with the person he is. To me, that’s worth a lot.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stepping back

Part of the source of the stress and anxiety I was feeling last week came from feeling overwhelmed by information. And that came from me spending way too much time online, checking my email or Facebook every ten minutes. The result was that I was spending too much time thinking about whatever people emailed me or Facebooked about, and not about the things I wanted to think about. It disturbed me enough that I did a sudden pullback to:

-checking email no more than once per day and for a maximum of an hour (if
needed, I’ll allow myself two shorter sessions, but not totalling more than an

-not checking Facebook at all. Perhaps I’ll aim for going on for no more than
an hour somewhere between once a week and once a month.

-Checking my work email at four set times through the day.

The result has been an immediate and significant calming. During the stretch until the next email check, there is almost no risk of someone diverting my thoughts to whatever they think is important at the moment. They could always call if it was urgent, but few people (even at work) do so. This gives me the tranquility and the concentration to focus on whatever I want to be thinking about or doing.

What about those dull moments, when I’d check email just for a break from whatever I was working on? Turns out, I have no problem finding other meaningless things to do. I look at upcoming events for the weekend, I write some product reviews for things I’ve purchased, feeling like I owe it to the people who have helped me make good purchases with their reviews, I write emails that I put into a document to send during my once-daily period (the emails I write are based more upon the people and ideas I’m thinking about and prioritizing rather than who writes to me at a given moment), I look into good books and music, for myself and my son. I’m reading more, listening to more news and podcasts, spending better quality time with my son and generally feeling calmer.

Pulling back on information was a technique strongly recommended by The Four Hour Work Week and was something I thought would be good to implement. I tried half-heartedly but never really succeeded.

The greatest challenge is when I’m trying to set something up on short notice and may need to see if the person has responded. Perhaps this will teach me to pick up the phone and communicate more often.

I hope I can maintain it, because right now, with limited information flow, I’m feeling like a calmer and happier person.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Parental involvement in middle school

Thought I’d pass this study along. It analyzes 50 other studies on parental involvement in middle school to find out what kinds of involvement have the strongest association with academic achievement. Turns out, helping with the homework doesn’t help with achievement (which is the opposite of what I would have guessed). But just about every other kind of involvement does. What is especially useful is involvement that reflected academic socialization, which includes setting expectations, relating assignments to current events, encouraging planning for future academic and career paths, etc. Basically, talking to kids about goals and discussing how current activities relate to those goals.

I can imagine that this is where much of the benefits or drawbacks of social class come into play. Mark is going to raise River telling him its good to get a Ph.D. Some kids are never even told they can or should go to college. My parents used to discuss with me plans to become a lawyer, but a Ph.D. was never mentioned and so it wasn’t until well after college that it really appeared to me as a potential option. I was able to look beyond my parents expectation that I attend a community college due to high school guidance counselors that encouraged other options. But others aren’t so lucky. I have a friend who grew up in a rural community, where her parents didn’t ever encourage college and her guidance counselors never mentioned that she could go out of state. It took her a long time to get out of the rut that those low expectations put her in. But I have a lot of respect for the people who come from atmospheres of such little encouragement and go on to build successful lives for themselves.

The irresistable urge to buy books

For the first 18 months of River’s life, I didn’t have much of a desire to buy him anything. Though I occasionally felt like a bad parent compared to my friends who instigated nightly bedtime reading pretty much from birth, we didn’t read much at all for the first six months. And for what we did do, the library was good enough. I didn’t need any clothes or toys beyond what I could get on freecycle or an occasional yard or consignment sale.

So when we set a family budget and I allocated $100/month for River’s discretionary expenses (not including food, medical or education savings), I thought that was pretty generous. Yet, I now find myself overspending and have to take some tough decisions (delay the start of swim lessons, put off his portrait, resist buying things on impulse, like the plastic duck reading a book I paid $6.50 for at the library).

But the one thing I really can’t stop buying is books. I just spent over an hour browsing Amazon and putting book after book in my cart. As I found good ones on Amazon, I would search my local library to see if they had it. If they did, I reserved it. So in addition to a large purchase, I probably also have a big stack of books waiting for me at the library.

With books in English, I don’t feel the need to buy many. There are so many at the library and we also find them for free or cheap, either from people clearing out their garages or at rummage sales. But I can’t find used children’s books in Spanish easily. I get them from the library, but there are only so many. I want him to have close to equal numbers of books in Spanish and English around the house, so that when he picks up a book and asks me to read it to him, I’m not always saying, “That’s a book for daddy to read to you.”

Also, now that we’ve moved beyond the baby books (I’m now reading him books labeled in the age 4-8 range) I’m finding myself loving the stories. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It’s wonderful to see the world through a child’s eyes again, and doing so in Spanish gives me a bit of a challenge and the opportunity to learn some new words.

There is no doubt that River loves books, is passionate about them, would happily listen to 15-25 per day. Which is good. Because I don’t mean to project myself upon him. But if I had complete freedom, I’d probably fill the house with as many Spanish stories as I could find.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A new era of documentaries

We let River watch 30-60 minutes of programming per day. Usually it’s from PBS sprout, or it’s an educational DVD in Spanish, such as Plazo Sesamo.

But yesterday, Mark set me up with Spanish language cable. When River saw a program on water, he became excited by the seals. “Focas!” he called out in Spanish, pointing at the TV. He was fixated on the show. Why not let him learn about water, mountains, ice, animals and insects, I thought. So I watched it with him.

It was more interesting for me than the kids shows are. And the Spanish was faster and more sophisticated in the kids shows. An animal appeared that I thought might be a wolf. But then I heard the narrator describe it as a grey fox. “Un zorro gris,” I could tell River, as if I knew. The white birds with black necks floating on the beautiful water? No idea. But then he described them as black necked swans. Great. “Gansos de cuello negro,” I told River. I was learning too.

Mark has been on my case for years to replace my reality-show staples with something more educational. I’ve resisted because the moments when I’m watching reality TV are usually when I’m tired and I don’t feel like taking in knowledge. But if this is River’s TV time, why not learn something with him.

So I waved the DVR wand and recorded a bunch of animal and nature programs, as well as one on major construction. We watched the first today, a Discovery program about a Spanish guy who rescues chimpanzees from Angola and brings them to a reserve in South Africa. It was a little more mature that I might have liked for River. We saw the chimpanzees living in difficult conditions as well as the scary process of tranquilizing them. But he seemed interested and his attention didn’t waver for the 20 minutes I let him watch it.

Mark grew up on documentaries, so he feels he’s already seen them all. I grew up on Sesame Street and Wild Kingdom. I guess this is one of the fun parts of parenting – the opportunity to have a second chance to learn things all over again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Research overload

I’m tired. My brain is tired. Today only, I had to wonder about when
to take the little one to the dentist, whether I made the right
decision to get the H1N1. I wondered why I felt so sluggish and down.
Besides the fact that I feel conflicted between the helpful advice I
get from parent groups and this yucky feeling of spending my time
debating with people who are way too into their kids, I realized that
I spend a heck of a lot of time looking stuff up, as I imagine the
other parents who ask these questions or enter these debates do too.

Which diaper is best? Which bottle is safe? What are the hazards of a
used crib or carseat and do they outweigh the cost savings? Which
vaccines to get and when? How long to breastfeed? How to handle
discipline? What type of development to expect at which stage? When
to go to preschool? What kind of preschool?

Whew. I’m tired. I do wish for some kind of expert panel I could
trust that would let me know what they recommend and that I could
follow wholeheartedly. Of course, I’m interested in finding out the
answers to these questions so that I can make the best decisions for
my son. But is this really the best way to spend my time? Maybe I’d
do better putting in those hours doing better at work, so that I could
better provide for him.

I also don’t like the feeling, though I admit it might be self-inflicted, of having to defend a decision one takes. Not only do I have to research, I have to explain my decision and read why others might have chosen otherwise, which leads me back into either more
research or self doubt.

I know what I probably need to do is turn it off. Stop subscribing to
the parent groups, stop reading the blogs, stop getting into dialogues with people on these topics. Tim Ferriss recommends severely limiting media intake – something that I think would probably reduce my stress level greatly, as well as perhaps my knowledge of current events.

Why don’t I do it? Unfortunately, I have a penchant for finding out
facts. I like to understand situations, to make decisions based on
data. I also like and appreciate that rare little nugget that comes
through during the discussions – a good place for a hair cut for
example or a special event or discount.

Another factor is that I find it harder to concentrate than I did
before. When I need a quick break from whatever I’m focusing on
(which seems to be every 5-10 minutes) I take a look at the email.

Anyone have any advice on how to cut down or cut back and still stay
relatively informed? I sometimes feel like I hear these internet
debates in my head. I’d like to fill that space with something more
substantial or less stressful.

First dental visit

There is a woman in one of the mom’s groups I belong to whose husband
specializes in pediatric oral health. She is urging everyone in the
group to get their kiddos to the dentist and says that dentists who
recommend waiting to age 3 (like mine) or 4, just don’t like
interacting with young kids.

These are some of the major dental organization guidelines she passed along:

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) policy says "the
first dental visit should occur shortly after the first tooth erupts
and no later than the child’s first birthday."

The American Dental Association (ADA) policy says the first dental
visit should occur "within six months of the eruption of the first
tooth, and no later than the child's first birthday."

The Academy of general Dentistry (AGD) policy says "a child’s first
visit to the dentist should occur within six months of the eruption of
the first tooth.”

I was surprised to not see any questioning, or any explanation of the rationale behind the guidelines. I felt like a cynical crank when I pointed out that earlier
visits = more patients = more money for the dentists. It’s in their
self interest to promote people coming in as soon and as often as they
can. Shortly after the first tooth erupts? Are you kidding? For

She took her own daughter at 20 months and cited the benefits of
getting a really cool toothbrush and getting used to sitting in the
chair. For $150 and the time it would take me to make the appointment
and bring him? Sorry. River will get used to sitting in the chair when
the time comes because he has to. I don’t think it will traumatize

Unless someone can show me some evidence that a kid who eats a healthy
diet and brushes once a day is at some serious risk of dental disease
if he doesn’t get to the dentist before age 3, I think I’ll listen to
my dentist, and not these guidelines. It does make me sad though that
I feel so little confidence in U.S. medical association guidelines.
Though I feel very cynical compared to these hyper-concerned moms, who
are willing to jump at whatever an expert says, I am a little more
active on this front than Mark. When I told him I thought we should
start making a habit of River brushing once a day, he asked “Why?
Those teeth are all going to fall out anyway.”

When did you make your first pediatric dental visit? When you do think it makes sense?

Doctors who don't support H1N1 vaccine

I feel like I’m in the minority when people on the mom’s list I belong
to seem to be in a choir of wanting the vaccine, and wanting it fast.
Their doctors seem to advise the same.

I had been hesitant about the thought of getting it. It doesn’t seem
to be life-threatening to those without underlying health issues,
River has gotten a lot of vaccines in the first two years and I’d
rather not add an extra unless needed, we both had some type of flu
in September, which makes me think we could have had it already, and
River doesn’t spend a lot of time around other kids, where germs can
be easily spread. But the long lines of people eager for it give it a
more desirable air. I wondered if I was wrong to not want it.

So when I called my doctor to make a two-year-old check up appointment
and asked about the vaccine, I admit I felt slightly relieved when I
was told that their office is not giving it and doesn’t recommend it
except for children with chronic health problems. “It’s too new and
all the potential effects have not been tested,” the receptionist told
me when I asked why they weren’t recommending it. I later read the FDA packaging, which states that effects are not known in pregnant woman and children under the age of 4.

The doctors in this practice are primarily foreign born (Russian and
Indian), so perhaps they aren’t as subject to jumping on the U.S.
medical advice bandwagon. They do support vaccines in general. While
they supported my desire to get River vaccinated one at a time, they
do provide other patients with the usual vaccines on schedule.

It’s a hard decision to make and I know I might well make another
decision under other circumstances (such as if I was pregnant). I know
I could also regret it if River gets a horrible, painful case of H1N1.

In the meantime, I feel slightly better to not just being going with
my gut, but to have a doctor’s opinion behind my decision, even if she
is in the minority.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Ever since River has been able to express a preference, mom has been
number one in his book. If I’m not around, he’s fine with whoever is
caring for him. But if I’m there, he wants mommy.

There are times when I’ve wished he would lean towards dad – times
when I’d like to be able to get something done around the house or
just take a break. But overall, especially now that he’s such a joy
to spend time with, I’m just grateful.

It’s a wonderful feeling to have someone be so excited when you come
home that they call out and run towards you. It’s nice to have
someone look up to you enough that they try to imitate every sound and

I think back upon the parenting choices we’ve made. While some of the
attachment literature appealed to me while pregnant, I quickly
discovered that I’m not an attachment parent. I tried to keep up the
breastfeeding as long as I could, but didn’t kill myself or severely
restrict my activities because of it. We stopped co-sleeping within
two months and stopped sleeping in the same room not more than a month
later. I need frequent time away from my role as a mother – daily if

Yet, despite all this, River and I have an intense, loving bond. It
makes me glad to see that no theory necessarily predicts a relation
between a mother and her child. Perhaps by taking care of myself and
my needs outside of being a mother, I am able to enjoy my time with
River more and make that time count.

I can see that it’s hard on Mark to be in second place. “Mommy’s
number one, daddy’s number two,” he often chants around the house,
especially when River has rejected one of his advances. I know the
tables are likely to turn at some point and I’ll move into second
place. Perhaps it would have been easier for me to deal with if this
had happened earlier. But at this point, we’ve had a long, consistent
bond that I’m grateful for. I’m glad to be working, I’m glad to
pursue my interests, but when it’s time to hang out with River, right
now I thoroughly enjoy it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

First choices

In the past few weeks, River has shown some preferences in his
clothing. He gets very excited by the underwear a friend of mine
passed down, with images of Thomas the train engine and construction
vehicles. Offering to put his train underwear on will distract him
from just about any preoccupation. I’m hoping it will also help with
leaving the diapers behind, as I tell him that he doesn’t want to pee
on the train, but in the potty.

He gets excited about characters and shapes on his clothing and
recently, has started to request certain items. Last night, just
before bed, he wanted red socks. OK, I thought, why not. I took off
his green socks and put on the red ones before putting him in the
crib. He seemed to want an additional pair to go on top of the red
ones, but I was able to distract him from that idea.

It’s fun to see that he has preferences and to see him happy about
something he wears. I imagine we could also enter situations in which
he wants to wear some ridiculous things (Ie. Multiple pairs of socks
or underwear).

I think for now, my strategy is to let him make choices when
feasible. But when it’s really not feasible (ie. Wanting to wear
shorts or pyjamas outside), to insist on something that makes more
sense. So far, River has been a pretty amenable guy, so I’m not
foreseeing major battles. But just in case, does anyone have tips to
offer on toddlers who like to make clothing choices themselves?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Chinese as a third language

I’ve begun the process of looking at preschools, since it’s getting to be that time if I want him to attend next fall. I swore I wasn’t going to get in the preschool frenzy that some people do, especially in New York City. I don’t believe that preschool has significant life effects for a child who already has a lot of advantages in learning opportunities (I do think it can for disadvantaged children). I don’t think that preschool is a necessity for River. But I do think he’d enjoy the opportunity to interact more with other kids. I’d also like him to be able to do some things we don’t do so often at home – such as arts and craft, music and group games.

My standards were initially very simple. I wanted it to be:
-within walking or biking distance of home. No spending large amounts of time
in the car for a 2-3 hour enrichment.

-preferably 2-3 days per week, morning only. I would still like to maximize the
amount of time he is in a Spanish-speaking environment as well as the amount of
peer influence.

-not very expensive

-a huge, huge bonus would be if it was immersion Spanish, but I can’t find
anything like that locally.

The Waldorf program appeals to me a lot. But it’s not within biking distance and it’s very expensive (plus it requires the parent to attend with the child until age 3). So that one is out. Montessori is so crazy expensive we are not even looking at the details.

I figured we’d apply to the five that are close by, then see what the options are in the spring and which one would work best for us at that time. I thought the most difficult decision would be deciding between a cheap option where many low-income Hispanics send their children (so that he could have some peers to speak Spanish with) and other places where he wouldn’t get Spanish exposure, but would be with children of some very smart people. This brings up issues of classism, social grouping and opportunity that trouble me. It makes me sad to think that these issues start so young. It also makes me unsure of what the right decisions are. Do we support him interacting with a wide-range of people (which is my natural inclination) or do we put him with kids who are most likely to teach and challenge him intellectually?

But the other day, I was poking around on the internet and started looking at the immersion Chinese preschool. While there is no Spanish option, there are Chinese and French options. I think French is not very useful, so I wouldn’t even consider that. Chinese though began to intrigue me. It’s a really hard language. How cool if he could absorb it while his mind is young and sponge-like. Also, of the more than 50 countries I’ve traveled to, China was among the most difficult two. The culture, especially in the rural areas, was so far from anything I was familiar with. The language was so incomprehensible. I really felt lost.

What if I could give my son the tools to operate in that vastly foreign environment? What if he could communicate with and understand the Chinese, a significant percentage of the world’s population? What if he could do that, and communicate with and understand Hispanics? He’d have a great amount of freedom and opportunity.

Of course, neither Mark nor I know Chinese. If River was to learn it, I would probably start studying it as well. But would this be crazy? I had been leaning toward a relaxed childhood, not too many activities, not too much pressure. Is teaching him three languages before kindergarten violating those beliefs and putting too much stress on him? Or is it just taking advantage of the fact that his brain is now a sponge, especially for language, and allowing him to play while he soaks in another way to communicate? This preschool is neither within walking distance nor cheap.

When I presented the idea to Mark, he was very resistant. “You are going to turn him into a version of you – a linguist and world traveler,” he said. Well geez, I didn’t know that being like me was so bad. But I’m not trying to turn him into me. I’m trying to make things easier for him while the window is open. I’m also very enthusiastic about him pursuing opportunities in math and science when his brain is at the stage to absorb those.

“If he already knows three languages by kindergarten, then he’s not going to have to work at those,” I said. “He’ll be free to focus his efforts in school on learning other subjects, which I fully support.”

I think Mark feels threatened by not being able to speak the same language as his son. He says he doesn’t learn languages well. Mark is picking up some Spanish through absorption, but it’s unlikely he’d pick up Chinese and I doubt he’d have the interest to study it. He seems to downplay the value of being able to communicate in other languages, since he thinks that smart people in other countries learn English.

Mark wants to put the discussion off. He wants to see how our financial situation is then. Which is fine, because River isn’t even eligible until at least next fall. But the temptation to allow him a third language at the age of 3 has planted itself in my mind and it excites me tremendously. Even as I worry whether River will appreciate these opportunities or if he will resent them.

In the meantime, if a Spanish language preschool were to open, I’d be thrilled.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Writing contest for kids

The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration is an annual writing contest for kids in grades 4-8. It encourages them to interview relatives, write a story about what they learned and submit their story for potential publication in an anthology. Sounds like a fun way to help kids learn about their family histories and develop writing skills.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


It’s here. Thank you. So glad to keep my body for myself a while longer and to enjoy the balance our family of three has lately found. Life is OK right now. No need to change it.

Despite my nervousness, another part of me figured that it just wasn’t possible to be pregnant and to not feel horrible. I suppose for some lucky people it is, but with the rough first trimester I had last time, the thought of being pregnant and feeling normal seemed too unbelievable to be true.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Potty mouth

River's first swear word came a few weeks ago, when he repeated "shit"
after hearing dad say it. Since then, I've twice caught him muttering
fuck under his breath. The first time we had been out playing in the
leaves, having a nice time. There was definitely no swearing
involved. As we came in, he started to say, fuck, fuck, fuck. At
first I thought I was mishearing him, but it sure sounded like fuck to
me. It happened again tonight.

As excited as I am about the rapid language developed he has shown in
the past two months, this disturbs me. He's not saying it in an angry
manner. Rather, it's a more thoughtful analysis of the sounds. But
still, what does this say about us as parents to have this be among
his first 100 words or so? As professional parents with graduate
school educations, I find it pretty embarrassing.

It's hard not to think that it came from Mark, either his own speech
or the TV shows or movies he watches while caring for River. When
I've asked Mark before to be careful, he has told me that River
doesn't understand what he is saying. I do think he believes that,
because he also tends to read simpler books to River than I do,
thinking he doesn't understand the more complicated ones. I believe
River's comprehension is at a much higher level and that even when he
can't demonstrate his comprehension, he is a sponge, soaking
everything in.

I don't have a perfectly clean mouth myself, and I'm sure I've sworn
in frustration before in his presence, especially while driving. But
I don't think it's been often enough, or loud enough, for him to pick
it up. Nor do I watch programs that contain swearing in front of him.

When I point it out to Mark, and say look what's happened to our
child, he says I should not react. When I started googling toddler
and swearing, I saw similar advice. It sounds like the best thing to do is to ignore it and hope it goes away. But when I'm pointing it out, what I'm really saying is - look at how we influence him. Look at what can happen if we are not
careful. Please be serious about setting a good example.

River is such an easy kid and so many of his characteristics can make
us feel like we are doing a great job. When he sleeps through the
night, naps, eats just about everything without problem, has never puked, had diarrhea, nor an ear infection, does most his poos in the potty and is generally friendly, cooperative and good-natured, it's tempting to think we are doing things right. When really, he was just born with a character that makes our job easy.
But this feels like a blow. A knock in the head that this time, we've
done something wrong.


The ring is out and I’m waiting for my period to appear. Doesn’t it
usually appear right away after removing the ring? Or does it take a
day or two? Normally I don’t pay so much attention. But this time I’m
waiting for it anxiously.

It is so freaky to think that a being could potentially be in the
process of creation inside me, without me being cognizant nor
approving of the process. It only reinforces my belief that women
must be able to make these choices for themselves. It is too big of a
physical, emotional and financial investment to happen to someone
against their will.

If by chance, I am pregnant, we would keep the baby. While it’s not
ideal, a 2.5 year gap is not so horrible. We have the capacity to
care for it and at 2.5, River would probably be at a stage at which a
new arrival wouldn’t detract so much from his needs. That said, I’m
still crossing my fingers that we will have a gap larger than 2.5

Another topic that I find myself thinking about is control. With the
first pregnancy, I had been charting my cycles for months. I knew
exactly when the egg was released, when conception likely occurred,
when the symptoms began and what they were. Should I become pregnant
now, it’s without knowing all of that.

Part of me likes it and wonders if we make an attempt in the future,
if I should adopt this more laid back approach. It’s more relaxed.
It happens or it doesn’t. Perhaps I’m not feeling symptoms because
they aren’t there. Perhaps I’m not feeling there because I’m not
obsessing about it on a spreadsheet. The baby comes at some time or
another, regardless of whether or not I can chart out its likely

On the other hand, I feel like the medical system tends to make women
feel pretty powerless over their bodies. I like knowing more than the
doctors do. It’s nice to feel more confident in what is happening and
what I can expect based on what I know. Perhaps the strongest factor
that would lead me to be anal-retentive once again is that I’d like to
use the techniques recommended in Taking Charge of Your Fertility for
increasing the chances of a girl. Another boy would be fine. The one
we have is great. But one of each would be ideal.

Or perhaps the oops moment has arrived and then being anal would no
longer be a choice. I would just have to sit back and adjust, which I
suppose is possible too.