Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nope, My Son Isn't Flirting

My son was eating a blueberry pancake in a cafeteria when a woman in scrubs walked by. They smiled at each other and then he started to cough. She joked, "Oh, wow. You're so handsome. It's been so long since a man has been choked up by my beauty."

I responded to my son, "At least there are nurses and doctors around while you're choking, amore." Since he quickly stopped coughing and returned to picking the blueberries out of the pancakes, it seemed like an appropriate response to an inappropriate comment. We all returned to our breakfast and the strange woman walked away.

This isn't the first time someone has said something like this. My son, at 15 months old and for many months and years ahead, isn't flirting, "making eyes," or doing anything sexual towards the opposite and/or same sex. He's playing and learning. He's slowly developing a sense of his physical and emotional self, as well as his gender and sexuality. His relationships, both casual and close, as well as the language we use to describe them, matter as his foundations for the future are formed. 

Let's teach our children that they can have appropriate friendships with all ages, genders, races, religions and classes. There's no need to sexualize a child, even through jokes. The words we use and our actions teach messages to children of all ages. 

For more, visit Understanding Early Sexual Development from KidsHealth and the Mayo Clinic's article Sex education: Talking to toddlers and preschoolers about sex. For older kids and adults, I recommend Jane Bogart's book Sexploration

Monday, September 22, 2014

Traveling Internationally With Baby

Success! We traveled from Washington, D.C., to Vienna, Austria with an active 15 month old toddler.  It was our second airplane journey with him. The first was to Oregon when he was about 7 months old. As excited as I was to eat the famous Viennese pastries and see the Klimt paintings, I'm mostly proud that we made it without any trauma.

My biggest tip? Purchase and use a zillion ziplock bags. No, your toddler shouldn't play with them, but you can still use them for everything. They help to keep the luggage organized, any liquid or gel safe from leaking and are great for small packs of necessary items, like a tiny diaper changing kit or snack kit. Or dirty diaper collection. Or really anything else. I was glad to have extras on hand.

I packed every possible medicine or cream or clothing item I thought we might need. Of course I was wrong. The bambino developed a rash that needed a prescription, which we received from a doctor we visited. The U.S. embassy, as well as the hotel, had a list of English language doctors and the one we saw had an amazing bedside manner. We were glad to be able to solve the immediate problem and see our pediatrician when we returned.

Our toddler, like every other one, is a picky eater. While we figured we'd find diapers and food for him in Vienna, we weren't sure what we could find for a smooth plane ride home. We packed an extra snack pack (long lasting small containers of milk that didn't need refrigeration and food) for the flight home. That proved useful, since I couldn't find smaller containers of milk and there wasn't any available on the flight home.

I had very low expectations for the entire trip. My husband was invited to give some talks and there were periods of time the bambino and I were on our own. My goals included sticking to our regular napping and eating schedule. I was hopeful that we could take some walks and maybe even visit a famous cafe or museum. The bambino and I had our first solo dinner out in a restaurant and visited a cafe for treats one afternoon. All in all, a success. Of course there were some toddler melt-downs, but there were also a lot of giggles and fun. Just like at home.

Did he like it? He loved the regular croissants and all the elevators we took with the stroller. He seemed to particularly like the colorful Hundertwasser paintings. Will he remember the trip? Probably not. But his parents, who hope to continue traveling as they did before becoming parents, have more confidence and look forward to more trips with him. And he will learn to become a confident, flexible traveler himself.

Jet lag is (still) the biggest hurdle. There's this Slate article with some tips, but I say to just give yourselves time on both ends. Try to get some sunlight and keep to a regular schedule, but... you'll all be exhausted and need to do what you need to do. We're still slightly off, but I'm sure we'll settle into (a new?) schedule soon enough.

A few pictures:

Cafe Central our first day

Very European view from the crib

Great park near the Naschmarkt

Miro' exhibit at the Albertina Museum

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fall Reading List?

I've been trying to find time to finish reading a book about toddler sleep. I'd have more time if the bambino slept more. Perhaps he'd sleep more if I could glean some tips from this book I can't seem to finish reading, Dr. Karp's he Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep: Simple Solutions for Kids from Birth to 5 Years.

I have a pile of books that I want to read, but time is short and I'm tired. At this point in the hormonal journey of pregnancy (my son is almost 15 months old), I doubt I can blame any kind of "pregnancy brain." But I can blame exhaustion. I want to keep up with the newest - and oldest - poetry collections, but I read a few lines and have to keep rereading them.

I have been having more luck with fiction, maybe because missing a line or two doesn't derail the entire, tiny piece, as it would in a poem? That's not fair to fiction, which can be expertly crafted, but that's my current experience. Of course the book I'm reading, or trying to read, right now has multiple perspectives and I continue to be confused by who the current narrator is. Perhaps this is a time in my life for a more traditional text.

That said, live readings have been a joy. I'm able to focus since I've carved out (and caffeinated for) a period of time to listen and be present. Luckily, fall is the time of some great literature festivals. I hope to see you at some of them! And I hope to return to my pile of library books before the last renewal ends.