22 02 2011

My kids have been taking really long, simultaneous naps for the past two days.  And I have no projects I am working on… silly me.

So, I have been reading blogs and now I am feeling oh, oh, oh-verwelmed.  I have been reading some really entertaining posts about questions kids ask.  Ha, ha, ha… it is all so entertaining, because it is not my kids.  But I do realize what project I am working on – the project of raising my kids.  It is a really, really, really big project.

My children will turn two and three in April and May respectively.  And there are discussion topics that are on the horizon in one form or another that I am hoping to get right.  Here are a few of the things that I realize I am in no way prepared for but should be…

1)  Stranger danger issues.  I need to start addressing this with my children.  And I probably need to deal with it earlier than some other parents because there are two of them, they are both runners and I simply can not always keep them both in sight.  Plus, I have a fairly loose parenting style and spend lots of time walking that fine line between freedom/independence and where-the-hell-did-he-go?  Actually, it isn’t a line that you walk, it is usually a line you sprint on while looking behind doors and under desks.

Today was a perfect example, instead of looking for books about teaching your toddlers to be safe, I was chasing Little Dude around the library.  The big attractions for him are usually the handicapped exit which he knows how to operate and the drinking fountain.  However, today it was the freight elevator.  For the past few weeks he has enjoyed pushing the call button, but I have always gotten to him before the elevator doors opened.  Today, I wasn’t so lucky, the doors opened immediately and he was in the elevator before I caught him.  I finally got smart enough to push the button for another floor before we got off sending the elevator to a different floor which bought me some time when he next pushed the call button.  And, what was my point?  Oh, yeah, I need to be thinking about stranger danger sooner rather than later.

Just as I have trouble negotiating freedom versus safety I also have an additional dilemma with stranger danger.   I insist that my children are “polite,”  greeting and saying good-bye to adults as well as saying please and thank-you.  In doing this I am already breaking down their natural tendency to keep a boundary between themselves and adults they do not know.

Moreover, what about all the situations where I prompt them to take things from strangers?  Sure, get a sticker from the librarians following story-hour.  Okay, I can justify this one because they have been “hanging-out” with the librarians with me there for 30 minutes.  But what about the old man who runs the carousel at the mall?  They haven’t really been interacting with him.  He is a tad bit odd and now I say, “go get a stamp on your hand from him.”

Do you see the slippery slope?  I don’t normally buy slippery slope arguments, but in this case, I do, and at the bottom of the slope is a bunch of creepy pervs.

2)  Where do babies come from, body parts and other yucky topics. Right now we use such terms as private parts, girl parts, boy parts, bum-bum.  We also use pen1s, which PJ always thinks is peanuts anyway.  I can’t come up with a comfortable label for girl parts… I guess I need therapy in more areas than I was previously aware of.

PJ did argue with me the other day that b00bs were not private parts after I told her she should quit touching mine.  And when I convinced her they were, she told me she liked the other private parts better – hmmmm.  And that snippet of conversation is certainly a harbinger of things to come.  My spunky daughter will probably argue with me about procreation.

Even before running into these issues on the internet over the past couple of days, I had already been thinking a lot about Stranger Danger and some about the Birds, Bees and Body Parts.  And, of course, before we got this far in our transracial adoption, I thought lots about skin color and what sort of conversations will arise in that area.

But there is a difference in my mind between skin color and race issues.  I am prepared to teach my kids that all people are equal no matter what they look like.  But teaching my kids about race issues, history, etc… well, um, not so much.    I guess I am naively prepared to parent a brown boy but am not yet ready to parent a black son.

3)  Race issues. Yeah, I don’t even think that I have begun to imagine all the different ways this will surface.  But once again, the blogosphere has me thinking.  If you haven’t seen Coffeemom’s post about this, you really should check it out. The hardest part about this post for me was reading her say that she didn’t necessarily think they handled the situation that well.  Because I thought she handled it beautifully and am sure I would not have handled it one-tenth as well.  I have so much to learn.

I guess that is why for most people starting with a young (pre-verbal) child is helpful.  You really do seem to build a body of knowledge as you go.  You get glimpses into the future and if you are paying attention you can set a road-map for what you need to learn next.  And hopefully you can get to that point before your child.  At least this is what I am telling myself.

I can hear the kids and SAG wrapping up bath time.  I need to finish this so I can get our bed time rituals started.  Soon I will be spreading lotion, picking hair and putting on pajamas all the while hoping against hope that they do not ask me anything more challenging than, “Can I have another story, please?”




8 responses

23 02 2011

I have twins so the stranger danger topic was big for me, because running of in different directions they loved when they were smaller. I saw an American program once on TV that had the kids laying on the ground and trampling with arms and feet in the air like mad…. it is hard to pick up a child and take it along… so try to practice that with them. Making it a silly game.

23 02 2011

For girl parts, we say vagina! I know. Scary.

I’ve got a 6 year old and an almost 19 year old…and, oh how I hate to say this, BUT…there are new and uncomfortable topics around every turn.

Being Facebook friends with your 18 year old brings up a lot of them. Sigh.

23 02 2011

I got a good laugh out of this post, because been there done that on all topics. I too don’t mind the p-word when describing a boy part, but am not a fan of the v-word when describing girl parts, mostly because it seems anatomically incorrect. The term vagina refers to internal genitalia, and usually when kids are talking, they are referring to external genitalia. I’ve yet to find a good word for that?? And, on the other (pleural) boy parts – I’m not a fan of any of those words either. My 5 y/o came up with the term “tenders” which I think is probably a pretty accurate descriptive, and it totally makes me laugh!

And I have some funny stranger danger stories, but I’ve already taken too much of your comment field, so maybe I should write my own post 😉

23 02 2011

You are right, just because I’m raising a brown baby doesn’t mean I can raise a Black Man. I am so naive. So very naive. I want to close my eyes and sing Imagine and Kumbayah and pretend. Because pretend is easier. But I’d best get ready. Pretend won’t do Sam a lick of good.

23 02 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

Mireille, both my kids already know that move – they use it on me.
Shonda, that is actually my issue with the V word – if it is all about being correct, that ain’t it… see what happens when they let us women get biology degrees before we become mothers? (Yes, Journalism is the second degree, Biology is the first.)
Wendy, my mother joined FB this week and friended me… I am planning on posting about my reaction.

23 02 2011

Gasp … Semiferal Mama … you best be careful. You and me (this crazy Christian conservative) seem to have way more in common than should be. First off, we both think Mrs. Deem is amazing, second we cannot get enough diet coke, third, we both have the best looking Habishas on the block, and now … now we have the same degree … NO WAY! Biology was my undergrad degree, and yes, I probably know way too much anatomy of the vagina. I probably use the word vagina daily when I’m at my “real job.” The madness must stop somewhere 😉

24 02 2011

oh yeah, I think the problme is that there really *IS* no good word for female bits. When I was growing up, we were taught ‘vulva’ which i guess is correct. However, I feel that I need to add that i was the ONLY girl who had been taught that word and I was SO EMBARRASSED by it that I couldn’t bear to say it out loud. Still can’t, actually, for which I one hundred percent blame my parents. Probaby just as well I didn’t decide to go and become an ob/gyn, huh?

oh, and re: race – I was just about to say ‘this isn’t really what you’re posting about, but you HAVE to read this wonderful book called shades of people’ until I rememberd taht I only have that book because YOU recommended it.

1 03 2011

I love your writing! How refreshing~
On Stranger Danger, I used the John Walsh (from America’s Most Wanted) DVD- Stranger Danger-The Safe Side Stranger Safety DVD. It is really cute and fun and not scary. My kids watched it with us then with friends, then at homeschool groups,etc. For a few years it was watched as a fun time video yet the message was loud and clear.
As for human anatomy, Check out Dr. Laura Berman.

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