Monday, June 28, 2010

Parenting 100001

I've had to re-analyze our parenting strategies since Cyd has come into our lives. She personifies the perfection of instinct and honesty. She is. She never pretends to be. She just is. Because she is still a baby, so fresh and new, her instincts are primitive. If she is angry, she will strike out. If she doesn't want to walk, she will throw herself on the ground. When she is done with a toy, or a book, or anything, she will just throw it on the floor and walks away. When she wants to go, she runs. Also, when she feels slighted or angry, she will give you what we have come to refer as "the eyes." They're squinty and mad.

Her instincts are also sweet and endearing. She learned to kiss early. She kisses her mommies easily. She kisses Fiona compulsively. She kisses her dolls. She kisses pictures of babies and animals in books. She gives the most honest, powerful hugs of any baby on the block. Her tenderness fills me with such love. She is loving. Her heart overflows innately. She is pure.

That being said, she is very spirited. This is a gentle way of saying she can be a handful. She doesn't aim to please, as some children do. She is just an outpouring of raw self and energy. In a nutshell, she doesn't "listen". She doesn't come when you ask her to come. In fact, she often runs the other way. She is going through a phase of refusing to sit in her chair for dinner (or lunch, or breakfast), of taking her diaper off when it becomes accessible, of hitting her sweet, sweet, sister for no apparent reason. She has issues.

As a parent, this is unacceptable. We used the "naughty chair" with Fiona when she did not obey. This worked well. She had to sit in the corner, on our little elephant bench. She cried. I wrung my hands, nervously, as the minutes ticked, but Fiona learned how to do what we wanted. She was easily tamed.

Cyd is a different story. She will cry on the so called "naughty chair". She even has the nerve to get off the chair (Fiona would never have even thought of trying that.) But this form of punishment hasn't worked so far. Cyd is still the free spirit, who ignores her parents' requests if there is something more interesting to do.

So I got to thinking. And with thinking comes researching.

And I found this: "Unconditional Parenting", by Alfie Kohn.
I haven't read the whole book yet, but the premise is that punishment (time out) and rewards (praise) are not beneficial. And can be detrimental. Children need to know you love them unconditionally, even when they're throwing a tantrum or not acting as you would prefer. They are not objects we can manipulate. They are not meant to be tamed (OK, so we've made some mistakes.) We need to use reason and love instead.

I am starting to use this general idea with Cyd (and Fiona too) and there has been a shift. The behavior hasn't changed yet, with Cyd, but there has been a lot fewer tears. It's OK if she doesn't come when I call her so I can change her diaper. I get her and kiss her and she is happy. Before, I would reprimend her for not listening and she would throw a fit and be recalcitrant as I changed her diaper. With this new attitude that it's OK, that I love her unconditionally, she is happy and calm. The feet kicking and shrieks have been replaced by smiles and giggles. She must sense that she has regained the power that is inherently hers.

My love for both of my daughters has always been unconditional. But a piece of me has tried to mold them into what I think they need to be. This is selfish and unfair. They are what they are. All I can ask of them is to be true.

I like this theory. I will expand on this once I actually read the book.


There are simple pleasures
Like the disheveled naked chef
Carving avocados
Drenched in lime and dancing
In cilantro

The spooning
Of our limbs just before the end
Of sleep

The leisure
Of slow, Sunday
French onion soup
Simmered and touched
With a sprinkling
Of Chardonnay
And freshly chopped
Garden parsley

After 60 Minutes,
Six Feet Under
And sex
On the couch.


Her eyes are throbbing
Deep to the marrow of me

My hands are slick
With longing
I wonder how she doesn't die
From the succulence

Her body slinks
A careful curve
Twisting to capture
The girth
Of our mingling breath

Wine and wasabi
The memory of chocolate
Swimming in our veins
And just then
As the smile sinks to a wink
I think
Of the first word
Between us.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Compromisingly brash
And brilliant
She owns the air
Around us

With the laughter
Of her
Rummaging mind
She questions quickly

Hovering just above

To catch the winks
And nods
Of awe
Not to mention
The smallness
Of our silence

As the graceful
Of her question

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When Truth Is

I aim for tolerance and love. Yet I understand the lack of. I understand when some people fight for their beliefs even if their beliefs are not my own. Even if they're fighting to keep minorities from getting the same benefits (rights) as others. I understand them because being on the other side of the proverbial fence, I am struggling just as they are. I am struggling to make peace, and to understand. We are all the same. I sometimes think less of them and see the parallel. It bugs me.

We are all the same.

In 7th grade, we were asked to choose a controversial topic and pick a side we were passionate about. I chose illegal immigration. I suppose I was drawn to the topic because I felt like a French kid on American soil, even though I was legal. My stance was yes.

I belong here. They belong here. No one is illegal. It is not something a human being can be.

I'll never forget this moment. Our teacher came around to each of us to get our topic and our position on it. When I told him I thought illegal immigrants should be given a chance, the girl next to me said something to the effect of "Why? They're not allowed to be here?"

It seemed obvious to me that I was right. I felt it as a truth. The teacher said, sharply, "Let her talk". I was, at that tender moment, given the right to speak what I believed was true, in my own words, from my own mind. I was certain of it in my heart. And from the understanding in my teacher's eyes, my certainly was validated, solidified.

This shaped me. Mainly, because it was important and I had verbalized it, despite what I believed was the societal consensus. It was mine and it was innate. I didn't run it by my parents. I was sure of it all on my own. And it was true. Proven, in part, by the "A" I received. But, mainly, from the extra something I didn't quite understand. Yet.