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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review - Trust Me, I'm a Toddler

A few months ago, I was approached by Samantha Vickery from Love Parenting, a Facebook page and website I have been a fan of for some time,
to read and review her new e-book, Trust Me, I'm a Toddler (available here). It took me way too long to get to it, what with my son's birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, buying a house and moving, but I finally did and am kicking myself for not doing it earlier.

To say I dug this book is putting it mildly. I feel like Sam and I are long-lost mother-twins. I want to be her new best friend. She's a mom, a gentle mom, who wishes to help other parents tap into their instincts, drown out the static from the mainstream, and give their children what they need most, rather than what society says they should have. She's looking to help parents do what they know is right, not what everyone tries to tell them they should do. She's out to do the very thing we're all looking to do - help the parents, so they can help their babes, so we can all change the world together.

She writes informally. This is not a textbook. This is not a highly scientific, rather inaccessible manual for experts. Reading this is like having an intimate conversation with a like-minded friend.

For those who are like her, we'll enjoy the reinforcement in a frank way. For those not yet there, you'll enjoy the smart presentation of information sans judgement. One needn't be in a certain place in their parenting journey to read, enjoy, and learn from this book. Open-mindedness, however, is a prerequisite, as is the case with most reading.

Some favorite quotes from the book include:

"In dreading the 'terrible twos' you are in essence creating a self fulfilling prophecy for your child." This term and the thoughts behind it are huge pet peeves of mine for this very reason.

"If we enable them to be free in their environment, guiding and insisting only when absolutely necessary, they will soon discover for themselves which things to repeat and which things to file away under ' a learning experience.'"

"A controlled child will either rebel or grow into a controlled adult." Free all the babes!

"I need to respect his choices as an individual. If he refuses to give up a particular toy, that is his choice to make."

"Such a simple change of me giving the control back to him made a world of difference. Toddlers need to be involved in decisions that involve them."

"Try to be fully present with your child throughout this process, and instead of thinking about what still needs to be done, just enjoy what you are doing right now."

"A child who is welcome in his parents bed is actually likely to be far more independent, secure and confident than a child who sleeps alone."

"To a child who has not yet learned to ignore his evolutionary instincts, sleeping alone just feels wrong."

"...make sure you are making full eye contact with your child each time you speak to her."

I could go on and on, but, you know, I should probably leave something for you to read on your own.

Below you'll find a quick pro/con list, but since I'm the type who always saves the best for last, I'll start with cons.

- a few grammatical errors that would bother nobody but an English teacher like myself
- only available as an e-book as of this time - I need to touch and smell my books, especially if I really dig them and want to take notes
- it is referred to as a guide instead of a book, which, for some reason, I just dislike
- the term "smacking" is used almost exclusively instead of "hitting" or "spanking" and for someone as opposed to abusing our children as I am (and as she is), I feel the terminology lessens the intensity and reality a bit
- there is a section on tantrums that I feel goes a bit astray (with the excerpts from the two books she's used as resources) before coming back to her point, a point I completely agree with
- a little disorganized, but nothing I found too distracting - there were times it felt more like a stream of consciousness than an organized "guide"

- no judgement
- not a lot of facts and figures that makes me feel like I'm back in college (thus, not reading carefully...don't tell my former professors or students)
- she's believable - I really feel like she doesn't just talk the talk, but walks the walk, too, and I respect that
- everything else!

Bottom line:
I recommend this book to you, your like-minded friends, and those in your life who don't know what the heck you're doing or why. You've been spinning your wheels trying to explain it for long enough. Let Sam take a turn!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

That's Three, Count 'Em, THREE 30 Day Blocks

After seemingly flying under the radar for five whole weeks (quite a good record for me!), I've landed in Facebook jail...again. My recidivism rate is out of control, I tell ya. I'm now on my third, yep, third 30 day block.

The best part is, I violated not a single, solitary policy. Not a one. I posted this:

According to Facebook, as long as nipple is not shown, there is no violation of policy. That's why breastfeeding photos, as long as babe is engaged in eating, are supposedly acceptable (though we all know how often FB follows their own policy on that...). And as a result of me violating no policy at all, except for the unwritten one that says, "Thou shall not insult the delicate sensibilities of the misogynist, chauvinist, anti-child Peter Pans at Facebook nor those who troll your page," I have been blocked for the third month of my 12 month run Facebook. That's 1/4 of my time here.

Nobody will be taking care of the page, while I'm blocked. No other admins are available to attend to anyone's needs. Me being blocked means you've been blocked, too. This should offend you. This should offend you, because it could be you. Take a gander at all the porn pages on Facebook. They're out and proud in droves. Why is that, I wonder... You should wonder, too, because next time it could be you. This block affects everyone who attempts to normalize breastfeeding, educate about circumcision, open the eyes of those who keep them so firmly closed. And since you're here, I know that's you. You are me. And we're being systematically beaten down. So, the question is: what are we going to do about it?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What's In a Name?

At least a couple times a month, I get a comment or message suggesting that I know not what "Zen" really means, that this page isn't very "Zen," and that I should change the name.

As it comes up so often and I very rarely address it, I thought I'd give one pad answer here and let it stand.

I never set out to create a Buddhist page. I am not Buddhist. I am not religious at all, though I do have a great respect for other religions with which I am familiar and not familiar. I find them interesting, but not for me. Everyone seems to have their own definition of Zen. I believe some are coming from a place of strict religious definition. Some are coming from a place of emotion. I'm coming from the place of an English teacher. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Zen "...asserts that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition." Yup, I know what it means and I think that fits me and this page perfectly.

When I get the "Tsk, tsk...that's not very Zen" comment, it's generally because it's a strong post, a post on which I've taken a stand. Nothing is going to change...in either camp. I'm always going to post the tough stuff, because it's the stuff about which education is truly important. And others are always going to be miffed by that and try to get me to stop posting it by appealing to what they think will get at me most. It doesn't. It won't. It's OK. By posting those things, I'm attempting to get someone out there to reflect, to contemplate on their actions and beliefs, to listen to their intuition rather than all the other static they're hearing. Seems pretty "Zen" to me.

As for changing the name, nah. I don't want to. First of all, changing the name on four pages, a blog, bumper stickers, and logos would be a massive pain in the buns. Secondly, I see no reason to do such a thing. As is evidenced here, the page is completely "Zen." Does that mean I'm perfect? Nope. Does that mean I'm a Zen goddess? Not a chance. Does that mean that I won't ever have to get tough, direct, and stern? Negatato, Mr. Roboto. What it means is that I am a person who constantly contemplates and reflects upon my own beliefs, my own actions, and the beliefs and actions of those in the world around me. I am one who follows my intuition as a result of experience in not doing so in the past and noting the successes of doing so. Mine is a page that follows those principles, as well. Whatever else some wish it to be, that's cool. It's not. This is what it is. And you know what, I'm quite pleased with it. It's a work in progress, to be sure, but it's one of which I am proud.

Finally, Zen Parenting is named so because I am a Zen parent. I parent my son with patience, understanding, calm, and undying love, among other things. It is named such because that is the kind of parenting to which I subscribe - Zen Parenting.

This does not mean that I am inhuman. It's certainly not called Perfect Parenting. And it does not mean I have no limits. My patience for those on the page is pretty incredible, if I do say so myself, but there are limits. I do have higher standards for adults than I do children, thus I have a little less tolerance for nonsense with you all than I would with babes.