Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Let's Tidy Up the Nursery, Nazi Moms and Teachers, Bowling with a 7-month-old, and the (lack of) Plot of Brown Bear

This room is probably larger by a third than is the one in Andrew's house, and his is entirely carpeted (there's a sun room with a wooden floor foo the kitchen for painting and play dough) and the walls where there is no shelving are painted primary and secondary colors,  ut otherwise the effect is similar. It looks like a miniature preschool.

We made  bit of progress with my day # two as an assistant nanny. I was allowed to carry baby Andrew upstairs  to his playroom and back downstairs after we had played for an hour or so. Nanny Helen reminded me to carry the baby with my dominant --  left -- hand and to hold onto the railing with the other.  Nuclear physics, huh?  Still, progress is progress. Yesterday I would not have been allowed anywhere near the stairs with the baby, and maybe not even on my own. Andrew --  or more correctly the family, as he has a sister on her way in weeks, and most of the toys will be joint property -- has a well-stocked playroom on the second floor of the home. Sometimes we just bring down several toys and play on the family room floor, but several times a week someone takes the baby upstairs so that he can choose toys from the shelves. The rule is one toy out at a time unless they're toys that can be used together purposefully. 

These are all the baby's mother's rules -- not Nanny Helen's.  Jillian says as the children are old enough to be left playing independently for ten minutes or so, she does not EVER want to walk into the toy room and find the floor covered with toys that have been randomly poured out of bins, and she has already started training Andrew to put toys away.

Most of the nieces and nephews -- who love the play room -- are already civilized and generally know about putting toys away, but every home has its own rules. at Aunt Jillian's house, toys are NEVER dumped from bins; they are taken out as needed, and if Jillian walks in and finds a mess, it is cleaned up immediately, and the offending guests are not invited back to the toy room anytime soon.

Jillian said once early in her teaching career, when she taught kindergarten, the class got out of control with a substitute teacher that she had for half-a-day so that she could attend a district curriculum meeting. Her school was piloting an all-day (or until 2;35 or so) kindergarten. When she walked in to her classroom just before lunch, every bin in the classroom had been emptied of its contents  in no logical fashion, and the toys were randomly scattered together all over the classroom floor. She said a person couldn't have walked across the floor without the risk of either tripping and injuring oneself or breaking a toy. Even the surface of the carpet  where the children would customarily sit for teacher-led activities and class gatherings was covered with scattered toys.

Because it was almost lunch time and the substitute was to be there until noon, Jillian sent the substitute to the cafeteria to collect the lunches and bring them back to the classroom on a cart. The cafeteria ladies (I don't mean to be sexist, but they've been ladies at every school cafeteria inside of which I've ever been) decided that since the lunches weren't to be eaten until after the room had been cleaned, they'd scoop the class's lunches last so that the hot food didn't get cold and vice versa. The ladies said they'd deliver the food themselves in an hour, right after the sixth graders had been served.

Jillian said the children acted as though conditions established at the Geneva Convention were being violated, or something to that effect, since as average-functioning kindergartners, they didn't have any idea what the Geneva Convention was.. They felt that they were being severely mistreated in every way possible in being expected to work before they ate. Jillian said that she knew that she had no child with blood sugar issues or she would have seen to it that the child with medical needs had been fed in a timely manner.

She took the class outside, sat the children along the wall outside the front door, and asked them to apologize to the substitute teacher, as even if the substitute teacher should have known that particular rule (which was posted oin the wall)  children even very young  will take advantage of substitute teachers if given the opportunity, and if a teacher takes their side and blames the substitute teacher, the same sort of behavior or worse will happen next time there is a substitute. Children are smarter than they appear to be. 

Jillian said she took a broom and cleared a path so that a walk-through from one door to the other could be safely made. they children walked thrugh the room in a line, then sat outside the room again. Jillian asked the children for strategies on how to most efficiently clean up the mess.  One child suggested that it wouldn't work for everyone to go in at once initially, so maybe the red group could go in first and sort out just the legos and whatever was on the floor of the home center. Then they could regroup and decide what they should attack next. Jillian agreed with the plan and sent the red group in to accomplish their mission. At first the work went very slowly. children were quite discouaraged with slowness of the progress. Then, as more floor space became available, more groups of children could work sinultaneously, greatly speeding up the process.   Eventually, the room was back in order, just as the lunch ladies appeared with lunch.

The children devoured their meals at classroom tables, and the area was cleaned thoroughly. They assumed that lunch recess would follow, as it always did, but Jillian pointed out that the other children had come inside. Lunch recess was over. They'd spent their lunch recess and even more time cleaning the mess they'd made. A collective groan went up. The Geneva Convention had been violated again. Jillian called them all to their places on the carpet so that they could talk about what happened.

They discussed, under the teacher's direction, how the problem had gotten started in the first place. One or two children emptied tubs on the floor, looked around, and when they noticed that the substitute teacher wasn't doing or saying anything to stop them, several more joined in. A few children took no part in the activity. When Jillian asked if anyone told the others to stop what they were doing, about ten of the thirty-two children raised their hands. 

Other children quickly contradicted most of the children who had claimed to have tried to dissuade their classmates from misbehaving.  A couple of the ten were among the worst of offenders. It ended up that only four had actively worked to try to encourage their classmates to follow the rules. Jillian made sure those children were clearly identified. She told them that she would keep track and that all of them wuld receive several special priviliges for having tried to have done the right thing and for helping to clean up a mess that was not their mess.

Jillian asked them what might have been the one other thing they might have done to try to stop the bedlam from occurring. The children couldn't think of what it might have been, so she told them that they might have promptly told the substitute teacher that other students were violating serious classroom rules, and that had they done so promptly, the substitute might have and the consensus of the class as to what had been done by whom in Jillian's been able to restore order before control had  totally been lost. jillian then told the children that she though the subject had been adequately covered, and picked up a book off the ledge where children placed books that they wanted the teacher to read. before she made it through the first book, most of the students had fallen asleep. By the second book, the entire class was asleep. 

Most of the kindergartners slept until nearly time for them to be picked up by their parents. When they awoke, there were quit manipulative for patterning, weighing, measuring, and such, for the children to do until schoool was over.  Children didn't complain to their parents when they were at school, or at least not in front of jillian. Seven parents   had called the principal to voice complaints by 4:00.  Jillian had already spoken to the principal, had given him pictures from her digital camera of the mess before it had been cleaned, had given him the note she'd had the substitute compose concerning the behavior of the class in Jillian's absence, and had given the principal the notes of the class meeting detailing what had been done by whom in Jillian's absence. She also left him with a copy of her own lesson plans for the substitute to make it clear that the substitute had not been left withut clear directions.

Of the seven calls the principal received, five were among parents of the very worst offenders. Two were from parents of just middle-of-the-road miscreants but who were far from innnocent. None of the few truly guiltless students' parents had called to complain. The principal told complaining parents that he had been prepared to allow the teacher to handle this situation in the classroom, but if the parents were not satisfied, he would gladly bring the parent's child to the office and add to the consequences the child had already faced. It was up to the parent. In no way was he going to blame either the teacher or even the inexperienced substitute teacher. If children are not held accountable for their actions even at very early ages, they'll quickly learn to blame others for anything they've done wrong. One of the LDS parents (they were all actually LDS parents, as this was in Utah county) tried to twist LDS doctrine into the equation and say that children are not accountable for their own actions until the age of eight, which is something found somewhere in the Book of Mormon. The principal quickly cited a separation of church and state as his reason for not taking the mother's rationale seriously, then went on to give her several examples, all of which involved her own little angel as a potential victim, to help her to understand why even children under eight need to be accountable for their behavior.

One mother tried to claim child abuse because the children didn't eat lunch until 12:50, but because the children ate home-provided snacks at 10:00, they were well within any legal limitations on delaying lunch by just over an hour.

No kid as much as burped without excusing himself at any time in the future when a subsitute teacher was needed in Jillian's classroom. 

This is a quite drawn out yet literal illustration of the proverb, "Much is expected of one to who much is given."  Andrew has a bit of a Nazi for a mother, at least when it comes to toys and how they're played with and properly stored.  The children's library next door to the playroom is every bit as well-stocked, and just as orderly. If I were a child and were given the choice, I woild take the excess of toys and books and the demanding regime in terms of putting materials away any day of the week over having nothing to play with but my mom's cell phone.

I was trying to teach Andrew to bowl, which is a bit of a joke in and of itself considering my own pitiful bowling skills, using his colorful plastic bolwing set. He was having a lot more fun kicking down the bowling pins he didn't knock down with the ball and sort of missed the point of the game. Still, Nanny Helen said what we were doing was a far more valuable use of a child's time than sitting in front of a TV or any other "electronic gadget' (one of Nanny Helen's favorite terms to use, which she spits out as though it's a racial epithet).

I carried Brown, Bear, Brown Bear downstairs so I could read it to Andrew just before his afternoon nap. His cousin Bryson usually reads it to him, and I don't think my rendition impressed Andrew quite as much as Bryson's typically does. Still he was ready for his nap by the time the book was finished. I probably bored the poor baby to sleep. There really is no plot to that book..

Nanny Helen is giving me increasing latitude.


  1. Too funny that the Mormon parents fell back on that age of accountability excuse! Recently at a baby shower for an LDS woman, one of the guests worried about her 5 year old starting kindergarten. "Will he stand for righteousness?" she wondered. To think I might have comforted her with the doctrine.

    1. Among LDS parents who are enablers (not all are, obviously) I'm surprised that excuse doesn't come up more often in schools in the Morridor.

  2. I had read that after the war, America had hired the brightest minds from Nazi Germany. Also they say that psychology was created in Nazi Germany. Sigmund Freud went to medical school at the oldest university in the German speaking world (University of Vienna).

    Adolf Hitler was an absolute dictator. This is how our families are run. The parents are the absolute dictators and the children must do whatever they say or else. The book, The Continuum Concept, gave birth to attachment parenting. The book comes from an American woman that spent years living with a stone-age tribe of people in South America that had been raising children the same way for over a hundred thousand years.

    Of course Christians looked at these people as Godless savages so this ancient way of parenting did not become popular at first (book written in 70s). Then a Christian medical doctor researched this and found this was the best way to bring up children. Then he, his wife a nurse and his 3 sons (all MDs) wrote The Baby Book that that promotes attachment parenting.

    In the Yequana village, where the author of The Continuum Concept visited, she saw some unique features. The children never fought with each other. The idea of violence had not been introduced. Whereas now bullying is a big part of American society. Also in America, parents can become bitter enemies of children (that is normal right?).

    Like the guy who went into an elementary school and killed children and teachers, first killed the source of his distress-- his mother. So American children have lots of issues with their parents. In the Yequana village, this did not exist. Not only did children not have issues with parents, but parents never told a child what to do (never, ever). The child always chose what he or she wanted to do. The children matured extremely quickly (like I did as a child).

    1. We may have to agree to disagree on aspects of this. What MAY (or may not) work in a tribal society isn't necessarily practical for modern first-world living. i believe there are times children have to be told what to do for their own well-being. I don't think schools can function if no one is in charge. You may disagree. It's OK.

    2. Your above statement is true. For example when Ron Paul was running for president he (ideally) believed in a society with no income tax and no social security. But he said that in our society, he could not take people off of social security.

      Whenever you say something that goes against my belief, I have to question my belief since I am very impressed with your genius and compassion. I have already thought about what you said above and know that it would be very complex to try to integrate an ideal with modern living.

      We have talked about the evolution of medicine and when they use only compressions compared to them and also blowing into their mouth. In CPR now they say that there is no need to worry one swallowing their own tongue. Who came up with that idea? The old CPR teacher said that this idea was taught in all CPR classes and that you had to prevent it.

    3. I look at you as me being able to re-live my life, but in a female body with different parents and relatives. 5 summers ago I was looking at the list of people coming to a public vegan party. This stranger on the list, Jen, sounded like me when I was 17 years old.

      She had been to Japan and loved it, did martial arts and was a Buddhist even though she was just as American as I was. She sounded like she was in her 20s. I email her and she emails me back. Before I email her back, she starts instant messsaging with me.

      I turns out that she is 17. She was off from school for the summer. I never initiated an IM with her but she would IM me almost daily. It was around like 40 hours a week. She had a boyfriend and has brothers close to her age so she could not understand why she liked me so much except that she had trouble to relating to others since she was very intelligent.

      We have done things together as friends and there is no logic to explain why we get along together so well (it is not romantic). Growing up my 2 best friends were my grandfather and brother. Being with her feels like being with them.

      My nickname for her is the bard since she reminds me of Shakespeare. So there is still much more for me to learn about the depth of friendship. Shakespeare said as Hamlet " There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

    4. You said "I don't think schools can function if no one is in charge." If you look it up on the internet, you will see that home schooling is more popular than ever. I know a couple that home schools their 4 children and their children socialize with other children. But their beliefs are too Christian for me.

      Then there is unschooling. Wikipedia has a lot about it like, "Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction."

      "While often considered a subset of homeschooling, unschoolers may be as philosophically separate from other homeschoolers as they are from advocates of conventional schooling." I guess this is an attempt to combine tribal living with modern living. I do not know the best way to raise a child in modern society, but I do know that things can be greatly improve upon.

  3. Have you heard of the 4th trimester? Human babies heads are too big because of big brains to come out when they are ready for the world so they come out sooner. The idea is to always carry them around like they are still part of the mother's body. If a baby is held all of the time, it feels very loved. If not then you have what you see on the news in America.

    Also part of the above is that the baby sleeps with the parents (in the same bed) and NOT ALONE. Had Jillian ever slept with her baby? Professor Martin Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association (APA) by the widest margin ever.

    He is like the 12th most cited psychologist ever. His wife also holds several degrees in psychology. They have slept with all 5 of their children for their first few years of their lives. Also when a parent holds their infant all of the time, the child is out in the world learning all of these things instead of locked up at home, so they mature quickly.

    The woman who learned these things from the Yequana tribe said that it was not easy unlearning all of the stupid Nazi parenting ways that we live by. Lastly there is Michael Jackson. They say that he never grew up. Jillian was at one time a fun loving little, but that is not the case anymore.

    The people in these villages like the above never grow up. They always adore their parents and do not become stressed out adults. They stay just like they were as children.

    Jesus Christ did not teach that people need to grow up. From bible: "Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

    Also later in Matthew, "And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."

  4. Jillian often holds the baby when he's sleeping, but he seldom sleeps in his parents' bed. the American academy of pediatrics and the American medical association both recommend heavily agains tco-sleeping, and Andrew's father is a doctor,so he's likely to take those associations' recommendations.

    When Jillian taught 6th grade in Utah, one of her students' mothers rolled over and smothered the newborn that was sleeping in the bed with her. That alone was enough for jillian to keep Andrew out of his parents' bed as a regular thing.

    1. For the first 6 months with my kids I have just had them in the bassinet portion of a pack n play right next to our bed. Y get the benefit of co sleeping (Easy breast feeding, I don't have to wake up as much, etc) without the risks.

    2. Makes perfect sense to me. I googled co-sleeping. the risks are more than urban legend. Pack 'n Play's are great.

    3. Yup it worked perfectly. My only regret is we couldn't get one of the new halo bassinets (we couldn't get it shipped to us when the baby was born). They can rotate to basically be in the bed with you and then you can rotate it out. It would be awesome.

      I absolutely believe there are risks for co sleeping. I will occasionally let a baby sleep in a bed with me but only once they are much older, my husband isn't there, and I have to move al the blankets and pillows out of the way. It's also usually an act of desperation where I can't stay awake any longer but the baby wouldn't go to sleep. Again this is usually with an 8 month or older baby and I just let them sleep in the crook of my arm. I never end up getting good sleep that way because I'm so concerned about the baby but it works in a pinch if the baby won't go to sleep any other way. I can't imagine sleeping with a younger baby especially every night! Not comfortable and the sleep quality would be worse for me.

  5. Dr. Martin Seligman was told by his wife that they were going to co-sleep with baby. His first reaction was about rolling over and killing the baby. So he looked it up on the internet and could not find it ever happening except in the case of one being very drunk.

    Now I grew up with having cats or newborn kittens in my bed when I slept (only one at a time). I was never concerned about the above since I was aware of them while sleeping. In Philadelphia they passed out flyers saying that if someone has the lights of their car out at night, do not flash them since they may follow you and kill you since they have been doing this.

    It turned out to be an urban myth just like waking up in a bathtub of ice & water and you are missing a kidney. A webpage says "When done safely, mother-infant cosleeping saves infants lives and contributes to infant and maternal health and well being. Merely having an infant sleeping in a room with a committed adult caregiver (cosleeping) reduces the chances of an infant dying from SIDS or from an accident by one half!"

    "In Japan where co-sleeping and breastfeeding (in the absence of maternal smoking) is the cultural norm, rates of the sudden infant death syndrome are the lowest in the world."

    "The Academy of Breast Feeding Medicine, the USA Breast Feeding Committee, the Breast Feeding section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, La Leche League International, UNICEF and WHO are all prestigious organizations who support bedsharing and which use the best and latest scientific information on what makes mothers and babies safe and healthy."

    "For example, adults should not bedshare if inebriated or if desensitized by drugs, or overly exhausted, and other toddlers or children should never be in a bed with an infant."

    Of course I am sure that you will thoroughly investigate this when it comes time for you to have a baby and make the best decision.

  6. I think that babies need to be held about as much as they want to be held, but that everyone sleeps a bit better when the baby has his own bed. iI others choose to sleep with their children, ir's fine with me.When i was a child I sometimes slept with my parents n if I was sick or scared of something.

    For privacy reasons, i can't print the names, but I know personally of the one mom in utah who rolled over on her baby and smothered it. maybe she's the only one, but she is one. I don't know how literallly yiou accept the Bible, but there was the story in Solomon of the two mothers in the same bed with their newborns. one rolled over on hers and killed it, so she took the other mother's baby and tried ton pass it off as her own. Solomon had to mediate in the famous story. I'm not sure i believe every Bible story is literal, though. It's a personal thing for everyone to decide.

  7. I think Jillian would not have enjoyed being my mommy. I was a terrible slob as a kid.

    1. I suspect many mothers think babies are lumps of clay they can mold until the kid actually arrives. Andrew appears to be the malleable type who will go along with anything, but #2 may have a few surprises in store for her parents. There are limits that can be set (kids can't run through grocery stores tearing things off shelves and throwing them down) but a kid can be a little messier by nature than a mother would prefer. A mother can change that to a point, but then what's she going to do? Send the baby back? Probably not. She'll adapt. She's seen it enough with nieces and nephews to have a little bit of a clue that kids are born with personalities.

      It seems to be kind of a trade-off. A parent can set a few absolute non-negotiable priorities on which her or she will not cave, but you can't have a knock-down-drag-out war over every little thing and still have a pleasant life for either parent or kid. Even though the parent is in charge, there has to be some give and take.

      I'm speaking about this as though I actually have kids, when my own expertise is actually in having been a kid, which everyone has had. My idea, which I may find totally faulty once I have a kid, is that when they're little you give children choices wheneveer possible to avoid an autocracy and to give children experience in learning to make decisions, bur avoid letting them do things that harm themselves or anyone else. As children leave your grasp for parts of the day, you naturally, as a parent, have less control, so the child naturally has more situations in which he can make choices, some of which can lead to negative consequences for the child. You help the child to learn from these consequences (the ones you find out about) and hope that the child learns enough from the little things that when huge decisions that can lead to life-altering or life-threatening consequences come around, the child/adolescent/young adult has learned enough to make wise choices. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't, but if the parent hasn't been running interference for the child and covering up for his misdeeds for his entire life, thhe child/adolsecent/young adult is less likely to make really harmful choices.

      I'm a bit skeptical of analogies of tribal life anywhere to modern American (or European) life. We could also try to live the way bee or ant colonies do, but their circumstances differ so vastly from ours that it would seem pointless.

      You're probably similar to me in that while we may have our opinions about parenting, we know we've never actually done it and would be slow to tell any parent how he or she should raise his or her child. You, though, are in a position that your career could essentially force you to give parenting advice when it screams out to be given. You've at least had education in the field, though, where I have not.

      i was a strange combination of messy and compulsively neat. I looked like a disaster and my work was messy, and usually my desk at school was messy, but my room at home was beyond immaculate. I could not tolerate anything out of place there. Also, my food could not touch. i still don't like my food to touch.

    2. Are you saying that you do not like different foods to touch each other? Remember Jay Leno of the Tonight Show? He did not let different foods touch each other and would also eat all of one food before eating another.

  8. Kids that young really don't care about the plot of the book. My 10 month old has insisted I read noisy farm about fifty times this week. It's just pictures of animals and what sound they make. She loves it because she is working on categorizing animals and learning what sounds they make (so far she knows a cow says moo and a sheep says baa thanks to last weeks obsession with moo baa lalala).

    I will also say that as someone who didn't have a ton of experience with kids before having them, a lot of parenting so far for me has been pretty intuitive. I didn't and still don't have a lot of parenting philosophy besides doing what works for us and the kids. I'm a stickler for safety but other than that as long as they get lots of reading in, lots of time to play however they want, generally have a schedule and as much healthy food as I can get them to eat then I figure they will be fine. So far so good!

  9. My philosophy if i have one at all is not to go to extremes except in regard to safety.

  10. I looked up co-sleeping with baby with Dr. Sears.

    Here are excerpts: This doctor did not seep with her first 3 babies. They were easier sleepers. "Were it not for Hayden, many of our books might never have been written. Hayden hated her crib. Finally one night, out of sheer exhaustion my wife, Martha, brought Hayden into our bed. From that night on we all slept better. ►We slept so happily together that we did it for four years◄, until the next baby was born!"

    "Soon after we ventured into this “daring” sleeping arrangement, I consulted baby books for advice. Big mistake! They all preached the same old tired theme: Don’t take your baby into your bed. Martha said, “I don’t care what the books say, I’m tired and I need some sleep!” We initially had to get over all those worries and warnings about manipulation and terminal nighttime dependency."

    "Over the next sixteen years we slept with four more of our babies (one at a time). While it’s nice to now have the bed to ourselves, we have these special nighttime connection memories."

    You are good at math. First 3 without co-sleeping and next 4 with co-sleeping.

    1. Babies sleep better

    2. Mothers sleep better

    7. Reduces the risk of SIDS