Monday, October 30, 2006

On Halloween's Eve

Unconsciously Socialized

So this morning Big had obviously not gotten the memo about the end of daylight savings time.

He could be heard up and babbling in his crib at no later than 5:30 am, a blow to the rest of us non-morning people. He is crashed out as I write this (beginning at 9:30 am), while BioMom, the SYO, and I persevere through the day.

Later in the morning (read, still, only 7:30 after TWO, count 'em TWO hours of being up), Big (walking more consecutive, non-supported steps each day) was out in the living room with the SYO. She got a new set of Polly's at a a birthday party yesterday where the ingenous parents combined the parties of several girls and had each kid bring a gift to essentially share with ALL the kids. Each kid walked away with a little something, the parents didn't have to make those crazy crap-infused gift bags, and the birthday girls didn't walk away with an embarrasingly large hoard of gifts.

From the kitchen this morning I heard that nauseatingly familiar sing-song: [Big] li-ikes Pol-lies! [Big] li-ikes Pol-lies!

BioMom and I looked at each other as though to say: What? What is this?

I responded from the kitchen: I think it's nice that [Big] has an interest in the same toys that you like, don't you?

Obviously, she doesn't intend or comprehend all of the implications of her teasing (nor does Big have a clue about the social categories into which their toys fall), but it is disturbing nonetheless.

That she is aware of "girls toys" and "boys toys" and that any transgression therein deserves teasing is natural, but kind of sad. Again, I don't think she meant it in any vicious sort of way, but still. And she also doesn't yet get the boys-who-play-with-girls-toys = prissy = gay, but I suspect that will come, as it does for all school kids.

It will be so interesting to see when and how this develops (for all of the kids in her cohort), but particularly for her and her immediate friends once they comprehend that the SYO's parents fall into that category. How will that alter their understanding and how will their seemingly natural teasing of each other filter through that lense?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Please explain what letting GLBT couples get married has to do with the well-being of families!

From today's Washington Post:

The president drew applause when he reiterated his long-held stance that marriage is “a union between a man and a woman,” adding, “I believe it’s a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families, and it must be defended.”

One Small Step For Man

One giant step away from baby-hood.

So today I phoned BioMom at work to tell her that --I think-- he took his first steps.

I hesitated to call them "steps" as he literally just let go of an ottoman and, essentially, stumbed into my arms.

Also, we have a small wager going, BioMom and I. If he walks during his 10th month, I win. If he walks in his 13th month, she wins.

This afternoon then, he was in a little hallway, poised outward while supporting himself on a doorframe. This was unusual. He regularly holds onto walls, doorframes, and doors for dear life while scooting around the room like a Doolie* at the Air Force Academy.*

Today, however, when I saw him facing outward, I absolutely felt like he was ready. With the SYO there as a witness, I kneeled a few feet away and gave him some ecouragement:

Me: C'mon! You can do it!!

He then took four (4!) Frankenstein steps into my arms!

We clapped and hugged him and wanted more as he BEAMED with pride!

I figured this would be an isolated event, taking weeks to perfect the skill. As the night wore on though, his confidence increased and I saw him on several occasions letting go of some support and three-stepping into some terrific face-first spill.

*A term derived from the Greek word δουλος ("doulos") meaning "slave" or "servant"; however, the term "doolie" was never particularly popular with the upper classes and fell into disuse. The term "smack" is now used more often.

**First-year students at USAFA are required, whenever outside of the confines of thier own private rooms, to walk on the outer-most side of the hallway, always close enough so that he/she can touch the wall with his/her right hand.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Finally, A Reason To Visit Trenton!

New Jersey Court Backs Rights for Same-Sex Unions

The State Supreme Court in New Jersey said today that same-sex couples are entitled to “the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes.” But the court, in its 4-3 ruling, [stated] that whether that status would be called marriage, or something else, “is a matter left to the democratic process.”

It All Makes Sense To Me Now

While reading my recent Wikipedia link to the book Harriet The Spy, I found this little note: One of Harrison Withers's cats is named Marijane, presumably for Fitzhugh's friend Marijane Meaker, who wrote under the pen name M. E. Kerr.

Because M.E. Kerr was my longtime-favorite kid's book author (I was OBSESSED with her in fifth and sixth grade, and could even be found reading some of her books as recently as a few years ago), I clicked on, astonished that I had never thought to check her out on Wikipedia.

As an aside, one of the reasons I loved her was that I didn't know until later that she was a woman, and this was shocking because many of her adolescent novels are written beautifully from the male's perspective. Another reason was her willingness to take on big topics like the Holocaust and AIDS for a young-adult forum.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about M.E. Kerr:

According to her autobiographical young adult book ME ME ME ME: Not a Novel (1984), Meaker began her professional writing career by posing as a literary agent, whose "clients" consisted of her own pen names.

Early writings were published under the pen names Vin Packer, Ann Aldrich, and M. J. Meaker. The Packer and Aldrich pen names were used for works in the lesbian pulp fiction genre. These novels were required by the publisher to have "happy endings" -- endings in which the protagonist either discovers she is not lesbian or "converts" to heterosexuality -- in order to avoid having book shipments thrown away by the Postal Service as obscene or indecent literature. (Writer Ann Bannon has credited her beginnings as an author of lesbian fiction to discovering the Vin Packer novels in the 1950s.[2]) However, Michelle Koh notes that after Spring Fire -- identified by various sources as the first American novel with lesbian themes -- all Packer books were suspense novels, and only two had gay characters. Koh cites Meaker's reasoning for switching to suspense as being that "she wanted to be reviewed and knew that paperback mysteries were reviewed along with the hardcover titles."[3]

In the 1990s, Meaker added the pen name Mary James for a series of novels aimed at younger readers than the Kerr readership; it was not until 1994, after the publication of the third Mary James novel, that the covers indicated that the author was also known as M. E. Kerr.[4] Mary James books include Shoebag, The Shuteyes, Frankenlouse and Shoebag Returns.

Meaker also was a companion of author Patricia Highsmith for many years. She wrote about this relationship in the 2003 non-fiction memoir Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950's and discussed it and her own pulp-fiction novels in interviews around the time of the book's release.

As of 2006, Meaker was living in East Hampton, New York, where she taught writing classes at the Ashawagh Hall Writers' Workshop. Her workshop experiences led to the nonfiction instructional book, Blood on the Forehead: What I Know About Writing (1998).


Okay, so tonight BioMom was away for the second in a row during the dreaded Bedtime-For-Two-Extremely-Different-Aged-With-Extremely-Different-Needs Happy Hour and I experienced first hand how the SYO is not my genetic offspring. For any of you out there that know BioMom, I think you'll recognize the following behavior.

I don't mean to be crabbing here, or preaching to the choir. I know there are other people, with more kids, and spouses that travel, so please take my tapped-outtedness with a grain of salt.

So, anyway, the way I handle the awkward bedtime hour in which the SYO goes to bed at 7:30 and Big follows at 8:00ish when I am alone is to create a 'pillow nest' on the floor at the bottom of our bed where Big can crawl around and not get into too much trouble, and the SYO can read US a story. Brilliant, huh? [patting self on back]. I can't exactly read her Harriet the Spy* and have Big digging around under the bathroom sink at this point, so this is a nice compromise.

It gets more complicated as we move more deeply into the bedtime routine which, when conducted by two or more adults, usually ends with five minutes of talking and some singing in her bed.

With one adult, and an exhausted Big, this is all but impossible, and certainly not calming to the hopefully about-to-be-asleep SYO. Big is squirmy and loud, and refuses to cooperate.

Tonight, I thought I had a great plan. Instead of five minutes and singing, and because Big had just "number two'd" in his pants, I would let her use my special reading light (this had never, thus far, been made available to her despite many pleadings) to read in our bed, her own book, for five minutes, and then fall asleep from there while I give Big a bath.

Brilliant, no?

It would have been, had I been the SYO.

Had I been the SYO, I would have relished the opportunity to read for 10, 15, 20 minutes or more as the adult figure would have certainly forgotten about quiet me (or assumed that I had fallen asleep). What a boon!

Not our SYO.

Not three minutes had gone by. I had just glommed a fistfull of Johnson and Johnson's no tears baby soap into his hair when I hear from the top of the stairs:



I'm done with my book!

I think to myself, you silly! I would never have known if you read for 15 minutes and you haven't even used up your five! For that, it's over!

Okay! Turn out the light and go to bed!


Because it's bed time.

But I want you to come and sing to me.

I can't right now. I will do that later after I am done with [Big]'s bath.


I can't leave him right now in the water. You'll have to lie down yourself and go to sleep until I can come up there.

NO! I'm coming down!

No you're not. It is time for bed!


It is 7:30. Time for bed!

I'm coming down.

No. If you come down, I will not come and sing to you at all. got it?

A few moments pass. And then this, from a girl who regularly takes, uses, discards, loses stuff that is not hers.

But, what should I do with the light?

Me, exhasperated: Just lay it down next to you... IN BED!!!

Moments pass.

I'll put it here. On the dresser. Is that okay?


*BTW, has anyone read this as an adult? She is completely fat-phobic and entirely negative. I was really surprised!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Would You, Could You, In The Suburbs?

SAHM* I am?

Okay so while I am cherishing this time home with Big, a true SAHM I am not.

We started taking a little baby class today in the nearest (snootiest) suburb.

I'm being way judgemental here, after only one hour's meeting, but the moms there were BUGGIN! Maybe I need to find a dad's group. This is the problem with this nether-world of in-between parenting. Unless I join a GLBT parenting group I will always be not-quite-mom and not-quite-dad.

Big had had only a 20 minute nap and so he was a little spacey and distracted. At one point (prior to the intro/drone-on-about-my-kid part of the class), Big had crawled to the opposite side of the circle, found my keys, and proceeded to pacify himself with the fob (my new favorite word).

When it got to be my turn for introductions, I avoided the whole "other mom" thing (only because I couldn't figure out how to work it in... I can't WAIT to bring it up), and introduced Big. Before I could even finish (he has an older sister blah blah blah), Eddie's Mom interrupts me: "Are those YOUR keys????"

WTF? As if I'd let him ruin someone else's fob. Nice.

She was also the mom that takes those little online mom suggestions to chat incessantly to your toddler.

"Eddie! Do you see the little boy? Turn around and look at the other little boy here! Can you turn around? You two are the only little boys here! The rest are little girls!"

To Big after he had giggled at something: "OHHH! You've got your own inside jokes, don't you?"

I can't help but question this advice. Speaking nonsense to your kids in what sounds like a condescending tone can't be good. Plus, how will they ever develop their own internal voice?

"Okay Big, time for your nappie-poo while Baba enjoys her (liquid) green eggs and ham**!"

*Stay At Home Mom
**Glass of wine

Monday, October 23, 2006

Minnesota Nice

Beware: I am about to generalize.

Minnesotans are known for being nice. An old joke goes: four Minnesotans were found dead at a four-way-stop. Apparently they froze to death waiting and motioning 'No! YOU go!' [As an aside, I have to admit, that people really do this - NO! You go!- thing with their hands. It was a welcome change from DC where a honk was impending if you hesitated even a nanosecond once the green light changed.]

The flip-side of this niceness is, in my opinion, this weird passive-aggressive speak.

The SYO has adroitly acquired this subtle dialect.

This is not new. What is new is my campaign to vanquish it.

The dialect manifests itself in several ways, and becomes more sophisticated over time (MRM#1 regularly refers to his own mother as 'cunning and baffling').

Last night, the SYO came into our room (2am-ish): There is a pee stain on my bed.

Me: Oh, you had an accident? No big deal.

Other times, it looks more like this:

SYO [in bathroom, presumably on toilet, discovering an empty roll at a completely inopportune time]: TOILET PAPER!

Me: No response.


Me: Oh?


Me [this training is multi-faceted]: You're still missing something in your request!


Big, on the other side of the spectrum seems revulsed by language and communication. At least of the English/North American variety. I can't even get a 'bye-bye' out of him.

The other day though, I half expected to find him head down, on knees facing Mecca after I heard a distinct: Insh' Allah! Allah Akbar!

At least it's not 'NO! YOU go!'

Sunday, October 22, 2006

These Are Your Parenting Skills On Drugs

Yesterday morning the four of us ventured out into the urban sprawl to forage for a few pancakes and eggs.

On the way into the restaurant we saw one of those public service signs depicting a woman who, by the looks of it, had spent the better part of her life in pursuit of meth. According to the dark rings under her eyes and the bruises on her body and face, WHATEVER it took. The photo was clearly meant to offend.

After reading Why Gender Matters, I thought to myself, 'well, according to Dr. Sax, such advertisements WORK with young girls! And it's never too early to start the discussion!'

BioMom walked away hurriedly hoping to avoid the difficult discussion, wishing that I would, also just drop it, and head into the cafe.

SYO: What is WRONG with her?

Me: Well, she got addicted to drugs.

SYO: What are drugs?

Me: Well, they are a little like cigarettes, but worse. And they can ruin your life! [Yeah, a little bit of my dad came out].

I pursued this line of discussion, warning her that some kids might approach her and offer her cigs and/or drugs, and that she should refuse them. That they aren't cool, etc. etc.

SYO: What is 'meth' anyway?

Me: Y'know? I have no clue, actually.

SYO: Maybe we should look it up on the Internet!

Later in the day, at a wedding reception, in front of Grandma:

SYO: We're going to check out what METH is on the Internet!!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Snarky Kids

The SYO is developing her sense of humor while Big is developing his sense of self.

Today, the SYO had only a half day of school, so she is enjoying having a friend over. Big, in desperate need of a nap, decided that he'd rather stay up and play with the big kids. I gave him a bottle and put him in his stall for his nap, then headed downstairs to check on the girls.

In the kitchen, directly below the kids' room, I began to hear a dramatic THUMP! THUMP! THUMP!

Maybe we need one of those webcams, but I suspect he was rocking his crib!

At one point, I heard a THUMP and then his wailing, so I ran upstairs to see what had transpired. As soon as he saw me, he smiled in his snarky little way as if to say "Ha! Ha! I got you to come up here!!!"

The SYO, on the other hand, is developing her own sense of humor. At lunch the other day, she told us that they had selected the characters for the Christmas play at school (the first graders are the "stars" so to speak, and the sought-after character among the girls is "Mary." We have no idea how each character is selected.). She had a whole story about how a girl in her class named "Mary" got selected to BE Mary because of her name (I'm not sure if she caught BioMom and I's somewhat dissapointed glances at each other, but I suspect she did or that she understands fully). She had a whole story about how she would play "Elizabeth"; who her husband was; what songs they would sing; and the outfit that she was going to wear.

At some point she told us, with her own version of the snarky grin, that all that wasn't true.

She had us fooled!

Oh, the other premature thing our little S-going-on-16 YO did recently: She looked me straight in the eye and asked if I was the tooth fairy.

What would you have done?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hippocracy Never Smelled So Sweet

Frank Rich's Sunday New York Times column "The Gay Old Party Comes Out" (reproduced without permission below) is fantastic.

A few quotes to summarize:

". . . the reason why the Foley scandal has legs -- and why it has upstaged most other news, from the Congressional bill countenancing torture to North Korea's nuclear test -- is not just that sex trumps everything else in a tabloid besotted America. The Republicans unlike most Democrats, can't stop advertising their 'family values,' which is why their pitfalls are as irresistable as a Moliere farce. It was entertaining enough to learn that the former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed wanted to go 'humping in corporate accounts' with the corrupt gambling lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The only way that comic setup could be topped was by the news that Mr. Foley was chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. It beggars the imagination that he wasn't also entrusted with No Child Left Behind."

Read the whole article here.

Note to self: send this article to my Republican brother.

Ahhh, Fall

I just read Lesbian Dad's post about taking their last trip as a threesome before the baby arrives.

We took that same trip last year. A last whoop-dee-doo for the three of us. We travelled all the way up north to the Gunflint trail. Literally a stone's throw from Canada.

It was lovely. But now, looking back at the pictures, something (someone?) was definitely missing.

BioMom and I were having a conversation with someone recently (a man) who was talking about a friend of his (a woman) who could not conceive and the grief she felt over not "feeling life in her womb".

As a woman who will probably not conceive, I have not had that distinct urge or felt that grief. I wondered about this feeling aloud to BioMom the other night, probing about what I will ultimately miss. She said it was wonderful. Amazing. Incredible, but also a bit surreal. And she also explained a little about what I had suspected already. That, looking at Big, here, in real life, it felt somehow that the person inside was different than the person outside. That, somehow, it didn't feel like Big was inside.

I look back at those pictures in a similar way. We called him "Itsy" not knowing if it was a "he" or a "she" and having no clue about the personality that was about to become a unique force in our lives. In those pictures (and remembering back at the photographer -- me -- taking them, the person prior to the galactic shift) we seem to almost be looking for something. Waiting, perhaps.

Gay Marriage: Not The Political Punch It Once Was

A Washington Post article from this weekend (Gay Marriage Losing Punch as Ballot Issue)says that the anti-gay marriage bills up for a vote in eight states this year are not rousing conservative voters as they have in the past.

According to Kirk Johnson:
In some cases, other issues, like the war in Iraq and ethics in Washington, have seized voters’ attention. But the biggest change, people on both sides of the issue say, is that supporters of same-sex marriage this year are likely to be as mobilized as the opponents.


Recent polls in Arizona, Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin, for example, have suggested only narrow majorities in support, in contrast to the 60 to 70 percent or more majorities in most states that voted on the issue in 2004.

It is not just that the issue seems less pressing.

Here in Colorado, the debate has been complicated by the presence of two ballot measures on the subject that in essence work in opposite directions. One measure would add a ban on same-sex marriage to the Constitution, and the other would create a framework of legal rights for same-sex couples in civil unions.

Scholars who track gender-law issues say that gay rights groups and their allies have worked hard since the last election to create a middle-ground position on the question of partnership rights that could appeal to voters who might not vote for same-sex marriage.

I know I have said this before, but let's separate church and state once and for all. Let the churches ban gay marriage (if that's their preference). Then, let people join in some sort of government sanctioned economic and social union in which they can bequeath money to each other and raise kids together if they want. It is not a special right that we're looking for. Just the ease and peace of mind to have a social institution giving me a shorthand in some situations.

BioMom just pointed out to me that although her firm offers domestic partnership benefits, she, unlike her heterosexual counterparts, gets taxed on the money.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Does Fatherhood Change Your Brain?

And if so, would this work for female fathers as well?

As reported in The Economist (a tip o' the nib to for the link and through her, Katherine Ellison, author of The Mommy Brain) a study conducted by Dr. Elizebeth Gould found that parental behavior on behalf of marmosets actually changed the male's brain. Male marmosets "carry their babies for more than half the time during the offsprings's first three months, passing them to the mother only when the babies need to be fed." This resulted in an increased number of nerve cells in the brains that suggest possibly more activity in the father's brains than in those of the non-fathers.

I can tell you that although my back has been much strengthened (and our baby bjorn worn out) over these past 10 months as Big has grown to an astounding 27 pounds, my brain feels, in contrast, weakened.

What does this mean for human fathers you ask?

Craig Kinsley of the University of Richmond, Virginia, who did the work with rat mothers, speculates that Dr Gould's new findings may reflect human behaviour quite closely. "There is a lot of interest in the idea that having children forces responsibility on males in many respects. If you consider that the prefrontal cortex plays a major role in planning, judgment and the anticipation of the consequences of behaviour, you could make a clear argument that the changes in that part of the brain would be involved with judicious attention toward offspring."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Father Knows Best?

I officially migrated into lesbian fatherhood this weekend.

The blog's title reflects this discrete shift, although in actuality, it has been a long process. In addition to my struggle with naming myself - the non-biological parent - sometimes progressive (I made all of my own organic baby food!) sometimes 1950's dad (I've been known to yell in rural Dairy Queens -- and no, I did not say "at", I said "in"!) - I also found the former title of this blog to be false (that is, after the boy was born, I was suddenly in that nether-world of "step-parent" to one and just plain old "parent" to the other). Needless to say, it was a strange place in which to be, and this odd identity of mine is constantly evolving.

Cousin and I attended the joyous wedding of an old friend of our's this weekend (pictures to follow). During one updat-y conversation, a friend of the friend's response to finding out that I was attached and that we had, in fact, multiplied, declared: "You're a DAD!?!"

So, I said to myself, "What the hell? A lesbian dad I am! Why not let it be reflected in my public persona?"

Hence, the name change.

Maybe I will remember this as my second "coming out" story.

Speaking of "Dad". One of the most vivid memories that I have of my mother is from early summer evenings when my dad's car would pull up in the driveway. When she saw that he was home she would sing (to the tune of 'Here Comes Santa Claus') "Here Comes Daddy-O, Here Comes Daddy-O, Right Down Daddy-O Lane!" The nickname "Daddy" is so tender and dear and while I covet it, it just doesn't feel 'right' to me.

The wedding was great. Beautiful. Wonderful. A true inspiration to love, trust and committment, hosted in the center of a city filled with scandal and irony.

What follows are a few of the best photos from the weekend spent carousing with Cousin in Washington, sans the mess of kids we've spawned who enjoyed a weekend home with our respective spouses.

Irregular Newsletter: 10 Months

Well Mr. Big, you're 10 months old today.

Cousin and I went to a friend's wedding this past weekend (my second in a row without you, sadly) and we saw many, many babies that I regularly made minor bets with cousin regarding their age relative to yours. Invariably, the smaller, tamer, younger-looking ones were 11, 12 even 14 months to your steadfast 10.

Your personality is beginning to glow through, young man. You are, in a word or two, the strong, sensitive type.

That is being somewhat generous.

Essentially you want to play rough, but the slightest infraction makes you scream in a way that we expect you've had a lung removed. Or at least in need of stitches or a cast.

This is in complete contrast to your Lucile Ball-like sister who would pop up from extraordinary spills "I'm okay! I'm Okay!"

You are still attempting, unsuccessfully, to walk. The good thing, though, is that you don't seem near as frustrated with this inability as you did prior to crawling. This makes your attempts all that more tolerable.

BioMom just noticed a habit you've developed when we lay you down in your crib. You search around for some 'lovey' -- a little blankie or teddy -- on which to lay your head before you settle in for your (now extremely regular) full night's sleep.

You have five teeth and continue to eat nearly anything. The other day BioMom and I were lunching at Big Bowl, sharing a plate of their Panang Red Curry. Shortly into the meal you had plowed through the carefully culled sauceless fried rice. Rather than order a separate bowl for you to supplement, we became less careful about sheilding you from the curried rice and vegetables. You loved it. I think we ended up essentially splitting the meal into thirds.

Tomorrow you and I are going to the first meeting of a "progressive play group" that I organized in order to get out and develop some friends (for you and me). I can't wait.

In addition to this, you and I take swimming lessons one morning a week. Although you are sometimes way overdue for your morning nap, you can't hide the glee in your eyes when we sing "the horn on the bus goes SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH"!

These 10 months have flown.

I am beginning to explore part-time work with the knowledge and anticipation that leaving you to go back to work full time will be excruciating.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Amber Davis' Photography

After a bit of blog-surfing beginning with, I stumbled across Amber Davis' family portraits.

They are really interesting.

Here is an exerpt of her "Artist Statement":

Through photography and representation I investigate the possibilities for contemporary families to construct gender, sexual and class identities beyond the postindustrial traditions of the nuclear family. For eight years I have placed my gay and straight-parented homes at the center of my inquiries into the familial gaze and modern representation of family in visual culture.

My parents are the product of the post 1960s sexual, feminist and gay movements and the 80’s AIDS epidemic - a web of cultural vantage points that have informed personal and political notions of sexual identity, family and community. This multiplicity of subjective locations informs my process of research and image-making. My work challenges the portraiture and documentary cannon and family photographic practices and traditions with a visual critique drawn from contested theories of gender, identity and class.

. . .

Unexpectedly, so far in this body of work, economic conditions such as class, more so than gender, have emerged as a defining family social structure.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Amartya Sen: Activist

I knew Amartya Sen, nobel prize winner in economics, was an incredible advocate for the poor, but I didn't know he was an all-round activist until I saw this.

Thanks to Unrestrained Verbosity for the link.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kids, Like Adults, Misunderstand Inflation

So, in an attempt to extort better behavior from our S-going on 16-year old, we have copied a little trick from the friends we just visited in Burlington. Not that it's rocket science, and not that we've not tried similar tools, it's just that we are motivated again. Anyway, it is a weekly chart, noting all required activities on the upper columns with expectations about behavior and point values on the rows. These include things like "Have a positive attitude" (read: no complaining) or "Get Dressed, Brush Hair and Teeth" in the morning, and finally "Exhibit great manners during mealtimes."

On a daily basis she can earn points (or lose points) through her behavior (emphasize: her choices).

The chart also places values on various daily priviledges and bigger ones that need to be earned over time.

Tonight we sat down and talked as a family about the expectations in the rows, their point values and the values of the priviledges that she can earn. BioMom and I nodded in agreement when the SYO initially started to place values on the activities (12 points, for example for keeping her room picked up). We winked at each other, in full knowledge that we would have the rewards reflect this inflation.

The SYO clearly understood the notion of valuing the points and their link to the rewards: But getting dressed is really hard with the zipper in the back of my jumper! It deserves a lot of points.

At that currency, we valued a sleepover at 1200 points. This was based on a weekly potential earning of 300 points. We figured that at her best behavior, she could only earn one sleepover per month (which is well beyond our usual schedule of one per three months).

The SYO was shocked: WHAAAT? 1200 points???

Me: Do you want me to lower all of the values so it won't seem so big?

SYO: Yea!

I lowered all of the points so that now, a sleepover was valued at 300 points and her maximum earnings for any given event is 2 points.

Sure, the rewards cost less, but her wages fell accordingly.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Montreal Mosaic

BioMom and I stole away this weekend for a bit of R&R. Here are a few pictures, followed by one of the boy with the present we brought home for him.

In addition to eating Poutine (image below), we slept A LOT.

I'd like to know if other primary caregivers (especially primary PM caregivers) experience what I do on any given evening. Even when Big DOESN'T wake, I find myself always listening for him. But that's not it. I will usually feel around the bed in sleep-walk-like mannerisms, looking for him. When I come across one of BioMom's limbs, I will sometimes panic thinking that the baby is in bed with us, under the covers.

Needless to say, I am not sleeping deeply.

In Montreal, I only woke up, verbally looking for "the baby" once! We howled at 3 a.m. in our hotel and went back to bed.