Sunday, April 29, 2007

Little Known Facts

LKF No. 1: BioMom and I bargain over who has to sneak into the kids' room and remove-then-replace the tooth-container, exchanging tooth for Sacagawea Dollar. I.e. become the Tooth Fairy.

LKF No. 2: I did it last time but she doesn't remember it that way. As Seven lost another tooth this week (her seventh total) I am not entirely looking forward to going in and trying to switch it out from under her pillow while going unnoticed. . . AGAIN.

LKF No. 3: We are actually borrowing a Sacagawea Dollar from her stash tonight because I am too lazy to go out to the car to get another.

LKF No. 4: Seven will never notice LKF No 3 (that is until she's old enough to read all the back logs of this blog. Twenty-Two? If you're reading this now, I owe you a dollar!).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Permanent Record

I found myself, the other day, playing the "permanent record" card with Seven.

Sometimes you literally can't believe the things you hear yourself saying to your kids.

She was the Queen of Dawdletown on Tuesday.

I usually try to sneak out in the morning and head to the Y for a little workout before the day gets going. By the time I return (around 7:30), Seven and BioMom are (usually) well on their way toward heading to the car and to their respective destinations (school and work).

Tuesday, however, by 7:30, Seven was still upstairs, in her jammies, reading in the rocker next to our bed despite several reminders from BioMom about school, breakfast, being late, etc.

I took a shower, pointedly not stepping into the fray, thinking that she would face the natural consequences of her actions: being tardy for school.

At 7:40, she had just decided to meander her way down the stairs, apparently unaware of the time-space continuum, a constraint faced by most mortals on this planet.

Me: Do you know that you are most certainly going to be late to school today?

She: (ignores me completely).

Me: Do you know what that will mean?

She: It's no big deal. We just go to the office. Ms. [First-Grade-Teacher] does't care if I'm late!

Me (in the voice of the Peanuts Adults): Bwah Bwah, Bwah Blah Blah PERMANENT RECORD Bwah.

We sent an email to her teacher yesterday asking her to gently remind Seven of the importance of punctuality. She gave her a "homework assignment" to try to get dressed and ready as quickly as possible.

The best laid plans. . . .

She was up at 5:30 and then again at 6:30, ready to get ready. Needless to say, that teacher owes me a double-latte.

Last night our performance-conscious Seven wanted to clarify with me this concept of a "permanent record." You know, the whole, be late now, don't get into good high school, don't get into good college, be miserable-for-life, thing?

She asked: What if I don't get into a good college?

Me: You'll be really happy and have a fantastic life no matter what college you go to and even if you're tardy.

She: Expresses relief.

Tardy, schmardy.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thinking of Having More Kids? Wait! Read This

Big won't be happy to hear about this research.

Tyler Cohen over at Marginal Revolution cites Hans-Peter Kohler's research on family size.

In comparing identical twins, Kohler found that mothers with one child are about 20 percent happier than their childless counterparts; and while fathers' happiness gains are smaller, men enjoy an almost 75 percent larger happiness boost from a firstborn son than from a firstborn daughter [TC: remember the result that fathers with sons are less likely to leave?]. The first child's sex doesn't matter to mothers, perhaps because women are better than men at enjoying the company of both girls and boys, Kohler speculates.

Interestingly, second and third children don't add to parents' happiness at all. In fact, these additional children seem to make mothers less happy than mothers with only one child—though still happier than women with no children.

"If you want to maximize your subjective well-being, you should stop at one child," concludes Kohler, adding that people probably have additional children either for the benefit of the firstborn or because they reason that if the first child made them happy, the second one will, too.

Here is a story on his work and an argument for having more kids by Bryan Caplan.

As an aside, I regularly read Marginal Revolution despite their conservative bent, and normally that's okay until today I read a link of a link there that had the McCain 2008 petition "Surrender is Not an Option." I may have to rethink my leisure reading. What is that guy thinking?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Just Because Its Science Doesn't Mean Its Objective

Yesterday's New York Times Article Pas de Deux of Sexuality is Written in the Genes by Nicholas Wade reads as though it were based on an objective series of thoroughly vetted scientific results pointing to verifyable results about sex, gender and sexuality.

There's no doubt in my mind that there are important genetic differences between men and women, and that there are overlaps between gender, sex, and sexuality, and that there is possibly a genetic explanation to sexuality (although I think it is important to acknowledge and enable individual choice in this matter), bad research is just bad research.

One comment on a Feminist Economics listserve to which I describe said about the article:

For me, this article by Nicholas Wade is the last straw. Remember Judith Miller who is no longer with the NYTimes, in part, because she was a shill for the Bush administration hard-liners. Well, Wade has been an uncritical shill for many scientists who come along with poorly-based genetic theories about race, gender differences in abilities, homosexuality, etc. Remember the "brain-size gene"
(microcephalin) of a year and a half ago, suggesting that sub-saharan africans had a polymorphism that might explain cognitive differences?

Full coverage of a notoriously weak argumetnt by Wade. A year later, with new scientific articles refuting the argument about intelligence and Science Magazine's Michael Balter reporting that the lead author had had to retract his speculations about intelligence. Where was Wade's reporting on that?

And, now, he uses J Michael Bailey as a lead authority in today's NYTimes article. We use a 1990's paper by Bailey and Richard Pillard on twin studies of homosexuality in my class as an example of a bad behavior genetics paper. In that paper, the authors dismiss a control (fraternal twins) that did not fit with their theory by saying that in another study they got a number that did fit. Then, I heard Pillard speak at Harvard where he mixed data from the two papers to make their conclusions that homosexuality was genetic look good.

If you're interested in sex differences and where you stand, check out this cool test passed on to me by She-Who-Is-Named-For-The-Elf-Princess.

The Long Anticipated Father-Daughter Dance

There are a few moments, discussions and events in the life of our kids that I anticipate will bring up some conversations and possibly issues around the fact that they do not have a "Dad."

Sometimes they can be anticipated by us while other times they cannot.

One recently unanticipated occurance happened on a Wendesday morning while I was driving Seven to school. I have, unfortunately, been sucked into watching American Idol with Seven and BioMom. They love it. They look forward to it and then spend long whiles discussing the show and its likely winners and losers with eachother, as well as with many of their friends. On this particular morning, I was humming the tune "Time of the Seasons" that Blake Lewis had performed the night before.

Me: What's your name? Who's your daddy? Is he rich like me? Da Da Dum? Da Da Doody. Da Da Dee Da Dum! It's the ti-hime of the See-ee-sun of luuuvvvin!

Seven: So, what if you don't have a daddy?

Me: ?

Me (automated response): You mean like you? Yeah. You have two moms instead. There are all kinds of families in the world and what matters is lo-....

Seven (interrupting): No. I mean, the song. . . What if you don't HAVE a daddy?

The upcoming anticipated event is Seven's girl scout troop's annual "Father Daughter Dance."

To be fair, the troop leader, our friend, went out of her way to call it something different on the invitations. I think it said something like "Bring along a special Man in your life" or something like that. We invited MRM#1 and Seven is thrilled.

But the other day we were leaving school and she saw the flyer for the "Father-Daughter Dance" and she, being the sweetest girl on the planet (98% of the time) turned to me and said:

Do you want to go to the father daughter dance with me?

My heart melted.

I clarified that that was the dance MRM#1 was taking her to this coming Saturday and that it was designed for girls to bring some man that is special to them to the dance, that other girls might bring their dads or grandpas or godfathers or uncles or friends. That there would be a whole host of combinations.

I have spent some time in this forum discussing the possible losses involved with growing up with two moms (emotional, spiritual, intellectual or otherwise). I expect that she may have some feelings around this event that she will hopefully share with us. In all honesty, I think that all of us are fairly okay with the event (other than the seemingly innertness of the institution itself with regard to the changing American family structure). I like the idea of her having strong ties with MRM#1 and being able to share special events with him. What I'm concerned about more is that my Republican brother and his wife will be in town over the weekend and he has on more than one occasion discussed what he perceives are the negatives of family structures like ours and how important it is for kids to have 'strong men in their lives.' His antiquated yet persistent visions of gender and family have remained untempered by his own twin's coming out of the closet as well as my own. I'll let you know how it goes.

I open up this discussion to my readers. How would you (or do you plan to) address such events?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Irregular Monthly Newsletter: 16 Months

You're 16 months old today, Big.

This last month you seem to have made incredible cognitive leaps. I think I've used this metaphor before, but it feels like I am driving in southern Minnesota trying to tune into MPR on the radio but not quite getting a signal, Terry Gross' voice coming in and out, enabling me to hear only snippets of an interview but thrilled at the optimistic implication that I must be driving in the right direction. You're definitely starting to "tune in" to the world with your burgeoning 5-10 word vocabulary (if you don't worry too much about enunciation).

Please pardon the repitition from last month's issue.

"Ball!" (emphatically) remains your most prominant word. It is almost to the point now, that I believe you've started your own religion around the spherical deity. BioMom told me today that you were taking one of your balls for a rides around the living room on your trike.

and, some have reported hearing you say the inevitable, "no".

Whether we can understand it or not, you definitely know words and their meanings. One afternoon, we were heading over to the movie shop to pick up a little something for that Friday evening's entertainment. You were in your car seat playing with this baby toy of yours, a sphere that can rotate within a square. The sphere has stars and moons on it. I happened to be wearing a sweatshirt with a star on it. You pointed to the star on my shirt and then down to the star on the sphere.

It was amazing to see you make that connection.

Similarly, if I either say we're going "outside" or even if I begin to organize the paraphernailia for leaving the house, you rush to the front door, often grabbing a shoe or two along the way as if to say "what are you waiting for??"

You started this thing where you reaching up under people's shirts looking for bare skin, trying to tickle people and laughing sadistically while you do it.

And lastly, the other night, BioMom and I were trying to get you to ask for "more" food, drink, whatever, using the little sign of putting a finger or two from your right hand into the palm of your left. You did it! (You ALWAYS want more blueberries!) and you even remembered the sign the next day.

I feel a little like Jodie Foster in Contact!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Rational Strategery

The easter egg hunt at our house is a blast.

The SYO was an early reader (which isn't bragging, by the way. It has honestly had at least as many negative consequences as positive ones. In fact, the only two positive consequence that immediately come to mind are, well, Easter-egg-hunts and that we can cross that ability off the list and consider her literate.)

She never learned the art of the egg hunt and we never figured out (as first-time-around parents) how the random placement of the egg leads to actually finding the basket itself, and how one communicates that to a young child. So, three years ago we started having the bunny leave notes in little eggs leading her on a scavenger hunt that eventually lead to the basket itself.

It is a blast. We led her upstairs and downstairs, inside and ouside with little clues that, at their best rhymed, and at their worst were, well, straight forward, like "You'll find your next clue near a man of cement, he's shorter than you. . . It's finally over, Lent!" [The egg was sitting next to our little St. Francis statue outside in the sub-freezing temps this morning.] Or, "I'm where ice cream lives."

This year was even more fun because at one point the egg-clues turned to base-ball-like-egg-clues which eventually led to Big's basket too.

The baskets were mirrors of each other filled with a bit of candy, sand toys, side-walk chalk, a few swimming toys and one delectable chocolate bunny. When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the cheap-sugary-hollow bunny. And now, as an adult, I buy the kids good, reasonably-sized solid chocolate bunnies and threaten in a Sally Forth sort of way to eat the ears before they get to them.

What is constant each year, however, is the way that Seven (as did Six, Five, and Four) literally inhales her easter candy. At least as much of it as she can until we surrepticiously hide it and it gets forgotten.

This year the bunny stuck m&m's and a few other chocolates in his/her egg-clues, included the above-referenced bunny in the baskets and also one reeses peanut butter egg in each basket. During the thrill of chasing from one clue to the next, Seven would stop and stuff herself with as many of the "bonus" chocolates (in the clue-eggs) as possible. I later found the wrapper for the reeses egg on the kitchen table (and by "later" I mean the difference between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m.) and she had completely unwrapped the chocolate bunny in apparent anticipation of consuming it in its entirety.

At first glance, this might appear to be horrifying.

But maybe that's just from a parent's perspective. I know, from experience, that that kind of candy intake is directly proportional to a negative attitude.

BioMom reacts because she remembers hoarding her candy, savoring it bit-by-bit, finishing the last remnants while watching the fourth-of-July fireworks display over Forest Lake. I have a friend who is so expert in this way that she once brought out her Easter-shaped sweet-tarts for all to share at an October dinner party (hi Liz!).

But I think we parents have a tendency to inaccurately impose our memories on our especially young kids. While I do have a few vague images of my first and second grade years, I certainly don't remember what I did with my cheap hollow chocolate easter bunny -- whether it was gone by the end of the day or if I was picking off the lint and mold months later in a drawn-out consumptive orgasm. I have a feeling that my real childhood memories didn't coalesce until I was at least nine or ten and even then, I probably retrospectively impose values on them that I did not consistently and regularly display until well after middle school. So it isn't fair to look at Seven and think "But I kept MY room clean" or "I saved MY Halloween candy all year!" or "I practiced piano religiously."

Instead, I've come to think that her behavior is a rational response to her situation as powerless child.

Think about it. They don't don't ever find themselves, say, a little down, on the verge of menstruation, spouse out of town on business, thinking, "I think I'll have ice cream for dinner. . . An ENTIRE PINT in fact!"

So, faced with the structure of parental dietary guidelines, it is only rational to consume as much candy as fast as possible knowing that every year the bunny seems to disapperate (yes, I am still wading through the thousands of Harry Potter pages along with Cousin in anticipation of the seventh book's release) at some point, to some unknown, ever to be rediscovered locale.

As I write this, the two expensive, solid chocolate bunnies in our house are hidden away and, unlike their velveteen cousin, no child's love will make them real or even revealed.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Overheard in Minneapolis: Easter Edition

"Mom! Did you remember to turn off the alarm so the bunny can get in?"

The speaker at Three:

The speaker at Seven:

More photos from our egg dying adventure this afternoon: