Thursday, September 6, 2012

Be a Star!

I'm taking a break from my Detached Mother series to share this gem with you. My sister K recently posted this video on her 16 year old daughter's Facebook timeline. From what I gather, this was my niece's jam back in the day. It's the most splendidly awful bit of pop culture I've witnessed in a very long time. I present Tyra Banks singing "Be a Star" from the 2000 Disney Channel movie "Life-Size" starring Lindsay Lohan.

Clearly there's some comic action in this scene that I don't get because I know almost nothing about the plot. And that's fine. I like it that way. At first I assumed the joke was that Tyra is a terrible singer because she is. But I don't think that's why it's supposed to be funny, which makes this perfect. Ms. Banks's enormous ego coupled with her void of self-awareness makes her a most magnetic mess. She was doing the Sarah Palin thing way before Sarah Palin.

When I told Dan about this clip, he said, "Can we please never talk about this again? I kind of hate her. So do you!" He sounded so disappointed in me. It's true, a few years ago I had to break up with Tyra and stop watching "America's Next Top Model". I was fed up with her misplaced sense of importance, despite that being her most entertaining characteristic. I confess, I tried to get back into ANTM last winter when I was housebound with a newborn. Other than eating, there's nothing more fun than getting lost in some engaging drivel when you're sitting around, breastfeeding all day.

Problem was, ANTM had become sucky beyond the point of return. It was that "British Invasion" disaster.Ugh. I used to love this show for the drama. You had your mean girls and your sweet girls, your dummies and your crazies. Now it seems like they're all just different shades of dumb and mean. Is this how casting works when a reality show has been on for too long? Maybe after witnessing so many seasons of catty, cruel and self-loathing behavior, the mean dummies are the only people left who are willing to put themselves through the experience. In any case, their absolute dominance makes for a very boring viewing experience.

ANTM was best when Tyra had no right to assume that she should be a role model to her contestants but lectured at them anyway. Now it seems she really is a better person, and that's just depressing. This scene from "Life-Size" reminded me of the good old days. OMG, do you think she's ever personally lectured Lindsay Lohan?((Sigh)) One can dream.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Confessions of a Mildly Detached Mother - Diapers, Dinner and Disgust

In this blog series, I examine the conventions of "attachment" parenting (which I wholeheartedly embraced before my child's birth), and detail how I have fallen short of those ideals. I don't mind being imperfect. If child rearing is a competition, I forfeit.

Cloth Diapers

I use cloth diapers because disposables are an ecological hazard and I can't stand synthetic materials touching my wee one's precious bum. Ha ha, just kidding! We use cloth because it's cheaper. Dan and I recently figured that we've been saving at least fifty bucks a month, which means more money we can spend on designer pork products. Woohoo! As long as the current diaper size fits, our savings will increase over time.

We're thrifty about diapering, but not stringently. We frequently supplement with disposables when it's easier (overnight, on vacation, when someone else is watching the baby, etc.). For me, cloth's major drawback is that it's inconvenient. While I don't relish all this labor intensive poop disposal, I don't find the task revolting. I feel for parents who do. I keep thinking about this Disgust Scale test I took a couple years ago. It lists several hypothetical gross out scenarios that you rate from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree", such as:

"Even if I was hungry, I would not drink a bowl of my favorite soup if it had been stirred by a used but thoroughly washed flyswatter."
(My answer - strongly disagree. Borscht rules!)

Then there are hypotheticals that you rate on a scale from "not disgusting at all" to "extremely disgusting", like:

"Your friend's pet cat dies, and you have to pick up the dead body with your bare hands."
(Sorry, friend. I find your dead cat extremely disgusting.)

In the end, I learned that I'm not bothered by germs and dirt as much as I'm sickened by dead things and vermin. But the larger lesson was that disgust is a very personal reaction. As a new parent, I feel very fortunate to be relatively unfazed by feces. If I found poop as upsetting as cockroaches, I would definitely skip cloth diapers. In fact, I'd probably skip the baby altogether.

Solid Food

Like many attached parents, I was totally geared up for cooking, processing and storing my own baby food. I get off on that sort of highly involved kitchen project. That would be the fun part of introducing solid foods to my baby's diet. But I dreaded spoon feeding. Then I learned about Baby Led Weaning and realized I needn't bother with the project or the spoon.

Here's how it worked - I breastfed my daughter until she was six months old. At six months and one day, I started giving her chunks of solid food at mealtime (soft fruits, veggies, bread, cheese - it just had to be "gummable"). By that point, she was physically capable of putting the food in her mouth on her own. Chewing was another story. Some babies take days or weeks to figure it out. They may gag and spit out their food. But at that age their gag reflex is near the front of the mouth so there's little risk of choking. My kid learned to chew pretty quickly, establishing herself as a very curious and eager eater.

I'm glad it's working for her because I'm a huge fan of BLW for many selfish reasons -

No spoon-feeding I have no patience for it, especially those "here comes the choo choo train!" shenanigans. Dining is a cherished pastime. I don't want to manipulate her into enjoying it with me.

She eats the things we eat This is convenient. Also, I don't want to be in the habit of making a separate meal for her.

She eats a wide variety of foods Perhaps because she isn't being force fed (which is pretty annoying to all people who aren't between the ages of four and six months old*), she has a good time at the table and enjoys exploring many kinds of food. She'll probably become more finicky about colors and textures as she gets older. I figure if her scope will inevitably narrow, it's wise to start off with a wide breadth of options.  

It provides endless entertainment for grandparents My BLW book warns against staring at babies when they're eating, because it may make them self-conscious. This has never been an issue for my little ham. She loves putting on a show. Her Skype production rivals anything on your Netflix streaming queue. Dinner's broadcast is the best. 6:00 nightly.

We got to put off solid food diapers for an extra two months That's when it starts getting more hands-on and stinky. I miss those carefree days of just breast milk poo.

When my pediatrician, Dr. C, talked about introducing cereals at four months, I told him about my BLW plan. I detected a barely suppressed eye roll in his expression. Oh geez, I thought. He probably thinks this is hippie garbage. So when we returned for her six month checkup, I arrived armed with a long long list of foods she'd already tried.

"She's had cucumber, sweet potatoes, avocado, bananas, even a little broccoli."

Dr. C's eyes widened with surprise. "That's great!"

I felt my shoulders relax, but the desire to prove myself remained. "She's had some bread and cheese, but only a little. I know she isn't supposed to have too much sodium."

"The important thing is that she brings the food to her mouth on her own. You'll want to avoid nuts, seeds and saltwater fish in the first year. Otherwise, just make sure the food is finger soft. Oh, and she'll like broccoli better if it's been cooking with meat all day."

"But is it okay to season it like that? What about the sodium?" In hindsight, it seems my voice was so shrill.

He bore a squinty expression, followed by another suppressed eye roll. "Just season it how you would season it for yourself. Her pulmonary system is brand new. She'll be fine."

Duh. Of course she'll be fine, because she eats what I eat and I eat really, really well. I make it a priority. I save money on cloth diapering so I can spend more on fresh, often organic, unprocessed foods. I work at a health food store so I can get a discount on these things. Baby Led Weaning makes sense for us because we already love cooking for ourselves. I can see that it wouldn't be such an enjoyable undertaking in a less food-centric household.

It also wouldn't be much fun if you're repulsed by the constant mess. Again, I must consider my position on the Disgust Scale. Post-meal debris doesn't bother me. I do thorough cleanings at restaurants and other people's houses, but I care less at home. I'm often discovering crusty bits of my daughter's last meal stuck in the corners of her high chair just as I'm getting her ready for the next meal. Between cleaning her hands, face, table top and bibs, I get distracted. Many of her clothes are forever stained with peach nectar and tomato juices. I figure it's okay because she's a baby and her natural good looks tend to draw more attention. Heaven help her if she's destined to be a glamour queen because I am clearly an obstacle in that path. Oh, well. If in twenty years she's still willing to dine with me in public, we'll be alright.

*This is the main reason pediatricians recommend starting a baby on cereal at four months. It isn't because the child requires solid food at that age. It's because a four month old will tolerate spoon feeding, and cereal is the easiest thing for them to digest. In other words, it's for training purposes, not nutrition.