my parenting philosophy: whatevs, man

so. ramona is eight months old now. as of yesterday. which was also jared’s dad’s birthday, & the eleventh anniversary of my dad dying. i didn’t mention that last to anyone. it bothers me that no one remembered (aside from my mom & my siblings, probably). i don’t like having to remind people (including jared). it’s awkward. “oh, hey, my dad died eleven years ago today.” “…that sucks.” i mean, what do you say? the thing about a loss like that is that hardly anyone knows what to say when it happens, & people don’t really get much better at knowing what to say as the years wear on. & i am no exception. i don’t know how to bring it up, nor am i any great shakes at knowing what the fuck to say when someone i know is dealing with some kind of bad news or trauma. in fact, i probably suck at that stuff more now than i did five or ten years ago.

to celebrate being eight months old, ramona scooted in a forward direction for perhaps the first time. she’s not bad at scooting around backward on her belly, but forward momentum still seems to be beyond her. but she went a few feet yesterday. just far enough to almost pull the ironing board down on top of herself & then to try to lick my shoes. i guess we should think about babyproofing?

her newest tricks include being able to kneel, being able to stand when she’s holding on to something, & being able to pull herself into a sitting position if she has something to hold on to. however, i don’t know if she knows she can do these things. she mostly only does them when she’s holding on to me or jared & none of it looks terribly intentional. but maybe she’s just lulling us into a false sense of security. she is also able to remain sitting for longer & longer stretches without falling over. at playgroup last week, she managed to remain sitting for an hour & a half, happily playing with a toy. when she finally fell over, she just smiled. we’ve started letting her sit on the floor at home more while we putter around washing dishes or whatever. she’s fallen over & banged her head on the floor several times, but i guess this is how babies learn, right? either that or we’re truly scotching her chances at getting into harvard.

is using the word “scotching” in that sense somehow racist against scottish people? probably. it’s okay though because i’m scottish. scotch? words are losing all meaning.

at playgroup, one of the other moms was talking about a book she just read about how to raise happy, non-spoiled children. i think she said it was called “how to raise happy, non-spoiled children”. she was sharing the tips with everyone, but they didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. for instance, the author defines hair-pulling as a “bad habit” that a parent needs to break. the parent does this by pulling the baby’s hand away from hair & perhaps saying “no” but otherwise not reacting (ie, no squealing in pain).

this isn’t, like, offensive or anything, but it doesn’t really make sense. it seems to assume that a baby is pulling hair in order to be naughty. but a baby is just yanking on what’s available. ramona pulls my hair the same as she plays with the fringe on the blanket thrown over the back of the couch. it’s just something to touch & explore. i’m not saying i’m cool with it–it hurts. but she’s not doing it to be a jerk or get a rise out of me. nor do i believe that she is old enough to be reasoned with. does she really have any idea what “no” even means? nor am i especially worried about her developing a “bad habit”. who ever heard of, say, a 15-year-old who compulsively pulls other people’s hair just to hear them squeal in pain because they think it’s a fun game? it’s just something she will eventually grow out of, probably regardless of how i respond to it.

i really thought, before ramona was born, that i’d be one of those parents who reads all the books & takes in all the advice & tries implementing all kinds of different tricks with my baby. but i don’t do any of that shit. i don’t even read parenting books anymore. i read a million of them before i had a kid–before i was pregnant, even. now that i have a kid, i see them all as the bullshit that they are. i’m sure every tip in every book is applicable to some baby out there, but nothing is relevant to every baby. & so much of the advice contradicts other advice. i just do what seems instinctual & it seems to be working out okay so far.

take baby signs, for instance. i was sure that when i had a baby & it was old enough, i would teach it baby signs. then we’d be able to communicate with each other! my baby would have language before it masters the whole talking thing! but now i have an eight-month-old & i haven’t really given baby signs any thought. jared is still really into the idea–more now than he was before ramona was born. he is so interested that i am willing to give baby signs a go. he has started “assigning” us a sign of the week to use with ramona, with the idea that eventually we will build up a little vocabulary of words most relevant to her daily activities. this week’s sign is “milk,” & i try to remember to do it before every bottle.

but the truth of the matter is that i really don’t have much difficulty figuring out what she wants or needs, even without signs or talking. the days when parenting felt like being clippy the microsoft paper clip (“i see that you are crying. would you like a diaper? how about a bottle? are you tired? for the love of god, what do you WANT?”) are pretty much behind me. i’m not saying that ramona never pushes my buttons & drives me crazy, but it’s fairly easy to guess what her needs are.

a friend of mine has a much younger baby, & she freaked out the other day because her baby started spitting up. she rushed the baby to the doctor in a panic. when she told me about this later, i was like, “basically, if ramona isn’t on fire, i don’t worry about her.” i think maybe this is because she was in the NICU for her first few weeks of life. it like a trial by fire, but she pulled through just fine & now i’m like, “my baby has already been on a ventilator & a feeding tube. she’s gonna have to do more than spit up or lick my shoe before i worry about her too much.”

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “my parenting philosophy: whatevs, man

  1. Yep! I, of course, could not have said this better! I was a real “read all of the things” pregnant and pre-pregnant lady and now I just roll my eyes at that shit. I don’t, y’know, let her play with hot glue guns and electrical outlets, and I always make sure she’s well fastened into her transportation devices (a bit of a wiggler), but otherwise, I’m more relaxed as a parent than I ever was as an adult. Bahaha!! Truth is I don’t really have a lot of control over a lot of things (see: head bumping when learning to sit up, general frustration about being a baby and not yet being able to run or suck on the dog’s face), so I try not to stress too much about things that don’t matter and prioritise my stress for things that count (netflix getting new episodes of old law & order and the like).

    Also, I’m digging reading along with you & Ramona – I was a lurker long before baby time – I really enjoy the parallels of new momming I find here…

    1. i too try to save my stress for the things that really matter. like the possibility that i might ever have to use the car to run an errand. i practically had a nervous breakdown the other day, & i realized afterward that it was just because i don’t like being more than walking distance away from my house.

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