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Serena has been sneaking up on having a two-year-old temper.

This afternoon, she pitched a ferocious wobbly, at the height of which she maliciously (yes, maliciously, with clear intent and an evil gleam in her eye) peed on a book in the middle of the living room floor because I would not let her use her outdoor potty indoors. The outdoor potty is a potty seat with no bottom, so the result would have been the same if I’d caved, only possibly not with her aiming at a book.

The book, which I threw out after attempting briefly to rescue, was a collection of sappy poetry titled, “My Daughter, My Joy”.

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I ran across this page of interesting alphabets the other day. It’s not exactly for kids. One of the alphabets was made by clothespinning flesh into letter shapes. I personally do not want to put that idea in my five-year-old’s head.

But a lot of the alphabets are charming, and very kid friendly. There are alphabets made from Google Earth images and alphabets formed from snippets of hair.

My favorite is pieces of sky:

If you’re at all like me, you don’t enjoy talking to kids about sex. I love talking to kids, and I love talking about sex, but the two together can get pretty awkward pretty fast.

With my little ones, this is mostly “funny” awkward. It’s my four-year-old asking every adult who sets foot in the house to read Mommy Laid an Egg to her. My one year old discovering she has genitals and wandering around the house excitedly showing them off. Having the “do not put rubber ducks in there” conversation, and the “your sister’s ‘booty’ is her private business” conversation and the “do not lift your dress over your head in public” conversation.

I’ve navigated these pretty well, I think. We have a small library of sex ed books for preschoolers. They understand the basics of growing and changing bodies. They know adults can get pregnant and have babies through some mysterious process that is outlined in all these books, but that process is much less interesting to them than the part where the mommies get fatter and fatter and fatter until a baby comes out.

With teenagers, things get harder. My stepson is 15 now, and I believe he could force the earth to open up and swallow him whole through the sheer force of his will were I to try a head-on discussion about healthy, safe sex. Happily for me, there are a lot of great resources out there to help him (and his parents) make sure he gets all the knowledge and support he needs. Hopefully without the earth swallowing anyone whole.

One of those resources is The Talk, written by my friend and health educator Jessica Mesick. Her blog explores topics that parents and teens need to know about sex and sex ed. Her approach is fun, accessible, and sane. Definitely worth checking out.

What resources have you used to talk with your kids about sex? What do you feel they need to know, and at what age should they know it?

Rio’s goddessmama posted a lovely set of pictures from her party, including this gem:

The fairy cake was one of the most ridiculous food events I have ever participated in, and it was *exactly what she wanted. Yes, Rio, just this once you can have your cake and eat it too. Enjoy!

The scene: my bedroom, late at night. Y’all are adults, and can use your imaginations to fill in the action behind this (very quiet, sneaky, don’t-let-the-kids-catch-us) dialog:

Me: “mmmm”
Husband: “ooooh”
Me: “oh! oh! Oooooh!”

The door slams open, hard. We jump apart like teenagers caught in the back of a car. When I dare to peek out from under the covers, the doorway appears empty, but my husband says, “Oh no. The Sheriff’s back in town.”

I look down, and down. Then I see her: twenty-eight pounds of naked fury. Her hair is standing straight up on her head. She has, in her rage, vaporized her PJs* and is standing there naked as the day she was born. A little more naked, actually, since she is (happily) not covered with slime. Her hair is standing straight up on her head, adding an air of authority and stature to her chunky little frame. Her hands are balled into fists and her looks says everything:

Get your hands off my Mama!

Her dad and I stifle a laugh (from opposite sides of the bed, where we have been cowering since she slammed the door open). Sheriff Baby uses her superpowers to become airborne, launching herself onto the bed in a single bound. She latches onto my exposed nipple as she makes her descent, and is sleeping peacefully between us by the time her head hits the pillow.

I swear, they come with a built-in alarm system to ward off any future siblings. It’s OK, Sheriff, we’ve got it covered. You can sleep through this shift IN YOUR OWN BED.

*srsly, where did her PJs go? She was wearing them when she went to bed. When did that child learn to operate a zipper?

Yesterday appears to have been National Missing Children’s Day.

You can read some exciting tips about keeping your children safe from abduction here. They include things like:

  • sneaking home and ringing your own doorbell to test your child and see if she will answer it (she should not, according to this article).
  • teaching your kid to hang up on people with “strange voices” on the phone.
  • avoiding walking past people on the street or riding in elevators with anyone who seems ““creepy” or “questionable”.

I think this is all great advice, because it’s widely known that the greatest risk to children comes from funny-looking strangers grabbing them off of sidewalks, out of public elevators, and through telephone lines. It’s also well-established that the best way to build a trusting, open relationship with your kids is to sneak up on them and administer surprise exams to see if they are following all your rules.

My personal favorite: “Anyone who wants to spend time with your kid or has an unnatural interest should give you a red flag!”

Seriously? Did you really print that out loud, New York Times?

I assure you, I often want to spend time with kids – my own and other people’s – and I have never yet been tempted to abduct or molest one. I think the odds are quite good I never will. I also think my mother has nothing but cookies and craft projects on her mind when she offers to babysit for the weekend, and that my friend who invites Rio to go visit her grown-up ballet class does so out of a love of little girls’ dreams.

As this wonderful comment points out, the vast majority of missing children are not victims of any crime (just lost), and the vast majority of crimes against children do not involve abduction.

Personally, I’m skipping the whole enchilada of fear and paranoia articles like this serve up. When I think about keeping my children safe, my focus is on teaching them the skills they need to be confident, independent people in the world, not on keeping them small and afraid.

My kids are small, and almost always with me. I haven’t broached the subject of stranger danger with them. I’ve been more focused on teaching them how to cross streets safely, and how to speak up for themselves.

What do you do to keep your children safe? And what are you working to keep them safe from?

Today you crawled into my bed singing, “I am five. I am five. I am five.”

This is because you are five. You nursed for the very last time. We’ll see how you feel about that tomorrow, but today you seemed content with the plan. From morning cuddles, the day was full of questions: Do I look *taller* to you? Do you notice anything different about me? My body has changed so much, overnight! You must see it, Mama.

There was a party, like there always is. Kids, kids, kids. Parents. Food. A fairy cake. I can already see you, ten years from now, rolling your eyes at the photos from today and saying, “Moooooom. Why did you make me have that cake with the fairies all over it? So embarrassing.”

You picked it, kid. I just work here.

Then there were presents, and I have to tell you that the highlight of my day was when you opened the pencil case I gave you and your eyes lit up with that strange old wisdom they sometimes hold and you kissed it and held it to your chest. Then you cradled it in your arms. You didn’t know what to do with it, could not guess what it was when I asked you, but you knew it was precious. I love that about you – your ability to recognize love when you see it, in whatever crazy form it comes to you.

Then you just about broke my heart carrying that damn pencil case around with you for the rest of the party, making it the centerpiece of your play while your coterie of five-year-old fey friends gathered round.

After the party (thank you, weather gods, for unleashing your torrents as we said good-bye to our last guests, and not while I had twenty preschoolers in my backyard), you were sweet. Thank you for not having a tantrum. You would have a year ago.

Instead you washed birthday party out of your hair and we had an art date: the two of us at the craft table sharing your new pencils.

I don’t know where we go from here: the future is vast and scary, rushing by on the other side of the broad stream of summer. I forsee more art dates and messy afternoons, but beyond that it’s a blur.

At the end of the day, you offered me this: Mama, I love you.

Love you, too, kid.

At dinner, Rio engaged in a little friendly spitting-water-at-her-sister.

“Rio, you are being obnoxious,” I said, like you do when your kids are spitting at the dinner table.

“Mama, if I was your mother and you were my child and you were five years old and you were behaving this way, I would tell you that you were being obnoxious.”

Long pause while I try to figure out if she is agreeing with my parenting or criticizing it. Neither, it turns out, because the pause is interrupted with:

“Mama, what does obnoxious mean?”

Serena has started prowling around my legs going “meow, meow, meow” when she wants water. I assume she learned this from the cats. Just now, Rio came up to her with a glass of water saying, “Look, Serena, I have your meow-meow.”



IMG_3894.JPG, originally uploaded by MzMuze.

This is a photograph of the clock on top of my kids’ puppet theater. The hands only move at the urging of human hands to set the time. There’s no battery or clockwork behind the face, so normally it does not keep time. We use it as a learning toy for learning clock time; I imagine when the kids are older, they can use it to set the time for their “performances”.

The other day, I was in that room with an adult friend who glanced at it to check the time and I said, “Oh, there’s no clock in this room.”

We were unsure. Is this a clock? Is a clock a thing that looks like this, or is a clock a thing that tells you what time it is?

Flickr Photos

A little bird told me…

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