Saturday, May 26, 2007

Mistakes Were Made

Now that I have a son that has survived to the ripe old age of almost 4, I tend to read parenting magazines less. I figure that I’ve gotten him through the vulnerable years, there’s no need for me to read expert opinions on what needs to happen for him now. I’ve launched him into preschool age fairly successfully, and no one can tell me any different.

But there was a time. Oh yes, there was a time. A time when I read anything and everything about getting your child to sleep through the night in 4 easy steps, and I knew the latest and greatest ways to introduce new foods to my youngster. I could do a (food-allergy modified) Fun Bunny Easter snack, and I knew just what to say to a playground bully. (Do you want me to rip your head off, child who is bothering my angel? Cause I’ll do it, and I’ll blame it on the chocolate which is apparently aggravating my PMS.)

But then the years of sleep deprivation caught up with me, life got overwhelming, and I gave up my subscription to Parents and every other ubiquitous parenting magazine that had subscribed to.

But before I figured out that my parenting style was Winging It, I read many magazines with pages entitled “Scientist Simon Says” and “Latest Research on Kids’ Health”. You know the kind - the pages with 100-word articles that give the quick and dirty version of research done by highly esteemed scientists that let you know things like if your child doesn’t eat a crate of broccoli a day, they might not ever do well in math or that for every hour after 6pm a parent works, a child’s IQ plummets by 900 points.

Most of the time, I took this information in stride. I realized that I do want Zane to eat broccoli and that I don’t particularly like working after 6pm. The conflicting studies didn’t bother me, and I made adjustments where I could. But there was one article that stuck with me. One that I couldn’t let go of. One that promised doom and lifetime consequences for my child if I didn’t get my act together.

It was an article on strollers. The ins and outs. The pros and cons. The best and brightest models. But it also featured a small piece of naysaying information. It said that manufacturers are making strollers bigger as children are riding in them at later ages. As 5 and 6 year olds are expecting rides while parents go about their business, they want roomier, more luxurious accommodations, and (cue the dramatic music here) this is one of the causes of increasing childhood obesity. More riding in strollers combined with rampant fast food fraternizing was leading to a crisis.

And what can I say? My brain was flooded with nursing hormones, and I lost my ability to withstand hype and hyperbole. I made the sincere suggestion to SRH that perhaps we should avoid getting the stroller monkey on our back in the first place. If we never got Zane used to strollers, we wouldn’t have to fight the Strollers as Crack Epidemic that was sweeping our nation. That, I reasoned, was the best way to avoid complete dependence.

So this was our plan: we would only use the stroller when absolutely necessary. After all, we weren’t giving up our trips to Burger King so we needed to make some concessions to exercise and good living.

So…we slinged. We carried him. We used this. Then when Zane got bigger, we switched to this.

Oh sure, we had a cheap umbrella stroller that we used occasionally when going to community events or the like. But here’s the thing. If you rarely or never make your kid get into a stroller, pretty soon they are completely unwilling to do so.

They’re all, Look at me mama, I like to walk. See, I can walk forward, and I can walk backward. Ooh, ooh, I can even walk sideways. I like to walk in circles, and I can walk with my eyes closed, too. And when you take your eyes off me for a second, I will even run. And, see, I don’t ever have to get to our destination while I’m doing it.

Mistakes were made.

And this mistake – that of avoiding strollers – is still hurting us. Oh, we outgrew the whole “staying with him until he falls asleep” mistake, and I can laugh at the “giving his pacifier to Santa in exchange for trains” debacle, but this particular mistake has had a more lasting impact.

Yesterday, I took Zane to the zoo and cursed myself for the 7,000th time that I had no conveyance for my precious 34-lb bundle. Sweaty and back aching after a morning of fun at one of the nation’s largest zoos, I came home and told SRH, “We’re fixing this problem, doggone it. I mean it. Tonight we go buy a new wagon.”*

(And yes, they have strollers and wagons at the zoo, but if you think that my kid is going to get in some strange wheeled contraption that doesn’t belong to him, then you clearly don’t get sensory integration disorder. Or at least my child’s version of it.)

I was desperate. I was determined. I knew a stroller wouldn’t work, and I knew that this would be a tough nut to crack. And then…a moment of inspiration. I remembered that Zane used to be willing to ride in a wagon, but that I’d chucked it (into our garage) because the darn thing was so loud as we wheeled it through the neighborhood that people would come out of their houses and stare at us.

But I should certainly be able to find a wagon that didn’t squeak and rumble too loudly, shouldn’t I? Yes, I should.

And I did. Last night, I went to the store and bought a new-fangled plastic Little Tikes wagon with “extra silent” wheels. This morning, Zane and I assembled the approximately 250 pieces through a simple 19-step process.


Zane and I – on the road to fixing one of my monumental parenting mistakes.

*See how tough I talk when I’m riled up?


Sue said...

The first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one. ;) Very cute wagon. I hope he likes riding in it. And hey - it's roomier than a stroller so you can carry more child junk with you when you go places. :)

Thea said...

And the zoo is SOOOOO much easier when you have a stroller. Jake can get out when he wants and then get right back in when he's tired of walking.

Added bonus: letting go when you're going downhill. Just make sure you can catch him!

Karen said...

i want you to know that i feel like total shit right now and this entry totally made me laugh. especially the picture of you in the wagon. thank you. :)

rb said...

I was so curious about the Apple Bottom pj and clicked the sleepwear section of the website - it's sold out! You have to show me when i go visit you next time. No, you don't have to wear it.

Beth said...

Found your blog through Karen's.

Have to say 2 things:
1) "Strollers as Crack Epidemic" made me laugh out loud and I almost woke my children. I sooo remember reading those magazines designed to make me, the mother, feel like a complete moron.

2) I GET Sensory Integration Disorder. Oh, honey, it's like you're looking in our windows :D

Love your writing.

Zany Mama said...

My name is Zany Mama and I am a maker of huge parental mistakes.

(Yikes, the first time I typed that I gave my actual name. Oh my gosh. You guys actually almost learned my real name. Crap.)

The problem is that I might not catch him. I am prone to lack of judgment and poor depth perception. Not a good combination for a stroller-wielding parent.

Not at all.

So glad I could make you laugh. I thought the wagon picture might throw some folks over the edge glad to hear it did.

Also, I'm glad you're feeling well enough to stop by. I may actually be able to get over to your blog today. You know, since it probably won't give me any bad news. :)

(What is it with this avoidant behavior?)

Dear friend, I realize that you would very much like to see me in my AppleBottoms. However, I don't think that's appropriate given that you are newly married. The first year of marriage is hard enough without adding the temptation that me in AppleBottoms might bring to the table. Sincerely, Hot Stuff Zany Mama

Thanks for stopping by. I usually say some platitudinous falsehood to welcome people to this blog. Something like, your life will be changed by my wit and wisdom.

It won't be changed. But I do hope to make you laugh occasionally. And should your children be awakened, so much the better.

(And thanks for the "looking in our windows" comment. It's always nice to know that someone gets it.)

Zany Mama said...

Do you blog? May I stop by?

Karen said...

meet beth.

meet zm.

beth and i became friends at the very preschool that your boy loves so much. her boys and simon were stuck together like glue from the very start.

and while i'm here talking about her, why not just give you a link to her blog:


Beth said...

Trust Karen to connect people -- even online! And while feeling like crap. (I love you Karen!)

Yeah, I'm the Blurbs from the Burbs on Karen's blogroll.

And hey -- I EXPECT your blog to be life-changing. So work on that, will ya? :D

I would really like to talk to you about sensory stuff and kids. We're kind of new to this whole area (or at least in terms of being aware of it and having a name). Can we maybe e-mail?


Anonymous said...

I'm confused, why not just opt for the Go-Kart? I mean, I know gas prices are high, but he'll ace driver's Ed. And you'll be the only parent who can claim that they're 4 yr. old knows how to parallel park.

I think SRH will back me up on this one...

belsum said...

Heh. We have an old skool wagon. It rules.

I can't even make it through a single issue of Cookie. And it only comes once a month.

Zany Mama said...

Ever the social worker - connecting people and resources. :)

Yes, let's do email. I must warn you, though, i'm a bit ambivalent about the whole OT process. Ambivalent and angered. But whatever.

While I do believe that the go-kart might make me a very popular mama, I don't believe that they are sidewalk legal for four year olds in the state of Ohio.

But I might get him some shoes will roller skates on the bottom. How awesome are those?

I got the "inaugural" issue of Cookie. I'm not sure I made it through it, either.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe you actually fit in that wagon. You even look comfortable.

Zany Mama said...

Have I mentioned that I'm short? Short - and shameless?