Parenting Archive

Confessions of a (Former) Extended Rear Facing Snob

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I initially got interested in carseats when my oldest child was a baby and the first thing I learned was about extended rear-facing. Prior to having him, I had no idea that there was any real benefit and once I fell down that rabbit hole, there was no coming back. Very early in my research I was told by another parent that if a child is kept rear-facing, they won’t fight it because they don’t know any different. And I bought that line and handed it out like candy to my friends and family. Even more so once I became a CPS Technician.

My first child fit that mold perfectly. He rear-faced until he turned 4 and never once asked to turn around, despite having more than adequate language to do so. He truly didn’t care.

I was so sure this was my doing. I told his story far and wide – the story of how he didn’t know there existed any other option and he was perfectly comfortable and blah blah blah. I was always very polite and never shamed people for forward-facing within the limits of the law, but in my mind I thought they must be crazy. Kids will rear-face forever if you let (okay, make) them.

And then I had my second child. And look, I adore him. He is one of the cutest kids on the planet. He is incredibly smart and when he’s not screaming he’s pretty articulate for his age (2.5 years) too. But he’s also basically a honey badger. He does not care if you punish him, he does not care if you want him to do something. There is no hill too small for him to die on. No battle too silly to fight. His teachers at preschool have complemented me on naming him appropriately (his name is William, we call him Will) because he is exceedingly willful.

And my little honey badger, who is petite enough that he could rear-face to middle school, is miserable in his rear-facing convertible. Every single time we get in the car he climbs into his seat and sits facing forward. Sometimes he will ask me if I think he’s funny (spoiler alert: nope), sometimes he will just demand to sit that way, but the common thread is that each time we get in the car I have to wrestle a 24 pound honey badger to rear-face in the car and get him buckled before he planks out of the seat.

At first I thought great! I will nip this in the bud and then I can write something to help other parents with this problem. But well, please don’t hold your breath on that post because the only tip I have is to give myself an extra 5 minute cushion every single time we go somewhere so I can force him into his seat. My child cares DEEPLY that he is rear-facing and he has never faced forward a day in his life.

So let me publicly eat my words. Some kids care. Some kids care very, very deeply about rear-facing, even if they have never forward-faced. And some parents would be completely reasonable to want turn their honey badgers forward after age two, even if they had room to grow rear-facing (note: I’m not encouraging this, just saying I understand it and do not judge it for even a second).

As for me, I choose to fight the fight each day, partially in hopes that I’ll break his carseat spirit and partially because the kid didn’t get his stubborn streak from his dad. You don’t grow a honey badger in a vacuum.

To my fellow badger parents, I’m sorry. If you have figured out how to cure this problem, please share. I’m all ears. And maybe some tears.

Reason #4239423742398475 your kid is crying.

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A familiar scene in our house is me sitting quietly on the couch, lights dimmed, enjoying the last few minutes of silence before heading up to bed. I get up and start putting things away and I hear a sudden cry coming from upstairs. I go into Declan’s room and he’s sitting in his bed, crying uncontrollably while holding his leg. He can’t stop crying long enough to tell me what’s wrong, but I already know because we do this frequently.

Growing pains.

Which is kind of misleading because there’s no actual proof that it’s caused by growing anyway. Supposedly it’s more related to the crazy amount of physical activity kids do, even if it’s just running and jumping around the house. I do know this is true- I notice an increase in the times this happens when we do a long walk or hike, or he’s jumping on a trampoline. However, just because they can’t prove it’s not directly related to growing, I wouldn’t be surprised if it does have something to do with it. I mean, you see how fast our kids grow. It’s absolutely insane. So unless you gave birth to Stretch Armstrong then I wouldn’t doubt rapid growth is fatiguing.

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The pain is related to the muscles and ligaments more than it is bones, is almost always in the legs and almost always bilateral, or at least alternating legs each time it happens. Worst of all, it’s almost always at night. If the pain is constant and occurring during the day, it’s probably worth mentioning to your child’s pediatrician. If you notice any rashes or lumps/bumps in the pain area (outside of an isolated injury of course), fevers, or limping around during the day, it needs to be checked out. Growing pains are painful, but aren’t associated with anything you can physically see.

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So what can you do? Mostly comfort measures. Leg massages, applying heat (a rice sock is amazing for these situations), and making sure they are hydrated. A warm bath before bed can help relax the muscles, and adding a bit of epsom salts (magnesium) can help too. Most literature you will find on growing pains basically states that there’s no definite proof of what causes it and there’s no definite proof of what can relieve it and the comfort measures stated before are recommended. For me personally, when I was pregnant and experiencing leg cramps I know that magnesium and potassium uptake helped so I’ve done this with Declan and it seems to help significantly. Most normal healthy people get enough magnesium from foods, hence why it’s not always added in multivitamins, but given how picky some kids can be, I wouldn’t doubt that they don’t always get in the amount recommended. Magnesium rich foods include dark leafy greens (yeah, I know, I can hear you laughing from here), nuts, seeds, fish, bananas, avocados, and lots more. I’ve noticed a big difference in Declan’s episodes by adding some of these things to a smoothie in the morning. They do have magnesium supplements for children too, but check with your ped first before giving, especially if your child is already taking a multivitamin with magnesium in it.

Most importantly, stretch! Get down on the floor with your child and do some leg stretches. If you’re into yoga, include your child! I am about as capable at yoga as a drunken sloth but I can do leg stretches with Declan and they’ve been enough. Take comfort in knowing that most growing pains happen in the preschool years so it’s not forever.

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All these little things popping up is tough. It feels like there’s always something, you know? Just remember that being a kid is even tougher. So do some stretches, eat some bananas, and I’ll cross my fingers for you tonight.

Halloween – The Most Dangerous Night of the Year

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The risk of a child pedestrian being killed by a driver is twice as high on Halloween night.

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If you are driving today (especially during the hours of 4-8 pm when most young pedestrian deaths occur) please exercise extreme caution and follow these tips:

1. Drive slowly and don’t pass stopped vehicles. The driver might be dropping off children.
2. Park your cell phone. Tonight is the worst possible night to be a distracted driver!
3. Watch for children darting into the street. Kids can cross the street anywhere and most young pedestrian deaths happen at spots other than intersections.
4. Always yield to young pedestrians. Children might not stop, either because they don’t see your vehicle approaching or don’t know how to safely cross the street.
5. Communicate with other drivers. Always use your turn signals and if you have to pull over to drop off or pick up your kids, turn on your hazard lights.

Have a Happy & Safe Halloween!

We don’t need no education…

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Okay, obviously not true but all I could do at open house this evening was sing Pink Floyd in my head and think of random Kindergarten Cop quotes. And come home to write this.

Dear teachers,

I bow to you. I really do.  As a mom who homeschooled and now is sending a kiddo to navigate the waters of school at his request, I don’t know how you do it. Teaching and corralling my own children is nerve wracking enough. I can’t imagine doing it with 20+ kids who aren’t even your own. Add the pressures of testing, teaching styles, grades, and various other controversial  topics and I imagine your days are just full of stress.

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Let me just tell you something. Something that you may already know, but maybe just need to hear it again.

I don’t really care how my kid scores on all these exams in the long run. I don’t care if he’s top in his class. I don’t care if he won a spelling bee or if he’s a faster or slower reader than other kids. If the way it’s being taught doesn’t work for him, then we will find another way. As long as he’s doing his very best and is happy, then right now that is enough for me.

What I do care about is that he is learning to love and respect others. I feel like I’ve been teaching this at home, but it can only go so far when your world consists of your family and friends. His world is about to get a whole lot bigger, and I need you to help him navigate it. You are there on the front lines with him. I need you to be his role model and his platoon leader.

Obviously there are lots of things going on lately that are hateful and confusing. I feel like especially right now our society has reached a critical point where we need to alter our direction of where we’ve been heading in regards to basic respect and courtesy. Kids may not know the details but I guarantee you they know the underlying feel of it. I’ll be damned if my child ever feels it’s okay to hurt or belittle another person for who they are. So please, help my child feel safe to stand up for what’s right. Help his classmates embrace him for who he is and him to embrace them for who they are, each individually. Help him to trust his “inside feeling” when something isn’t right. If a child is lonely, encourage him to find a way to help. If he is the lonely one, encourage another child to do the same for him.

This all starts at home, and I need you to help me continue it at school.

I don’t care how fast he can do a math worksheet or how neat his handwriting is. I care about whether he’s happy. I care about what things make him happy. I care about whether he loves others as he loves himself and that he loves himself as he loves others. I tell him to always help others because it is the right thing to do. To always have open arms.  I need you to show him in action.

I’m sure this is redundant, and something you already do without question. Maybe I’m just writing this to reassure myself.

Thank you for teaching our kids math, handwriting, and all the other academic necessities that serve us well in life. But mostly thank you for training up our kids to be humans when they are with you. Good humans. Humane, kind, generous, strong humans who will steer humanity in the right direction. I could do it all by myself, but I’m choosing not to. I’m choosing not to because I feel like it takes a village, and our family extends beyond blood to the people around us that we share aspects of our life with.

 

From my hands to yours.

rabbit