In this episode of Momversation, Heather Armstrong from dooce.com has a vexing problem: How do you tell your 4-year-old about how the baby you’re carrying got there in the first place? I know what I’d say – I’m kind of nuts and bolts – but I’m curious to hear what other moms would say. In a pinch, Heather came up with a good cover story you can remember, as well.
Today on Momversation we’re talking about how to deal with parenting differences between partners. Alice Bradley of Finslippy asks: What do you do when you disagree with your partner’s parenting decisions? Is it okay to disagree in front of your kids, or should you present a united front and duke it out later? Heather Armstrong of dooce, Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl, and I all weigh in with our experiences.
How do you deal with this issue in your household? Let us know in the comments, and check out the Momversation in our related forums:
Vivien now wants to do everything by herself and we are in big trouble if we try to help. Getting dressed, putting on pull-ups or panties, getting in the car… these are all things that can make Sybil appear if we get in her way.
We were having some battles but last night, instead of getting into it, I calmly said, “Here’s your pull-up. Let me know when you are ready for bed.” And I walked away. God, it was so much nicer than “Come here, get in your PJ’s, wait, don’t take off your pull-ups,” etc. A few minutes later, sweet as can be, she said, “I’m ready for bed, Mommy.”
Really? Almost surprised when I’m not more ragged out.
What would you say to a mom who says she might never send her kid to school? Well, the folks on Babble.com got an earful when one mom said just that. It’s called “Unschooling.” Now, I really try not to judge other mothers’ choices, but from personal experience, this was the nicest way I could say: BAD IDEA!
As I was working on an essay about using humor in your home for Parent & Child magazine today, I had one of my suggestions tested. Today I was the filling of the sandwich… as in, the sandwich generation. Vivien is being toilet-trained, and since it was my dad’s 80th birthday, he spent the night at my house. We had a great party for him the night before, but I didn’t want him to wake up in assisted living, away from kin.
Well, just because I’m on TV doesn’t mean I don’t spend my mornings cleaning up the urine of my many loved ones from the carpet or couch. I wrote in my essay that moms don’t have time to turn the tragedy into comedy. You have to go right to the comedy. As I scrubbed my hallway carpet – the most expensive carpet I have ever bought – I initially found this hard to do. Then I had my half-cup of coffee and the old funny bone started firing up. Also, I got some perspective, thinking of people in their own real tragedies. So what’s a little pee between loved ones?
The other day, I was reading about D.L. Hughley hosting the first-ever comedy show on CNN. He said his dad never told him “I’m proud of you,” but that his dad just acknowledging that he was a first on CNN was like a pep talk.
That got me thinking of something I have often thought about: I think my parents were too nice to me. When I was doing a traffic report at 1 a.m. in Northern California (yes, I did that), my parents acted like I was Hillary Swank winning the Oscar. “Your Aunt Arlene can get KGO in San Diego and listens to you!”
When I hosted my first (and only) network show, “Playing It Straight,” they paid for me to have a debut party which coincided with my birthday. (The local news came and it was really cool. The show tanked, but that’s another story.)
Perhaps if they had been the kind of parents that withheld praise, I would have strived beyond my G-list status. Maybe I would have had that hunger to succeed I see in others,as opposed to my philosophy, which is: “I’m shooting for the middle.”
Am I making the same mistake with my daughter? When she draws outside the lines, should I continue to find something something to praise, like ,”Love that you used the whole page!” Or should start laying down some expectations?: “Try to get it within the lines.”
I was thinking of that HIllary Clinton story, of when she was a girl. She came home and told her mom some girl had slugged her. Her mom said to go back out there and face the girl, that “we don’t have cowards in this house.” She did, and clearly Hillary grew up tough and able to take a punch.
My mom would have said, “The girl who slugged you is a sick girl; I know her parents and they aren’t well. Forgive her.”
What have others done that seems to work?
A friend just sent me one of those chain emails that is a witty bit about having ADD as an adult. Of course the problem I have with the email is that it’s too long! That’s partly my comedic training: If the set-up is too long, you have lost your audience.
But maybe it’s because I do have a shorter attention span.
I think I’ve always been an impatient, cut-to-the-chase person, but motherhood sped things up. If a friend calls during some five minutes of peace I have because my little one has just found a bright, shiny object… in the old days, I could have yapped a while. Now I have to use my moments efficiently.
Or maybe I have early dementia and can’t keep too many thoughts in my head at once. So this week I want to ask you if you ever feel like you’ve got adult-onset ADD? And is it parenthood that did it to you? Let me know in the poll below, and I’ll reveal the results on Friday:
I’m not ashamed to say I’m one of the 17 million that watches “Dancing With The Stars.” I have to TiVo it because I can’t stand watching the backstage interviews with that sub-par interviewer who has three questions she asks in rotation. “How much have you loved being on the show?” Sarah Palin should have Samantha Harris interview her.
Now, I taped this bit last week and I have to correct one thing. I said Brooke Burns when I meant Brooke Burke. I know the difference, but mucked it up. Burke is doing great on the show and she is a very nice person. I also neglected to mention what a star “Dame” Cloris Leachman is. She really made an effort Monday night.
If Rocco’s out, it’s not a shocker: that blouse will have cooked his goose.
At three, my little one is getting hip to Halloween. Last year my mom and I took her trick-or-treating. She was dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz (she had no idea who Dorothy was, but I dug it). This is Viv in her costume when she was one. It cost $40, so I had her wear it for two years running. I was a doctor. When we went trick-or-treating, Vivien often tried to give the candy back to the people who gave it to her. It was so cute.
This year she is noticing other people’s decorations and she wanted to get in on the fun. So we went shopping today for Halloween decorations, at a party supply store. My gal is a bit sensitive, so everything was deemed “too scary, Mama” as we walked the aisles.
“Well, Halloween is supposed to be scary, but in a tongue-in-cheek way.” Surprisingly a three-year-old didn’t understand that. (She no more understood it when later in the afternoon she was fighting me on her nap, and I told her she was being contrary. She stopped wailing, “I don’t know what contrary means!”)
I found a tissue-paper pumpkin but that was rejected as well. Finally she agreed to some smiling pumpkins and a “happy” cardboard ghost.
It did make me think. Halloween is kind of weird.
50% of you feel it’s more of a topic in the news that freaks you out. While 28% feel it is something people close to you are hit by, but you are okay. Only 22% are screaming Jiminy Cricket! Pack up the car and let’s ride with the Joad’s (ie. Grapes of wrath). I am directly affected.
Twenty-two percent of you want to be Ellen’s sidekick because she is funny and hopefully will dance when you are with her. Fifteen percent of you chose Rachael Ray – I guess you can eat a lot of sammies. Nine percent went to the women of The View, convinced you will get a word in edgewise. Six percent are Oprah fans, the biggest of the big, convinced there IS room for someone else. Finally, 4% of you chose Dr. Phil, feeling confident he will let you give your opinion.
Photo: Warner Bros./Sheryl Neilds
Where I Stand
As for me, it’s one thing to know who your best friend is, another to know who your TV best friend is, or who you would want to co-host with. The big winner in our poll was Ellen. My guess is because she seems fun and has good, self-depreciating humor.
Since Ellen is a stand-up comedian, though, I think there is only room for one cook in that kitchen. Being a stand-up and knowing some far more established than myself, I know that stand-ups are not the world’s most generous performers. My pick would be “The View.” I love that they talk about topical issues at the top of the show, and when I’ve had gigs in NYC I’ve been pretty happy.
Photo: ABC/Steve Fenn
I have a little history at The View – of not being on it. Years ago, in the ’90s, I was doing a couple of shows for CNET in San Francisco which were on USA and Sci Fi Channel. One of the higher ups at Sci Fi told me The View had asked for tape on me and then said they liked me, but they needed a minority. Enter Lisa Ling. Then, a few years back when I was single in Santa Monica, I heard they were looking again. I called my agent. He said they only want to see people who are married, with or without kids, or at least engaged. I couldn’t have been less committed. I told the story to Dr. Dean, who practically shouted, “Why didn’t you call me? My son Adam is divorced with three kids, you could get married for show; it’s worth it for that gig.” Gee, should have thought of that. But, I probably would have been too liberal, ’cause they hired Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
Now, should The View come calling… I’m sure they will. It would be a bit more complicated with my West Coast entanglements. So, maybe Cool Mom will by my online “The View.” I don’t have the same luminaries dropping by, but at least I don’t have to share the couch.