We Are Both Right

11-Year-Old Willow Smith Shaves Head, Internet Explodes

Earlier this week, Willow Smith, the 11-year-old daughter of superstars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith tweeted a photo of herself with a shaved head.  Ironic when you consider Willow became a “household name” for her song and video, “Whip My Hair,” not surprising if you’ve ever encountered a tween and their mood swings.

In any case, once the photo was posted, the uproar was immediate and loud. Everyone in the blogosphere, from mommiesto celebrity reporters (to hairdressers) had opinions, all varied and all speculative. (Willow hasn’t indicated the reason behind the bold move yet.) The big question seems to be though, is it appropriate for an 11-year-old girl to shave her head? (Although in my opinion, the question should be is it appropriate for an 11-year-old to be on Twitter?)

For me, this is a “choose your battles” situation, both for myself and my child. Hair is not a permanent fixture on our bodies, and if my daughter decided she wanted to shave her head (ha, not likely) then I’d probably sit her down and have a serious discussion about why she wanted to do it. Had she considered the ramifications of her decision? What will happen when she walks into school that first time? Certainly you don’t want to tell your kids to chart their lives based on what other people think, but in the pressure-filled world of tweendom, it’s certainly an important consideration.

It’s tough because I want to let my kids to learn that their choices, both good and ill-advised, shape who they are and who they are going to be. But at the same time, as a parent, sometimes you need to know when to step in and say “No, you aren’t doing this,” offering them guidance as they turn into the person they will become.

Having said that, hair does grow back.

What do you think of Willow’s new hair style?

Best of: Scaring Up a Halloween Costume for the Littlest Goblin

baby Halloween costume

Trick or treat...dressing up the little ones for Halloween is half the fun. ©Mitchael McDonald/stock.xchng

What’s long and brown and red all over?

A mommy dressed as a hot dog covered in ketchup.

And that would be me walking around the neighborhood this Halloween had the tables been turned, and my son had the opportunity to pick out my costume.

He saw it in the store today and had to have it. But just not for himself. I guess no self-respecting 9-year-old wants to look like processed meat with condiments spread from his head to his toes. Can’t say I blame him.

On the other hand, if the parent of a toddler happened to think that was the cutest thing ever, you can bet there would be a mini hot dog strapped in a stroller being traipsed around the neighborhood getting laughs at every door. Because that’s our privilege (and pleasure) as parents.

Who can resist those adorable bumblebee costumes and Woody and Jesse get-ups? How about the pumpkin baby? Or the real-life Rubik’s cube?

Whether you buy it from the store, or put in hours crafting it yourself, your little one’s Halloween costume is a chance to be creative. It won’t be long before they ask to dress like zombies and rock stars, so get in there while you can and try on some of these costume ideas for size:

Suzanne

Fisherman and baby fish: The first joint costume my children donned for Halloween, my daughter’s first and my budding fisherman’s sixth. His favorite part? Netting her.

Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion or any other Wizard of Oz combo: Another great costume pairing for siblings who don’t have a say in the matter just yet!

Static cling: Haven’t had to do it yet, but attach a few socks and underwear to a sweatsuit and it has to be the easiest last minute, low-budget costume ever.

Amanda

Sam I Am: Dress your child in all yellow and then add a two-sided placard. On the front have it read “I am Sam.” On the back, “Sam I am.” Add a paper plate with drawn green eggs and ham.

Any of the Harry Potter characters: A black robe, a red, blue, green or yellow scarf [depending on your house] and you are good to go. You can style hair and add props accordingly.

Pea Pod: Store bought, but one of the cutest ones ever for our infant.

What Halloween costumes are you planning for your little one? Any favorites from Halloweens past?

Our Two Cents: Advice for a Mom Who Would Rather be a Fashion “Don’t”

©Thoursie/stock.xchng

Is back-to-school clothes shopping with your tween something you love or dread? ©Thoursie/stock.xchng

Dear Suzanne and Amanda:

I love my 12-year-old daughter and I love to shop, so you’d think that back-to-school clothes shopping with her would be something I look forward to every year. And it has been, until now.

Like most tween girls, my daughter, Anna, is very fashion-conscious.  It wasn’t always this way. While she liked to wear pretty things, her choices originated from what she wanted to wear, rather than what the latest styles are. I’m not saying she’s following the crowd, she’s still very independent, but she’s definitely aware of what’s “cool” and what isn’t.

One of my favorite parts of shopping is finding a good deal. I never pay full price, instead, happily bargain hunting. For me, it’s more important that the price is right, rather than the color. When we walk into stores at the mall and I see t-shirts for $50, I’m sorry, I just can’t do it, I don’t care if the latest celebrity of the moment is wearing it.

Anna is losing her patience with me and frankly, me with her. I want to encourage her to “be herself” but not at the expense (pun intended) of my wallet. Any advice?

– I Thought Project Runway Was About Restoring Airplanes

Amanda: First off, don’t let your daughter know you asked me for advice. Right now I’m wearing an Old Navy t-shirt, circa 1998, complete with faded graphics and holes. So there’s that.

I’m like you, a sales shopper. I tend to buy clothing off the sales rack in the off-season. For most of my family that isn’t a problem. My 10-year-old son doesn’t give too much thought to what he wears (as evidenced by his frequently mismatched ensembles) and the two-year-old is happy to wear the same shirt every day (seriously, he’s got an M&M tee that he would put on every day if I let him). My 8-year-old daughter on the other hand, is very aware of what she wears. She always has been. Up until now she makes do with what we find in the bargain bins, but I suspect as she gets older she’ll be wanting to choose pieces from the front of the store, rather than the rear.

Do you have a set budget for back-to-school clothing shopping? If not, make one. Once you have an allotment of dollars available, consider giving your daughter a portion of it to spend any way she chooses. She may quickly learn that a $100 pair of shoes isn’t quite the necessity she thought it was if it’s her money to spend, versus yours.

If she still goes through with buying a little bit of clothing with a lot of money, I say let it go. Make the best of what you have remaining in the budget — with her taking an active role. Involve her in your bargaining ways. Together, scour the circulars, inspect the Internet and hit the mall (outlet or otherwise). Find new places to search — thrift stores and consignment shops offer lots of fashionable garments at reasonable prices.

I think if you work together, you’ll both end up looking pretty!

Suzanne: Coming from a girl who spent her life in school uniforms and had exactly two “civilian” outfits (one for Saturday and one for Sunday), I’m feeling a little bad for your daughter. Not to say that you should buy her anything and everything she wants for her back-to-school wardrobe, but keep it fun and indulge her if only a little bit.

Which means you will have to nudge yourself past the Axe-soaked boy with a six pack and take a look around those teen stores where everything has a name. Set a budget, like Amanda suggests, and let Anna pick a top or two, or a pair of jeans, from these stores. Soon enough she will realize how far the money goes there versus your stores of choice.

And before you know it, she’ll realize that she can get away with choosing one impact piece and mixing it with a more budget-friendly basic. (No need to spend $45 on a tank top to put under another t-shirt).

Just remember, she’s only young once. So as long as you can stretch a little bit out of your comfort zone, there will be plenty of time for her to take a liking to bargain hunting (i.e after she gets her first job and moves out of your house).

Happy shopping!

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What do you think, should this mom appease her daughter and buy clothing outside of her price range, or is there a compromise to be made?

If you have a problem that needs two perspectives, send us an e-mail at advice@wearebothright.com.

Our Two Cents: To the Mom Mulling a Mohawk

Would you let your child sport this haircut? ©Margan Zajdowicz/stock.xchng

Dear Amanda and Suzanne:

Just when did mohawks become the summer haircut of choice for boys?

Because no sooner had I finished telling my ten-year-old son that there’s no way he’s getting a mohawk haircut on our next trip to the barber, two of his friends show up to swim in our pool with their hair freshly buzzed, each with a stripe running from front to back.

What is up with that? I must have blinked and lost my edge, because the last time I checked only punk rockers sported that ‘do and it had something to do with egg wash.

So tell me: 1) Is this a neighborhood fad? and 2) Should I be giving my son some slack in choosing his own hairstyle?

To be honest, my husband is not entirely keen on the look either, but says maybe we should let him get it out of his system. I’m not sure I can go along with it though. What would you do?

–Clean Cut Mom

Suzanne: You don’t say where you live, but rest assured, this is all the rage by me too. The other night at my son’s baseball game, I spotted not one, not two, but three mohawks among his teammates (8 and 9 year olds). As soon as their caps came off, I started thinking: How long before my son asks for one too?

And I think I would probably struggle with it just as much as you. Except my son’s not asking for one. Phew.

But if I were you, I would probably want to know why this look appeals to him. And if he’s like most ten-year-olds, there won’t be much explanation or thought behind his argument. He’ll probably say something to the effect of all of his friends have it, and he just wants one too. Maybe he’ll go so far as to tell you that you’re old and so not cool and that you have no idea what style is. And maybe he already has.

So basically you have two choices. The first would be to say: “I’m your mother and as long as I’m paying for your haircut, I have a say in how it’s done.” (My first approach if need be.)

The second would be to count this among the battles you choose not to fight. Sure, you might worry that giving in to him on this will set you up to be a pushover when it comes to more serious stuff. But if you set some limits, and can come to terms with it in your own mind, then maybe tell him he can try it out once and only once. Hopefully he’ll hate it as much as you. Or grow tired of it. Or be itchy on day two and ask you to buzz it off in the backyard.

Whichever way it goes, this won’t be the last time you talk to your son about making a choice to stand out in the crowd (or in this case blend in with the crowd). So the practice sure won’t hurt. Good luck and happy buzzing!

Amanda: I asked my son, a 10-year-old boy who also happens to have the aforementioned mohawk haircut (for the third summer in a row), why he likes it so much, he said: “I just like it. It’s cool.”

So there you go. As his mom, I’m not thrilled with the cut, but it’s what he wants and it’s harmless enough, so in the summertime, when school is not in session, he’s permitted to get one. He’s happy, I’m somewhat happy (come September anyway) and peace reigns in our house.

I know what you are asking. If I don’t like him having a mohawk, why does he have one? Because it’s his body, not mine, and to me, a crazy haircut really isn’t that big of a deal. It has been my experience that hair always grows back.

In the summer for my son, a mohawk is his hair style of choice. But during the school year, he and his friends refuse to get haircuts, instead holding a contest to see who can grow their hair the longest. I think for school-age boys, hair is less a political or a fashion statement and more about topping their friends. And to me, that’s fine. Because I don’t look in the mirror and see spikes or a mop on my head.

In fact, the same reason why I chose not pierce my daughter’s ears as an infant is the same reason why I don’t interfere with my son’s choice of hair style.

Your body, your choice. And if you are old enough to express a preference, you are old enough to get it, especially if it’s non-permanent. And a haircut is decidedly non-permanent. (This is all within reason of course. No body piercings just yet. We need to save some drama for the teenage years.)

So I vote for letting your son get the hair style of his choice. If it makes you uncomfortable, set some parameters, like only during the summer like we do, or make the hair that makes up the mohawk wider. I think my son’s mohawk is about two or three inches wide across his head which definitely makes it less jarring than the one that our friend in the photograph (above right) has.

Good luck! While your son is at the barber, treat yourself to a pedicure — neon blue of course!

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Is your child’s haircut a matter of personal choice? Yours or theirs?

Check in with us weekly for the next dose of advice x2. And if you have a question that has you bouncing between two sides, send it to advice@wearebothright.com and let us help settle the match.

Boy Wearing Little Girl Dress Up Clothes to Preschool? Not Acceptable.

©thiralia/stock.xchng

Do feather boas have a place in a preschooler's ensemble? Not at school! ©thiralia/stock.xchng

I’m a mommy blogger on the What to Expect website.  A while back, Heidi Murkoff, author of the What to Expect series, was asked the following question:

“My son loves wearing his older sister’s frilly dress-up clothes and boas. I don’t mind it around the house, but now he wants to wear them to preschool. Should I let him?”

You can click here to see the question and Heidi’s response.

To me, it’s a silly question.  Of course the answer is no.  Maybe not for the same reasons you have, but in my mind wearing any kind of kids dress up clothes to school is inappropriate.  And, while I agree with Heidi in simple terms, I respectfully disagree with her reasons for thinking so.

I like to think of myself as an open-minded mom, and pretty much accepting of just about anything that kids do.  Tommy’s sharing his popsicle with the dog again?  That’s a teaching opportunity about germs.  Toddler dressing up in mommy’s bra and parading out in front of company?  Sweetheart, let’s learn the word privacy today and how it applies to mommy’s underwear.

Kids don’t know any better a lot of the time, so you can’t fault them for being ignorant.  Instead, you teach them what they need to learn, and you do it in whatever way you know how.  The great thing about kids is how spongy they are.  They soak up knowledge anywhere they can get it and anyway it is given to them.  Take social cues, for example.  Many folks (parents, grandparents, teachers, school secretaries, parenting expert-authors, and so on) have clearly defined notions in their heads of what makes a girl and “girl” and a boy a “boy”.  Girls wear pink.  Boys wear blue.  Disobey these societal rules and you just might be a homosexual.

Even in Preschool.

How ridiculous, right?  I mean, who gives a rip if a kid is gay.  So your preschool-aged son (which makes him three or four years old, by the way) likes to play in kids dress up clothes of the “girlie” variety.  Who am I to say that boy faeries don’t wear skirts?  I’ve never seen a boy faerie, how would I know?  Oh, and, he’s FOUR, folks.  His parents have years to go before he starts really worrying them with his wild and crazy sexual explorations.  I’m pretty sure that even the most progressive four year-old child isn’t donning black lipstick and a kilt because he wants to be “alternative” (as we called that style when I was a teenager).  Nah, this wee one just thinks that toddler dress up costumes of the skirt, tutu, and gown persuasion are pretty.

I see no problem in allowing a boy to play in little girl dress up clothes.  The operative word in that sentence is play.  Which (finally) brings me to my point about why little boys shouldn’t wear dresses to school.  We don’t go to school to play.  We go to learn.

Here’s what it boils down to.  School is the beginning of understanding what it means to become a productive member of society.  The end goal of all that schooling is to enable us to figure out what we want to do to become successful members in a workforce.  There are certain behaviors that are acceptable at home and in one’s casual time, and others that are appropriate for school or the workplace.  We go to school to pay attention and learn, not to play dress up all day.

Even in Preschool.

Of course there are political reasons for discouraging little boys from wearing dress up costumes to school, especially if they are of the feminine variety.  Frankly, if those were the only reasons I’d fly a double salute and let my kid wear whatever he wanted to preschool.  But, where I rebel against the stupidity of other adults and their idiotic and thoughtless reactions to seeing a little boy in a dress, I do conform to the principle that a school is an institution much like the workplace.  We should dress in business appropriate clothing at work, and similarly at school.  Should a little boy be allowed to wear frilly kids dress up clothes to preschool?  Well, should he be allowed to wear his pajamas to preschool?  The answer is the same for both questions.  In a word, no.

Be a friend and a fan of FunnyMum and Motherhood by Design on Facebook, plus follow her blog on What to Expect!

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Amanda says she doesn’t have a problem with boys wearing girl’s clothing to school (and kind of wishes she could get in on the sparkly tutu action herself!).

Boys Wearing Boas to Preschool? Sure, Why Not?

little girl dress up clothes

Do dresses like these belong in the closets of preschool-age boys? © Kohl's

When I was four, I had two imaginary friends. Marshay, (which at the time, I believed to be the most beautiful name ever) who was a gorgeous girl with soft features and long, wavy black hair and Johnson, who was modeled after the Sesame Street muppet Roosevelt Franklin.

When my son was four, he would name any doll, toy or action figure in his possession “Dit Dit.” He knew other names — he had friends with other names. He liked the way “Dit Dit” sounded, so that’s what everything he owned was called. Until he got a fish. That he dubbed “Straw.”

When my daughter was four, she would insist — insist — on picking out her own clothes. This would result in outfits that included, among other things, snow boots and a tutu, a scarf and a sundress and a pink fuzzy sweater paired with orange shorts and green tights.

I love the preschool years because unlike a toddler, who tends to make decisions soley on impulse, preschoolers usually put a little more thought and creativty into their actions. There is purpose behind what they do. Having said that, kids that are between the ages of 3 and 5 are also some of the most absurd creatures you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.

Some don’t like it when food on their plate touches other food on their plate. They tell jokes that don’t make sense. They dance in the supermarket aisles. They think kitchen utensils are funny (at least mine did). And sometimes they want to wear clothing that isn’t “gender-appropriate” to school.

(Aha! I knew I’d get to the point eventually.)

If my young son ever asked to wear a dress to preschool, I admit that intially it would give me pause — would he be teased? Would he feel strange once he got there? Would the teacher mind? (Although I suspect a preschool teacher, well-versed in the odd behaviors of the under-5 set wouldn’t even blink an eye.)

Ultimately, though, I’d let him, chalking it up to the peculiarities of childhood.

Let’s face it — girl’s clothing is fun! It’s visual and tactile. You can clomp around and make a lot of noise in high heels — not to mention, grab a couple of inches of height over your friends. And dresses and scarves and boas are pretty! And sparkly!

Heck, I’m 36 and there are days I would love to head out to the grocery store in a boa and a sequined top. I wouldn’t because I’d probably get some raised eyebrows and other assorted strange looks (also, sequins make me look pale), but in a way, that makes me sad. As they get older, our kids will have plenty of time to dress appropriately. Can’t we give our little ones a little more time to be little?

When my daughter was in her mismatched phase (one that I’m not entirely sure she’s grown out of), while her looks were likely to draw the ire of Mr. Blackwell, ultimately they were an expression of her growing creativity and independence. So I encouraged and humored her, allowing her to dress as she liked (weather-permitting) and off the store, preschool and other places we’d go, she earning smiles (and compliments) all the way.

So why wouldn’t I extend the same benefits to my son?

And by the way, when my little girl asked to dress in “boy clothes”  for preschool — for argument’s sake let’s say a shirt with cars or trucks on it, or one adorned with a popular sports figure — no one batted an eyelash. So why are we holding our kids to different standards?

The preschool years make for some of the sweetest, funniest memories of all. We should embrace the quirks and eccentricities that come with little kids, because they don’t last for very long. Encourage their growing independence by letting them make their own decisions whenever we can, so when they grow up they turn into funny, self-reliant, free-thinking adults. Our job as parents are to encourage the burgeoning creativity of our little ones, supporting them as they figure out who they are and who they are going to be.

Whether they are wearing a pink tutu when they do it or not.

Would you let your son wear a dress to preschool?

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Guest blogger FunnyMum has an interesting take on “cross-dressing” preschoolers, one I hadn’t really considered.

Infant Ear Piercing, Just Like Mom

© We Are Both Right

Getting my daughter’s ears pierced was a milestone that fell right in between her saying mama for the first time and standing up on her own.  She was eight months old, and in all honesty, I was starting to get nervous that I had waited too long. After all, my first and only bodily piercings were done by the time I was three months old (on my ears, of course). 

When it came down to it, I wanted S. to have pierced ears before she could register a permanent memory of the experience or have to deal with caring for newly pierced ears herself.  And while I wouldn’t say that cultural traditions rule my life, infant ear piercing has always seemed as natural to me as a fish dinner on Christmas Eve. 

There was no question in my mind, even before I knew I was having a daughter, that I would bring her to get her ears pierced as an infant.  Of course I read up on the risks of infant piercing like infection, but they didn’t set off the protective mommy alarms any more than driving with her in a car or bringing her to the doctor for shots. 

My husband had already bought birthstone earrings for her first Christmas (he obviously had no hesitations about infant ear piercing either and was otherwise sentimental about being the first man to buy his little girl a gift of jewelry). 

Around that time, we started polling other parents about where they went for their daughters’ ear piercings. Whether we were at day care or my son’s soccer games, I was on the lookout for other little girls with pierced ears.  The recommendations ranged from someone’s sister who cut hair in her home and pierced her niece’s ears to the lone pediatrician in town who still did ear piercings in his office (our pediatrician didn’t, or that would have been my first choice).  I only heard one warning about a child’s piercing becoming infected, which meant that the three-year-old had to let the holes close up and eventually went back a few years later to get them redone. 

Ultimately, I checked out a highly-recommended jeweler who took the one-and-done approach (both ears would be pierced simultaneously, so there was no anticipation or anxiety on the second go-round had they been done back-to-back.)

On P-Day, my five-year-old son came along and if I hadn’t already been convinced that infant ear piercing was the best-case scenario, his reaction would have made me regret waiting any longer.  As he sat with his eyes closed and back to us, other onlookers held their breath waiting to see my baby’s reaction.

S. was happily playing in my lap as two jewelers worked in unison to precisely measure, mark and triple check the positioning of the piercing sites.  They sterilized her ear lobes, unwrapped the sterile packaging for the special first piercing earrings made of surgical steel, and positioned both piercings guns on her ears. 

With a countdown one thousand times more precise than the one Dick Clark does on New Year’s, they synchronized the piercings.  All we heard from S. was “eahhh” for a second or two, and with a quick hug from mommy she literally turned back to her captive audience with a smile and received quite a few quizzical looks back, as if to say: “That’s it? No waterworks?” 

I had given her a dose of Tylenol before we went, just as if she was getting an immunization, and whether or not that made the difference, I don’t know.  But she never fussed with her ears that day or even realized that she had earrings until a few months ago.  Now all she asks is: “Who gave me these earrings?” since she has switched over from the baby studs to the ones Daddy bought her.

One thing I was nervous about at the time was our pediatrician’s reaction.  I hoped he didn’t think I took an unnecessary risk.  I did see him take note of the piercings when we went back for her next visit, but he never remarked about their condition. 

As it turns out, S. has never had an infection, and beyond the initial weeks of diligently cleaning her ears with a special solution, we haven’t had to care for her pierced ears in any special way.  The screw back earrings mean that they are essentially child-proof, and I don’t have to worry about her taking them out or losing them. 

I wouldn’t hesitate to go the route of infant ear piercing again, with the hope that they would be her first and last. 

Having a conscious memory of getting your ears pierced isn’t always a bad thing. Amanda and her daughter each had it done when they were old enough to ask for it – and enjoy the fun of picking out their own bling!

Originally published on October 23, 2010

Waiting on Baby Ear Piercing — Until She Was Six

I remember getting my ears pierced. Not how old I was or where we were — maybe a flea market? A flea market where sometimes my mom let me get a Chipwich chocolate chip ice cream cookie sandwich. I sat in a tall stool that had a back and long legs. And I feel like I might have been 5. Maybe 6. 7? I swear I was no older than 8. In my mind I’m wearing a white cardigan and have one of those handmade ribbon barrettes in my hair that were so popular in the early 80s.  Or maybe my hair was short. Hmmm.

But I remember it! Like it was yesterday. (Which, honestly, I don’t remember at all.)

Anyway, the details that my muddled mind can’t produce don’t matter. What does matter is that I remember how I felt. Scared. Proud. Excited. Grown up. And happy because although my parents agreed to let me get my ears pierced, it was my choice to do so.

I guess the reason why I’m against infant ear piercing is the same reason why I’m OK with a 16-year-old getting her nose pierced. Or, as in my house, a 10-year-old having a mohawk (over the summer only and it needs to be gone before school starts).

Your body, you decide what to do with it.

Obviously there are some limitations — I’m not advocating for tattoos on a tween or Botox or anything — but I think that it’s important early on to teach kids “you are the boss of your body” and give them nearly-complete control over it in terms of how they accessorize themselves. (Notice I said “nearly complete.”) If they want something reasonable — earrings, a funny haircut, a mismatched outfit in public — I’m fine with it.

Getting your ears pierced is a big decision and I think a child old enough to ask for them is old enough to get them — and care for them. Because that’s the other part. There is definitely some maintenance involved with pierced ears and while a 6-year-old probably can’t handle it herself, she needs to be involved in the process. It’s a big responsibility having earrings — the aforementioned upkeep, the NOT LOSING them.

For my daughter, pierced ears was something she totally wanted, but she was a bit apprehensive about. I told her the truth — yes, it is going to hurt, but only for a short time. I don’t know if the potential, self-decided pain made her nervous or she just had to work up to it, but she waited at least a year from the first time she asked and my husband and I said yes and when she actually got it done.

Ultimately her sense of fashion won out.

My sister was getting married in July and A., the flower girl, decided that she wanted earrings before that. “When I’m six,” she would tell me anytime we were in the mall and we passed the ear piercing booth. “Not now, when I’m six.” (Mind you her birthday is in January and this was in December, before Christmas, but hey, she had a plan.)

© WeAreBothRight.com

© WeAreBothRight.com

And sure enough, as soon as she turned six, she deemed herself ready. Once her Little League season was over (you have to remove earrings for games and I didn’t want to have to do that with new holes) off we went. It was a fun day for both of us and one I’m sure we will both remember (hopefully she’ll remember better than my first time).

I understand why people might want to get their infant’s ears pierced. Certainly there are cultural reasons. And I’ve heard other moms say they get their daughter’s ears pierced so people stop mistaking their sweet princess for an adorable prince. (Although I’m not sure how well that one actually works, because I used to dress A. in all pink, from head to toe, and I’d still get compliments on how cute he was. Trust me, if a person doesn’t pick up on the PINK! flowers and lace and tulle, they aren’t noticing the microscopic studs in her ears.)

But hey, there doesn’t even have to be a reason — you just want to works fine. But for me, it’s the child who has to want to. Not the parent.

Suzanne pierced her daughter’s ears when she was an infant. And I have to admit, she looked pretty adorable!

Originally published on October 23, 2010

No Nip and Tuck For My Mommy Makeover

spanishale/stock.xchng

Unless there’s some kind of magic tummy tuck cream out there, this mommy will leave her bellybutton right where it is. To me, mommy makeovers based on cosmetic plastic surgery are way too much risk for the reward.

I absolutely agree that moms deserve to feel good about themselves — especially since we readily turn our bodies over to the life forms inside us, allowing them to rearrange our intestinal organs, siphon off our nutrients, and rest elbows and heels in our rib cage. We watch helplessly as our bodies stretch to the max in every direction to embrace the life within us, and then sag and settle into a molten shape once baby arrives.

But to me, that’s only the beginning of the sacrifice we make for the benefit of our children. I take my responsibility to my two so far as to not subject myself to any risky propositions (parachuting, rock climbing, and walking backward down the stairs, to name a few) at least until they fly the nest.

I need to be around for my children.  In turn, I think that they would rather have a slightly mushy mommy with a healthy body image as opposed to one who took the unnecessary risk of plastic surgery only to have something go wrong.

Besides, unless my long-term health depends upon it or I was in a horrifically disfiguring accident, I can think of a lot better things to do than going under the knife. The risks are always there — no matter how uncomplicated the procedure sounds or even if it’s so “simple” that it can be done in a plastic surgeon’s office — beginning with anesthesia, bleeding complications, left-behind scalpels, infected surgical sites, not to mention the pain. Nope, not volunteering for a slight chance of any of that.

And then there’s the budget impact (elective cosmetic surgeries are usually not covered by insurance and I haven’t yet met a poor plastic surgeon.) In my family, that would come across as “Sorry sweetie, but you can’t go to soccer camp this summer because mommy needs a little lift to get back into that bikini.”

None of this is to say that I think moms should trash the full-length mirror or give up on themselves completely. Instead, we can learn to accept our new shapes — flaws and all. There’s not a day I leave home without blow drying my hair, putting on lipstick and changing into something that can’t be mistaken for pajamas. 

It’s just that cosmetic surgery is where I draw the line (although I do see the value in gastric bypass surgery and lap-band procedures where they can help lessen or prevent future health issues related to obesity — those are a world apart from breast enhancement in my book).

So while I marvel at the efficiency of the kill-two-birds-with-one-stone approach of pairing a tummy tuck with a c-section, I can assure you there won’t be any nipping and tucking over in these parts.

Testing the Waters with Generic Diapers

There they are sitting on the shelf. A box of 144 generic diapers for $10 less than the smaller brand name box right next to them. Oooh, so tempting.

A quick calculation and you realize that if you keep buying the more expensive brands until your baby is potty-trained, you might as well take four $100 bills and put them out in a puddle by the curb.

But you keep staring at the adorable Cynthia Rowley-designed Pampers. You even have a $2 coupon. By this point, your baby is chewing through a box of unopened Elmo crackers. It’s now or — well, next time.

OK, just this once. You go for a smaller package of generic diapers and put the jumbo box of Pampers under your cart. Just in case.

Really, what’s the worst that could happen? You test them out, and if they don’t work so well, throw them in the car for emergency back-up (or when you realize at 2 a.m. that you just used the last diaper in the house).

So why is it such a leap of faith to buy generic diapers?

Of course, we all want the very best for our children. Wholesome food, educational toys, a safe neighborhood, good schools. The curve-hugging and cushiest diapers for our babies’ bottoms. With the cute designs.

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Truthfully though, it’s the insurance policy that convinces parents every time. If you’ve cleaned one leaking explosion of a diaper, there’s no way you ever want a repeat. And in the back of your mind, you see an old Huggies commercial (which might as well have had the Brady Bunch tiki god-episode music in the background) as the baby crawls around wearing a gaping store-brand diaper.

But are generic diapers really that bad?

I needed to know. After a few months of following the herd and buying only Huggies or Pampers for my firstborn, I decided to live on the edge. I brought home a package of Target brand diapers and used the first one at bedtime. Big mistake. I think I changed his pajamas and the crib sheet three times that night.

Not one to give up easily, I insisted on finishing the whole box. It didn’t get any better. My husband begged me not to be frugal in that area again and we were loyal Huggies fans after that. (Coincidentally, not even the Pampers were a match for my son.)

We picked up where we left off with the Huggies when our daughter was born. Once and a while, I would mix in a box of Luvs.

Until I was tempted by the no-frills yellow box again. This time though, the generic diapers did the job. Right through potty-training, she wore the green and blue polka-dotted Target brand diapers and we never had to look back.

I did just buy diapers again last night — this time for a baby shower gift I’m putting together. Of course, I chose a package of Huggies newborn diapers with the curved waistband and Winnie the Pooh design. I even had a coupon.

And I’ll leave it up to mom to decide when and if generic diapers work just as well.