We Are Both Right

It’s the Itchy and Scratchy Show!

lice treatment

Amanda was going to run a photo of a louse to accompany her post, but she can't stand to look at another one. Here's a generic picture of a comb instead. You're welcome. aperfect1©/stock.xchng

If, for whatever reason, I am ever asked to come up with a way to torture someone, and I mean, really inflict maniacal psychological warfare, I have the perfect method.

I will infest my victim and everyone who lives in their house with lice.

Think I’m being a little, I don’t know, soft on my potential target? Clearly, you have never dealt with these wingless bloodsuckers that will just not go away.

It all started two weeks ago when I found a single louse on my 3-year-old’s head. With my own head becoming suddenly incredibly, unbelievably itchy and my stomach plummeting into the basement, my husband confirmed what I couldn’t bring myself to say or even think.

We had lice. And by we, I mean two of my children (my daughter and my younger boy) and me. (My husband is voluntarily bald. Cheater.)

I remember very clearly my reaction. I went with the three-year-old temper tantrum route, shouting, crying, balling my fists and stomping my feet. The funny (heh – I don’t think the word “funny” has ever been used in conjunction with lice before) thing was, I didn’t even know what I was in for. Just that it wasn’t going to be good. And it wasn’t.

Oh it wasn’t.

Because it wasn’t enough for the universe to just give us lice. It had to take away our hot water in the form of a broken boiler. And have my husband be at work for the next 48 hours.

Me + three cases of lice – a supply of hot water – my support system = One ticket to crazytown with all the extra baggage I could carry.

When I am faced with a problem, I automatically go into research mode and this time was no exception. The problem is, all my googling was making me more upset, despite almost every article I read starting with the same two words: DON’T PANIC. (Yeah, right. There are bugs. In our HAIR. They are LAYING EGGS. Seems like a perfect time to panic to me.)

I think the hardest part for me through it all was the hopelessness I felt. Like swimming in Jell-O (with bugs in my hair). Because no matter what I did, no matter how much money I spent, no matter how much time I spent picking through my daughter’s hair or my own (I shaved both of my boys’ heads. I was not messing around), I felt like I was always a step behind. There was always going to be a nit I missed or worse, a bug I couldn’t catch. I can’t even tell you how many treatments my daughter and I wound up having (at least five each in the course of a week).

I turned into a crazy person, with the lice overtaking every part of my life. I read, reread and read websites, over and over again, looking for some easy solution. I washed and rewashed and washed again what felt like every article of clothing and sheet in our house. (Major props to my husband for doing six loads of laundry at the laundromat on Mother’s Day.) I bought every kind of treatment, preventative spray and anti-lice product out there. I cross-examined other parents for tips and tricks (Major props to Suzanne for sending me a list of of things to do. Interestingly enough, it also carried the “Don’t panic” propaganda.) Because there was a major outbreak of lice (seven cases!) in my daughter’s class, I spent some time on the phone with the principal of her school, peppering her with questions on she was doing to disinfect and clean the classroom and educating the kids and their parents.

Not to mention how I tortured my family. Begging my husband to comb through my hair. Chasing after all three kids with sprays concocted of mint and rosemary (lice don’t like these scents apparently). Making my daughter wear her hair up in a braid and plastered with hair spray . Not to mention the plastic shopping bag in lieu of her knapsack I make her keep her things in once she gets inside of her classroom — not a cool thing to do apparently.

But no matter what I was doing, no matter how busy I kept myself, no matter how in control I tried to put myself, the lice were always in the back of my head (literally!), taunting me. I couldn’t relax. Until now. Kind of. (Not really.)

Two weeks of this ordeal and I’m cautiously optimistic that we might have very possibly, potentially, perhaps, maybe have gotten rid of them. (I’m being intentionally vague and humble on the chance that one of the little buggers reads this and decides to come back and teach me a lesson.) My daughter and I each had a treatment today — the “OK, no live bugs in over a week but you still better do a follow-up” treatment. We both came back clean, save for a few stray nits on her head that I have removed. My head still itches, but both my husband and I have been through my hair up and down and side to side and can find nothing. I think I might have overdone it on the treatments and now I’m reacting to them, physically and psychologically.

I promised my daughter that after this treatment that I wouldn’t be on top of her with the combs and tweezers as often (I was doing it twice a day), but as I write this, I know this is a promise I won’t be able to keep. I’m still scarred. And scared. You hear that lice? I’m scared. You win. Please leave us alone!

Have you or anyone in your house ever had lice? When did you reach the point where you could say, “O.K., they are gone?”

By the way, if you know me in real life, please don’t mention my post to my daughter. She will reinfect me herself if she knows this story is floating around on the Internets.

Best Of (the Worst Of): Reasons Kids Throw Tantrums

child screaming

Look familiar? There are lots of reasons a child has a tantrum, but we really do need to start working on a catch-all solution. Quickly. ©Ginger Garvey/stock.xchng

SAAAAAN-DAAAAALS! The battle cry heard ’round the world. It was the beginning of another tantrum — and as usual it was about clothes.

So what that the temperature had dipped back down below 50 and it was windy and we were about to spend five hours outside on a dusty, clay-caked field for a Little League double-header. Sandals seemed pretty reasonable (and fashionable) in a four-year-old’s mind. Mom’s thoughts? Not so much. Commence tantrum.

You know the scene. And once a child gets into that mode – they’re as locked in as Maverick and Goose in Top Gun. Hugs, talking quietly, ignoring, yelling, nothing seems to work.

The one thing we have realized after years of experience is that sometimes prevention is the best medicine. If you know your child’s triggers, there are some things you can do to ward off the tantrums or at least make them less frequent or shorter in length.

It didn’t take us long at We Are Both Right to come up with the most tantrum-inducing scenarios. What did take a while was coming up with some solutions that didn’t involve earplugs or a passport and a one-way ticket for mommy to a deserted island.

Obviously, episodes like getting dressed in the morning and leaving friends’ houses are pretty much inevitable, so at some point you have to deal. But we’re thinking with these tricks, it might make life with a tantrum-thrower a little easier.

Problem/Solution

Choosing an outfit in the morning that doesn’t entail velvet in June or white satin sleeveless dresses on tie-die day in preschool in February. Take some time each night and turn this into a fun activity. Either watch the local weather forecast together on TV or pull it up on the web. Ask your child to interpret the  symbols, whether it’s partly cloudy, sunny, rainy or snowy. Explain the temperature and talk about what it will feel like on your skin. Give them the chance to be a weather reporter and give a little report to the family on what it would be best to wear the next day (i.e. pants and heavy sweaters, umbrella and raincoats, tank top and shorts, etc.) Then have your child pick an outfit to match the weather (and hope the weatherman wasn’t wrong). It will make your child feel like she has more control of the situation and made the decision herself based on her own conclusions.

Wanting something at the store and mean mommy won’t buy it. Talk about your shopping list ahead of time and ask them to check off things as they go in the cart. Explain that you have just enough money to buy these things, and anything they see and want, you have to think about adding to the list next time. If this doesn’t work, find a willing babysitter and go shopping by yourself (my solution for a few months when my kids were each around 30 months old).

Washing hands before and after dinner (the horror). Buy colored soap, peach-scented soap, hand them a wipe to do the job themselves. If that doesn’t work, threaten an earlier bath (and bed) time. Or do a science experiment on germs and let them see what dirty hands look like under a black light. It worked in our house!

Having to leave home to go someplace. Bring along the toy or thing that has them so attached to home in the first place. Tell them they will have so much fun when they get there. And then when they do, see below.

Having to leave someplace to go home. Promise that there are so many fun things to do at home, too. Tell your child that he can call his friend on the phone as soon as you get home. Have a snack stash in the car to lure her in. And then just make a quick break, because prolonged goodbyes never make it better.

Going to the supermarket (admittedly this makes me want to tantrum too). Bring a cart-worthy toy, or head to the book aisle in the supermarket and pick up a new book for your child to thumb through. It doesn’t necessarily have to come home with you, as you exchange it for a loaf of bread on the shelf. If your child knows colors, letters or shapes, play a treasure hunt game with them as you make your way through the store. Promise a special treat as you leave if they make it through tantrum-free.

Home improvement shopping where tantrumy child wants to run freely through glass tile displays on his way to jump into the whirlpool bathtub on display. Been there. The only solution is to leave and come back when you can actually form a clear thought about the tile that will be on your floor, well, forever.

Meal battles (think ice pops for breakfast). Recite a menu before the tantrum-prone child gets to declare his wishes. “Today, we have waffles, yogurt and cereal. Which would you like to start with?” And then ask another question immediately after — a distraction technique that I like to use. “And should we use your blue or yellow plate?” That way both answers come together and the child doesn’t think much about either one.

Best case scenario: Sometimes the tantrum isn’t full-blown and you will see a child who gets miffed and goes into meltdown mode, but storms off to a quiet space on her own, maybe even with a noisy door slam on the way out. Give it 10-15 minutes and chances are a centered, calm child will emerge like nothing ever happened.

So let us know where you are at with tantrums — do they happen once a week, once a month, or every day in your home? What are your best tips for keeping tantrums at bay? We’re listening, just don’t mind the screaming in the next room.

Not Exactly the Second Home I Was Hoping For

©clambert/stock.xchng

If Amanda never had to go into one of these for the rest of her life, she'd be OK with that. ©clambert/stock.xchng

I hate public restrooms. The thought of going into one makes me cringe. Not because they are dirty or grimy or simply gross. I mean they are (some of them anyway, some of them are nicer than my house). And certainly I appreciate their function. On more than one occasion we have been saved by their close proximity.

It’s that lately I have been spending so much time in them, I feel as if I should be sending the collective owners part of my mortgage payment.

I am the mom to a semi-newly minted potty-trained toddler who still needs some assistance in the bathroom. When we are home, he uses the toilet, I don’t know, five or six times a day? (It’s definitely at least three, because any time I sit down to eat, there he is with his urgent cry “Pee pee! Pee pee! I have to go pee pee!”) In any case, it’s a reasonable amount, one you’d expect from a nearly three-year-old.

When we are out however, it’s double that number. Easily. Our whole family hit the toy store (shopping for his birthday presents no less!) and went out to lunch over the weekend. We left our house at 11:30 and were home by 3. He asked to go to the bathroom no less than five times. And by “asked” I mean, “shouted the words ‘pee pee’ and ‘poopy’ so loudly that I was pretty convinced that other people were getting ready to bring him to the bathroom for me.”

Why the increase? Does he feel the need to mark his territory? Is he bored? Does he think I don’t get enough exercise (heh)? Does he have a bladder control problem? Does he like the hands-free dryers? I’m not sure, but because he is still somewhat new at this and because I know what happens when you ignore the persistent plea of the diaper-less (like the time our potty-training eldest boy peed on the floor of a house we were thinking of buying a few years ago), I always respond to his entreaties. And quickly. Or as quickly as you can find the one employee in the entire store who can direct you to the non-marked restroom (behind the door with the hanging “Employees Only” sign), while being followed by a pint-sized person yelling “Poopies! I have to make poopies! Mommy! Now!”(That was yesterday’s adventure in Dollar Tree. We might have gotten some stares.) Even if it means closing my eyes, holding my nose and bringing him into the oh-so-awful port-a-potty at the Little League Fields. (“Do. Not. Touch. ANYTHING.”)

It’s usually always me, too, even if my husband is with us, simply because I feel like women’s bathrooms are generally always cleaner than the men’s room. Which makes me think there might me some sort of conspiracy going on.

Still, I am proud of him — he has yet to have an accident while we are out — so I guess he’s doing something right. Even if it means I lose my place in line, my dinner gets cold (or worse, taken away) or I misplace my other children for a minute or two. (True stories!)

What is it with toddlers and public restrooms? Have you had a similar experience?

Best of: Reasons Why You’re the Meanest Mom

mean mom glanzerr©/stock.xchng

Sorry kid, if you want to go outside, you'll need to put your coat on. glanzerr©/stock.xchng

There’s an interesting little aspect of parenting that no one tells you about. Your kids may love you, but it doesn’t mean they have to like you. Especially when you are in “mean mom” mode — telling them not do something that they want to do or making them eat their vegetables or coming up with some other ridiculous “mom” rule that is completely unfair in the oh-so-silly interest of keeping them safe and healthy.

You know what we mean. One chilly morning last week (34 degrees fahrenheit), Amanda’s 11-year-old son stormed off to the school bus stop in a huff because she made him put on his coat. The horror! What’s next? A hat? Some gloves?

And that’s not all! Here are some more seemingly-obvious little rules that we’ve actually found ourselves uttering and, according to our kids, make us the meanest moms that ever lived. (Please save your phone calls to the authorities until you have reached the end of the list.)

  • No bare feet on the dinner table. (No feet on the table period.)
  • No using your little brother as a ball.
  • Your test is a week away? Great! Start studying now.
  • Jell-O is not a fruit.
  • Yes, you have to take a shower every day.
  • The ceiling fan is not the same as the monkey bars and should not be treated as such.
  • Please stop jumping on the trampoline, um, I mean couch.
  • The dog is not a horse.
  • No more slap shots with the hockey puck down the hallway.
  • You’re nine now, it’s time to use a fork.

We know we aren’t alone. Share your favorite “mean mom” moments in the comments section or on our Facebook page!

“Trouble in Toyland” — Playthings You’ll Want to Avoid this Holiday Season

You’ve made your list and checked it twice but is what you (or Santa) planning to give the child really as safe as you think it is?

Twenty-four seemingly (and not-so-seemingly) innocuous toys have had the dubious honor of being listed in the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s “Trouble in Toyland” report, a survey of toys that don’t meet the standards of safety set the Consumer Product Safety Commission and other health organizations.

While the list isn’t exhaustive, U.S. PIRG shopped a host of toy stores, malls and dollar stores in September and October 2011 nationwide, looking potentially dangerous toys. Using CPSC recalls and other regulatory actions as their guide, the group searched for toys that “posed a potential toxic, choking, strangulation or noise hazard.”

“Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons is still the leading cause of toy-related injury,” said U.S.PIRG’s Nasima Hossain. ”Between 1990 and 2010 over 400 children died from toy-related injuries, but more than half choked on small parts, balloons or balls. While most toys are safe, our researchers still found toys on the shelves that pose choking hazards and other toys that contain hazardous levels of toxic chemicals including lead.”

Toys on the list include a variety of playthings that appeal to kids of all ages including including an Elmo cell phone, a Hot Wheels stunt car, a Tinkerbell watch, a Hello Kitty keychain, a toy-sized Honda motorcycle, and a Whirly Wheel. The full report is an eye-opener, and will certainly give you pause the next time you go toy shopping.

“Parents and toy givers need to remember that while the CPSC is doing a good job, it doesn’t test all toys on the shelves.  Consumers should also remember that toys that are not on our list of examples could also pose hazards,” Hossain said. “The message of today is clear. We cannot, must not, weaken the most basic safety rules that protect young children, America’s littlest consumers.”

For me, seeing a toy that we own on the list (the Fisher-Price Elmo cell phone) was a good reality check. I looked at the list never expecting to see something that is in our own toy box, but there it was, listed as a noise hazard. Are any of your child’s toys on the list? Have you ever bought a toy, only to discover that it isn’t as safe as you would have assumed?

If you come across an unsafe toy, you can report them to the CPSC at www.cpsc.gov and towww.saferproducts. gov or by calling 800-504-7923.

Safe shopping!

#OccupyMomandDadsBed

The #OccupyMomandDadsBed movement may be coming to a bed near you. ©We Are Both Right

It’s official. Our kids are staging a revolt. Their 1% wants to occupy 99% of the parental bed.

When Amanda wrote about the pint-sized bed partner who kept her awake all night (on vacation no less), I felt her pain.

In the case of my house, it looks like our two protesters are determined to kick me and my husband out of our bed every night. Literally. Kicking, punching and all of their other late-night and early morning unconscious flailing that leaves us cowering for cover.

But if we actually retreat — like when we threaten to go into their beds — they stick to us like glue. So I think what they really want is full access to our big bed with the comfy duvet and two parents to cuddle (even if we’re both hanging on to the last one inch of the pillow top with bloody noses). Nothing like being well rested.

We are dealing with two adults, two children and in the worst of times, a dog. It’s a big bed but the extra bodies that are getting longer by the month make it a tight squeeze. Not to mention that since they were little, my kids’ preferred sleeping position is laying perpendicular to me and my husband, so that he has feet pounding his chest and I get a head butting my face.

Still, say what you will about the parenting debate on co-sleeping, I don’t mind it enough to put an end to it. When they were babies, I didn’t encourage cosleeping. I was too afraid of rolling over a little arm and having all those blankets and pillows around them. It wasn’t until they were walking and in beds of their own that I allowed it to happen.

I know, I know. We should have broken this habit long ago. It is a valid point, especially because the path to our bed is now entrenched in their subconscious minds.

But my working mother’s guilt has rationalized it as bonding time. (And sometimes it feels so good to roll over and nuzzle the back of my “baby’s” head.) Anyway, we figure that by the time they find their way to our bed (usually between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.), we have already logged the minimum hours of sleep a parent needs.

So we let them off the hook. My husband jokes that we should just make ours a double-decker king size bed and retreat to the upper level when they invade.

But like I said, the occupiers want to take what we have and expect us to stay along for the ride. *Yawn* And so the #OccupyMomandDadsBed movement grows.

Any of this going on in your home?

Our Two Cents: When Should Kids Be Allowed to Trick-or-Treat Alone?

When should tweens be allowed to trick-or-treat without their parents?

When should tweens be allowed to trick-or-treat without their parents?

Dear Suzanne and Amanda:

I knew this was coming, but I didn’t want to think about it so I kept putting it out of my head. Now it’s here and I’m wholly unprepared.

My 11-year-old son asked to go trick-or-treating alone with his friends. He’s a good boy and we live in a safe neighborhood. They’d go during the day and stay within a four or five block radius. (Once it gets dark, one of the dads is going to accompany them from a reasonable distance.) It’s all perfectly logical, all the other parents are on board and as a collective group the parents are going to talk to the boys about safe practices and what to do if they have a problem (two of the boys have cell phones). While they are out, I’ll be in the neighborhood with one of the other moms with our younger children so it’s likely we will even run into our kids.

It sounds like an ideal setup, so why am I still dreading the day? Am I making the right decision?

– Wishing He Still Wanted to Wear His Spider-Man Costume and Ride in the Wagon

Amanda: I’m actually facing the same situation you are. Our 11-year-old boy asked to go trick-or-treating alone with three of his friends this year and we said yes. My heart isn’t totally in it, but I recognize that he’s getting older and walking around the neighborhood with a brood of younger kids that include fairies, Elmo and ladybugs just isn’t cutting it anymore, no matter how many peanut butter cups he absconds from his toddler brother’s bag.

Despite your protests that you haven’t, it sounds like you and the other parents involved have put a lot of thought into your son’s afternoon and have tried to control as many of the variables as you can. That’s good. What you and your son (and me and my son) need to remember is that you can’t control everything. Not to freak you out, but he may encounter a group of older kids with eggs and shaving cream or a stranger who asks your son’s group to come for a ride in his car. What’s important is that you give your son the tools to help him make the right decision to remove himself from the situation. Making sure the kids have access to at least one cell phone is a great idea, and depending on your comfort level, you can also equip them with emergency whistles and flashlights (just in case they don’t make it back in time before dark). We are also setting some non-negotiable rules — he can’t eat any candy until it’s checked and no crossing any major roads, plus we have clearly defined what streets he needs to stay on.

Making myself semi-comfortable with the situation (and any activity that involves him becoming more independent) was all about telling myself that if I want my son to grow up healthy and well-adjusted, I need to start letting him do things that I might not be ready for him to do. He needs to practice being self-sufficient and I have to work on realizing that if I made him wait to do something until I was totally unworried, he would be married with kids of his own.

So send him out and try to relax. Soon enough he’ll be home and your next big parenting issue will be wondering if you need to ‘fess up for stealing some of his loot.

(And as an aside, on behalf of my husband, make sure you review the etiquette of trick-or-treating with your kids. Nothing drives him more bananas than kids who don’t say “trick-or-treat.” He’ll survive if they don’t say “thank you,” but if our Halloween visitors of any age [there are a couple of exceptions of course] who show up at our door don’t utter that famous phrase, likely aren’t getting candy from him.)

Suzanne: I wish I could be as open-minded about this as Amanda but it really makes my skin crawl. (Obviously you understand that!) It’s just that Halloweeen presents a very different set of circumstances than most other days that your child would be roaming the neighborhood with friends.

Granted there will be other groups around when they are making their way door-to-door but the concept of sending your child unattended up to a stranger’s door is a little too close for comfort for me. At least on a regular day, you could warn about staying away from strangers (and certainly not walking up to a strange home or car).

So if it were me, and my child was making their first foray out into the land of the unknown, I would want to follow along at a distance, just this once. Obviously give them a long leash and, for all the reasons Amanda mentioned, an opportunity to spread their wings.  But you (or another parent) should think about being there both before and after dark (even if undercover trolling along in a car).

And really, as overprotective as I sound right now, I do value experiences that guide a child toward independence. It’s just that while they’re still learning, a safety net can’t hurt.

*****************************************************************

What do you think? What is a reasonable age to let kids go trick-or-treating without parental supervision?

If you have a parenting question that needs two perspectives, send an e-mail to advice@wearebothright.com. We promise not to steal any candy from your Halloween stash!

Pretzels Anyone? A Sugar-less Halloween

This Halloween will be like no other, now that my daughter is a preschooler.  You see, I’ve tried to keep her away from the gobs of Halloween candy that tend to get thrown into the bags of the oh-so-cutest trick or treaters.

But an innocent toddler she is no more.  Last year, I was able to entice her with pretzels instead of lollipops, but I think she will be much wiser to my tricks this year.  Nope, no more toddler yogurt snacks filling in for mini-Musketeers.  This year, she’ll be snubbing her nose at animal crackers and tearing open the Kit Kats.  Guess the party’s over in my world.

Don’t get me wrong, I never was the mom that forbid a gram of sugar from ever coming within 50 feet of my child — but I did put up a valiant effort to impose some limits.  A bag of M&Ms here, a lollipop there was OK with me.  I never used candy as a bribe and even if I did buy the occasional candy reward, my kids knew that they weren’t leaving the store with those dipsticks attached to a bag of pure sugar.

Up until now that is.  My Little Mermaid is going to be swimming her way through a sea of candy, trying to keep up with her big brother who boasted for days after last Halloween that he had filled his treat bag up to the bellyache line.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not one to shy away from a Snickers bar.  I ate peanut M&Ms religiously every afternoon when I was pregnant with L.  Ice cream is still one of my favorite snacks.  So it’s not that I’m trying to spoil the enjoyment of a sweet treat for my kids (or the best holiday of the year), but I twinge at the thought of so MUCH candy.

I guess the best I can do is to keep track of what S. is unwrapping as we make our way from house to house.  My strategy is to steer her toward the chocolate, since there has to be more nutritional value in that than chewy squares of colon-clogging colored corn syrup.

And maybe she’ll be delightfully side-tracked when we happen upon one of those houses that has a bowl full of pennies or (score) a mini-tub of Playdough.

But in the end, it’s one day, and I’ll let her (mindfully) indulge the sweet-tooth she inherited from me.   Once we get home, I can hide the excess of treats from the little one with a short-term memory.  Her brother on the other hand will be making a mental inventory of every last Starburst he brings in, but that’s a story for another day.

Originally published in October, 2010

Our Two Cents: Is It Worth Saying Something to the Pregnant Mom Drinking (and Smoking)?

parenting advice

Cheers... or not. If a pregnant woman decides to drink or smoke, is it an open forum for comments? ©Jim Reilly/stock.xchng

Dear Amanda and Suzanne,

Usually I’m the type of person who keeps my opinions to myself, but last night while out with a group of mom friends I saw something that I wish I had spoke up about.

There’s a woman in our group of friends who is about four months pregnant. I’m not especially close with her, but I do see her when our extended circle of friends gets together every few weeks. Most of the time we take the kids to the park or meet up for lunch, but sometimes we’ll do a girls’ night out at a restaurant, etc.

Well last night we went out to dinner to celebrate two birthdays in the group and a few of the women ordered cocktails or beer — including this pregnant woman. Now I’m all for making your own decisions and obviously you would have to be living under a rock to know that drinking while pregnant is risky. But the kicker is that later on she went outside for a smoke!

When I got over my disbelief, I kept going back and forth in my mind over whether or not I should say anything. None of the other women seemed to bat an eyelash. Then again, maybe they were feeling the same hesitance as me. Should I have spoken up?

–Busting at the Seams

Amanda: In a word, no. I’m going to go ahead and assume that your friend has a brain with working cells. I’m going to assume that she has seen or heard at least one of the million news reports that says smoking while pregnant is a big no-no. And despite all of the information existing out there, study upon study upon study, news reports, PSAs and everything else, she still chose to light up. She knows the risks, she knows it’s selfish. Nothing you are going to say will change that.

If she were a closer friend I might consider talking to her at a different time, a few days after the fact, but not in an accusatory tone. I think I’d just come out and ask her if she was still actively smoking and see where the conversation went. But that’s it. I know it’s tempting, but I don’t think this is your place to play pregnancy police. And while I appreciate your concern for your friend’s unborn child, this is a matter for her. She’s a big girl, she knows what she is doing.

As for the drinking, I need a little more info before offering advice, although it would probably be along the lines of what I said above. I’m one that thinks it’s OK to have a glass of wine on occasion while pregnant. Now, you don’t say how many drinks she had or what exactly it was she was drinking (was it possible she had virgin versions of her cocktails?), so I’m going to stay out of it.

As should you.

Suzanne: It sounds like you are not the type of person who feels the need to weigh in on what’s in the grocery cart of the person ahead of you on line (and suggest that rice cakes are a healthier alternative to potato chips). Just the fact that you made it through the night without saying anything shows that you are aware of the consequences and the most likely outcome of sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.

That said, I can feel your anxiety over this particular situation. First, there’s an unborn child who doesn’t have a say in what is going into his/her fragile body. Secondly, you probably can’t fathom why a woman carrying life would buck best practice and put her baby at risk.

And yet, for all the same reasons Amanda suggests, you might as well forget about saying anything. She is not committing a crime that is punishable or reportable to law enforcement. And no matter how gentle, subtle, or well-worded your input, it’s not likely to be the lightbulb that’s going to make this mom put out her cigarette or pass on a drink.

Our species is stubborn. We don’t like unsolicited advice. No matter how well meaning. And you were probably thinking a few steps ahead to what this woman would say when you pointed out the obvious.

So let it be. She’s going to have to make many more decisions in her child’s life in the years to come. And she will have the final say. As hard as it may be, all you can do is focus on giving the best to any children under your care and just hope for the best as far as everyone else is concerned.

***********************************************

What do you think? Would you have spoken up?

If you have a question that needs two opinions, send an e-mail to advice@wearebothright.com.

Our Two Cents: Finding the Right Pediatrician the First Time Around

How did you choose a pediatrician? Share your tips with this mom-to-be. ©A Patterson/stock.xchng

Dear Suzanne and Amanda:

I feel like I’ve got everything in place for my baby’s arrival next month — except for something really important. I still need to find a pediatrician, but I have no idea where to start.

This is my first baby and some of my friends have given me recommendations, but I feel that if I just go with one of their doctors I will have spent more time picking out bedding for the nursery than choosing a doctor.

Obviously, we are going to depend upon this person a lot in these coming years and I need someone to tell me how you know she/he is “the one.”

–Paging Dr. Who

Amanda: You are right, choosing a pediatrician is a big decision. Like you, I felt a bit overwhelmed. To compensate and make myself feel better, I felt the need to do a lot of homework ahead of time. I made phone calls, Internet searches and read a ton of books on how to find the best doctor for my little one. I was amazed at those who just choose their pediatrician at random, simply flipping through the insurance book and selecting a name that they liked.

But despite all my legwork, that’s essentially what we wound up doing.

T. and I were new to the area when our son C. was born and we didn’t know anyone yet to ask for pediatrician recommendations. We picked some names of doctors out of our insurance book and made appointments to interview them. Dr. Q. was supposed to be our first meeting, but I went to labor the night we were scheduled to go to her office. She seemed nice enough on the phone — she was the only one out of the handful of pediatricians who had called us back herself rather than have a nurse or secretary do it — so when it came time to choose a doctor at the hospital we went with her and haven’t looked back since.

We lucked out. I love our pediatrician, who we’ve been with for nearly eleven (!) years now. The mom to two teenage boys, she has a very calming presence and a seemingly endless amount of patience for my borderline ludicrous inquiries and speculation. Nothing seems to faze her — everything is fixable, nothing is cause for alarm. The few times we have faced a semi-serious situation, she has handled it with a collected aplomb, balancing the delicate tightrope of making sure we knew the severity of what was going on, while assuring us that everything would be OK.

If you want to go with someone that your friends recommend, go for it. After all, they like and are happy with their choices. But if you feel like you need to work for it a little bit, by all means, schedule an appointment ahead of time to interview potential candidates. Ask them how they feel about issues that are important to you — breastfeeding, co-sleeping, crying-it-out and vaccinations. Ask about general office policies — billing, how to reach the doctor in case of emergencies, etc. Then go with your gut.

Not sure you can trust your mothering instincts yet? Before you freak yourself out about the magnitude of it all, remember that you can always change your mind. If you go for a visit and don’t like him or her or aren’t crazy about the pracice, you can always choose someone else.

Good luck and congratulations!

Suzanne: I’m a planner with a capital P and when I got to the page in my pregnancy journal that suggested I interview pediatricians, I have to admit that I balked. Of course, like you say, it is a super important part of getting ready for your baby’s arrival, but in my case, I wasn’t quite sure where this interview process was going to get us.

The web turned up questions I should be asking when going on these interviews (like those suggested by The American Academy of Pediatrics) but I couldn’t help but think that any doctor in his/her right mind would have to be  agreeable to things like the recommended immunization schedule and breastfeeding.

Because really, would you go on a job interview only to sit there and say you don’t want the job? No. That wouldn’t make much sense. So why would these doctors be any different in trying to welcome a new patient?

(OK, maybe you won’t agree on infant ear piercing, but that wasn’t a deal breaker for me. And no, that wasn’t one of my interview questions.)

So I decided not to go to too much trouble conducting these interviews in person. Instead I set aside one lunch hour to make some calls. Among my criteria: proximity to home, multi-physician practice, 24/7 coverage, and of course, a practice that would accept my insurance. The rest would take care of itself, because if I showed up and some ogre was being condescending and had a backward approach to medicine, I would be out the door in no time. It wasn’t like I would be handing my newborn over for a major procedure on our first visit.  I figured I had time to get a feel for how comfortable I was with the personality and approach of whatever practice we chose.

And that’s exactly how it happened. We were lucky to get it right on the first shot, and even though we have since moved a little further from the medical office where the six-physician practice is located, I never hesitated to stay with them. They weren’t affiliated with the hospital where I delivered (also not a deal breaker since there’s always someone to see your baby in the hospital) but they have been there for us for a quick strep test at 8 a.m. on school days and for our 2 a.m. calls about seizures. The primary doctor who sees both my son and daughter has the most comforting way of communicating, and there’s nothing he’s said that I haven’t trusted (being a cynic working in the medical field, that means a lot).

So I encourage you to go with your gut instinct. Don’t sweat the “process” but make some calls and let that surging mother’s intuition do its job. And if it’s not exactly what you envisioned once the relationship is underway, feel free to take one of your friends up on a recommendation. By the time baby is here, you will have a better feel for what matters in a pediatrician and who will be the most supportive of the parenting style you develop.

Best to you and the baby!

**********************************

How did you choose a pediatrician? Any additional advice for Dr. Who?

If you’ve got a question that needs two answers, send an e-mail to advice@wearebothright.com.