We Are Both Right

Following a One Kid/One Room Formula

©veralu/stock.xchng

In Amanda's house, siblings do not share a bedroom. How about in yours? ©veralu/stock.xchng

I can pretty much guarantee that my husband and I won’t be adding a fourth child to our brood. And while I have plenty of physical, emotional and financial reasons to keep that promise, my grounds are really driven by aesthetics.

We have three kids. We have four bedrooms in our house. We have no desire to move for the moment. Ergo, we will not be having any more children.

I understand that siblings sharing a room is hardly the end of the word, that millions (billions) do it all the time and grow up to live normal, happy existences, but for me, giving my kids their own room — a space that they can call entirely their own — is really important.

Houses are a public space. Our house isn’t tremendous and unless no one else is home, it’s rare that you find yourself alone in any room in the house (not counting the bathroom). I feel like giving kids their own room is giving them a haven. A place where their stuff stays safe, away from the prying hands and eyes of siblings; a place where they can sit and read or listen to music or just in silence; a place where they can just be alone. More importantly, their own room is also a place where they can keep their own mess and their own bedtime.

The funny thing is, I don’t think either of my older children would mind sharing a room with their younger brother at all. In fact, I think they would welcome it. When I was pregnant, we didn’t know what we were having. My son and daughter would fight with each other on whose room the baby would sleep in. Never mind that they were eight and six years older than their soon-to-be-born sibling. For them, the thought of having the baby in their room was terrific. (The baby, a boy, wound up sleeping in mine and my husband’s room for a little over a year, then we did some room swapping where we lost our office.)

Now that their baby sibling is a little brother (and one going through the toddler years at that), they still say they want to share a room with him, but their pleas are a bit less enthusiastic.

How does it work in your house? Did you share a room with a sibling when you were growing up?

While Suzanne’s kids don’t share a room, she wouldn’t mind it if they needed to.

Originally published October 3, 2011

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?

Becoming a Healthy Mom by Following My Toddler’s Example

healthy moms

Thanks to her toddler, Amanda won't be needing these. ©stockxchng/pawel_231

I have figured it out. The secret to weight loss. And the best part is, you don’t need to join a gym or invest in some expensive exercise DVDs or starve yourself for weeks at a time. Nope. All unnecessary. All you need to do to lose some weight is to get yourself a toddler and then do exactly what he does. Voilá! Pounds shred!

(Hmm. I guess I should be clearer. Don’t do everything your little one does. Ignore certain aspects of common toddler behavior – no nose picking, wall drawing, crayon eating or anything like that. No, what I’m talking about is trying to emulate and harness all that energy tiny people seem to have.)

For example, take my son. He never walks. Never. Anytime he needs to go anyplace he’ll run. Or trot. Or skip. Or crawl. But he never walks (unless we are going someplace he doesn’t want to go. Then he’s Tommy the Turtle). Imagine all the pounds you could shred if you stopped simply walking and started moving. Really moving. It would be amazing. (And tiring.)

An optional add-on to this method is to make noises that correspond to the activity that you are doing. For example, if you are crawling, be sure to say “Bark! Bark! I’m a dog! Bark! Bark!” or if you are skipping, yell loud and clear “I’M AN AIRPLANE!” Note that these add-ons don’t really contribute to your weight loss, but they certainly help set the mood. Also, anyone in your path is sure to steer clear of you, so no more lines at the supermarket!

So you say, “Fine, I’ll start galloping around the mall and neighing and hopping on one foot while I’m on line at the post office while singing ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’. But all that extra activity is going to make me want to eat more, right?” No! That’s the beauty of the Toddler Weight Loss Plan (patent pending). According to my research, apparently not! My son exists solely on apples, plain macaroni and two bites of frozen pancakes each day and his energy levels are still through the roof!

One of the best parts of this new exercise regimen is the clothing. Say goodbye to fancy workout garb and say hello to a superhero cape! (Or a princess dress, whichever you prefer!) Put them on, insist on wearing them wherever you go and you are good to go!

There are a few simple rules to follow if you want to make the plan work properly.

  1. No sitting still. Ever. Even if someone is reading you a book, after three minutes you need to start squirming in your seat.
  2. Be prepared to fall asleep at the strangest times in the strangest places. (Hey, you are using up all that energy after all!)

So that’s it! The easy-peasy, no fuss (unless you feel like throwing a temper tantrum, which is totally allowed) Toddler Weight Loss Plan. I’m starting it this week. Let me know if it works for you.

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!

11 Years Later, Still Parenting by the Seat of My Pants

There is a small potty chair in the middle of my living room. Not surprising when you consider we have a two-and-a-half-year-old living here, but downright shocking if you know my take on potty training.

No potty seats and certainly not in the living room. You learn to do your business on the toilet on a potty ring. In the bathroom.

So why do I have a toddler watching television as he attempts to go to the bathroom?

Because he’s my third child and I’m tired and desperate.

To be fair, I didn’t buy the potty seat. It was sent to me to review for one of my other writing jobs. I had considered passing it off to someone else, but then I re-evaluated my stance when S. took an interest in the box.

Now our living room is one step above a public restroom, but at least he’s sitting on an actual toilet with his pants down, which is something he wouldn’t do yesterday. (Small victories people. It’s all about the small, strange victories when you’re a mom.)

potty training chair arm and hammer potty munchkin

We do need a new chair for the living room, but I was thinking recliner. ©Arm & Hammer/Munchkin

The potty ring isn’t the only way I’ve changed in my style of mothering. With nearly nine years separating kid number one from kid number three it isn’t surprising that we do things differently (and a are a bit more relaxed). As a one-week old, youngest child S. was being carted around to Little League games where I would nurse him in the stands and chat with the other moms and dads. When our eldest C. was a week old, we would maybe, possibly venture out for a walk if the weather was just perfect. If we were in public when it was time for him to nurse I’d whisk him away to a private place where we would be left alone.

Obviously, my thoughts (and consequently my parenting style) have changed on lots of things — some major, some minor — and while I’m not shocked by it, I am interested in my evolution from a know-it-all-yet-panicked first-time mom to a quite zen, oh-let-him-drink-soda-once-in-a-while third-time mommy.

And apparently a woman who encourages public urination.

How has your parenting style changed over the years? What is one thing you swore you’d never do that you do now?

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.

Best Of: Advice on Being a Mom

What motherly words of advice were like a life saver for you? © Arjun Kartha / stock.xchng

Whether it’s your very first Mother’s Day or your twentieth, you have undoubtedly received some great advice that helped you along the way.

You know the kind we mean. The few words that picked you up when you needed it most. Or the detailed instructions that got you through those first few days home with baby.

Whatever they were and whoever uttered them — those words of wisdom made you realize that you were not alone in the sometimes overwhelming world of motherhood.

We’re sharing ours and we hope you will too:

AMANDA: One of the best pieces of advice about motherhood came, from all people, my husband. Now while he’s a great dad and the best father for my children that I could ever want or hope for, he is undoubtedly not a mother, nor will he ever be.

Still, I will always be grateful for his words of wisdom.

Start a blog.

I know, it’s not a sentimental pearl. Heck, it can’t even be classified as practical. But it was what I needed at the time and personally and professionally changed my life.

For years I had been writing professionally. Writing. Writing. Writing. My dream right? I thought so. Except I wasn’t happy. I was in a total rut. Because for all the words I was churning out on a daily basis, none of them were mine really. It’s not like I was plagiarizing or anything, but I wasn’t writing for me. I was writing what other people wanted me to write. And I was tired.

And then I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with my youngest. We were freaked to say the least. I mean, we had talked about maybe having a third, but I think we were just about over it. My elder two were in elementary school, I had just lost about 35 pounds (all the baby weight!) — we were happy with our little unit just the way it was. And then two lines.

Big picture I was excited, but acutely, I was overwhelmed. Totally on so many levels. T. and I decided to keep the pregnancy under wraps for a while — we wanted our kids to be the first to know and before we told them about their new little sibling, we wanted to be sure everything was OK. The problem was, I was having trouble not talking about the pregnancy to my family and friends, especially under the surprise circumstances. I was hormonal. I was having mood swings. And I had no outlet, except for one person. And I think he was tired of hearing me talk.

So in his infinite wisdom, or maybe it was desperation, my husband suggested I start a blog.

The thing was, blogging definitely helped me work through my feelings, but it did other things too. Because suddenly I was writing again. Really writing. Like back in high school, dear diary, writing for myself writing. My voice was there all along, I just hadn’t been using it.

It felt so good to write what I wanted and how I wanted to write it. Not the repurposing I was doing in my paid jobs — press releases and stories on parenting that had been written umpteen times. But the funny thing was, the more I wrote about the soon-to-be-S., the more relaxed I became with my other projects. Everything improved. It was amazing.

So short term, the blog was helping me professionally and emotionally. But as time went on, I realized it had a much greater, valuable purpose. It’s S.’s history — his life and my pregnancy with him.

Now I haven’t been as good as I used to be as writing in it, but when I go back and look, I can not only read about S.’s “firsts” in great detail, but incidents and milestones that I would never think to record in a baby book. Funny yarns like the time C. lost S.’s exersaucer and all of his funny nicknames, as well as things from my pregnancy like how I was a childbirth class delinquent.

When I look at C.’s and A.’s baby books I see a lot dates and grasp at fuzzy details at the edge of my memory. When I read the blog about S., I remember.

SUZANNE:  It was my first job out of college and I was an assistant in the public relations office of a hospital. At the helm was this vibrant woman in her forties who was the best mentor you could want. She was a Fulbright Scholar. Be it in the Board Room or on Broadway, she had stage presence. She spoke as passionately about breastfeeding as she did her career. She was a fabulous cook, a gardener and looked as put together in Chanel as she did a barn jacket. In other words, you could say she knew a little about doing it all.

And even though I worked for her years before I had my first child, there was one piece of advice from her that I never forgot.

Superwoman. Stupid woman.

Yes, that was her advice. The woman who seemingly did it all said you were stupid if you thought you could do it all.

Which means a lot more to me now than it did then.

By nature, I’m the consummate multi-tasker. I feel accomplished when I fill my days to the max. But lately it seems to have reached a crescendo. My mind is now racing around the clock. My children are seeing way too much of a harried mom who is short on energy.

And I’m beginning to realize that if I keep pushing the limits, instead of having it all, I might actually lose it all. How I wish she was still around to ask her what to do next.

But I guess that’s the thing about advice. It’s like someone coming along and cleaning the eyeglasses you didn’t even know were dirty. And then it’s up to you to find your own way.

Or meet someone with some more great advice.

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What’s the best advice you’ve received since becoming a mom? What advice would you give to a mom-to-be? (Besides telling them to visit We Are Both Right!)

Our Two Cents: When Should a Child Use a Public Restroom Alone?

©clambert/stock.xchng

Is there a right age for letting a child use a public restroom alone? ©clambert/stock.xchng

Dear Amanda and Suzanne:

Last weekend, a friend and I went to the history museum with our kids. We each have a nine-year-old son and she also has a six-year-old daughter.

After lunch the boys both said they had to go to the bathroom and I was shocked when she said she was going to bring her son into the ladies’ room instead of letting him go to the men’s room with my son. Now I’m as cautious as the next mom, but I don’t think a nine-year-old boy belongs in the ladies’ room any more than a little girl belongs in the men’s room. I planned to stand outside the door and give my son the same words of caution I always do when I send him in alone, and even said to her that they would be better off going in together. But she insisted, and took her son in with her instead.

Obviously, she’s entitled to make her own decisions about the safety of her kids, but what’s the right age to expect that your son will have to be responsible for himself in the men’s room when you’re out in public places?

– Bathroom Breaker

Suzanne:

Well thank goodness there are a lot more of those “family restrooms” popping up in public places. It’s so much better when either a mom or dad can bring any or all of the kids into a private bathroom and not have to worry about making these tough choices. But obviously, when that isn’t a option you still have to resign yourself to (a) embarrassing your child and bringing him into a place where he doesn’t quite fit in, or (b) holding your breath and hoping for the best as you send him behind closed doors where you don’t belong.

I’ve been in both camps at one point or another, and as you saw with you and your friend, no mom is going to budge from doing what she feels is right for her child at a specific time and place. Well except maybe the child’s other parent.

My husband was the one to convince me to let our son go to a bathroom in a restaurant by himself for the first time when he was around seven. “We can see him going in and coming out from here,” my husband said attempting to reassure me. “There’s only one way out.” Humph, I thought, my mind overtaken by images of evildoers, small windows and back doors. He was fine. And from then on, my biggest concern is always if he washed his hands and avoided the door handle on the way out.

But if I ever had to travel with my son alone (and he’s almost nine now) I’m not quite sure I still wouldn’t run him into the ladies’ room at an airport. I think this is where the mommy math comes in, a formula only your subconscious can calculate. It’s something along the lines of your child’s age multiplied by the number of bathroom stalls divided by how many times you twitched thinking about your innocent little child going through those doors alone.

So leave it to your friend to find her own comfort zone and be confident in knowing that for you and your son, the time has already come.

Amanda: When I was younger, I would go out alone with my dad somewhat frequently. And, as children are want to do on occasion, I would have to go to the bathroom. So he’d bring me to the entrance of the women’s room and promise he would stand outside and wait until I was done.

“Scream if you need me,” he’d say in a loud, booming voice, making sure that everyone around knew that he was waiting for me.

If I took too long (or maybe he’d do it anyway) he would call inside the door, asking if I was O.K. As a tween, I remember being somewhat embarrassed by his blatant display of fathering, but now as the mother of three, I admire my dad for his boldness and sometimes am tempted to employ his methods. Because this is a question I struggle with myself. Not only with my 10-year-old son who wouldn’t be caught dead with me in a women’s room but with my 8-year-old daughter who would rather I didn’t accompany her either.

My kids do go to public restrooms alone. I allow it because I do feel like they are old enough and I need to start letting go (a little). Still, I’m not happy about it. But this is one of those situations where a parent (and only a parent) has to make this call.

I don’t think there is a set age for allowing a child to use a public restroom alone — my neighbor still brings her 11-year-old son into the ladies room with her, much to his chagrin. I think the key is, to make sure your child is aware of where they are going, what they need to do when they get there and that they need to do it all quickly. They should also be told what to do if something goes wrong.

Whether we like it or not, that’s what parenting is lots of times, isn’t it? Giving your child the proper tools and then letting them use them. Watching them grow up.

(And taking comfort in the knowledge that you can always stand outside the door and shout if you need to.)

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How does it work when you are out with your children? Is there a good age to let a child use a public restroom alone?

If you have a question that needs more than one answer, send us an e-mail at advice@wearebothright.com

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.

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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!).

Best of: The Baby Product We Couldn’t Do Without

©just4you/stock.xchng

He's adorable, but he also comes with a lot of stuff. What is your baby gear must-have? ©just4you/stock.xchng

Everybody has one. Usually different from person to person, just a solitary mention inspires a passionate soliloquy (complete with bullet points and a Power Point presentation) from you on its excellence and necessity. It’s your sanity saver, getting you through sleepless nights and showerless days and you wonder why people aren’t taking to the streets, singing its praises.

It’s the baby product you can’t do without (and your go-to gift for baby showers).

Read ours and then share yours below!

Amanda:

Boppy Nursing Pillow

Do you remember those first few days after you bring home your first baby? There really is nothing like it. And unless you’ve lived it, there is no explaining it. I remember feeling like I was in a weird fog. Simultaneously both deliriously happy and scared witless out of my mind, I felt like every decision was IMPORTANT, had a great impact on my son’s future and I needed to get it right, no matter how inconsequential it would be under normal circumstances. Up is down, left is right, ice cream is a plate of liver and onions. Nothing was what it usually was.

I don’t know if breastfeeding mothers especially feel this way, but I remember feeling particularly flummoxed in the food department. My sweet newborn C. and I were having a bit of trouble with his feeding positions and no matter what hold I tried, I just couldn’t get us both comfortable. It was freaking me out and causing me great consternation across the board. It was affecting everything I did. (Seriously, I was a bit of a mess.)

Enter the Boppy.  I don’t know who introduced it to me or how I wound up with one, but I definitely got it after C. came home from the hospital. It quickly became my lifeline. It was like putting on a pair of glasses and then realizing that you couldn’t see before. Thanks to this 0h-so-simple-yet-so-brilliant, nursing pillow, feeding my son became amazingly easier. He was comfortable, I was comfortable and we were both happy. Amazing what a bit of brightly-colored fabric and some stuffing sewn into a funny shape can do.

Suzanne:

HALO SleepSack

As soon as the pregnancy hormones kicked in, this Suzy Safety went into red alert mode.  The car seat installation got checked and rechecked. Outlet covers and cabinet locks were ready to go before my first contraction hit. And my baby registry included not a single crib blanket — not even the adorable quilt that matched the nursery decor.

I had read enough about SIDS and learned that any type of loose bedding, including blankets, pillows and even stuffed animals, could pose a suffocation hazard to a baby. So to say we went the minimalist route when it came to outfitting our son’s crib would be an understatement. Even the once overlooked crib bumper got the heave-ho.

All was well and good until winter snuck up on us. With snow piled against the front door and the heat up as high as our budget could withstand, I reached into the drawers looking for the thickest set of baby pajamas I could find.  My hand brushed across a soft fleece fabric, and instead of pulling out the footed pajamas I expected, I came up with a mini sleeping bag of sorts. This yellow sack wasn’t something I had bought, and I honestly didn’t remember getting it as a gift, but it was exactly what I needed.

Then again, necessity is the mother of invention, right? That pretty much sums up the idea behind the HALO SleepSack, the wearable blanket that is endorsed by leading SIDS organizations in the U.S. and Canada. It represents everything we want for our babies — to be safe, snug and sleeping, of course — that I now include at least one in every baby gift I give.

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OK, we shared, now it’s your turn. What baby product is your absolute favorite? Why?