The Middle Wife

The Birth Story through the eyes of a 7 year old

The ‘Middle Wife’ by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher

I’ve been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they’re welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. ‘This is Luke, my baby brother, and I’m going to tell you about his birthday.’

‘First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom’s stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.’

She’s standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I’m trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

‘Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts going, ‘Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!’ Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. ‘She walked around the house for, like an hour, ‘Oh, oh, oh!’ (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

‘My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn’t have a sign on the car like the Domino’s man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.’ (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)

‘And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!’ (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)

‘Then the middle wife starts saying ‘push, push,’ and ‘breathe, breathe.
They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom’s play-center, so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there in the first place.’

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat.

I’m sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, when it’s Show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another ‘Middle Wife’ comes along.

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The Battles Begin!

Wait, what happened!

This tiny little human has a mind of its own!

And very soon the battles begin….

“You love your child and value your child’s progress. That’s wonderful and important. And I know that sometimes its easy to get single-mindedly caught up in achieving a particular milestone with your child. In your pursuit of your child’s progress, though, it is essential to temporarily relinquish any goal as soon as it causes a control battle with your child. In fact, control battles are one of the most disabling dealings you can have with your child. You want to avoid them whenever possible (except when safety is involved, of course.)” (Kaufman pg.133)

“WAIT! STOP RIGHT THERE! I’M THE BOSS AND IF I GIVE IN WHEN MY CHILD WANTS HIS OWN WAY AND TURNS TO MONSTER MODE, I RELINQUISH MY AUTHORITY AND CONTROL AS A PARENT! THAT IS NOT ONLY SCARY, BUT IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! “

But what you do not understand is that when you are controlling you GIVE UP your control automatically anyway. 

Think about this…in your own life:

“When people…are in the throes of an experience where they don’t have control, don’t have understanding, and have too much input to process, [as all humans feel] they react in very particular ways. They put everything they have into gaining a sense of control. They seek out situations where they can exert their own autonomy, rather than having their experience dictated to them. And they powerfully resist any efforts to impose control upon them.” pg. 134

It is amazing that children have an innate fighting instinct to recognize when they feel threatened and out of control in a given situation and FIGHT to regain it no matter how big and powerful the opponent is. Even when we are taking about a tiny being who may not  walk or even talk yet,  and do not have a mature understanding of what they are doing.

“Think of a rope with a knot in it. I am holding fast to one end and you to the other. The harder you pull, the tighter the knot gets—’cause I ain’t letting go. You can never release the knot by pulling harder. The only way to release the knot is to let the rope go so that there is enough slack in it for the knot to loosen.”

“The key to understand is this: if you want your child to be less controlling (and thus more flexible and able to learn more, grow more, and ultimately achieve more goals), you have to give your child as much control as possible.”

“Most people’s first response when dealing with a controlling child is to try to “break” the child of his controlling behavior by wresting [forcing] control back from him.

Example: “YOU WILL EAT THIS OR ELSE! SIT THERE UNTIL IT IS ALL EATEN! I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT!” (And the child sits there and won’t eat…because you forced them to sit there.)

“Some of you might think: To function in the world, my child has to get used to doing things the right way, so I have to get him to do this particular thing the correct way now.”

“For others of you, the situation may be more in-the-moment  pragmatic. You might think: I just have to get my child to brush his teeth (for example), and we’ll be done. I know he’s fighting me now, but soon it will be over, and it will be worth it because he’ll have clean teeth.”

“If either of these scenarios resonates with you, it’s not only normal, it is totally understandable. You love your child,….but you have a million things you are juggling at once, and sometimes you may just be trying to get through your day.”

The problem is that going down this road with your child will end up being highly counterproductive. Asserting control over someone who is controlling leads to the person becoming more controlling, not less. You see, when your child’s control is challenged, he will feel compelled to dig his heels in and fight to reestablish control and personal autonomy.

But you see what happens is that “as you address the issue…you compromise interaction and learning long-term because you get a child who is not only more controlling but also associates learning or doing something that you want with coercion and unpleasantness.” pg. 136

The interaction between you and your child in this situation now loses harmony and the action you are both trying to control becomes contentious and negative. And when it happens over and over the control anger-meter rises, creating negative energy and unproductive growth. 

Oh they can be forced because you are bigger and stronger. But you will teach them by fear not trust and your actions will give them a very loud message. That they do not have control. Then other symptoms will appear…

anxiety

withdrawal

tantrums

delays

refusing even if they want something

This is not about allowing your child free reign without boundaries. This is not about not having them brush their teeth or sit at the table to eat. But it is about learning how to evaluate yourself as an adult and as a parent and to be the one who raises the white flag when the battle begins, because you are the more wiser of the opponents. It is about being attentive to why your child is trying to be in control because it is usually about being afraid, not understanding, not developmentally ready, or simply wanting more time. They are not trying to oppose you just to make you mad. They are telling you messages constantly with and without their words. Listen, look, empathize and give in or shape a situation to dissolve impending battles. Battles are counter productive in childhood. 

I promise you…

you will get better eaters-

better sleepers-

better and kinder players-

potty trained children-

better talkers-

children who do not bully or withdraw-

 a happier family atmosphere-

children who feel safe to grow and make decisions-

Don’t take my words or the words from the book quotes…

Try it and see for yourself….

Your life will change but mostly the life of your child who wants to feel she has control of her life too.

 

Raun K. Kaufmans. (2014)...The Groundbreaking Method that has Helped Families All Over the World. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so glad I do it wrong!

Self soothing is the newest fad for hipster and millennial parents’ bedtime rituals.

You read ‘how’ on your electronic device you surfed, “How to get my child to sleep before I go crazy!” from child sleep experts who have completed long term child studies.

You put your baby/child in a bed.

You hug and kiss them, close the door in the dark room,

and then…

they eventually go to sleep all by themselves.

They teach themselves self soothing strategies all by themselves! Millennial babies are intelligent.

No night light,

no timing to check on them after they have cried for 45 minutes..or was it 30 minutes? I can’t seem to remember the older text books…,

…no long drives to relax them or stop them from crying so loud,

absolutely no rocking chairs…no way!

Twenty first century new age children self soothe and that is the up-to-date parenting fad.

Mommies and daddies must get on to important grown up evening time.

I am a witness!! It’s incredible…

Parents have the evening for quiet relaxation, work, sex, and even chocolate.

Journal Entry: June 2017

Last night Luke covered his little eyes with his blue, brown and white soft blankets, letting me quietly whisper while massaging his fingers and counting them; one, two, three, four, five…then circling his palm and dot it in the middle… with a boop! I could feel his little body relax. To stay awake he would silently try to count his fingers on his own but then would hand me his hand. He plops his leg over my waist to scratch, but also to make sure I am still on the bed next to him; like a sort of seat belt to keep me strapped close. As he quiets, he holds my hand just to know I won’t leave and then he finally closes his eyes and succumbs to the sand man’s spell. I sing quietly while I listen to his breath in rhythm. It calms me as I lay still while next to him with his hand still holding mine tightly. Every single night and nap time, while mommy and daddy have been away, I have laid next to this three year old little man just as I did with every single one of my own babies, scratching their legs and arms while quietly talking about the day  or telling them stories as it changes to night. It was cozy time then and now. Time to create peace for them. Time to show them that calm can be part of their day. Time to show them that when night time comes, I am still close; still here.

This is not proper anymore. It is not teaching them how to fall asleep on their own. How to self soothe. I have done it wrong all these years. My babies don’t even remember, but I do! And, oh, as I now do it with my grandchildren, I think to myself,

‘I would not trade this moment for all the jewels in the world.’

Bless your self-soothed baby’s heart, who sits in a huge dark room in a bed cuddling a lovey for security all alone figuring out strategies to self soothe. They are champs.

I may be more tired than you as you make passionate love in the early evening, or eat your secret ice cream stash watching your favorite show earlier than me, but I am creating cozy with a child I adore. I am filling up a soul. And when I do it I not only give, but I get more back in return.

I’m so glad I do it wrong!

Oh my dears…I’m going to stay old fashioned forever.

 

 

Quiet Fireworks

Fourth of July fireworks is a beautiful celebration except for those who are afraid of loud noises with hearing sensitivity; which is most little kids.

Here is a cool and fun alternative for your little ones to be “in control” of their own tiny firework’s show. It is a win win project for adults too because the cleanup cleans for you.

Supplies:

  • White household vinegar

  • baking soda

  • cake pan or cookie sheet with sides

  • cupcake tin or bowls

  • Inexpensive grocery store food coloring (red and blue if you only want to stay with the Americana theme)

  • small spoon

  • Extra: paper towels, small bowl of clean water if you have a child with sensory issues.

  • counter and stool or chair for your child/children to stand on

  • a ready camera on video mode!

Directions:

Bring your child to the counter and allow them to help you pour a thin layer of baking soda to cover the entire bottom of a cake pan. It looks like snow so have your child bring their cars to drive in it, or water resistant dolls or animals to play in the dry snow. While your child is doing that pour some vinegar into the cupcake tins or bowls. Have your child help you squirt food coloring in each receptacle of the cupcake tin or bowls. Have ready a bowl of clean water where you child can access it if they feel they need to stay clean and have paper towels ready if they desire to dry their hands.

Do NOT demonstrate. Allow them to discover the firework show themselves. Have them spoon some “vinegar paint” into the snow to make their own sizzling colorful fireworks. Allow the child to do it over their toys and play in it. I guarantee you will want to do it too!!!

I found that even if they pour one of their full bowls of vinegar paint in the pan with a huge sizzle, that it will continue to make little tiny sizzles for as long as the baking soda is activated while they continue to spoon another color.

It is great fun and a more gentle quiet way to celebrate the 4th of JULY for little ears.

It‘s a blast!

When done dump the entire thing down your kitchen drain and it will refresh and clean it. Rinse off the pans and spoons and wah-lah..done!

(Food coloring sometimes takes a bit of scrubbing off counters or even fingers, but it is not permanent!)

Have fun with it!

 

The Giggle Box

It’s in the bag of goodies that comes with babies.

Did you check?

It’s right next to “The Mother Book.”

Oh, well, that’s okay. I’m sure you will find it.

It just has those bullet point reminders how and when to laugh with childhood,

not at it.

Because having a child is so hard and silly and stressful you just have to fall down laughing at all the things you will experience.

Nothing will bring you more stomach aches with worry

but also more joy

than living with that little thing

called your very own child;

and the instructions inside that giggle box.

Laugh together in love…your whole life!

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