Category Archives: Cranky Parenting

Cranky Parenting: Talking about Private Parts

Posted by: Maggie

Last night I was talking with a new friend about Eleanor and she remarked that preschoolers don’t have filters. They just say whatever comes to mind. That is absolutely the case with Eleanor. It’s something we’ve been having some issues learning to deal with lately, especially when talking about “private parts.”  We’re struggling with teaching her that some things are “private,” while still being honest and open and avoiding creating any kind of shame about her body. And I have to tell you this is tough!

We are super open about nudity in this house. We don’t cover up around Eleanor and we answer any question she has about her body or ours in as honest a way as possible. We don’t use cutesy names for body parts. A doctor on Oprah years ago recommended that sex education begin as early as possible, and that starts with using the proper names for body parts. Using silly names for your kids’ body parts can foster shame in them. So in our house, a Penis is a Penis. A Vulva is a Vulva. Yup, you read that right. We use the absolute proper names. If you didn’t know, the entire external female genitalia is the vulva. The vagina is just the inside part. For some reason everyone started using vagina for the whole works and I guess that’s what has stuck.

Here’s where the problem comes. I am thrilled she uses the proper names and shows absolutely zero shame about her body and her private parts. EXCEPT that she wants to talk about everybody else’s body parts. Like at the store, with people that are walking by. If she were a forty-year-old man instead a three-year-old girl, she’d have been arrested by now. AND she thinks it’s cool to run around naked when we have guests. Actually she seems to be aware that there is something interesting about streaking because she laughs uproariously when she does it! None of this bothers me, but it sure does make other people uncomfortable. So we’ve been trying to explain to her that it’s fine to be naked with Mommy and Daddy, but that it’s polite to wear clothes in front of guests. And that other people don’t want to talk about their penis or vulva. She’s not really getting it, or if she does she either forgets or doesn’t care. This leads to a lot of awkward, uncomfortable moments. Like that time she ran around patting everyone’s crotch while singing a song about it.

How do you handle talking to your kids about their private parts? Any tips on getting them to understand what private means?

Cranky Parenting: The Birthday Party Policy

Posted by: Maggie

I started fifth grade in a new school the summer after my parents divorced. I’ve never been great at making new friends, not even as a kid. So, it took a while for me to make a few friends. I spent most of my recesses and lunch hours sitting alone reading a book. It wasn’t really a bad thing. I wasn’t miserable. That’s how I preferred to spend time, escaping into stories, and still prefer to spend much of my time. But that meant that by the time my birthday came around in February, I still hadn’t made many friends.

My dad threw a birthday party for me, and following proper classroom etiquette, the entire class of 30 or so was invited.  Two people came.  Just two.  I remember having fun with those two, one of whom was and remained a good friend through high school. But I also remember that only two people came to my party. And that is the only birthday party of my childhood that I remember at all.

As soon as Eleanor started preschool the birthday party invitations started coming home with her.  We have missed only one, because we were out of town. I don’t particularly like going to them. I’m not crazy about having to go shopping to find a gift once a month. I’m not a big fan of making small talk with the other parents while the kids play. I’m not crazy about the Chuck E Cheese, Bounce Room, and Park locations. There really is a lot that I don’t like about kids’ parties.  BUT I’ve made a policy that Eleanor will go to every party that she is invited to until she is in high school.  Now that I’m a parent I’ve made the decision, that as much of a hassle as it might be, and as much as she may not want to go to a particular classmate’s party, I will not do to any child what those 28 plus sets of parents did to me. Made me feel like the least popular girl in the class. It may have been true, but I shouldn’t have been made to feel it.

What’s your birthday party policy? Do you go to all of them? Skip them all? Do you let your kid choose which one they want to go to?

Eleanor Needs a Sibling

Posted by: Maggie

I think Eleanor has gone too long as an only child. She seems to think that she is an equal to Mom & Dad. And possibly even the boss of this house. I think a sibling is what she needs to understand that everything isn’t up to her alone. It’s not a bad thing necessarily.  I’m glad that she is not shy around other adults and always stands up for herself against other kids. She’s a very social and fearless little girl anyway, but I think it also has to do with how we treat her.

We do our best to treat her as respectfully as we want her to treat us or anyone else. We ask her “please” and tell her “thank you.” We rarely command her to do anything, unless it’s punishment. We always try to ask her nicely to do things we want her to do (while letting her know that what we’re asking isn’t optional). We also let her have a say in what activities we are going to do and some other family decisions. But we might be a little too deferential to her wishes. Josh and I are, after all, the more flexible ones and we prefer to avoid a conflict and ensuing meltdown. And we do want her to understand that her wishes and feelings matter. Just because she’s a child doesn’t mean that she can’t have any control over her life.

BUT then again, she does need to learn to be flexible with others and respectful of what they want. We should probably be doing a little more to give her chances to learn that lesson. I think a sibling is just what she needs to teach her that. Well, we’re working on it.

In the meantime, we can enjoy the hilarity that is Eleanor, the little Mama dishing out praise and punishment. “Good job Daddy! You cooked a great dinner! Good work!” “Mama if you yell, you are going to have to go on a time out and then you can’t have any treats!” It’s about the funniest thing you’ve ever heard. The best one so far, “Mama if you don’t get me a snack right now, you and Daddy can’t live here anymore! You will have to move out!”

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