Category Archives: WTF?

Saying I Do (again) to my Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saying “I Do” (Again) to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”

“What do you mean he don’t eat no meat?”

As many of you know while there is no shortage of talent, there is lack of roles for women in Hollywood, from actual roles to writers and directors. Vardalos knew that this was her opportunity to do something about it. The awesome thing too, was that there were great roles for women of several generations in the film, one of the lines ringing true: “we come from a long line of strong women.”

 

The movie had a primary focus of the mother daughter dynamic between Paris and Toula. However, delightfully beefed up, were the roles of Maria and Voula, reprised by stage and screen veterans Lainie Kazan and Andrea Martin. When asked if she had improvised at all, the ever funny Martin replied “You don’t need to improvise with her script. So I probably interpret it in a different way than maybe somebody else would, but that’s the script.”

How to Grow Your Tween’s Self Esteem

originally posted on www.WhattheFlicka.com by Erin K. Moffat

My Mom has a friend whose daughter is having a difficult time in middle school, and it has spurred a few conversations. Apparently, she is not only being bullied by her peers, but by a parent who is texting her, and getting more catty then a Middle School student. WTF is that about? I can see getting involved in a productive way, but a grown woman texting a 12 year old and calling them awful names? There is definitely a problem here, and what are you teaching your kid?

Through a crazy twist of fate I ended up volunteering at the same dinner as this little girl. There was a situation and coincidentally I ended up sticking up for her. She reminded me of me. I didn’t know until later that night that it was the same girl. How awesome is that?

There are moments when I feel like that little girl. That tween who was just too innocent and naïve to be cool, and I realize that everyone was afraid of something at that age. We’re all afraid of something still! Hopefully, you find your Romy to your Michelle and make it through life less scathed.

My birthday is in August and the year I was going into 7th grade no one came to my birthday party. Before you feel sorry for me just know that while there are moments I’m haunted by this, it’s more that I’m haunted because I know some kid somewhere is facing the same struggle or worse.

It turns out the girls all conspired that I wasn’t “cool,” enough and they would RSVP and then just not show up. They thought that it was really funny, but for me I thought that it defined my worth. I’ve since forgiven those girls. One even apologized.

I was also that kid that just kept going back in for more because I just really wanted to be liked. The same girl that didn’t come to my birthday party was telling me to ask my Mom what a condom was so she could laugh at me. My poor mother was caught so off guard.

I know that it can be difficult. On one hand you want to help your kid, and on the other hand you want to teach them to fight their own battles. I think that we think that once kids are at that self-sufficient age of tying their own shoelaces, washing their own ass, and telling you that you’re annoying and they don’t need you. I’m pretty sure that I can tell you from experience that that is when they need you the most.

Beyond unconditional love, which is super important, here are a few things that may have helped me. I hope that everyone can help each other and it opens up a dialogue…

1. COMMUNICATION: How do you communicate? Do you communicate? Pass each other notes under the dinner table? Do you talk it out? Have a family meeting? Dance it out? What works for you? (Find a way!)

2. RESPECT: you can treat your kid with respect, respect their privacy, and still be aware of what they’re up to.

3. DA TRUF: Be honest and open with them. I didn’t know my Mom was ever 12.

4. WHERE ARE YOU WALKING: Teach them that sometimes the best answer is to take the high road…

5. LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Tell them that it’s okay to stick up for themselves, and know that you’re allowed to stick up for yourself too.

6. NO CELL PHONE RULE: Put your electronics down and really listen to your kids even if they’re being assholes. (Even if you think that they don’t deserve it) I’m not saying to coddle but I’m saying to treat them with respect.

7. YOU ARE WORTHY: Don’t put yourself down in front of them. This breeds similar behavior. Know your worth too!

8. THE SILENT TREATMENT: If they won’t talk to you find someone in your life, maybe even a neutral person that they will talk to and make sure that they are super present.

9. CONTROL: Be specific with your words, and honest about yourself. Do you mean right now or can you wait for them to complete a task? Don’t ask them to do something later, but you mean right now. (I felt like I had no control as a kid.)

10. VALIDATE their worth, their likes, their dreams and goals. They may be different from yours. Their accomplishments. Let them know that you’re proud of them.

11. MISTAKES: Remember that we can all learn from our mistakes, and we’re allowed to make them.

12. LET IT GO! If we can learn one thing from Frozen, Let It Go. Are their things that you can let go of, but you just can’t? Is the end result is the same, but the task at hand is performed in a different way? “You never help! Why don’t they help?
Or do they just not help YOUR way? Is it just what they do is not good enough? It’s okay to let it go.

13. EXPECTATIONS: Expect Less, Encourage More. Strive for excellence not perfection. No one is perfect. Everyone is an individual, we all learn differently, we all have different talents. We all have our limits, and if we set an unreasonably high standard for someone, that person will always let you down. They will feel like they’re letting you down, and that will make them feel inadequate.

14. STOP beating yourself up, parents. There will come a point when your kids realize that you were just doing the best that you can.

15. BE PRESENT

Sounds Like a Booty Call to Me

originally posted on www.WhattheFlicka.com by Erin K. Moffat

DISCLAIMER: Mom, just don’t even read this. No, seriously please don’t go any further.

I have a question that I really need answered. What do you really think of the booty call?

For a while I had this guy calling me only at night. He said that he just wanted to spoon, but trust me I know that was a big old lie. So, I simply refrained from putting myself in that situation. I said, “sounds like a booty call to me.” He of course denied it.

The other problem was that he was smoking hot, and I was super attracted to him. That can totally confuse ones body causing them to make bad decisions. Not that I did. Oh, and he had also previously asked me to… So, I’m pretty sure that I can confidently state that he was looking for more then just a long awkward body hug.

I really want to create a security system or device for the neither regions. It’s like the modern day chastity belt. Someone can create an app, or a chip or something for that. Right?

Sound the alarm! Every time you’re about to make a decision that you’re going to regret. You’re in bumper to bumper in the club, and someone is all up in your junk. You’re back on the dating scene and guys can smell that you haven’t had it in a while. Your sniffing for love, and they’re just sniffing for a good time. Maybe it’s the other way around?

The alarm goes off. It’ll prevent bad one-night stands, booty calls, etc. It would be called Va-JJ Security! Some guy will call named Stan “This is Stan calling from Va-JJ security just wanted to be sure that you’re making smart decisions…and please hold while we play this message from your Dad.” I’m still working on the guys’ version of this security system.

I also had to google booty calls because while I have friends that have had an occasional booty call. It’s not like I get an influx of them. So while I’m flattered, I’m pretty sure that if you give most guys a tube sock, some lotion, the Victoria’s Secret catalog, or a warm apple pie you not only know what they’re doing but know that they’re happy whilst doing it.

My feelings on booty calls

1. In the infamous words of Sweet Brown “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

Or do they?

I’m not into it, and maybe I’m no fun, but I want to know what you guys think. I also hope to save some poor desperate soul out there like me that actually believes for 14 seconds that you’re the exception to the rule, and this guy could be the one. I don’t know maybe he is! (But probably not!) However, there are some definite signs that a guy is not calling because while he wants to mate with you he doesn’t want to spend holidays with you, and isn’t going to wine and dine you first. He’s going straight in and asking you to s*ck his d*ck! Or whatever! I want to save you from wasting your time on a guy that calls strictly for a booty call, even when he says it’s not. He’s truly just not that into you; but he will be for about 1 minute and a half while he “spoons you and maybe grabs a boob.” (You understood what I meant by the quotations right? Same page? Getting what I’m putting down?)

If you’ve driven to the house, and gotten in the bed, and are lying on your back there is a high probability that it’s a booty call. If he asks you to do any strange yoga pose on his bed, or anywhere else while completely naked or partially clothed=booty call. You will most likely be waking up the next morning sans clothes, perhaps somewhat fulfilled (but probably not) and possibly doing a major walk of shame. Oh, and he will call again. Trust me! It will be at night just to “cuddle.” Mail them a tube sock and lotion, and call it a day. Seriously!

Here are some red flags…

1. When all of his friends on Facebook are female…

Sounds like a booty call to me

2. When only girls comment on his Facebook statuses and call him pet names… Hun, sweetie, your baby mama, (anything like that really)

He’s calling them for booty calls too…

3. When he only calls you at night.

Sounds like a booty call to me

4. When he wants you to sext him.

Sounds like a booty call to me

5. When he has a girlfriend or a wife and wants to hang out for the weekend some time…or asks if you’d date a married man

Sounds like a booty call to me.

6. When he blatantly asks you to do things with him, to him, or for him that don’t include several dates first…

Sounds like a booty call to me.

7. When he’s refers to himself as a recording artist or a member of a sports team (even not professional)

Sounds like a booty call to me; and the only person he’s playing is you. (& At least 7 other girls)

8. When he says that he just wants to snuggle or cuddle…

Sounds like a booty call to me

9. When he keeps calling you for booty calls; and you keep going thinking that things are going to work out…

It still sounds like a booty call to me.

10. When you’ve never met in person (like you’re online dating say) and he thinks that you’ll make the perfect couple…

He’s clearly just trying to get some.

Talk to me about booty calls. Have you ever gotten one? Are you cool with them? Or were you at some point? College? Last week? What are your thoughts? What sounds like a booty call to you?

What to Do When Your Kid Eats a Glow Stick (Yes, Really)

originally posted on www.WhattheFlicka.com by Erin K. Moffat 

My parents have Sunday dinner at their house and January through March there are several Sunday dinners that include birthday cake. The last Sunday dinner that included birthday cake also included glow sticks.

The candles were lit and we were ready to sing that familiar tune. Suddenly, my Mom came running around the corner for a bucket. My niece was gagging and said she was going to throw up. Did you know there is a touch of the bug going through the second grade? My niece is in kindergarten, but whatever.

Apparently, my 5 year old niece started to chew on the glow stick and cracked the plastic. Some of the liquid seeped into her mouth causing her to gag/dry heave and spitting out something pink. No sooner did my Mom yell “get the bucket,” we found a chewed up glow stick with pink liquid glowing on the ground. When we came to the realization that she ate the glow stick; panic and chaos ensued.

Between scrambling for the ripped package of glow sticks to read what to do in this situation which said “Ages 5+” and not to ingest them) someone screaming “I don’t care what you do just call poison control, call 911 just call somebody.” My brother called her pediatrician and I called poison control. Thank G for cell phones with internet! My heart racing as the woman on the other the end of the phone calmly asked me questions. “Why was she so calm? This is an emergency!” She asked me for my name, town, and phone number as my sister-in-law yelled “Get me milk, somebody get me milk, you drink milk for poison.” Later, my grandmother a former RN said never to ingest anything after ingesting something that could be poisonous until you know that it’s safe.

We figured out several useful things about what to do if a similar situation happens to you, and a few useful facts thanks to several poison control websites…

1. Don’t panic. Stay Calm. Just breathe!

2. The former RN in your home might be of some use.

3. Have a list of important numbers somewhere accessible to everyone.

4. Both Poison Control and the Pediatrician were more concerned about the child swallowing or choking on the plastic and if she was having a reaction.

5. There are chemicals in the tube specifically Dibutyl phthalate, but they are supposedly non toxic (if it’s possible for chemicals to be non toxic) Referred more specifically as “Non-Deadly” Dibutyl phthalate is also found in nail polish…I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t drink nail polish. Just saying!

6. Still call poison control or your pediatrician just to be safe as everyone has different reactions to things and chemicals.

7. Irritation of the throat may occur and stomach ache. If it persists contact a professional.

8. Rinse and wipe out the mouth, wash any exposed skin.

9. Poison Control gets calls like this all of the time (more specifically an influx of calls on the Fourth of July, and Halloween) “It’s a very common call,” is what she said to me.

10. Water, milk or ice cream: are things that they suggest you drink/eat to flush it out of the system, because it may cause irritation, and the liquid inside tastes nasty.

11. Your child’s tongue or lips may glow for a short time.

12. If a child is in a public school there is chance that they’ve caught whatever is going around 2nd grade. Even if they’re in kindergarten. #Germs

13. Just don’t eat the glow sticks.

14. If you do…”Get The Bucket!” & “Get the milk!”

For More information about Glow Sticks and the dangers click here or here.

Poison Control

1-800-222-1222

Waiting in Line

originally published on www.WhattheFlicka.com by Erin K. Moffat

So, I got laid off this September because they eliminated my position. Being unemployed I’ve noticed that besides “Do you have a boyfriend” the other topic for discussion is “what are you doing for work?” “Where do you work?” “Still working at the same place?” (This can vary depending on the last time you saw a person).

If people know that you don’t have a job they ask “Find a job yet?” “Any luck with the job search?”

I’ve gotten laid off twice in six years for similar reasons. People say things like “Well, at least you know that it’s nothing that you did.” Rather than looking at this like I’ve been thrown out like yesterday’s trash after 5 years, I’ve been looking at this as a blessing in disguise.

I’ve made the executive decision that my answer will no longer be: “I got laid off,” “Nowhere” or “Nope!” My new answer is “I’m in line.” Cue the puzzled reactions.

Truth, I’m on the unemployment line and I’m waiting in line; but I am in line for a really great job, one that feeds my creativity and keeps me on my toes. After years of working in dead end jobs only to be unfulfilled, I’ve decided to attempt to follow my true passions. I feel like I’ve been working toward nothing. I have been playing it safe, and attempting to live someone else’s definition of what reality should be. It’s not working for me! I need to live my truth! Anything else is just cause for misery and complacency.

I’ve made the commitment that going forward I will be applying for jobs that my parents may think are unconventional, but that people actually make a living doing.

Case in point…

My friend knows someone at SNL, and she said “I don’t even want your resume, just write a funny cover letter, and say that you’ll do whatever. Dude, you can like sweep the stage or something it doesn’t matter.” Now, I’m not exactly sure what kind of a living a stage sweeper actually makes but I applied anyway. I’ve decided to share my cover letter for SNL with you.

To Whom It May Concern:

Please consider my application to do anything at Saturday Night Live. I am willing, ready, and able to sweep the stage. I’m not sure what the exact title would be for that. If the stage sweeper job is already taken I am also willing to plunge toilets. Within reason! I’d kind of like to sweep the stage because I’d imagine that all Stage Sweeps are similar to Chimney Sweeps, and will dance to the Step-In Time Dance from Mary Poppins. I’d also imagine that I would get an official badge.

I will give tours of the green room, or snack bar. I will rev up the audience. I’ll wear an unflattering uniform that will make me look more stocky and matronly than I already do; exposing my pizza crust otherwise known as the muffin top. I would wear Mom Jeans, Culottes, Gauchos, Pajama Jeans, or a 1980’s track suit even. You name it! I don’t know why you’d want me to wear those, but if it was a prerequisite for the position, I would oblige.

I will brush wigs, and/or tap weaves. I will hang costumes on a rolling rack. I will tap dance, but it will depend on the level of dancing that you expect. I will tap dance while tapping a weave, and hanging costumes on a rolling rack. However, let’s not get too crazy here. I’m no Savion Glover! Just stating for the record that while Abby Lee Miller wouldn’t approve of my tap dancing skills; an old lady that smokes a pack of Pall Mall’s a day and teaches dance out of her makeshift studio in her basement would LOVE me.

I’m constantly told that I belong at SNL. I’m sure that everyone says this but just hear me out. I’ve never really “belonged” anywhere to be honest. Doesn’t everyone deserve to be where they belong? I’m pretty sure if there was a superlative in the High School yearbook that read “The Most Invisible Misfit to Society.” It would’ve been me, except; I was kind of invisible so they would’ve given it to the most unpopular popular person. I sat the bench for double headers in softball. Well, because I was really bad at softball. I was always the last one picked for dodge ball, or Hi-Li, which I guess is technically, spelled jai-alai. Wow, learn something new every day. Which I’m sure I would do at SNL. (Learn something new, not play Hi-Li, or jai-alai unless that’s a job requirement) I just don’t see how you could begrudge a person of the opportunity to be where they belong. Just saying!
Thank-you for your time and consideration! Call me!

Best regards,

Erin K. Moffat

They still haven’t called, but I’m still holding on to the hope. I’ve got my push broom, and a copy of The 1982 Movie version of “Hard Knock Life,” from Annie prepared as my Stage Sweep audition piece. Wish me luck because I’m in line!

RIE-SPECT: Mama Can You Hear Me? Part II

originally posted on www.WhattheFlicka.com by Erin K. Moffat

When I was in my early 20’s I was in a beauty pageant – or scholarship program, if you will. My platform was promoting self-esteem in today’s youth. When it was time for the Q&A portion of the pageant, they asked me a question that, at the time, I believed was irrelevant. “When do you think that a child should start listening to music?”

My answer: “Um, the womb?”

To be honest, after spending 20 minutes in the room with the people that came up with that question. I truly believe that the questions’ purpose was about how music can contribute to a child’s self esteem, and it got me thinking. For every friend who has had a baby, I truly believe that a child comes into the world with a personality. So, maybe it’s not too far fetched to believe that while they are developing they are learning, maybe? Now before I spark a debate about what a baby learns in utero, here is the second part of my interview with Deborah Carlisle Solomon the author of the book Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE® Way,and the Executive Director of RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers). If you missed it, you can find part one here.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: FIND OUT WHAT IT MEANS TO YOUR BABY

EKM: Now, for someone who has never heard of RIE or hasn’t read your book, could you explain a little bit about what RIE is all about?

DCS: Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach gives us practical tools to create a respectful relationship with a baby from the beginning of life. How do we pick up a baby and diaper her respectfully, set limits respectfully, etc? The Educaring Approach shows us how to slow down and observe our baby, and this helps to increase the possibility that we will respond to her accurately rather than quickly assume that we know what she needs or wants.

EKM: How does RIE parenting contribute to raising a confident and resourceful child?

DCS: Since we come from the point of view that even a very young baby is not utterly helpless, we invite the baby to participate in his care. A diaper change, for example, is something that we do with the baby rather than to the baby. We may invite a newborn to lift his bottom on the changing table. At first, we will need to lift his bottom but over time and with repetition, he will learn what those words mean and respond by lifting his bottom for us. As he develops, the exchanges will grow; he may pull open the tab of his diaper or hold the new diaper until it’s time to put it on.

During play, we give the baby or toddler time to problem solve on her own. This can be a challenge for parents who believe that it’s loving to hand a toy that’s just out of reach to their not-yet-crawling baby or nest the cups for their toddler who hasn’t figured out how to do it on her own. But those responses assume that the baby or toddler will become frustrated if she can’t accomplish those tasks, yet we see over and over again that this is not true. Most adults are goal-oriented so we assume that if a baby is reaching for the toy, we should hand it to her. But the baby is engaged with the process and when given time to try and try again, she will experiment and accept that struggle is a necessary part of that process. If she can’t quite reach the toy, and if an adult has not been in the habit of problem-solving for her, she will turn her attention to something else. When we give a baby the opportunity to try and try again, we support the growth of her tenacity and resourcefulness.

LET’S START AT THE VERY BEGINNING

EKM: Take me back to the beginning of your journey when you first discovered the RIE way.

DCS: I discovered Magda Gerber’s book, Your Self Confident Baby, when my son was one; he’s 15 now. My husband and I found our way to RIE Parent-Infant Guidance™ classes and I breathed a sigh of relief. I realized that I had been working so hard to keep my son happy all the time that I sometimes neglected to really take him in. RIE gave me the tools to learn how to observe and understand him better, and to relax. The Educaring Approach is the antidote to helicopter parenting.

EKM: What are some differences that you noticed in your son and yourself after you starting applying RIE?

DCS: My life as a parent became easier because RIE gave me a foundation from which to make all sorts of parenting decisions. I learned to slow down and give my son time. Our life together felt a lot more calm and peaceful. My confidence grew and I was more relaxed. Parenting became more enjoyable and more fun. Before RIE, as soon as my son cried I thought the goal was to help him stop crying, so I’d quickly pick him up to nurse him. He’d stop crying but I know there must have been times when I nursed him when he wasn’t hungry but was tired or uncomfortable instead. I learned to slow down when he cried, to take a few moments to try to understand why he was crying so that I could respond to him more accurately.

EKM: Now that he’s a teenager how do you continue to use the RIE approach in your everyday life?

DCS: I still rely on RIE principles to consider how to respond to my son in a way that respects our sometimes two different points of view. RIE principles don’t just apply to people between birth and two years of age. They can inform all relationships.

THE RIE PRINCIPLES

EKM: What are the RIE principles?

DCS: There are many but here are three things that parents can practice that can make a big difference to everybody’s sense of well-being:

1. Slow Down: when you are with your baby. Pick him up slowly, carrying him slowly to his crib, and slowly enter the room where he is present. Moving slowly helps to create a sense of calm and peacefulness.

2. Tell your baby what you’re going to do before you do it. “I’m going to pick you up now.” “I’m going to the other room.” “I’m going to take off your diaper.” It is respectful to tell your baby what’s about to happen and he can relax, knowing there will be no surprises.

3. Tarry time: After you’ve told your baby what is about to happen, wait a few moments for him to process what you’ve said. Since babies take longer to process verbal communication than adults do, it’s respectful to wait for your baby to let you know that he’s ready. He may squirm with delighted anticipation of being picked up or let you know in his own unique way that he understands what you have said.

ABOUT RIE AND DEBORAH

EKM: How did you become the Executive Director of RIE?

DCS: RIE made such a positive impact on my life that I wanted to do what I could to help it to endure and prosper. I became RIE Executive Director in 2006 and am committed to bringing Magda’s message of respectful care for babies and young children to more families and caregivers.

EKM: What made you decide to write the book?

DCS: I wrote Baby Knows Best as a guidebook, particularly for people who might not be able to attend a class in person. It is not just theoretical, but gives specific examples of how to implement the Educaring Approach. It also has wonderful stories from parents who practice this approach with their children and these stories, I think, help to bring the approach to life.

THINK LIKE A BABY

EKM: In a section of the book you mention showing parents not only the importance of communicating and observing, but also what it feels like to be a baby. Even swaddling them!  Have you ever been swaddled?

DCS: Yes, I was swaddled in a class, as part of an exercise to experience things from a baby’s point of view. I immediately said, “Take this off!” I felt confined, constricted, and claustrophobic. We shouldn’t assume that a baby needs a swaddle. We first observe to see how he manages on his own. During sleep, a newborn baby may shudder and his limbs may twitch, but he may be able to settle back down to sleep. (There is a lovely video of just this scenario in the Kindle version of Baby Knows Best.) If parents choose to use some sort of device, I would recommend a sleep sack because it allows the hands to be free so that the baby can access them to self-soothe. It is also loose around the hips and legs, which is important because we never want tight swaddling around the hip area as this risks developmental hip dysplasia.

EKM: I don’t think that I’d like to be constricted like that either.

MILESTONES

EKM: What does focusing on and talking milestones do to a baby?

DCS: All babies develop according to their own individual timetable. Until a child is developmentally ready, she won’t be able to roll over, crawl, sit, stand, and take her first step. Pay attention to what your baby is doing, take pleasure in it, and try not to compare her to another baby. As Magda Gerber said, “Babies are not racehorses” and there is wisdom in practicing something slowly to understand it completely before moving on to the next thing. Of course, your pediatrician will be there to guide you, so try to relax and appreciate how your baby is moving and developing new skills.

POTTY TRAINING

EKM: What about potty training? You hear a lot of people worried that their child isn’t potty trained yet. They bribe them with candy; which always makes me wonder if they’re going to have to run to the snack machine every time they use the bathroom as adults.

DCS:  It’s all about readiness. When a child is ready to use the toilet, he can learn to do so quite successfully and without too many mishaps. It is up to the parent to know what the readiness cues are and to look for them. It’s unwise to use bribery or call in a brass band when a child is successful, either of which can create tension around a natural bodily function.

WHEN THE GARDEN GROWS

EKM: What happens when you start to grow your family, and have more than one child?

DCS: Sometimes things go smoothly when the second (or third or fourth) baby is born but most often, there is a period of adjustment during which the first born may show regressive behavior, act out by being aggressive, or ask the parent to send the baby back from whence he came! It’s important to give everybody time to adjust to the newest member of the family and all that that means.

BABY KNOWS BEST

EKM: Lastly, why does baby know best?

DCS: Magda Gerber said, “Nobody knows better about what a baby needs than that baby.” To me, this points to the fact that nature has a plan for a baby to grow and develop. Magda’s quote was the inspiration for the title of my book. Nature has a plan. We need to be respectful of that.

To Learn More about RIE® and Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach, please visit www.rie.org.

RIE-SPECT: Mama Can You Hear Me? Part I

originally posted on www.WhattheFlicka.com by Erin K. Moffat

I’ve been raising a lot of eyebrows lately. Why, you ask? For the past few weeks I’ve been carrying a book under my arm: Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE® Way. I don’t have kids so why would I be reading a parenting book? No, I’m not pregnant, but after reading the book if I end up having a child I will be running to a RIE (pronounced “wry”) class immediately. Hashtag Word To The Mother (#Word2DaMotha).

Now, if you’ve heard about RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) parenting you might have seen some of the headlines calling it a Hollywood Hype. Luckily, I had the opportunity to go straight to the source; Deborah Carlisle Solomon, the Executive Director of RIE and the author of the book. She not only answered all of my questions but cleared a few things up.

WHY RIE?

EKM: There are several articles about RIE parenting out there. Like is it “Crazy or crazy smart?” Others are calling it a ‘Kooky Hollywood Trend.’ What sets it apart and what would you say to the critics and naysayers?

DCS: RIE is not a new trend and it’s certainly not crazy. It was founded in 1978 by infant specialist and educator Magda Gerber and pediatric neurologist Tom Forrest, M.D. When parents take the time to really learn about RIE, most find that it makes a lot of sense and gives them the tools to understand their babies better and respond to them more sensitively and accurately. It can also help to make life as a parent easier and more enjoyable. I don’t think there’s anything “kooky” about all that. RIE is headquartered in L.A. where many actors live and some of those actors have babies and attend classes, but of the thousands of parents who have participated in classes, only a few have been celebrities.

EKM:  Lets talk more specifically about the Vanity Fair article; Childhood’s End: Out with the sippy cups, bouncers, and pacifiers! L.A., which loves any new parenting trend, has latched onto RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) and its message of respect for a baby’s true nature. Some scoff, but—funny thing—it seems to work.

DCS:  Out of context and without understanding the “why’s” and “why not’s,” lots of ideas can seem strange. But there’s nothing strange about caring for a baby respectfully. At RIE, we don’t see babies as fragile and utterly helpless; young babies have certain innate capabilities that develop as they grow.

Sippy cups are useful when you’re out and about but at home, very young children who are not nursed or bottle-fed can learn to drink from a glass. We suggest a small Duralex glass because it’s sturdy. About pacifiers: some newborn and very young babies can benefit from a pacifier but it should be used judiciously and dispensed with as soon as the baby rejects it. Parents should not assume that their baby needs a pacifier. The cry is the baby’s first language, after all, so we want to listen and try to understand why the baby is crying. We don’t want to pop in a pacifier and send the message to a baby to “please stop because I don’t want to listen to you cry.” Instead, we can say to a crying baby something like, “You’re crying really hard. I wonder what you need. I just fed and diapered you, and you only woke from your nap a short while ago. You’re upset about something so I’ll hold you for a little while. Maybe that will help you to settle.”

Babies love to move and enjoy freedom of movement. Bouncers and other devices restrict free movement and are often used to keep the baby safe while the adult is out of the room. One of the RIE principles is to have an environment for the child that is physically safe. For a very young baby who is not yet rolling over to his side, this can be his crib or bassinet; an older baby or toddler will need a gated off area where he can move and play freely, without any risk of injury. When there is a safe space for the baby or toddler, there is no need to use a bouncer or other piece of equipment as a holding pen.

PLAYTIME

EKM: What is a safe play space?

DCS: Magda defined a safe space as one that if you got locked out of the house and your baby was left alone all day, she would be hungry, upset, and in need of a new diaper when you returned, but she would be unharmed.

EKM: Your book stresses the importance of uninterrupted play, but what would you say to people who feel like they need to put on a show for their kids?

DCS: Babies are not just fooling around with their toys during playtime. They’re learning a lot; about cause and effect, problem-solving, and what interests them, to name just a few things. They are also naturally curious and don’t need us to teach them how to play. It’s our job to set up the environment by putting out a few toys and then it’s up to the baby to choose what object to play with, how to play with it, and for how long. The parent can sit quietly nearby and enjoy observing the baby as he plays, and if he engages with the parent, there’s an interaction. If an older baby or toddler engages with a parent, we let the child take the lead. This is very different than when a parent looks upon the child’s playtime as a time when the child must be entertained and the parent is the playmate. In this case, the parent can become the author or director of the play, or the entertainer. Playtime devolves from a time for the child to explore, investigate and discover, to a time to be entertained, with the child being reliant on the adult. When a baby has an opportunity for uninterrupted playtime each day, it is wonderful to see how engaged he can be with the simplest of play objects and how much pleasure he can derive from self-initiated play.

MIRROR MIRROR

EKM: The book talks a lot about reading babies cues, for instance they almost mirror our behavior? How does a baby read our cues?

DCS: Babies are like sponges; they take in the positive behavior we model and the not-so-positive behavior too. They mirror ourselves back to us. If we are anxious and irritable, it’s likely that our baby will be out of sorts too. If we are in the habit of yelling, our child will learn to yell too. In significant ways, our children can be a reflection of our deepest selves. But I don’t think this is something to be feared. Rather, it is an opportunity for personal growth and betterment.

EKM: Great point! Never even thought of that! What about being able to understand different types of cries for different reasons?

DCS: The cry is the baby’s first language and how she communicates. It can take a while to understand what the different cries mean, and parents should be kind to themselves if they don’t always understand why their baby is crying. Sometimes you just don’t know. But asking aloud about the basic needs can be helpful. “Are you hungry?” “Tired?” “Do you need a new diaper?” If the answer to all these is “no,” perhaps your baby wants to be held. We do our best to respond accurately, knowing that sometimes a baby’s upset will be mysterious to us; in which case, we can provide comfort until the baby is at ease.

TAKING IT SLOW

EKM: I want to talk to you a little bit about moving slowly. What is your advice in this distracted living era, where we have gadgets, and are such a technological driven society where we are over stimulated on a daily basis? How do you slow down to be more attuned to your baby?

DCS: Electronic devices can be a sort of addiction, can’t they? My suggestion is that if you’re coming home from work, check your texts before you come into the house or apartment and then turn off your phone. If you can’t leave your phone off all evening or on the weekend, identify some regular times that you can turn it off so that you can be fully present with your baby, without interruption. Turn off your computer too, so that you won’t hear the ding of an incoming email. Have you ever been out to dinner with someone who leaves their cell phone on the table? It’s as if the person is saying to you, “We may be interrupted at any moment.” I imagine a baby or young child might feel the same way if her parent chooses to give attention to a text or email every time it sounds, rather than staying present with whatever they were doing together before they were interrupted. Magda Gerber said that it’s better to give full attention part of the time then fractured attention all day long.

EKM: Oh, how true that is!

I had such an amazing time speaking with Deborah, and there was so much valuable information that I learned, that I couldn’t fit our entire interview into just one article. Please be on the look out for Part II of Mama Can You Hear Me: RIE-SPECT.

“Every baby moves with more ease and efficiency if allowed to do it at his own time and in his own way, without our trying to teach him.”-Magda Gerber