Friday, December 08, 2006

Introducing our New Line of Blog Action Figures: GreenDaddy, MaGreen & BabyG

Last week GreenDaddy suggested that we'd have to kill Green Parenting for when I go out on the job market next year, because if people Googled my name something might spook them. So that night I painstakingly changed all our names to fit the others in BlogLand. It’s only half done…the rest will soon follow. I had been considering doing it anyway, because I can’t stop worrying about the saftey of posting both pictures of BabyG and her name. I figure I can get away with one or the other, safely. I love the sound of her name, I love writing it…but I would rather post photos.

This issue brings up what I can already see will be a great challenge for me as a parent: naming boundaries in the name of BG’s safety. I’m not a real rule-maker sort of person; I don’t want to be over-afraid. But because of mistakes I’ve made in my own life, I know I error in the direction of not-enough-consideration-of-possible-dangers. I want to be more thoughtful, more wise in choices I make for BG.

This choice making comes up in so many different ways. In the simplest of ways, it’s just letting her explore. The other night we were at a restaurant, and she was standing up on the booth, holding onto the edge of a cement table. I worried she was going to slip and hit her chin on the cement edge, even though I was right next to her and she couldn’t fall far or hurt herself badly. But I wasn’t hovering over her, I wasn’t that vigilant. If she slipped I knew it would hurt, but I thought it was better to let her explore, to stand there, to be a baby. And then she slipped and banged her chin, and she bit her lip and she howled. And I felt so stupid and terrible. The woman sitting next to me said, “I was waiting for that,” and gave me a tsk tsk look.

I tried to explain that it’s so hard deciding what to let the baby try. Or how hovering you should be. But she just looked at me like I was insane.

A much more complicated issue of choosing boundaries and dangers your child your face is in discussing immunizations, an issue we somehow missed discussing on Green Parenting. There are three camps: 1) Don’t immunize because the shots might be detrimental to your childrens’ health (especially if they contain Mercury, though are made without Mercury now; you can ask your doctor what kind of shots he/she gives); 2) Pick and choose what you’ll give the baby…some might give babies shots for the most serious diseases, but not “mild” ones, and others might not give babies shots for sexually transmitted diseases; 3) Immunize completely because you don’t want your baby at risk for a preventable disease for the rest of his/her life and because the older they are, the more difficult it is for them to take the shots.

For me, this issue is about choosing between two evils nobody wants to think about: poisoning your baby accidentally or not preventing their susceptibility to a potentially life-threatening disease. You hope neither will happen, and probably neither will. I prefer the possible accidental poisoning, because I think it’s less likely to happen than the other. But I don’t know what is in the shots, exactly; they might have had adverse effects. I just don’t know, the way I don’t know exactly the effect of a medicine on me twenty years from now. But I take it. It is risky. I know they've changed vaccines because of the protests of parents over the last two decades -- they're much safer. And vaccinating BabyG means she won't be spreading diseases to other peoples' children. Also, BabyG will probably be traveling in countries where there isn't a vaccine blanket, like there is in the US. I'd also rather know now if something goes wrong, than spend my life afraid I've set her up for a gigantic disaster. What if she got polio? How would I explain that to her? I'll always remember my grandma's description of caring for five babies with whooping cough, two of whom nearly died…because her sister convinced her not to vaccinate them. It turned her completely off to "natural" parenting of any kind.

I really worried about giving the vaccines, and luckily, they didn’t bother her at all. I cried when she got them, though. It was so frustrating to do tons of research, and to find no clear-cut answer. Proponents of either side of the issue implied the parents on the other side were negligent or worried about the wrong thing. But many of my friends swung the other way, and didn’t vaccinate at all. They were just as worried about their choice as I was. There wasn’t an easy choice. This choosing the better danger; this choosing the boundary business in the name of a defenseless baby’s, my defenseless baby’s livelihood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Anonymizing on the internet is another aspect of these boundaries. We chose, at first, not to be anonymous. I was always worried about that choice, though. It’s less clunky to use real names; it’s more ‘real.” But I always felt slightly uncomfortable. The gamble is that no crazy freak will come after the baby we named and posted photos of on the internet. Probably none ever would have.

But how would I explain to my child that I just felt safe...oops…if all this backfired? Or explain it to myself if something went even more wrong? It’s easier for me to be experimental with things like her falling and bumping her chin. And the funny thing is, it’s much more likely she’ll fall and bump her chin in a certain scenario, than she’ll get a disease or she’ll be bothered by a crazy internet viewer. And I allow her more leniency to fall in situations where the fall is likely; my fear is greater in these things like immunization or random crazies, they’re so much less likely, but the stakes are so much higher.

So now we're named like a superhero family, which I guess we can handle. I still have more names to change, and then it’ll probably be several months before you can’t find this website through our real names.

If it hadn’t been such a pain to change so many names, post by post, I would have had a contest to choose the best names for our family. I didn’t think of that until too late. GreenDaddy did think of choosing names similar to our real ones…Roy, Myra, and Lola or something. But in the end we both preferred being obviously anonymous to being secretly so.

This post is all over the place, I know. I’d love any advice on how to make good boundaries. On when to know if you’re loopy with ridiculous fear or loopy with ridiculous fearlessness. And does anybody know if there’s a find and replace feature that can be attached to Blogger?


Anonymous said...

I think on the issue of immunization you're leaving out one of the issues: the public health danger parents create by not immunizing.

sky said...

you guys kick ass.

keep me posted on what shots you're considering. I'd love to compare notes.

lyli and scarleht initially got the HIB and the DPT... haven't had any since then.

I hear the MMR is a good idea but I don't know much else about them at this stage of the game. I guess I should just get off my ass and do some research.

cheers to your new identities! I won't tell anyone who you really are.

Dylan said...

About the boundaries - I think you are asking the exact right questions. Where is the line between too much hovering and carelessness/neglect?

A baby who wants to lean out a window wants to explore. So a parent that allows that is dangerously close to neglect...but a parent that removes the child is inhibiting that childs innate need to find out about the world and his/her capabilities.

So what to do?

Hold her safely, tell her, "It's okay for you to explore, and I am here to keep you safe while you do."
And sometimes there can be bumps, cuts and bruises along the way.

So many of todays parents (some of my clients) understand how to parent well, and yet take it to the extreme and don't let their kids experience adversity.

Your baby learned that she can live through a painful experience, that you were there for her, and she learned a bit about her limits perhaps...more to come in the coming years. If you hadn't allowed her to stand there at the table, how would she know she's alright? How does she learn to regulate herself after an upset?

You're doing fine.

Anonymous said...

Be aware that sites like "the wayback machine" archive older versions of your site. You might want to check there and see what comes up. I use that site when I want to show off old web work that has since been changed.

There is one button on myspace that you have to hit before posting any blog entry: it makes your blog available to only friends or to the public. There have been so many times when I've forgotten to hit the button, and then am mortified that my students could have read what I posted.

Don't you love the new frontier? Julie

cake said...

Here are the benefits of making the carrot cake we had at cosmo’s party:

1. you and daddyG both liked it, even though you typically don’t like cake
2. it is easy to make
3. while it does have some sugar in it, it is not very sweet, and has some nutritional value. I doubt a bite or two would overwhelm babyG

here is the down side of making this cake:
1. it was the cake at cosmo’s party, and you don’t want to copy.

In case you change your mind, here is the recipe:
It comes from _Super Foods:300 recipes for foods that heal body and mind_
by Delores Riccio

Carrot –Pineapple Snacking Cake
Makes 9 or more servings.

Here is a rich, moist cake that can be mixed up in a few minutes, doesn’t need frosting, and is actually nutritious.

1 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup prepared egg substitute)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar (can use less)
1/2 cup white sugar (can use less)
1 1/2 cups finely grated (about 4 large)
one 8 oz can of crushed pineapple, packed in its own juice, undrained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 inc square or 7 x 11 inch oblong cake pan.
sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl.

In another bowl, beat the eggs with the oil, then blend in the brown and white sugars.
In a third bowl, combine the carrots, pineapple with its juice, and walnuts, if you are using them.

Beat the egg-oil mixture into the dry ingredients. When well blended, stir in the carrot-pineapple mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is risen and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out dry.

I wanted to make a layer cake, and I ended up having to do this recipe twice to make enough cake batter for two standard sized round cake pans. I am not sure if it is wise to simply double the recipe, since I have had bad luck with that in the past. When it comes to quick breads and cakes, I think it is best to just mix up two separate batches, though it is a bit of a pain in the ass.

This cake is easy, I use those baby carrots that are already peeled, and I just run them through the food processor with the grating tool. The carrot grating is the only part that takes any time, and with the food processor, it is not a problem.

The pineapple supplies a lot of sweetening, so you can reduce the sugar a little bit.

I used a cream cheese icing, which was just some cream cheese mixed with half and half and a little bit of maple syrup. I beat that with a power mixer until it was smooth enough to spread easily onto the cake.

Henitsirk said...

Wow, so much to say.

Boundaries are hard, for me especially when I don't have them clear within myself. It's very hard to overcome fears (real or imagined) for your child's wellbeing and just let them experience life. But if we don't set clear, reasonable boundaries, I think children don't feel safe either emotionally or physically.

We chose to vaccinate my son in his first year, but only for diseases that we felt he might be susceptible to (he had lung damage at birth, so we did DPT for pertussis). Since then he's had none and his little sister has had none. We'll do polio and tetanus when they're a bit older.

I'm willing to risk them getting childhood diseases like measles or whooping cough for several reasons: I'm confident in my ability to nurse them, I think these diseases would actually be beneficial to their immune systems, I'm confident in their overall health, I don't think "life-threatening" is applicable to these diseases in otherwise healthy children, and I don't think it's a public health risk.

I recommend The Vaccination Dilemma by Christine Murphy (editor) for an alternative look at vaccines.

Since you have extenuating circumstances (overseas travel) I would think it would be reasonable to vaccinate at least partially.

As for the internet, I think we've been led to believe that child predators are more common than we think. Googling to find someone is another story though...that's a real privacy issue.

Shrijnana said...

What a thoughtful and relevant post. I find myself thinking about how much to protect, how much to let explore al the time. My daughter just became mobile and wants to see, touch, eat everything. And the immunizations. I can relate so much to your thinking about this. So far we are trying to selectively vax, but even that is hard since vaccines are packaged for selective vaxers. I just wrote about our quandry with vaxes on my blog, too.