Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beyond the Bjorn

Spending a day or two at Walt Disney World gives you lots of opportunities to observe humanity.

On our most recent trip, I was thrilled to see more of humanity has begun babywearing. I’m a huge fan of babywearing. I’m also a huge fan of anything that reduces the number of strollers plowing through people at WDW.

For some strange reason, though, I saw a good chunk of the babywearing folks pushing strollers as well.

I’m not sure I see the logic behind that. I did a LOT of babywearing at Disney to avoid the remote possibility of having to look for curb cuts to push my stroller through, or having to detour to Stroller Parking before getting on a ride, or having to unpack my child and belongings to fold up a stroller before getting on transportation.
Watching fireworks at WDW and using our homemade ring sling.

Babywearing at Disney made me so happy—I could walk anywhere just like a normal person, get on and off rides or monorails just like a normal person, and be free for the most part.

Babywearing in general made me happy. Who wouldn’t want a contented child, two hands, and less equipment to lug? But it was a long journey of learning.

I inherited a Baby Bjorn with S. She liked it okay as a newborn, when she faced my chest. When we moved to the outward-facing carry, she hated it. I did, too, because, with her long arms, she could reach anything I could reach—with either hand. What’s the point in that?

I’ve since learned that S. had good taste, even then. There are some pretty solid reasons not to use that style of carrier. But the point was that I gave up on any babywearing but a structured carrier after that. We had some excellent times in our backpack, but it wasn’t as versatile as a soft carrier…which I learned at Disney.
Hiking in the structured carrier!

But S. had turned two by then and gotten kind of hooked on her personal autonomy. That is, she loved to walk. So the ring sling was mostly for when she was tired. But still, how great is that? She could pop in and out as needed, and my back held up better with her weight evenly distributed.

I didn’t truly learn the joys of babywearing until Little A. came along. With an active three-year-old, I had to have a way to do, for example, trips to the park with a newborn. Enter the wrap. HEAVEN on earth!!!
Got the hang of wrapping with Little A.

I had to take Little A. out of the thing to get him to wake up enough to eat—otherwise he would have slept for days, I’m convinced of it. Soft, comfy, great on the back—I loved that thing! There was one awkward moment when a lady in a store mistook his head for one of my breasts, only grossly misshapen. But who cares? I was actually shopping for—and trying on—pants! With my five-week-old sleeping on my chest!

Once he started sitting up, though, I found the carrier that just suited me, the one I wanted to marry. They don’t actually make my brand anymore, but I got a pouch sling. By then, S. had started preschool and her classroom was a portable, up three steps. Instead of either pushing a stroller up there or dragging my incredibly heavy son in his lead-lined baby bucket up there, I just popped him in his sling and dashed on up to sign S. in for school. No fuss.
My favorite--the pouch sling!

Eventually, Little A. outgrew the pouch, the backpack, and even the ring sling—again a blessing for the mobile child. Now, I miss my babywearing days. I miss the comfort of running my hand down my child’s back and the joy of turning our heads together to look at some new marvel. I miss the privilege of my child laying a sleepy head on my shoulder. I miss being heart-to-heart with my children for some amazing moments.

It took a lot of trying things out to get there, though. If you’ve never tried babywearing or tried a Bjorn and given up, try again. Look for a babywearing group or ask other moms. You will be amazed—when you find the right fit, life opens up in a whole new way.

Besides, it has some really cute side effects...

Many, many thanks to Tanya, the Sarasota Babywearing Group and Birthways Birth Center for educating me! Hats off to my mom, who coached field hockey with babies on her back and thanks to my sister-in-law, my dear friend Nancy, and Tanya (again!) for giving me some of my carriers.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mom Friends, Part 2

The Scooby Gang

I talked about newbie moms last time, so this time it only seems right to thank the universe for my Scooby moms.

Yes, I watched Scooby Doo as a kid, enough that I really identify with the person who said they always think of Scooby trying to say “waffle” when they see ROFL.

BUT, in this post, I’m referring to the Scooby gang from BTVS. I’m a longtime, hardcore fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, starting with the movie, which was on Cinemax just about 24 hours a day sophomore year in college when we got free Cinemax for some reason. I only watched it once a day or so, which is really quite reasonable for college.

Anyway, I’m a hardcore enough geek/fan to own the sound track to the musical episode of the TV show…and to still listen to it when I’m alone in the car. Just the other day, I thought of some of my mom friends when I heard Buffy and her friends, aka the Scooby gang, sing:

We’ll see it through
That’s what we’re always here to do
And we will walk through the fire…

No, we don’t actually walk through fire. (It just feels like it some days!) Still, I’m lucky enough know some beautiful, wise, warm, wonderful ladies who are definitely bad@ss enough to Slay as needed. And they’re witty. And fashionable. But the thing I really, really, really love about them?

They’re all the kind of people who ALWAYS see things through. If I ask, they answer—even if the answer is, “Yes, that makes your butt look big.” If I talk, they listen. If I’m going nuts, they ask who messed with me, and if I call on my [sisters] when I need a hand, I find that they just [do] understand. (Little shout out to Bill Withers there.)

And if they call, I’m there, too—I’m not always my own biggest fan, but I know that much. I’m a girl of my word.

Like the Scooby Gang on BTVS, my mom gang includes lots of true individuals, folks who are comfy in their own skin, busy being themselves, and lots of fun because of it. I’m constantly amazed and perpetually grateful that I get to share the work of being a mom with these ladies.

And when any number of us get together on a project—or a mom’s night out—well, watch out, world! But I’m going to leave the details up to your imagination, because my loyalty to these ladies makes members of the Fight Club, the KGB, and the mafia look like spineless, loose-lipped weenies with a huge fear of commitment.

I love you, ladies!

And that’s the second thought I throw out to you: Mom friends get it done. Always.

Can we just get a shout out to Joss Whedon, creator of BTVS, here? In addition to his many cool accomplishments, bless him for saying this:

[imitating reporter] So, why do you write these strong female characters?
[as himself] Because you’re still asking me that question.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Force is With Us

It’s the moment every [geeky] parent dreams of. My [geeky] husband and I [also geeky] have anticipated it for a few years now.

“Do you think they can handle it?”

“No…they’ve only seen animated movies. Better wait.”

We sigh in geeky frustration.

For the last week or so, the signs have begun pointing in our favor. A boy at Little A.’s preschool brought in the “can opener ship.”

At first we had no idea that this was such a hopeful sign—at first we had no idea what the #@%* a can opener ship was. We just knew Little A. and his buddies loved playing with it. Then came the big moment. Little A. reports, “And it comes with R2D2 and that guy that only roars.”

Picture me doing a cartoon spit take. Star Wars??? He’s into Star Wars all on his own? My baby is growing up.

In true geeky fashion, Little A. spent the next week absorbing every bit of Star Wars-related information that he can. Luckily he has a surprisingly well-informed friend. We just need to get past that hurdle of the “can opener ship.” Given that Chewie is aboard, we have to assume it’s the Falcon, but how on earth does that resemble a can opener? I explore various options like X-wings and some of the odd things Anakin flies, but no dice.

Finally we search for Star Wars toys on the internet (more geekiness!) and find pictures of the friend’s toy, a really awesome, sturdy-yet-detailed Playskool…Millennium Falcon.

With that resolved, Little A. starts seriously discussing all kinds of things with me, like the Sarlacc. Who knew? My little “I don’t like bad guys” kid is entranced by a giant man-eating mouth on the desert floor of Tatooine. We cover all sorts of topics, including R2D2’s various extensions and abilities, C3PO’s three million forms of communication, what Wookies are, who Obi Wan is (without spoilers, of course), and what the Force can do for you.

And the whole time I feel incredibly guilty that this gush of geekiness usually hits at lunch, right after school, and my husband is missing it! But they bonded over some of Big A.’s (not vintage) models this weekend, so I guess the force is with him, too.

NOW, the six-million-credit question is: should we watch the movie?

We really, really, really want to. But this is the kid who found the R.O.U.S.s too intense. Granted, he seems to have learned a lot about special effects because of his Fire Swamp experience, but can he handle A New Hope? (Or just plain Star Wars, as us old fogies like to call it.)

It all comes down to one scene for me. When I saw the movie at five years old (Little A.’s age) and, really, every time I saw it until I was in college, I completely missed one detail. I was not traumatized by the movie because I did not see what happened to Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru until I was over twenty. In fact, I often cite that scene to the authors I work with as an example of masterful storytelling—the answer is there, but so subtle that only those mature enough even understand it.

Now, I get swept up in a story. I’m not scientific and detail-oriented like Little A. On the other hand, he is innocent, just as I was, and has no reason to think of anything but Luke in that scene, as I did. So will the power of good storytelling protect him from that moment as well? Or will his mind zero in on the odd shapes in the flames?

I don’t know!

And even if we do decide to watch it with him, we face a still stickier question:

The original version or the re-mastered one?