Life, and How to Live it?


Way back at the dawn of time, when I was a newly-minted mother of one, a One who in her short miraculous life had decided, at least as I perceived it, to shun sleep as if it were her greatest enemy, I did what the average 21st century mom usually does when her life throws her a curve ball she can’t catch, and hied myself over to the Google. And there, prostrate before The Great Oz of the present-day, I posed this question:

Infant sleep?

Oh, the Google, it aims to please! It took me hither and yon, from Babywise to the Ferber Method, but the only place it took me that did me a lick of good was… The Berkeley Parents Network.

As the Husband points out, we live nowhere near Berkeley. The Berkeley Parents Network recommendations for earthy- crunchy pediatricians and simpatico playgroups can’t help me a whit. But the section of the site labelled ADVICE… well, that’s another story.

Seven years later, I still occasionally find myself trolling the Advice section of the Berkeley Parents Network. And not necessarily because it has answers. I visit it simply because it has the QUESTIONS.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

The petitioners to the Berkeley Parents Network Advice section, all — as I imagine them — wan, sleep-deprived, milk-stained mothers, ask every question you can’t imagine the serene, sleek-haired mothers of your actual acquaintance ever having. Does your child walk only on her tiptoes? Light fires? Smear bodily fluids on the walls? Did having a child make you depressed? Eager to never have sex again? Unable to take care of life’s most basic functions? The women (and men) who end up on the BPN Advice Forum have been there. Are you worried about Developmental Milestones, or whether an academic career is compatible with being a mom? Don’t worry, on the Berkeley Parents Network you are not alone. There is no problem so great that some other mom has not already had it, and this is a very very good thing to know.

For quite some time, Younger Girleen has had a “situation” that has caused us all, parents and child both, some distress. We’ve talked to her pediatrician; it shall resolve itself, I know. But last week, I was feeling, well, lonely in this situation.

There is page after page of “advice” regarding this particular situation on the site… this, however, is the tidbit, I decided to read aloud to the Husband:

Our wise and wonderful pediatrician, now retired, said this: ”Ok, I think he’s a little young, but try this. Go buy a family of dolls, a toy toilet, and some brown clay. Make a little turd out of the clay & initiate a game with him, with you playing the boy, him playing the mom or dad. At some point, after the game is really going strong, have the toy boy say ‘Mommy I have to go poo. No I don’t want to go poo’. Then watch him. If this works as it should, you may gain some insight into what is causing him to withhold.” WELL, we got the dolls & the toilet, made the little turd out of clay, & got the game going. When I (as toy boy) said ”Mommy I need to poo. No I don’t want to go poo,” My son said, frantically, MOMMY I HAVE TO GO POO! He ran off to the bathroom & did a big one & was never constipated again. It was extraordinary. We never even got to brandish the clay turd. Whatever was in his mind about poop & pain must have been safer for him to view from the distance of play, he worked it out on the spot & has been an appreciative pooper ever since. He’s 17 now.

What did the Husband do upon hearing this? He sighed heavily. He rolled his eyes. He said: Keep me out of this. If you want to put on your earthshoes and rub your crystals, that’s fine, but… keep me out of this.

So I did.

I will just say that Younger Girleen’s response to all this was … quizzical bemusement.

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All that of course is water under the bridge. But last night, I was somewhere, attempting to engage in adult-type life and an acquaintance asked me this:

So, getting any writing done?

Lady, lady, I felt like saying, we’re way down in the trenches here. I’m making beds and role-playing with dolls in the time I used to spend on that.

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