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Tween music

Parenting conundrum no. 7583: how much to regulate the pre-teen’s musical choices. any ideas?

This was my status on FB a few days ago, and it led to some interesting conversation with some friends (most of whom are bloggy friends).  I thought I’d reproduce the discussion for posterity, and so I can look back on it when FenFox is more grown up and laugh at my own naïveté!

Owlie:
As a pre-teen that was always obsessed (and still is) with music I say don’t regulate. Just show an interest in what she likes and ensure you know the content-I.e if it is overtly sexual, violent or just has awful messages. If you regulate she’ll build up ansgt and Stop telling you what she listens to, and she will find a way to access it. Just my two cents!

Sorenson:
i’m with owlie

Chips:
Me too!

Lazyboo:
I don’t think it’s realistic to compare our experience in youth to the environment FenFox is growing up in now. I think the world is a vastly different place and the level of explicitness in music, film, media etc is vastly higher, not necessarily sexually but in the kind of prejudice and bigotry that I’ve heard, and the ridiculousness of the whole raunch culture as they call it. Also, she’s not that interested in music, it’s a very recent development which I suspect is more peer pressure than genuine regard. We regulate what she watches and reads and will continue to do so, I don’t see how music is any different. There are things like racism, misogyny, homophobia and bigotry that she shouldn’t be exposed to as “entertainment”

Clark:
so our challenge is to decide whether to regulate in terms of the awfulness that Lazyboo outlined or to just pay attention and talk to her about it… we are leaning towards regulating only those things and letting the sexually explicit and violent (sans bigotry) stuff go, even though it makes me cringe to think about her listening to that stuff.

An aunt:
a bit over my head

Clark:
so you guys wouldn’t regulate at all? I see your point, Owlie, about the angst and the not telling us and finding it elsewhere but am still very conflicted about even tacitly approving of such things… we are and will attempt to remain very aware of what she listens to, but am just not sure how I would respond if she did want to listen to something awful. Thanks for your thoughts, it is good to talk it through!

Sorenson:
it’s a really tricky problem (that i obviously haven’t had to face yet!). But i think that you can express very clearly what you think and the reasons why, without actually banning stuff – that is, there doesn’t have to be tacit approval in any way. i agree that the environment now is even more extreme than when we were 12 but this is also the environment that she will be living in for the rest of her life (and as much as i’d like it to improve i deeply doubt that it will). can you find some kind of balance between giving her the tools to critically analyse the crap and also somehow protecting her from the worst of it? i was like Owlie though – the only book my mum said she didn’t want me to read i immediately read when she had her back turned! how much control do you actually have?

Owlie:
i think it would be impossible to regulate without completely invading her privacy and therefore causing serious issues between you and her. I also think (and I still have idealistic views of what relationship i will have with my kids when they are older) that music is a fantastic way of relating to your kid and finding out where they are at, ifyou regulate it you won’t get that oppurtunity. Also, if you take an interest and get her to talk about why she likes the bad stuff, at least you will get the chance to talk to her about why you think it is awful, biggoted or violent. If you stop her from listening, she’ll listen by herself or with her friends and decide for herself what it means, and it will possibly have more impact because she won’t have you to help her decipher the messages. BUT like I said, my oldest is 5 and perhaps I have unrealistic expectations about what my relationship will be like…no doubt I’ll be eating my words and I’ll be asking you for advice in about 4 yrs!

out of interest, what music does she like?

Chips:
I don’t think it’s a matter of blanket rules and though I take Lazyboo’s point, I think that case-by-case or as the need arises is the best approach. And I’d pick my battles very very carefully. The chance of her being into super offensive gangsta rap or death metal is fairly low (in fact it makes me giggle to think of gorgeous little FenFox with dollar signs around her neck). Some stuff will go over her head. Other stuff, she won’t even really notice the content. If it’s truly awful, I’d probably encourage against it, and I’d definitely make sure she knew my objection to the content (you guys already have these conversations all the time about lots of current affair and pop culture goings on) but trying to stop it will be met with much resistance and will ensure she closes down (and will prob find other channels to drive you nuts).

I’m curious. Is there something in particular that she’s listening to that has sparked this train of thought?

Chips:
(I love that we were all typing at the same time and came up with variations of the same thing!)

Clark:
In terms of control and privacy right now, we have a lot of control and she has very little privacy, not that she actually wants it yet. She’s only 10 and currently has no means of independent spending or gaining of music (apart from copies from her friends). She is still so beautifully innocent – all this came up because she is buying her first ipod next week (or we are for her with her ‘savings’ that have all come from us) and also because she called today from a friend’s house to ask if she could have a copy of a cd because we have been talking about this with her lately. She still tells us everything and is very respectful of the boundaries we give her. We are under no illusion that this will last though, and the next three years are going to be tumultuous as our control wanes while her need for privacy grows. So far she is just asking for such things as Pink and Kesha and Lady Gaga, all of whom I have no problem with (even though they have sparked interesting conversations about sex, but that is certainly nothing new!)

to clarify somewhat, it’s not death metal and gansta rap and such that bothers me so much, it’s the more insidious stuff – for example http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/04/today-in-rape-culture.html

Special K:
my pre-parent self would have argued strongly that there should be absolutely no interference, just general guidance and talk about why some things may be popular but embody a broader bad. give them the critical tools and let them come to an understanding themselves.
but i think now my parent self will be happy to ban stuff that is sexist andhomophobic. now that i think about it i have already thrown out children’s picture books that i felt were inappropriate (religious dogma, sexist crap ie the disney girls make-up book for little kids. really. horrible crap.)
i do think about the Twinkle growing up in the age of the internet, tween-agers, boob tubes for five years old, access to anything digital, and worry about how to manage it without being overly-militant and didactic.

Former workmate:
She’s 10, so I think it’s perfectly acceptable that you discuss and agree to some limits re sexual content and violence and stuff like that. As for sheer musical awfulness, I think less comment is better.

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First Day

Today I left McBean at child care for the first time.  It’s not his official first day, but he’s staying there for 4 hours by himself as the last part of his orientation.

It was so hard to leave him.  He didn’t cry, probably because he was stuffing his face with a bowl full of fruit when I left, but I certainly did.  It just feels wrong to walk away and leave him there. This is only the third time he has ever been without either Lazyboo or I, and will be as long as both those times.

I’m fighting the instinct to call and check on him, but know that they will call me if anything is wrong. He’s probably had a fine old time this morning playing, and by now will probably have had his lunch and will be starting his nap.  Hopefully.

FenFox was about 10 months old when she started child care (apologies for the crappy scanned pics):

And here’s McBean today on his quasi first day (at 13 months):

Something tells me his bag is too heavy…

And for posterity, here is the two of them together:

I’ve been at a bit of a loose end – is very strange to be child free with nothing to be doing.  I did go and have a massage which hurt enormously but made me feel much better, and now there’s chores that need to be done (but will be much easier to accomplish without a pesky sidekick!)

I will go to pick him up in just over an hour and can’t wait!  I miss the little guy…

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It’s late and I’ve just remembered that I have to blog.  A few short things:

  • I got the job.  Finally.  It’s only taken 5 years and 7 months to get here.  I don’t start for three weeks so am planning to enjoy these last few weeks with my family.  There’s a lot to say about how we got here, but that will have to wait for another day.
  • It’s going to be sad to no longer have the freedom to spend long days hanging out with the other mamas and munchkins who have been there for us and kept me sane and McBean entertained.  But I’ll still have Mondays.
  • I have been talking to FenFox a lot recently about feminism and patriarchy (instigated by her questions).  Long discussions were initially boiled down to her summary of  ‘Patriarchy is when men have the power and women are treated like animals.’ (her words not mine!) Some progress today when she told me that she stood up in front of her class to tell them all about it and said she announced that feminism is when men and women are equal. I feel so completely out of my depth with this, but am trying hard to answer her questions and avoid her just taking sensational sound bites and not understanding.  Hell, how can I expect her to understand at 9 years old when I still don’t entirely?  FenFox is a  bit stressed about the new job and told me today that she hopes that I’ll still have time for her when I start.
  • Lazyboo has gotten all industrious and is now working once again on a crafty gift she began for Turkey‘s birthday (which was in July incidentally).  She’s hoping to have it done by Christmas so she can then resume work on a similar but much more ambitious project for McBean that was started when he was just a few millimetres tall.  We also have plans to make some cool things for Squeak‘s birthday too.  Lazyboo is very excited about this new chapter in our lives, but I’m quite sure she is also quite apprehensive.  It will be a big change for her to suddenly become no. 1 mostly at home parent (and a big change for me to let go of that role).
  • McBean is just a little ball of giggles and laughter and mischief.  I just want to squish him all the time, and every day I have to stop myself from laughing at his naughty antics.  He has spirit, this little person, and he brings us all so much joy.  I’m going to miss him so when I’m only home one day a week.  We enrolled him in child care today (for one day/week) and it didn’t freak me out.  I’m ready to let him go and I know he’ll have so much fun.
  • I can’t believe that it’s only a month until Christmas.  Where has the year gone?

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McBean’s bad day

We went off to the doctor to get McBean’s little willy checked out this morning.  On the way, we ran into a friend with a new baby, so McBean and I walked FenFox the rest of the way to school (she was going late due to extreme camp exhaustion) while Lazyboo stayed to chat.  On our way back to Lazyboo, I tripped and fell.  McBean was on my hip in the sling, and his head hit the road with a sickening thud.  Now that’s a sound I’m not likely to forget in a hurry.  So we hurried back to Lazyboo, McBean sobbing and me freaking out.  So we all traipsed off to see the doctor, now with a brand new concern.

We have two regular doctors, and neither of them were available today, so we had to see the practice leader, who is a rather distractable older jewish man that neither of us are overly comfortable with. Despite that, he managed to reassure us fairly quickly that McBean was ok and hadn’t suffered any major injury in the fall.  Phew.  So we took his nappy off to find out the problem with the little willy. The verdict was that the foreskin is infected (either fungal or anaerobic), and that it’s a fairly common problem (he said he sees about one a month).  The next part was problematic though because he told us it was due to poor hygiene (not sure how this happens given it’s cleaned several times a day and then he’s bathed) and that we should be retracting the foreskin to clean it.  This surprised me so I questioned him, and he didn’t really answer but made noises about how it’s hard to know what to do when when… I kindly finished his thought and admitted that we don’t know a great deal about pen.ises.  Hmm troublesome.  After asking a few of the other mums of sons that we know, we’re comfortable with not trying to do anything with the foreskin, though we will make sure he actually sits in his bath every night to give it a good soaking. The doc also said we should keep him out of cloth nappies until it’s healed, and why would we want to bother with them at all anyway?  Sigh.

So our poor little lad has ended the day with fungal creams and antibiotics and a lump covered in gravel rash on the back of his head.  But despite all that, he’s still been a cheery little guy, exploring and laughing and chatting and smiling away.  Now if only I can get the sound of that ‘crack!’ out of my head….

And to end MY day on a similarly bad note, FenFox has reappeared an hour after bed time coughing and spluttering with a very congested sounding chest… here we  go again.

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FenFox

FF 1-nov-09

  • her curiosity about anything and everything – the questions never stop
  • A funny conversation about boobies

Yesterday when Lazyboo took McBean for a walk, Fenfox took the opportunity to talk to me about her boobies.  She has begun to grow some mini breast buds and she’s intrigued and fascinated about it.  She asked how big her boobies would be (I replied that it was quite impossible to tell but we’d see what happened) and when she would need a bra.  After much thought I talked to her about why we need bras (for support mainly) and that when it started to hurt her to run or jump up and down then we’d get her some.  She wanted to know what it felt like to wear a bra and I told her that it should feel good and supportive but if the bras don’t fit properly it’s very uncomfortable.   After which followed a hysterical discussion about bra fitting during which I related my own first experience an old lady at Myer handling my new little boobies much to my mortification.  FenFox was just horrified by this – the look on her face was priceless.

On another booby note, she concerned me greatly recently when she asked me for a bottle that she could use in her game with a baby doll.  I then suggested that she might want to breastfeed her baby and she said that yes she could find a disabled toilet or something to feed the baby in.  AAGH!  This prompted a lot of discussions about breastfeeding.  It seems to have sunk in a bit – the other day she was playing with McBean and asked him if he wanted a breastfeed, lifting her shirt (she was pretending of course!)

  • a much sadder conversation about uninvolved parents

this one happened quite some time ago but is still strong in my mind.  after another example of when her dad wasn’t there for her when she wanted him to be (I think it was a school event of some kind) we went for a walk and had a talk about it.  We talked about how some parents have different priorities in life and that doesn’t mean that they don’t love us.  I talked about my own experience with my mother and how much it still hurts.  I tried to convey to her that it’s ok to be hurt by it, but that they probably won’t change, and that I knew how she felt if she ever needed to talk about it.

  • her reading – she’s insatiable.  her teacher says she eats books for breakfast and we just can’t keep up despite regular library visits.  we can get her 10 – 15 books at the library and she’s finished them within a week.  current favourites are anything in the fantasy genre, graphic novels (including asterix and tintin) and rereading multiple times her favourites (harry potters, deltora quest)
  • recently she has dressed up as ‘lighting girl’ and a human cannonball for a party and the school wacky walkathon.  she made the costume herself (with some help from a friend and us taking her to sav.ers)

FF 22-oct-09

  • social difficulties.  the playground is ruthless.  i don’t know if it’s the kids she chooses to befriend, or whether it’s something in her but she had neverending troubles.  One day last week she came home and said that her friend was ruining her life.  The next day she came home and asked if she could have a sleepover with the same friend.  This week it’s a different one that she’s struggling with.  I am stumped by how to help her through this and just hate to see her hurting.  and it brings up so much of my own playground experiences that i’d really rather not remember.
  • we played mono.poly with her last night and for the first time she really seemed to get it, being able to calculate change consistently and noticing when somebody landed on her properties and wheeling and dealing.
  • she hates having her photo taken and manages to grimace in most photos.  As such, it seems like we don’t have many photos of her.

McBean

McB 26-oct-09

  • is always full of mischief and fun.
  • sucking on leo’s tail – he cannot sleep without his leo and it really smells quite awful now
  • forever sneaking under the desk pulling at wires, typing on the keyboard at every opportunity, trying to make off with the mouse.  he has an uncanny ability to shut down the mini laptop with a few sneaky key strokes.
  • delight at hearing ‘no’ – it’s the funniest thing he ever heard and it seems to just work as incentive to do it again
  • In.digo Gi.rls.  He loves them.  They will settle him down whenever he’s hurt or upset, and help him to drop off in the car.  He hears the first bars of most songs of theirs and he starts grinning and dancing.  Baba’s boy!
  • he absolutely loves being outside and needs to get out.  this is proving problematic for a mama who much prefers the indoors and a baba with severe hayfever.  that said, we manage to get to many parks, playgrounds and play centres that he just adores traipsing around.
  • he got many trucks for his birthday.  and he loves them.  i’m conflicted about this because i hear so often people say – oh he’s such a boy, he loves wheels because he’s a boy and i hate that.  we make sure he has a wide range of things to play with including dolls (he loves to suck on their heads and cart them around.  he’s fascinated with their eyes).  i was very proud of his Auntie R who gave him a truck AND a doll for his birthday!  I want him to be free to choose to play with and enjoy what he wants to, but i’m still very conscious of all the gender conditioning flying around (from the outside and also the unconscious stuff that we no doubt do)
  • i love the way he walks and nearly runs around the house with his arms in the air.  we follow him around putting books back on bookshelves, things back in drawers (he particularly loves the kitchen utensils) and clearing a path amongst the toys strewn around.
  • I am still very much enjoying wearing him and he is always content in a wrap.  Sometimes it’s the only time I can get a snuggle.
  • He drinks enormous amounts of water and sucks on his drink bottle (with a straw) all day.  It’s much harder to get him to drink milk from a cup.  I was ridiculously happy to cut the formula out just before he was 1 (for so many reasons.  mostly just looking at the stuff made me feel like a failure).  He’s now drinking cow’s milk and eating wheat products without any adverse reactions so far (FenFox is struggling with that though).
  • I still have moments when I regret that I’m not breastfeeding him.  I wonder when that will go away.
  • At his birthday party he was so excited that he ran around the house shouting all day.

McB birthday party

  • He is so very happy and smiley and friendly.  He has a grin for everybody and one think I am glad to hear repeated is ‘he’s so happy all the time!  (he’s not though, just for the record)’ and ‘what a beautiful smile!’.  I love that he leaves a trail of smiling people in his path.
  • His only discernible word used in context is ‘ta’.  He has yet to use Mama or Baba or a form of his sisters name in context.  He seems to recognise signs but has only used them a couple of times (milk and eat and all done).  I don’t think we’re consistent enough for him to learn them properly.  He babbles constantly and lately his vocalisations have totally fit into the conversation we’re having with him which is always funny.
  • He had his first painting experience yesterday.

McB 1-nov-09

  • He almost always sleeps for exactly 90 minutes for his one and only day time nap.

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In my head

So once again, it’s been forever since I posted.  Life is kicking my ass… blah blah excuses are boring.

Tonight as I sit here after the children are both in bed and Lazyboo has taken advantage of that to go shopping, my mind is awash with so many different things that just can’t be compressed into a face.book update.  So here I am with my dot points.

  • Today we got some veiled criticism about the way we treat McBean (from FenFox’s principal of all people!)  We were telling her that we laughingly refer to him as ‘cyclone c’ or the captain of chaos or the master of mayhem or just mr destructo.  She pointed out rather subtly that these are quite negative things and we will want to be careful of saying such things to him when he’s 4 or 5.  So I’ve taken that on board somewhat, even though none of it is meant to be denigrating him at all – it’s actually quite admiring in a warped way.  As a result of this conversation, I think I’ll try to switch that to expressing to him my admiration of his drive, his curiosity, his energy and spirit and his determination.  He’s a force of nature, our little guy, and I couldn’t think more highly of him for that.
  • FenFox brought home her ‘learning profile book’ this week and was very proud to show us the story she had written for it: “Bananas of the Anacondas and King Jasmine Microwaves’.  Hilarious and incredibly imaginative.  If a lot bloodthirsty.  It really reflects the amount of quite mature fantasy books she’s been reading (lastest favorites include the Inher.itance Cycle by Chris.topher Pao.lini) and just how much of the information, language and themes she soaks up like a sponge.  On that note, she did a literacy week project on the third book in the series that I haven’t read yet and her teacher is currently holding it hostage.
  • I took part in a pilot course at ‘work’ recently called Tun.ing into kids (based on the work by John Gott.man).  It was fascinating and has had a big impact on both my parenting style and my relationship with FenFox.  Lots of acknowledgment of all forms of emotions and sitting with them without trying to swoop in and fix everything for her.  She’s telling me so much more and I feel so much closer to her even if I do have to think about and deal with just how hard it is to be her sometimes.  But I also get to see just how well she copes with it all which is incredibly powerful.  She’s an inspiration, my kid.
  • I’m coming to terms with some cold hard facts about my chosen career.  One, that getting a job isn’t as simple as I thought it may be.  There have been exactly NO jobs advertised in the field in this city for the last 2 months, so we may have to relocate for me to get a job.  Two, the salary I can expect, especially when starting out, is nowhere near as high as I would have liked.  This means that Lazyboo will have to work more than we had wanted her to, and McB will maybe have to be in care more often.  That is, if we can get it, and if it doesn’t cost more than the work will bring in.  In short, we’re going to continue to struggle financially even after I get a job.  Grump.  I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not about the money…
  • Lazyboo and I sat down with R1 last week to discuss how FenFox is going.  It was a useful and productive conversation, much to our surprise.  The big highlight of the discussion though, was his decision that yes, he will sign papers that will enable us to get a court order giving us sole parental responsibility for her.  This is a necessary step for our plan to move to the UK in 2011-2012.  Now we just need to gather the finances!
  • I’ve been reading lots of feminist blogs.  I’m learning a lot and thinking so much more about things.  But sometimes I don’t think this is a good thing.  It’s completely awful just how fucked up things are and I don’t know how useful it is for me to be becoming more aware of that just now… see next point.
  • Over the last month or so I’ve been feeling myself slide into that awful dark pit of depression again.  Right now, I feel like I’ve caught the side and am still close enough to the top to be coping but it’s scary and precarious.  There’s so many things I could be doing to make myself feel better but instead I am dwelling and self sabotaging and continually punishing myself.  And I don’t know how to stop this cycle.  I haven’t even managed to do so much as make a GP appointment so I can get a new mental health plan so I can go back to see the lovely Marianne who will no doubt help me get myself together once again.  Something is stopping me.  I wish I knew what that was.
  • At the same time, my life is pretty charmed right now.  I’m doing work that I enjoy and find challenging and rewarding.  My children are thriving and wonderful and provide me with so much joy that I’m overflowing.  Lazyboo and I are rock solid despite the many bashes and bumps that assail us.  She’s just an amazing person and I’m so very lucky to live my life with her.  Now if only we had a little more money so it’s not a constant stress, and Lazyboo could figure out what she needs to do career wise, life would be perfect.

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I’ve been quite ill for the last week and have completely dropped the ball.  I have played very little part in running the household, and Lazyboo has rather efficiently and seamlessly assumed the mantle of all knowing all doing baba hen.  The kids have barely noticed.  I’ve felt taken care of and nurtured and free to concentrate on just breathing.  The toll it’s taken on Lazyboo is another matter though – she’s just plain exhausted.

Equal parenting has always been an ideal for us.  Before McBean came along, it was an idea and a goal, but one that we were a long way from.  I parented FenFox solo for the first 4 years of her life (with some limited input from her dad).  When Lazyboo arrived in our lives, that intense dyad could not survive.   FenFox and I needed to maintain our close nurturing relationship while letting somebody else in.  And FenFox and Lazyboo needed to develop their relationship at their own pace, and the parenting aspect to that (something that was decided and agreed quite early on) couldn’t be forced or pushed too hard.  This resulted in a typical nurturing primary parent (me), more distant working parent (LB) dichotomy.  It was something I just was never very comfortable with.  Because of course right from the start I wanted to ignore the many variables and complications that a step family brings and move right along to playing happy families.  After I got over that idealism (but if I’m honest, I’ll admit that I never really have), I realised I needed to take a step back and let things happen more organically.  Over time, LB and FF have worked hard at their relationship (and I’ve learnt to try and let go and leave them to it).  It has never been easy, and it is not helped by an unfortunate clash of two strong personalities and the seeming inability to understand each other.  FenFox’s extended frilly pink princess stage was a big challenge for Lazyboo!  But despite that, they genuinely do love each other, and watching their relationship evolve is a real privilege.

Things were very different from the start with McBean.  He has had two equally involved parents from pre conception.  With McBean, I’ve never felt part of an intense enclosed dyad like I did with FenFox for many years.  We’ve always been a tryad.   There has been no aspect to parenting McBean that I felt I’ve played a bigger part in than Lazyboo, and that includes pregnancy, birthing and breastfeeding.  We played different roles, yes, but equally important and weighted ones.  Now we have a little guy who seems equally attached to both of us.  He will be comforted by either of us, isn’t concerned which of us is with him, though he prefers both.  Lazyboo, being the one with the job right now, has probably spent more time away from him, but we’ve made many efforts to not let that make a difference.  From birth, Lazyboo changed her work hours to work a full week in three extremely long days so she could be home 4/7 days in a week.  And because I have those three long days at home with McBean, when we’re both home, I tend to switch off a bit and play second fiddle to Lazyboo’s parenting.  At the beginning, this was a conscious decision that took some effort (because I may have some control issues…)  Now it’s second nature, and has got to the point where Lazyboo will actually ask me to tune back in a bit more.  Lazyboo also tends to do more night parenting.  This is logistical more than anything else – she’s a really light sleeper, I’m a heavy one.  By the time I wake up, she’s generally dealt with it.  Throughout the last 4 months, I ‘ve been doing a course with a work placement, so have been spending varying amounts of time out of the home.  McBean hardly seems to notice that I’m gone, and he’s home with his Baba.  All in all, I think we’ve done a good job so far of equally parenting McBean.  It’s because of this that this last week of me being so ill has had little impact on him.

But there are issues.  And most of them continue to be about FenFox.  Notice that I said earlier that LB, McBean and I are a tryad?  Where does FF fit into that?  Sometimes I feel quite torn… between the tryad and the dyad.  I worry that FF will not only notice (because I know she does), the difference in her relationship with LB and McB’s with LB, but be bothered by it.  And I’m frustrated that FenFox won’t see that in discussions between the parents in the house, both children are treated the same.  Lazyboo is as involved and on top of all the logistical and decision making aspects of parenting FenFox.  The food (including the myriad of issues there), the schooling, the activities, the social dramas, the emotional outbursts, the growing up.   Is FenFox aware of this?  Does she just see the distance that the two of them keep between them or does she see all the love care and attention that Lazyboo isn’t able show her directly? In short, I wish that there could be a tryad made up of FF, LB and I that works as well as the other one does.

When I look at my own parenting of my two children, I see little substantive difference.  They obviously have very different needs.  I love them both to distraction and do all I can to meet those needs and make sure they know how much they are cherished and loved and valued by me. As parents LB and I are getting along incredibly well.  We argue and disagree at times but we manage to discuss and resolve things fairly easily.  I feel supported and loved in this relationship as a mother and as a person.  I hope that Lazyboo feels the same way.  The children are developing a really lovely relationship.  FF loves her little brother and often sits to play with him or read to him.  He lights up when she’s around, and just adores her.

The concerns I have about Lazyboo and FenFox are far from new.  They’ve been discussed and explored and examined from all angles by both of us for years.  I’m actually feeling better about it all now than I have in a long time.  Because I’m starting to spend more time out of the home, they’ve been forced to get on with it without me interfering.  And they do a far better job of it when I’m not around.

There is of course another added complication to parenting FenFox, and that is that she has another parent (or two if you ask her).  FenFox goes to her Dad’s house for two nights every second week, and for dinner on the off week.  When it comes to parental responsibility and decision making, though, R1 has very little input.  This was not our doing, but his.  Until the last couple of years, we consulted him on every little thing.  But he was never interested and just told us to do what we thought best.  So now we just do, and let him know the bigger or more important stuff.  Sometimes he’s interested in that, sometimes not.  This is another thing I’ve had to learn to let go of.  Somehow FenFox seems to have developed a completely comfortable and secure idea of her Dad.  He loves her, he’s her Dad, and it doesn’t really matter to her what he does and doesn’t do.  She’s very philosophical about it all, and of that I am glad.  But all of that adds another layer of complication to our family.  FenFox has another family that she’s a part of.  That she truly feels a part of.  That adds further to the feeling that we’re a tryad of Lazyboo, McBean and I with FenFox joining in.  Will that bother her?  Will it bother her that we will do things without her on a regular basis?  Will it bother McBean that his sister has a Dad and he doesn’t?  That his sister has another whole extended family with doting grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, and he doesnt?  So many questions that I guess only time will provide the answers for.

Things are going to change around here soon (if we are all ever healthy again at the same time… what a crazy winter it’s been).  I’m going to get a job and be the parent who works most outside the home.  Lazyboo will become the mostly at home parent.  I have high hopes that this will be the final straw that will allow FenFox and Lazyboo to fully trust each other and for their relationship to blossom.  It’s going to be extremely hard for me.  Letting go.  But I truly believe it’s best for everybody that I do.

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