Sunday, January 20, 2013

It's a Jungle Out There

I hit the 'hard stuff' on Wednesday nights.
I'm not ashamed about it.
A cup of Earl Grey or a glass of Cab might suffice 6 nights of the week, but never on a Wednesday.
Women who have more than 2 kids, only a single year apart, must be drinking by noon.
Either that or they take high doses of Valium while recording soap operas on their DVRs.
Then I imagine, they lock their children in cribs and playpens for hours while they lay (catatonic) on their couches.

The Cousin keeps me moving. Here she is so thrilled because she found Elmo on her Ipad.
HER IPAD! In a pretty pink case no less.
Would you believe I didn't know how to locate the app she wanted? No shit.
So, she took it from me, after my ridiculous fumblings, and in one gentle swoop of her tiny,     19-month old index finger, she found the Elmo app!

This is cause enough for a "stiff one".
The idea that a 19-monther can use technology quicker and more efficiently than me,
is nothing short of humiliation.
Young moms got that down.  Technology.

I witnessed it at the park this afternoon and it, amongst other things, appalled me.
Yes, appalled me.  So many young mommies on their IPhones; texting, talking and god knows what else while their toddlers ran wild; screaming and carrying on between the swings and the big, yellow climbing train.  And the small group of women that weren't on their phones?
Oh! They were huddled in a circle laughing, gossiping, flirting with the one and only dad; devouring every minute of "grown-up" time they could possibly squeeze in.
Call me "old-school" but I gotta ask it, "Was one damn mom interacting with their child? Was one parent playing hide-n-seek or going down the slide or building a sand tunnel with their child?"  NO!
This led to me becoming a stressed out, judgmental wreck.
Some 4-year old stole The Cousin's favorite pink ball; took it all the way across the grass and wouldn't give it back to me. Then, I ran to help a kid who appeared to be a mere 16 months, as she went head-first down the slide and ate a mouth full of sand at the bottom.
Next, I helped a little girl out of a swing because she had been crying for her mama for a good
5 minutes.
All the while, I've got Sweet Pea on my chest in her baby Bjorn.  I feel like a mother kangaroo wearing that thing, but it does aid me in multi-tasking, especially when I've got to manage the entire jungle!

I ask you, What's the world's coming to? Kids on their own to fend for themselves like baby jaguars in a jungle?  How does a child play hide-n-go-seek by himself? How does a toddler get in and out of a swing by herself? And here comes the teacher in me:  How do children obtain the much needed language upon entering kindergarten, if no-body's talking with them!?

The park was packed. It was nuts.
Screaming, crying, lots of "kid issues" needing solving and grown-ups in their own damn worlds, completely oblivious. Here comes the soapbox...
Children are growing up without language skills and without socialization skills.
What I witnessed today was so disheartening; a microcosm of perhaps the condition of the world itself.

Maybe we need a serious conversation about this.

Yea, I get that there's no stopping technology. But what about eliminating the human touch factor?
That interaction that fills parents and kids, brothers and sisters, friends and pals with a personal sense of attention, understanding and love?
I'm talking about other things too like texts messages replacing phone calls.
Like a Facebook birthday wish replacing a hand-written birthday card that arrives in your mailbox.  Like an actual hug instead of a "xoxoxoxoxo" .
Are we complacent now? Have we just accepted that such ways of interacting with fellow humans is a "thing of the past"?
And back to the park moms...Are we so stressed-out and so self-absorbed, that we think our kids are fine playing 24/7 while we are on our phones, computers, Ipads or watching tv?
Do we think they'll be just fine if we sit them in front of a video game?

Now that I've become a seasoned nanny and an expert on so many subjects,  I must sound
arrogant and insanely pompous to y'all!
But The Cousin's parentals monitor her. Limit her with her Ipad. And they talk with her. Patiently. They answer her never-ending questions, while still giving her the encouragement she needs to explore, think for herself, discover. But they're involved and she's numero uno.
I like that about them. They also interact with her more than they interact with each other!
And she's smart as a whip!

"Let's make rain, Ball La Lee" she said to me.

Making Rain

Reading to Kitty

Hours past her nap time, The Cousin strangling Kitty

I have a lot in common with The Cousin. I, too, need my naps.  And so does this little beauty.

Sweet Pea is one determined little shit. Even a Radio Flyer trike can't stop her.  Here she's headed straight for The Cousin's book; you know the one we don't want her to have.
I gotta hand it to Sweet Pea.  If I had even an ounce of her fortitude, I could move Mt Shasta.

She was great at the park.  What I mean by "great" is that she didn't eat any dirt or leaves.
Last time, I had to do a finger sweep in her left cheek to remove the debris.
Of course, this time I didn't let her loose in the wild; kept her strapped to my chest in one of these handy-dandy devices.

This is a nanny's savior.  This gives a whole new spin on "multi-tasking".
I feel like some super heroine with Sweet Pea in this; like I could leap small building in a single
bound kinda thing.

Equivalent to Sweet Pea's determination is her curiosity. She continually wants to get into the dirty diaper pail. I'm thinking about just opening it up and giving her what she wants.
It might bring about the same outcome as rubbing a puppy's nose in the droppings that he
just left on the living floor.
Perhaps that will deter her from the pail.
She's a sweetie-pie though.  Her hair's getting pretty untamed. I like to spike it up whenever I get the chance. She and I have the "bed head look" going all day long!

"What's up?!"
I know it's so goddamn easy for me to write this, but today's circus at the park tells me it's time for parents to put the needs of their kids first.  I'm not talking about whether we buy them an Ipad or not. I'm talking about giving them consistent interaction, engaging in play with them (especially at a damn park), answering their endless amount of questions, teaching them to say, "thank-you" and all that jazz.

Space 7 had a bumper sticker on his pick-up that read:
"If You Can't Feed 'Em, Don't Breed 'Em".
Now, that's a good start.
I understand that it's a selfless job. And that even when parents are miserable themselves, they must somehow find an inexhaustible spring of emotional energy that is somewhere deep inside of them,  reserved only for their children. They must keep it flowing unabated.
It is there.


  1. Well, my friend and good and faithful nanny. I'v been to the park with Nancy's kids when they were young and saw parents doing the same thing. Walking away as their kids climbed the tall slide, or not keeping their kids from walking in front of someone swinging. I know parents can't watch their kids ever minute, but, hey, that park setting you wrote about sounded insane. Teachers know it, too. How to turn it around? Turn off the gadgets? That would help. Solve the problem? Probably not. Doesn't speak well for our current value system, specifically, how we value our own children. Sad! On another note, I like your personal holds barred! Tickled me that you couldn't find The Cousin's app. Now I don't feel quite so stupid myself!! Keep 'em coming, TPG!!

  2. @ BT, your perspectives and comments always are warmly welcomed. Thank you, dear friend and ardent reader.~tpg

  3. A treasured reader of my blog (who posted this comment on another site) gave me permission to post it here! Thanks Dani! ~tpg

    A very important installment, Val. I couldn't agree more. I don't have a child, but I can't help but be concerned when I observe kids growing up in this disconnected, wired world. Does gaming, apps, etc take the place of creativity, like drawing and physical activities, like playing outside in nature? What about the necessary socialization of communicating, simply talking and writing skills, which seems to be replaced by texting and emails? All these questions you ask in," It's a Jungle...". I'm glad you end on a positive note, as change begins with the individual's awareness, your own, and the conscious, loving attention you give to the kids you care for.