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They Lied

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Antonia, my oldest, was a born nervous wreck. If I didn’t know better, I’d have said that she’d been sharing womb space with Marilyn Manson for nine months. Traumatized is the only word I can use to describe her little facial expressions and her glass-shattering vocal pitch for the first year of her life. I do realize that newborns are supposed to cry. Some even have a condition commonly referred to as colic. But this was… different. Antonia seemed genetically-inclined to be disturbed by things like sunlight, water, nutrition, voices that didn’t belong to her mother, shiny things, furry things, socks, music, kisses, touching in general, and the concept of SLEEP, for crying out loud… I say this because she cried out loud. For YEARS UPON YEARS, she cried out loud.

When she was two months old, I decided to quit my job because I was afraid that day care people would surely throw her out with the dirty diapers just from sheer delirium. I thought, ONLY the person who gave birth to this thing can dig their claws into the cliff of sanity and keep from descending into prison. Alls I can say is THANK GOD I had that innate love thing going on. Otherwise, who knows.

But, unbelievably, doctor after doctor checked her out and told me how TOTALLY healthy she was. HOW, I wondered. She barely eats because she’s too busy crying. She sleeps in ten-minute increments, but only if I lay her on my chest and sleep in an upright position in front of a TV with the volume COMPLETELY turned down and the dryer humming ever-so-softly in the background. She bites her nails and pulls out her hair, and something tells me that if I offered her a cigarette, she’d actually BREATHE a little easier. She HATES life!

Friends and relatives tried to comfort me by telling me this parenting thing will get easier. They’d say things like, just wait till she’s walking, you’ll long for the days when you couldn’t PRY her off your leg with a good set of lineman’s pliers. Just wait till she gets some teeth and can eat candy… it’s the ultimate bargaining tool to get a kid to be quiet for a minute. None of those things turned out to be the Godsend that everyone guaranteed they’d be. Once she started walking she just grabbed my hand and took me with her as she screamed about the birds chirping or cold floors beneath her feet or people making eye contact. She had no interest in candy for the first five years of her life, either. It was like she KNEW there were ulterior motives involved in its flagrant distribution.

Something DID eventually make things all better for Antonia. Having another child. Jonah was my Godsend. He distracted his older sister by slobbering all over her pretty-girl shoes, and eating off of her plate, and grabbing fistfuls of her hair and taking them with him to another room. She loved him dearly for it.

She’s ten now. And, yes, much calmer. One might even say serene. But this parenting gig continues to knock me to my knees. Antonia wants an email account and her own blog now. I know lots of good parents out there have allowed their children the privilege of stretching their wings a little, and their worlds haven’t fallen apart for having done so. And I also know that there ARE options like parent-controlled email accounts and blogs. But I’m still not completely sure that she’s ready for THAT much independence. What would I have published on my blog had I been allowed such an opportunity at the age of ten? I realize that I’m someone who torched her high school diaries after college because she finally saw that excessive amounts of melodrama could corrode a person’s eyeballs. But, still, I wonder if I would have gossiped about that girl Debbie who had a head lice problem? Would I have confessed about my crush on Joshua Feaselman? Would I have talked about how afraid I was of Mr. Westbrook’s teeth? And my grandma’s closet? Would I have had the wherewithal to not give out my address and phone number and favorite place to ride my bike on weekends? I don’t know, but it makes me kind of glad that I didn’t have that option.

My daughter, on the other hand, is growing up to be a bright, discerning, thoughtful human being. But she’s still TEN. And, okay, yeah, maybe I’m missing that clingy baby of mine who didn’t know how to interact with the outside world for the first five years of her life. But it’s not just water and sunlight anymore. Scarier things exist. Chain letters, pornographic spam, forty-year-old men googling phrases like “I heart my Tamagotchi!â€? There’s only so much I can do to protect my grown baby now that she doesn’t demand that I hold her hand 23 hours of the day. And that kills me sometimes…. SO MUCH MORE than the glass-shattering cries ever did.

How about you… do you allow your kids to have email accounts and blogs?

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Comments
  • comment avatar diana/sunshine October 23, 2007

    my kids are old enough so i can’t answer that from a personal perspective. but i have a couple of friends who have allowed it with certain expectations and limits.

    one is that every post has to be approved by a parent before it’s posted. for one mom and kid, this has been great because they talk about what is inappropriate and unallowable. it’s an ongoing lesson and the communication between the two has been a wonderful thing and has extended into other areas of their lives.

    i think if you do it with a hands-on approach, it could work and be beneficial.

  • comment avatar Aimee October 23, 2007

    I would probably allow it at that age – with *lots* of guidance, involvement and limits. And I would be more inclined to allow the blog over email, for some weird reason it feels easier to control and protect. But I have a while to think about it yet, WHEW.

    Great post.

  • comment avatar Lizzy October 23, 2007

    I’m waiting till my daughter is 12, at the youngest, but I’m hoping to prevent it till she is 16 (I know I’m dreaming). I let her use my email and IM to write to cousins and friends so she isn’t totally kept in the dark but this way I can better protect her from things.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson October 24, 2007

    Ahhh yes. Where would we be without the innate love thing? Colicky kids wouldn’t be around, that’s for sure. 🙂

    No opinion on blogging yet. Though by her 4th birthday, I’m sure my daughter will be ready!

  • comment avatar Cheryl October 24, 2007

    Both my children (13 & 10) have email accounts. They email to family and friends. My oldest DOES NOT have a blog or myspace account. We don’t feel that she is old enough (or mature enough) to have one. “Just because your friends jump off a bridge doesn’t mean you have to…..” I think we still need to keep some things for when they are older.

  • comment avatar Teresa October 24, 2007

    I have no comment about the email however, your daughter sounds almost identical (scary) to my 18 year-old when she was a baby and throughout most of her life.

    As it turns out, she is obsessive compulsive and sight, sound, touch, and smell are very sensitive for her. Therefore, what you would consider adequate lighting could be uncomfortably blinding to her. The same goes with the other senses.

    She confided in me as she got older that she didn’t want to share this with anyone because she thought we would think she was crazy. Poor kid! Anyway, she explained to me that certain clothing bothered her skin to the point of a melt down and when I was driving, it would drive her crazy if I would run over more bumps on the left than the right.

    Sure hope this is the case with yours. Mine is 18 and has a very difficult personality. She has had to learn the hard way that melt downs at work don’t get you too far and that friends don’t understand it when you totally freak out over what appears to be small things.

    The truth is, when she has a melt down, it was not caused by the reason everyone thinks, it is usually brought on by discomfort caused by her OCD personality.

    Anyway, hope this isn’t the case with yours, just thought I would share.

    Good Luck,
    Teresa Phillips

  • comment avatar Teresa October 24, 2007

    Correction:

    Sure hope this is NOT the case with yours. Mine is 18 and has a very difficult personality. She has had to learn the hard way that melt downs at work don’t get you too far and that friends don’t understand it when you totally freak out over what appears to be small things.

  • comment avatar Pam October 25, 2007

    wow. No comment on email/blogging/etc… but this sounds like my baby as well! I’d taken my baby to the doctor 4 times before her initial 6 month wellness check thinking “surely something must be wrong with her!”. I spent every waking moment trying to get her to stop crying and trying to get her to sleep. I started timing minutes spent sleeping and it averaged 7.5 – 8 hours a day. My doctor thought I somehow miscalculated, but I didn’t. It was the absolute worst time in my & my husbands lives! Things got slightly better at 3 months, but still bad. Better at 7 months, and amazingly better at 9 months. Now, she’s a fussy, tantrum throwing, wonderful, healthy and happy 17 month old and I wouldn’t trade her for anything…. a year ago on the other hand……j/k

  • comment avatar Pam October 25, 2007

    wow. No comment on email/blogging/etc… but this sounds like my baby as well! I’d taken my baby to the doctor 4 times before her initial 6 week wellness check thinking “surely something must be wrong with her!”. I spent every waking moment trying to get her to stop crying and trying to get her to sleep. I started timing minutes spent sleeping and it averaged 7.5 – 8 hours a day. My doctor thought I somehow miscalculated, but I didn’t. It was the absolute worst time in my & my husbands lives! Things got slightly better at 3 months, but still bad. Better at 7 months, and amazingly better at 9 months. Now, she’s a fussy, tantrum throwing, wonderful, healthy and happy 17 month old and I wouldn’t trade her for anything…. a year ago on the other hand……j/k

  • comment avatar Amy October 30, 2007

    Yikes. Your daughter sounds like my son. I, too, kept taking him to the dr and wondering when the crying would stop. Wishing I could feel rested after 10 min sleep increments, quite literally, I kept believing it would get better. One night, I realized something was seriously wrong. Seriously. Took him to the ER. The result: diabetes. One blood test through all of that sleeplessness and crying could have saved a week in ICU, being med evac-ed to the other side of town, because his life may not have be long enough to survive an ambulance ride of 20 minutes, etc…
    He’s 2 1/2 now. Still clingy, but improving and is FINALLY sleeping through the night. And through the terror of all of that, I feel at peace compared to the decisions you have discussed which lay ahead… Thanks for the post. And good luck!

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