Odd food combinations, delayed childbearing, and vomit tricks: A roundup of readers’ comments

The last time I posted a comment roundup was in October.  Since then I’ve learned a lot about (and from) the growing number of Growing Sideways readers.  Lis copped to having become an expert at catching vomit since her son was born.  Jessie weighed in with her perspective from the lab on the challenges of translating behavioral science research in the mainstream press.  Anne wrote about what it was like to be, at age 32, the first of her friends to have a kid .  John C. said he can’t sleep at night as long as the Whole Foods bathroom fiasco remains unresolved.  Martha said her son’s piano recitals make her so happy “she could burst.” Jayne made an apt comparison between polygamy and the emotional trauma that visits an oldest kid when a baby sibling is born.

And oh yeah.  It turns out, against odds, that Jay’s not the only one out there who likes butter and peanut butter on his English Muffins

Jessie in response to Balancing science and intuition in how we raise our kids

Hi Kevin! Great post. As someone who does this kind of science, I often think about how it actually applies to (and is interpreted) in the “real world” (I personally think that the application to clinical, or “high risk” populations, and hence to policy and treatment, makes the most sense). But regardless of what scientists intend for their research, I think you’re absolutely right that (particularly middle-class) American parents take these things very seriously. And what’s really interesting is how research gets translated in the media. Half of my time in graduate school classes is spent tearing apart the methodology, interpretation, etc. of just the type of research that gets put out into the world in headlines as simple and true. Research is never simple and true… and culture, SES, genes, you name your 3rd variable, make it very difficult to generalize anything.

On another note, one of the things people often don’t take into account when thinking about comparing something like parenting between two cultures is how you define “positive outcome”. You are going to parent differently depending on how you want your kid to fit into your particular culture/society. For example, there are contexts in which it is very adaptive to teach your kid to respond aggressively to aggression because they are going to have to survive in a violent, aggressive environment (that’s an extreme example, but I think the idea applies in a lot of contexts). I think the more basic point that applies to parenting and intuition is that every individual family values different things and raises their kids accordingly. If you value art and creativity, your child becoming a struggling musician after school is a positive outcome, if you value academic success and stability, this would be terrifying…

Thanks for your blog! It’s amazing how often something you write here about your daily experiences as a parent will relate to a theoretical discussion I had in class that same week.

Maia in response to Balancing science and intuition in how we raise our kids

Neat video, Kevin – thanks for sharing. It seems to me that some of the payoff might be at the level of policy. For instance, language learning among lower-income children could be dramatically affected by early childhood education, subsidized care-giving, etc., as this sort of research suggests: http://www.apprenticeshipofbeinghuman.com/2012/01/20/compelling-early-childhood-numbers/

Lis in response to An entire week boiled down to two disgusting minutes

Love the title. Who could resist reading this? I can relate. Only since becoming a parent have I had the opportunity, on multiple occasions, to catch vomit in my cupped hands. Parenthood is full of lessons, among them how to clean up gross stuff you’ve never had to deal with before!

Chris in response to Figuring out when (and when not) to say “no”

I used to love pb and butter, too, but then for some reason stopped in my childhood. Maybe it was about the same time I took a fancy to pb and blue cheese on saltines. Yum! But I’m still looking for someone who’ll share that pleasure with me.

Allison in response to Figuring out when (and when not) to say “no”

My mom loves toast with peanut butter and butter, so Ryan actually would have been served well if he ordered the same at his in laws’. You never know!

Anne in response to Baby Boom

Thanks for the article, Kevin. That’s one I’ll have to print out to read and digest—there is a lot of interesting information contained in it.

Almost all of our friends went on to have children after we did—I like to think that because our daughter was such a wonderful example, that tipped them in that direction–lol! Seriously, I think the time was finally “ripe” for all of us at that point. For me, the delay in having children was due more to a deferred growing up period than anything else. I had four years between college graduation and my entry into graduate school, and those four years were not marked by a particularly mature approach to life. So, when I finally did marry, I was completely ready to give up the “single” life (and by single, I mean childless.)

One of our friends just had his first child three and a half years ago when he was 58. He’s the last straggler, but another friend had his first child around 6 years ago when he was in his early 50′s.

I do think there’s a trend toward having children a little earlier again, but that is just based on some anecdotal evidence in the nephews on my husband’s side of the family and in some members of my profession who tend to start work a little earlier than most college grads (sign language interpreters).

John C. in response to The longest 12 seconds anyone’s ever spent in the men’s room at Whole Foods

No fair there, Kevin. You had me laughing out loud almost uncontrollably and then BAM! we were looking out the window at the neighbor kid shooting hoops in the cold. You have to go back and finish that pee. You can’t just leave poor Jay emptying his bladder for the rest of eternity. Please, if not for the reader’s sake then for Wally’s.

John B. in response to Rating Jay and Wally’s effect on my well-being

Relationships = -3? Kevin! The little lumps of whine that you are caring for will be just about the deepest relationships and the most long lasting ones in your life. If you miss an evening with an acquaintance or two, it’s still a way plus on this one. And they will lead you to making friends with their friends and their friends families, et cetera.

Anne in response to The Parent Interview #4: The nest is empty

Well, this post resonated very loudly with me! After 25 years of parenting, we, too, sent our younger child off to college this year and our older one is now married. We are empty nesters, well, at least until Michael comes home for summers and school vacations.

The line that Jayne wrote, ” We loved our kids from before they were born”, eloquently expresses how I feel about my children. I would add that besides potty training and drivers’ ed, the college application process can be difficult too. There are other, really frightening things about having children—the thought of losing a child or having a child get hurt can be paralyzing, so I’ve always tried to focus on just how lucky I’ve been to have my two children and to love them and watch them become the adult versions of themselves.

I believe that children are who they are when they are born. We, as parents, can give them love and help them grow, but in the end, it’s totally up to them to be the kind of person they want to be. So, I’m grateful that my daughter and son are true to themselves while finding their way in the world. I hope to always be close to them and have a strong relationship with them—I can’t imagine life any other way.

Lis in response to How a toddler’s tantrum might produce two kinds of happiness

Thank you–very interesting, as always! It’s good to make time for reflectiveness, both in the moment and afterwards. Funny, though, how parents seem to spend so much time thinking about whether or not they are happy. Unlike our jobs, hobbies, eating habits, even our marriages and friendships, the decision to become a parent, once made, cannot be reversed. And so we have to find a way to come to terms with parenting’s lows. The best way I’ve found is to deliberately tap into and focus on those highs.

Martha in response to How a toddler’s tantrum might produce two kinds of happiness

Wow, I am at the opposite end of the spectrum. I rarely find happiness in the in-the-moment bad situations with my kids. I think of every time my son sits down for piano practice and it turns into an argument. Definitely no happiness there. On the other hand, when he gives a recital, I am so happy I could burst. In addition, unlike your ratio, I can’t create one because I find the in-the-moment situations to be many in count, but rarely high in intensity, so I can’t compare them to the happy situations (in the moment or reflective) which I find to be fewer in count, but very intense. So let’s hear it for intense happiness and being able to shrug off the day-to-day bad stuff.

Leslie in response to Regarding Wally, Jay’s still not sure how he feels

Perhaps Jay doesn’t understand that pooping and peeing on people are bad things. With all the potty training, you may have been putting a positive spin on bathroom-related things. Do you praise him when he goes to the bathroom? Kids have to learn that poop and pee are “yucky.” I babysat a child who insisted on pooping on the floor and then stepping in it. He thought poop was cool. My point is that Jay may not mean anything remotely malicious by the spitting and pooping comments. He may just think it would be fun to poop on his brother.

Wendy in response to Regarding Wally, Jay’s still not sure how he feels

The other day my 3 1/2 year old was playing “scissors” (don’t ask) with 2 wooden pieces of train tracks and I heard him walk over to his baby brother and say, gleefully “now I’m scissoring you and then I won’t have any more brother!” His little brother giggled unknowingly at the attention and all I could do was sigh and hope he didn’t really mean it the way it sounded. Boys are so odd.

Jayne in response to Regarding Wally, Jay’s still not sure how he feels

I remember when we were getting ready to bring CJ home, that a friend said to me (regarding how Allison might adapt to a new baby in the house), “Just imagine Mark coming to you one day and saying: ‘I love you so very much that I want another just like you and I am moving them into our house right away.’” It might take me some time to think that was really a fabulous idea.

My dad in response to No sleep to spare

I could be cruel and say, “What goes around, comes around,” but I won’t. Still I remember my first born was a terrible sleeper for at least the first year of life. (And he was not a napper at all, which I still can’t figure.) It was thirty years ago, but I can stilll remember walkiing the floors night after night with him in my arms, hoping that the slow and rocking pace I kept would send him off to sleep. Oh he’d fake it alright, his limp head and body against my fatigued and pacing one. Thinking I had achieved success, I’d stop and wonder when would be the appropriate moment to put him in his crib. As if he could hear my thoughts, the boy would pull his head off my chest, and look up at me with an expression that seemed to ask, “Why did you stop?” You’ll both make it through this, Kevin. Your mom and I did.

John B. in response to Jay: my cognitive inferior for now at least

DO NOT try to compete with kids at the flip-over-the-cards-to-find-a-match game (whatever it’s called). The little buggers will eat you alive at that one. And I eat soup with a fork every day. (Ramen for lunch) and slurp the juice from the bowl. Jay, you and me, pal. (Fist bump)


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