I’m a real laid back Mom. As a teen, danger was my middle name. I have the proud scars and trophies to show for it. And a fond memory of a black Kawasaki trail bike I spray painted myself, whom I named Tommy Ray after a character in Clive Barker’s grand novel The Great and Secret Show.
As a kid, I loved to play in the mud, climb trees, windows, the gate, just about everything and I never fell. I loved the outdoors and I loved risky adventures. We had a small garden filled with lots of plants and trees where a little girl could bring her stuffed animal friends and play make believe. It was a wonderful, happy, stress-free childhood.
I intend for Wolf to have the same.
So it is to no surprise that I not only encourage my son to climb, jump, play in mud, I also teach him safety rules. For instance, when he climbs, he must concentrate on what he’s doing, and he must hold on with both hands. If he needs help, he must ask. And I’ll only let him climb places which I deem safe, which is almost anywhere.
These days I am lazy and loathe the sun, but I will slather on sunblock and be prepared to swelter just so my boy can enjoy the park nearby and visit the lovely jungle trails at our zoo. And oh he loves it. He’ll swing like a monkey on the handrails while we wait for the tram and race through the path like a speeding bullet. He’s the most active child I know.
Research agrees risky fun play is critical for survival skills like making judgement calls and assessing danger, especially in this modern world:
According to the study, kids need the adventure of “risky” play: “Risk-taking increases the resilience of children,” said one researcher. “It helps them make judgments,” said another. They list examples of risky play that should be encouraged including fire-building, den-making, watersports, paintballing, boxing and climbing trees.
Arnon Lotem, a researcher at Tel Aviv University, found that modern people have adopted risk-taking behaviors similar to those of animals like rats and bees. And this behavior, Prof. Lotem says might not prepare humankind for the types modern dangers we face every day — like crossing the street, accepting a high-risk mortgage, driving on the freeway, or flying a plane.
(Sources: New Study: Kids Need the Adventure of “Risky” Play; Humans Evolved to Fear Snakes, Not High-Risk Mortgages or Risks at Traffic Lights)
Many people ask me why I practice attachment parenting (well, usually aspects of it like carrying Wolf, nursing him still at 2, and co-sleeping). Simply because it is the only scientifically proven method to produce a happy, smart, well-adjusted adult. This is not to say that other methods of parenting will not. But that attachment parenting (AP) consistently does.
If you want to build a airplane, you study to become an aerospace engineer. If you want to be a great lawyer, you study the law. If you want to become a doctor, you learn all you can about medicine and leverage on hundreds of years of medical experience and expertise to apply the best solution to a patient’s problem.
So why do so many parents not approach parenting the same way? Many don’t even bother to pick up a book or Google for advice and instead listen to well-meaning advice (aka hearsay) from dubious sources. The precious generation did not know best. Look at all the outdated practices like spanking and cry-it-out debunked and proven seriously harmful already. Now, surely during this age of enlightenment and science, scientists have come up with a “best practice” for parenting. And indeed they have.
It is attachment parenting. And you don’t even need to pick up a book although I will recommend a few. Google “attachment parenting” and a whole wealth of resources will be at your feet (if you can see them at this point, if pregnant).
Support from the scientific community is evident in the numerous research studies published on the various aspects of AP. It may not be apparent in the general attachment parenting pages but you’ll find them reported in scientific journals and the news. Keep an eye out for them.
Here are some AP practices:
1. Extended nursing
2. Sleep sharing
3. Positive parenting
4. Mutual respect
5. Enforcing limits
6. Natural food
8. Lots of hugs and attention, love, care, praise, encouragement, and smiles
9. Encourage baby to bond with others
10. Teach baby respect for himself and others
Now AP has been criticised for being extremely difficult to practice without an army of help. I agree. I have no one but my husband and occasionally my Dad to help out and am exhausted and sleep deprived every day. Everyone needs some time off and I am grateful I encouraged my husband and Dad to bond with Wolf since the day he was born. I trust them implicitly to care for him and he loves and adores them very much.
Despite my constant tiredness, Wolf and I have a wonderful bond which is evident in our matching grins when we share a joke, laugh together at funny things, sing together, or nurse together when I hold him like a baby again and he looks into my eyes with such love and adoration that I would slay dragons for him. Heck, he even lets me sleep in nowadays and gently suggests I wake once in a while with a big grin in my face and a “Good Morning Mommy!”
He is easy to bring out to town by myself in his Ergo carrier and stays close when on the run. I frequently get comments on how polite, well-spoken, and happy he is. He listens to me and will accept reason, negotiations, and bribery/carrots. (Yes! I am guilty!) Desserts are fruits and treats are tiny Japanese ice creams. He eats all the foods I offer and often asks for more vegetables.
I work very hard to be my husband’s cheerleader, as well as the cheerleader of all those important to my son. They are his heroes and I paint them as kind and loving and shining examples of humanity as I can and when held to task, they often exceed his expectations. For families, there’s this wonderful Ladybird book called My Superdad which I highly recommend everyone buying to read to their child. Dad will feel like a superhero every time his child points at him and says, “Look at that! It’s SuperDad!” like Wolf does.
AP is a journey. A wonderful journey for all parents who wish to embark on it. After all, you are building a lifelong relationship with this small mini-me of yours, why not make it a beautiful relationship. It has made me a better, kinder, more patient person (ask any of my friends!) keeping admirable Margaret Thatcher hours. Oh yes, the extra overtime you put in the first few years will save you years of worry, grief, and therapy bills later, so jokes one of the authors below. :p
Highly recommended books for a happy, sociable, smart, and loving child:
Note: no TV or daycare needed:
The Complete Secrets of Happy Children by Steve Biddulph
The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Dr Harvey Karp
The Happiest Toddler on the Block: The New Way to Stop the Daily Battle of Wills and Raise a Secure and Well-Behaved One- to Four-Year-Old by Dr Harvey Karp
Making Happy People: The Nature of Happiness and Its Origins in Childhood by Paul Martin
The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland
Wolf’s fave hangout is the zoo now. We’ve gone 3 times already this month and looks like this weekend we might head there again. I attempted to bond with the frustrated white tiger that keeps pacing but he refuses to blink back at me. The lioness that naps on the perch almost did though.
Last time, Wolf and his cousin Kaitlyn sang nursery rhymes all the way to the zoo. Both kids also went cheek to cheek with the giraffes and we had a few pics taken. On the way home, both dozed off with their mouths open.
Today we spent most of our time with the zebras and giraffes. When asked if he wanted to sit on the elephants, he said, look only. Later at home, he said, not scared, ready to ride. At the exit, we saw a baby horse and Wolf petted it gently!
Meanwhile, Wolf loves to smile for the camera now, although for now, it looks more of a grimace.
Wolf and Gavin last weekend. Gavin’s Mom is the ultracool supermom figur8 of Babylicious. The boys painted Suntec City, Orchard Road, and Great World City red while we Moms had a splendid time catching up.
Since I’ve gone green, rather horrified by the damage one could do to the environment, oneself, and one’s family with the current crap they put in personal care, I’ve thrown (don’t wash down the sink – it will pollute our water even more – remember: closed loop) away my shampoos, hand soap, and skin care.
Instead, now I use the Australian organic brand Suki which Watson’s carries at a really reasonable price for my face and neck (night cream cos I am old), lotion for my arms and legs, and face wash for face. As for sunscreen, after much research I picked up California Baby’s Citronella SPF 30+ and have been using it since (cost me $29.90 at Brown Rice Paradise).
We don’t use hand soap anymore. I’ve replaced them all with natural soap from Victoria Market (thanks Joyce) and Kiss My Face’s Shampoo and Conditioner. I have fond memories of soap. They smell nicer too. Natural. Not that tart smell hand soap has. Plus we save on a plastic pump bottle too. Very much more eco-friendly. I didn’t buy a soap dish but used a porcelain cup lid instead. Works well.
On the rare occasion I actually use make up, I use my old Revlon eyeliner, some Japanese brand of eye brow pencil, metal eyelash crimper, Maybelline Great Lash since 1922. Since talc is kind of toxic to lungs, I stopped using that but am using Wolf’s Playtex corn starch powder (he never used it) as powder. It has fragrance but at least I am not polluting my son’s lungs when I put on make up. Concealer, which I totally need for my undereye, is Revlon.
Since I never went for SKII in the first place but stuck with L’Oreal and $5.99 shampoos, the cost of going organic was a tad higher but I find my skin never ever getting a rash and it is clear and glowing (could be cos I stay out of the sun too), plus the soap lasts eons more than the lousy Lux we used to use.
I’ve always admired how good my sister looks sans make up, especially since she became an Earth mother (went organic and all). Now I’ll just have to figure out how to deal with the hair.
The moment I read that plants can remove household chemicals from the air, I went and Googled which ones. Turns out the Areca Palm, Lady Palm, Bamboo Palm, Dracaena (“Janet Craig”), and English Ivy are the top rated house plants among 50 that can purify your air. This comes from a scientific source, Dr B.C. Wolverton who published the must-have book How to Grow Fresh Air.
Now, since we are a multi-cat household, I have to make sure that the plants are safe in case the cats decide to chew on them. I Googled and cross-checked the safe plant list from the plant sciences department at UC Davis and printed that out.
Then I acquired a copy of Wolverton’s book and pored through it. It is worth buying as it tells you how to care for the plants too as well as the crucial which plant removes which chemicals better (aha!). Important for well-intentioned brown-thumbed people like myself who can kill cactuses (my 2 are dead) and have a memory made of cheese. Anyway, I got mine off Amazon but Kinokuniya sells it too (they brought it in too late and I got impatient).
Armed with all the information, I consulted my godmother, who can keep bonsais alive without watering them (evidently she got all the gardening talent in the family) and she told me to buy the plants from the nursery or Ikea. Pouncing on the opportunity to spend nagless hours at the nursery, she volunteered to take us to Far East Flora and in a win-win afternoon, we browsed to our hearts’ content while my godpa wheeled a thrilled Wolf around in the plant carts.
That day I picked an Areca Palm, Boston Fern, Basil and Mint (to ward off the flies who love the kids’ poo pans), and a Janet Craig plus 2 cactuses which are dead now. So are my orchids. Okay, that’s another story.
But anyway, not long after, I went to Ikea and picked up another Janet (the one plant that is flourishing), Areca Palm (which Boy and Buffy love to chew), and another Janet-like plant that I still can’t identify but it was $1.50 and is still alive. I got a mini-Boston Fern or Kimberly Fern (they look alike but the Kimberly drops less) and to date it looks like Batman’s nemesis Two-Face (half dead half alive).
My sister donated a large flourishing Boston Fern and that lucky plant showers with me every few days (it loves to shower) and cleans the air in my room very well. Day time I take all the plants out to sun and in the evening I bring them in to clean the air. Incidentally, the plant which is thriving the best is interestingly, the Janet. Lush leaves are sprouting every day and it is growing taller than a weed.
I’m happy to report all the plants, save for those reported dead already, are still alive and seem quite happy living here, despite the occasional rude chomp from a hungry cat. Perhaps even a brown thumb can turn green with enough information, love and care, and the right amounts of sun and water.
Hmm… maybe tomorrow we’ll go to Ikea with my large Reisenthal bag…
The one thing I wanted real bad as a kid was to celebrate Halloween. How could I not? All the books I read had children in funny Halloween costumes going from house to house trick or treating. It was THE thing to do as a kid. But of course, here we never celebrated it. And if we attempted it, neighbours would probably think we were whacked.
Then again, this generation might be a tad more open-minded with global television and the Internet. And we live in a different neighbourhood now. We know all our neighbours and they know us, and most of them are kind and friendly, especially since we had Wolf. I can truly see Wolf, in a few years, togged up in some cute Halloween costume inspired from the Costume Chatter Blog carrying an empty pumpkin I probably scooped out for him, with a group of friends trick or treating to the bemused aunties and uncles in our block.
Despite this being a rather safe country, I’d still watch from afar and warn him to stay close, limiting his adventures to our block and on the ground floor only where I can see him. I’d grill him on Halloween safety tips to ensure he doesn’t get in trouble. And his evening of Halloween fun would end right here, at home with Mom giving him and his little friends a ton of nice treats and a Halloween party.
Wouldn’t you say that’s living vicariously through my baby?