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    Entries in carnival of natural parenting (2)


    the one with the bright skin

    Welcome to the July 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning About Diversity

    This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they teach their children to embrace and respect the variety of people and cultures that surround us. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


    Shortly after the Presidential election last November -- after we had, as a family, watched the debates, attended rallies and painted our windows on election night with Obama logos, then paraded outside with noisemakers as the results were announced and we breathed a collective sigh of relief -- we had friends over to play. George sat on the couch looking at a magazine with our neighbor's middle school-aged daughter, and they came to a picture of the newly reelected man we'd rooted for. 

    "Who's that?" our friend prompted.

    "Barack Obama," George replied. "But I don't like him. I like the man with the brighter skin." 

    Are you a racist, bro?I couldn't help myself. From across the room, I yelped, "WHAT?!" Do I need to put a disclaimer here, saying this is not the way I recommend you deal with the issue of racism with your kids?

    "Th-th-that's not true," I stammered. Our friend looked on in what I perceived to be sheer horror but what was probably actually bemusement. "You like Barack Obama! You LOVE Barack Obama!" I don't even love Barack Obama, but by golly I needed George to recant, but fast. Unsurprisingly, he didn't. Like most people who are confronted with their prejudice when someone insists that they've simply misspoken, he shrugged and carried on. 

    For awhile, I freaked out about it. Was George being cold to the biracial kid in his preschool class? Was there a reason he hadn't recently asked to play with Juanito from across the street? Has this affected any of the people of color in our lives? I didn't have to wonder for long if he realized they weren't white, because he began pointing out anybody whose skin color was darker than his. I countered with white people's hair color and eye color, trying to make it a zero sum game. But it didn't matter, and it didn't stop him commenting on even the subtlest tan. So I dialed back my anxiety that I was raising a racist, and remembered that, actually, I don't want to participate in color blind culture. I want my kids to see race, to value differences and, most importantly, to examine their feelings around it, not to mention their privilege. 

    So, we talked. I stopped trying to equalize George's every observation. I let him have the floor and when he asked me questions, his openness surprised me. Reframing his observations as...well, simple observations rather than the sinister, loaded comments I was inclined to bristle against has helped me to think more deeply about my own bias and privilege. And I began to understand, too (on another level, at least), how ingrained prejudice is in a culture when three year olds hear and take to heart the dog whistles sounding around them. Having a respectful, open dialogue about his ideas and challenging them, helping him to see the beauty in differences when his mind craves sameness, understanding what is developmentally appropriate instead of expecting him to have a nuanced understanding of race: these things have been imperative to our successful exploration of an admittedly uncomfortable topic.

    I look forward to the day when I can point out to George that the luxury of having this conversation at all is part of our privilege; that many, many people, some of whom we love dearly, experience racism, with no explanations, from the day they are born. With a foundation laid in honest, open dialogue, I'm hopeful that those discussions won't be far off, and their gravity won't be lost on him.  


    Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

    Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

    (This list will be updated by afternoon July 9 with all the carnival links.)

    • A gift for my daugther — Amanda, a special education teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities, discusses at My Life in a Nutshell how she will enrich her daughter's life by educating her the amazing gifts her students will bring to the world.
    • The Beauty in Our Differences — Meegs at A New Day writes about her discussions with her daughter about how accepting ourselves and those around us, with all our beautiful differences and similarities, makes the world a better place.
    • Accepting Acceptance and Tolerating Tolerance — Destany at They Are All of Me examines the origins of and reasons behind present day social conformity.
    • Differencessustainablemum discusses what she feels to be the important skills for embracing diversity in her family home.
    • Turning Japanese — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different shares how she teaches her kiddos about Japanese culture, and offers ideas about "semi immersion" language learning.
    • Celebrating Diversity at the International House Cottages — Mommy at Playing for Peace discovers the cultures of the world with her family at local cultural festivals
    • Learning About Diversity by Honoring Your Child’s Multiple Heritages — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of truly knowing your roots and heritage and how to help children honor their multiple heritages.
    • People. PEOPLE! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is trying to teach her children to use language that reflects respect for others, even when their language doesn't seem to them to be disrespectful.
    • Call Me Clarice, I Don't Care - A True Message in Diversity — Lisa at The Squishable Baby knows that learning to understand others produces empathetic children and empathetic families.
    • Diversity of Families — Family can be much more then a blood relation. Jana at Jananas on why friends are so important for her little family of three.
    • Diverse Thoughts Tamed by Mutual Respect — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work thinks that diversity is indispensable to our vitality, but that all of our many differences require a different sort of perspective, one led by compassion and mutual respect.
    • Just Shut Up! — At Old New Legacy, Becky gives a few poignant examples in her life when listening, communication and friendship have helped her become more accepting of diversity.
    • The World is our Oyster — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot is thankful for the experiences that an expat lifestyle will provide for herself as well as for her children.
    • Children's black & white views (no pun intended … kind of) — Lauren at Hobo Mama wonders how to guide her kids past a childish me vs. them view of the world without shutting down useful conversation.
    • Raising White Kids in a Multicultural World — Leanna at All Done Monkey offers her two cents on how to raise white children to be self-confident, contributing members of a colorful world. Unity in diversity, anyone?
    • Ramadan Star and Moon Craft — Celebrate Ramadan with this star and moon craft from Stephanie at InCultureParent, made out of recycled materials, including your kid's art!
    • Race Matters: Discussing History, Discrimination, and Prejudice with Children — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how her family deals with the discrimination against others and how she and her husband are raising children who are making a difference.
    • The Difference is Me - Living as the Rainbow Generation — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is used to being the odd-one-out, but walking an alternative path with children means digging deeper, answering lots of questions and opening to more love.
    • My daughter will only know same-sex marriage as normal — Doña at Nurtured Mama realizes that the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will change the way she talks to her daughter about her own past.
    • Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her multicultural family and shares Montessori-inspired ideas for encouraging respect for diversity.
    • EveryDay Diversity — Ana at Panda & Ananaso makes diversity a part of everyday living, focusing on raising of compassionate and respectful child.
    • Diversity as Part of Life — Even though Laura at Authentic Parenting thought she had diversity covered, she found out that some things are hard to control.
    • Inequity and Privilege — Jona is unpacking questions raised by a summit addressing inequity in breastfeeding support at Life, Intertwined.
    • 3 Ways to Teach Young Children About Diversity — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama recognizes her family's place of privilege and shares how she is teaching her little ones about diversity in their suburban community.
    • Teaching diversity: tales from public school — A former public high school teacher and current public school parent, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama values living in a diverse community.
    • 30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling — Traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Dionna at Code Name: Mama has come up with a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity education into your family travels (regardless of whether you homeschool). From couch surfing to transformative reading, celebrate diversity on your next trip!
    • Diversity, huh? — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn't do anything BIG to teach about diversity; it's more about the little things.
    • Chosen and Loved — From Laura at Pug in the Kitchen: Color doesn't matter. Ethnicity doesn't matter. Love matters.
    • The One With The Bright Skin — Stefanie at Very Very Fine tries to recover from a graceless response to her son's apparent prejudice.

    step away from the amazon list

    Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

    This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


    When you're pregnant, especially when you're pregnant with your first child, you're the world's most vulnerable consumer. You're a target for retailers, purveyors of all things teensy, pink and blue (and green -- with frogs -- if you're the sort of spoilsport who chooses to deny your baby shower attendees the personal fulfillment that comes with knowing whether to buy the onesie that reads Daddy's Little #1 All-Star Football Champion or the onesie with puffed sleeves and a glittery ADORABLE! applique). You have nearly ten months to daydream about the person you'll be meeting, and you want to make them happy. You want to make them so deliriously happy that you, poor daydreamy pregnant lady, will take "advice" from a website that suggests things you might like to purchase, you know, out of the goodness of its heart. Because It just wants to help.


    7 month pregnant, summertime me

    Preparing for a first baby is kind of like getting ready to welcome an exchange student: you can run all over town looking for Vegemite, hang up Australian flags and learn the most current slang, but odds are the kid will just want to take a nap and hang out with some nice people. I'm the first to admit that I fell prey to the buy-this-now mentality of preparing for parenthood. I wanted my bases covered, and who was I to argue with Pregnancy magazine, or that person's "must have" list, or the people I knew who already had kids? If someone had told me that all my kid really needed was an attentive, loving, present parent, a place to sleep and some diapers, I'd have been skeptical but grateful. Well, if I had it to do over again, here's what I wouldn't buy, and what I would.

    I Would NOT Buy:

    1. A bumbo. There's a reason babies that age can't sit up. Give it... like, a week and a half, oh wait? He's sitting up. Now he's walking. Just let the kid roll around for awhile and be developmentally appropriate!

    2. A bouncer. George hated it. He was not impressed by the "mid-century modern styling" or iPod dock. I wanted to hold my baby, and he wanted to be held. Nature's bounciest bouncer is a walking mama whose milk's just come in. I don't come with an iPod dock, but my rendition of A Bushel and a Peck is not too shabby.

    3. An infant car seat. We didn't -- just went straight for the convertible -- and never wished we had one of what we lovingly call "the buckets." When we went to a restaurant, we held George so he could be a part of the action and nurse if he wanted, while we ate. At the store, he was strapped to mama or papa. No flat head, no giant contraptions to accommodate in small eateries. 

    4. Any baby food making supplies. I got a food mill and special baby-stomach-portion-sized silicone freezer trays that were glorified ice cube trays at four times the price of the ones meant for water. You know what works for mushing up food? Forks. Your fingers. Popping something on the stove to steam or in the microwave to soften doesn't take long, and if my kid is freaking out, Ican'twait hungry, I should've been paying better attention to his cues. 

    5. Toys. You'll get hand-me-downs and gifts, and unless something really speaks to you like George's Waldorf teether doll (hates it) did to me, you don't need to buy it. If you know any older babies, see what they gravitate toward. See if yours takes an interest in anything, and if you can find something similar at a consignment or second hand shop.

    6. Brand new parenting books. With the exception of the Sears' Baby Book, I don't need to own any of the books I've bought. Borrow from the library, or, if you're a bibliophile like I am, check thrift store shelves for deals. 

    7. A separate sleep space (crib, hammock, pack & play). It saves money, and it's nice to sleep with your family. It also makes breastfeeding easier, and the store will still be there if, after the baby's born, he turns out to be one of those have-to-sleep-alone types. 

    8. Shoes. Why did I buy shoes? They were just so cute. Those tiny Adidas still call to me. They call, "we cost $30 and never fit your kid!" 

    9. "Normal" clothes. If I think about my ideal wardrobe, it would consist of things with elastic waist bands, made of the softest knit imaginable. Socks that don't leave marks on my calves. Shirts that don't bunch up at my armpits or pull across my back. Nothing that gives me a muffintop. Nothing uncomfortable, ever. Then, still, people would somehow always think I looked completely precious. Babies have that last bit covered, so don't try to stuff their little bellies into jeans no matter how cute they are or what a great clearance sale Gap is having. 

    10. Fancy cloth diapers. Don't get me wrong, here: I LOVE cloth diapers. Constantly buying things for someone to crap into would be unbearable for me. But, I bought a giant stash of Bumgenius at $16something a pop only to discover after a few months of use that -- for US -- they leak, don't fit that well and get stinky no matter how diligently I strip them or painstakingly I make my own detergent. The prefolds and consignment shop covers, however, that total around $4 per set are reliable workhorses.

    gratuitous newborn cuteness

    Now, onto the positive. DO Buy:

    1. An Ergo. Baby wearing saved my relationship with my son. He wanted to be in my arms at all times, and I was a frustrated, tired mama who could get nothing done between hourly, 30-45 minute-long feedings. George learned to sleep in the Ergo and it was like having a new lease on life. 

    2. A king sized bed. We didn't originally intend to co-sleep, but clingy daytime George didn't turn independent once the clock struck nine PM. We tried to make our double bed work until tax season made a new mattress a possibility. Every night when we all snuggle into bed, it still feels like a luxury.

    3. Our highchair. It's small enough to fit in our little kitchen, is all wood and inoffensive. It was also $60 (take that, Stokke). It converts into a little chair and table, and I love to imagine toddler George sitting there, helping himself. 

    4. Cloth diapers. Just not the fancy ones.

    5. A sling for papa. One he will actually wear. Nathan was able to bond with George by wearing him, and it's still their special, sure-fire nap time spot. 

    6. Dr. Sears' Baby Book. Even though some of my friends were attached parents, I felt awash in unsolicited, unhelpful advice when my baby was pegged as "needy," "fussy" or "high-maintenance." When I found Dr. Sears, and read that it was OKAY to sleep with my baby, GOOD to feed him when he seemed hungry rather than on a schedule, HEALTHY to keep him close by wearing him, it felt nothing short of revolutionary. Dr. and Martha Sears have solved so many of my "problems" just by encouraging me to follow my instincts to provide loving care to my child. 

    7. An iPod or Kindle or something to entertain you. Gazing at your beautiful newborn is great for awhile, but when you're nursing for eight hours a day, you need something to do so you're not frustrated, trying to hurry him up. 

    8. Good quality toiletries: body wash/shampoo, diaper cream and massage oil. Don't skimp on the products that go on your naked baby. 

    9. A few pretty, functional mobiles. I made ours, and the black, white and gray one that hung over George's changing table for the first few months was the first thing he smiled at.

    10. Nice nursing bras that fit you. Get fitted by a professional at Nordstrom or a local lingerie shop (NOT Victoria's Secret). Don't underestimate the difference this can make in your day to day. 

    magical Ergo

    We made a lot of mistakes and continue to buy things we don't need, but I hope these top and bottom ten lists help someone avoid the "Amazon recommends" trap that is so easy to trip right into when your eyes are starry and nine months seems forever away. 


    Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

    Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: