Posts Filed Under unenlightened parenting techniques.

I want to take credit for this, but…

by Janelle Hanchett

A few days ago, while I was hibernating in my room pretending I don’t have kids, Mac walks in with Ava behind him, looking rather serious.

My first thought was “Why are you annoying me in my time of need?” But I was more curious.

He sits on the edge of the bed (I was in bed, DUH) and says very seriously “Ava has something she needs to tell us.”

Oh holy mother of god.

I’m thinking horrible, crazy sick things. I’m thinking abusive teachers. I’m thinking twisted neighbors. I’m sure I’ve finally really completely blown it and she is now going to tell me that when I’m not around she listens to Nick Drake and tries to drown kittens.

I don’t freaking know. I went nuts.

In my head.

But I held it in, because obviously I want every detail of what the bastard did to her, so I say “what is it, sweetie?” in my most supportive, non-homicidal, non-freak-out voice.

She’s standing nervously with her hand partially covering her mouth, her eyes kind of imploring.


She shifts her body weight. I look at Mac. I’m ready to hunt the fucker down and remove his boy parts.

Mac’s with me. I can tell.

I ask again.

She looks at me and says very slowly… “Well, I didn’t want to tell you this, but I felt kind of ‘icky’ inside, like I was keeping something from you…”

And at this point I am SURE my life is about to change and it ain’t gonna be good. I mean our family is open like a parachute, we never have “side” conversations – nothing’s sacred, nothing’s personal – we pretty much just say whatever it is we’re thinking and hope for the best, no matter who is in the room. I realize this may not be the optimal communication dynamic, but it’s the way it is. So the fact that Ava wanted this discussion in private indicated DISASTER.

But by now my heart had just swelled and I wanted to grab her up and keep her with me for, well, forever. I could tell she was really struggling with something, and what she was about to tell me had been in her head and heart for a long time.

I tell her “no worries, Ava, what’s wrong?”

And she says, “Well, the thing is…I didn’t want to say this in front of Rocket, and I hope you don’t get upset…but…well…I know Santa isn’t real. I know you guys are Santa.”

There is a God!

She knows Santa isn’t real!

Mac and I smiled at each other, as my guts returned to their appropriate locations.

Then Ava says “I still want to pretend I don’t know Santa isn’t real, so that Rocket doesn’t know, and I’ll keep playing along for him, okay? But I wanted you to know so that I didn’t hold that secret inside. It felt funny having it in there.”

As I sat there watching her speak this little truth in what must have required a big dose of bravery, I was struck by her courage and her poise, her integrity, to face us and risk hurting our feelings – in the interest of truth.

Look, I know my kid isn’t perfect. I know she probably isn’t even phenomenal, though every ounce of my being tells me she’s the most spectacular child on the planet.

But sometimes our children have abilities that blow our minds. When I was a kid, I remember knowing Santa wasn’t real for many years, and I had no idea how to “handle” it. I couldn’t tell my mom. I pretended like I didn’t know but I felt like a fraud. At the same time, I liked pretending. It was fun. I thought it was what I was supposed to do. But at the same time, I felt awkward because I knew the truth…so I just wrestled with this until I eventually outgrew it.

Not this one. She saw the situation, felt her feelings and knew exactly how to handle it.

She set herself free.

I hugged her and told her she was amazing and that she could help us (like an insider Santa team) and we laughed and it was over.

And I was proud of her.

Some kids make an excellent case for nature over nurture, cause jeez, that kid’s got some moves I can’t even fake.



People suck. Expect it, Move on, Be free.

by Janelle Hanchett

Yesterday, Ava came home very upset. Like really upset. She was emotional and distraught and seemed overwhelmed and lost.

She explained that she had been betrayed by her friends…her “friends.” Not only had there been some flakiness surrounding the science fair (which Ava takes so seriously it sort of alarms me), she found out that two of the girls at her slumber party had snuck into her room and read her diary, after telling Ava to “please leave” because they were “talking about something private.”

She was absolutely betrayed and could not make sense of it on any level: why would they lie? Why would they hurt her like that? Don’t they really care about her? Aren’t they her friends?

As she asked these questions I did my regular searching-for-the-right-thing-to-say routine, in which I inevitably realize I am not cut out for this shit and should not be trusted with somebody’s emotional development.

I listen to her feelings and empathize and commiserate. I feel the urge to say supportive, encouraging, hoo-rah good-mothering comments to her, to boost her spirits and make her feel better…but I just can’t. I can’t get them out. I hear them in my head: “Oh, maybe they were having a bad day. Be a bigger person. Look for the good in them.” Blah blah fucking blah.

But just like in The Stuffed Seal Incident, I can’t bring myself to say them, mostly because that crap never worked for me or helped me and it pretty much always just pisses me off. All that positive self-talk crap.

So instead, I say the truth.

“Ava, people suck. People are self-interested and self-centered. Every person, no matter who they are or how much they love you or you love them or how good they seem, WILL, inevitably, at some point, let you down. They will fail to meet your expectations. They will hurt you. This is not because they are bad people, but rather because they are human. And as humans, they are flawed.”

Maybe that seems pessimistic or negative or defeatist, but I don’t really think it is. And here’s why: because it’s true.

It’s reality.

And the truth, in my opinion, is where the freedom lies and real growth can occur.

All that positive self-talk just polishes my anger into something more palatable, or covers it up long enough that I forget it’s there. Ah, but the truth. The truth changes things.

Now if any of you have a close relationship to a human being who has never once failed to meet your expectations, please let me know and I will adjust my theory…but as far as I can tell, not a single human has ever lived on this planet without royally fucking up at least once, injuring the people close to him or her in the process.

I’ve done it. Sometimes I don’t even know I’ve done it. I let people down without even knowing they expected something of me. I’ve been so lost serving my own interests that I don’t even realize my friend needed me. So I’m an asshole consciously and an asshole unconsciously.

That’s actually kind of impressive.

Anyway I was on a roll, so I kept going. “Ava, this doesn’t mean we just roll over and accept the way people treat us without question. We get to choose who is in our lives and who isn’t, and you can cross those girls out immediately if you want, and with reason, but either way, the sooner you let go of the expectation that friends and acquaintances are going to treat you in thoughtful, considerate ways all the time… the sooner you’ll be a happier person.”

And she thought about this. And thought. And thought. And finally said “Yeah, I see that, because I hurt people all the time and get mad and feel bad about it. But I just want them to see that they were wrong.”

And so I said something to her that changed my life when a good, [very mean, very real] friend said it to me: “Well, would you rather be right or would you rather be free?”

She looked at me like I was insane.

But I think she got it one some level…

I chose not to go on, chose not to explain that it’s freedom from bitterness and resentment and pain – freedom from that aching feeling that comes because the world just won’t do what I want and nobody behaves and no matter how hard I try, you fail me. You hurt me. You let me down.

And I think they won’t. But they will.

And I will.

Because we’re human.  That’s what we do.

Oddly, when I see that, when I see the humanity in the other person, when I see that they are just like me, I am finally able to forgive them, to move on with a clearer head and less pain. Or at least it doesn’t last quite so long.

And maybe I will walk away, ultimately. And that’s cool. But whether I choose to love them despite their flaws or kick ‘em to the curb, I don’t have to carry that sickening feeling of betrayal, of deep-seated hurt – because I wanted you to be something you literally cannot be. (The Person Who Never Lets me Down.)

I don’t know.

It took me 30 years to learn these lessons. Just kinda hoping she gets it a little earlier.


But seriously, what kind of asshat kid reads somebody else’s DIARY? Little bastards.

It’s my baby, I’ll wean when I want to. Wean when I want to…

by Janelle Hanchett

That was hands down the stupidest title I’ve ever come up with.


So let’s move on, hopefully to better things…

I would like to clear something up, publicly, on the internet. So there’s no confusion…and maybe, just MAYBE, people will stop asking me the following question, which is of course nobody’s business and shouldn’t be asked anyway, but somehow keeps getting fired in my direction…

“Are you STILL nursing your baby? When ARE you going to WEAN her? “

Let me answer this question with all kinds of clarity: I plan on weaning my baby…NEVER.


Or, when I freaking feel like it.

Alright. Real answer: I will wean my baby when I no longer feel like nursing her or she no longer feels like nursing.

How is that complicated?

Why don’t I worry about this issue? Because I’m lazy.

Also because I don’t know a single adult who still nurses. Therefore, I’m pretty sure this particular relationship will end AT SOME POINT.

Now don’t start giving me that bullshit 1950s Dr. Spock “your kid will end up too dependent” theory. That’s such a load of crap.

“Okay, Sally, to help you become independent, I’m going to withhold from you that which you need to feel safe and secure and confident, which in turn makes you clingy, needy and more dependent.”


Independence is a byproduct of feeling safe. Dependence is a byproduct of feeling fear. Meeting my kids needs as best as I can helps them feel safe.

Now leave me alone.

But don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that weaning your child is “not meeting their needs” or causing “fear.” Come ON…would I do that? Nah.

What I’m saying is that I don’t buy the theory that not weaning a baby impedes her independence (based on that old-school kids-shall-not-cosleep-or-nurse-past-6-months-because-they’ll-never-grow-up-to-be-good, strong, strapping-Americans theory).

In my opinion.

Does this mean I think a mother should nurse her baby as long as the baby wants even if she’s miserable and “over it” and wants her damn nipples back?

HELL TO THE NO. That is some irrational crazy mama bullshit. If the nursing relationship ceases to work either way, then it should end. Don’t ya think?

I mean why nurse your baby in resentment? That ain’t cool.

And maybe, the reason the mother no longer feels “into it” is because the relationship is ready to evolve – maybe it IS time for the baby/toddler to move on – maybe the mother feels that intuitively and therefore the nursing no longer feels natural and good and right…and SO…she weans the kid. Right?

But for now, for me and for Georgia, we have a pretty nice thing going and she enjoys it and I enjoy it and we reconnect and play and cuddle. So what’s the freaking problem? Why would I end something that is cruising along just fine for both of us? Because I’m making her dependent?

Yes, I can really see her stifling dependency in the way she runs away from me fifty times a day to explore new territory, meet new people, tackle new obstacles…or walks into new places and says “bye!” and forgets my existence entirely unless she falls, gets tired, gets pissed…or wants a drive-by nursing (you know exactly what I mean, right?)…to reconnect, to reassure. To maintain that independence.

I guess I’m just getting pretty sick of hearing that Dr. Spock throw-back crap because I still nurse my baby girl who is 18 months old. Eighteen months!! A baby! Even if I nurse her til she’s four. Even then. WHO CARES?

Oh holy crap there’s no way. I wouldn’t like it that long.

But I nursed until I was four.

And look what a winner I turned out to be.

Damnit. Perhaps not the best example.

Okay but seriously, can we all just agree that nursing a baby past one year doesn’t cause mental and bodily harm? And neither does weaning?

Although… nobody ever sees Georgia with a bottle and says “She still takes a BOTTLE?” They only ask about the nursing…which leads me to believe the issue is still based on that “A CHILD MUST SEPARATE FROM HIS MOTHER AND BE STRONG!!!!” crap.

What’s weird is that it isn’t that I’m NOT weaning, it’s that I don’t have a PLAN for weaning. Maybe I’ll wean. Maybe I won’t. And somehow, in that, I’m guilty of some crime. I guess it’s the crime of trusting my gut. The crime of trusting the radical notion that I know what’s best for my baby and myself,  that I know how to nurture and raise the baby I birthed. And trusting that if the time comes when nursing feels wrong, I will know that too and will act accordingly.

Screw the books.

Screw the theories.

You know what’s real? This:



Are you ready for parenthood? A Helpful Checklist just for you!

by Janelle Hanchett

So occasionally I come across some little quiz or whatever “helping” people determine if they’re ready to become a parent. This is, of course, totally ridiculous, because there is no possible way anybody could ever be “ready” for the train wreck that is New Parenthood.

You can’t prepare for that. (Neither the joys nor the horrors.)

Go ahead, read BabyCenter and Parenting Magazine, buy all the books, let them lull you into a space of confidence and security…but get ready to fall EVEN HARDER once that kid comes and you realize they sold you LIES.

I repeat: there is no preparing for this.

There are, of course, our super over-achieving types who make spreadsheets to record poops and pees and have money coming out their ears and therefore buy all the gear and DO EVERYTHING PERFECTLY – but, in my experience, those are usually the people who suffer the most, especially when their kid turns out to be the most non-spreadsheet-adaptable human on the planet. Invariably, they end up with the kid that defies all logic, routine or reason.  They have the freaking nutjob baby who sleeps like one hour a week and wails the rest of the time. (While watching Baby Einstein and doing flashcards, of course.) By the way, Baby Einstein is like the only thing my baby will watch for more than 12 seconds…SCORE!

But if a checklist actually existed that may actually help people determine whether they are ready for day-to-day, on-the-ground parenthood, it would (in my [dark, twisted] opinion) look something like this:

Are you ready to be a parent? Let’s find out! Mark all the items on the below list that are true for you. If you choose 20 or more, you’re ready for parenthood!

  1. I only like to sleep when other people tell me I can sleep.
  2. I enjoy using the restroom in the company of others.
  3. I like poop.
  4. I like poop on my hands.
  5. If I were to, say, find silly putty stuck between my bed sheets, I’d think it was cute.
  6. My greatest pleasure in life is driving humans around in a hurry.
  7. I believe money should be spent on character-building activities of questionable value and Starbucks.
  8. Quarterly sex will suffice.
  9. I enjoy receiving unsolicited advice from toothless women who smell like gin.
  10. I also like it when they touch my belly.
  11. I seek opportunities to engage in outrageously high-stakes activities for which I am totally underprepared.
  12. If I could, I would wash approximately 12,000 garments a day.
  13. I like guilt.
  14. I like constant talking and a low hum of irritating, indecipherable noise.
  15. I prefer my tits closer to my knees.
  16. When walking around my house barefoot, I throw food and small toys on the ground because I like the feel of them between my toes.
  17. I prefer to work during vacations.
  18. In restaurants, I like to walk around every four minutes and eat my food standing up while chasing a squirrel on crack.
  19. My goal in life is to act every day exactly like my mother even though I think I’m not.
  20. I’m okay with never seeing the floor of my car again.
  21. I’m ready to want to stab myself in the eye with a toothpick on a sometimes hourly basis then somehow, at the end of the day, cry because I realize my life won’t always be like this.
  22. In short, I’M READY FOR MADNESS.

Now why don’t they write THAT on BabyCenter?


Santa turned my kid into a crackhead!

by Janelle Hanchett


So…you know what’s worse than disagreeing with somebody’s opinion on the latest parenting controversy?

Realizing you don’t have an opinion on the issue because it never occurred to you to give a shit.

Um, yes.

That’s where I stand with the whole Santa controversy.

[And yes, there is a controversy, friends. And it’s a big one.]

Well, maybe not that big, you know, compared to like world hunger or something, but still. It’s pretty big. Big enough to warrant at least 9 thousand blog posts and Facebook discussions.

Some people, evidently, think he’s creepy. Like pedophile creepy. Something about old man, kids on laps, bribing, etc. Mmmmkay. I’m not going into this. Next topic.

Others “can’t stand lying to their kids that way.” Oh come the fuck on. You don’t lie to your kids? Whatever. YOU DO TOO. “Mommy, what were you and daddy doing last night after we went to bed and I heard those sounds coming from your room?” “Um, uh…we were…um…reading the Communist Manifesto. Loudly. In intervals.”


Some people hate the materialistic part of it all. You know. Gifts and crap and whatnot and rewarding good behavior with stuff and bad behavior with, well, stuff. I suppose I can sort of get behind that one except that I can’t, because I like showering my kids in crap from Walmart and I often resort to bribing them. I mean I try not to, cause that’s some seriously shitty parenting (so they say), but when I’m in a bind, I’ll go there. I will.

And we’re all still breathing.

And then other people love the fantasy and play of Santa and think it’s all magical and shit.

But check this out. The only thing that crossed my mind as I read all these passionate diatribes for or against the fat gift-wielding man was “Uhhhhhhhhhhhh…(blank space and stares)….oopsy! Forgot to think about that one!” And…Guess that’s one more parenting approach I haven’t considered at all and thanks A LOT for making me wonder if I have damaged my kids ONE MORE TIME in ONE NEW WAY because I didn’t make a conscious decision about Christmas traditions but pretty much just continued the traditions of my family with no forethought, insight or contemplation.

Yes, I admit it.

I have not deconstructed Santa.

I have not considered the implications, insinuations, assumptions or underlying messages contained in the gift-giving crap extravaganza that is our Christmas. I like it. It’s fun. That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

I did not consider the long-term effects of my lying about who deposits stuff under the tree. I pretty much just did it.


My bad.

But I’m gonna level with ya. If my kids end up hating me for being a crap parent with poor ideals and pitiable execution, I can promise you it won’t be over the whole Santa thing. I have done so much worse than that.

My yelling alone pales the threat of any long-term Santa-induced trauma.

Easily 5 years of therapy material right there.

And then there’s my mouth and the incredibly poor decision-making surrounding it. For example, last summer I told my (then) 5-year-old son about bears and “friendly” ghosts (look, it’s a long story and it’s complicated.). But really. Who the hell does that? That was a baaaadddd choice.

I didn’t think about it beforehand. I MADE A MISTAKE.

So you can see why I’m just gonna let the whole Santa thing go.  Other people can worry about that sort of thing.

I have much bigger fucking fish to fry.

For example, figuring out how to not tell my kids stories that scare the crap out of them for a year.

Or really, thinking before I talk at all would be nice.

Now THAT would be a gift.

And I don’t care who fucking brings it. Incidentally, I don’t think my kids would either.

Maybe Santa will hook that up next year. He is real, isn’t he? He better be. My mama told me he was. And she never lies! She said he WAS REAL! HE MUST BE REAL! Why are you looking at me like that? Did she lie? Did the evil bitch LIE TO ME ALL THESE YEARS about Santa Claus? Oh agony! Oh pain! I CAN’T FACE MY LIFE NOW THAT I KNOW MY MOM TOLD ME A STORY ABOUT AN IMAGINARY MAN, CHIMNEYS AND GIFTS.

I shall not recover!

My inner child is weeping.


Okay that was fun.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.