Posts Filed Under unenlightened parenting techniques.

8 things I do pretty much daily that I NEVER would have done with my first kid

by Janelle Hanchett

So that last post I wrote about waking Georgia up for no reason made me think of the many things I now do that I NEVER would have done with my first kid.

It’s funny. Sometimes when people ask for my advice on something parenting related (okay admittedly this doesn’t happen very often), I feel like responding, “Sorry, you should have asked me when I only had one kid and knew everything.”

Don’t get me wrong. I was still confused. I’ve always been confused.

The difference is, I guess, that I used to think there were really right ways to parent and other ways were really WRONG no matter what. Now I realize it’s all basically one giant crap shoot and we do the best we can in the circumstances we’re facing and just as soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, you get your brilliant ideas handed to you on a silver platter, all chewed up and spit out and useless.

In other words, I’ve fucking relaxed my Captain Justice parenting approach. Out of necessity. Life made me do it.

Or maybe I’ve just lost my ethics.

Or gotten lazy.

I dunno.

You decide.

Anyway, here’s my list. Oh, 22-year-old self, if only you could see me now as I…

  1. Feed her formula. Wah? Huh? No she DIDN’T. Yes, she did. Apparently, babies do not die from formula. And apparently, I can’t quite swing the fulltime breast-pumping extravaganza and YES I felt a little guilty about it and YES I am now over it. The baby still nurses AND she takes a bottle when I’m not around AND the sky has not come crashing down on my formula-feeding sinner head, thus far. As an added bonus, I do not yet see signs of brain damage or emotional distress. Obviously, there’s still time.
  2. Let her cry in her crib for 5 minutes. I don’t do the cry-it-out thing. Nope no way. Not my deal. However, when the Georgia has been asleep for an hour or two or five and suddenly starts that irritated “wahhhhh-ahhhhhh” half-awake thing, or is just too tired to sleep (you know what I’m talking about…) I leave her for a few minutes, usually 5 or so. If she gets amped up, I go in there. But sometimes, I’ll be damned the kid goes to sleep. This never would have happened with my first, cause at the FIRST faint whimper I would have darted in and grabbed her up. Oh wait. That wouldn’t have happened because my first never left my bed until she was 2. Guess that’s another one for the list.
  3. Let her eat sugar. Ava didn’t have any processed sugar until she was three. Rocket didn’t have any until two. Georgia had some on her first birthday and now eats it, well, sometimes. Not candy or juice or soda…but the occasional nibble of ice cream, cake or cookies? Yes. I admit it. It just makes her SO HAPPY – and you try keeping your two older kids from passing her bites when you’re not looking.
  4. Let a nine-year-old watch her for 30 minutes. Oh come ON, I don’t leave the house – it’s only to catch a few extra ZZZZZs in the morning, when I’m particularly exhausted. Can that get me arrested? Let’s talk about something else.
  5. Not bathe her every day. Or every two. Or week. No we do more than that. Every week at least. For sure. I think.
  6. Feed her the same thing every day for a week because it’s the only thing she’ll eat and I’m too lazy to force feed or explore other items. Pretty self explanatory.
  7. Stay home to let her get a long morning nap. With three kids, that nap is the most important event of the day. All cleaning happens during that nap. All chatty phone calls with friends. All carefree blog writing. All peace. All joy. All meaning. You think I’m exaggerating. But I’m not.
  8. Put on lame shows from Netflix in the distant hope it will amuse her for 5 straight minutes so I can get something done. With my first kid, if somebody turned a television on IN THE SAME HOUSE MY BABY WAS IN, I’D LEAVE. Okay not that bad, but I was definitely what you’d call a no-television extremist. I thought T.V. exposure would like fry her brain cells on the spot. Like you could watch them sizzle right there in front of you – “boom!” – dumber, one cell at a time…now? I put on Sesame Street and dance around trying (in VAIN) to get Georgia to even glance at the damn T.V. Incidentally, she hates it.

What about you? What sort of sins do you commit that you’d SWORE you’d never do?

Come on. Hook it up. Make me feel better.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Boxer

by Janelle Hanchett

So…wanna hear something great? My daughter got a “pink slip” for punching some kid.

Yeah. Not that great. Or really at all.

The good news is it wasn’t in the face. It was in the arm, which somehow, in my mind, makes it better. And she was provoked, which makes it better only when I consider the alternative: child randomly punching people without being provoked (totally more alarming, don’t ya think?).

So…she was trying to do her work (which is totally believable given her oddly driven, focused and responsible approach to the world), and some kid started making farting noises in her face repeatedly. She tried moving; he followed her. She walked over to the teacher but the teacher was busy – the kid kept on and on – she grew enraged, hit her max – and punched him. The end.

When I first heard this story from Ava, entertained the image of some boy tormenting my child, invading her space and disrespecting her requests to back off, the first thing I wanted to say was “Good. Sounds like the lil’ fucker deserved it. Next time, kick him in the teeth too.” But if I regularly followed the first thought that entered my mind, I would undoubtedly be in jail, so I waited for something more suitable to creep in.

Winning Idea #2 was that it was the teacher’s fault. She wasn’t watching. Why the hell was she letting some spaz walk around bothering kids who were trying to work? Clearly she’s a bad teacher and I should call the school and yell empty threats.

Upon more careful consideration, however, I realized that one was a fail as well.

“Because the bottom line is, kid, no matter what, you just can’t hit people.” (Unless they are touching you, in which case you have every right to go to town wailing their asses into oblivion.)

This one is kind of complicated though. Of course she shouldn’t have lost it like that. On the other hand, I hear this kid has ADD and didn’t take his medication and was, apparently, pretty much batshit crazy toward her. And everybody has their limits. But no matter what he did, Ava can’t hit people. That’s obvious and I told her as much.

What bothers me is that it feels like my kid spends more time dealing with the antics of her classmates than doing any actual learning. Maybe it’s an age thing (4th graders, anyone?) or maybe it’s a public school thing (this is my first time with kids in public school, though I went there as a kid).

Her old school was really structured and traditional and strict, which has its own drawbacks, but at least I can guarantee every kid was given ample space (metaphorically and literally) to do his or her work, and there is no way a teacher would not have intervened if some kid was chasing another down making farting noises in the classroom.

Part of me wants to stick it out and see how it develops, see if it calms down, see if she adjusts. Part of me wants to get her the hell outta there.

You guys have any experience with this sort of thing? Would love to hear it.

Do they ever stop talking? EVER?

by Janelle Hanchett


So yesterday I went out with the three kids. Mac was working (shocker), and I was feeling ambitious and altruistic, figuring “I can handle this. I’m a good mom.” Plus, if I’m OUT of my house I don’t have to deal with the mess IN my house.

I know. I’m a thinker.

So we went to breakfast. Then we went to a craft store to pick out fabric for curtains I’ll never actually sew, and we walked around the 2nd-hand baby store (where I bitched about the prices, realizing I can buy the same shit for cheaper at Old Navy and it’s NEW)…then we went to a couple other stores, then Costco.

And really the little hoodlums were pretty good. I mean they’re kids, so they can’t be THAT good, but for kids, they were alright.

But by the end of our outing I realized something: My kids never stop talking. They never, ever, ever fucking EVER stop talking.

“Mama, do you think it’s weird when girls talk about boys they like?”

“Mama, why are we going this way? Can’t we walk to the next store? Why can’t we walk? I wanna walk. We never walk ANYWHERE. Why do we never walk anywhere?”

“Mama, can we buy this wooden chest of drawers for my doll clothes?”

“Mama, I love it when I fart in my underwear.”

“Mama, Georgia has a booger.”

“Mama, you never buy us anything.”

“Mama, how do the police tell the bad guys from the good guys?”

“Mama, how did the Russian Revolution start?” (Yes, Ava actually asked that.)

“Mama, how come Hitler used gas on the Jews when  all the countries signed that agreement after World War I promising never to use gas again during war?” (and that too.)

“Mama, will I ever grow up as tall as daddy? How tall is daddy? Is he taller than an elephant? I want to be taller than an elephant. A crane is taller than an elephant. But what about a giraffe? Is daddy taller than a giraffe? A crane is taller than a giraffe for sure. Pretty much everything isn’t as tall as a crane. Right, mama? Is a crane taller than everything?”

And ON and ON and ON and ON.

And on.

And on.

And on.

Please give me a break. One break. Two minutes of silence.

Holy fuck do they EVER stop talking?

No. They don’t. They are relentless. I don’t think they breathe. They only talk.

When I’m with all three of them, there is always one of them making noise in my direction, needing me. Always.

Whether it’s whining or crying or wailing or squealing or talking…there’s always noise coming at me from the little people.

My husband can sit there and, by all appearances, not hear a single smidgen of it.

I on the other hand hear every single speck of chatter and feel compelled to answer each and every question they pose. [Unless it has to do with farts or poop or underwear. Most of those questions I let go unanswered, realizing the purpose is usually just to say the word “fart” or “poop” or “underwear” – any response being almost wholly irrelevant.]

I do okay at the beginning. But after a few hours…my Lord I’m tired of people talking at me. I’m an extrovert and all, but shit. Everybody’s got a limit.

And then I start giving one word answers and my daughter starts picking up on my impatience and I start feeling guilty so I try again but my heart’s not in it but they don’t stop because they actually physically cannot (by the way, is that some sort of ailment?)…so we just go on like that…forever….it’s all really quite a lovely little picture.

So I turn on music. Loud.

But they talk anyway. OVER THE MUSIC.

Sometimes I pretend I can’t hear them.

But they only TALK LOUDER.

Deep breaths. Mantras. “I am a rock in a stream.”

Yeah right. That shit never works.

I tried telling them once about the Dalia Lama stating that “senseless chatter” was a bad thing, clouding the mind and separating us from our Buddha nature. While it appeared promising at first, that particular strategy backfired miserably when they started accusing me of “doing senseless chatter” almost every time I brought up a subject they didn’t feel like hearing.

Oh well.

I know I’ll miss this in 20 years.


The only time I get any peace from the NOISE. Except wait a minute. Ava is not in this picture, which means she was probably with me. Talking. Talking to me. Talking to me endlessly. Shiiiiit.

Spill post #2: Never Thought I’d See the Day.

by Janelle Hanchett


I am not one of those parents. I am not not not not not not.


 Yeah, me neither.

 Especially when I consider my recent decision to homeschool my son, Rocket.

 I’m so granola I should be in a bin at Whole Foods.

Next thing you know I’ll be growing armpit hair and knitting a hemp beanie for my kid, Moondance.

Or, maybe you’re thinking I’ve been BORN AGAIN. I’ve gone so religious I suddenly realize I’ve been “called” to shelter my children from the devious fingers of the DEVIL – protect them from the unrighteous (you know, gays, drugees, drunks, atheists, agnostics, Muslims…[fill in the blank]) – um, yeah fucking right. That definitely isn’t it. I’d choose the deviant outliers over the judgmental born-agains any day of the week.

I have decided to homeschool Rocket because regular school was totally and completely not working. Check it out: he’s almost 6 years old and he can’t read. Doesn’t want to read. Has no interest in reading. This may be because he’s dyslexic, which wouldn’t shock any of us, considering he has a genetic disposition for it and has shown other symptoms, OR he just, um, has no interest in reading yet.

Either way, teachers are obsessed with kids LEARNING TO READ. Must LEARN TO READ. Must learn to read NOW. Must learn to read NOW or something is WRONG with you.

And Rocket is not learning to read.

And he is not an idiot. He knows the other kids are learning to read.

And he is sensitive.

Remember The Seal Incident? Yeah, the kid feels it when he can’t perform. He feels it when he’s let others down, acted poorly, failed to meet expectations.

The result of this scenario? My little guy comes home from school nearly every day with a migraine headache. Nearly.Every.Single.Day. Five years old. Wracked with anxiety.

Yeah, no thanks.

I opt out.


Please remove me from your mailing list.

Thank you for your time, traditional schooling, but we’ll be pursuing other options now.

We considered Waldorf or Montessori – too expensive. We considered sending him to regular school and just hoping he’d handle it one way or another, but there’s a problem with that approach, namely that every day, Rocket walks away with one message: “I’m not good enough. I’m not as smart as the other kids… What is wrong with me?” And I’m pretty sure that message will play over and over and over until finally he gets tired of the sound of that noise, gets tired of the feelings it triggers…tired of the whole thing…fed the hell up…and then the tape will probably play a new tune, maybe going something like this: “Screw school. I hate it. What I want is the HELL OUTTA HERE as soon as humanly possible and until that’s possible, I’ll just sit here and mess with the other kids, sniff glue, and/or work on my Early Expulsion Strategic Plan.”

So there you have it. I’m quitting work, returning to grad school and homeschooling my son.

That’s it. That’s all I got. My shit’s spilled.

Good lord I am not the homeschool type. But what the hell am I supposed to do? I’m no genius, but shit, even I can see that some things just aren’t working.

This was not, ever, in my plan. From my perspective, the payoff for the toddler years is that when they’re over, you get to send the kid to school all day – in another building – bye bye. But this was clear. I had to reassess.

I’m just trying to do what’s best for my little guy. Trying to find something that works.

And relying heavily on the fact that it’s kindergarten. I mean shit, how hard can it be?

I remember kindergarten. We cut out shapes and laughed at the kids who wet themselves. Oh wait. Maybe that was my first year in the dorms. Whatever.

We’ll survive.

I was the kid who rigged eeny-meeny-miney-moe

by Janelle Hanchett


Yes. That was me.

I was the kid who rigged eeny-meeny-miney-moe.

If I knew we were about to do it, I would recite the little rhyme in my head, mentally jumping from person to person to figure out where the last word would land…then I would strategically place myself in the optimum position based on my objectives. And when I “won,” I would act surprised.

Maybe all kids act like that. I don’t know. All I know is that I’ve always looked out for number 1, first and foremost. From the beginning, if there was a way for me to win, “come out on top” or get my way, I’d do pretty much everything in my power to make that happen.

It never really occurred to me to think of you.

It never crossed my mind that perhaps I should yield a bit for the benefit of others, even sometimes.

I figured “well, if I’m able to get what I want, why not do it? If you really wanted what you want, you’d try harder.”

I was not mean. In fact, I used to give all my toys away to my friends. I was deeply sensitive and loved hard. It’s just that I thought I knew the best way to do everything. Always. And I never questioned myself. I had a terminal case of Captain Justice syndrome – I knew the right, fair, smartest way to do it, damnit, and IT MUST BE DONE THE RIGHT WAY.

The consequence? I was bossy. Really, really bossy. Not a bully physically, but a verbal bully. I was a yeller. I was a shithead. I simply had to have my way.

This behavior pretty much continued until, well, I’d rather not talk about it. But I’ll give you a hint: I was over 29 and under 31. Yeah. I’m a slow learner.

As a result, I never had too many friends growing up. I had my one best friend in the whole wide world, Claire, who I met in 2nd grade and have loved like a sister ever since. We also moved a lot, which made longstanding relationships difficult. But mainly it was my personality. I probably wouldn’t have liked me either.

And the other day my little Ava was talking about her new school and she said something like “This is the year I’m going to make some real, close friends. This is the year when I’m going to get a BEST friend like you and Claire.”

And I realized the child is


She’s bossy. She wants her way. She gets pissed when others don’t comply and just can’t figure out why they won’t just do it her way because her way is obviously the smartest and the best and the brightest and the quickest. Isn’t it clear to you people? This is the ONLY WAY. It’s right damnit. Justice must be done!!

Unlike The Seal Incident, which rendered me speechless, I feel semi-confident in my ability to give a little guidance on this particular situation, since I lived the exact same thing and have learned some very tough lessons in the department of extreme self-centeredness.

So I suggest she take it easy on others – that even if she sees her solution as the only plausible one, perhaps she use her friend’s idea just for the hell of it, to give her some room, some respect. Some space to just be.

And maybe her way is indeed the right way and the smartest, but does it really matter?

In 20 years are you going to care what happens right now on the playground? Is the friendship more important than who gets to be the queen or the princess?

I tell her that just because she has a stronger personality than the other kids, just because she’s outgoing and quick and super confident, that doesn’t mean she has to USE her power ALL THE TIME, just because she can.

Maybe she can CHILL sometimes, let the other girl win.

I wish I could just implant in her what took me 30 years to learn…that I am not the center of the entire fucking universe…that my identity is not wrapped up in the outcome of every single situation that comes my way…that it ain’t all my problem and it ain’t all my concern…and that most of the time (and this is a big one folks), when I think I am dead-on, 100% totally and completely RIGHT, I’m 100% dead-on totally and completely wrong.

I want to teach her that there’s freedom in forgiving. In letting shit slide. In letting something else or somebody else or even nothing at all handle some of the big shit. Captain Justice can take a nap.

What a tough gig, huh? Trying to protect another human from themselves. Trying to shield another from walking down the EXACT SAME ROAD that nearly killed you. Trying to help her be somebody, anybody other than me.

Or perhaps I should just forgive. Myself. For being me.

And her. For being me.

Chill. Let it slide. Let us both just be.

Cause I’ve never really been equipped to handle the big shit anyway.


"I may be a princess, but I'll kick your ass." P.S. this kid does not lack confidence.