Monday, February 14, 2011

Inquisition Monday

This is a sort of response to the comments on Thursday's post.

First, I really really really believe in bodily autonomy. And it's not just the sexual assualt/molestation aspect. I really want my children (and everyone!) to feel in control of themselves. That's why I don't focus on genitals being "private" parts. We need to be in control of our whole bodies, and we deserve that control. It's not just our genitals. For example, I know I have felt like I lost control of myself in a simple game of tickling. And that's scary. I felt panicky, helpless, and disempowered. Also, in the molestation vein- you can be assaulted without your genitals being involved at all. So I try to let my children have as much control of their bodies as possible. And that includes their hair.

Second, I'm not entirely convinced that hair-washing is really a hygiene issue. I guess I think of hygiene as washing your hands, wiping thoroughly after going to the bathroom, etc.: things that prevent disease. I don't think it's unhygienic to only wash your hair on occasion or to go days without combing your hair. In fact, lots of people never comb their hair (dreads!). So I guess I approach the hair-washing/combing thing as something that I'd like as a parent, but isn't necessary for the child.

Now, as far as combing, we do comb Margaret's hair about 3 days a week on average. It's basically only when she wants a pony tail. When she wants a pony tail, she somehow finds the patience in her to sit still for combing her hair and then doing it. Admittedly, "sitting still" involves turning every time something interesting happens, so there're lots of reminders, "Keep looking ahead."  "Look at the book."

We generally can sneak a hair wash in every couple of months or so. I do wish it was more often, but that's as often as I can can stand her crying at me. We've tried lots of methods of encouraging her to let us wash her hair (or even do it herself). We've sung songs, I've demonstrated on Isaac (who doesn't complain- yet!) and myself and then turning it around, "Now it's Margaret's turn!" I've also tried showing her and letting her do it, but that hasn't brought any success at all. I guess we could try books- I think that's the main option I haven't attempted yet. Well, that and just letting her grow out of this stage. Haha!

The comments seemed to turn from hair-washing to this idea that we have no rules at all. And on some level that's true. Well, we have no punishment, so in that sense, we have no rules. But we work on things. For example, last week's mention of "Breast, please" when Margaret wants to nurse is the result of probably hundreds of times of me saying, "You can say, 'Breast, please' if you want to nurse." I don't withhold nursing from her if she doesn't say it, but I do model it for her. And that has worked in the long run.

Last week, we spent a morning practicing indoor voices- and by that, I mean, I spent the morning whispering and using my own indoor voice, and reminding, "We're inside, so we need to be quiet with our mouths." But if she shouted or yelled- well, then she shouted and yelled. But I've found that if I try really hard to respond to her shouts with my own quiet voice, she starts using her quiet voice. Does it work every time? No. Does it work right away? No. Are there sometimes when it doesn't work at all? Yes. But you can't control other people's actions, only your own reaction- and children are people. I really try hard to remind myself that when I ask, "How do I get Margaret to..." I need to look at the "problem" in a different way.

Does this mean we're perfect and birds come to sing with us and help me do my dishes every day? No. Last Wednesday night was really bad. McKay was away at a movie and I had been with my kids all day and I really needed a break, but that just wasn't going to happen. Margaret really needed connection and to be held, but I really needed to get away from all small people and not be touched for a little while. Our needs were in conflict. Oh, and if I put Isaac down, crying would happen. And we have no locks on our doors, so when I went to another room for a breather, Margaret would follow me immediately.

So Wednesday, I was sharper than normal and my patience was lost. A loud "AHHH!" of exasperation was not the best reaction to 6 liters of water being spilled on the carpet that night, especially with Margaret's sensitive temperament. She looked so sad an went to a little corner to hide and cry. She thought the "AHHH!" was at her- and it sort of was since she was the person who spilled the water, but it really was at the situation. She tends to turn inward when things happen outside that she thinks she has hurt another person. It was a nice (ok, not really nice, but needed) reminder that my attitude affects her a lot. So we went to bed early. No, I didn't want to nurse two children to sleep- I didn't want to be touched at all. But the sooner they fell asleep, the sooner it would all be over and Thursday would come and it would be a new day.

Anyway that went off on a tangent. What was I blogging about? I don't know if that explained anything at all or added more to the confusion. And does anyone know how to get through one of those evenings where you just want to hide and cry, but since you're not 2, you can't?


  1. I like your style of parenting (from what I can tell). I often find myself losing it with Bug, and I've been trying so hard to remember that he is a person. He wants to be loved. He is trying to be independent, but sometimes he needs my help. And then, sometimes he needs to do things on his own. I've also been trying to help my husband understand this, too. We don't need to get upset over the small things. So what if Bug wants to have all his books in a "fwain fwack" line across the living room. It isn't really bothering us, so let him express his creativity.

    Being a parent is hard. I love it, I am exhausted by it, I am frightened by it, I find joy in it. I have yet to figure out what to do when I want to act like a two year old...but it's nice when I feel like I've enjoyed the day with my two year old! :D

  2. Ugh, my 2 year old hates having her hair washed too! I am sneaky with it. She loves taking showers with mommy so while I'm in there with her, I gently sprinkle soap onto her head and rub it gently like I'm just giving her some love, lol. I don't think she even notices. Then the shower head just rinses it off.
    Oh, and I agree with everything else in the post, too : )

  3. My way of dealing with those times when I just want to be left alone, but don't have my partner at home is to call him and whine, lol.

    When you wash her hair do you use a cup to pour the water over her head? We finally got a hand-held shower and sometimes I can get my daughter into playing with it and then I try to direct it over her head to wet her hair. And when she's really not into bathing, I just spray her down quick as I can.

    Kids are weird though. Last night she started crying before we even got to the bath, but about 5 min into it she started splashing and have a great time. *shrug* I think part of her issue is that since she started daycare, baths have to happen in the evening or first thing in the morning and she's tired and not in the mood. Weekend baths are much better when I can wait for her to be ready.

  4. It's still cool if you decide not to wash Margaret's hair but ... here's something that worked for me with Soren.

    After reading Playful Parenting, I decided to make a game out of washing his hair. It's time consuming but after a few months, I didn't have to play it anymore. This is how it worked: I would fill the cup with water and tease him with it. I would make a big show of slowing bringing it to his head and I would let him bat it away. He was upset at first but after he realized that it was ok for him to tip the cup over or push it away so it didn't land on him, it became a game. I would fill up the cup and he would try to knock it over before I spilled it on his head. I tried not to be too skillful at the game because then it wouldn't be fun. I know I can win every time; I can outmanuever him very quickly. But by letting him win 4 times out of 5, he was a lot less upset about "loosing".

    A bit of taunting and/or commentating helps make it fun.

    Good luck!

  5. Sorry you received comments that led to your feeling the need to explain your parenting style. It seems to me, you understand that life is not spent as a child, therefore we must parent in ways that acknowledge and respect the basic humanity of our children.

    As another human being on this planet, I appreciate that. Thank you!

  6. I am curious how you handle diaper changes. I really want to respect my 16 month old's bodily integrity, but diapers is one of those things that can't just be ignored. I am trying to be a part-time EC-er but he has little interest in sitting on the potty or having me hold him over a receptacle, so diapers are where we're at. He hates changes. Sometimes he'll request them, but more often he throws a kicking, screaming fit.

    How do you cope on this particular issue?

  7. @ Arual, you weren't asking me, but I thought I'd chime in. Hope no one minds.

    During that phase of life, I usually just pinned the kid down and put a diaper on when a dipe was a necessity (read: leaving the house). Any other time, I let the child roam sans dipe. The butt's gotta breathe.

    Of course, this strategy includes acceptance of pee/poop on the floor at times. This was never an issue for me. I've always considered diaper-free roaming an earth-friendly practice (less water and electricity/gas used for cleaning dipes). Tea tree oil and rosemary oil have antiseptic properties if one worries about germs. There's also always bleach, for those of us with no qualms about chlorine.

    That's my $.03. It's not for everyone, but it works for my family. I at least don't have the potty-training horror stories I hear from so many parents. And, I only EC'd my 4th one.

    Good luck!

  8. While I haven't read the previous post/comments, I love your thoughts on this - it is how we are trying to raise Kieran as well. The gist of my philosophy is to treat K the way I would like to be treated, and that means I would not want to be held down for a hair washing.

    p.s. Have you tried nursing during a hair wash?

    Arual - I hope one of the ideas in this post helps you with diaper changes:

  9. Violetsouffle11:26 AM

    I've found a detachable shower head works wonders for hair washing if the child is worried about water in their eyes. Handy for other things, too :)
    Ps-first time here and I love it!!

  10. re:la mujer - I remember you said that you had McKay pre-reading your comments. I don't know if you still do that, but if you do, I am sure that means the comments that come through to you are at least tolerable. And I appreciate you explaining your parenting style. You always make sense to me, but you present things that I never realized I have never thought about before. Thank you.

  11. Oh how I love your parenting style! Very much what we practice. I just had to comment on the hair washing business. Personally, I don't have time myself to wash my hair more than two or three times a week (sometimes less). My toddler does not allow me the luxery of frequent hair washings, which is fine! I can make up for it down the road. She is just starting to despise getting her hair washed as well, despite my best efforts. I see nothing wrong with not washing hair every day and anyone freaking out about that should just worry about their own children. When I was little, I would freak out if there was more than an inch of water in the bath tub. My parents let it ride for two or so years. They got me clean with what water was available. I grew out of my fears, on my own, without undue stress or pressure. I was healthy and clean. So anyway - good for you for doing what you know works for your daughter and your family!

    Thanks for such an honest post as well. I love it when I find another mama that I can relate to!

  12. Charlotte10:19 PM

    When my daughter was 2 I discovered that I could get her to do anything I needed her to do by using puppets. She wouldn't listen to me, but she would listen to the small, simple hand puppets. They would brush her teeth or convince her that it was okay for Mama to wash her hair or that it was time to use the potty. When I discovered that trick, it made life so much easier.

  13. Thank you for this - I've lost my entire grip on this idea since the third was born. I'm sure that has contributed to the disharmony. I appreciate the "reminder," so to speak.

  14. I wanted to second Dionna's suggestion. I often nurse while shampooing and did so with my older daughter, too. Depending on how big your daughter is, I used to sit "tailor style" in the tub with my daughter in my lap.

    But yeah, shampooing is way overrated!


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