Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Reader Asks: Should I Put My Foot Down About Bedtime?

I was recently emailed: "So, for example, at a very young age (say, 1 year old), would you suggest putting your foot down when they refuse to go to bed?" 

My reply: I would never "put my foot down." That to me sounds very controlling and disrespectful to another person's needs. If your dignified French houseguest were refusing to go to bed, would you "put your foot down and insist that he do so?" What I did with my son, and what I still do is:

1) Lots of natural light during the day, especially morning and evening so as to keep natural rhythms.

2) Low lighting at night. (This is largely a personal thing. I have trouble sleeping, so I do it for myself, but it really helps him to get in the bed-time mood.)

3) I go to bed. If he ever wants to stay up I say, "I see that you are not ready to sleep. I am, so I am going to go to bed. When you are ready to go to bed, you know where your bed is!" My son had a floor bed, so he could crawl/scoot into it at a very young age. But children aren't that particular. They will pass out anywhere. If your son's room is a RIE-Montessori bedroom, it should be 100% safe for you to leave him in. 

It should be noted that my son almost always chose to go to bed with me and still does. Every now and then he has a lot of energy and stays up. When he is ready, he puts himself to bed. This works well for both of us.

Sometimes Anders stays up and keeps me awake. This is upsetting for me! So I tell him how frustrated I am feeling and how annoyed and how much I am needing sleep and needing quiet. Sometimes, when he was younger, I had to be very assertive about my needs. "This is a room for people who are awake. This is a room for people who are sleeping. You may not come in here right now." Sometimes he would opt to play very quietly in the sleeping room and that worked too.

Every now and then, my son would absolutely refuse to meet my needs. Every time this happened I would realize (at some point) that he was overtired and simply unable to meet my needs... or his own. When Anders is overtired, he acts like I do when I am overtired. It feels kind of like melting. When I am overtired I don't even want to go to sleep because I am so tired that I don't want to do anything and going to sleep feels like doing something! That is a good time to just hold him. Just hold him while he cries and tells you about how miserable he is feeling. The best thing in those moments is for him to pass out in your arms, fully supported and loved. (Likewise, when I find I am so tired that I feel like I am melting, being cuddled by my husband is the best thing in the world!)

Then there are the times when Anders is not overtired, but I am. At those times, I said something like, "Anders, I love you so much and I wish I could meet your needs right now, but I'm too tired. I have to meet my needs--that's all I can do right now." And then I go to sleep. Before he could talk he could already understand this and he would come and tuck me into bed.

The problems happen when you have a tired parent and a tired child. No one can stretch to meet the other person's needs. (I hope I have expressed already that even the very youngest babies WILL try to meet your needs if you have been communicating with them about it from birth.) When there are two tired parties I usually fight the strength to meet his needs and put my own on hold. Doesn't happen often but it has happened.

Children who are not "made" to go to bed enjoy going to bed. It's just part of the day. It's what we all do in the evening. This makes me think of another book Parenting a Free Child by Rue Kream. 

It also should be noted that my son is always welcome to sleep with me. He goes back and forth. A month on his own a month with mom. Sometimes I want alone time with my husband and I ask for it. And just as before, much of the time he is happy to meet my needs and then other times he just can't and we have to go from there and have a discussion.

But I always start from the place that what he wants is as valid as what I want. His wanting to be awake is as valid as my wanting to be asleep.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Why Are There So Many "True Believers" in Objectivism?

A friend recently emailed me the above question. Though I have not read the book, The True Believer, here is what I know:

From the Objectivist Epistemology perspective I would define a True Believer as someone who
1. Fully accepts all abstractions as long as they were made by Ayn Rand
2. Is fanatically uninterested in questioning those abstractions

Assumptions I would make--
-True believers have not taken the time to fully examine or understand Rand. Much easier/less time consuming to read Atlas Shrugged and say, "YES" and then move on to other things. 
-Since the true believer hasn't fully studied or understood, he is very threatened by people who have. Perhaps he does not have the time to go back and question. Perhaps he wants to move on with his life.

For example:
1. Since I am unwilling to be an expert in nutrition myself, I HAVE to follow someone else
2. I studied nutrition for 5 years before concluding that Weston A Price was the expert whose rules I would follow.
3. That was A LOT of work. I have NO desire to go back to studying nutrition in order to find a better expert to follow
4. So when it comes to Weston A Price, I follow. End of story. There would have to be A REALLY GOOD REASON for me to even consider changing my abstract rule that Weston's advice = the right advice. Moreover, following Weston's advice has benefitted my life in very real ways, therefore my abstract rule about him being the right expert to follow has been strengthened over time rather than weakened.
5. So I am not a "true believer" because I am not pathological BUT, I am in the sense that I 1. Fully accept all abstractions as long as they are made by Weston A Price and 2. Am Extremely uninterested in changing those abstractions

Many Objectivist True Believers are likely similar to me. Not necessarily pathological but just extremely uninterested. They want to be studying new things, growing and changing, not questioning old abstractions, not going back. 

I imagine pathology is caused by people who did not put 5 years into studying Rand. So to continue in my example: I try to understand nutrition, but I find the information too contradictory and bewildering. I intuit that Weston A Price is the answer and I stick to that. There is now a pathology--there is NO WAY I can question my abstract rule that he is right because it was made based on intuition. To question requires me to understand and... I wasn't able to do that. I don't want to admit that to you or myself so I shut down entirely when the question of changing my abstraction comes up.

Now, the second part of your question: why are there so many OBJECTIVIST true believers?

Because Objectivists, and all freedom lovers, have shown in scientific studies to be more analytical than most other people. Changing abstract rules is super hard and takes a long time and almost always requires re-perceiving. Analytical people who prefer to think abstractly are generally terrible at coming into their perceptual brains, terrible at re-perceiving, and often against it because if they only ever read Ayn Rand's fiction, her characters do not model this. She never got to write much about her epistemology or how it connects to psychological health, so in order to discover the necessity of re-perceiving, the True Believers must read Nathaniel Branden.

But, you may be thinking, to buy into Objectivism one does not have to perceive anything so much as logically induce. This is accurate, but recall that in order to be pathological about something I *bet* (have not read the book yet) they did not logically induce Rand's abstractions themselves but rather felt them (perceived) from her fictional books. This is one of the purposes of fiction--the reader gets to perceive abstract ideas rather than induce them. Fiction largely bypasses our rational brain and feeds abstract rules straight to our subconscious. I would love for a study to be done on how many of Rand's True Believers have read and understood her nonfiction. Because to understand something is *usually* to be able to question it.

Moreover, our brains abstract. That is What They Do. In order to not fully turn into an Us-and-Them Thinker, one must constantly come into perceptual reality (for this I recommend studying NVC). This will be the subject of my next book (maybe)--the Limits of Freedom. It's neurological i.e. for a free society to work it will HAVE to have freedom oriented nurture because it is in our nature, the nature of our brains, to make our lives easier by creating abstractions. Abstractions always come with judgement. This is why I say Rand speaks of freedom in words of war. She writes of freedom abstractly. With judgement. But when humans are interacting they must be PRESENT. They must be in their perceptual brains. The second you are not in your perceptual brain you are abstracting the other person--which means attempting to control them. 

On a last note, I tend to feel Very Passionately about my politics because I feel so oppressed by our society. Oppressed, passionate people are easy to mistake as true believers because anything that sounds like statism to me I don't just rationally disagree with, I passionately, angrily abhor. I applaud all freedom lovers who can stay present while discussing freedom with statists. It would be like being black and offering respect to a white supremacist while he tries to convince you being black is bad. Or being a woman and listening respectfully to a misogynist. I marvel at the people who can do this.

Also, despite freedom lovers being more analytical in general than statism lovers, there are just as many statist True Believers (or more even) than Objectivist True Believers. I would assume they fall into the same trap for the same reasons, but there is even more available information and more support by the culture. To be a Liberal True Believer you don't even need to have read anything. You just need to go to public school and watch a little TV.

The Little Red Hen by Roslyn Ross

Once upon a time there was a Little Red Hen who invited her three best friends—a Dog, a Cat, and a Duck--to come and live with her.

The Little Red was very excited to live with her friends. She thought, “I don’t have to clean my house by myself anymore! How much more fun it will be to clean with my friends than alone! To take care of the garden together and sweep and do dishes together! And it will take so much less time for four of us to care for one house than for each of us to care for our own houses!”

The Little Red Hen did not discuss what she envisioned with her friends. They had no idea what her expectations were. And she had no idea what their expectations were. So after they moved in together, the Little Red Hen was unpleasantly surprised to find that the Dog napped all day, the Cat played with string all day, and the Duck swam in the pool all day. No one did any work but her!

The poor Little Red Hen found herself washing all the dishes—even dishes that she did not dirty. She found herself sweeping the floor all by herself—even when she was not the one who dirtied it. And she worked in the garden all by herself—even though everyone ate the food that grew there. The Little Red Hen felt very disappointed, sad, and frustrated.

So obviously:
She asked her friends for help.
She asserted her needs.
She explained her feelings.
She did all of these.
But her friends just made excuses,
and in a rather manipulative way,
claimed the Hen was being too sensitive,
and their behavior was okay!

The Little Red Hen didn’t know what to do, so nothing changed. She continued to do all the household chores by herself. One day while she was working in the garden she came across a grain of Einkorn wheat. She looooved sourdough bread, and so did her friends.
“Look guys!” She said. “Look what I found! Will you help me plant it?”
“Nooooo!” said the Dog who was about to take a nap.
“Nooooo!” said the Cat who was playing with some string.
“Nooooo!” said the Duck who was swimming in the pool.
“Guys!,” said the Little Red Hen, sighing heavily, “I would really like some help.”

She tried to get through to her friends.
She asserted her needs.
She said, “I’m feeling frustrated you guys!”
She did all of these.
But her friends just made jokes and laughed,
and in a rather dishonest way,
said they would be helping if they could,
but they just had no time today.

The Little Red Hen didn’t know what to do. She was starting to not really like her friends anymore. She planted the wheat all by herself. She watered it every day, cultivated the soil around it to prevent weed growth, and after not too long, a big, beautiful plant was ready to be harvested.

“Look guys!” She said. “The wheat is ready to be harvested! Who will help me so that we can have fresh bread soon?”
“Not me!” said the Dog who was about to take a nap.
“Not me!” said the Cat who was playing with some string.
“Not me!” said the Duck who was swimming in the pool.
The Little Red Hen was feeling so lonely and disappointed that she burst into tears.

She told her friends her feelings.
She asserted her needs.
She said, “This isn’t what I thought living with you guys would be like!”
She did all of these.
Her friends didn’t make eye contact with her;
they looked the other way,
They said that she was being too emotional,
And crying wasn’t okay!
Then they shrugged their shoulders,
and so very hard they tried
to convince the Hen to repress what she was feeling
and keep it all inside.

The Little Red Hen was very disturbed. She knew it was important for her health to cry when she needed to. She knew it was imperative that she express her feelings and needs. And she also knew she could not go on living with the Dog, the Cat, or the Duck. She thought about what she should do while she harvested the wheat and while she ground it into flour. Then she put some of the flour in a cup of water so that it would ferment and develop a rich sour flavor. Each day she added a little more flour and water to the bubbling mass. By the end of the week it was time to add the rest of the flour, make the dough, and bake it. And by the end of the week, the Little Red Hen had decided to try to communicate with her friends one last time.

“Heeeey guys!” She said, “Who wants to help me make bread?!”
“Not me!” said the Dog who was about to take a nap.
“Not me!” said the Cat who was playing with a ball of string.
“Not me!” said the Duck who was swimming in the pool.

The Little Red Hen got angry.
She had too many unmet needs.
She yelled, “You realize I can’t go on like this right?
I am not going to keep supporting you three.”
They got very defensive and said
Oh you have to
They explained they just couldn’t work like she could
They couldn’t do what she could do

The Little Red Hen angrily stormed into the kitchen to put the bread in the oven. She now knew that these animals were not her friends. They were entitled moochers. And she knew what she had to do.

Pretty soon the whole house smelled of freshly baked bread. Of course the dog woke up from his nap and strolled into the kitchen, and the cat stopped playing with her string and flounced into the kitchen, and the duck stopped swimming and waddled into the kitchen.

The Little Red Hen took the bread out of the oven and looked at them.
“Are you hoping to help me eat this bread?” She asked.
“Yes!” said the Dog.
“Yes!” said the Cat
“Oh yeah!” said the Duck.
“I don’t think so!” said the Little Red Hen. “You didn’t help me care for the wheat, or grind the flour, or ferment the dough. You didn’t help me make the bread. So you will not be helping me eat it. And moreover, you have not helped to maintain this house, so you shall not be living in it any longer.”

The Little Red Hen felt instantly relieved. For so long she had not stood up for herself. She cut herself a slice of bread and began to eat it. It was very tasty.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Vaccine Decision Is a Trust Decision Not a Science Decision

I was asked recently what my position is on vaccines. This is what I know: I am not an expert! I don't have a lab where I can do my own experiments to verify data others are presenting me with. All the reading and documentary-watching in the world won't change that. I am going to have to trust someone else's advice here.

And that actually makes my decision pretty easy.

There is the pharmaceutical industry and the government on one team. And the other team is the Weston A Price Association and Dr. Mendelsohn.

I don't trust the government at all. Nor the pharmaceutical industry. And when it comes to these two, I am extremely wary of possible hidden agendas, especially financial ones.

Following the advice of the Weston A Price Association cured my husband's hair loss, my acne, my menstrual cramps, and gave me a beautiful, healthy baby who never had cradle cap, crusty eye, or spit up. And that's just in my immediate family. I could go on and on about the evidence I have seen with my own eyes about the benefits of following their diet for my family and friends. The Weston A Price Association does not profit from telling me to not vaccinate. (They do profit from telling me to take cod liver oil, but this post isn't about that.)

Following the advice of Dr. Mendelsohn, who wrote my favorite medical book, How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, has saved me from a ton of parental worry, many pointless trips to the doctor, for not just my son but my husband and me too. Moreover, my grandfather was a doctor, and he gave this book to my mother in the 1980's. He said the medical industry was headed in a bad direction and no longer to be trusted. Dr. Mendelsohn and my grandfather have no hidden agenda that I can imagine either.

When it comes down to the only decision I get to make – which set of experts to trust – what decision I should make is clear.

It's terrifying – I want my son to be vaccinated against every horror life has to throw at him! And it's hard to reconcile my identity as a science-whorshipper with that of an unvaccinator. So I have to constantly remind myself of what Ayn Rand warned: Science isn't the science I love unless it's done on the free market. The meme that unvaccinators are anti-science is just advertising from two untrustworthy sources – big pharma and the government.

Personal anecdote: My vaccine free child is now six years old. He has had one fever in his entire life (when he was one and teething), he had diarrhea once that lasted a day when he was two, had a cough that was very slight and lasted a few weeks when he was three ... and that's it. He is gorgeously healthy. I don't worry when he plays with sick kids because I know he wont get sick, or if he does it will be nothing more than a runny nose. He also doesn't have any strange issues that doctors excuse as genetic, like eczema. I have two vaccinated nephews on my husband's side that have eczema (it runs in his family). My son's pediatrician - who suffers from eczema herself - says that she believes vaccines are a major trigger for eczema and that if you have eczema in your family, you should not be vaccinated.

Note: I studied nutrition pretty intensely for five years before I considered myself qualified to judge who to trust in that arena. Here is a link to a series of posts I wrote about my path to determining that Weston A Price diet is the one to follow:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Anders's Homeschool Curriculum age 3

Anders is 3 1/2 and knows all of his letter and letter-sounds. I simply ask him each day if he would like to work on his letters with me and he almost always says, "Yes!" We have been doing the Hooked on Phonics program for preschoolers (that I bought on Amazon.com) and it only took about six weeks for us to finish the first book (all the capital letters) and he has loved it. We are now about halfway through the second book (lower case letters).

He also has been going to Kumon for math since March. All we do thus far is count. Again, I just ask him if he would like to do some math and he almost always says, "Yes!" No pressure from me or fake enthusiasm. Likewise when it's time to go to the Kumon center. It is 100% his choice to go or not. He chooses to go almost every time. I think only once or twice in the last month he has said he was too tired to go, and it has always been fine with me.

All of Anders's work is kept next his bed, so I usually ask him if he wants to work right before we go to bed. This has been a wonderful experience as we cozy up and cuddle while working and then he goes to sleep.

Anders tried out 4 different gymnastics classes before finding one that he liked and wants to go to consistently. He tried out 2 different swimming classes and hated them and has decided to wait until he is older to learn to swim. Ditto with karate. He liked the first music class he tried so we have stuck with that and he continues to go though I notice the teacher is very authoritative, and I don't like the class very much, so after this next month I plan to ask him if he will try a new class. He loves going to My Gym which is just a indoor gymnastics-like gym for kids with free play. He also enjoys going on hikes with me, errands, and watching construction sites.

Most of his day is spent doing with me whatever I am doing or doing his own work--which involves various building projects in the back yard, sometimes "fighting fires," and generally a 40-minute sit down at my desk where he "answers emails," makes real phone calls, "writes letters," and "writes books." He also takes care of his "baby girl" or his "baby sister," cleans--he is actually quite good at mopping, and "organizes."

What I hear from strangers (and I agree) is that he is extremely well-spoken, independent, confident, happy, and outgoing. And cute. I get asked if he models at least once a day :) People are often terrified of the "freedom" I "give" him around cars, pools, in crowds, and when climbing but he has never shown me that he is not competent at making safe choices in any of these areas.

*Anders initially started with Kumon math and reading but the Hooked on Phonics program was far superior and seemed less commercially motivated. I will post soon about the Kumon reading program which I swear must accept money from the corn and sugar industries….

*When I read to Anders it is usually from whatever book I am reading or something like Little House on the Prarie. I continue to avoid almost all kids books.

*Anders has a very active imagination and will turn anything into what he wants it to be. He does not need toys to be realistic at all. For example, he brings his "baby sister" with us whenever we go anywhere in the car. He buckles her in before he gets into his carseat. She is a squirt gun.

*Anders has never been exposed to superheroes or magic. He has commented to me that he wishes he could fly like a bird and I have agreed that it would be awesome. If you ask him he will tell you he is going to work in construction when he is bigger or as a fireman. The imaginary games he plays almost always involve these two things--what he thinks he will be doing in the future. He also talks often about being a father himself one day (and is sad that he does not get to be pregnant) and shows an interest in caring for babies and dolls.