On Immunizations

What’s the deal with immunizations? One side is dogmatic about giving them and the other is dogmatic about refusing them. I’ve been recently looking at the controversy trying to decide whether to continue with the normal schedule of shots, to slow it down a bit (i.e. space out the shots over a longer period of time), or to discontinue them all together.

On one end of the spectrum I have my SiL who is staunchly against immunizations and has not immunized my two youngest nephews at all. She’s not alone as several young mothers in my church have made the same decision. On the other end of the spectrum is all my training in Public Health most of which can be boiled down into a single statement: an ounce of prevention goes a long way.

But it’s one thing to sit in a classroom and listen to lectures on preventative medicine and quite another to try and make informed decisions that could affect your baby’s whole life. Continue reading “On Immunizations”

A Reflection on Parenting (Part 2)

Kyle and I have been having some rather extended conversations about parenting and the direction in which we wish to lead our children (novel concept right?). And we’ve been discussing the fact that we want to instill into our children a forward thinking perspective that looks towards long term goals and benefits. Now Kyle tends to focus mostly on legacy building, but I have been coming back to the need to raise our children in an environment that embraces responsibility at an early age.

In my last post, I talked about the current definition of childhood and how we have culturally glorified it to an untenable position. I would like to further look at this social construct in light of our responsibility as parents to train our children.

In our zeal to appeal to the modern world, we’ve let society dictate to us how we should respond our children’s youthful urges and behaviors. This dictation is undermining Christian principles because it in no way acknowledges a Sovereign God who has given us the duty to mold our children to seek after the paths of righteousness. On the contrary, society would rather have us be our child’s ‘best friend’ and ‘understand what they’re going through’ than to follow our calling to love, admonish and discipline our children. Society would rather we give unconditionally to our children’s desires without thought to their rightful needs.

The desire to give good gifts to our children is not a bad thing and neither is wanting to shield them from worries. But to let society dictate that the best way to do that is to allow them free reign to pursue their desires is decidedly unchristian and detrimental to their ultimate happiness.

A Reflection on Parenting (Part 1)

I have found responses to this to be very frustrating. Ever since the Time article came out, there have been a lot of media sources jumping on it and railing about the horrors of teen pregnancy. Most of the topics that have cropped up in response to the initial article have been centered around access to birth control and better sex-ed. Both of which are missing the mark as usual. Continue reading “A Reflection on Parenting (Part 1)”

I’ve found a solution

For a long time now, I’ve disparaged families who are so negligent as to “use the TV as a babysitter.” I had my reasons:

* TV are stuupid. Television is designed to pitch to the widest possible audience. In part, this is usually accomplished by also pitching to the lowest common denominator. This means that most television, even movies is noticeably lacking in any kind of content which might require an attention span. But people only mature and become capable of working with more complex information by being regularly exposed to stuff that is beyond what they’re actually used to. You don’t improve in anything unless you have to struggle a bit. Since TV constantly pitches low, a regular diet of television makes you dumb.

* TV are annoying. Young children are geared toward repetition and memorization. Which means that, even if you find a way to expose your kids only to “smart TV,” they’re going to want to be watching it a great deal more than an adult is quite prepared to tolerate. I don’t care how much better than the standard fare Thomas the Tank Engine is. It’s not good enough for me to have to memorize it. And I don’t know that I want my kids memorizing it either. OK. Maybe Veggie Tales songs. But I have limits.

Unfortunately, ideals are all wonderful until you encounter real life, in which a child requires a great deal of stimulation. Continue reading “I’ve found a solution”

Captain of the Changing Table

Some day in the future, I plan to be very intimately involved in the raising of my son. I shall teach him how to ride a bike and how to read. (No, I mean how to *read*.) I will discuss with him how to raise a family and what to look for in a wife, the importance of preparing to be a provider from an early age, the joys of duty and responsibility. But for now, the days of early infancy are primarily a mother’s realm. No matter how beautiful the baby, it takes a mother’s heart to truly cherish a child who only wants and never learns – who is a bundle only of needs.

To love and coo and long for this experience is beyond me, but Valerie does it, and every woman I meet seems to wish to aid her. As for me, I cannot feed him at the breast, and to see him in a perfect little outfit that is just *so* cute stirs no excitement in me. What joys I have in the duties of infant childhood parenting I perceive through the lens of my wife. She loves this time and in it feels that overwhelming mother-love for her son, and through her, I feel these things too. But in all honesty, there is little of the parenting at this age that is truly mine to do.

There is one capacity, however, that I can be fully vested in: the changing table. I am captain of the changing table. When David wakes in the middle of the night, I can’t feed him, so I don’t stay up all and lose hours of sleep every night. But in the middle of every feeding, there is a procedure that involves getting up from the bed. Valerie leans over and wakes me (which is fortunately easy – I have the felicity of being immune to baby cries, but very sensitive to my name); I get up, fetching her a glass of water, and take from her the baby. I carry him into the other room, make all the adjustments, and bring him back, ready for his second helping. This happens 2-3 times per night, at most 10 minutes lost of sleep. For me, nothing, but everything gained for my wife.

My captaincy ends around 6:30 in the morning, when I leave the house to go to work. At 3:00 (uh, 4:00? 4:30?), I come home and resume my stake. On the weekends, of course, my role never ceases. It is an exceedingly small burden for me since, with today’s technology, wet diapers are not so much wet as surprisingly heavy; breastfed babies also have the advantage that their waste is actually not all that unpleasant to smell (It’s about the equivalent of a strong cheese), and our son seems to be uh, blessed, with very infrequent bowel movements anyway.

Of course I also am still at home in my own house and know how to cook and clean, and a greater responsibility in these areas has fallen on me. Occasionally I am also viceroy of the bathtub and lieutenant of tummy time, but from my perspective, my contribution is almost nothing. Yet my wife says what I do is such a great relief to her that I continually earn her gratitude. This is a good thing, because in my mind every service I perform for our son is first and foremost a gift to her, and every complaint a cry of concern for her wellbeing.

Nicknames

We received recently a card from some uncle or another, which had the felicity of referring to our Son, David Ebenezer, as “Little Eb,” a name which Valerie and I found positively delightful, but which also has set me to thinking: Names are important things, and one can’t be too careful about them.

We have a tradition on my side of the family for avoiding at nearly any cost the possession of a name which may have the misfortune of being perceived as “normal.” One of the reasons when I was born for naming me Kyle was that, to my parents’ knowledge, there wasn’t anybody currently alive who had that name, and it was much to my mother’s chagrin to discover that she was only five years ahead of the trend: There are young people nearly everywhere now, 25 years or younger, who are named Kyle – some of them female! This is also the reason why my mom has insisted that under no circumstances will she suffer to be called “grandma” or “grammy” or “meemaw” or anything like that, which might cause her to be mistaken for the normal sort of grandparent – whatever that may be.

So names are important, and not least are nicknames, which if injudiciously assigned can have disastrous effects. My sister, for instance, formerly Francesca French: was she going to be called Fran? Not on your life. So she has always been Ces (which of course has come back to haunt her: Now she is called Ces Cox, which is just the sort of thing we had hoped to avoid.)

It is for this reason that I will not have a son called Junior. And I was a little non plussed about calling him David – such a normal name – and proud of Ebenezer. Little Eb – what a delight. Nevertheless, we named him David, and I won’t be calling him by his middle name, as if his first were an embarrassment. No, David is a good name; one that, because it is so common, has been overlooked as to its true potential for delightful and interesting nicknames:

To begin with, David is a Hebrew name. This is particularly important because Hebrew is one of the oldest written languages, and so it is both simple and stunningly complex. Nearly every word in Hebrew begins with a relatively concrete meaning, which is then applied through increasing levels of abstraction to mean a huge number of additional things. In addition, Hebrew became a written language sometime before the concept of a vowel was truly fleshed out, so until some time in the 600’s AD, Hebrew was a language without vowels, and when they were added, in order to avoid disrupting the alignment of various ancient texts, vowels were merely added as minute dots and scratches around the various consonants.

So in Hebrew, the proper spelling for David is (reading right to left) דוד, or DVD. By extension, I suppose it would be appropriate to call my son Flick, and advise him never to go into acting. Adding the vowels in, the way it is normally pronounced would be spelled דָוִד. The little t-shape under the D is called a qamats, and is pronounced like a long A. The dot under the V is called a hiriq and is pronounced like a long I. Dahveed.

Now, the V, or Vav in the middle is really the one to watch because long before the point-system was invented, they used to use this guy at the very least to give the reader a hint that there was supposed to be a vowel in that spot. As a result, sometimes the V is silent and all you pronounce is the vowel that is attached to it. And with different vowels occasionally come different meanings. For instance דָוִד is a name, but if you move the dot to the top of the ו (thus: ), it becomes a holam vav. The V sound disappears entirely, and all we are left with is a long O. This word דוֹד, is pronounced Dode, and it means “beloved,” as in “I am my beloved and he is mine.” “My beloved” is spelled דוֹדי, and pronounced Dodie. So there I have two new nicknames for my son: Dode or Dodie. Either one will do.

Lastly, the dot can be moved to the middle of the Vav, thus:. This is called a dagesh (I believe) but it makes the sound of a long U. This is a nonsense word in Hebrew. It means nothing. But I think I may be using this one quite often.

So here we have a pretty list of unusual nicknames for my son: Daveed, of course, and Little Eb, but also Davdi, “my david.” Then there is Dode, “beloved,” or Dodie, “my beloved.” And when all else fails, I may call my son “Dude” knowing full well that I am being perfectly erudite and furthermore pronouncing his name exactly as it is spelled.

Unbalanced Complementarianism

I’m slowly acquiring the capacity for writing again as I crawl my way out of the morass of being a new teacher, and I wanted to share a bit of somebody else’s hyperbole with you.

Owen Strachan, whom I do not know, has a post on the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood blog reflecting positively on a quote than just hit me exactly the wrong way: “A man who really gets Ephesians 5 is the kind of man who will be willing to work two jobs and live in a trailer to enable his wife to be the primary caregiver of his children.”

Yes, I get the point. The upwardly mobile, upper echelon middle class lifestyle isn’t nearly as important as providing for your wife the privilege of being able to stay home with the kids. Believe me, I know. Even as a teacher at a Christian school, I have a very low opinion of the parenting capacity of daycare workers, preschool teachers, and teachers in general in comparison to moms. They are simply too poorly paid, and too little invested to be an adequate substitute for actual full-time parenting. Ideally, the earliest I’d be comfortable sending a child to school would be in the early teens, when all the “raising” should be done and all that’s left for the school is the actual education. But then, I think a child should be ready for college level curriculum (not lifestyle) by about 14.

By all means, let mom stay home, especially if all that’s sending her to work is your dream of a house that’s just a little bit bigger, or a retirement that’s just a little bit nicer. Because what you’re really doing by sending your wife to work is not actually earning more money, but merely skimping on proper child care.

But be serious. I suspect that neither Owen Strachan nor Dr. Russell Moore (whose quote it is) has ever actually faced the prospect of working two jobs long-term, yet living in a Trailer Park. I must confess it lacks an appeal. The mobile home idea actually isn’t so bad, though it is my wife who insists she would rather be in a smallish apartment. But to say that a husband and a father should take up a second job so his wife can stay unemployed borders just slightly on getting it exactly backwards, especially if you measure things in time rather than in dollars: what you are actually saying is that full-time mothering is so important that it should be purchased at the expense of any fathering at all.

Really. If I am working two jobs on a long term basis, when am I going to see my son? Is mothering so important that it trumps fathering entirely?

On that whole “sleeping in our bedroom thing”

Yeah. He didn’t.

Oh, he was in our room all right. He just didn’t sleep.

The current theory: When he was on the bili-blanket, he was in the living room all night *with the lights on*. All the lights stay off in our room at night. The dark is different, so he doesn’t sleep.

At any rate, tired and frustrated parents today.