Author Topic: What Happened???  (Read 20253 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #60 on: February 14, 2012, 10:34:04 am »
So no. Its not just parents.

Thank you, Milo. All of those other situations you described are part of the problem, too. There's a complex web of influences on children these days, and rather than look in the mirror and deal with it, what society essentially does is shrug and say it's the parents responsibility to keep their kids from being exposed to it. The solution, I guess, is to hold your children in a tower until they're 18.

I think it takes raising a child to appreciate how difficult it is but it doesn't take being a parent to see poor parenting decisions.

The things Marie mentioned -- being abusive or strung out on drugs, letting your kid raise him/herself while you're out with a different guy every night -- those are poor parenting decisions, unquestionably.

But the things delalluvia mentioned? Subscribing to cable TV? Owning a computer? Signing your kid up for organized sports? Those aren't poor parenting decisions. Those are lifestyle choices that come with many upsides as well as downsides, and that everyone else in the culture is entitled to make. In the the case of organized sports, they're decisions that were actually made, presumably, to benefit the kids: to keep them physically fit and occupied with something healthy, to cultivate their skills and interests.

The reason it takes being in these situations to fully appreciate them is the same reason the phrase "walk a mile in my moccasins" came about. It's very easy to see what you would do as a parent when the children themselves are abstractions, when you haven't experienced the pressures and stresses that come from knowing the actual kids and trying to raise them, not in an empty room or an ivory tower, but in a complex society. In this abstract world, an acquaintance can spend two minutes thinking about what a parent has spent five or ten or fifteen years struggling with and instantly see a simple solution that would solve everything that somehow the parent is too idiotic (or wimpy) to discern. In this abstract world, children are who they are because of your parenting actions, never the other way around. I know, because I used to live in a world like that myself. And BTW, it's not only non-parents who live in that abstract world; it's also parents who did such and such with their kids and assume anybody else can do the same thing with any other kids under any other circumstances and achieve the same results.

When you're deciding whether to have computers and cell phones and cable TV, should it matter that the kid will be surrounded by other kids who have all of those things and will be talking about them constantly? Not if the kid is an abstraction. An abstract world is one where your word is law, you say no, your abstract kid will frown and maybe even quietly grumble a bit but that's the end of it and you go blithely on about your business.

When the kids are an abstraction, it's easy to decide that instead of signing them up for soccer and ballet you will "let them play in the back yard with each other and the dog and neighborhood kids." You can safely assume that they aren't particularly talented at soccer and ballet and aren't longing to do those things, that they don't have close friends who do those things, that your back yard is safe and pleasant, that the kids will play obediently in it even if you leave them unsupervised, that there are other kids in the neighborhood who aren't in programs themselves who will join them, that the back yard is big enough that they can actually get exercise in it and stay fit, that they can do the same thing in the back yard day after day and stay stimulated and entertained, that the back yard will still be all they need year after year as they become older and have no experience with any other sport or activity. Heck, when it's all an abstraction you can imagine that even if they get sick of playing on the same swingset or throwing the dog the same stick after a couple of weeks they can just study grass or clouds or ants or the dog's fur or something -- the whole world is like a science lesson and by gosh, they're kids, they should appreciate it. Simple!

Now, I'm not saying that you have to cave to every whim or request. Obviously you don't. And you're absolutely right, Roux, your friend should not bankroll her child's lifestyle if she doesn't approve of it.
 
Judging from the posts here, I am probably somewhat wimpy, probably let my kids do things others would think I should refuse -- especially if, to those people, the kids and the situation are abstractions. But the reality is that I've got the various pressures I've got and the time constraints I've got and the environment I've got and the personality I've got and, most important, the kids I've got. And there's only so much stress I'm willing to take on. I would go into more detail but it still probably wouldn't be sufficient to convince anyone and anyway I'm not here to defend my life choices.

Though I'm sure if I did, delalluvia would immediately spot all kinds of simple, easy things I could do differently that would solve my problems. Just as it's easy for me to see all kinds of simple things she could do to resolve conflicts with her sister.

Anyway, I pick my battles, and when I don't expend the energy to prevent their exposure to something -- inappropriate song lyrics, for example -- I make clear, like Milo's grandfather watching Dallas except even more overtly, what I think of them. I know my kids may not agree with me now,  because I didn't agree with my parents when I was 16, either. I hope that someday they will see things differently, just as I do now.

In the meantime, though, I think it's important that people recognize that kids do not grow up in a vacuum, and that even the strictest, most limit-setting parents are not able to create one. Roux, I'm sure your friend did everything she could to impart her values on her daughter, and yet the daughter chose to live with her boyfriend anyway. Would the daughter have made that same choice in 1950? No way. The mother could have been the world's wimpiest parent and it still wouldn't have happened, because it was a different culture.

When people say "it takes a village," they don't just mean that the neighbor should watch the kids sometimes so the mother can run to the grocery store, or the old lady down the street should yell at them if she sees them misbehaving (although those things would be good, too). It also means that the village has to create a culture -- schools, institutions, public behavior, entertainment, etc. -- that will send the kinds of messages and instill the kinds of values we want kids to have.

In our culture, the values we apparently want our kids to have is an appreciation for material things and an eagerness to buy them.

So as a culture, we tell kids at every turn -- not just on cable, but on regular TV -- that adults are square and stupid, that kids are smart and cool, that brands are extremely important, and that -- most importantly -- they should spend their money on this junk food, on this music, on this movie, on this whatever they're trying to sell. And we have another layer of support -- the respected music writers, for example, who celebrate 17-year-old Tyler the Creator and his violent, misogynistic lyrics -- who refuse to criticize because that would be uncool.

And then we complain about how the kids turn out.

« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 12:24:20 pm by serious crayons »

Offline milomorris

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #61 on: February 14, 2012, 11:45:26 am »
The solution, I guess, is to hold your children in a tower until they're 18.

Believe me, if my mother could have figured it out, she would have. You know what people say about parents with 3 boys...

It also means that the village has to create a culture -- schools, institutions, public behavior, entertainment, etc. -- that will send the kinds of messages and instill the kinds of values we want kids to have.

In our culture, the values we apparently want our kids to have is an appreciation for material things and an eagerness to buy them.

So as a culture, we tell kids at every turn -- not just on cable, but on regular TV -- that adults are square and stupid, that kids are smart and cool, that brands are extremely important, and that -- most importantly -- they should spend their money on this junk food, on this music, on this movie, on this whatever they're trying to sell. And we have another layer of support -- the respected music writers, for example, who celebrate 17-year-old Tyler the Creator and his violent, misogynistic lyrics -- who refuse to criticize because that would be uncool.

And then we complain about how the kids turn out.

Rather just crow my agreement, let me offer something a bit more substantive.

So far, everyone in this thread has offered solutions, anecdotes from our past experiences, and suggestions on how to fix things. I am also aware of an attitude among many--mostly liberal-thinking individuals--that when talk of "family values," or "restoring America," surfaces, it causes them to bristle and become suspicious. But here I go. I don't think its "turning back the clock" to take a look at our past, and pull some successful methods and best practices off the shelf. There has to be a way to turn the tide. I'm sure there is some combination of parental, educational, governmental, corporate, and civic re-directions that could create an environment where children have greater incentives to achieve than consume. There must be a way to bring back common courtesy, mutual respect, and pride in one's community. There must be a way to spark in our young people the desire to do better than we did.

There are many efforts out there that attack an element here, or address an issue there. I applaud Michelle Obama's childhood obesity campaign, as well as Verizon Reads. They are both useful programs. But each has limitations. There's got to be a way to stitch things together, and repair our moral fabric. 
  The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #62 on: February 14, 2012, 12:05:15 pm »
Rather just crow my agreement, let me offer something a bit more substantive.

So far, everyone in this thread has offered solutions, anecdotes from our past experiences, and suggestions on how to fix things. I am also aware of an attitude among many--mostly liberal-thinking individuals--that when talk of "family values," or "restoring America," surfaces, it causes them to bristle and become suspicious. But here I go. I don't think its "turning back the clock" to take a look at our past, and pull some successful methods and best practices off the shelf. There has to be a way to turn the tide. I'm sure there is some combination of parental, educational, governmental, corporate, and civic re-directions that could create an environment where children have greater incentives to achieve than consume. There must be a way to bring back common courtesy, mutual respect, and pride in one's community. There must be a way to spark in our young people the desire to do better than we did.

There are many efforts out there that attack an element here, or address an issue there. I applaud Michelle Obama's childhood obesity campaign, as well as Verizon Reads. They are both useful programs. But each has limitations. There's got to be a way to stitch things together, and repair our moral fabric. 

I agree with some of this, even though I'm probably often on the other side than you in the so-called "culture wars." I wish there were a way that we could change our culture's values.

On the other hand, we shouldn't romanticize the past. In the past, kids didn't swear at their parents or live with their boyfriends or sag their pants or listen to music with awful lyrics. But, as you know, they had other moral failings.


Offline milomorris

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #63 on: February 14, 2012, 12:22:49 pm »
On the other hand, we shouldn't romanticize the past. In the past, kids didn't swear at their parents or live with their boyfriends or sag their pants or listen to music with awful lyrics. But, as you know, they had other moral failings.

Oh, I remember my those failings all too well. I'm just interested in looking at what worked back then.

  The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #64 on: February 14, 2012, 12:42:36 pm »
Oh, I remember my those failings all too well. I'm just interested in looking at what worked back then.

Actually, though, what I meant was something broader, more cultural. In 1915, for example, the culture didn't accept offensive song lyrics. On the other hand, it did accept Jim Crow law.

I don't mean to emphasize race, particularly -- that's just an easy example, and you could find examples in all kinds of other realms. My point is that, to some degree, it's not that our culture's moral fabric has shredded, it's that our moral values have shifted. Swearing is more OK, slurs less so. Explicit sex is more OK, repression less so.

The question is how to respect and support the freedoms we have achieved, while restoring some of those other solid values you mentioned.


Offline serious crayons

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #65 on: February 14, 2012, 01:04:03 pm »
Related to this discussion is this essay I have always loved by the late Michael Kelly, a conservative and one-time editor of The Atlantic, who was killed in Iraq. I don't completely agree with everything in it, as evidenced by my last post, but it makes some good points about some traditional values vis-a-vis "cool."

Getting Hip to Squareness
We want our virginity back
 by Michael Kelly
 

.....
 
Can we be square again? We were last square half a century ago. Then we were, more or less successively, hep, hip, cool, wild, beat, alienated, mod, groovy, radical, turned on, dropped out, camp, self-actualizing, meaningful, punk, greedy, ironic, Clintonian, and, finally, postmodern, which is to say exhausted—and who can blame us? In all these states we were, first and above all, not-square. Everything was a variation on that; to be seen as clever and even profound you had to be not much more than not square.

Now we are supposed to be square again. No one puts it that bluntly, because square remains the condition that dare not speak its name. Even country music gave up on square, Merle Haggard's 1969 great anthem of square, "Okie From Muskogee," being more on the order of a last defiant gasp than a call to arms. Nevertheless, post-September 11 we are, the surveys say, patriotic, prayerful, serious, and determined. We love our country. We support our President and our armed forces. Our heroes are police officers and firefighters. Our first official war hero was a CIA agent. Well, beat me, Daddy, eight to the bar, as Mamie Eisenhower used to say, this is squaresville.

But is it sustainable? Returning to square seems like re-virginizing. The problem is knowingness. All anti-square postures stand on a base of superior knowingness: Suburban life may look wholesome and sweet, but it is really one vast snake pit tarted up as a gunite swimming pool. George Washington may look like the star of Founding Father Knows Best, but really he was a false-toothed real-estate speculator. Woody Guthrie carries a nice tune, but this land is not your land, unless you are a Trump or a Tisch.

Knowingness, of course, is not knowledge—indeed, is the rebuttal of knowledge. Knowledge was what squares had, or thought they had, and they thought that it was the secret of life. Knowingness is a celebration of the conceit that what the squares knew, or thought they knew, was worthless. In The Graduate the career advice ("Plastics") of a family friend, Mr. McGuire, to Benjamin Braddock, played by Dustin Hoffman, is classic square knowledge. Benjamin's mute disdain toward that advice—and his elaborately played out disdain for all that McGuire and the Robinsons represent—is classic anti-square knowingness.

You can see in this example the problem that a return to square poses: anti-square is so much easier and more fun. Knowledge, even on McGuire's level, is notoriously difficult to acquire. Sixteen years of hard, slogging schoolwork, and what do you know? Not enough to carry on ten minutes of intelligent conversation on any subject in the world with any person who actually knows something about the subject. Knowingness, though—a child can master that. (Can and does: there is an obvious inverse relationship between age and knowingness; the absolute life peak of knowingness generally arrives between the ages of twelve and sixteen for females, fourteen and eighteen for males—whereas, as these cohorts can attest, grown-ups don't know anything.)

This is why Benjamin Braddock had to ignore, with prejudice, Mr. McGuire. McGuire may have been a fool, but he was, in the limited area of business and economic trends, probably a knowledgeable fool. Had Benjamin been obliged to respond to McGuire's advice in terms of knowledge, he would have been utterly lost—he would have been the one exposed as a fool. But for Ben—and more to the point, for the movie's audience—knowingness offered a lovely way to not only counter McGuire's knowledge but also trump it. Ben didn't have to know anything about McGuire to show himself intellectually (and aesthetically, and even morally) superior to McGuire. He only had to know that what McGuire thought he knew was a joke and McGuire was a joke because—because the McGuires of the world are definitionally jokes, and if you don't understand that, I can't explain it to you, because you are a McGuire. That's knowingness, and for no-sweat self-satisfaction you can't beat it.

The hard-easy dynamic that obtains with knowledge and knowingness covers other aspects of square and anti-square. Square: virtuous, chaste, modest, honest, brave, industrious, tough, kind to children and waiters. Anti-square: vice-tolerant, promiscuous, boastful, honest when it suits, don't-get-mad-get-even, sharp, retains a tough attorney, kind to Kennedy children and waitresses who look like supermodels. Square: proper dress required, also proper manners, proper morals, and proper language. Anti-square: Jack Kerouac. Square is not overly concerned with comfort. My father, who is seventy-eight, will sartorially relax to the point of allowing, on occasion, corduroy trousers and a tweed jacket instead of a suit, but he doesn't venture much beyond that. His father's idea of unbending was to appear on his front stoop of a Saturday without coat and tie and stiff detachable collar, and with the sleeves of his washed, bleached, starched, ironed white shirt rolled up nearly to his elbows. And this, mind, was the relatively relaxed standard of the working classes.

When America was square, even being anti-square was hard. Take, for example, the issue of courage. A man could be manifestly courageous or not, but if he was not courageous, he was well advised to hide that fact. In square America other men and even women made life hard for men who clearly failed the minimal (and, it should be noted, they always were minimal) requirements of manliness. Likewise with other social conventions. In square America you could choose to be a seducer of women, a drunk, a gambler, a layabout, a sartorial disgrace. But this would not be a respectable life; indeed, it would be, to a degree now hard to imagine, a harried life. The Beats were the first figures to rebel openly against the social conventions of post-World War II America pretty much across the board. Reading what they wrote in the late 1950s and early 1960s, you are struck (apart from the generally third-rate quality of their thoughts and words) by the rigor it took to lead the anti-square life then.

After all that went away, we ended up with a culture in which the anti-square values achieved their natural status as the default positions of life. Not terribly inclined to painful honesty? Not to worry: learn from Seinfeld that honesty is for people who live in Duluth. Inclined to sharp practices in your business dealings? Relax: nobody pays retail anymore, why should you? Not terribly brave? Oh, well, who truly is?

It is some distance from this territory to Mayberry, RFD. But you never could get there from here anyway. The idea of America described in The Andy Griffith Show and other programs of the fifties and sixties that have come to stand for the collective cultural sense of square was never intended to be taken as real. These shows were a camp take on a cartoon fantasy of American life and values, and they amounted to a running inside (and fairly cynical) joke on the part of the un-square people who made and marketed television. Their America never did exist, and that America is not what returning to square means.

What did exist, and what perhaps could be returned to, is the modern, hip urban America of the thirties and the forties. This is the America fictionalized and idealized in Hollywood's Humphrey Bogart and Rex Stout's Archie Goodwin and Stephen E. Ambrose's Band of Brothers, but it was not at root a fiction. It was real, and it was a time and a place that no one could ever mistake for square. Indeed, this was the America that defined American style so absolutely that every evocation of cool since has been in imitation of it or in reaction to it.

Yet the values of this America were values that came to be associated with square: courage, bravery, strength, honesty, love of country, sense of duty. Then, though, these values were not seen as square. Nor were they seen as square's political analogue, conservative. There was then no necessary disjunction between cool and patriotic, or cool and strong, or cool and conservative, and no understood conjunction between square and patriotic or strong and liberal. (See Bogart in Casablanca for the ultimate expression of all of this.) This seems to me a cultural state that might again, finally, be attainable. And I think people might like it, too—especially if we got to wear fedoras again.



Offline ifyoucantfixit

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #66 on: February 14, 2012, 03:51:56 pm »
Yes, it's quite amazing how easy it can be to solve other people's parenting problems. Heck, before I had kids of my own I could have solved just about everybody's.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

   This is a credo, that I first noticed when my first child was born.  Many years ago.  It is still quite the same.  It tends to be people that do not have children, that do the most criticizing and denigrating of others.  I experienced it, on many occasions, because she was the first child born in the family.  THEN;  when they started having children of their own.. Coincidentally all the criticism vanished.  The difference is very profound, when you have a child, you find out that they are not little automatons that are so easily turned off and on at your will.  They have minds of their own.  The truth is, I believe, you train them in all the ways that you know to be correct, and upright.  This you do at least until they reach the age of majority, or in most cases 18 years of age.  After that, you simply have to let them make their own way in life.  Be there for them, when they need you, and ask for help. You can never prevent them from being what they decide to become in most cases.  Hopefully they choose the good way. 
   In this day and age, there seem to be so many more health issues also.  Things we seldom ever saw when my kids were small.  Things like Autism, Asperbergers disease, and a host of other issues.  Those in conjunction with the normal (normal, as defined by accepted mores.)  These issues are causing parents a host of more difficult problems.  Then you have the medical societies in and out opinions, then the new and changing treatments from year to year.  It is so so difficult for parents to raise a fine upstanding member of society.  I truly feel sympathy and empathy with the people trying to do so these days.
   I had a child born with dyslexia, that took until he was in the fourth grade to be diagnosed.  I and he struggled with trying to find the answers that he needed in order to be an achiever in school.  That was in the beginning of the time, that they even gave it a name, and they still had no real answers as to combat the problem.  It was still in the trial and error stage, in public schools at the time.  He truly struggled in school because of it.  I had a girlfriend that had it when I was in school, and they simply thought that she was "retarded."  That is how things change in so short a time.  She never finished school. My son didn't either.  However, we and his wife struggled to help him learn the things necessary to be a fully functional adult man.  Able to earn a good living for his family.  He now owns his own business, as a mechanic.  He is as good a father as there is.  He is a man that knows more than many of the so called students that he went to school with. It was however a long and difficult road for him.  He was full of self doubt, and even may I say some shame.  Not that we ever said a word to him, about it.  He had so many other natural athletic talents, that he never really got teased, as is often the case in these circumstances.  But he was small in stature, but highly as I said athletic.  He was always the strongest member of any physical activity that he took part in.  But my point is.  There are so many differing issues involved in raising a child.  That my first thought, when hearing people that have no children.  Try and tell those that do have them.  How to do it.  It actually pisses me off.  It would be better, if the people would try and show them encouragement, and say what a beautiful job, that you think they are doing.  In most cases that is the case.  Some kids are not going to be the perfect little Lord Fauntleroy, or Princess.  I know that that reference dates me, but if you don't know the term, maybe you could research it.  In other words, there is much more to raising a child, much much more, than simply to be sure that they obey, direction, at a moments notice.  They may wear clothing, that you do not approve of.  Or any other, of many issues that people tend to criticize parenting for.  I say before you become a critic, "walk a mile in their shoes."  Maybe then you may have more sympathy and even pity for them.   If they are trying their best, they still may have children, that are difficult to deal with. 

    I have a grandchild that was born with ADHD.  He has absolutely no short term memory.  It has been a source of frustration and failure for all of us that have been raising him.  He is very very bright.  He simply has issues with memory, in the short term.  We could get him medicated to the gills, which most teachers have wanted done to these children.  But it didn't seem to do much for him.  It was tried for a few weeks, with no noticable difference.  So, his mom just said it is going to turn him into an addict, with little to no help..  Many children are greatly helped with that application.. But not all.  As, in all other ways of raising children, there is not always a quick fix.  No thing that is obvious and final.  It is like all other things in life.  An ongoing, and continuous work in progress.  You just hope and pray, that it will come out well. 

   If however the child has broken parenting.  Ie, drug addicted, alcoholic, gang membership, homeless, absentee, or what have you.  They then face many many other issues in their unprepared and struggling life.  Therefor, I just say, before poking and denigrating, or any of the other ways of saying a child is unworthy.  Try and see it from the inside out.. not from the outside in..
   Yes you can threaten them, chastise, and punish them, in any of the accepted or unaccepted ways that there are to do that.  But.. you cannot "make" them do anything.  You can not put them under house arrest.  They can escape.  Probably with very bad results.  You can banish them from your life. If that is your choice.   Most of these choices, end up punishing you, more than them.  While not repairing the major issue that you are fighting.



     Beautiful mind

Offline Kelda

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #67 on: February 14, 2012, 04:19:36 pm »
Yes, it's quite amazing how easy it can be to solve other people's parenting problems. Heck, before I had kids of my own I could have solved just about everybody's.


I feel I have a lot of reponsibility ahead... and I'm not going to realise how hard the parenting malarky is until I'm in it..  :)
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #68 on: February 14, 2012, 04:24:57 pm »
I feel I have a lot of reponsibility ahead... and I'm not going to realise how hard the parenting malarky is until I'm in it..  :)

Well, I sure didn't. But everyone has a different experience, because everybody has different kids and different other circumstances. For some parents it really is much easier than it has been for me. And for some parents it's much harder.

But it's also really rewarding, too. I've never met anyone who regrets it.



Offline ifyoucantfixit

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Re: What Happened???
« Reply #69 on: February 14, 2012, 04:59:41 pm »
   

   Something I failed to put in my rant.  I have seen very few parents, that regret becoming one.  Most think it is the greatest thing that they have ever done.  Bar none.  Besides, you may have a child that is very very easy to raise.  The one I spoke of, is the youngest, in a family of three children.  The older two, are and were, a piece of cake.  Beautiful, as he is, and very accomplished.  My sweet Kelsey, is his older sister.  It is the case in that parenting issue.  My daughter had two, "perfect" children.  She as most parents do, considered themself a "perfect" parent.  Then when the younger one came along, she realized, that it was the children, that were perfect, not her parenting.  lol..

  Perhaps you will get lucky too.  My grandsons, son.  He is two years old now.  The nephew of the boy with ADHD, is one of those perfect children also.  One of these days, I will post his picture here probably.  I am quite reluctant anymore to post small childrens photos, because of all the wierdos out there.  But he is beautiful, both physically and mentally, plus as well behaved and wonderful to be around, as you could ever hope to see.  i think for a two year old, he is perfection...no tantrums or fits, or any of the difficulties that many are to deal with.  Hopefully you will have the same experience.  I am hoping and praying for you..  It probably will be that.  If not, then just remember, you don't have to do it, in the way that others think you should.  Do it in the way that you think you should.  Do not let others make you feel guilty or sad about any of it.  Simply try, and if necessary, try again.  It will most likely work out very easily.  But if it doesn't simply think of it as a work in progress.  Because after all.  Aren't we all that?



     Beautiful mind