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Start talking Sex? She just started walking!

When they start talking, you start talking. Yes. That's right. The first impression children receive of something is the one that sticks. And it's really hard to 'undo'. Of course, the content is age appropriate, but it's the beginning of a converstaion that should never end. According to Stanton and Brenna Jones, authors of How & When to Tell Your Kids About Sex, this conversation can't happen soon enough in today's world. Your four-year-old should know that his wee wee has a biological name, and that it is the name God intended for it instead of the lovely four letter nicknames they will hear it called once they hit school age.

Prevention of devasting events in early life is the key to this, of course, and why early childhood developmental programs now discuss themes like 'no touching' in their safety curriculums. Thank goodness they are doing this, but parents need to open their mouths too.

My jaw dropped when this great Christian-based book told me that by age 8, I should have discussed in honest, serious detail what 'intercourse' is with my daughter, and that I should include the real explanation of where babies come from. My heart stopped and I got butterflies. Would I even have the nerve? By God's lovely grace, she walked in and my efforts to hide the book, since she always looks at my book titles, failed, and all my inner voice said to me was, "ok, here goes." So I used the real biological words for our private parts, told her it was important for her to understand it from me rather than stuff she hears at school, and explained it just like Mr. and Mrs. Jones told me to. To a tee. And she looked at me and said, "I don't get it."

Oh boy. I'm stuck. I have no idea what to say and I can't exactly say, "Hold on while I flip to page 43 of my handy dandy notebook." So all I could say was, "Well, you will one day. We'll talk more soon."

I choked! This is hard stuff people!! But it's important. They need to hear it from us first. So these great authors have written a book for the super critical age of 8-11 called What's the Big Deal?, which is the cover photo on this post.

I'm ordering it today.

With statistics like 72 percent of kids today are nonvirgins by senior year of high school, one adolescent pregnancy begins every 35 seconds amounting to to more than 1 million teenage pregnancies each year, and that in 1985, nearly 500,000 abortions were performed on women ages 19 & under (How & When to Tell Your Kids about Sex; Jones, Stan and Brenna), I think every parent in the WORLD needs to buy this book. and then there's STDs, drugs and alcohol, rape, and lifetime emotional effects of teenage sex!

I'm pretty sure that left to the media, entertainment, and planned parenthood, this ugly ball just continues to roll downhill.

That straightened me right out. No more fear in talking with an 8-year old. Just facts. And probably some rosy cheeks and light beads of sweat.

Booby call.

OK. So I know it's potentially a little distasteful, but when you're up every night three to six times dealing with babies and toddlers, my mind just 'goes there'. Words bop through my head like my 7-year old on a pogo stick and I frankly just can't help myself.

So last night as I once again scooped up my 6-month old for a 2am breastfeeding, these are the words that came to my mind. Up again for Andrew's 2am 'booby call'.
I had to laugh. Those words brought back vivid memories of the college days, and of what everyone joked about being 'the booty call'; the extremely unfortunately event that occurs as a result of dialing the phone after a late night out with friends, usually to your latest crush. Generally, nothing comes of the 2am 'booty call', with the exception of your head buried in your books at your 8am biology class the next day to shield embarassment. In fact, you think you just might die if the person on the other end of the line only 6 short hours ago was able to get out of bed and to class at all. Whew...thank goodness those days are long gone!

The'booby call' is ever so much less humiliating. It is actually beautiful. So where my dilema is in the 'booby call' is a result of reading Dr. Marc Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I'm not sure how I escaped knowing the existence of the fascinating and potentially life-saving book prior to my fourth, yes fourth, child, but it sure would have been nice to discover say, eight years ago, when I was pregnant with number one!

Despite I have only discovered it now, it has helped tremendously in developing sleep habits for our 6-month old that in turn help us deal with the rest of the clan. Although I do not follow it exactly. Being co-sleeping parents for nearly eight years, I can't let him cry through the 2am 'booby call'. Dr. Weissbluth so tenderly pleads (and I mean he actually says "please do not go to your baby at 2am"), but unfortunately, I just can't do it unless I'm so dog tired I barely hear him. I may be sleepwalking, but my body, soul, and mind just can't refuse that sweet little cry. I try to do the 5, 10, 20 minute check thing, but then you are losing sleep anyway. I know everyone says that if you can endure three days, then you're good to go. Obviously, I can't even endure three days.

But, of course, the caviat is, I'm exhausted, our toddler still doesn't sleep through the night, and sometimes our 5 and 7 year olds wake claiming 'bad dreams.' We could do some serious damage in a musical beds competition.

Yet, other writers of pro-co-sleeping books, claim that kids will eventually settle into their independence if you don't push them out of your bed too early. Like when? When they go to college?

But if you're like me, the 'booby call' is just too hard to resist. But I'd sure love to get some sleep.

So where is the grass greener? Let them cry and eventually they'll just sleep through it? Or keep going to them, and giving in to that nuturing instinct? And just accept that you might share a bed with your husband alone again when you're at retirement age.

I guess I'm just a softy.

Be consistent. Be exhausted. Be rewarded.

There are a gazillion books on parenting with conflicting ideas, points of view, suggestions, and styles, and as parents, it is up to us to choose which one fits our values, beliefs, and physical and mental ability to comply. Co-sleep/don't co-sleep, let cry/don't let cry, spank/don't spank, let siblings fight/don't let them fight, potty train by age 2/potty train when they are ready, eat only organic/fine, eat some Cheetos ever now and then. Sheesh! If there were ever an area of life to which the widely known saying 'more than one way to skin a cat' is applicable, it would be to the daunting, yet ever so critical role of parenting.

However, there is one area in which all books actually agree. Across the board, they will all say that 'consistency' is key. It is crucial. It is do or die. Not one book that I've read, and trust me, my library of this child psychology/parenting stuff is cluttering my existence these days, but not a single one says, "whatever you do, don't do it consistently."

Well, duh. You would think, right? Once it is no longer broken, why re-fix it? Well, because we are exhausted, overwhelmed, mentally and physically drained parents and sometimes our kids just simply have more energy than we do. Simple enough. But unfortunately, no one wins that battle.

My husband and I have struggled to get a bedtime routine that works for years. We have fours kids of varying ages, which definitely deepens the cavern of nighttime despair, but we still slave away at a strategy that will finally be 'the one'. I've read many sleep books that vary in beliefs, from Three in a Bed to Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child to much harsher 'let them cry' philosophies. I am not sure how many times we have had a fairly successful evening at bedtime and as we plopped into bed, not even up to brushing our own teeth, and said, "Okay, that worked. Let's stick to that." But then the next night, something comes up, and one kid is on strike to brush teeth or put on pajamas, or they want juice, or water, or to build a fort, or show us their new gymnastics move that we have to see right that minute, and by the time we say 'no' a million times, it's late, we're tired, and we totally shift the routine so we can 'just survive' the night. Then we decide we are tired of being tired so just forget it, let the kid rule the dang household for all we care!

Well, it always backfires, and we'll have to wade through a few nights of deep waters until we find the shallow end again, but then we flop onto the bed, barely able to move our limbs, and say, "Okay, this time, really, we are sticking to it." Urch! Not so fast. If there is one thing we are good at, it is that we are consistent at being inconsistent.

I wish inconsistency was the 'new black', but it's out and has been forever as far as child-rearing is concerned. There is around-the-world agreement that kids thrive on routine and boundaries. And when raised with both of these, they have the best chance of turning out to be responsible, compentent adults.

So, we continue to work hard each day to keep as much routine as possible to their well, routines. And we're totally spent, tired, exhausted, bleary-eyed parents. But one day, maybe when we're 90, we'll rest easy. Just maybe if we can continue to just give our best effort at consistency, not even perfection, just effort, then maybe even as soon as 20 years from now, we can sit back and enjoy that foreign concept called 'relaxing', and reap the rewards of our exhausting hard work.