Editor's Note:

Editor’s Note

Spring is officially here! I hope you are planning to get outside and enjoy this fabulous weather. Everything seems to be in bloom. How perfect that Earth Day is coming up, Wednesday, April22nd. Let’s make every day Earth Day!

We have quite a spread on summer camps. If you would like your child to have a camp experience, this is the time to do your research and book. Camp unplugs your children from technology and teaches them to grow more independent and enjoy the outdoors without the pressures of everyday school. It’s a real milestone experience and POP has dozens of camps that cater to all types of kids.

As usual, POP has gathered wisdom from its columnists and presents their thoughts to you. Our lactation consultant, Sheila Janakos, keeps young mothers informed about the latest in nursing. In “Preschool Parent,” another shares her joys and trepidation when she learned she would have a boy and how she chose a preschool.

Our resident techie, Carolyn Jabs, tells us why kids like symbols like Emoji and Emoticons, abbreviations and acronyms, and more importantly, why YOU should know about them and be able to interpret them. Kimberly Gonsalves has some great tips and strategies on working with your teenager. And don’t miss “Father Knows Best. “Steve Shapiro is always up to something with his kids and spot-on observations.

If you have a freshman heading off for college next fall, you must read “College Bound.” It’s about the conversation you need to have with your student BEFORE they go off to college. It’s about money—using it; saving it; resisting the temptation to indebt yourself for years ahead by borrowing for classes you might not need; and spending on things you could do without and having to stay in college another year or two. Wow…this article shows you how to tighten it up!

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Harvey Karp, noted pediatrician and author of The Best Baby on the Block and The Best Toddler on the Block. He will be speaking at the10th Annual Blossom Birth and Family Fair in Palo Alto on Sunday, April 19th. Don’t miss it! See pages 5 and 19for more information.

Until next time,

—Tory Hartmann

Father Knows Best?:

Out of the Mouths of Babes

In the over four years I’ve been writing this column for POP, I have attempted to be as brutally honest about my follies and failures as a parent. Instead of putting on an inauthentic mask of perfection that many parents all-too-often wear when discussing their lives with each other, I figured putting my many missteps into stark relief might be reassuring to fellow parents who are far from perfect (i.e., all parents). Even if I end up being the butt of the joke, I figured that’s still better than pretending everything is sunshine and lollipops every second of the day.

All that said, even the most self-deprecating of people can only take so much brutal honesty—especially if such unfiltered feedback comes from the people who we’re closest too. And by closest, I mean our own kids of course. Young children in particular haven’t learned how to deliver a less-than-positive observation in a way that doesn’t make you want to crawl up into a fetal position on the floor. Whether it’s the way my breath smells after an especially pungent meal, the spot near the back of my head that’s showing an increasingly larger amount of scalp every day, or my multitude of nervous tics, my kids are not shy about pointing out every single one of my flaws. “Daddy, you smell funny” is a common refrain. So is “You have the biggest nose in the world.” Not exactly things I need to hear on a regular basis.

Nursing Your Baby:

Tongue-Tied Baby Needs Second Operation

Liz asks, “My four-week-old baby girl has never really latched well enough to successfully breastfeed. She had an undiagnosed tongue-tie for three weeks that was just released surgically last week. Today at the follow-up appointment, the doctor informed us that the release was incomplete and she needed to have the procedure done again. We have not decided which road we will be taking but are wondering about bottle feeding her pumped breastmilk if breastfeeding does not work out. Is direct breastfeeding any different? I have been pumping since she was born on a personal-use pump I got from my insurance company and I am barely getting enough to get her through a 24-hour period. My concern is that it will be impossible for me to keep up with her needs and that my milk supply will eventually decrease as pumping may not be a sustainable option. This breaks my heart as I really wanted to try and provide my baby with breastmilk. Do you have any tips as to how I can try and make this work, even if it is for a short time?”

Preschool Parent:

It’s a Boy, What Do I Do Now?

When my husband and I were expecting our first child, I felt utterly convinced of one thing: that our child would be a girl. I’m not sure what caused this certainty; perhaps, overwhelmed by my new role as a mother, I attempted to make what was strange and unsettling familiar by picturing my child as like me as possible. What I do know was that my convictions were undone in one brief moment during our twenty-week ultrasound. We were having a boy. I turned to my husband and said, “What do I do with one of those?”

Growing Up Online:

Emoji, Emoticons…

If you feel like reading text messages has become an exercise in code breaking, you’re right. Some people still send plain text but many—especially kids—stuff their messages with abbreviations and acronyms, smileys and slang, winking hearts and piles of poo.

All these devices are an attempt to restore some of the richness and fun of face-to-face (FTF) communication. In the absence of body language, facial expression and tone of voice, symbols are a way to convey additional information about thoughts and feelings.

Kids are especially drawn to these symbols, in part because every generation enjoys having a secret language that baffles their elders. To get a grip on what kids are saying, parents need to know the most common forms of code.

Time out for Teens:

Why I Hate Working With You

These were my high school son’s words to me after about two-and-a-half minutes of trying to help him memorize a script he wrote for a language class.

Not exactly the response I was hoping for. The phrase “Fail often, fail fast!” comes to mind. It often applies to parenting.

Am I alone? Do you try to help your teen only to get pushback? Even when they’ve ASKED for your help? What’s the deal?!

In the end, we got through it reasonably well. He didn’t take most of my suggestions. When I remembered that it was his assignment, not mine, I was able to let go and let him decide whether his efforts met the teacher’s requirements.

The Financial Conversation You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Leave for College

Your years of encouragement and supervision have paid off, and your teenager will be heading off to college this fall, or maybe already has. But if you’re like most parents, your pride and relief are mingled with new worries. You want your child to thrive (or at least survive) academically. You hope you’ve made a lasting impression when it comes to teaching time management skills and making “responsible life choices.” But is it possible that you overlooked one of the most important lessons of all: how to manage money?

The Doctor is in:

Fever Seizure

Having your child’s eyes roll back in their head and shake violently is any parent’s nightmare. Seizures are something that will frighten anyone who witnesses them. If it is your own child, it is an extremely traumatic event. I recently had a child with a “fever seizure.” I saw him as a follow-up from the ER where he had been seen the night prior. The story was classic for a febrile seizure. Typically, these are not serious and with time children outgrow them.

A febrile seizure typically occurs on the first day of an illness. It usually happens when the temperature is above 102 degrees. The fever often is not noted by the parent until the child has the seizure. The classic age is between six months and five years but most happen between one and two years of age. A viral infection is almost always the cause, and for some reason, it happens to boys more than girls.

Diapers… A Dirty Little Problem with a Clean Solution

It’s hard to believe that something the size of a sack of flour could generate a mountain of waste. But every year in the United States babies produce more than 18 billion diapers that are thrown into landfills.

This struck me hard when I became a parent 10 years ago. My wife and I welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world along with a houseful of gadgets and disposable products, aka “brandfill.” Every week we deposited heaps of diapers and wipes into our garbage and boxed up toys and gizmos he’d outgrown.

By the time we had our second child I realized just how much waste—particularly poopy diapers—we generate. It really got to me. While providing your baby with a diaper is not optional, the lifecycle of that product once it leaves his/her behind is.

Learning the Language of Babies and Toddlers

Meet Dr. Harvey Karp, the man who is singlehandedly changing the way we nurture and care for babies and toddlers. His books, The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block have themselves been. . . well, blockbusters!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Karp, a most friendly and vivacious man. I asked him how in the world he came up with his ideas, especially the one on quieting an infant by making a “Shhhhhhh” sound right in the baby’s ear. (Wow, does this make the baby go silent!)