Blog Posts by Erin Zammett Ruddy

  • 10 Ways My Third Child Is a True Third Child

    That's pulled pork stuck to her face. It remained there the entire meal. (Photo: Erin Zammett Ruddy)That's pulled pork stuck to her face. It remained there the entire meal. (Photo: Erin Zammett Ruddy)I had my third child in November and, as expected, it’s a very different experience than with my first and even second. The baby is simultaneously spoiled and deprived, both doted on more and ignored more. In some ways I feel like she’s getting the best of me. In other ways, the worst. Though there are many reasons, it basically boils down to the fact that this time around — which is my last time around — I’m more confident, capable, and calm about the whole thing. I’m also way busier and, occasionally, more overwhelmed.

    As a result of all of this, the third is already proving to be different from my older two, who were only two years apart and got a fairly similar parenting style (centered on strict naptimes and bedtimes and well-rounded, scheduled meals). At least once a day I say, “Well, she’s the third child!” Sometimes it’s after I let her sleep in my bed (something the other two still have never done to this day). Other times it’s after taking her out in public wearing a

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  • So, It’s Wrong to Put Babies in Playpens?!

    Playpens: Love 'em or hate 'em? (Photo: Erin Zammett Ruddy)Playpens: Love 'em or hate 'em? (Photo: Erin Zammett Ruddy)Last week I posted this photo (left) on Facebook. It’s of my three children hanging out in the baby’s new playpen. The caption: “Unfortunately, only one of them doesn’t know how to get out.” I was just making a joke, obviously, but the post sparked a conversation about parents and playpens and it came to my attention that there are people out there who do not and would not put their kids in one. I did a little web research and, yup, apparently some feel like using a playpen is cruel — akin to sticking your child in cage. Interesting.

    I’m very familiar with the breast-versus-bottle debate and I know there’s a co-sleeping camp and the baby-wearing-is-best thing. There are even people who don’t believe in strollers. But I didn’t realize that placing your baby in a little fenced-in play area with a bunch of fun toys for a few minutes so she doesn’t choke on a rogue Lego or crawl on top of the TV stand was frowned upon. Of course, in this day of nothing-you-do-is-right parenting, I’m not

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  • So Is This How 6-Year-Olds Talk These Days?

    Photo: CorbisPhoto: CorbisI’m going to skip the wind up here and just get to it: Over lunch yesterday, my 6-year-old son said, "Mom, is D-O-O-S-H a bad word?" I resisted my knee-jerk reaction — to say, “OMG! Yes! Who said that to you?! WTF! (By the way, bud, you spelled it wrong …”) — and played it cool so I could get more info out of him. “Um, yes it is, bud,” I replied, “and you shouldn’t say it … but where did you hear that word?” I didn’t want to put him on the defensive so we chatted a bit and when he dodged the question, I didn’t push. I was basically trying to avoid being Ralphie’s mom from A Christmas Story (read: I didn’t want him to make up an answer just to get me off his back or protect the guilty). Finally, he said:

     “At camp today Nate* (you don't know him mom) called Max (you don’t know him either, mom) a "D-O-O-S-H-B-A-G..."

    Wow, so now it’s D-O-O-S-H-B-A-G?! That’s even worse. And a kid calling another kid this? Call me naïve but … ack! The kid in question is going into 4th grade so I suppose

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  • The One Game I Actually Enjoy Playing With My Kids

    Maybe Alex, the winner of MasterChef Junior, serves as inspiration. (Photo: Fox)Maybe Alex, the winner of MasterChef Junior, serves as inspiration. (Photo: Fox)First, a confession: I don’t really like playing Chutes and Ladders or Connect 4 or Uno with my children. There are a number of reasons but it mostly comes down to the fact that my older two are only 6 and 4 and don’t always get along or understand the rules, which translates to fighting and whining. Also, I’m not that good at sitting still and those games are endless. Whenever we’re in the playroom, I “play clean” — while the kids are doing puzzles or racing cars, I’ll dump a bucket of toys and sort through them making sure the soldiers are with the soldiers and the Legos and with the Legos. In other words, I’m a multitasker who pretty much always needs to be accomplishing something. Because with three kids in the house and a job and a packed life, there’s always something to be accomplished. That’s my issue and I’m working through it. In the meantime, there’s one game I genuinely love playing with my crew: "Restaurant."

    The kids have a play kitchen with all sorts of life-like food

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  • Is It Wrong to Steer Your Kid Away From a Sport You Don’t Like?

    Photo: Greg Westgall/FlickrPhoto: Greg Westgall/FlickrMy 6-year-old son is obsessed with pretty much any activity involving contact and a ball. Or really any sport at all. He wants to try everything and he loves everything he tries. I want to encourage him and allow him to explore and have fun and dabble, but if he eventually chooses to settle on a sport, I want it to be a sport I can get behind. And by “get behind” I mean doesn’t require an insane time commitment, isn’t painfully boring to watch, and one with teammates whose parents who aren’t you-know-what holes.

    His current heroes are Lionel Messi (despite the heartbreaker), Peyton Manning (I’m a former Lady Vol who was at UT during the Peyton era, so he didn’t really have a choice), Lebron James, Johnny Manziel (ugh), Miguel Cabrera, Michael Phelps (who he occasionally calls Phillip Phillips), David Wright (You Gotta Believe!), Bubba Watson, and, recently, Tim Howard. During the Olympics, he wanted to become a slopestyle skier. He also thinks professional surfing is in his future

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  • The 10 Most Disturbing Things My 4-Year-Old Has Said (This Week)

    Photo: CorbisPhoto: CorbisIf you’ve read my posts in the past, you may have picked up on a theme: My 4-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Nora, is kind of a handful. She’s spunky, sassy, smart, spirited, whiney, defiant, and pretty much constantly testing my mettle as a mother and a human. She is also my middle child. The stuff that comes out of her mouth can be infuriating (and sometimes, I’ll admit, hilarious) but lately her chatter has been particularly shocking. And, maybe I’m giving her too much credit here, but I’m pretty sure says most of these things on purpose just to see my reaction. Here’s a list of the current top 10:

    1. “Mom, I just licked that penny.” [That penny was in the parking lot of a Dunkin' Donuts.]

    2. “I want to be a doctor when I grow up … so I can see people naked.”

    3. “Jenny [the babysitter] let me carry Molly [the 7-month-old] down the stairs today! I do it all the time.”

    4. “Yes, I wiped. No, there was no toilet paper.”

    5. “My husband is going to have to drive me everywhere because

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  • The Baby-Naming Dilemma No Mom Wants to Face

    When baby-naming gets complicated. (Photo: Corbis)When baby-naming gets complicated. (Photo: Corbis)Yesterday a pregnant friend sent an email looking for advice on some pretty serious mom drama. The problem: She found out her husband’s pregnant cousin is planning to give her daughter the name my friend had already settled on for her daughter-to-be. And the cousin is due first. Uh-oh.

    Here’s what she wrote: “We don't have any backup names we're wild about. Plus, I'm feeling stubborn and don't want to be forced into plan B. On the other hand, I don't want to cause a boatload of drama with the family — and I have a feeling this particular cousin might be pissed. What in the world would you do?”

    The backstory: They don’t see this cousin that much but it’s her first kid whereas it’s my friend’s third. I know from having three of my own that you’re just way more sensitive about all this stuff with your firstborn. My friend said the name is not on any top 20 lists but it’s not super unique, either. It’s not a family name or anything else that holds serious significance, it’s just a name

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  • The Camp Activity I Would Never Stand For

    Photo: Rob Fahey/FlickrPhoto: Rob Fahey/FlickrThe day camp my son goes to has a strict no-electronics policy — kids can’t bring them and the camp doesn’t provide them. The director sent an email home saying so. I thought the note was unnecessary — for one, it’s an old-timey camp where they have nature studies and talent shows and canoeing. The place doesn’t even have air conditioning. Second, it’s summer camp! Why would there be electronics?! But when I was chatting with our babysitter about it she told me that the summer camp she used to work for was different. The kids weren’t allowed to bring iThings either but the campers all got an hour a day to play video games. They called it "Wii Time." They also got an hour of "computers," but it's not like the kids were learning to write code or something else useful, they were playing Angry Birds and dressing Barbie avatars.

    I don’t mean to be old fashioned, but I would file this under “What the #^&!^* is this world coming to?” Is zoning out to video games so ubiquitous that it’s

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  • Five Signs My Middle Child Is Turning Into a 'Middle Child'

    Photo: Erin Zammett RuddyPhoto: Erin Zammett RuddyMy 4-year-old drew on my 7-month-old yesterday. It was the latest in a series of crimes that all point to her becoming a classic middle child. Which I am, so I get it. Oh, the injustice of not being born first or last! My oldest is almost 7, the only boy, and generally a sweet, dynamic kid. The baby is super mellow and everyone fawns all over her as people do when there’s a chubby, smiley little thing around. And then there’s Nora, who’s sassy and spirited and smart and, well, lately a whiny, conniving pain in the you-know-what. Some of her recent infractions:

    1. The photo above. Nora had been happily writing in a notebook on our way home from the grocery store but when we pulled into the driveway, I saw her masterpiece. I call it “Nora and the Purple Marker.” Did I mention Nora is 4-and-a-half and not 2?! WTF?! Also: She snuck the marker into the car; she was supposed to be using a crayon.

    2. She climbs into the pack and play, the crib, the bouncy chair, the stroller, the high chair,

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  • Why I Won't Ever Let My Kids Have TVs in Their Rooms

    Photo: BAMM.tvPhoto: BAMM.tvLast night we were at the dinner table discussing the possibility of my 6-year-old son moving into his own bedroom. He’s been sharing with his 4-year-old sister since we had our third child last fall. He said, “Yeah, sounds good. As long as I can have a TV in my room…?” He let that statement/question hang in the air and turned to me with a hopeful look in his eye but he knew what was coming. My response: “No, sorry bud, you will never have a TV in your room.” I said never! And I meant it. And I know I won’t cave.

    When it comes to parenting, it’s wise not to make grand, sweeping declarations of the things you will and won’t do with your children. I have made such statements — many of them before I even had kids — and found myself eating those words. We all have our ideals and then things get real and life gets hectic and the next thing you know your 6-year-old starts saying this and you let your 4-year-old wear her pajamas to the store. In other words, it isn’t always easy to stick to

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