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Repercussions of a Biting Child

My son, Seth, is a biter. I can’t say this is entirely surprising given that I was one myself. Apparently I started sometime after 2 whereas Seth started just after his first birthday. Seth is now a couple months shy of 2 and after about 8 months of trying to change this behavior I sometimes wonder if we’re any closer to a solution than we were when it all started.

The issue with biting is that it can cause more harm to other children than any other common form of toddler acting out. The triggers for it are generally the same as those for pushing, hitting, and other toddler misbehavior. Generally, the toddler is upset about a situation – someone is playing with a toy he wants to play with, taking the attention of someone whose attention he desires, or generally inhabiting a space he’s deemed fit for him. The toddler reacts with his impulse and ouch, the other child is hurt.

This all can happen over the course of a couple of seconds so it can be very difficult to prevent even after the child has been discovered to be “known biter,” and until it’s happened a few times no one’s even looking for it. However, once it’s been, found you and your child will be invisibly marked with a scarlet B.

Your child is the biter and you’re the parent of a biter, and that is how you shall be known. I can’t speak too much to the psyche of the parent of a child who’s been bitten several times by your child (although Seth has been bitten a few times himself I clearly have a different perspective as a father of a biter), but I can take some educated guesses here. It seems they are consumed by the raw emotion of seeing their child hurt (there has been some broken skin but no one’s had to go to the hospital for this – just to give you some perspective). I can understand this but I wish they’d step away and think about it with a bit of empathy for our plight when they’ve cooled down and see that their child is fine and will heal. Based on what we hear from Seth’s teachers it does not seem that this ever happens.

So if this is you and you’re reading this (or just curious I guess) here’s what it’s like. As the parent of a biter you constantly struggle with trying out new ways to potentially “solve the problem.” You research for hours every time it happens trying to glean every possible reasoning behind it and how to instill in your child that it’s not acceptable behavior. You try to understand his triggers and how to avoid them. If your child doesn’t bite as often or as hard at home because the situations that bring it out of him don’t exist at home (i.e. there’s not a cadre of children running through my house sharing toys) you think of how you might be able to bring it out of him just to reinforce the discipline he receives from his teachers at home. And when you’ve done all of these things you start trying a few new things with the realization that in all likelihood none of them will work and he will probably “grow out of it” (what does that mean? I think it means they mature emotionally and have enough empathy to realize the harm it’s causing and stop and/or you can employ different disciplinary measures that work on older children to finally get them to stop).

In addition to all of the work you do trying to “solve the problem” you spend a tremendous amount of time feeling terrible. You feel terrible for the children being hurt by your child and their families. You feel terrible about your parenting ability because surely you should be able to stop this even though it’s considered common and normal in this developmental stage. And you feel terrible because you’re being ostracized as you and your child are never invited to various play dates and birthday parties. For some, including my parents when I was younger, you lose friends. In most pre-schools/daycares (fortunately not ours), your child is eventually kicked out and your life is completely upended.

So as the title of this post indicates there are many repercussions to having a biting child but they’re generally not felt be the children. Despite what many parents of children who’ve been bitten may think, most biters are and will be fine. There’s nothing wrong with them, they just act out in a way that can be much more harmful to other children than your standard pushing and hitting. And fortunately even the bites that break skin usually won’t scar. Only the time spent by the parents during this period of their child’s life will have any lasting impact.

One Year Anniversary

We’ve just about reached the one year anniversary of having moved to the bay area so it seems like a reasonable enough moment to reflect.

The Area
There’s a lot to love about living in the bay area. I love being within 45 minutes of 3 large cities and the beach. The weather here is perfect – rarely too hot or too cold. It can be a little rainy at times but it rarely rains all day and rarely rains more than a few days in a row. The people here are friendly and incredibly diverse. There are many beautiful parks and many nice areas in the smaller peninsula towns of Silicon Valley.

This area lives and breathes tech. I’ve heard it called a company town in this way like the film industry is for LA. Sure there are plenty of people who don’t work in tech, but a large number of them are supported by the industry. I love that there are meetups and tech talks virtually every night somewhere in the valley or SF (not that I go anywhere near that often but at least I can pick a couple nights a month to attend). They’re hugely informative as well as a nice way to meet people, and the fact that most have free food/booze doesn’t hurt.

Although I love the area, there are downsides. It’s ungodly expensive to live here and the traffic can drive you crazy. However, if you can afford the lifestyle – which can definitely be a stretch for us – it’s worth it. One additional negative which we hope to fix at some point is that Menlo Park, the Silicon Valley town in which we live, is awful. It’s even more expensive than the bay area average, it’s not exactly filled with young people, and it’s quite boring compared to all of the other towns.

The Family
There’s certainly a lot more work out here for Erica but it’s still challenging for her to find everything she wants out of a job while also meeting her parental responsibilities. This is due to her industry (food) and how the people who work in it are treated like shit (I’m sure I’ll rant on that in another post). That said, she’s at least somewhat using her skills and interacting with adults again and that’s a positive step.

Seth started in daycare for 6 months and moved to a pre-school program at 18 months. He’s really thrived in it and absolutely loves it there. He’s made friends and gets to explore his creativity painting, drawing, baking, sculpting, etc. They also have music and dance classes. It’s really a great program. Since we moved here he’s gone from walking to running and from barely speaking at all to being a chatterbox who sings his favorite songs by himself (sometimes in medley form). His growth constantly amazes me.

It can still be very difficult being here alone without any family or other support but we make it work (sometimes barely). We’ve made some friends, many young and also with kids but that’s also still hard. It’s pretty difficult finding young people with kids who aren’t religious fundamentalists anywhere in this country, but it’s even more difficult here where it feels like the average person is having their first kid at age 43.

The Job
The job I took at Mindflash has been incredible. I’ve learned more there in the first year than I ever dreamed I would. The people I work with are great and the flexibility I’m given is amazing. I absolutely love coming into work every day. Prior to Mindflash I’d only worked at large companies but I’ve found here that my interests and skill set position me best to stay at startups for the foreseeable future.

The Future
Overall I’m very happy with our decision to move to the bay area a year ago. It hasn’t been without struggle but I think it’s been a great year. I’m looking forward to many more of them here. Happy New Year everyone.


Back to Blogging

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading bullshit on Hacker News for a while but all of a sudden I feel like my thoughts are so important I need to blog about them. With this sense of self worth I should probably just run for Congress. All kidding aside I miss writing and this is a reasonable enough outlet to continue to write again. Plus, my colleagues are tired of me misusing Twitter by sending 3 tweets to get out a single thought.

I retitled my blog The Young Old Guy. Turns out an obscure song lyric from an …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead song isn’t the best description of what I’ll be writing about now. The lens through which I see the world and thus will be writing is that of a young parent. Being a parent makes you old (which I’m sure I’ll get into more in this blog) so that makes me a young old person.

More to come…

Where the Wild Things Are

So I saw Where the Wild Things Are over the weekend. I read the Dave Eggars novelization of it two weekends ago. Now that I’ve done some digesting of it I feel ready to put down my opinion.

The two versions are strikingly similar (unsurprising given that Eggars penned both of them). The few plot diversions weren’t particularly important but did make it more interesting going through the story a second time. After careful thought I’m now certain I liked the book better. It shows Max’s inner voice, which is childish but also enlightening. In the movie, the viewer never sees Max’s debate over what are often fairly clear-cut moral issues from an adult’s perspective but not from Max’s.

One example of this is Max’s dilemma over whether or not it is right to be throwing animals as part of their dirt clod war. He can see the animals do not like it and perhaps even more important to him, he doesn’t like being hit by them. He is about to tell “the bad guys” not to throw them anymore when the good guys start kicking bad guy butt while using them. He then decides that it’s ok for them to be used temporarily so that the good guys can win. This is obviously funny and childish but when you think about it, fairly widespread in every day life among functioning adults.

Max’s inner dialogue proves to be enlightening throughout the entire book. Max wrestles through his selfish view of the world trying to be an effective king. He sees pleasing everyone is impossible and sees its even more impossible when he’s most often thinking of himself.

This really made the book for me and is the reason why I hold it more dear in my heart than the movie. That said, the movie was great. I loved seeing the Jonze’s vision of the fort. The wild rumpus parade was also fantastic. Seeing the giant dog and tiny cats was great fun too. And lastly, the voice acting of the characters was great. I especially loved James Gandolfini as Carol.

All in all, Where the Wild Things Are still has a special place in my heart. In fact, this place may have grown larger with the movie and novel. Great job by Dave Eggars, Spike Jonze, and of course Maurice Sendak.

Home Alone

I’ve been sick for days and trying to rest up and get better. I think it’s finally starting to take although my voice still sounds like a cross between a horror movie villain and pubescent boy. I’ve watched like 8 or 9 movies and even more cable news than usual all from bed over this time and now I’m going positively stir crazy. I’ve been cleaning my condo just to keep myself from going completely insane and keeping my muscles from atrophying from inactivity.

Today’s been the worst, especially since the weather outside looked absolutely beautiful during the afternoon. Plus, I’ve been alone since Erica’s been at work. I practically don’t even know what to do with myself anymore. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions about what you do when you’re home alone for long periods of time. I could use some advice.

At least tonight I think I’m probably going to see Where the Wild Things Are. I think I might write a review or contrast it with the Dave Eggars novel afterward. There’s something that still touches me about this story. Plus, Maurice Sendack is a bad ass for telling parents who think the movie is too scary that he thinks the can go to hell.

Watching Sports

Since I was about 16, I haven’t really found any joy in watching others play sports. That is, at least not on TV. Sure, attending a live sporting event can be a blast even if you really don’t like the sport. The atmosphere of the crowd can pull you into it, especially if it’s a good game and even more so if the game is high stakes. That said though, I never watch them on TV.

Since moving to Madison I’ve found that the crew of kids I’m hanging out with really loves watching sports. They look for any incentive to do it. If they think they’re going to be bored watching a sporting event, they bet on it just so they can care while watching it. Then it’s no longer boring to them. I don’t get this. Are they really that bored if they’re not watching sports? Perhaps, but I don’t think so.

All this said, yesterday I found myself watching the last hour of the India vs. Pakistan cricket match at my friend’s apartment. My friend is Indian and the other two people he invited over to watch are also Indian so when they lost it was a great disappointment for them. However, for me it was quite invigorating. Not that I wanted Pakistan to win (I didn’t), but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed watching it. Now I’m not entirely certain but I’d guess that I liked it so much because it was new and foreign and I was constantly asking questions to learn and understand what was going on.

Watching sports to me is usually such an unengaged process. I can turn my brain off and just wait until I see the big hit, the big throw, the big shot, whatever it is. With cricket I was constantly engaged, trying to understand what was happening. It makes me think I should start watching more sports I don’t understand and it also makes me think I should try watching more cricket. I’m curious now to know if I just really like cricket or I really like learning. Either way, it should be an interesting experiment.

So, now I’m curious. How do you watch sports? What makes them engaging to you? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Boston – Day 3

Friday was fun. Trey Parker and Matt stone got canceled. Mikey’s whole Emerson crew were not pleased but also not surprised (I suppose stoners understand that other stoners flake). Anyhow, after that Mikey and Hannah took me around the city a bit to Quincy Market and Newbury Comics and some other places they like.

After that we just hung out some as Mikey did some work. Then I went out with Devina. Devina took me around Boston some more… down Newbury Street and to McCreedy’s or something which is the first sports bar in the US. It was fun just catching up and talking about how much life has changed since school and even how different it was when I was there just as a super-senior. Eventually, Devina needed to get back to try and get some work done so I went back to Emerson and hung out with Mikey and his gang again until it was time to sleep.

Saturday Mikey treated me to his school’s brunch which was definitely not quite fantastic but not horrible either. I’d heard the food here was pretty bad but it seems ok, just not much variety and nothing’s particularly great. Afterwards I went and saw Revolutionary Road with him and his friends. The movie was great, incredibly depressing, but great and made me worry a bit about getting older. I don’t want to get sucked into a boring, suburban, ultra-predictable lifestyle…

Later, I went out to dinner with Mikey, and my two cousins Alex and Elana. I hadn’t seen Elana since our cousin Adam got married during the summer before my junior or senior year of high school. Note: Adam has since divorced, so pretty weird that that was our last occasion. Alex I hadn’t seen since I was a freshman or something in high school. He’d just started college at Mass Art. So he was 18 or 19 then… now he’s 26. Afterwards, I went out to the Pour House, another bar on Boyleston with my cousin Elana and her friend from the organization she works for, City Year. We had fun out together but eventually they needed to hop on the train back to where they lived so I said goodbye and walked home.

Today I was supposed to go with Mikey to see our Aunt Liz and Uncle Victor but Victor came down with something and now has a fever. Thus, we’re not going over. Mikey has homework and I don’t want to distract him so I have no idea what I’ll do today. I might go out on my own just to get out, do some thinking, see some more of the town and take some pictures, but I dunno… we’ll see.

Boston – Day 1

It took way too long to get here (30 minute delay, 5.5 hour flight, 1.5 waiting in the airport prior to delay) but at least I got some sleep on the flight. Watched some more West Wing. Michael’s friends and girlfriend are all cool. Played beer pong and smoked in the garden area of the boston common. It appears that’s where all Emerson students go as we saw 3 other groups there, all about 5 people or more. Pretty silly. The school is tiny, like 6 buildings, all high rises. The dorms are nice but security is intense. Food looks crappy but haven’t eaten it yet. Ate a shitty burrito and some good late-night New York pizza. Went to sleep. Hoping to see Trey Parker and Matt Stone speak today with Mikey and his friends however it may be a bit tricky given that I need to be an Emerson student. Hopefully it’ll be as easy as at Wash U to get me in but who knows.

blessthefall w/ the Cover-Up, the Word Alive, Lower Definition, and Before You Fled

Last night was the big blessthefall show at the Marquee. Featuring two bands to kick out singer Craig Mabbit, one very recently, a lot of what the show was about was to prove to fans that without Mabbit, they’re still good. Overall, they did just that: now, the play by play.

I showed up late and thus missed Before You Fled but I won’t lie, I’m not too broken up about it. Perhaps once I check out their myspace I will be but thusfar I don’t care. I did get a chance to catch all of Lower Definition’s set. I’d listened to them on while jumping around their recommendations one day and thought they sucked. Upon further reconsideration after seeing them live, I’m now 100% certain that they do suck. However, it was partially the sound guy’s fault last night as the levels made their collective sound muddy.

The Word Alive were next on the bill, fresh from kicking out Mabbit. This is their second or third show without him and with their new singer, Telle Smith, formerly of Greeley Estates. Telle has a surprisingly good voice. I’m not sure it’s as good as Mabbit’s for the band but he does a good job filling in. The band’s new songs with Smith are alright but not as good as the few originals from their myspace. They only played 5 or 6 songs but they got the crowd going and everyone including myself seemed to generally enjoy it.

The Cover-Up were crazy intense as always. They’re really pretty good but hard to take seriously given how it’s the genre is led almost entirely by kids even younger than me. The Cover-Up look like a bunch of late twenty- early thirty-somethings. Last night rocking glasses the lead singer looked even older than usual. It was a pretty good set but didn’t get the crowd going as much as the Word Alive.

Finally, blessthefall took the stage opening with a new song that hasn’t even been put on their myspace yet. Smart move given that everyone was so excited for them to take the stage they didn’t care that they couldn’t sing along. Their new singer is really much better than Mabbit but isn’t really a screamer. Jared fills in pretty well screaming but he’s not as good. Overall, they might be better off without Mabbit but we’ll see. They mainly played oldies but played a couple more new ones as well including To Hell and Back, probably the highlight of the show. However, playing maybe only 8 songs they were somewhat of a lame headliner.

The show was fun and pretty good to get good and beer-drunk to, although it’s likely that I was one of only 40 or so people in the crowd of age to get drunk and only have of us were likely not hardcore Christian / straight-edge. The crowd was pretty nice sized but not as big as I thought it’d be with the top three bands on the bill being from Phoenix. That said, the Marquee is huge and many people using its size to spread out and make what was the largest, most open mosh pit I’ve ever seen.

Overall, it was a good show, and it will be interesting to see how it compares to the Mabbit-led Escape the Fate which will be at the Marquee early next month. Who will bring the bigger crowd? Only time will tell.

WordPress, GoDaddy & Windows 7

Alright, my first post. I was pretty tired today so I spent a bunch of time bullshitting on the computer while watching the West Wing. I started by downloading the 64-bit version of Windows 7 which I found didn’t work on my MacBook although I’m virtually certain the dual-core in my MacBook has a 64-bit processor (which I would assume can be confirmed by the fact that in the past I’ve successfully run the 64-bit version of Ubuntu).

Anyhow, as I was downloading the 32-bit version of Windows 7 I decided to install WordPress on my GoDaddy account. In the process I found that my incredibly cheap GoDaddy account now has SSH support. I had to delete my MySQL databases before I could enable SSH. At this point apparently they moved my account to another server. Anyhow, then I installed WordPress on my web server. It was incredibly easy so here we are.

Finally, the 32-bit copy of Windows 7 had finished downloading so I began installing it. The install was surprisingly quick, taking probably 20 minutes, perhaps 25 minutes at the max. So far, I’ve found the OS to be pretty compelling and have had virtually no problem with it. The only one issue I’ve had is with sound. While the operating system believes that the sound driver is working properly, no sound can be heard. Doing a quick search I found out there’s a newer Realtek driver that can be used. I’m downloading it now so hopefully it will fix everything.

For a first beta, Windows 7 seems to work incredibly well. The operating system runs faster than Vista on my computer with way prettier graphics. Internet Explorer 8 in Windows 7 is also surprisingly good although it has some issues rendering certain websites (including this WordPress administrative page).

So far Windows 7 seems to be what Windows Vista wanted to be. Although Vista was a vastly more stable operating system, it was marketed poorly and towards computers not truly able to handle it. Thus, people experienced poor performance. Additionally, with all of the pretty eye candy Apple has been able to throw out and market appropriate and even the sweet looking graphics one can now get in Linux, particularly in workstation distributions like Ubuntu, Vista needed to look and feel a whole lot smoother and prettier.

Windows 7 seems to make up for these shortcomings. It’s prettier to look at and smoother. There are several improvements to the user experience in the form of UI changes as well. Overall, Microsoft has done a good job. I’m interested to see how the rest of my experience with the OS goes and how the OS progresses through the beta stages up to release. While I have not seen Snow Leopard yet, from what I’ve read it seems that Apple and Microsoft have switched places in their latest iterations of the operating systems. Snow Leopard is supposedly not adding any features or making and big user experience changes, something we saw in Windows Vista. Quite the bizarre move after pounding Microsoft in their marketing campaign for, among other things, doing exactly that.