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Our instinct to blame needs to give way to an openness to experiencing others’ pain.

June 17, 2016

Since the horrible, heartbreaking incident in which 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed by an alligator that pulled him into the lagoon adjacent to a Walt Disney World resort hotel around 9 pm on Tuesday night, a lot of people have been asking questions. Questions like “what kind of parents let their child swim in a lagoon in the dark when no swimming signs are posted??” And “Where were the parents when this happened?!” Or this gem “Why wasn’t this boy in bed asleep it was after 9 pm!” So, what kind of parent would have their 2-year-old child awake past 9 pm and allow them to stand on the literal edge of the shoreline where the water meets sand while standing mere feet away? This mom would. And I bet I’m not alone. There were no swimming signs, yes. And people should be aware that alligators are present in any body of fresh water in the south, yes. Does that mean that we should all be unsurprised when an alligator swims up and drags a small child into the water? No, I’m pretty sure that still qualifies as shocking, rare, and horrifying. And instead of protecting our own delicate psyches from having to deal with even the mere thought that something so horrendous could happen to any of us by heaping blame on the parents, we should allow ourselves to be vulnerable to contemplating that pain.

Our need to feel safe from these horrible things that we read about with seemingly increasing frequency needs to stop taking precedence over the right of those experiencing unimaginable grief to not be blamed for their pain. I understand the impulse, I do. We desperately want to believe that something could have been done differently. That somehow a misstep was made somewhere and *that* is what caused this, because otherwise accepting that accidents happen and life can be cruel is somehow too much to bear.

Lane Graves was a beautiful little soul, and his family loved him so much. Protecting ourselves from theoretical emotional distress doesn’t make it acceptable to call that love and care into question. We should let ourselves be open to experiencing the vulnerability that comes with accepting the fact that horrific things sometimes happen, even to good parents, to loving parents–and we should be ready to support each other when they do.

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Catbird Seat Blog Project Parenting

Around the World in the Catbird Seat

September 22, 2014

by Chaviva Gordon-Bennett
Back in January, when Ash was just a wee bean, I wrote about the deliciously awesome Catbird Baby carrier I’d been sent for review. With our dip into babywearing, we were exploring Moby-style wraps, Mei Teis, and Baby Bjorn-style carriers. In case you need a refresher on why “catbird” is the perfect terminology for any schlepped-about baby:

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded usage occurred in a 1942 humorous short story by James Thurber titled “The Catbird Seat,” which features a character, Mrs. Barrows, who likes to use the phrase. Another character, Joey Hart, explains that Mrs. Barrows must have picked up the expression from Red Barber, a baseball broadcaster, and that to Barber “sitting in the catbird seat” meant “‘sitting pretty,’ like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him.”

It was Catbird’s mei tei that I initially fell in love with when Ash was small, but as time went on and we became more mobile, the pikkolo became (and still is) my go-to carrier.

Here’s Ash at four months after our trip
to the U.S. and before our move to
the U.S.He is loving his carrier because
he can see everything and every one!

When we first visited the U.S. back in February before we made the decision to move, we struggled to pack lightly when it came to baby carriers. Mr. T was fond of the Moby-style wrap we’d concocted, while I was using a ring sling. While in the U.S., we even picked up an additional ring sling to replace the one I’d been borrowing, but Mr. T stuck to the stretchy wrap that I just couldn’t master.

Almost the moment we got back to Israel, I feel like Ash wasn’t perceptive to the ring sling, so I needed an alternative. I finally got to give the pikkolo from Catbird a try, and I haven’t looked back.

When we made the move to the U.S. in April, it made life a breeze in the airport when we packed the stroller full of our carry-ons. With no space for Ash in the overflowing stroller, he rode in the Catbird seat! It’s amazing how comfortable he was in it and how easy it is to get on and adjust when I’m by myself.

The most surprising thing I’ve found about having the Catbird pikkolo as a consistency is that Ash knows the carrier. If he’s kvetching and whining in the car and losing it when we park and I get out, he calms down and gets excited the moment he sees me putting on the carrier. When he was very little, I used to call it his “special Asher chair,” and he now knows that it’s his special spot to see everything going on and he brightens up and calms down immediately. Talk about a baby making a positive association!

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Catbird Seat Blog Project Parenting

STICK: Basic rules for better back carrying

August 5, 2014
by Karyn Thurston of Girl of Cardigan
S.T.I.C.K. (Basic Rules for Better Back Carries)
There is a moment when a you become a babywearer.  There are newborn days, dusty with rest and snuggles and the haze of oxytocin haven that settles over perfect wrinkled toes and tired parent bodies.  There are those first awkward attempts in stretchy jersey, too-small baby precariously cradled loose and low, pictures with proud smiles that will later be sheepishly tucked away.  And then there is a moment when it clicks – oh! – this is a thing you are going to be doing for a good long while.
You Google.  Admit it.  You totally Googled.
You Google and the doors to a new and utterly confusing world are opened, and if you are anything like me, you spend hours soaking up information and wondering how on earth, through 10 months of pregnancy and obsessive message boarding and crazy book reading, you managed to miss all of this?  Mei tais and buckle carriers and woven wraps and it’s all confusing and weird but one thing is consistent – an acronym – TICKS.
TICKS (Tight, In View, Close Enough to Kiss, Keep Chin Off Chest, Supported Back, if you were wondering) is Babywearing 101 – welcome to the club, here is your secret handshake.  TICKS teaches you, in easy to remember terms, how to keep your little one safe and snuggled and happy.  You learn, you love, you wear on.
Fast forward a few months – now you’d like to explore carrying your strong kiddo on your back.  It has long been my belief that we are in dire need of a TICKS adapted for back carries.  So many of us start with our buckle-carriered infant stuck mid-back and staring at the sweaty spot between our shoulder blades, said shoulders hunched awkwardly to soothe the ache of horrible posture…people.  Nobody wants that.  And switching TICKS around to the back is simple, and silly, and might just change your life!  Blogging: now with loftier expectations!  I digress.
It is with great pride that I present to you “TICKS for Your Back.”
That sounds completely terrible.  Let’s call it STICK.
S – Start High!
In order for everyone to be at their happiest in a back carry, we need baby high!  Start the waist belt of your mei tai or buckle carrier up, up, up at your natural waist (or heck, just under your bust will do!)  Ask yourself where Marilyn Monroe would tie a mei tai, and start there.  I adore the Pikkolo for this purpose – it’s one of a precious few buckle carriers on the market designed for a comfortable high back carry, and it’s tops, kids.
T – Tighten Up!
The first thing I ask anyone and everyone who solicits my help with babywearing is “How tight are your straps?”  Much like the jeans of many a teenage boy, most of us are wearing our straps waaaaay too loose.  I’m not a short girl, and when I have my 18 month old on my back, my buckle carrier straps are nearly at their tightest setting.  Your baby should not be sagging in a back carry – he or she should be tightly snugged to your back, keeping both of you able to navigate safely through the world.  The further your babe is from you, the easier he or she can lean back or bonk on something accidentally.  When baby is closely sharing your space, your natural ability to judge positioning AND your center of gravity and balance are 10,000 times better.*
I – In View!
Hey, just like TICKS!  You should be able to see your little one over your shoulder – Hi baby!  The reasons that being able to see your baby is beneficial should be rather obvious to you if you’ve been in this parenting gig for more than a few minutes.  Seeing baby = way better than not seeing baby.  You’re welcome.
C – Catbird Seated!
Is baby positioned high, tight, and in view, leaving him or her able to see over your shoulder, interact well with other humans, and generally participate nicely in the goings-on of life?  Yes?  You win!  On to K!
K – Keep on Keeping On!
Mastering a high back carry, like so many things worth doing, isn’t easy.  Keep trying.  Get yourself a carrier (cough cough Catbird Baby cough) designed to help instead of hinder you.  Get yourself to a babywearing meet-up where other parents can advise and assist you.  Then perch your little one way up high, in the highest seat – the seat of best advantage – and go out and take on the world.
*This is not a very scientific estimate.  But it sounds about right.

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