Archive | March 12, 2007

What the Berkeley Parents are chewing on this week

The Berkeley Parents Network is a mammoth online community of fellow travellers, kvetchers, generous direction-givers, cranky back seat drivers, kibitzers, kindly saviors, passionate idealists, well-informed pragmatists, and diggers out of the mud. Pretty much like this town, only the parental, wired slice of it.

Officially, they’re “a grass-roots, volunteer-run organization of more than 17,000 parents who live in the Berkeley, California area.” Here’s their FAQ. Their website is an archive of over fifteen years of conversation, but because the group’s voluminous correspondence is managed by volunteers, they restrict membership (and thus newsletter subscription) to parents in the local area. With one exception: parents whose kids experience night terrors, regardless of where they live, can post advice on the website. They field and post advice from all around the globe on this one.

A raft of newsletters go out weekly, chock-full of items ranging from announcements of upcoming events to childcare resources to summer camps info to plumber and pet psychic recommendations. Hell, when the Weblog Awards business heated up, I even sent in a Show yer local pride and vote for my blog, if you read it & like it plea, but as fate would have it, it only got posted after the Awards business was mercifully over.

While all the newsletters are helpful, the Advice one makes positively addictive reading. The themes are clearly rooted in parental life, but as you can see from this most recent week’s topics, pasted below, the network has long since become an all-purpose digital fence over which folks chat up just about everything.

“Tips for having more energy and being less cranky” sure speaks to me today, as does “Having a Second Baby – Feel sad for the first!” On General Principal I refuse to admit to having “Birthday party stress” (though unfortunately I may not be immune from it), and at the moment I am on my knees thanking the goddess that it’s not me (at least at the moment) whose “Child keeps getting bitten at daycare.” I don’t want to read the responses to “Can we afford to come home?” since it may make me realize we can’t afford to keep living here, the socio-political epicenter of my soul. That’d be a shame. The most inspirational topics in this week’s Advice newsletter were “Conflicted about possible Down Syndrome baby,” (22 responses), “Husband wants more free time” (20 responses), and “Sleep training at 15 weeks” (18 responses).

Because they’re usually so jumbo, the Advice newsletters are circulated over the course of two mailings (A-L and M-Z). Then the material gets archived onto the website by volunteers with a dedication that rivals that of a bunch of monks hunched over their illuminated manuscripts. This index page shows just the tip of the archival iceberg. Basically, if you’ve suffered any kind of parental dilemma, from the ordinary to the extrraordinary, someone else has too, and chatted it up over this digital fence.

So pop yourself some popcorn and pull up a barcalounger whilst you peruse what folks were wondering and advising on this past week. (Following the advice item is the number of responses it netted.)


Almost 3-year old Aggression 2
Arrangements for toddler while giving birth to 2nd 7
Baby singing in crib 4
Baby-sitting fees for teens 1
Behavioral Optometry-light therapy 1
Bird Themed Birthday Party 1
Birthday for twin boys turning 13 1
Birthday party stress 12
Brachial plexus palsy 1
Can we afford to come home?? 2
Car accident 2
Childs allowance and spending 1
Classes for 16 mo old – How much is too much? 3
Conflicted about possible Down Syndrome baby 22
Crying mommy 3
Daughter-in-law doesn’t hold newborn 1
Dental work on infant? 4
Depression while taking care of 2.5 year old boy 2
Dislocated hip during labor and delivery 4
Do we need a financial advisor? 2
Earthquake advice! 7
Fast Fix For Nail Fungus? 3
Going back to the land 1
Having a Second Baby – Feel sad for the first! 12
Hitting from 19mo old 1
Home birth for first-time mom 1
Home too dry 2
How do you build wealth? 1
How to find household helper? 1
How to help 6 yr old lose weight? 6
How to raise only child 2
Husband Fed Up with Cat 9
Husband wants more free time 20
In laws attending all kid’s games 8
Infant formula without corn syrup? 1
Judgemental mother-in-law 1
Learning how to nap 2
Losing Weight While Pregnant 10
10 month old wakes every hour every night 3
19 month old hitting everybody 2
3 1/2 year old won’t drink 7
4 week old can’t get milk out of bottle 5
5 mo old rolling over 1
6 y.o. sits in corner and won’t play 1
Making new friends in Marin 3
Middle-Age Spread??? 3
Mold and humidifiers 1
Month-long Europe trip with toddler 1
Moving Out of State with Newborn 1
Moving forward after miscarriage 1
My child keeps getting bitten at daycare 4
Nanny Filed for Unemployment 1
Nervous about dermoid cyst surgery 3
Non-allergenic dog 1
Normal social behavior for a five year-old? 2
Old friend ”labeling” my son 1
Organic Milk 6
Other: Unsolicited Good Advice 1
Pack & Play as a Crib? 1
Paid Family Leave — intermittent 1
Panic attacks during 3rd trimester 4
Passover holiday for nanny 5
Paying nanny ”over the table” 1
Playdate idea 7
Post-partum reality check? 3
Power struggle with 7 mo old? 1
Private Investigator investigating me! 1
Regional Center or Private OT? 2
Separation anxiety in 3 yr. old 1
Sleep Training at 15 Weeks? 18
Sleep problems 4 year old 1
Special gift for 2nd child 1
Thank You etiquette for thank you gifts 3
Those damn bpd helicopters 4
Tips for having more energy & being less cranky 5
To fight or not to fight for grandmothers estate 8
Toddler Always Hungry 1
Waterless grass 3
What to do with an old, old cat 8
What to do with small inheritance 2
When did your baby shift to one nap? 6
Where should I put money for retirement? 2
Whole-house humidifier? 1
Worried About My Small Toddler 4

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