Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dollars, Euros, Yen, or Tickles?

Things haven’t been going very smoothly these past few weeks. Ada hasn’t been cooperative at all. I have been stressed out and distracted. She has wanted all of my attention and I have wanted to give her a lot less than that. It was a recipe for disaster. Major meltdown was exactly what we got. And I do mean “we”.

I have tried to blame the challenges on being a mother and a daughter and the stereotypes about how we aren’t supposed to get along. I’ve written our fights off as Ada going through the terrible twos now that she was three. The reality was that I wasn’t paying enough attention to her, didn’t know what motivated her, and didn’t have the patience to figure it out. That was why I married Rick.

Somehow, in his seemingly infinite wisdom, Rick figured out that Ada’s main motivation in life was to be tickled. By observing that one thing that ruled her world, he was able to create a currency of tickles. If we wanted Ada to change her diaper, put on her shoes, or stop yelling, we just had to pay her in tickles. Amazingly, it worked. It didn’t solve all of our problems, but it sure helped with a lot of them.

Moral of the story: Find what motivates your child (other than money or food) and use it to encourage good behavior.

Shouting Matches

I’m not a yeller. I’m not a fighter. I don’t like confrontation or conflict. But if you really cross me, I will remove the gloves and throw down.

Unfortunately, that applies to Ada too.

She pushes my buttons, says “no” as her default response, and refuses my every request to do the simplest tasks. When my repeated requests and explanations don’t work, I shut down. Not knowing how to deal with her, I’m ashamed to say it but, my blood boils quickly. I lose it and start yelling back at her. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t make me feel better—I actually feel worse and end up apologizing later. And to make matters even worse she calls me out whenever I am mad by getting really close to me with her puppy dog eyes and saying, “Mommy crabby.” It is kind of cute in the “Boy, I wish I could give you away sometimes” kind of way.

So why do I yell? Because the things I’m trying, like timeouts and counting to three, aren’t working either. My parents yelled and swatted our butts when we were bad so maybe there is something to that. I don’t want to start swatting her, but I do want her to start listening to me and stop aggravating me so much. Maybe I’m just not implementing the timeouts or the counting properly. Or maybe she just wants more attention. Maybe this is just a phase. Maybe I need to start reading a book on discipline. And maybe a solution will present itself. Surely I’m not alone in this battle.

Moral of the story: As parents, it is our job to remain calm. We don’t always succeed but we must always try. When in doubt, give yourself a time out.

Iain the Bruiser

Iain fell off the bed. Well, he actually crawled off the bed, fell on his cheek, possibly landed on the corner of a hard-cover book (about making parenting easier of all things), and was fine. He didn’t look so hot the next day though…

It was completely my fault. I got distracted—my life was one long string of distractions—and although I left him on the bed with Ada to entertain him, he must have tired of her antics and he went looking for something more exciting. Hitting the floor with his face probably wasn’t what he had in mind.

I knew I needed to be more careful. Just seconds before he fell I was checking in on him to be sure he wasn’t getting close to the edge. Looks were deceiving and it only took a few seconds for him to fall off. We were at orange alert level and being cautious but obviously red alert—constant safety watch—was more appropriate. I should have been at that level two weeks ago after he jumped out of the high chair. Apparently my interpretation of safe wasn’t safe enough. Safe was now defined as right next to me in the same room or locked into an apparatus with safety straps, and even then still within my sight.

Moral of the story: The line between being overly protective and safe is a fine one. Try your best to keep your child safe and when in doubt, error on the side of being too cautious.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our Little Lefty

Apparently, Ada's a lefty. We've had our suspicions but this leads me to believe it really is true. She purposely moved the computer mouse from the right side of the keyboard to the left side so she could play more easily.

Obviously, I don't have any say in the matter so I will be supportive of her "handedness" either way. If she really is a lefty, I intend to do a lot of research on how her brain functions differently and what we can do to make things easier for her. My brother is a lefty and I've seen him struggle with math specifically because he does it differently and his teachers always marked his grade down since he didn't do it their way or couldn't show his work. And I remember going to a left-handed shop in St. Charles, Illinois that had sissors and notebooks designed for left-handers. It is such a right-handed world that, as parents, we'll have to be sensitive to her environment. More so than just having Ada sit on the left end of the table so she doesn't knock elbows with Iain.

Moral of the story: Parenting is more than feeding, clothing and protecting your children. It also entails providing them with an evironment conducive to learning and development based on their needs. We as parents have a lot to learn.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Iain's Flying Leap

I know better. I know I'm always supposed to buckle Iain into his high chair. Especially when I have it in the kitchen on the tile floor. But occassionally, I get distracted. This time, I got distracted by Ada doing something on the computer. As I was working with the mouse, surely trying to prevent her from deleting important files, I heard a loud thud behind me. I turned around to see Iain laid out on the ground with his mouth wide open taking in that big inhale that comes right before an enormous scream. And then the ear shattering wale followed as I scooped him up, checked for signs of major injuries and consoled him. He wasn't happy, but I was relieved to see that he wasn't hurt. I think he rocked himself free of the chair, hurdled himself over the plastic divider bump between his legs, laid himself out in a sort of side flop, and then dropped his head to the ground after the initial impact. He had a light red mark on the back right side of his head which didn't appear to be serious.

For the next ten minutes I just kept thinking, "Dumb, dumb, dumb. You knew better. Your gut told you this would happen. You didn't listen. You're lucky he's okay you moron of a mom." I then promised not to ever do it again and went on with my day, being sure to give him extra cuddles to make up for my mistake. Then I justified my carelessness by admitting that something like this was bound to happen since Ada fell off the bed a few times--once landing on the charger for the Dust Buster which made a nasty indentation near the base of her skull--and the couch a couple times too. This was Iain's first major wipe out, and surely won't be his last.

Moral of the story: Always buckle all safety harnesses for anything you would not want your child to fall from. Those harnesses are there for a reason. Use them.

Ada's New Words

One of Ada's new words this month is "big". That's good because she's learning to be more descriptive and becoming more expressive. That's bad when she comes up to me, puts her hands on my mommy tummy and says, "big belly." Cute, but not all that funny. I laughed anyway and didn't take it personally. I did use it as motivation to attend pilates class that night though. Then, while Rick was getting her dressed in the morning, she was in front of our bedroom mirror looking over her shoulder at the reflection of her butt and said, "big butt." Rick immediately corrected her (while laughing hysterically mind you) that she in fact had a "little butt." No need to give her a complex at age three.

Another new word of hers is "crabby". If Iain is crying, she says "baby crabby". If I'm having a rough day, she crawls up on my lap, looks at me with a frown and says "mommy crabby". And while looking through pictures of my family, she came upon Grandpa Bobpa and said "Bobpa crabby". It fits him perfectly even if it is just his tough outer shell that gives way to his much softer inside.

At least her expressive language skills are growing. Now we have to help her learn how to use all of these new words a bit better.

Moral of the story: Once your child starts talking, you'll likely wish they wouldn't and will surely be surprised by what they finally say.

Creative Damage Control

While at lunch today, Ada had an accident. Her diaper overflowed soaking her pants and the bottom of her shirt. Of course I didn't have a backup outfit for her in the diaper bag. I didn't even have a full backup outfit for Iain and of the two of them, he was way more likely to need it.

What's a mom to do? If you were me, you took your daughter into the ladies room, removed her wet clothes, changed her diaper, washer her down with paper towels, and then re-dressed her in your zippered sweatshirt, rolled up the sleeves and pretended it was a toddler dress.

Yep. That's what I did.

Moral of the story: You can't prepare for every mishap that might happen as you go out and about with your kids. You can, however, wear layers and get creative when you need to.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stupid Car Alarms

Surely I've complained many a time before about how we have this car alarm that we don't want and can't seem to get rid of on our Honda CRV. My mother-in-law gave us the car because she hated the alarm so much that the benefits of trading us for our Honda Civic that was half the value of the CRV was worth it to her just so she could maintain her sanity. I completely understand her frustration since the siren goes off at the worst times for the most random reasons. The worst times being when I am trying to be really quiet unloading bags from a weekend trip or groceries while the kids are asleep in the car. And stupid reasons being that we opened a door thirty seconds after opening another door, without first pushing the unlock button to disarm the alarm, and the car screams at us with horns blaring and lights flashing as if to say, "Don't touch me!". We can't win.

I've tried to get it disarmed and have a plan to take care of it myself with limited guidance from an online mechanic's suggestion, but I haven't had the time to start dismantling my dashboard and was hoping our mechanically inclined neighbor would be available to supervise. Since that hasn't happened yet, I am even more upset to learn that someone was in our car and stole a few items from it this past week. It doesn't bother me that someone took a few things since they didn't damage the car and the coin purse and tool kit they took weren't of any value to us. What irritates me most is that we never heard the car alarm. If the sirens went off, we didn't hear them. (Maybe I did since I thought I heard an alarm in the middle of the night, but it didn't sound like our alarm at it shut off too quickly. I can only hope the thief managed to disarm it permanently. In that case, I would have given him more than just the empty coin purse and the tool kit.) The alarm seems to only work when it wants to and it didn't want to when it would have actually been convenient for us.

We aren't sure what exactly happened. We assume Rick forgot to push the lock button when he used the car last but either of us could have bumped the keys and unlocked it accidentally. It was parked on the street right in front of our house in clear view of our front window which means two things. First, if we did bump the unlock button, it would have been in range to unlock the car. Second, the thief stole our stuff from almost right under our noses. Even if we didn't lock the car, the alarm typically arms itself and will sometimes lock the car for us as if to say, "Hey, idiots! You forgot to lock the car. Don't worry. I'll take care of that for you." That's when you find yourself in a situation where the keys get locked inside the car and you're in for way more drama getting the car unlocked again than you would have been if the car had just left itself unlocked. You can only hope you don't have the kids inside when it does decide to belittle you.

This all makes me reflect back on a time when we didn't have to lock our cars. Life was a bit more simple then, or at least a lot different. I think parenthood must have been easier or at least a little less stressful then too. I just can't imagine how it could have been much worse than it is today. Surely "the good ol' days" were different from today's parenting. My hope is that all of these technological advances will one day actually advance us in a way that makes parenting easier.

Moral of the story: Car alarms can do more harm than good. Consider that fact when shopping for your next automobile.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Speech Therapy Update

I met with a speech therapist a few weeks ago with Ada. She was very nice and suggested that we consider taking Ada to a group speech therapy class to save money and see if that helped her. The catch with that being that she couldn't be the most advanced in the class or she wouldn't really be learning much. That seemed like a challenge since Ada isn't really all that delayed and doesn't qualify for speech therapy through the city's Early Intervention program.

Her other suggestion, assuming we could afford it since our insurance excludes speech therapy, was for us to do one-on-one therapy for a little while just to see how it worked. Point being that, Ada doesn't need a lot of help and will probably correct any delays she has on her own with time so we don't have to worry about it too much, but some sort of speech therapy would benefit her. It can't hurt unless our wallet has feelings and then maybe the wallet will be thankful for the lighter load?

Another speech therapist contacted me with referrals for three other places to look into that were closer to our house but she noted that many of them had waiting lists. I really didn't want to take time away from other kids who really needed these services when Ada wasn't all that bad.

After being preoccupied with other things for a few weeks, I finally called the woman I originally met with and had her get started. She gave us a discounted rate and their first session was this week. She got Ada to talk the whole time. It was great. Just seeing her interact with Ada and her suggestions at the end of the session were worth it. I'm optimistic that things will really improve and Ada will be talking our ears off. We'll have to find a different solution for that when the time comes.

Moral of the story: A little speech therapy can go a long way. Be sure to research your options to find a solution that is right for your child and your budget.

Potty Training Continued

When I say "Potty Training Continued" I really mean "This is the potty training that never ends...yes, it goes on and on my friends..." Sorry. I know that was mean and that song will be stuck in your head for days. But then maybe you'll better understand just how annoying potty training is when your child isn't quite ready.

Ada might be close to "getting it" when it comes to grasping the concept of potty training. But then again, she might not. The fact that every pair of underwear she puts on gets a little wet and has to be changed every time she uses the toilet, leads me to believe she isn't what most people would call "trained". The other clue is her failure to successfully or consistently wear pants without going to the bathroom in them. And the final nail in the coffin is her inability to actually poop in the potty on her own.

So, as much as I'd love to admit it was a successful attempt and we are done with diapers for her, I'd be lying. My new strategy is to wait another month or two, let her use diapers or underwear or whatever she wants, and then try again later. I won't stop her from using the potty. I might let her run around the house half naked. I will encourage her to poop by feeding her high fiber foods and plenty of liquids while banning bananas and cheese from her diet as much as possible. But I won't beat myself up over it. She'll be ready when she's ready and I'll be ecstatic when it happens.

Moral of the story: Potty training takes time and a child that is ready to be trained. Don't rush it and stay positive.