Thursday, July 31, 2008

The D Word

I've found this whole parenting thing is easier sometimes if I pick a theme for a week or so and focus on it. When Sam was born, it was nursing. Later, it was getting him on a regular nap schedule. Other projects have included regular reading time, eating something besides bread and cheese, sitting still at a restaurant (well, we sort of worked on that), sleeping through the night, and entertaining himself long enough for Mommy to check e-mail.

This week, I tackled a biggie that I've feared for a while and haven't dealt with properly for too long - what the heck to do about discipline. We've tried a few things, but nothing consistent. So, this week, I watched an episode of Super Nanny and was inspired with a few ideas about naughtly spots and timers and such.

A few days ago, I was typing at the computer when I heard a tell-tale splash. I turned around, and there was Sam looking intently at the puddle that he just made from the open water glass that I stupidly trusted him with. He's done this on several occasions, and knows it's wrong.

"Sam, we don't spill water on purpose. You have until the count of three to clean it up with this towel or we have a time-out. One, two..."

"No! No, no, no!"

"Three. OK, time for a time-out."

Howl! "No, mommy! Don't put me in time-out!"

"Sorry, kiddo, you had a chance to clean it up. Now you can try again after the time-out."

I plunk his bottom down and set the timer for two minutes. He cries, lays down, stamps his feet, but stays in the corner.

Clock beeps, out he comes.

"Ok, let's clean it up."


"I'll count to three and you need to clean it up, or back in time out. One, two, three."


And back to time-out he goes. You get the idea. This took about 3 cycles before he took the towel and made a few feeble swipes at the mess, fulfilling his obligation. Afterwards, he wanted to hug and snuggle, and we had a little chat about what happened. All of this was done in a calm voice and demeanor.

So, here's the interesting secret that I discovered this week. They say that toddlers need boundaries - that it makes them feel safe and secure. Well, guess what? Same works for parents. Instead of wasting energy being angry, reprimanding, chasing him around or ignoring it, which was my previous MO, I calmly know what do to and do it because I have a PLAN. The PLAN keeps me safe and secure, too.

The corrilary to this is that I have to be careful what I say "no" to, because I need to be willing to go through this rigamarole every time I say it. There are ways I can say no without uttering the actual word - distraction, etc. I also have to ask myself if I'm just momentarily annoyed and the behavior is really something I can live with, like him emptying out a drawer of all the pots and pans.

Not that I have the secret answer to all of this now, but life has been so much easier since I started thinking of discipline this way. It's not a burden, it doesn't have to be painful or punative. It just is a consequence for an action that I help facilitate. And it ends with hugs.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Preschool may be kaput

I asked Sam if he wanted to try preschool again today, and the answer was "Mommy stay with you?" That should have been a sign, I think.

To give some background, Sam had his first day by himself at a local drop-in preschool a few weeks ago, and I returned to pick him up after 2 hours only to hear his wailing from all the way down the hall. It turns out that he spiked a pretty big fever that day and got sick for the next few days. It probably didn't help that he didn't know any of the teachers or kids very well, and, as preschools often do, they had a schedule for the day that required a lot of transitions from him. All of that combined to make for a pretty miserable kid.

So, we took a break and tried again last week, and at the door he clung to me and wailed. I stayed for the hour to help him manage all the transitions and hopefully give him a good preschool experience to replace the old one. I thought that maybe, just maybe, today we could try again and I could maybe, just maybe, leave to get a cup of coffee and see how he did. I talked to him about it this morning, and he was skeptical.

We got ready for the day, and it was fraught with conflict. Looking back, I'm sure I was in a cruddy mood at the thought of dealing with another day at preschool, and so was he. We were downstairs trying to get out the door when it hit me - my yoga center has a mom-tot yoga class that we haven't tried in almost a year, and it started in a half hour.

"Sam, do you want to go to preschool or yoga today?"

"Yoga? Mommy leave you?"

"No honey, I'll be doing yoga, but I'll be in the same room with you. You can play with the toys."

"Go to yoga? Play with toys?"

So, there was my answer. And the rest of the morning was lovely for both of us. I got to do yoga while Sam plays with the toys and the other kids, and we both left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

I think that if both of us were so stressed out about a possible preschool session that we got that crabby at each other, it's not worth it right now. We'll try again in another couple months.

Today, I am a pirate

Sam and I have a few games that we've developed. They're funny in a way that only something a toddler makes up can be funny.

The Pirate Game started yesterday. During lunch, this came out of my mouth: "Arrrrgh, matey, you be eatin your sandwich now!" This developed quickly into me wearing a dishrag on my head and saying things like "scurvy," which then turned into a game when we went upstairs for nap time, and Sam started bringing me the contents of my jewelry box while saying, "Here you go, Pirate!" "Arrrrgh, these be mighty fine jewels! I'll be wearing this one, and you be wearing that one!" "Aaargh!" agrees Sam.

"Close Your Eyes" is pretty simple. I close my eyes at Sam's request, and he shoves his face right up to mine and screams to wake me up. Not my favorite game.

The best current game, though, has to be "Dirty Food." In this game, Sam pinches some imaginary food between his fingers and brings it to me with a mischevious "Here you go, Mama!"

"What's this?" I ask.

"Dirty food!" he exclaims gleefully.

"Oh, well, I'm pretty hungry. I guess I'll eat it." (Sam is squealing and wringing his hands in delight at this point).

I eat it with relish, and then proceed to get sick, go into convulsions and pass out on the floor. Sam loves this. He then does the only thing that will cure me - a kiss. And I wake up and thank him, and the game starts over.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Now, for something more fun...

So, the day before Stitch Day, we had a wonderful tim going to the Wallingford Kiddie Parade. Here are some pictures of our day.


I was all set to write about last week (first day at a drop-in preschool, fever and illness - a good story), when we were suddenly thrown into a new experience last night.

It all started as I was getting ready to go sing at church. Sam was running around, buck nekkid of course, when I turned just in time to see his bus come out from under him and he landed - smack! - face-down on the floor. I did what I usually do; I waited to see if he would cry before I rushed in. Suddenly he did cry, and it was a different cry altogether. I ran and picked him up, and blood...everywhere. I couldn't tell at first where it came from, if he'd lost a tooth, or bitten his tongue, then I saw the big hole in his lip. We rushed to Children's Hospital where, long story short, it took 5 people and a kiddie dose of valium to keep him even moderately still, and even then he still screamed his head off while the patient doctor wiated for the right moment to put in 3 stitches. They wrapped him burrito style in a sheet, Mark was laying next to him and holding him, two nurses were at his head, and I and another nurse had his legs. I thought I was handling it pretty well, but about half-way through I let go of him for a break, and realized that my arms and jaw were shaking uncontrollably. Where's the valium for MOM, huh?

Almost immediately afterward, he sat up and asked for water, and proceeded to chug two apple juices and chow down on a package of teddy grahams, smiling and chatting with us all the while. I still needed to sit down.

So, that's visit #3 to Children's Hospital in about a year. I think perhaps we should buy stock.