Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Potty Shaming

I don't remember if it was just in the movies, or in real life that I have seen it go down, but we all know the shock and disgust I am referring to when a parent scolds their toddler (physically or verbally) for having an accident.

I have always wondered how a person could do that to an innocent child, seeing that little twinge of fear and self-loathing in the kid's confused eyes...and then I chalked it up to the fact that these parents were simply a different breed than anyone I know.  They were just some kind of monsters who I had the luck of never crossing paths with.

Now, I fear I am becoming one of them, and as much as I am trying to stay very unemotional during this gruesome potty training process, I go to bed almost every night worrying that I didn't say the right thing or that I have somehow scarred Niall's ego and stripped him of his confidence for life.

We tried the potty training thing back in September, about 2 months before he turned 3.  He was kind of on and off about it for a few weeks and then decided suddenly that he was NOT into it.  Even the doctor suggested shutting the whole operation down for a few months when I told him that it had morphed into sleeping issues, among other power struggles.

I had this ticking time bomb in the back of my mind, though.  Like if he turned 3 and wasn't potty trained, he would spontaneously combust or something (or maybe I would).  It's definitely the peer pressure that may or may not simply be in my own mind, but it's there none-the-less.

I took the doctor's advice, though, and waited until almost 2 months after he turned 3 (about 3 months from the end of our first potty training gig).  To my surprise and delight, after some initial hesitation, he was fully potty trained within 3 days, no problem-- telling me when he had to go instead of being reminded, waking up with an almost dry diaper every morning, learning to hold it while we were out and waiting until we got home.  It was like some kind of switch flipped and I realized that he was actually ready this time, whereas he may not have been before. 

Which is why the last 3 days have been so incredibly frustrating for me...

He has now been fully potty trained for 3 weeks and suddenly, out of nowhere, decided to turn back and quit.  He is "afraid" of the potty, he "doesn't like it," it's "mean," it's "yucky," you name it.  I very calmly addressed his concerns that first day and offered to sit with him, bring a toy in there, even went back to skittles as rewards.  But he wanted nothing to do with it.  He would hold himself and say "I have to go pee!", but when I would try take him to the bathroom, he insisted "I don't want to," pitch a fit, and then conveniently pee on the floor 30 seconds later.  The next 2 days were the same way, and involved #2, which made my blood boil even more. 

Now, in my mind, that is NOT an accident.  That is defiance.  I would never be mad at him if he suddenly realized that he hadn't made it to the bathroom in time or if we were out and he was distracted and it just happened-- or if he simply wasn't ready for this whole potty training thing.  But he is well past 3 now, and he has definitely proven that he is ready.  When he tells me he has to go and just decides he doesn't want to do it on the toilet and would rather go on the floor, I'm obviously going to be mad!

Well, of course, he happily exclaims "Oh, it was an accident!" right after he did it and went back to playing, knowing that it's "ok" if it's an accident.  I was fuming, but managed to calmly tell him that it was unacceptable, explained the difference between an accident and what he did, cleaned him up and then told him that I was not going to put another pair of pants on him because I needed to be able to get him onto the potty in time next time.

So as he's walking around the house half naked, with only a shirt on, begging for pants (he's not one of these kids who is happy to walk around naked), I am feeling just terrible.  I don't want to turn this into potty shaming and hurt his feelings, but he needs to learn that he is not allowed to "go" wherever he feels like it.  He is just way too far along in this process to be doing something like that. 

Every potty struggle since then, I have been less and less understanding and more and more visibly frustrated and annoyed, which I'm sure is not helping the situation in any way, shape or form.  I have heard of regression during the potty training process;  I went through it the first time we tried-- but I had no idea that a kid could be fully potty-trained and just abandon ship all of a sudden.

I am trying my best to stay neutral and matter-of-fact about everything, but I had no idea it would be this hard not to get so emotional about all of it.  I really hope the rest of the week turns around for us (and that the rest of my kid(s) have mercy on me when it comes to the potty in the years to come!)

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Somewhat Snow-worthy

I've always been a kid about snow.   Even when I was working and should have been in the "I can't be bothered with snow" mindset, I would turn my pajamas inside out the night before a predicted snowfall and pray that I would wake up to a big white blanket covering everything in sight. I don't think I have EVER turned up an opportunity to play in the snow, even if there was only the tiniest amount to play with.

So you can imagine my disappointment when year after lame, snow-less year went by following "Snow-mageddon 2010". Niall hasn't been able to truly enjoy a real snow day since he was 2 months old:

Sure, there was a day or two when we were able to make a snowball and even pull a sled (never over the same spot twice because it had quickly gone back to just grass)...

...but nothing like that crazy year when he was first born.  I remember putting Niall in his car seat at the foot of our walkway stairs and jumping off the railing into the snow bank next to him.  It was such a blast and I so wish he had been old enough to enjoy it, but something tells me there will be another good snow storm in his future (when he will want to play with his friends instead of his mom).

And now he is really old enough to know what is going on, so that made this week's small snow day not too shabby after all.  Despite the fact that we were only working with a half an inch or so, we were determined to make it worth our while.  Starting with pictures, which Niall is REALLY not into these days...

As soon as he saw me pull the camera out, he quickly turned in the other direction.  But I am way too smart for shenanigans like these, so I told him there was a T-rex on top of my head and he naturally turned around to see it...

I knew this whole operation would be a bit of a challenge with two kids in the picture, but I had no idea how long and grueling of a process it would be to get this pile of snow-gear on everyone:

Just getting Brendan's gloved hand through his jacket sleeve felt like I trying to deliver a baby.  By the time we got outside, I was sweating like such a lunatic, I would have been more comfortable in a short sleeve shirt.  

Once we got out there, I had to strap Brendan into the stroller to keep him at bay while Niall and I got to the serious snow business...

He wasn't thrilled about being relegated to the sidelines, but Niall and I were busy working on this guy:

Ok, if we're being technical, this is what he looked like "to-scale":

But he IS a snowman, none-the-less.  And we were even able to save daddy a snowball before it all melted away.  Niall is pretty thoughtful like that.

This boy is going to have his mind blown when he sees a real snow day with huge sledding hills and snow angels and life size snowmen... ah, I can't wait.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Birthday Disaster

It's a good thing that Brendan is as laid back as he is, and it also probably helps that he has no idea what is going on when we yell "It's your birthday!!" over and over... because his birthday really bit the big one.

Let's see, it started on Sunday... his actual birthday was on Monday, but we decided to celebrate the day before since Matt usually gets home from work late.  In the middle of preparing a delicious cake and a great dinner, I noticed that Niall's "allergies/asthma" were really out of control.  He had a coughing fit that was so bad, he almost threw up.  Then, I noticed the rapid breathing.  He already had 2 breathing treatments that day, and he usually responds well to them-- but not this time.

I called the on-call doctor at my practice and he suggested we take him to urgent care.  Can I just give you a really valuable piece of parental advice?  Don't take your kids to urgent care.  They are fake doctors who are lazy and don't feel like dealing with you, so they just tell you that everything is fine.

I'm not sure why I haven't figured this out the other 5 or 6 times they have dismissed Niall & Brendan's illnesses as nothing.  The last time I took B in for what I suspected was an ear infection, they told me that they couldn't really see down there because he had a narrow ear canal.  And literally left it at that.  Their suggestion (once I prompted them for one) was that I take him in to my regular doctor the next day.  I was so glad that I took the time to sit in that over-crowded lobby crawling with viral infections for an hour to be told that one.

Anyhoo, they told us that Niall's lungs were clear and everything was fine, so we should just continue breathing treatments for the asthma and ibuprofen for the fever.  So we went home somewhat relieved, but mostly confused and a little skeptical.  In the middle of the night that night, he woke up and came into our room.  When I pulled him into bed with us and rolled over to go back to sleep, I immediately noticed that he was breathing so quickly, his little heart could barely keep up.  I started timing it and found out that he was breathing about 40 breaths per minute, which is pretty dangerous.  I called my on-call doctor again and he asked me to bring him in first thing in the morning. 

Long story short (fighting with the receptionist about getting a same day appt, multiple doctors' offices, chest x-rays, annoying hippa laws & long waits later).... he has pneumonia.  Thank you so much urgent care, for your medical expertise on "clear lungs."  Turns out my motherly intuition is more valuable than your 6 years of med school and 20 years of experience.  Simultaneously, Matt contracted the flu and could do nothing to help me on my day of running around from office to office like a lunatic.

But, amidst all the chaos, it was Brendan's first birthday.  And so help me God, we were going to celebrate.  Even if that meant I would consume an entire chocolate heath bar cake all by myself (a good enough excuse for me)... with a little help from the newly turned one year old:

My easy going birthday boy would chill on the couch while his sick (thus totally deserving) brother opened his never-wrapped presents...

And the most exciting part of his day would be getting woken up from his nap with the "Happy Birthday" song...

But we don't have very high standards around here these days, so all things considered, I think his big day could have been a lot worse.  We'll shoot for perfection next year-- for now, I will be grateful that our little family is pretty easy to please.  

**part of that being that I will be happy if one of my kids is willing to be in a picture with us.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Clean Freak & Drama Queen

I always wondered what my kids' funny quirks and habits would be.  I just didn't think that a) they would be established prior to age 1, and b) they would be so weird.  But I love their little odd ball tendencies and they totally make these boys who they are. 

Deep down, I think we all probably know that these quirks don't just come out of nowhere.  We would like to say "Where did he come up with that?!", but in reality, kids probably tend to take after one parent or another in terms of personality traits.  And I think it is safe to say that Niall takes after ol' daddy cakes when it comes to the OCD cleaning habits.

Niall doesn't just like to clean... he needs to clean.  That picture was from this morning, when we came to the basement to play and Niall didn't want to have anything to do with his toys until he got the chalk crumbs off the floor.

And if you try to do it for him, well, you're in for a tongue lashing and a major meltdown.  The other day, Brendan tipped a cup of water over in the family room and before I could get to the kitchen to grab a paper towel, Niall came running in with the dustpan, saying, "It's ok mom, I got this."  I don't have the heart (or energy) to tell him that a dustpan is not really a viable option when it comes to liquid messes.  No biggie, it just takes a day or so for the brush's sogginess to dry up. 

Looking back, I think I should have seen that cleaning was going to be a major hobby of his...

And then there's Brendan.  He is probably the happiest baby in the world.  I have more pictures of Brendan smiling in any given week than I have of Niall looking at the camera with any semblance of contentment in his entire life.  But when Brendan doesn't get his way, it's what I like to call "Baby Mama Drama."  He is literally a drama queen and it is so hilarious to watch.

If Niall grabs something from him or if I have to remove a choking hazard such as a broken crayon or chunk of play-doh from his feisty little grasp, he will stop dead in his tracks, let out this dramatic sigh of hopelessness and throw his head against whatever is in closest head-dropping distance.  Usually that is the floor.

 But sometimes, it is a wall or a door or a bed...


He will just lay there indefinitely, not even hoping to get the toy back-- just to drill the point home and ensure that you are aware just how very upset he is.  You can even try to make him laugh in the midst of baby mama drama and he will continue laying there despite the smile on his face...

He has done this at least once a day for the last 3 months or so.  It is so cute that I will usually end up laying on the floor with him and pressing my face on the ground up against his.  I'd like to think that I'm not a drama queen, and I really can't think of many instances when I am overly-dramatic to this extent... but I guess I do like to be the center of attention sometimes and I'm thinking he probably didn't get this one from Matt.  So I will have to take credit for the woe-is-me crocodile tears act.  You win some, you lose some right?

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Friday, January 11, 2013

The Easy Way Out

I never thought I'd be a mom who does things "the easy way"-- as in, letting my kids get away with things just because it's more convenient for me or too difficult to deal with.  And when it comes to the behavioral stuff, I really try not to cave... but when it comes to the gray areas, I've been doing a lot of 'easy' these days.

Like if my kid is in desperate need of a haircut (so much so that it shoots out in different directions and no amount of wet comb is going to change that), but I don't feel like dealing with a stage 5 meltdown... the hair will remain in its spiked out position until I feel that it is somehow impairing his vision.

And what's that in his mouth, you ask?  Oh, that's my attempt at feeding my child vegetables-- loading cake batter with banana and pumpkin, and then covering it in frosting.  And that's my only attempt these days because I'm so tired of every other attempt being rejected.  Now, I'm the mom who gives him a dinosaur vitamin with breakfast and calls it a day. 

Yea, shove it down kid.  Go ahead.  Joke's on you this time!

Or if my baby likes to suck on a beer bottle (empty, I swear!) and taking it away from him is like you might has well have hit him over the head with it... suck away, my friend.

Taking the extra 5 minutes to spoon feed Brendan or maybe even teach him how to do it himself has also become too much of a burden, so it's on-the-job training for this one...

And it doesn't seem to bother me anymore when my kids don't play with the toys that I thought they would love or should love.  You want to play with a diaper instead of the bouncing singing turtle machine?  You knock yourself out. 

I think that I'm adapting pretty well to this 'letting go' thing.  I can't believe I didn't give this parenting tactic a try before.  Kudos to all of you moms out there who figured it out a long time ago :)

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours

It has taken quite a while, and it's certainly not all rainbows and butterflies, but it's been pretty fun now that Brendan is at the age where these two can actually play together.  Sure, Brendan doesn't know how to play with half the stuff (...according to Niall: "he's messing it all up!!"), but it's so cute to peek into the room when they think I'm not looking and see Brendan handing things to Niall and Niall telling him what they are and where they go.

As you can see, Brendan is a pretty dedicated worker.  If Niall plays his cards right, he'll have his own little lego assistant for all of his towers without ever having to get up from his seat. 

But Brendan is pretty lucky, too.  I mean, he does get to dress up in whatever big bro sees fit.  

And stand next to him while doing big boy stuff.  It's a pretty coveted position to be in as a one year old. 

And maybe even get chased if he's super lucky.

All of this new found independence and brotherly togetherness can be really exciting and fun and all, but at times it can also be a recipe for disaster.

When Niall wants to play with a new truck, B wants to sit in it...

When Niall spends an hour putting a giant puzzle together, Brendan wants to destroy it...

When Niall decides that he finally wants his fireman stuff back, Brendan crawls away as fast as humanly possible...

Poor thing doesn't even realize his brother is about 3 times as fast as him and he will never get away, but you gotta love him for trying.  Well, I love him for trying-- not sure about Niall.  I think these sweet faces might only work on me...

I have to say, though-- for as many times as Niall tries to (and sometimes does) clobber Brendan, he is really a caring and protective big brother.  Sometimes, I don't know what would happen if he weren't there to be my second set of eyes.

The other night, I was 100% positive that I closed the door at the top of our stairs, but it must not have clicked shut.  Well, Brendan stuck his little fingers in there and propped it open and was sitting there at the top of the steps looking down.  I was brushing my teeth and I heard commotion, so I ran out to find Niall pulling on Brendan with all of his might yelling "No, Brendan!  You can't go down the stairs by yourself!!" 

Another time, Brendan had gotten a huge chunk of food off the ground that Niall had dropped and I didn't notice-- he was chomping away and about to choke when Niall ran up to me with this concerned look on his face, saying "Mom!  Brendan has something in his mouth!"

Now, Niall's favorite thing to do since they've been sharing a room is run up to Brendan's crib when he wakes up in the morning and baby talk with him in this ridiculous high pitched voice that he must have gotten from me baby-talking with Brendan.  "Good Mooorrrningg Brendy!!! Hiiiiiii!!  Wake up Bren!!  It's me, it's Niall!!"  And I walk in there to find them giggling and trying to touch each other through the crib slats. 

Stuff like that makes up for all of the bickering and whining and fighting over everything.  It's always been the most important thing in the world to me-- my kids being close.  And I know it sounds a little premature to speculate, but I can tell these boys are going to be best friends.  I am sure of it. 

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