Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whaddya know, when they're ready it really is that easy.

I haven't been blogging in the last couple of weeks because I've been knocking on wood. Crossing my fingers. Warding off the evil eye. Basically, avoiding putting it in print and thereby jinxing it.

J is (for the most part) potty trained. Just like that. Just a few weeks ago I was asking the blog world for advice, and J was screaming and crying and fighting not to sit on the potty. He was soaking his Pull-ups every night and completely mystified by real underwear.

So what happened? We're not sure. The tipping point seems to be our little trip to California two weeks ago. It wasn't the traveling itself, but the traveling companions. The trip consisted of me, TH, J, my twin sister, her husband, and her two kids. The key factor being her 9-year-old son, X. J IDOLIZES his cousins, and when they're together he's the little kid tagging along trying to copy everything they do. Including using the potty. Every time X would excuse himself from the table and say "I'll be right back, I have to potty," (you know, like a grown-up) J would pipe up, "I wanna go potty, too!" Not that he actually went potty with X while we were on the trip, but the day we came back, he kept talking about everything X and his sister did. So on a hunch, with less than 36 hours before I had to go back to work and J had to go back to daycare, we tried the underwear again. J was suddenly all too willing to sit on the potty a bazillion times, and he only had one accident. One. The next day, one accident. The next day, wearing real underwear at daycare, only one accident. Since then, we've gone 8 out of 10 days without a single accident, at home or at daycare. It's like a lightbulb went off over his head, and he it.

That's not to say we're totally out of the woods. All of this talk about him getting it and being potty trained is mostly in reference to going #1. Although J has managed to poop in the potty three times since we started...he's also only gone poop three times since we started. He's actually holding it in and making going #2 extremely hard on himself by waiting until he's super constipated. Not sure how to help that one. He's also still wearing Pull-ups to bed, although the last 3 nights he's woken up dry and stumbled into the bathroom in the morning to pee before getting them wet, so I figure within the next few weeks we'll be totally done with the whole thing.

Huh. What do you know. I guess he was "just ready." (I can hear people muttering, "I told you so" right now. Yeah, yeah, you were right.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I had to think long and hard about this one, because I know who is (and isn't) reading it.

One of the things that you don’t really anticipate, don’t really understand, before you have children is how many other people will try to force their parenting ideas on you, and constantly offer up unsolicited advice. It starts when they’re infants: Don’t pick him up so much, he’ll get “spoiled.” Don’t let him cry so much, he’ll feel like you’re abandoning him and grow up “insecure” and “needy.” Don’t let him have the pacifier. Don’t give him baby food yet. Why haven’t you given him baby food yet? Take the bottle away. Why are you still breastfeeding? He would sleep through the night if you let him cry a little. Only selfish, evil people make their babies cry all night. If you really loved being a mom you wouldn’t have gone back to work when he was only ten weeks old.

It only intensifies as they get older, and start being able to talk and reason and require some kind of discipline. The looks in the store when they start acting up. The disapproving eyebrow raise when they defiantly scream “NO!!” at you and throw something, like they’re the first kid on earth to do that. The tsk tsk as if you’re a child abuser when you lose your cool for a minute and raise your voice, and the same sound if you try the "ignoring" the crying when you can’t “just leave the store” because you really need to get some feminine products, dammit. All of the questions about why isn’t he potty trained, and aren’t you worried that he won’t be able to start preschool if you don’t get him out of diapers soon, and don’t you want to be done with all of that before the new baby comes? And why does he still have a binky and sleep in the crib at 2 ½? Why do you spoil him and give him yogurt or cheese when he won’t eat what you’ve made, just take the plate away and let him starve a little, he’ll learn. Don’t you know children his age shouldn't watch TV???

This week, I had to draw the proverbial line in the sand. Up until now, I’ve been pretty secure in my parenting choices, never feeling the need to defend what we choose to do with J to anyone else. I’ve never had a problem saying, “well, it’s just what works for us,” or “I know some kids are like that, but not mine, so that’s not what we do.” I’ve haven't felt like someone was truly judging what we do or questioning whether we are good parents. Until this week. We had an out-of-town visitor, who hasn’t seen J in quite awhile. Since he was an infant, really. Usually, when people meet J for the first time, they comment on how cute he is, or how well-spoken, or how well-behaved he is. Sure, he has his moments like all newly-minted three year olds, but for the most part no one has ever said anything really negative about him. This person, however, within a few hours of being with us and witnessing one – JUST ONE – act of defiance that resulted in a few minutes on the Timeout Rug, made a proclamation that made my blood boil. This Judgmental Person turned to us, and said, “Wow, he's kind of out of control. He needs real discipline.” Then they called him...."bad." In front of him. And then. AND THEN. They told me I should spank my 3-year-old, my sweet, kind, smart, mostly well-behaved little boy, with a belt. A BELT!! Then they accused us of being bad parents. In those words. As in, "I'm surprised that you are such bad parents."


Imagine their surprise (and quite honestly mine and TH’s) when I flipped out a little. And then flipped out a lot. I’ve had a few “mama bear” moments, where I made a little snarky reply to some thoughtless comment or even huffily gathered up my kid and left. But this time, I was really, really, really pissed. Pissed that someone could spend a few hours with my beautiful family and only have something negative to say. Angry that they felt such little respect for my son, who understands so much more than we realize, that they called him names right in front of his face. Incensed that someone who isn’t here with us day in and day out, who isn’t privy to the many conversations that TH and I have had about How Exactly We’re Going to Do This Parenting Thing, felt that they had any right to say anything about what we do or don’t do with our kid. Blog world, you would have been proud. I really stood up for myself, stood up for us. I don’t care if you believe in spanking or not. It has nothing to do with me if you were “raised the old-fashioned way.” (So was I, Judgmental Person. So was I.) When it boils down to it, sometimes as a parent you have to decide if you believe something is wrong or right for your family, no matter if it’s something your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents did “and you turned out fine.” TH and I have been dancing around this issue, To Spank or Not to Spank, for some time, and this week it finally crystallized for me in a way that it hasn’t before. I’m not saying the occasional pop on the butt is child abuse. But spank my kid with a belt? For being a little kid? NO.





I am J’s mother. TH is his father. WE MAKE THE DECISIONS. Not because we don’t know any better, or because we can’t come up with ideas on our own so we “probably read it in some modern parenting book,” but because we really have thought about these things. And talked about these things. And prayed about these things. If you don’t like it? Tough. If you don’t like it so much you feel the need to disparage my kid in front of me? You’ll have Mama Bear to deal with.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yes, I'm actually asking for potty training advice on my blog.

That's pretty much the theme for today. J has shown some interest in potty training, and then that interest turns into indifference, which eventually turns into defiance and actually avoiding any talk of using the potty. We, in turn, have become completely lazy about the whole thing. I admit it. We kind of haphazardly ask J if he wants to sit on the potty, and if he says no, we drop the subject. I know he's probably not "ready" yet, but at the same time I feel like we could be doing more to get him more interested. We have 2 problems: 1) We have no idea how to go about potty training and 2) Our schedules are hectic so it's hard to come up with a "routine" we can stick with. Some weeks I have 2 days off, some weeks I have a 3-day weekend. In the mornings, we usually have to be out the door by 7am, so it's hard to fit in sitting on the potty when Pull Ups are alot faster. Like I said, lazy.

Soooo...I need some ideas or advice or what worked for you, blog world! I'm all ears. I understand that every kid is different and what works for some may not work for us. We REALLY don't know where to start, other than buying the potty (a year ago), reading potty books (all the time, they're his favorites LOL), and buying underwear (tried them for a weekend, he couldn't understand what was going on, and by the second day he asked for us to "put his biper back on.")

Friday, May 1, 2009

Why, hello, 3-year-old!

Dear J,

You're three years old today. Three whole years since you came into me and Daddy's life, three of the best years we've ever had. Your birthdays are always a little bittersweet for me, with a tiny bit more bitter each year as you get older. We just picked you up from daycare, and when we got there I could hear you through the door yelling, "My Mommy's here!" and when the door opened you hugged my legs and said, "I'm so happy to see you, Mommy." And as you ran down the sidewalk to the car where Daddy was waiting, I watched you running with your long lean legs and big-kid clothes, and thought, there's my little boy. I used to think, there's my baby, but you're definitely a little boy now. This is why birthdays are bittersweet -- I love watching you grow up and can't wait to see what each new year brings. I definitely don't want you to stay a baby...I just want you to stay my baby.

This past year with you has been wonderful, everything that I dreamed parenthood would be before you were born. This is the year that you really became our little companion, someone who can take part in family activities instead of just watching them, and who can hold up his end of a conversation. This is the year that you figured out the mechanics of riding your tricycle, and started to understand some street and traffic rules when we ride down to the park. This year I could find you "reading" your books by yourself instead of waiting for me or Daddy to read them. You taught yourself how to make ramps for your Matchbox cars all over the house, and how to pull your step-stool up to the counter so you could pour milk or juice into a cup (even though you're expressly forbidden from doing this, I still felt a little proud the first time I saw you manage it without spilling). You learned to brush your teeth the right way and wash your own body during baths. You travelled alot with Mommy and Daddy, too, sleeping on sofa beds and inflatable beds and hotel beds with no problem whatsoever. This year you learned how to play computer games without my help, and how to put your favorite DVD--right now it's Tom & Jerry Classics--in the DVD player by yourself. You started going to Children's Church without one of us tagging along and without crying, and even scored a line in the Christmas and Easter plays.

Above all, this was the year you Really Started Talking. This year, began to understand humor and made up your own "jokes," which actually made me laugh on occasion even though the punchline usually involves the words "pee-pee" or "stinky" followed by hysterical laughter. I love the way you pad into our room in the morning, after 10 hours of sleep, and tell me, "That was a really good nap," or how you hug Mimi and whisper to her, "I love you, Mimi. You're my favorite dog ever." And how you learned to make your language skills work for you, telling me things like, "There's a ghost in my room flying around, and he said he'll leave if I get some chocolate milk." This is also the year you started making smart-alecky statements like, "I don't have to do it if I don't really want to," or "I won't say please because you have to gimme it RIGHT NOW," or "Don't say oh my God, Mommy, you're supposed to say oh my gosh." You love correcting me.

This morning Daddy and I found out that you are going to have a little brother. I couldn't be happier. The last three years have been beautiful, and wonderful -- you're the only reason we even want another kid, in the hopes that it will be just as great the second time around. Thanks to you, J, we became parents, and as Daddy told me the other day while we were watching you throw sand on Mimi for the millionth time, "You know, even when he's being bad, life with him is so much better than it was without him." I couldn't agree more.


Love, Mommy