Posts Tagged ‘tantrums’

I Am A Better Parent When No One Is Watching

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Caroline doesn’t know how to walk. She skips or runs or jumps or hops or flings herself forward in space with no concern for where she will land. Right now she mostly gallops, which often ends in tripping over her own feet while shouting “Mommy I’m galloping like a horse!”

Yesterday on the way to the car for school she galloped herself right onto her face, slamming into our brick walkway hard enough that she reacted with stunned silence instead of immediate tears. I reacted exactly the way you are supposed to, calmly and tenderly, scooping her up to quickly assess the damage without scaring her or focusing on her pain. I collected the things she had dropped and got her into her car seat before I grabbed my well-stocked first aid kit from my purse. I told her I was going to clean off her knee (which luckily was the only injury bad enough to need attention) and wiped it with an antibacterial wipe without ever mentioning that “it might sting a little”. Since I didn’t TELL her it might hurt, she didn’t even notice. I let her pick a bandage (big or little?) and help me unwrap it and stick it over the scrape. Then I suggested maybe her baby doll had gotten a scrape too, so we put a band-aid on Baby’s knee.

The whole thing took maybe 90 extra seconds and no one cried. When we got to preschool, she flung herself out of the car and galloped inside, having completely forgotten her booboo. I looked around my empty car and thought “Man, I wish someone had been recording that. I am an AWESOME parent right now.”

After school we had doctor’s appointments. Two for me – non-stress test and ultrasound – and Evan’s 5 year well-child visit. Both kids were fine through my visits (due 1% to my stern talking-to about how they needed to be quiet and calm and due 99% to the fact that I brought both iPads and the hospital has public wifi) but they were D O N E by the time we got to Evan’s check-up.

When the nurse asked Evan to take off his clothes and put on the paper gown he stomped his foot and said “I DON’T WANT TO”. I bent down to his level and simultaneously bribed and threatened him: “If you can be a good listener during your check-up we will go get ice cream AND cheeseburgers. If you are naughty you will go home and sit in your room with NO iPad.” He glared at me with his arms crossed while the nurse waiting and I wondered what good parents do in this situation.

It went down hill from there.

I lied about his finger poke, saying it didn’t hurt at all (it does and I used to freak out even more than he did when I was little). When he flailed and screamed I held him down and said “KNOCK IT OFF YOU ARE FINE!” instead of being calm and understanding. I did a lot of clenched-teeth hiss-whispering after the nurse left, but none of it worked. When the doctor came in he wouldn’t cooperate, wouldn’t hold still, wouldn’t be quiet. I alternated between standing back and helplessly doing nothing and getting right in his face to threaten/bribe as he cringed.

The whole time I was acutely aware of how I looked, how I came across as a mother, what the whole office staff was thinking about me. What they said when they left the room or after I had dragged the kids out to the car. I am sure none of it was good.

I think it’s that self-conscious awareness that makes me a better mother when I am alone. It’s the opposite of the stereotypical dysfunctional family – we appear to be a mess in public but at home, behind closed doors, I am calm and understanding and loving.

(Don’t get me wrong, we are a yell-y kind of family. There is often yelling. especially when my children have occasional bouts of deafness after being asked to pick up the Legos or go put on their jammies or to PLEASE JUST STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER.)

But without the scrutiny of strangers to judge my behavior (or more accurately, my children’s behavior) I am more confident in my parenting. When I lose my temper or get to the end of my rope I can regroup and reassess without anyone watching. Of course, it also means I can just IGNORE them when they are horrible, instead of dealing with it. But that also gives me more time to think about what I am doing, instead of reacting with something, ANYTHING to just make them stop.

I’m about ready to move to that commune my friends and I joke about, where we raise goats and co-parent everyone’s kids and no one judges you if your 3 year old throws herself on the ground screaming because you wouldn’t let her bring SEVEN different stuffed animals/dolls to the store. Again.

Although even commune-living would require trips to Target, so I don’t think parenting entirely unjudged is ever possible. I can only dream.

 

Related posts:

Birthday Madness
Birds and Butterflies
Getaway

Go Easy

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

My friend Molly had a bad day this week. She took over-tired kids to the grocery store and they had a meltdown, which is what happens when you bring over-tired kids to the grocery store. Sometimes you just need to buy some damn milk, you know? And sometimes your kids are happy, well-rested, well-fed, and total angels right up until 20 seconds before you hit the checkout counter and THEN they have a total meltdown. Weathermen – who are wrong like, 80% of the time! – are better at predicting stuff than parents. At least if you walk outside and get wet you can reasonably assume it’s raining. Ask a 3-year-old how they feel and you’ll get a response like PEANUT BUTTER TICK TOCK PIRATE SHOELACES. That is not helpful in judging store meltdown likelihood threat levels. (It’s basically always threat level double red anyway.)

Your children having a meltdown in a store doesn’t make you a bad mom. It makes you a MOM. Not getting everything one hundred percent right one hundred percent of the time doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you a PARENT. That’s why parenting is a THING. If kids came out of the womb as fully functioning human beings they wouldn’t be kids, they’d be turtles. Miniature versions of adults left alone to fend for themselves. God, I bet being a turtle mom is the BEST. No one hangs around the sunny log at the pond judging that one turtle whose offspring always have dirty shells and swim in circles screaming “Poop! Butt! Fart!” all the time. No, we get the grocery store full of judgement and withering looks and people laughing at us while we struggle and plead and do the the very best job we can to not raise monsters who set your house on fire some day.

Remember this: every single person who is judging your parenting used to be a baby. They crapped their pants. They threw up on themselves. They ate something disgusting off the floor. They drove their parents crazy in all the ways your kid is currently driving you crazy and probably 4,365 other ways your kid hasn’t even thought of yet. Even if that dude laughing at you while you wrangle a vicious rabid badger disguised as a toddler into your cart never has kids of his own, he used to be a little shit too. He still is kind of shit for laughing. Someone should go laugh at his mother.

NEVER FORGET: You are doing the best you can with the incredibly raw materials you (or someone else) grew in their very own human, imperfect body. Go easy on yourself. Go easy on other parents. Go easy on your kids, even if it means you have to lock them in their rooms for 20 minutes while you bang your head against a wall. Just be sure to teach them to go easy on each other. And remember – no one will die if your kid screams the whole time you’re buying that damn milk.

Caroline is sad

I asked her to smile for a photo – something she’d been doing for the past 20 minutes.

Related posts:

Someday He'll Use Words Instead
Gratuitous Pictures Of A Baby In A Park Friday
Winners!

Thank You For Kindness

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Caroline is still sick with some sort of head cold that manifests itself in snot, misery and a need to be held constantly. Evan isn’t sick with anything I can identify, unless you count being incredibly three-ish a medical condition. Even my new and improved hug-my-babies-tighter-appreciate-every-moment mentality is being put to the test by his completely unreasonable screaming and hitting. I am still hugging him tighter and appreciating my children but I’m doing it while holding back tears of frustration. Those are the days when the best I can do is be thankful that tomorrow will be (HAS to be) better and I am still lucky in so many ways.

Despite the less than ideal conditions in the Davis house now life goes on, the holidays get closer, and everyone needs to be fed…which means we have to leave the house. I’ve been dreading it with every fiber of my being clenched so hard I might break a bone. At home my children can only bother me. In public they can bother everyone. Everyone just trying to get their last minute packages sent and pick up their Christmas ham and buy wrapping paper and get through the day. Everyone who probably has bigger problems than a kid with a runny nose and who don’t deserve to be coughed all over in line for coffee.

But instead of scowls and angry glares, we experienced nothing but kindness. I came home on the brink of tears (I feel like I’m always on the brink of tears these days) not because I was upset but because I was so touched by the kindness around me. Thank you, to everyone:

Thank you to my friend Sara who was extra patient and helpful with my kids during her visit, although I’m afraid I might have scared her out of ever having children.

Thank you to the elderly gentleman in the parking lot who brought me a cart when he saw me trying to bundle a whining Caroline out of the car and into the grocery store.

Thank you to the deli counter ladies who did their best to cheer Caroline up with slices of cheese and compliments.

Thank you to the meat counter guy, the produce guy, the man in the frozen section, the lady in the baking aisle and the cashier who all sympathized with me over how hard it is to get things done when your child isn’t feeling well and wished us health and happy holidays rather than judging me for bringing my sad baby out in public.

Thank you to the Toys R Us employees who were pleasant and helpful during what I know must be a really rough time of year to be a Toys R Us employee. You helped me make a little kid in New York’s Christmas wish come true.

Thank you to the woman at the post office counter who helped me label and box a last minute package while my arms were full of a toddler who wouldn’t let me put her down for even a second.

Thank you to Evan’s teachers who sent home a second jingle bell in his backpack for his sister so they can both believe in the magic of Christmas when we read The Polar Express tonight.

Thank you to everyone going out of your way to be just a little bit kinder or more patient this year. I don’t know if it’s the holiday spirit, our sense of community in Connecticut right now, or just extremely good luck that I’ve encountered so many nice people but I appreciate it more than words can say. My faith-in-humanity meter is no longer hovering below empty. I promise to return the favor.

Related posts:

Waaaaaaaah
A Healthy Competitive Spirit {And a $100 Giveaway}
My Week(206) in iPhone Photos

Caroline: 23 Months

Monday, November 19th, 2012


This is the last month my baby will be my baby. I’ve been letting myself say she’s “one” for the past couple weeks instead of “almost 2″, even though it feels sort of ridiculous. She’s been shedding her babyhood faster than I can gather it up in my memory for more than a year now. Recently she’s moved farther away from charming, silly and good-natured and more towards willful, stubborn and independent.  She’s mostly capable of doing things on her own but has very strong opinions about WHEN and WHERE she wants to do them. It’s like a tiny window into what it will be like to have a 16 year old. It doesn’t help that she’s been having physical and emotional growing pains that frustrate both of us immensely and leave me wrung out by bedtime.

And then, on Saturday night, right as I was leaving her room after an hour of stories and rocking and singing and cajoling and begging her to please, please, please just lie in your bed and sleep already she said “Rock Mommy, rock”. I held her in my lap and we rocked. I felt her go limp and still then twitchy and dreaming and tried to remember the last time we rocked to sleep. I couldn’t. I know the last time  she couldn’t have asked so clearly. I know the last time her feet didn’t hang off the chair and I couldn’t rest my chin on her head. And then I lifted her full sleeping body weight to put her into bed and all of her babyness dropped away. She is long and heavy and definitely a child, even if I’m not completely ready for her to be one.

Two seems like it’s going to be a challenge. Along with learning to say adorable things like “Oh coconuts!” and “Don’t whorry, Mommy!” she loves to yell “I DO IT!” and “EAT! EAT! EAT! NOW!” and “Jammies on, NO BATH!” For every spontaneous please and thank you there’s a screaming fit over wearing shoes or pants. I keep telling myself it’s just a phase – it’s ALWAYS just a phase – but right now I’m just hoping we both survive it with no permanent damage.

It the face of her epic tantrums, it’s a good thing she’s really, really cute. She loves to narrate what we’re doing, so at Target she sounds like this: “Target! I love you Target! Cart. No that cart. Big cart! I DO IT. I push. Caroline walking. See! C’mon Mommy! Coffee, Mommy? Coffee? Icee? Hi! Hi baby! Hi! No, my cart! Buy it Mommy? I have it. HAVE IT NOW. Yahhhhh Target! Bye bye bye bye Target! Bye!” times one thousand times a day. She picks out her own clothes and if that means she wears a short summer PJ’s over footie PJ’s then that’s OK with me, although it’s cold enough now that I keep getting Looks when we go into a store and she isn’t wearing shoes. She eats more than anyone else in the house but is still a peanut. She’s really into coloring and painting now, although the mess she makes is incredible. But that’s the part she likes the best so clever toddler-friendly alternatives like Color Wonder markers don’t fool her one bit. She wants me to read to her 12 hours a day, although she also likes to “read” her own books. Yesterday she tried to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the piano, although I only know that’s what she was playing because she was also singing at the top of her lungs. I wish she would let me put a barrette in her hair to keep her bangs out of her eyes but there is no way I am cutting a single hair on her head.

Likes include her blankies (she calls them both “Bee”), her pillow, books, blocks, music boxes, CHRISTMAS STUFF, art, making a mess, Sesame Street, music, dancing, gymnastics, putting on clothes, taking off clothes, running, cuddles, iPads, iPhones, Daddy, the dog, the cat, singing, climbing stairs, her brother, doing things herself, bossing me around, Mickey Mouse, apples, eggs, eating and giving kisses.

Dislikes helping me run errands, being left behind, not getting her way, wearing shoes, and bedtime.

Milestones below the adorable photos, as usual.

23 Month Milestones (from BabyCenter, as usual)

Mastered Skills (most kids can do)
Names simple picture in a book – She can name almost anything in a book and insists on doing it every time we read anything.
Uses 50 to 70 words – More like 500 to 700 words and that is only a tiny exaggeration. She knows ALL THE WORDS.

Emerging Skills (half of kids can do)
Opens doors – She can, but she’s mostly too short for the ones in our house. THANK GOD.
Sings simple tunes – Yesterday she tried to play Twinkle Twinkle on the piano while singing. It was a nice effort but she is clearly not a musical prodigy.
Takes more of an interest in playing with other kids – Was she supposed to be uninterested in other kids? She’s a second child, the poor girl has no idea how to entertain herself.

Advanced Skills (a few kids can do)
Talks about self (likes, dislikes) – Mostly dislikes. “NO WANT IT BERRIES! WANT MOMMY’S FOOD.” “Nooooo bathtime! Nooooo NOT filthy!” but she will tell you her favorite color is green and she likes her blankie.
Asks “why?” – No, but she asks “HUH?” and taps her finger on her chin and says “Ummmmmm” while she’s thinking.

Related posts:

Dear Summer, Buzz Off
My Week(76) in iPhone Photos
My Week(78) in iPhone Photos

35 Months

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Even though I have been telling people my kids are “three and one” for weeks now I don’t actually BELIEVE it. Three?! How can Evan be three?! Three so many years! Three is huge! Three is preschool and backpacks. Three is inside jokes and friends and opinions and ideas and favorites and independence. Three is clothes in size ginormous and shoes with huge rubber soles. Three is sitting in a chair at the dinner table. Three is repeating everything that comes out of my mouth.

Three is a kid who INSISTS he is too big for naps but falls asleep on the couch at 3 pm clutching his favorite blankie.

If you asked me RIGHT AT THIS SECOND how I like this age, I’d be very enthusiastic. It’s so great! He’s like a real human! He is kind and helpful and polite and is capable of understanding what I say and following directions. He was good for the babysitter. He’s super excited to see his grandparents next week. He is the best big brother ever. If he’s bored and whiny it’s easy to distract him with a game on my iPhone (BabyCenter needs to add “can unlock and correctly use a smart phone” to their list of milestones because it is HUGE) and I can finish Stroller Strides or shopping or whatever. It’s nice to have a kid I actually LIKE as well as love. Because other days – the ones where he hits me in the head with his sippy and throws himself on the floor at the mall and screams at me and I have to drag him out kicking and screaming – I still want to sell him to the circus. He is a wild beast who refuses to use his words or tell me what’s wrong or calm down. He will cry until he’s out of tears and then fake-cry until he can’t breathe. Oi, the fake crying is the WORST.

But really, there are more good days than bad and even the bad days are more like bad HOURS instead of days. He might stall at bedtime for a few minutes but he sleep all night. He isn’t the most adventurous eater but I’m not worried he’s going to starve to death. He likes to play trains with me but can also play by himself while I fold laundry or clean the kitchen. He still agrees to cuddles and kisses and tells me I’m pretty – even if his favorite game is telling me to make a sad face and then laughing at me. Three year olds are like walking, talking contradictions and life is never, ever boring.

 

Likes include his blankie, milk, cereal, bagels, cream cheese, running, slides, the mall, Target, friends, the dog, the cat, the iPad, bubbles, watching TV, trains, dinosaurs, snow, lollipops, Daddy, reading books, baby sister, and being carried when he is tired.

Dislikes include being woken up, watching “Mommy’s shows”, sharing, sticky hands, wiping his own butt, and being carried when he is NOT tired.

Having my picture taken is LAME.

Not even in a booster seat!

Plotting things

Obsessed with cereal

On the look out for cereal thieves

35 Month Milestones (from BabyCenter, as usual)

Mastered Skills (most kids can do)
• Describes how two objects are used – Yes, he can talk about trains and Legos all day.
• Uses three to four words in a sentence – His sentences have gotten SO much longer and more complicated (but also way more understandable) in the past week or two. Almost every day E and I look at each other in amazement and how much Evan understands and repeats.
• Names two actions (e.g., skipping, jumping) – Yes, but his favorite is “Be quite guys, I’m SLEEPING” when he is pretending to sleep.

Emerging Skills (half of kids can do)
• Hops and skips – He can hop hop hop but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him skip (or asked him to skip)
• Follows a two- or three-part command – Yes, and I am ABUSING THE CRAP out of this milestone when I need something thrown in the hamper or the trash or when Caroline needs something. He’s a great helper.
• Separates fairly easily from parents – I would have said no until last Saturday, but the morning after the babysitter put him to bed he woke up asking for her and told me to go away. So YEAH WHO NEEDS PARENTS?
• Rides a tricycle – He hasn’t tried since last summer, but I’m betting he’s going to be a cycling machine once the weather warms up.

Advanced Skills (a few kids can do)
• Balances on each foot for three seconds – I just asked him if he could do this and he picked up his foot and looked at me like I was a crazy person. DUH MOM, THIS IS FOR BABIES.
• Gets dressed without help. – He can take OFF his clothes, especially his pants and underwear when he goes potty by himself (by himself!!!!!) but he has a little trouble getting them back on.

Related posts:

A garden of sunflowers beckoned to me
Kiawah Island 2011
Kiawah 2014
Clickin' Moms
Wayfair Homemakers
Get Adobe Flash player