Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Purple Dinosaur in the Room

I have never liked Barney. Even before I was a mom, the sound of Barney and his rag-tag band of scarily cheerful children annoyed me. I always said that MY kids would never watch Barney. I am sure I am not alone in these feelings of dislike for the big purple dinosaur. But, today I was faced with a new cable system of which I am unfamiliar and a tot having a meltdown every time I tried to leave the room to put my makeup on. As we were pressed for time, I scanned the guide hastily and switched to the first children's programming I could find which, of course, happened to be "Barney and Friends" Lo and behold, Ben was soothed by the singing of a large green Triceratops and I was able to finish getting ready. Perhaps he will develop more discerning tastes in his later years. It's all about compromise anyway, right?

I should also add here that I recently happened upon some article about toddlers and television (yes, I need to stay away from Google) and was informed that toddlers should not watch more than 15 minutes of television a day. In the midst of patting myself on the back because we rarely turn the television on when Ben is in the room, I remembered that the television is my primary occupier when we are getting ready to go out somewhere. And that it takes me um, well, a bit longer than 15 minutes to get ready. In fact, probably closer to 45 minutes if we are including a shower in that process. Drat! There goes my "Mother of the Year" award. It's no wonder Ben can recognize Elmo so easily. Well, at least Sesame Street is educational, right? And, I guess if we are being fair, so is Barney. Educational yes, but still like nails on a chalkboard!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monster Momma

Last night, while giving my son a bath, something terrible happened. I had told him to sit down for about the 800th time and he continued to insist on standing up in the slippery tub. In retrospect, this makes sense. He's just started walking and we are always cheering him on, so why should standing up in this venue be any different than when he does it in his crib or in the living room, right? But it had been a long day of laundry, errands, nap refusal and teething some molars. I was tired. My in-laws had left and that left me doing most of the heavy lifting. I lost it. I screamed at my son to sit down. It was so loud and terrible. I scared him. I scared myself. His little face crumpled and the tears started pouring. My husband came rushing in and offered to take over, which should have been appreciated but instead ended up feeling more like salt in the already gaping wound. I felt terrible. I kept trying to hug his slippery body and calm him down saying "I am sorry, buddy. I am so so sorry." over and over again. He finally calmed down and we were able to finish his bath. By the end of the evening, he was laughing again and seemed perfectly fine but I had a pit in my stomach. I put him in his jammies, read his story, gave him a bottle and rocked him. Thankfully, he was snuggled up on me and couldn't see the tears streaming down my face. I am so ashamed for scaring him. I never wanted to be the sort of parent who loses their temper or terrorizes their child in to obedience. I had the most difficult time falling asleep, the image of his sad, scared face was burned in my brain. Even now, sharing my shame with the blogosphere, my stomach is clenched at the memory.

But, today the sun is shining and my son is too. He doesn't appear to have any lasting damage from my temper tantrum and, with any luck, he has forgotten it. But I won't. I am finding that the hardest thing for me as a parent is letting those mistakes go instead of carrying them around and reliving them over and over and over again. My only hope is that by remembering how horrible I felt, I will have more control the next time my son throws his peas on the floor, refuses his nap, jumps up and down in the tub, or any number of other frustrating habits I have yet to witness but can only be right around the corner.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where does the time go?

My in-laws have been staying with us these past couple of weeks. My husband had to undergo a hernia repair and they have come to help us around the house and assist me with taking care of our tot. I am grateful to have the help but surprised that with two extra adults in the house, I somehow have less free time than before. I think it's because I would normally have some down time during the tot's naps when I could check my email, read a book, catch up on my shows, blog, etc. and now I actually have folks to entertain instead. Picking up my laptop mid-conversation and typing seems rude. Therefore, I am woefully behind on everything.

On the brighter side of life, the little tot has started walking. He has taken as many as six steps at a time without any support. This is both bitter and sweet for his momma who is so proud of him but sad to see the "baby stage" going by the wayside. Even now, when he is playing, I can see the little boy he is becoming and catch just glimpses of the tiny baby that he was not so long ago. I had no idea when I used to fantasize about becoming a mother that it was possible for something to be so amazing and heart wrenching at the exact same time.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A different perspective...

Just a few random things that have been floating around my head in the last day or so...

"V" is back on. And really it's just as creepy and squirm-inducing as it was in the 80's. I shouldn't know that since in the 80's I was WAY too young to be watching it. I know this because there was a scene where a woman ate a bird that I couldn't get out of my head for years. Likewise, there was a scene where a young girl was scratching her arm and ended up scratching her skin off to reveal the reptile underneath! For months I was afraid to scratch my arms. I don't think my parents were neglectful exactly, just much more lax about what children should or shouldn't see. The irony for me is that I remember friends not being allowed to watch anything other than "G" rated movies and mocking them for it. I remember one friend in particular whose mother was very focused on showing her only educational shows and would only let her own educational toys. As her peers, we gave her a very hard time about it. But now, her mother is my role model!

Likewise, yesterday in my mom's bible study, they were discussing student driving when I came back from the restroom. I am not sure how the topic came up, but I caught the tail end when the mothers of the high schoolers were lamenting that teenagers who are new drivers are struggling to learn and so they are slower on the roads and their reaction times are slower. One mom said she had a sign to put on the back of the car that said "Student Driver" and the other moms all agreed and wished they had signs also to warn other drivers to be patient with their kids. With guilt, I remembered my own mother making me the very same laminated sign and insisting we use it whenever we practiced driving. I hated it, but I know I will be making the very same sign in 15 years.

In the same bible study, the discussion of Prom came up as one of the local high schools had done the "Mock accident" to remind students of the dangers of drinking and driving. Many of the moms were stating they thought it was a good demonstration and wished all of the high schools would do something similar. I explained that our high school had done the same demonstration for Homecoming, but not Prom as we were not allowed to drive to the prom. We had to meet at the school and take school buses to the prom and post prom. As a teenager, this was extremely irritating to me. Particularly when spending a couple of hundred dollars on a dress, shoes, hair and make-up only to be loaded in to a school bus. As a parent, I am hoping there will be similar safe guards in place when it is my child's turn to experience the teenage ritual.

Clearly the old adage "you will understand when you are a parent" continues to ring true.

Monday, April 5, 2010

By the book

True confession: I own several books on parenting. They are really mostly books on sleeping. How to get your child to sleep, how to get them to stay asleep, how to get them to nap, when naps are too long/short, etc. Hence the name of this blog, I guess. I acquired these books shortly after we came home from the hospital. Those first few weeks were smooth sailing but right about the time our boy was 5 or 6 weeks old, he forgot how to sleep. And he cried. And cried. And cried. And, of course, this was during the time that my in-laws were in town visiting the new baby. I can't begin to describe the level of anxiety I was experiencing at any given point in my day. Let me also just say that my in-laws are actually very nice people, but nothing adds to that feeling of incompetent parenting more than having it witnessed by someone else whose been there and done it successfully. So my husband stopped on his way home from work on a couple of occasions to pick up the necessary instruction manuals for how to encourage our infant to find his way back to Slumberville. Unfortunately, I am also one of those people who has a problem with TOO much information. I would read one book and feel settled on a plan of action to soothe my child and then read something else and think "No, that's not right. This must be it." and in the end, I was running in circles like a dog chasing it's tail. This is also the reason I try to stay away from Google and avoid browsing the internet for all sorts of random parenting issues from eating to napping to walking, etc. In any case, the problem with our offspring ended up being not related to sleep at all but actually acid reflux. Once he had some baby Zantac, things started to calm down. As much as they can anyway.

I must also confess here and now that we did do sleep training with him when he was older. It was one of the tougher things I have ever had to do, but I do believe that it helped him sleep better at night and he does go to bed without a fight typically. *knocks wood* And no, I am not advocating it for everyone because it was super hard and if there are other ways to deal with a cranky kid that are more comfortable for parents, I say "Go for it!" In any case, we have recently begun that transition from two naps to one. The dreaded "yuck zone" as one book calls it. Where two naps is almost too much and one nap is not quite enough. This is also a transition that our pediatrician said wouldn't happen for a few more months. Which has caused all sorts of doubt and anxiety in me wondering if this new desire to sleep only once per day for a huge chunk of time is more related to a schedule issue than actually being physiologically ready to only have one nap. So, I have started hitting the books again. And Google. And it's hard to stop. What I have found is that most resources agree with my MD but also that every baby is different. I have also read that when a baby is over-tired they throw more tantrums, which might explain why World War III occurs whenever the tot is denied something. Oddly, that makes me feel better that my child isn't turning in to a brat but is really probably just tired a lot of the time. So, that's a relief.

But it's also somewhat disappointing for me. I wish I had more confidence in myself as a parent. I would love to be the mom who just knows "That's not my kid" when the doctor, friend, grandma, reference material, etc. says that your baby should be doing "x" by the age of "y". But, typically, I am not. Especially when the information comes from an authority figure or (for some reason) a book. I don't know why that is. Any yahoo can write a book, right? In fact, there are thousands of parenting books out there with thousands of different ideas and suggestions for raising a kid. So, it really is silly for me to give any one idea any more weight just because it's in print, right? I wonder if parental confidence is something you develop as time goes on. Or is it something that you just have or don't have? If you tend to be a more confident person does that make you more confident in your parenting? I wonder if there is a book about this...maybe I will Google it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's Day

In honor of April Fool's Day, a few silly observations:

1) I have noticed that Toodles from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is beckoned with a special call: "Oh Toodles!" when Mickey needs a tool. But when Mickey needs a map, Toodles is summoned with a completely different tune. My husband says that Toodles has poor usability.

2)Our son now says "Dada", "Uh-oh", and something that sounds like "Thank you". His latest accomplishment is to say "Ella" which is really more like "Ya-Ya" when calling to our cat. Actually, he calls Hobbes "Ya-Ya" too. But, of course, he has yet to attempt "Ma-Ma".

3) Why is it that it takes myself or any other adult in the house several minutes to use our "universal remote" to turn on the tv but my 1 year-old can not only turn it on in the time it takes me to turn my head, he is also extremely skilled at reprogramming it to the point that it is unusable by anyone else?!!

Happy April Fool's Day! We are going out to enjoy the warm spring day and see just how far we can walk before Ben decides he is exhausted from the strenuous physical activity of riding in the stroller!