Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Begging and pleading

Every night when dinner is made, I try to make sure that Ben's plate has a little bit of everything. A protein, a fruit, a vegetable, and a glass of milk. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to prevent scurvy, that seems to be the track we are on. He turns his nose up at every vegetable presented (unless it's mashed potatoes - doesn't count!) and most entrĂ©es. When it comes to lunch/dinner type meals he eats a very select number of items: chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, cream cheese and jelly sandwiches, and plain noodles. His side selections aren't much better, I am afraid. He will eat most fruits, french fries, applesauce, yogurt, and cheese. He also refuses to eat anything sticky or messy and will become irate if he gets dirty, demanding "clean! clean!" until he is properly sanitized.

I have discussed this with my pediatrician and she assures me that this is normal for a two year-old. She explained that we shouldn't be too anxious about it and that he will eat better as he gets older. I am sure this is very sound advice, but it doesn't stop me from trying all manner of begging, bribing, cajoling, and threatening to try to get a bite of something healthy across those lips.

Last night, I served broccoli with cheese sauce, sure that the cheese would add the necessary enticement to the broccoli. Nothing doing. So we broke out the big guns and started talking about dessert. There were cookies offered. And then ice cream. Still no bite. The rule in our house has become two bites of everything if you want an "after dinner treat". I find myself frequently saying "at least have a 'no thank-you' bite" and "how do you know you don't like it if you don't try it". I have even trotted out "we are not going to throw all this food away, there are people in this world who don't have any food at all" without the smallest hint of irony. Still nothing. Finally, I insisted that he eat one bite before getting down from the table and everything blew up. There was kicking and screaming and sobbing. There were sad pathetic looks from my husband and, finally, I gave in and let him escape the torture that has become our dinner table.

My husband got up to clear the table and all the while we were having a debate about how to encourage eating without incurring trauma. Meanwhile, Ben had run over to the pantry and was begging "Goldfish! Goldfish!" Already at my wits end I responded VERY firmly "Oh no! If you want goldfish then you are going to eat two bites of broccoli!" He ran right over to me, climbed in my lap and proceeded to eat both forkfuls offered. No further persuasion necessary. Obviously, he knows who is in control. And it's not me.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Equality not equivalence

My husband and I sometimes get in to the cyclical, pointless debate of "who does more". Who does more for Ben? Who does more around the house? Who works harder during the day? Who changes more diapers? I could go on and on. I have no idea where this competitive streak comes from, but one thing my husband says frequently in these arguments (especially when he's on the losing side) is "It's about equality not equivalence". Or maybe I have that in reverse. Anyway, his point is that it doesn't matter who does which thing more because we are both doing a lot. Usually when he says it, I feel like smacking him. Because of course it matters! How could it not matter? (Especially if I am the one doing more!) But in the end, I know he is right. We are partners and we share the load.

I find myself thinking about equivalence more and more these days now that there is another baby on the way. I have never had a sibling and I have heard all of the stories about how the 1st baby seems to get more attention. More photographs, more clothes, more time, etc. I am embarrassed to say that I am worried that it is true. When I first found out we were having another baby, my initial reaction (following my elation) was concern for Ben. Would he feel pushed out? Ignored? Neglected? Would he think we didn't love him anymore? I vowed to make a conscious effort that it wouldn't happen. (Well, as much as I reasonably could, of course).

Just a few days ago, I found myself on the flip side of the problem when I realized I hadn't started a pregnancy journal. In fact, I didn't even have one. With Ben, I had a journal saved up for years in anticipation. In fact, it was an autographed Anne Geddes journal that we purchased when she was doing a signing at her store with the idea that we would need it in the very near future. (Needless to say, it ended up being the very far future). So, I was dismayed to realize I hadn't started this journal yet and moreover, I hadn't even thought to buy one.

This is just one of a few examples where I realized that this baby might not be getting the full 5-star treatment. So then I began to worry about how to make that happen. Obviously, I can't go back and track down Anne Geddes for another autograph. Likewise, the new baby will be moving in to the already decorated and painted nursery. The nursery has Classic Pooh murals painted all over the walls and I'd sooner cut off my own hand than paint over it. And of course, there are the necessary hand-me-downs. Whether or not we have another boy, this baby will still use the same car seat, stroller, play mat, pack-n-play and bouncer seat that his/her older brother used. He/she will also likely still wear some of the same clothes in spite of gender differences and seasonal issues (I am just itching to pull out the Carter ducky pajamas! In 3 different sizes!)

So we come back to equality. Or is it equivalence? Whichever. In any case, there will always be certain things that Ben has/gets that the other one has to miss out on or times that the baby gets the old worn book/toy/outfit while Ben has something shiny and new. Obviously there will also be times where the new baby will be vacuuming up every iota of my attention span due to the highly demanding needs of a newborn and Ben will feel left out. In both cases, it will be my job to try to maintain a balance between the two of them and to try to be understanding and empathetic to them both when they are struggling with it. (Because let's face it - I do the lion's share of the work around here!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Parenting by the seat of my pants

Sometimes I have no idea what I am doing. I find myself up to my elbows in dishwater, scrubbing last night's pots and pans while Ben is pitching a fit behind me because he wants another graham cracker. I am trying to explain that lunch is in 10 minutes and he doesn't need another snack but am pretty sure he can't hear me over his own wails of the injustice of it all. Right when I start wondering if I should just give in and give him another cracker, I start to think "What would Super Nanny say?" Yes, it's true. I defer to Jo Frost. Or the version of her in my head, anyway. I can just imagine her giving me a disapproving look for reinforcing my toddler's bad behavior. So I keep on scrubbing.

Most of what I know of parenting, I have learned from books, blogs, my pediatrician and instinct. (Okay, and maybe some Super Nanny episodes.) I didn't have what some would call an ideal childhood and so I don't have a lot of behavior to model myself after. Unfortunately, this leaves me with a lot of insecurity and anxiety about knowing whether I am doing the right thing in many situations.

For example, when we are getting ready to go outside and he starts pitching a fit on the floor because "Dear God, Woman! I need to go out right this minute and not 10 minutes from now! How dare you make me wait for you to put on shoes!" do we still go out? Or is that reinforcing naughty behavior? Also, if you find the temper tantrum to be hilarious, is it incredibly damaging to let out a huge guffaw or better to just hide your smile behind your magazine? When your child refuses to eat ANYTHING on his plate, is it okay to send him to bed hungry? Do you let him see you cry while you are doing it?

These are just some of the moral dilemmas that I face while parenting my two year old. The thing is, no matter how many episodes of Super Nanny I watch, or how many books I read, I often still feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants and going mainly on my instincts. Because in the end, it all comes down to what I can live with and what feels right for our family and our house. All I can do is pray for guidance and hope we are making good choices so that one day, our son will be able to look back to his childhood as an example when parenting his own children. Preferably as an example of what to do rather than what not to do.

Monday, March 21, 2011


In all of the party fervor and guest entertaining that lasted weeks, I have had no opportunities to blog. Finally, the last piece of cake has been eaten, the last present has been unwrapped, the guests have packed up and returned to their respective homes and the house is quiet again. As quiet as it can be with a toddler in residence anyway. In all of the hullaballoo, I didn't get much chance to take stock and reflect on my tiny baby all grown in to a giant toddler. He has changed so much since I brought him home from the hospital and since I started this blog a year ago.

Benjamin is two. He can do so many new things. He talks up a storm and I can even understand a majority of what he says. He is very good at expressing his desires and equally good and letting me know when he disagrees with the plan of action. He can play independently by himself but sharing is still a tough concept. He can feed himself with a fork or spoon about 1/2 the time - depending on the food. He can follow two step directions and is excellent at ignoring any audible command (clearly a skill all children must master). Ben is able to go up and down the stairs all by himself - even though momma still hovers worriedly behind him every time. He is very adept at getting in to mischief and then doing some amazingly adorable thing to diffuse the situation (just like his dad). He is also an incredible mimic and remembers so many things. When he wakes from his nap, he tells me what I promised we would do next whether it's watch "Cars" or read a book. He has become more and more independent and frequently says "I do it myself" in reference to so many things. Both those he can do and those he can't. I love watching him master something new. I love how excited he gets about going outside to play or about going for a ride in the car. I love his sense of humor. Most of all, I love that I get to spend every day watching him grow.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

So tired...

I feel like I could use a nap and it's not even 10 am. I can't tell if it's the new "hitchhiker" wearing me out or the crazy toddler who wakes up talking at 4:30 in the morning. Or maybe it's the stress of trying to get this house cleaned and decorated for a birthday party this weekend with about 30 guests. Who can say?

We played in the playroom some this morning and I tried surreptitiously to turn one of the larger stuffed animals on the floor into my pillow. I laid there watching Ben run and play with this toy and that toy, chattering up a storm. It was so comfy on the floor and I was so sleepy. I may have dozed off here and there, only to be woken by a little face directly in front of mine yelling "AWAKE!" and cackling with laughter. Not very restful, I must say. It looks like today's nap time may be a family event.

Yesterday was our first OB appointment for Baby #2. I love my obstetrician and she is so patient about answering all of our questions. Not that we had many this time around. We mostly just chatted about this and that. She then said we would have a quick scan (translation: sonogram!) before we left. Hooray! It's very  early for a sonogram, but I think we did the same with Ben because of the infertility treatments. It must be precautionary. Either way, who cares?! I got to see the baby yesterday AND hear the heartbeat. He/She is so very small. It's hard to believe that this tiny fuzzy speck will become a small person and then eventually a much larger, louder toddler person who will prevent me from napping. I'll post a picture later. For now, I think I might just lie my head on this pillow for a minute and....zzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Bigger Picture: Comfort When I Least Expect It

Simple BPM

I almost didn't get the phone when it rang yesterday. It had been a long couple of days and I was tired. The husband has been out of town on business this week and so I had been going it alone on the parenting front. For whatever reason (maybe because he missed his dad) Ben had been particularly fractious the last couple of days. In fact, the day before we had had a few incidents of disobedience that I had not coped with well. The last of which being his refusal to stop playing so we could read our story and go to bed. Which resulted in me saying (almost without thinking) "If you don't get over here right now, we are not going to have a story at all" and of course, he didn't. So we didn't have a story. (yes, I know, I KNOW. I can't help it, sometimes my mouth works faster than my brain) I turned the lights off and we rocked and the whole time he was asking for his book, I was trying not to cry because I felt so horrible for disrupting his bedtime routine but knowing  that I had to carry through with the consequences. When I put him in his crib and said "good night" he realized that no story was happening and he started to cry hard. Of course, I also had to go and cry (all by myself).

I missed my husband and I felt like a horrible mother. We did finally get to talk about it on the phone when he called later and he was very supportive. He said all the right things about how I wasn't a bad mom and that toddlers are tough. But he also mentioned that we might not want to disrupt his bedtime routine as a punishment (duh).

I didn't sleep well that night and so when my phone was ringing on Wednesday morning, I was sitting holding a cup of decaf in a sort of daze and had no intention of getting up. Until I saw the number was my in-laws. I felt I had to answer at that point out of obligation if nothing else. My mother-in-law and I don't have a bad relationship by any means, but we are not what I would call "close". We get along just fine but we don't seek each other out as a general rule. We end up being on different sides of the coin when it comes to a lot of issues so I think we have both come to a place of polite disagreement on many things.

In any case, she had called just to see how I was faring on my own and we were both making small talk about our weeks. I was just thinking that I had NO intention of telling her about the previous day's struggles (because I already worry that she secretly doubts my mothering skills) when I heard it just tumble out of my mouth. I told the whole story about losing my temper and taking away the bedtime story. And then I waited with a bit of anxiety to see if she would tell me I was too harsh. Too authoritarian. Too mean to the little grandson who she loves more than anything. She didn't. She told me I had done the right thing. She told me that all kids need discipline and boundaries and that they need to understand their behavior has consequences. She didn't tell me that I shouldn't disrupt his bedtime or that I need to be careful about issuing ultimatums that were hard to back up. She sympathized with how hard it was to discipline a toddler. I felt a big "woosh" of relief come over me. I suddenly felt a 1,000 times better. Sometimes all it takes is another mom who "gets it" and still tells you that you are doing a good job. I was so glad I answered the phone.

Please join Hyacynth at Undercover Mother and share your own Bigger Picture Moment!