Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's in a Cry? {All Parents are Bi-Lingual}

It's 5:34 a.m. and the cry peels through the monitor. After nearly two years of the midnight call, I don't exactly startle out of bed. I slowly blink away sleep, but my body weighs heavy on my mattress. I lay there for a moment listening to the sound of my crying son and then whisper, "Baby? What do I do?"
It's decision making time.
You see, my son has essentially two different midnight cries. One sounds like, "WAAAAaaa..AAAaaaahh.... WAaaahh...... waaah.... wa......," which translates roughly to, "HEY! I woke up alone! I guess that's normal, but I don't really like it.... Mom?... Hello?... ZZzzzzzzzzzzzz." The second type of cry sounds more like, "WaaaaEEEHHHH! WaEH! WA! WA! WaaaaaEEEHHHH!" and means essentially, "Something is wrong! (Examples: "My teeth hurt!" or "I'm cold!") And I'm not going back to sleep until it's fixed!"
It is up to us, The Toddler Translation Division - otherwise known as "parents" - to decipher the sounds and proceed accordingly. Is he in pain or just protesting? Should we give it a moment or go check on him? He may fall back asleep... Should we try a bottle? Does he need medicine?
And then there are nights like last night, which present their own unique challenge. Our toddler may choose to practice his range of expressive abilities, resulting in something like this: "WAAAAaaaa....... WaEH!... WAAaaaaa... WAAaaaa... WaEH! WaEH!" Our best intelligence at this point understands this to mean, "I woke up alone! Oh, and my teeth hurt, now that I think about it. OWIE! But I am really tired... maybe I'll go back to sleep... NO! This hurts!! I don't like it! FIX. IT. NOW!! But I am really tired...."
In such a case, choosing the proper course of action becomes a matter of blind chance. Was that "tired"...? or "wired"...? If you take the time to fumble around for your pajamas, stumble upstairs and prepare a bottle, he very well may have chosen sleep by the time you reach his door. If, on the other hand, you choose to let him sort it out on his own, this could last all night. In which case, no one is getting any sleep. It's roulette. 50/50. Red or black. Dumb luck.
Last night, I chose to fumble and stumble. I bet a trip upstairs and ten minutes in the rocking chair that my son really did want to sleep. I won. The payout: me and my bed for three more hours.
Being bi-lingual is good, but being lucky is awesome.
That was two nights ago. In the small hours of this morning, my husband was not so lucky. Sorry, honey.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Boldly Going Where a Big Boy Goes

I know these aren't the highest quality images. Sorry about that. But all I had at the park was my phone, so they will have to do. Because it was too cute not to share.
My son was in an adventuring sort of mood during our park outing the other afternoon. He went in and on and through everything he could reach, and surprised Mommy a few times with just how far that could take him.
I looked down at my phone for just a moment, and looked up to find that my son had climbed up the metal stairs on the big kid playground equipment. Whoa. I didn't know he could - or would - do that. This is the kid that still wants to hold my hand when we walk down the front steps. Needless to say, I kept my eyes peeled on him from then on. I try hard to adopt the motto of "letting boys be boys." Or letting kids be kids, for that matter. Yes, he will fall sometimes. Yes, he will get hurt. But that's life. That's how we learn. But that doesn't mean I don't have a natural tendency to panic. So I talked to him about how big and strong he was and smiled at him and clapped for him, every bit as much to calm myself as to encourage him. He managed to catch me by surprise one more time when he quickly and confidently walked over to the big boy slide and slid down. My heart jumped into my throat as my arms instinctively reached toward him. I pictured him face planting into the gravel at the bottom, but thankfully there were no injuries. I was sure he was gonna be freaked out by how fast and how far he went, but there were no tears. He loved it. He laughed and ran straight back to those big, metal stairs. These pictures are from round two. There was also a round three, and four, and five...
After he finally tired of the slide, he decided to explore the park a bit more. I ran around after him as he discovered hidden corners behind bushes and under picnic tables. And then we found the big puddle. My little boy lit up as he stomped through that thing, soaking his jeans with his big splashes. What glorious fun.
We ended our outing on the swings, a nice lazy way to round out a neighborhood adventure. Don't you just love his relaxed and calm manor in this picture? Such a big boy, just gazing at the sky...
I'm such a sucker for this kid.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Everybody Needs a Break

My brother got married two weeks ago today. Crazy.
But that's not really what this post is about. (Though I should tell you about it! It was epic.) It's about the break we took on our drive out to Oregon for the wedding.
My son really did a fabulous job on our 13 hour road trip. Very few complaints. But at one point in the afternoon, you could tell how desperately he wanted out of that chair and to move around. Honestly, don't we all on road trips? We adults just suffer through, but a baby in the car means everyone gets what they want because the baby was smart enough to insist on it.
We spotted a park along the river in Kennewick, WA and it seemed like a good place to stop and stretch our legs. In fact, it was the perfect place to stop. It had one of those little water parks intended for smaller kids. A pad of concrete and a few fountains is all it takes to entertain a toddler.
I wasn't sure if Drake would be interested - he's been a little wary of water at times, and it did take him a while to warm up to it - but it wasn't long before he was sopping wet and happy.
Baba was the only one who could convince him to leave. He sure loves his Baba.
Afterwards, Drake decided it was his turn to drive.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Appropriate Consequences

 Drake is beginning to explore his boundaries. Naturally. But geez. This momma does not feel ready for it. And I'm really debating with myself on the right way to deal with it.
I was spanked when I was a kid. Don't freak out. I have great parents and they were always very deliberate and calm about the way they disciplined us. I was not "beat." I was told why I was in trouble, and then given two or three swift swats on the butt. And I survived just fine. Some would say great. I was a pretty good kid and an un-rebellious teenager. I have no violent history and I still have a great relationship with my parents. Same is true of both my brother and sister.
I always assumed I would follow suit when it came to raising my own children. Sometimes it's necessary. The only way to get through to a child, right?
But then I read this article about American children and it really resonated with me. They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. And I see it in my son. He is smart. He understands what I'm saying to him.
I also read this article about toddler discipline, and the idea that any of my children might learn to associate love and pain horrified me.
I had spanked Drake once already when I read that article and it felt horrible. He was throwing a fit and I swatted him once on the upper thigh, and instantly regretted it. The look in his eyes..."Why did you hurt me?!" absolutely slayed me. I scooped him up and rocked him and said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry" over and over. I'm sure the whole thing confused him more than anything. I think I've pretty officially decided I don't want to do that again.
But what do I do instead? The notes from our last well child checkup at the pediatrician said to try not to use words like "no" and "don't" and instead tell them what you do want them to do.
So when Drake started throwing all of his cheerios off of his high chair this morning, I started by saying, "Drake, I want you to leave your cheerios on your tray." I repeated that twice after a few more landed on the floor, him looking at me all the while.
Since that wasn't working, I tried a stern voice. "Drake, I'm serious. Leave your cheerios on your tray." One more cheerio gets slowly pushed off the tray, eyes locked with me.
I stood up with the thought in my head that I was going to swat his hand, but within the few steps it took to get to his chair, I had reminded myself that I didn't want to do that. I was mentally fumbling for what I needed to do instead. Take him out of his chair. Turn off his cartoons (he could care less). By the time I set him on the floor, I decided he needed to help me pick up the cheerios. I explained to him what I wanted him to do (he has helped me pick up before) and he did it, for a second. He picked up 5 or 6 before he decided he still wanted to eat them and started shoving them in his mouth. Then he found a toy that was exciting and ran away giggling. I tried to call him back, but knew if I forced it I would be guaranteeing a fit. So I let him go.
I'm not sure if I won or lost today. Maybe that doesn't matter. But surely he's supposed to learn something, and I'm not convinced that even happened. sigh
I would love any thoughts or advice from other mothers, but please, be kind.

*Note: this is obviously not a current picture. It's from exactly one year ago. Do you ever decide to just click through random picture folders on your computer? I did that this morning and found this. I thought it was appropriate to the topic.