Welcome to my less than perfect life!

Embracing the imperfections that make my life practically perfect in every way.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Little Miss Perfect

The other day The Nugget and I were visiting with some of our best friends, my old college buddy and her four year old daughter.  We love going to their house because they have all kinds of toys that we don't have at our house and, well, an awesome four year old who is super cool.  We had a fine old time until it was time to go.

At that point, The Nugget started screaming.  And running from me.  And we started having our (recent)usual fight about getting her shoes on.  And my friend started laughing.  Quietly, not egging on The Nugget, but laughing never the less.  Between attempts to keep my head from exploding calmly redirect my child, I glanced at her.

"I'm sorry!" she said.  "I've just never seen her act like that.  I didn't know she ever did.  It's just good to know I'm not the only one this happens to!"

Huh.  Perhaps I've been giving off the wrong impression.  Have I not talked openly enough with my friends about my struggles with parenting?  Have I seriously never lost it in front of my friends?  More importantly, has The Nugget seriously never lost it in front of my friends?  Looking back, it occurred to me that she may not have.  In general, my kid is a pretty go-with-the-flow kind of a girl.  She is an introvert at heart and generally content to play by herself if shunned by others and she truley has reserved most of her melt-downs, up until recently (when the age of two and a half kicked into high gear), for when we are by ourselves.

The last thing I want to come off as is the perfect parent with the perfect kid with all of the perfect answers about how to do all of the perfect things.  Let me be clear: I have no idea what the hell I am doing.  I'm just going with my gut like most of the parents out there.  Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it wrong.  All in all, I am just hoping to avoid too many therapy bills for my child when she one day leaves the nest.

Here, in brief form, are a few of the ways things sometimes go terribly wrong between me and The Nugget:
  1. I tell her no. She screams. As loud as she can. In my face.
  2. I tell her yes. She still screams. As loud as she can. In my face. 
  3. I try to talk with her about something she wants because I don't understand what she is asking for. She becomes immediately frustrated. And screams. As loud as she can. In my face.
  4. I totally lose my composure and scream as loud as I can.  Not usually in her face, but, trust me, I can scream quite a bit louder than she can.  My throat is generally sore for several hours after one of these outbursts.
  5. I smack her.  I am not a fan of hitting kids.  I know lots of people spank and smack their kids all of the time as part of their parenting. I am not one of those people.  I hate myself after I smack her. 
  6. The Nugget smacks me.
  7. The Nugget spits at me.
  8. The Nugget flails in anger and almost smashes her melon open at the slightest insult (which may be something as simple as a nudge to get her moving in the right direction).
  9. The Nugget screams at and/or hits the dog without provocation.
  10. The Nugget refuses to follow direction of any kind.
Not all of these things happen every day.  In fact, most of them only happen every once in a while.  But they happen.  We are less than perfect.  I do feel I am doing a few things right, hopefully a lot more things right than wrong, but sometimes it all hits the fan and I lose it.  After which I often sit down and apologize to The Nugget.  And she sometimes apologizes to me.  And, like any family, we keep plugging along.

So friends, if I've ever given you the impression that I have it all together, please take that out of your minds!  The biggest thing that I do really, really well as a parent is apologize when I'm wrong.  Which is often.  And, not to leave you with another wrong impression, here are a few of the ways that things go incredibly right between me and The Nugget:
  1. She gives me kisses whenever I ask for them and, sometimes, even when I don't.
  2. She gives heart-felt apologies for bad behavior.
  3. She shares readily with other children.
  4. We rock each night and sing in the rocking chair in her room.  We've been doing it since her she came home from the hospital.
  5. We take awesome walks and explore our neighborhood together.
  6. She eats her fruits and vegetables without so much as a complaint.  She loves them.
  7. She feels safe enough with her parents that she knows she can act out and test her boundaries and that we will still love and support her.
  8. She is creative and has a great imagination and includes me in all kinds of pretend play.
  9. She enjoys helping me cook or water plants or clean or really helping me do anything at all.
  10. Every day, no matter what, we tell each other how much we love each other.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Half Birthday, Big Girl!

Today is The Nuggets half birthday.  She is two and a half today.  Two. And a half. 

*Sigh*

So, to my beautiful girl, I say:

Every time I look at you, I wonder where that tiny baby went so fast.  Here you are, this big girl who know how to do so many things herself.  This past six months, you have grown by leaps and bounds.  Your hair continues to be a bit curly, your eyes have definitely decided to be hazel and you have grown quite tall and thin.  You currently wear size 3 shirts, size 24 months pants and size 8 shoes.

Your vocabulary has soared.  Favorite word right now: familiar.  Everything looks familiar to you!  You are sweet and sassy and certainly have a hard head when it comes to things being done the way you think they should be.  You fight me lately every day when I pick you up from daycare because you want to put your shoes on YOURSELF!!!  And, usually, you can.   I just need to learn to sit back and let it take all the time it needs.  You can (mostly) dress and undress yourself.  You wear big girl underpants and are potty trained.  You sleep in a toddler bed.  When you wake in the morning, you wander in to see (usually) Daddy.  Sometimes you climb into bed and sleep a bit more with him.  Sometimes you quietly cuddle onto the pile of decorative pillows in the corner by his side of the bed.  And, sometimes, you wake up raring to go and make sure nobody gets one more second of sleep!

Your Piglet doll continues to be your best friend, but your dependence on him has lessened some in the past months.  He mostly stays up in your bed nowadays as you are so busy pursuing your many interests. Currently, these include watching one of the following cartoons: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Arthur, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Dora the Explorer, Little Einsteins or Blues Clues.  We limit these a lot, so you also enjoy puzzles, coloring, singing and dancing.  You LOVE anything that might have to do with a princess or a ballerina (though I swear I am not sure how you even know about these things) and are really into dressing up in costumes now.  You pretend to serve food to us a lot and are starting to pretend to be various characters you know.  Going to the Children's Museum is one of your favorite outings.  You love to play outside, too, and we have spent the past many months swimming, blowing bubbles, playing sidewalk chalk and going to the zoo.  You have daddy's complexion and all of that outdoor time, even with sun screen, makes you super tan!

You continue to be the absolute light of my life.  You model our supportive behavior and any time Daddy or I do something, you are bound to come out with, "Great job!  I'm proud of you!"  You love to help cook and clean as well as fix things.  You remain an introvert, more content with a few close people than a big crowd.  You do have dear friends whose very names get you excited, though.  It makes me so happy to see your relationships flourishing.  You are very sweet and caring, usually showing concern if you hear a baby cry or if you think that another child is upset.  Though the toddler part of you can be selfish, your basic nature is very sharing.

All in all, even as Daddy and I sometimes flounder at finding our way on this parenting path, you continue to march right ahead, ready for each new adventure and never afraid to lead us into the next new adventure.  I look forward to following you into all of the adventures the coming years hold!
Running to the next adventure!




Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Standoff

Hello out there!  I realize that I have been MIA for a while.  We took a week's vacation which involved extensive driving and I was so tired.  We have been home for a couple of weeks now, but I have decided that recouperating from my vacation is a viable excuse for any and all incomplete tasks going forward in my life.

I know...my life is hard.  Feel free to email any and all sympathy notes to save on postage.

Anyway, during a 19 hour trip one way and a 16 hour trip the other, I am pleased to announce that The Nugget did not have a single potty accident!  Woo hoo, people, we did it!  We have potty trained a human being in just a few short weeks.

Mostly.

We have developed this one little quirk, though.  It's what I like to refer to as "the standoff".  It might better be called "the sitoff", but who ever heard of that?

Sooooo...the two of you who read this blog know that we were having a few pooping issues with The Nugget during my last post.  Things in this area have really progressed.  She hasn't had any poop accidents that were not the fault of her incompetent parents in weeks.  I think once we relaxed about the issues she immediately sensed the release of tension and she relaxed, too.  She has, however, developed this really annoying habit of needing to visit the bathroom a MINIMUM of 3 times in a row prior to having a bowel movement.  Which lead to the following lovely evening:

The Mister, The Nugget and I had just settled in for a lovely fall meal at the Cracker Barrel.  I was enjoying my diet coke when the first plea came:  "Mommy, I have to go potty."

Okay.  I can handle this.  We haven't started eating yet, so let me get it out of the way now (because another habit The Nugget has developed is never allowing me to finish a meal.  Ever.).  I took her hand and we headed toward the bathroom.  As soon as we hit that gift shop area, though, she forgot all about the bathroom.  I took her anyway, but she sat down and jumped up as quickly as she could so she could get back to ogling all of those shiny, breakable things in the lobby.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that our meals had arrived during our trip.  As I tucked into a breakfast for dinner, the second plea came: "Mommy, wipe me!"  She has somehow decided that this term, wipe me, is the signal for going poop.  I sighed, barely digested food churning in my belly.  "Can you wait?"  I was pleased she replied in the affirmative.  At which point she waited about 30 seconds before pleading, "Mommy, I need to go poop!"

Off we headed to the bathroom.  At this point I am fairly confident that she really has to go and is not just seeking a chance to see the gift shop again as she is doing the dance.  Also, The Mister had been texting me all day from the place where he and The Nugget were getting our car repaired: "We've been to the bathroom 4 times at 20 minutes each and NOTHING!"  and "they are calling our name over the speaker and where are we?  In the bathroom accomplishing nothing!"

*Sigh*

Once on the potty, I started to tell her a story.  This is my technique for helping her to relax; otherwise, she jumps on and off the potty about 37 times during each visit.  Not two lines into my story and we had acheived success!  Hands were washed, celbratory high fives were exchanged and we were back to dinner.

Except.

"Mommy, I need to go poopy!"

Seriously?  We just went.  She usually only goes once every 1-2 days.  Why?  WHY CAN'T I JUST FINISH MY FREAKING MEAL?

"Can you please just wait a minute?"  In my head I am trying to figure out if this is that new toddler behavior wherein the newly potty trained child just wants a break from a boring activitiy and knows potty visits are a sure-fire way to get one or if she really needs to go.

"Noooooooo...."

"You need to wait a minute.  Let mommy finish her supper and we will go to the potty after that."

Needless to say, this was my big mistake.  I have always parented based on the premise that my kid knows what she needs.  I have from birth thought that she would know things like when she was hungry, when she was tired and, yes, when she needed to go to the bathroom.  That approach has never led me wrong.  When I followed it.

Soon she was dancing and grabbing her bum and I heaved a sigh and took a last sip of my beloved cold beverage before, once again, heading off to the potty.  It wasn't long before I realized we were about to be in a desperate situation.  I picked her up and raced across the resturant.  We got in the stall and I quickly pulled down her pants to sit her on the potty.  At which point I got a hand full of soft, warm poo.

The Nugget immediately reached down to see what was going on.  Now there was poo on my hand, poo on her hands and poo on her legs.  Picking her up with my wrists, I put her up on the potty (so now there was poop on there, too).  And I stood and looked at her.

Remain calm.  Remain calm.  Remain calm.

Wishing I had brought my cell phone so I could at least call The Mister and hiss out, "figure out how to help me!", I finally decided I had no choice but to open the door and get some paper towels.

"Do. Not. Move." I threated said to The Nugget.

I rushed to the sink, turning on the water (with my wrists, people) and scrubbing my hands.  Thank goodness the bathroom was not busy!  I snatched up some paper towels, wet some and rushed back into the stall.  I began wiping the poo from hands and legs.  I took off shoes and pants and really yucky underpants.  Looking around, I decided attempts to salvage the undies were unwaranted and stuffed them into the feminine waste basket (you're welcome, C.B. employee!).  I wiped what I could from her pants and, not knowing what else to do, pulled them back on (the poo was contained to the interior of the pants, people!).  At which point we rushed to the sink and washed our hands until our skin peeled back to the bone.

I took her bony, clean hand in mine and walked back to the table where The Mister sat digesting his meal.  I noticed that he had let them take my only partially eaten meal away.  Not that I had any intention of eating the rest, but, seriously?

"Dinner's over.  We need to leave.  Now."  I left no room for discussion.  We marched straight to the lobby to pay and then drove home at warp speed where I ran up the stairs and stuck my kid into a hot, soapy bath.  I acknowledged to The Mister that this accident was really our fault for not listening to her when she told us what she needed.  I patted myself on the back for entering uncharted parenting territory and remaining (largely) calm and coming out (relatively) unscathed.

And, as with every standoff we have, I was relieved that it was over. 

For today.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cold Turkey

I looked up the term cold turkey once I started writing this post.  After all, it's a phrase I have been using for years and I have no real idea about its origin.  What's so bad about cold turkey that it got associated with withdrawing from something?  There seems to be a fair amount of speculation about why the phrase gets used, but I like the explanation that the look of a whole, cold turkey is all sweaty and goose-bumpy:


Oh.  Well.  When you think of it like that, I guess it makes sense.  Because I certainly felt all sweaty and goose-bumpy just like that turkey when I started thinking about potty training The Nugget.  Just like a heroin addict, I kept coming up with new dates and new reasons to prolong the process of using my drug of choice (in this case, diapers). 

"We'll just use up this last box and then we're going for it!"  But once that box was gone, we still had night-time diapers left.

"I'm just going to buy a small pack of diapers and then even out the boxes.  Because I don't want to waste the night-time diapers."

"We have plans every weekend coming up, so I had better buy some more diapers because we don't have a a weekend to dedicate to this project."

Until, finally, I realized that I would be on a lifting restriction in less than a month.  And my nearly two and a half year old still sleeps in a crib which I have to lift her into every night.  And she is changed several times a day on a changing table onto which I have to lift her.  Suddenly, reality set in.  My baby was no longer a baby anymore.  And it was time to tackle the potty training.

I announced my plans to friends and family.  Many exclaimed, "Oh, you're going cold turkey?  You're brave!"  This because we did not plan to use any sort of pull-up in the daytime OR in the night.  "My four year old still wears pull-ups at night!"  Of course, hearing other moms be so nervous about this plan did put some skepticism into my mind,  but we soldiered onward.

I knew from reading that it was important to set aside several days to stay home and focus on the task at hand.  We began our process bright and early on a Saturday morning.  When she rose from her crib, I jubiliantly informed her that from now on she wears big girl underpants!  She will no longer wear diapers!  She was also very excited because we have owned the underwearpants (her word) for some time (due to my repeated postponement of training) and she had been eyeing all of the pretty designs.

Warning: from this point forward we will talk more about fecal matter than you ever wanted to.  Ever.

Day one:  We pooped!  On the potty!  And only had one or two daytime accidents and only one nighttime accident.  She's awesome!  We'll be fine!  Why have I been putting this off so long?

Day two: We peed.  Everywhere.  Frequently.  Why do I have to do this?  Why do YOU have to do THAT?  On the couch?  Must resist urge to return to diapers.

Day three:  It's a miracle!  She is perfectly potty trained and will never have an accident again!!!  Our chld is a genius, we are the best parents ever.  The end.

Well, sort of.  Except...well, the poop.  Since day one, we have had zero night-time accidents (I was fully prepared that I would have at least several days of getting up multiple times per night to change the sheets).  We have had only MINIMAL potty accidents, and that was usually because of a missed signal on our part.  She has not been averse to stopping play in order to hit the potty.  But she has developed some kind of pooping on the potty phobia.

Now, any time she needs to poop, she starts grabbing her bum and doing the poop dance.  I ask, "do you need to go poopy?"  I am met with the adamant, "NOOOOOOOOOO!"  This can literally go on for days.  If I can get her to relax enough to just SIT on the potty, she can usually go.  But, as the days go on, she is less relaxed and more stressed about pooping in the potty.

We tried to meet her stress with lots of excitement about pooping! in! the! potty!  We have made long lists of all of the people and animals who also poop.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends, pets - they all go poop!  We have sung songs about pooping.  We have shown her our poop in the potty (look, you do what you gotta do).  All of our exhuberance has only led to MORE anxiety about the poop.

*Sigh*

So we have decided to drop the discussion about poop for now.  She is staying in big girl underwearpants.  If we ask her if she needs to go potty and she says no, we will accept her answer.  If she poops in her pants, we will stick with our original plan, which is to say cheerfully, "accidents happen, but next time you need to try and go to the potty."  If she actually does manage to poop in the potty, then we will give her a sucker.  I am reassured by the fact that I have heard from many of my friends and read online that many other kids struggle with this issue and that it basically just takes time to get better.

But we're more than halfway there, in my opinion.  No wet sheets?  No wet underwearpants?  I'm calling it success!

And that's what you call cold turkey!