September 22, 2011 § 2 Comments
One of my biggest fears as a mother has been having grown-ups, who are professionals, force my kids to do as they’re told. Telling my kid that “they’re fine” when they’re hurt and assuring them “there’s nothing to be afraid of” when they’re having a panic attack are among the lines I’ve heard. One of my all time favorites was having a health professional tell one of my kids, “you won’t get a toy unless you stop crying”. I quickly turned to my kid, a very young toddler at the time, and said (in Spanish), “they’re giving you the toy even if you keep crying… it’s okay if you cry”.
My kids are the kind that know quickly whether the grown-up they’re dealing with is being sincere or whether they just want them to perform in a certain way. In some cases, this adult manipulation is fine (yeah, no one is gonna give an adult a time-out for manipulating a kid, right!?). We manipulate at all ages. I don’t think that’s the part that bothers me.
The fact that the pediatric dentist we’ve been to in town like to use VERSED- a sedative with amnesiac properties- bothers me to no end. It will probably forever bother me that I allowed them to administer VERSED to my little boy when he was just 2 years old, so they could fix two of his front teeth from the terrible cavities he had.
PubMed says that VERSED, which is a brand name for Midazolam “is given to children before medical procedures or before anesthesia for surgery to cause drowsiness, relieve anxiety, and prevent any memory of the event. Midazolam is in a class of medications called benzodiazepines. It works by slowing activity in the brain to allow relaxation and sleep.”
I have to say that one day I might even use the word “regret” in place of “it bothers me”. It’s part of the burden of motherhood.
Yesterday, my 4yo knocked the filling off one of her front teeth with the hammer of the glockenspiel. I called the pediatric dentist who, guess what, asked if my 4yo was cooperative and when I said she’s had a really hard time in the past, said very matter-of-factly that I didn’t have to worry cos they could always use VERSED if she wouldn’t cooperate.
That was the last straw.
I know I can’t keep all chemicals away from my kids. But I will keep trying to limit their exposure whenever possible. This is one of those times.
I canceled the appointment at the pediatric dentist and called my dentist- the dentist who has been using composite on fillings since 1994, is aware of less invasive dental procedures, and wonders why it’s taking the rest of his profession so long to realize the damage of, say, mercury in your mouth.
While my sweet little boy didn’t want to be at dentists’ office, my girl was doing just fine. In short, for the first time, she sat in the dentists’ chair, held her mouth open wide and calmly waited for the dentist and his assistant to do their work.
The dentist put a new BPA-free plastic filling on the tooth, counted her teeth, talked to her, and helped us set up a cleaning.
I can’t tell you how giddy I was when I saw her there. She was so calm. I was so happy for her and I have been telling her as much all day. Even her brother told her how proud of her he was for letting the dentist do his work.
Today, it feels like anything is possible. And I stick to my mothering approach of supporting my kids thru thick and thin- thru every scream attack, every sobby story, every fear. I will believe them. Kids, I promise.
Here she is (and yes, that is a frilly skirt she’s wearing):
July 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
Last night, like most nights, bilingual baby, now mostly referred to by age (“the 4yo”) didn’t want to go to bed. She was too busy. A lot of the time, she is very busy and really wants to finish what she’s been working on- her days, like mine, are too short for all the ideas she has planned.
Sometimes distraction works with our 4yo, sometimes what she really needs is to be heard and waited on and shown love (yes, even when she has hit her brother).
Back to last night. We could tell she was tired and just needed to relax to slip into sleep but would need some creative help. Somehow, and I keep calling it divine intervention (cos otherwise I’d have to say I’m just SO awesome and my parents would probably prefer if I go the humble route), we started a game of trivia. We were lying in bed with some low lighting. The kids didn’t know what a game of trivia was about so I started with Josh questions. What is Papi’s favorite song? To that, I answered my own question with: Jungle Junction (one of the kids’ new favorite shows on tv). We all laughed.
It was working. Nobody was crying. Nobody was whining. Everyone was relaxed.
I actually wonder how much of the whining kids do is to try to prompt parents into a bout of creativity, something that will pull the family together to do something as a group.
The questions went on. Where was baby brother born? Vermont!, shouted the 4yo. Yes!!!
Then, we transitioned into talking about categories. What do you want, we asked, Geography, Music, or TV?
Next to me, I had baby brother asking and answering his own questions, mostly stuff related to the Pixar movie “Cars” (the first one), which was pretty cute.
After a couple of messy rounds of our trivia game, the 4yo rolled over saying it was time to sleep. The boy nursed.
They both fell asleep.
And Josh and I both got up for a high five. We rocked it!
June 27, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I often get questions about how in the world I can stay home with my kids. All day. Every day. Bedtime. Breakfast. No naps in the afternoon.
My kids don’t go to school, or day care. They never have. I don’t judge those who do send their kids somewhere. This is just what’s working for us. I’m not made of gold and I’m not perfect, nor do I want to appear that way. I have some lofty ideals and most of the time I don’t hold a candle up to the me I want to be. I hope I never will, cos that would mean that I’ve stopped trying.
Usually I get questions about how I deal with my kids on a day to day basis. As you might imagine, these questions come from moms whose kids are on vacation right now. In other words, they go to school, and their moms aren’t sure how to keep them entertained, etc.
I’m not gonna give you tips on activities to do simply because I’m talking about the mother role. A lot of what I think exhausts me during the day is trying to talk myself out of a lot of reactions. My kids, mostly the talkly 4.5 year old will tell me that I let her do everything she wants. Not entirely true but a wonderful way to live your childhood.
I really think that staying home with your kids takes a lot of endurance. Just like in a long distance marathon, you don’t want to sprint the first mile. You need to make sure you have enough in you to get through to the end.
You might have been hearing me complain about solo parenting this last week. Well, part of why I wasn’t rockin’ my role as caregiver was that I sprinted. I went too fast, too soon, and wore myself out too quickly.
After a couple of days, I got my endurance back.
The way endurance manifests in me is creativity. I’m able to creatively address my kids’ concerns, make cleaning up fun yet efficient, and still find time to browse the internet and glance at forums.
Now that I’m ready to rock ‘n roll mama-style, my husband gets back tomorrow super early in the morning and I’ll probably revert back to a shorter marathon of a day.
At least I know I can do it.
June 3, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Anytime I come to blog, I end up editing myself so much that I lose all interest in blogging. It’s not that I don’t care about the same issues I had earlier. I just have more energy for other activities and I’m more inspired to write about that stuff.
I’m also reminding myself that my kids are going to likely be online in a few years and I wonder how much of the stuff I’ve blogged about should stay up. I like sharing my experiences.
So, if you feel like reading my thoughts, go over to www.threedresses.wordpress.com for some sewing posts. I’m working on a number of things. I can’t promise you’ll be entertained but there’s always that possibility. Go there now!
February 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
Remember yesterday when I was panicking that I wouldn’t get everything done before my trip? Well, it’s all getting done!
Yesterday, I also shared with you the purple Pod I made a while ago with the straps only lightly padded. Well, my sister, who recently had her 3rd baby, asked me to replace her less padded brown straps for a more generously padded brown strap.
After staring at fabric for a while, I decided to give a dark brown corduroy a chance. I got 5.5 yards cut and brought it home to wash, dry, iron (oh so carefully), and cut.
Even though ironing has been more time consuming, I’m really liking the feel of the corduroy. It’s a thick, plush cord, which feels very soft to the touch (in sewing speak, it has a very soft hand).
Check out the Pod before
And the after pics:
I’ll make sure to take some good pictures while I’m in California. My mom usually wears my kids when we visit, so I’ll be sure to bring this Pod along.
I’m also the mom who wears both kids (one in front, one in back) walking through the airport, while pulling a cart with two car seats, 3 carry-ons, and my purse. I get loads of looks. This trip I’m wondering whether bilingual baby will walk through the airport. I’ll be prepared either way.
Enjoy some more Podaegis I just posted on my tinymouse designs Facebook page. Also, you can now reach my FB page via this very simple URL
Yay for Facebook for making things nicer for pages.
January 18, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Josh was out of town at a Librarian conference. He ended up being gone for 6 days. Young children are really needy, so the thought of going without back-up for 6 days was quite the undertaking, in my mind.
The first two days, the kids asked for Papi a lot. Were we going to pick him up from the airport? Where was he? Was he at work? Can we call him? Can we send him a message?
After these initial days of personal stress, not knowing how I was going to deal with no breather, I had a bit of a cathartic break-through. I realized that I was involving myself in a trauma drama cycle.
How does this work?
As you can see in the diagram below, one person plays the victim role, another the perpetrator and another the rescuer.
What I began to realize was that I was making myself into the rescuer of any disagreement between my children. I would assume one to be the perpetrator (the one taking the toy, for example) and the other the victim (the one crying, usually).
I would come in to save the day. I would start getting mad at the kid I assumed was the perpetrator and comfort the kid I thought was the victim. Every time I heard a disagreement, I’d assume my role and make other assumptions about my kids.
I resented their disagreements. I was also exhausted after each episode. Until I saw the cycle repeat itself.
Maybe it was my husband being gone for so long that gave me the opportunity to open my eyes and see that engaging in this trauma drama cycle with my kids wasn’t the best thing for us. Maybe it was just timing all around.
I don’t particularly enjoy hearing my kids bicker, nor do I prescribe to the “let them work it out” all the time, but unless it sounds like they could use some guidance, I wait before stepping in to assist. The truth is that they do come to me when they can’t figure something out. But I’ve got to say that I do get excited when I hear them figure out how to manage the last cookie or the hurt feelings. I feel happy for them.
I do have to remember that just as you can over-design in fashion (doing more to your garment and hurting the overall effect), you can over-parent. What is over-parenting? As this article puts it: “Over-parenting comes from the belief that for a child to be happy and secure, he must be protected from unpleasant or sad experiences.”
Childhood disputes are for childhood. I don’t want my children having to sort through childhood disputes as adults. As much as it pains me to see my children cry over “spilled milk”, I know that it’s part of life. They will have lots of upsets as their lives get more complex. I will be here for them, as I am now.
If I do believe that we are given tests that match our capacity, then I will trust my kids’ capacity to endure the tests that come their way. As they show me how upset they are, I will hold their hand and be present. I can’t fix every sad face and that’s a reality I will hold to.
January 6, 2011 § 3 Comments
On my way to the library last night, I watched a vibrant little girl- around 3 or 4 years old- run past me. Then, I heard the girl’s mother, walking to catch up with her.
Before I get into what I saw, let me say that I’m not judging this mother. I know what it’s like to feel like life is so out of control you just want to heave everything out the window. I notice what I notice because I’ve been there. It’s frustrating. I use what I see in other parent-child interactions as a mirror to my own. I think this helps me regain a center.
Back to what I saw.
The mother, after calling the girl several times, exasperated, says, “You’re getting yourself in trouble.” The girl didn’t respond. The mother says, “Okay, fine.”
The “okay, fine” sounded to me like a resignation to the punishment that was to come. As in: It’s your fault you’re going to get punished.
I can see how the history between parent and child is often what makes us (read: me) skip ahead to the ultimate consequence. We’ve asked our child/ren to do/not do X, Y, or Z and boom! there they are at it again. So, again, I’m not saying this mother has no right to say whatever she wants/feels she needs to say.
What I am saying is that this resignation to punish is one I’ve heard in my own voice and seen in my own actions. I’m skipping ahead to the mad part of the discussion- or monologue, in most cases, I lay out for my child/ren.
I find myself, at night, reflecting on my day, noticing that I act as if I weren’t the boss of me.
I do have a very needy 2 year old and a fearful-of-everything-new 4 year old, but I’m still the boss of my emotions. Yeah, I can blame the fact that I got mad on the 4 y/o who decided it was okay to paint a picture while sitting on the sofa. I can also blame my 2 y/o for yelling… just because I can. I can reason.
If I can reason, then where does my power of reason come when I let myself get mad? Where is it when I let myself ride the wave of my emotional children?
The other night, Josh and I watched as our 2 year old dumped food on the table. That’s not a new sight. It normally has us both jumping to the conclusion that we should get mad (skipping ahead to parental resignation to punish or yell). That night, amazingly, we both caught ourselves, almost simultaneously, and as if it were the first time our boy had dumped food on the table, we lightly said, “oh, no, we don’t dump food”.
So now I’m wondering.
The boy doesn’t seem to remember that we just talked to him about dumping food. I know this sounds hard, but what about treating each new dumping of food (or whatever your kid does) as if it were the first time.
Wouldn’t that make us more compassionate? Less easy to anger?
But if I stand by at the dinner table just waiting for my little guy to start dumping food and then skip ahead to anger, shouldn’t I change methods? The “get angry” method doesn’t seem to stick. What else can I try?
I leave that question hanging and get back to the mom at the library.
Even if you don’t believe this to be true, consider that our kids aren’t trying to get a rise out of us or trying to push our buttons or manipulate us. What if they’re just giving us another opportunity to get it right? Call it pushing your buttons, that’s the point. What if they push our buttons to help us grow past our previous negative reaction?
I’ve got to add a disclaimer here that I’m not sure how this reframing would work with other adults. Adults are tricky beasts and have more baggage than kids. That’s why I like being with kids all day- despite any frustration. I also have to say that I’m not trained in anything. These are just my humble thoughts, my little way of trying to rise above my daily annoyances. If this stuff sounds like it would never work for you, or it sounds like I’m on a high horse, or I’m not considering things like clinical depression, etc, pull out what you want, leave what you don’t want. This is for me, ultimately.
As you know, I blog the process of my thoughts. Give this a whirl and leave me a comment. I’m not done with these thoughts. This is just where they are at the moment.
December 17, 2010 § Leave a Comment
Painting by Ives Klein
I love my kids, but like any parent, I get frustrated with them on a daily basis. My frustration sometimes takes a creative turn and I end up rockin’ the mothering gig. A lot of times I don’t rock more than the table when I sit down for breakfast. But that’s besides the point.
I started this weekly special to share the times that I truly feel like I’m rockin’ it. Those magical moments when I feel like I’m on top of the mothering world and I feel both grand and insignificant. The seconds when I feel like my insecurities are set aside and a spiritual me rushes through, inspiring an exchange with my kids.
I think I started telling bilingual baby “this is me loving you” when she was about 3 and I’d do things for her that I didn’t feel like doing, but was doing them anyway. Since then, she’s made that phrase her own. Sometimes she’ll tell me that I don’t love her. If I did, I’d let her do whatever she wants.
Ok. So that sorta backfires on me.
If she doesn’t want to share, I don’t make a big deal out of it. There are so many more times when she does share, or trade toys. Why magnify the one or two times a day she really doesn’t feel like it?
What about what I want? What about what I feel? I don’t feel like she needs to know my adult feelings all the time, but sometimes airing out my frustration actually helps the day run smoother.
It’s like one of my dance teachers used to do. She’d come in- she was known for being blunt- and she’s sit down and sigh so loudly it could’ve quieted a room. She’d go on to say that she felt like sh*t. She’d add in a bunch more profanities as she’d try to describe her frustrations. Once she was done, she’d air another sigh that was much lighter.
I really liked her. You knew where you stood with her. There was no guessing. Yeah, she talked like a sailor, but she was always present.
So, when I get a whiny now-4-year-old telling me she doesn’t want butter on her toast, she only wants oil, and for one reason or another everything is sounding like nails on a chalkboard, and I really wish I could just go hide under my blanket until the kids decide to move out, I turn to her and take a breath and say:
I don’t feel like it but I’m going to do it anyway.
I swear, whenever I say the truth (and it’s usually this simple for me: I want to do my thing first, not theirs), it makes the whole moment dissolve. Bilingual baby uses the phrase “I don’t want to.” This is not new to any child. After “no”, I think it’s the next thing they learn how to say.
No, but really. Midway through the feeling based sentence: I don’t feel like it but I’m going to do it anyway, I felt better. Much better. I followed it with: This is me loving you. Then I just felt like hugging her.
December 12, 2010 § 2 Comments
I recently talked up a book called The Everything Toddler Activities Book. This book doesn’t have to be read in one sitting. I’m actually enjoying having it around (it’s from the library) to reference when I want to play something with the kids. This morning, I glanced at the Etch-A-Sketch game. It’s a home version of the well-known toy. I grabbed a couple of baking pans and filled them with corn flour. The perfect game/toy for mixed ages.
It was fun. After a bit, I started adding in kitchen tools and cookie cutters for them to play with. By the end, bilingual baby was making a maze and baby brother was racing cars. The house was quiet. They were so involved in their play. It sounded like they were getting themselves into trouble.
For some reason, I’ve always been drawn to kids that want trouble. Even before I had my own kids I liked working with kids. My last job before giving birth to bilingual baby was at an elementary school library. I was on staff there and I served the school as the in-house substitute teacher. And I was drawn to those kids that got in trouble. They weren’t yes-men (or kids). They thought about stuff they wanted to think about. They also didn’t fit in.
I might be flack from parents with older children, but so far, when my kids are getting into trouble, they have the most fun and learn the most. Sometimes, they learn how loud and fast I really am- most of the time, they learn about other things.
Here’s a slide show of what our days consist of. This is not one normal day. Some days, all the kids do is play things like beavers and they build dams with pillows. Other days all they want to do is run around the house, screaming at the top of their lungs. Sometimes I offer game suggestions, but mostly I let them get into trouble, as it were. Enjoy the slideshow!
December 10, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I know I’ve been away from my Weekly Special. But, behold, I’m back. I’ve been warming up the house with a lot of cooking and baking. The kids just run around the house to keep warm. I should take their strategy and make it my own.
This week I’ll illustrate my version of a time out. In my version, neither child nor parent gets a time out. It’s more like a time in. That is, we spend it together and very close.
I do a lot of listening to words and body language and I can’t let myself get mad. (Mind you, sometimes I am mad, but when I rock it, I know it’s because I kept my feelings in check.)
I have talked about this approach before- I just now started using the bedroom to seclude ourselves and have a private conversation, which I think is essential so my kids don’t feel exposed and also so they feel like someone is on their side.
This is how it goes, usually.
One minute, bilingual baby is fine. She’s playing with her brother, they take turns, or they just play their own thing side by side. The next minute it’s blow up time. Her emotions turn on a dime and a lot of times there’s nothing you can do to help or don’t even try to change her mood.
After the usual talking to, where I try helping her resolve her frustration with the current situation, things sometimes escalate to a point of no return. When she has an audience, other than her usual two onlookers (baby brother and myself) she really can’t deal.
When nothing is working and her mood tells me she needs to distance herself from the situation, I take her into one of the bedrooms, close the door and hold her there until she can talk again.
Sometimes all she wants to do is yell at me and kick me. Yesterday, she actually started (lightly) scratching me and trying to bite me. If she starts with that stuff I know that she’s reverting. How puppy like?
Mainly, I just wait. I open the floor for all the venting she needs to do, all the kicking, though some days I avert more kicking than today. By the end, usually 20-30 minutes later, she’s telling me she loves me.
To illustrate what she actually says here are some of her usual lines: To love me you have to do what I want. I tell her that I can love her and not do what she wants. She also tells me that she doesn’t want me. I’m mean. I don’t love her. I should do what she wants. Repeat for 30 minutes.
I try not to belittle what she says. I just listen and take it. In my “time in” thinking, she’s trying to see if I love her.
Once she has calmed down, I talk her through what I saw. I saw her upset, unable to talk about what was bothering her, kicking mama, yelling at mama, etc. Yesterday I found myself reminding her that even though she was doing all these things, I love her. No matter what happens; no matter what she says or does to me, I will always love her.
My in-laws recently got to see one of these moments and I hope they can better appreciate what I go through in any given day.