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Archive for the ‘Toddler Behavior’ Category

Oh, how quickly blogging can fall to the wayside, especially when life just sort of explodes into a frenzy. It’s been four months since my last entry. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

  1. We’re pregnant.
  2. We’re pregnant and my husband works 10 hours a day.
  3. We’re pregnant, my husband works 10 hours a day, and I’m home with a terrible-twos toddler.
  4. We’re pregnant, my husband works 10 hours a day, I’m home with a terrible-twos toddler, and I’ve taken on way to much freelance work that I can’t possibly ever get done.
  5. We’re pregnant, my husband works 10 hours a day, I’m home with a terrible-twos toddler, I’ve taken on way to much freelance work that I can’t possibly ever get done, and I’m rockin’ through my third cold of this pregnancy.

That’ll kill four months like nobody’s business! My pregnancy has been the biggest time sucker, probably the suckiest thing about being pregnant, in my Gemini-go-getter opinion. This time around, for whatever reason (age, next pregnancy etc.), my tiredness hasn’t gone away, not even at 17 weeks now. Not to mention, my first trimester fell smack-dab over Christmas, and poor Ned being gone from the house twelve hours a day, and working weekends. And he and I got head colds that lasted for weeks. December sucked!

Our other time sucker of this gestational period started around week 13, when spotting sent me to the midwives’ offices for an emergency ultrasound. The results of which were bonus pics of the baby, who is doing just fine, and the news that we’re dealing with placenta previa.

For those of you that do not know what placenta previa is (I didn’t), it’s when the placenta grows over the cervix, either completely or partially. This translates to: If the placenta doesn’t move on its own due to the expanding uterus, little baby has no exit. That can mean bedrest and an eventual c-section for the mom, and possible continued spotting.

For us it means “pelvic rest.” No exercise that raises the heart rate, no lifting heavy objects, no sex.

I’ve got be honest, this has done wonders for the development of my 2 ½ year-old Max. Mommy can’t pick him up much, so he’s learned to climb up the stairs using the railing, or crawl up while Mommy tosses a toy up the stairs for incentive. He rides on my lap and we sing the “Oompa Loompa” song as we scoot down. He’s heard the phrase, “that’s my big boy” so many times he says, “big boy, big boy” now.

Sadly, Ned hasn’t heard any such compliments in so long, it’s getting ridiculous. At 20 weeks we’ll have our big ultrasound, to see if the placenta has moved. But lately, when I’ve gone in for a checkup, his only question to me is, “Did you get a sex pass?”nosexjob

*sigh* No.

The no sex is a terrible thing to do to a pregnant woman. I mean really. Excess hormones. The insanely vivid dreams. Seriously, my dream self is whoring it up every night. My real self is almost ready to put on a habit.

Perhaps this is why I’ve been taking on all that extra work ….

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I’m a terrible blogger.

You know when you get so busy—so very, very busy that you just have to sit back and laugh, because it’s such a very long, twisty line of tasks and goals that never seems to end? Goals that are totally out of reach, (like finding time to put out the Fall decorations before we get to cleaning the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner), deadlines that seem impossible to meet.

That would be me.

My life right now reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from I Don’t Know How She Does It, when Kate is “distressing pies” at two a.m., trying to make it look like she had the time to pull off home baked goods for her children’s coral concert.

Okay, so technically I’m not distressing mince pies at two in the morning, and my son is not yet school aged, so I need not worry about that middle-of-the-night baking quite yet. (Although I have four rotting bananas that will NOT become bread in the near future.) My life isn’t that crazy. But I do know that list-making mentality that gets us supermoms into trouble every time. I actually can feel myself ticking things off my list: Bananas? Garbage.

And now that I’ve caught up on all my deadlines, and returned all of my emails, I’m at that point when my list of things-to-catch-up-on is so long, I’m overwhelmed by what to do first. (Well, that’s kind of a lie. Clearly, finishing this blog won.)

In the midst of this, I’ve had that moment of other terribleness: I’m a terrible parent. Really. Life is so busy that it feels at times I’m not doing an adequate job at parenting my child. Case in point: Monday is storytime at the library in our little town, and Max, quite cranky from the molar teething, seems soothed when I give him something to drink. But happily swigging, he runs up to an older boy, about three, and before I know it, I’m watching Max bite this boy’s shirt.

I scold him, remove him, and he happily goes on his way, sippy cup in hand.

Then, after a rousing rendition of “The Train Welcome Song,” Max, standing a good five feet away from me, turns towards a young girl, not quite two, named Abby. And like a switch was flipped in his little tooth-achy head, he goes after her. It feels like a slow motion horror scene: Max and his giant teeth, heading straight for little Abby’s shoulder.

Imagine this coming straight at ya!

Luckily for Abby, she was standing right in front of her mother, who stops my son and tells him, “No biting.” I then reach him as he goes for a second attempt. I’m mortified, Abby is crying and we are leaving. Fast.

I get a now very quiet Max home, I sense that he senses I am p-i-s-s-e-d. I do what any mother should do in this situation: I leave him in the playroom, call my own mother and cry.

Now, the biting thing up until this point has been limited to me and Ned. On a few other occasions where he’s opened up and bared those giant teeth to another child it’s usually been a fighting-over-a-toy thing. He’s never done it unprovoked.

It all comes spilling out to my mom. My child is the kid in school that bites. No one will want to bring their kid over to our house ever again. I’m never going to be able to take him back to the library, and face those moms. Abby’s horrified face is going to haunt me. Not to mention, the new pediatrician wants Max to be evaluated because he’s not saying sentences yet. Doesn’t “green gourd” count?

I’m fighting that stay-at-home-working-mom thing. I cannot not work, and because I do, Max’s social life is limited to a few things a week. Dammit that one of the two days this week he’s getting out to play with others, he tries to eat them instead.

And maybe it’s me. Maybe if I spent less time working and more time trying to get him to communicate with us, he wouldn’t try to do it with his teeth. I have no answers. I am merely venting. See? I’m a terrible blogger.

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Women are no strangers to the hormonal changes: we go through them monthly, when we’re pregnant, even through menopause. Lately it’s been a roller coaster around here; I’ve ditched the birth control in hopes of having another baby (eek!), and thus turned into an estrogen monster.

My body doesn’t do well with medication. Rather, just as little goes a long way and I tend to react pretty strongly when I stop taking said meds. Same goes for birth control … it’s like my body has saved up all of the vicious PMS symptoms that the pill tends to ease and the moment my ovaries get the all clear, its hormone’s-a-ragin’.

Mix that up with a toddler and … yeah, I’m saying it: here comes t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Case in point: I take Max to storytime at the library nearly every week. Twice now we’ve had to either leave early, or not go in at all due to his determination (re: tantrums). This past Monday, we get in the room fine and he is content to play with the lock and the handle of the door to the children’s room. Until we shut it. The entire class is treated to a cacophony of his cries for a few moments until I pick him up and distract him with the window blinds.

We then try to sit down and sing a rousing rendition of “Open Shut Them,” but to no avail. Max is on his back in the middle of the room, still crying. The librarian says, “Oh Maxwell, what is wrong now?” And I reply, “He’s still mad about the door.”

I do get him up and not crying. Go me, I am Supermom.

And then he sees the fire extinguisher.

Photo courtesy of Kenn W. Kiser.

Here’s the thing that drives me crazy about every children’s library: When they offer classes for babies, toddlers and the like, why on earth are the rooms in which the classes meet not baby proofed? There always are open closets, cabinets without latches, outlets without covers and darn it, fire alarms and extinguishers a mere three feet from the floor. I mean, duh.

So there’s my Max, going after the hose of the fire extinguisher, and every time I grab him, he lets out a protest yell. I finally stand in front of the object of his affection to stop him, and he yells, grabs my leg, and tries to bite me through my jeans.

Now I’m sure the other moms and kids have had enough of his antics, but I am beyond pissed. I give him the futile, “Don’t bite mommy!” grab him, the diaper bag and make our exit. He of course, is protesting leaving now, and I’m angrily whispering, “I can’t take you anywhere!” I’m fairly certain the librarians overheard me.

The thing that kills me more than the embarrassment of Max’s behavior is the embarrassment of my behavior. I’m the adult. I should know better. And it’s the failure that whatever I did—reprimand, soothe, deny—went completely ignored by my son. Why is it when our children misbehave does it seem that everyone else’s children listen and respond to their parents?

I don’t know if there is an answer to this, since my mom polling indicates that all moms have been there. In the meantime, I wonder how long we’ll stay away from the library this time ….

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Or as I like to call it: Help, My Toddler Won’t Eat! (All the time.)

Last week was our one-month check up with the nutritionist. The good news: Max gained almost one and a half pounds and now weighs in at a hefty 24 pounds, 8 ounces, a mere jump from the 15th percentile to the 27th.

But it’s not over yet.

He has come around to eating again, but meat is not on his menu. Nor eggs, nor cheese. So it’s a new wave of creative ways to sneak more protein into his diet: lima beans, edamame, milk, French toast, rice and beans etc. And of course, Pediasure supplements. Ugh.

I am not going to let it get me down. I worked hard for that one pound, six ounces. I have endured tears, and food thrown at me, and mopping up yogurt off my hardwood floors. I have endured constantly thinking about feeding my child; shopped until I couldn’t look at another nutrition label hoping for more calories and fat.

I have learned much over the past month when it comes to toddlers and picky eating. At least I know I’ve not resorted to this:

Below, however are a few things that have worked, and may help other moms out there.

  1.  Keep calm, and carry on. This is the hardest and most truthful rule. It’s incredibly stressful worrying about your little one, but even more so when his ability to gain weight, or lose it, hinges on what you’re feeding him. If he doesn’t eat a meal, take him out of his seat and move on to the next thing. If he disses that banana bread you made just for him today (and he will), just save it to try again tomorrow. If he screams and cries through meal time, remember there is always another meal time. It’ll be okay.
  2. Don’t let the doctors freak you out. Yes, it is an issue to simply overlook if your child is overweight or underweight. But don’t flip out. (See rule number one.) Even when the doctors give you that look: Oh, isn’t she delusional, getting excited over a little more than a pound? Even when the nutritionist comments about how she’s surprised your toddler is eating peanut butter and almond butter before the age of two—when at your last visit, she recommended you increase his nut butter intake. You know what is best for your child, so don’t be overwhelmed by all the suggestions they offer you. Just try one at a time.
  3. Switch up the eating pattern. For us, this meant swapping from the high chair to the table, in a booster seat. We added putting food in bowls and on plates, and when appropriate, spoons or forks. In other words, encouraging independent eating. Adding an additional snack also was helpful.
  4. Don’t stick to standard meal times. Max naps over lunchtime, and trying an “early” lunch did not fly, he wasn’t ever hungry for a meal. Our schedule looks like this:
    7:00 – 7:30 a.m. Wake Up
    8:00 a.m. Breakfast
    10:30 a.m. Snack
    11:00- to 12:00-ish Nap Start
    3:00 p.m. Lunch
    5:00 p.m. Snack
    7:00 p.m. Dinner
    8:00 p.m. Snack
    9:00 p.m. Bed
  5. Keep mealtime etiquette. Try to eat with your child, something about mimicking your eating works. Also, it offers more opportunity for them to reach for what’s on your plate. You can’t always eat with them, but you can have a cup of coffee, or hang out, or read them a story. Most importantly, just be nonchalant about the whole thing. Don’t offer praise or correct them for eating or not eating. Some days if they are eating, it’s better not to make eye contact. 🙂

So we move on to the next thing. And hope tomorrow, Max will eat that awesome chai peanut butter bread I slaved over this morning.

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Last Tuesday, our morning started with this:

Little Max was done with a diaper change and Ned watched him run into his bedroom, trip, and eat a face full of rocking chair. We went off to the pediatrician’s office to get him checked out, crossing our fingers that he didn’t need stitches. (Sidebar: We learned the hard, expensive way that most trips to the ER for cuts and whatnot result in no stitches, but instead just a $100 copay for the visit. And nurses goo-ing over our son.)

Luckily Max is tough, tougher than Mommy, I think. The day before his tumble we were at the peds office to see a nutritionist, reason being that our most recent wellness visit revealed that Max has only gained one pound since we left Florida in November. Which in the battle against his weight loss during month nine to month 12, we’re back to his original 9-month weight.

All of this is compounded with a giant immunization/Hep B shot cocktail given at his wellness visit, which basically causes Max to completely lose his appetite for the four days prior to our nutritionist meet and greet. We show up for that appointment to learn he’s lost half a pound over the weekend.

Top that off with the barrage of questions at our first talk with our new doctor. Is he able to stack blocks? Yes. Throw toys? Max had just thrown my newly-found sunglasses across the room mere moments before. That’s a yes. If you ask him to locate body parts, say his nose, will he point to it? Well, he puts his finger in his nose, does that count? Does he know at least seven words? Um, not all at once. Does he say “mama” and “dada”? Not directly to us, no.

At the end of this the doc looks at me and says, “Okay, well, be sure to work with him on that.” Hmm … maybe I should be working on a new doctor. By the time we hit up the nutritionist and then Mikey hit up the chair, I was at the end of my momma rope. What am I to do to fix all of this?

The lovely Kelly Ripa always tells this great joke, about how when you take home a new flatscreen television, you get a user manual thick enough to rival War and Peace, but when you take home a baby, they give you a single sheet of paper. Darn it, right about now, I wish there was a Mommy Manual.

I know that you can’t predict the health and development of every baby. I know I can’t prevent all trips and falls, and I know there is danger in comparing each child to an imaginary “normal” and wondering if he’s falling behind. Why doesn’t he have a giant vocabulary? Ned and I are both academics. Why doesn’t he say “yes” and “no” and “good-bye”? Why doesn’t he know where his nose is? (Actually, I think he does know, but he’s smart enough to know he doesn’t have to tell us if he doesn’t want to.)

I’m not going to lie; I’m completely freaked out that he’s not gaining weight. He’s growing, he’s in the 91st percentile for height. But clearly, his eating habits are not working. And it’s too much to cover in just 500 words. So we’re taking notes from the nutritionist, starting to use some developmental tools and hopefully making some progress, soon to be reported in future blogs, as I start writing my own Mommy Manual.

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Oh yeah, the temper tantrums are here. And here to stay I think. Here’s the thing that amazes me about this: Google the phrase “terrible twos” and see what pops up. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now, google the phrase “terrible 16-month-olds” and see what pops up. Again, waiting ….

 

Aha, you got it right? Right? It’s like the same damn results list, isn’t it? Why didn’t anyone tell us about this!? I already know the answer to that: In order to save the human race, moms-to-be are lead to believe that the years prior to that second birthday are blissfully tantrum-free. Saves the risk of people dropping out of this whole parenting gig.

The tantrums started earlier this month, while we were in Ohio visiting Nana and the rest of the fam. The first in a series left me totally bewildered, and with a trio of fresh bite marks on my arm. (Oh yeah, the biting blog is coming up!) It’s amazing isn’t it, that transition to a demon-child that not only bites, but kicks and screams and is completely inconsolable.

The kicker this week was our hunger tantrum that imploded in the service area waiting room of our local Kia dealership. How embarrassing is it to catch the look of alarm on an also-waiting-grandma’s face, when the cute kid she was just playing peek-a-boo with is now on the floor, kicking and screaming away, while his mother is inspecting her arm for the latest teeth marks?

What to do? My method that works 50 percent of the time is to remove Max from the situation, and sit him down with a glass of water. He’s been after drinking from a cup pretty much since we started the sippy, so it will usually focus him away from his hysterics. (The other half, the backfire half, is when he wants to take said cup ‘o water and run with it, which just gives us new tantrum fuel.)

This little article Stop Temper Tantrums in Their Tracks was cute, and I may try a few of these soon.

In the end, my inquiring parenting mind wants to know WHY? Here are a few answers:

  • Failure to communicate. Kiddos like mine that are still sans words will kick, bite and scream their way to get what they want, or say what they have to say.
  • Attention, attention, attention. Tantrums certainly can achieve the attention they seek. I think this is when the walk-away- and-let-them-scream-it-out method works best.
  • They (gulp) like the excitement of aggression. Or alternatively, your child is not evil, he or she just thinks that biting or kicking is “playing.”
  • Sleep deprivation. Since toddlers don’t have a set schedule (mine does not) this can be hard to spot. They need roughly 12 to 14 hours of sleep per 24-hour period, so in some cases, adding an extra nap or earlier bed time can help reduce tantrums.
  • Separation anxiety. Although Max and I are rarely apart, I know many of my mommy readers are dealing with this issue.
  • Cavemen/cavewomen. Yep, a few docs out there say our little ones are just too right-brained, acting with just the impulsive, emotional side of their little noggins.
  • Frustration. In our house, these are mini-tantrums, whining or crying when he drops a toy, or can’t get something open.
  • Independence. Ned and I saddled Max with this one, big time. Toddlers want to start doing it themselves, feeding, reaching an object, you name it, they want to control. When they don’t get it … watch out!

Phew. Maybe I’m not a bad parent after all. I feel better. Now where is that kid? I think we need a second little nap …!

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