My friend is in the process of divorcing her abusive, alcoholic husband and plans to leave the state as soon as she can. She’s currently living in a house with three male roommates. One has to work early and has been less than polite about making sure her kid is quiet after 9 PM. As she was feeling really uncomfortable in that house, I offered that they could stay with us while Husband was away. They would come over in the evening after dinner, the kids would have a bath together and read stories, but I was finding it was hard to get her to go to sleep as she was a bit overstimulated. Mornings were even harder as we have to leave at a set time, while my friend and her son would be reading or playing, thus giving Kate a raging case of FOMO. I observed that while Kate is good at sharing toys at Pre-school; it’s a different story when it’s her toys in her house. There were so many arguments, so many screaming fits. We were averaging at least three to four meltdowns per day. It was getting to be really embarrassing. Finally, my friend started staying at her old house more often. It really shows how unruly your kid is if someone would rather take their chances with a confrontational ex-military guy.
I probably need to read Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Toddler on the Block again. I also picked up the book, Is This a Phase? I was disappointed that the section on 3-4 year olds was only a few pages, but some of the things they were describing were spot-on. Insisting that a particular person performs a task. Kate started doing that, “I want Mommy to get me water!” until I told her “you are lucky to have any one do any thing for you at all and you will say ‘thank you’” As soon as those words came out of my mouth, all I could think OMG I sound just like my grandfather! Hey, it worked! She hasn’t done it again. Some days there are small victories. I just would like to return to a life where ignoring massive tantrums is not part of my daily routine.
While in general, I don’t pay much attention to my cousin’s advise on parenting, as I don’t think she’s a very good parent, she did have some useful insight to dealing with the meltdowns. “Just because they are so verbal, don’t assume they always will articulate what is going on with them” she explained “think of them as still being in the newborn phase and go through the check list. Are they hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Need to use the bathroom?” This was helpful as sometimes I would withhold giving Kate a snack or a drink because I felt it was rewarding her bad behavior, when it was actually the antidote! (Which has been really making me re-think using food as a reward) Ultimately, I just want to stop needing to make excuses for my kid.
Height (almost) 40 inches
Weight 40 lbs
Health Issues: We made it 3 years and 3 months before needing a trip to the ER (for the record I made it 38 years and 7 weeks). I was finishing up at work when I saw the number for her Pre-School flash up on my phone and my stomach immediately turned in knots. Her teacher calmly explained that Kate fell off a play structure and cut her chin and she would likely need stitches. The mom instinct reacted, I grabbed my purse and keys and started running out of the office. Then the clinician in me caught up. Maybe it’s not that bad… I went back and grabbed some steri-strips and dermabond glue. When I arrived at school, she had a band-aid on her chin and was happily playing, until she saw me and had to engage in a dramatic cry. As she seemed fine, I really had it in mind that it wasn’t that bad, but I decided to swing back to the office to see if any of the pediatricians could take a look to confirm if she would need strictest versus gluing and taping. Our pedi was at his desk and quickly confirmed she needed stitches and he offered to do them, but his staff was leaving in one minute. I knew the most important part of the process would be restraining Kate… so we headed over to the ER. I grabbed some juice boxes and cheese cracker packets from our endocrinology department (as I hadn’t packed snacks for this occasion -note to self: make emergency snack pack for the car) and prepared for our wait. It wasn’t too bad. Kate befriended a sweet older lady who has a grandson about her age and she had a Hello Kitty nail polish game on her IPad. One of the techs who helped restrain Kate goes to our gym, so Kate had a friendly face to comfort her and the PA who sutured her went above and beyond the call of duty singing while she stitched. We made in out in just over three hours.
Eating: Still a fucking nightmare. Do you remember in the newborn days how they described ‘the witching hour’ in the middle of the night? That’s our dinner time. I absolutely dread meals because her table manners are so atrocious. It’s the same shit. I bought those ‘Dinner Winner’ maze plates, but it’s too much of a project for her to pick a plate, so I stopped using them. She won’t sit in her chair; she slouches, she twists and turns and then she lays across the chair on her stomach. I brought out her booster chair and I kept threatening to strap her in it. I have to make good on that threat. She stalls and wastes time, and then protests if you try to take her food away. As she’s in the 90th percentile for her weight, there have been times when I have taken her food away if she doesn’t finish in a reasonable amount of time. Myrtle gave us the great idea of using hourglass timers. It’s brilliant as she doesn’t yet really have the concept of ‘ten minutes’ versus ‘twenty minutes’. Although I’ve been trying to avoid Ama.zon due to their poor treatment of employees, I abandoned my principles and ordered a set of 4 (5, 10, 15 and 30 minute) hourglass timers. At first they worked perfectly. Kate accepted the challenge and would try to finish before the sand ran out. It was so successful, that I was almost grateful to Myrtle and her super fertile ness that she procreated so many years before me that she could share all her sage advice. Then Kate hid the timers in a cloth shopping bag and I couldn’t find them for nearly two weeks. Next she started to insist on only using the pink timer (the 5 minute one) and resetting it over and over again didn’t have the same effect. We went from total success to total fail.
I also bought some books about table manners. One is perhaps a bit too long and includes two pages about not bringing a phone or electronic device to the table. Sigh. Such is a sign of our times, although I think those pages were aimed more toward parents. I had to let Husband break the no phone rule recently as it was “possibly the last game of the World Series” to which he was giving me a play by play update, until I informed him that I don’t give a shit and I got in trouble by Kate for swearing. Especially at the dinner table! I also found an Olivia Eats Dinner book, figuring she would listen to one of her favorite pigs. The story follows that Olivia has dinner at her stuffy friend Francine’s house, where her mother rejects Olivia’s offering of flowers (as flower pedals drop and make a mess) Francine’s father scolds her for telling a joke at the table and when Olivia spills some water, she and Francine get banished to the kiddie table. Olivia fears Francine won’t want to be friend anymore, while Francine fears the same thing. Francine then gets invited to Olivia’s house where she learns to slurp spaghetti. Not really the message I wanted to send…
Potty Training: Back on track during the day, although sometimes she doesn’t push her pants down in time while she is getting on the toilet and sometimes soils her underwear. I’ve had to stock her cubby with lots of spare undies, but so far we haven’t been charged the non-potty training fee. Night time has been a disaster. We started after Memorial Day by putting her to bed commando. I would check on her every few hours and she actually got to the point where she would only pee once a night, which was an improvement from her super soaked pull-ups. I introduced the dream pees and we were having dry nights! We began tracking her progress with a sticker chart. We seemed to be going in the right direction. Then my parents came to visit and not only did the dry nights become fewer, she would wet her bed up to three times a night and I would have to wash three sets of sheets the next morning. My Dad tried to politely tell me that she might not be ready as we only had a success rate of approximately 10%. I looked at the sticker chart. I had hard data. She was staying dry about every third night. We had a 30% success rate.
Not surprising, she seemed to do better once my parents left. Then Husband left, and she regressed again. I was beginning to see a pattern. I almost put her back in pull-ups, but I decided to push through and just before his return, she turned out a new PR of three consecutive dry nights. Then the dry nights stopped. No stickers went up on the calendar. She was wetting multiple times a night. I was doing laundry on a daily basis. The tipping point came when she came into our bed in the morning on a weekend. And peed in our bed. Both days. I relented that we needed to take a break and bought another pack of pull-ups. It has really hard to get her on board as I had to eat my words “You told me I don’t need pull-ups because I’m a big girl!” I had planned on only taking a break for a few weeks…but it’s been really nice not dealing with wet sheets and jammies every night (she has leaked through her pull-ups twice…) I’m contemplating waiting until after the holidays, the grandparents’ visit and after our overseas trip before starting again…
Sleep: She was sleeping pretty well while we were night time training. Even if she woke up wet, she went to back to sleep rather quickly, but it was getting tough on me to be waking up every 2-3 hours each night (brought back memories of my pumping days). Annoyingly, even while using pull-ups, she still wakes up a few times a night and it takes longer to get back to sleep. Grrrr If she wakes up after 5 AM, we just let her come into our bed, which is actually pretty nice. I love snuggling up next to her. Sometimes Tyler is also curled up beside me and it feels like life can’t get any better. Oh yeah, Husband is in the bed too, but he isn’t snuggly as Kate or as soft and fluffy as Tyler.
Likes: Playing pretend. Over the past few months, her imagination has really ramped up. Of course it’s great when she’s playing with her dolls or toys and she’s just totally content to be in her own little world…it’s harder when she can’t discern between her pretend world and the real world. Especially during her gymnastics class, she would decide that “I’m a baby!” Or “I’m a kitty” Her instructor was less than tolerant this. The worst episode occurred when we were in Safeway and she decide that the Star.bucks kiosk was a horse stable and she had to go save the horses and OMG I could not break her from this! She was refusing to go with me and threw such a fit when I picked her up that I was certain someone was going to suspect child abduction. I was ready to abandon my trolley half full of groceries in the aisle and head for home, but then she announced that she needed to go potty. After not making it in time and needing to change her clothes, she forgot about the ‘horses’ and we finished our shopping.
I decided we needed to install a rule that we only play pretend at home and in turn, I would be better about playing pretend with her. The only trouble is that when Kate wants to play, she is very particular with how she wants things to play out and will dictate “now you say ___________” and then “you say ___________” I can only put up with it for so long before I lose my shit and explain to Kate that it’s not fun to play with her. Apparently I used to do this when I was her age. I’m sorry everyone.
She’s also really into music. I listen to a classic rock station and she will demand “louder” “LOUDER” which makes me wonder if there is a problem with her hearing, or my speaker system or if she just wants to turn it up! Specifically she likes Adele. More specifically she likes the song “Water under the Bridge” and asked for it over and over again. I now have it on repeat and as soon as the song hits the last note, she’s requesting “Same song Mommy!”Actually it’s no different than any other radio station overplaying Adele.
Activities: After the disastrous gymnastics class with my mom, we tried to go with my Dad. I thought she might do better as my Dad is, well how shall we say it, less uptight and intense than my mom. Nope, she was worse. She absolutely refused to participate, interfered with others and I had to drag her out of the class kicking and screaming. As she fell asleep as my dad and I were driving home, it dawned on me that the class was too close to nap time. So I went to switch her to the 11 AM class and ended up getting moved up on the wait list for the 3 year old class with the head instructor! Even better, it was only a few weeks of waiting before we got the call that we were in and she LOVES the head instructor and has been doing much better! We also started swimming lessons on Tuesday nights. She is doing rather well and can swim a few strokes on her own, but she also has a habit of not going potty before we get in the pool and needs to get out multiple times during the lesson. I also have her signed up for soccer and Spanish classes through her school.
Looking forward to: I’m getting excited for the Holidays! We’re do our transitional 5K run on Thanksgiving (and I’ll do a 10K on Saturday to earn the coveted Mega-medal) and then we’ll go to my aunt’s house for dinner. I have Wednesday off, as Kate’s school is closed so I volunteered to make a few side side dishes. My parents are coming for Christmas (I think they are only coming for about ten days) and in early January we’re going to Ireland and England! Well admittedly I’m not looking forward to the long flights, the jet lag and being feeling like I’m under house arrest at my in-laws, but I’ve never been to Ireland before and we’re going for a wedding. Our friend Ryan, who everyone thought would be a lifetime bachelor (he was hooking up with tinder dates when we last saw him just over a year and a half ago) is getting hitched to some Irish woman. Remember the Baby Shower episode of Sex and the City, when Carrie explains to her friends “You see a sign that says ‘two-headed snake’ your pull over. Wild Lainey is having a baby shower. You pull over.” Even to this day, I’m not exactly sure what that is supposed to mean. Are we to pull over because of the danger of a two-headed snake, or is a two headed snake some sort of attractions? Either way, Sex Pest (his IRL nickname) is getting marred, we need to pull over to Ireland.