Monday, 13 August 2018

Three Years

I first heard the term “terrible twos” when I was a teenaged babysitter and experienced them first hand with one of my charges. As subsequent years passed, I began to believe that she was just a spoilt bratty little kid and I imagine today she is probably a terrible 32 year old. When my friends started to procreate, I began to hear that the twos weren’t too terrible, the threes were worse. Some others have suggested that if your twos are really bad, you’ll have a better third year, but if you had an easier year two, you’re in for rough waters during the threes. I asked my Pedi to confirm these theories and he explained that by the age of three toddlers are more cognitively developed…he rambled into a long dissertation that I’ll simply paraphrase as ‘three year olds are able to be aware that they are being assholes.’

Most of the time Kate is a sweet but curious child. I don’t think she’s having more tantrums, but oh boy, have they ramped up in their intensity and it takes longer to get her to calm down. Some days, they seem easier to provoke, or they come out of no where. She’s started throwing herself on the ground when she throws a fit, and O-M-G does that push my buttons. I’m not sure why it’s such a trigger, other than it seems to epitomize the image of an unruly, ill-behaved child. At home, on the advice our pediatrician, we ignore her. One night I walked out of our kitchen and turned out the light. The challenge is what to do in public. Loyal readers may remember my nightmare in the airport, when we were catching an early morning flight and I could attribute it to her being tired from her disturbed sleep and not understanding why I couldn’t bring her sippee cup of milk though security… Yet a few weeks ago, full from a good lunch and after a decent nap, she threw a tantrum in Safe.way complete with rolling around on the ground. I’m not a germaphobe mom, in fact I’m even a bit pro-dirt, but Safe.way probably has some of the dirtiest floors around and I was watching in horror as black marks were collecting on her pink shirt. I started warning her that it wasn’t safe to be on the floor; she could get run over. Then to prove my point, I fake stepped on her. (For those who are old enough to know the reference, think Christian Laettner in the Duke Kentucky game in the 1992 Regional Semi-Finals) I drew some horrified looks, but no one called Social Services and Kate got off the damn floor, so I’m calling it a win.

My other parenting gripe is the whining. No one really prepares you for the whining. Sure, people warn you about the sleepless nights with a newborn. Now I look back and think, big fucking deal! So you wake up, change baby, feed baby, it takes about an hour, then you’re able to sleep again. Seriously, why don’t we warn each other about the whining. This is another trigger that makes me lose my shit. I mean truly lose it. I once got into my most obnoxious voice and started whining back at her and it actually shut her up. Of course, I can’t do it too often, or it will lose it’s magic.

One of our current struggles is getting ready to leave the house in the morning. Kate needs a 10 minute warning, then a 5 minute warning and then a 2 minute warning. She has a habit of deciding to do her most imaginative play when I’m trying to get her to wrap up what she’s doing and focus on getting ready to go. One morning, after I gave the 10 minute warning, she decided she was going to be an art teacher and set up three of her stuffed animals with a piece of paper, a paint brush and their own jar of paint. It was adorable and I felt like such a bitch, but I needed to admonish her for the fact that she wasn’t cleaning up and putting on her shoes as I asked her to do. I get so frustrated and I feel like such a failure as a parent that I can’t get my one child out of the house on time, while there are super moms out there juggling two or three kids. There are some days where I relent and let her play a little longer. Is it a big deal if we’re late to the Farmer’s Market? Well we may lose out on potato Kuku and get left with the spinach ones. The other day we were late leaving for a birthday party As she had to take her baby to school. To go support her fantasy, I offered that Tyler would take her baby to school. She didn’t think he was capable of the task, so I had to convince her that he is a very responsible kitty. She insisted on giving him instructions, so he would make sure Baby has her lunch box and her blanket. So she is demonstrating that she is understanding responsibility. Now we need to work on responsibility and punctuality.

Height 3 feet 3 inches
Weight: 39 pounds

Potty Training
I read one source say that you know your kid is fully potty trained when you don’t have to spend all your time thinking about ‘does my kid need to use the potty?’. I’d add the the definition of success includes being able to handle an outing after you forgot to bring along the backpack of potty supplies. Or you’re really toting the potty backpack just for the coloring books and other forms of entertainment that get us though eating out at a restaurant. Next challenge is getting through the night. I really wasn’t going to tackle this until later in the summer going into the fall, as I had a distant goal of getting rid of diapers by the end of the year. However, I was finding that she would soak through her nighttime pull up about 3-5 times per week. I decided that if I was going to be constantly washing sheets, we might as well learn to night time train.

We started on Memorial Day weekend, which was our potty training anniversary. I stocked up on extra sheets and pads and I would wrap her bed in extra layers as if we were playing ‘Pass the Parcel’. I started putting her to bed in undies and was soon discovering that she would only pee once a night, some time between 2 and 4 AM. I decided to take advantage of the fact that Tyler was meowing at all hours of the night and I would try to wake her up to do a dream pee whenever Tyler woke me up, but she really wasn’t cooperating with the dream pee. So then I decided to try an night time alarm. I found one that has a little clip that attaches to her undies, but I need to get some thicker training pants so it would be more comfortable for her. The alarm just really didn’t work. Some nights it fell off. Other times, her bladder would empty so quickly that even with me sleeping next to her, by the time the alarm went off, her bed was already soaked. Plus she was really scared of the alarm, which made for a good challenge to try to stay dry all night to prevent the alarm from going off, but she became so scared of it that she started to hide it on me. So basically, the alarm was a total fail.

The one night I decided to revisit the dream pee; and it worked! She got up to pee and stayed dry for the rest of the night! She even once got up own her own and used the small potty we placed in her room. I really didn’t want to use any incentives when we started training, but I thought I’d make an exception for night time training, and we started letting her put stickers on her calendar every night she is dry. (She’s fascinated by my sticker chart that I use for going to the gym and to swim practice, so we started comparing calendars) I think we had two weeks were she was dry every other night and maybe one PR of two consecutive dry nights.. then her pee schedule changed. Despite being more restrictive with evening fluids, she started needing to pee earlier, so I’ve been getting up twice a night to take her to pee, but she’s been peeing earlier and earlier. One night it was two minutes before my alarm was set to ring. Then she doesn’t have to go when I get her up later and she’s waking up wet at 6 in the morning. 

I’ve had Co-worker, my aunt and my cousin all tell me not to worry about night time training at this age, that it will be okay if she’s in pull-ups until she’s 6 or 7. Please see above; she soaks through pull-ups. Plus, I really, really want to be done with diapers. I was finding that she was regressing a bit in the pull-ups as she would pee in them while reading stories, rather than using the potty. I then decided the training pants had to go as well, as they are thick like diapers. We’re going back to commando with loose shorts as that is what worked to get us through day time training.  Commando for the win again! (I hope)

Eating: This still remains one of our biggest challenges. She has a limited palate won’t try anything new, so we end up going to our usual staples: meatballs, fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, breakfast sausage links or dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets. Sometimes she gets so busy playing that she refuses to come and eat, which it never a good start for a peaceful meal. Does anyone remember reading about the worst fight of all from the story of Helen Keller? ‘Teacher’ Annie Sullivan chased Helen around the dining room before she finally got her to eat her breakfast and fold her napkin. I feel ever meal with Kate is the worst fight of all, except my child isn’t blind, deaf and dumb, she’s just an asshole. 

We’ve been making a point to reduce distractions during dinner. No TV, no phones and we’ve been engaging Kate in conversation. She’ll often ask “how was your day?” We’ll chat for a bit and then she’ll get bored and will start squirming around in her seat. I honestly feel like we’ve become immune to her poor behavior at the table. If anyone has any tricks or tips; please share.

One of the hardest things about switching her Pre-school was that she was doing swim lessons and soccer through her old school and we did gymnastics on Tuesday when I was off from work. Weekends were completely free of scheduled activities. Saturday and Sunday gymnastics classes fill very quickly, but I found there was still space in a 2 year old class on Saturdays and I got us on a wait list for a 3 year old class than only has 3 people ahead of us and it’s with the head instructor, so I’m feeling optimistic that things might work out well. Since her new school doesn’t offer soccer until the end of September and it didn’t want to lose her momentum (as she had been doing well with the soccer lessons at her old school), I signed her up for a six week session (though the same company that does her school lessons) on a Saturday morning. I was weary about doing soccer and gymnastic back to back, but figured if she can make it though a 9.5 hour day at Pre-Schoo, she could handle two activities.

Among the many lessons I learned; firstly it’s not worth booking activities in the Summer. We missed half of the soccer classes anyway due to birthday parties, the Summer festival for the Library reading program and picking up my parents at the airport. Second lesson, I was wrong to assume she’d seamlessly transition into a new soccer class. When we arrived on the first day, she clung to me and refused to participate. The second time, she wanted to run around the park and showed very little interest in the soccer lesson. I get it. It’s a new teacher, she doesn’t know anyone and there is so much new stimulation at this park, a duck pond, two play grounds and many people walking their dogs. At her Pre-school, she’s in a familiar environment, she’s with her friends and I’m not there. It was a total failure due to my unrealistic expectations. My comfort is that she was not the only kid not paying attention and I’ve become friendly with some other parents as we commiserate about what a waste of time and money this endeavor has been. And yes, soccer (even when not fully participating) followed by gymnastics leads to a very tired and cranky kid who didn’t want to cooperate in gymnastics and is too wired to nap. Total fail with the added bonus of having my mother rub my nose in my failures. “You’re not taking her back [to soccer} next week are you?” Well, it is the last soccer class next week. “And the last gymnastics class too?” Well no, given that the gymnastics classes run on their own schedule as they are a completely separate program. Thanks for emphasizing that I suck.

We were able to keep her in her swim lessons at her old school for the rest of August as she’s on break until her new school starts after Labor Day and I’m hoping we can get her in a class on Tuesday evening, which will be a bit funny as Wednesday is Husband’s gym night (although he rarely goes) Thursday is my gym night and Tuesday will be Kate’s night. I’m also looking to sign her up for a 5 week Sunday night swim class in September, where she will attend with a friend and I can swim during her lesson. It runs during the three weeks when Husband will be away, and I’m not looking to do in long term. We’ll see how this all goes…

Looking forward to: Our (new) normal routine. I’ve been thinking about how they say that nothing in life is free… especially as my parents have been visiting. While it is really awesome having them here to plan, shop, prep and cook meals. Plus help with our back garden renovation and do some house work. Not to mention helping with child care… it comes with a price. Some of the cost comes with my mother trying to be helpful, but really annoying me with her efforts. The other expense is a change in Kate’s behavior. The other day I arrived at the gym practically in tears. It seems like there is nothing like a visit from your mother to make you feel like you’re failing at parenting your own child. Fortunately, there were some seasoned moms in attendance to console me. “Oh yeah” said one “My kids always become little shits when my parents come to visit. Yes, I think they are trying to make us look bad. We probably did the same thing to our parents.” Suddenly, the escalation of her worsening behavior made sense. She has additional attention from her grandparents, and sometimes has to compete for attention if everyone else is distracted by something else (like something sports or related to our house) I recall that during their Christmas visit, she hit a potty training regression that I think was attention seeking. She’s over-stimulated, her nap and sleep schedule is off and it is easy to get out of sorts. At least that’s what I am telling myself with the hope that I’ll get my house back and my normal child back at the end of the month.

Come the day after Labor Day, Kate starts full time at her new Pre-School five days a week and I go back to working five days a week, except I kept myself at 36 hours and I will still have Tuesday mornings off. On the advice of my HR cousin, “If you go back to 40 hours, it will be hard to cut back down again” so we’re going to see how this works for a while. I’ll be happy to stop doing ten hour days, as they were getting rather tiring and I’m going to be happy to keep a consistent schedule for a while. Yet, I will miss my stay-at-home-mom-for-a-day time with Kate. I enjoyed all our activities, baby yoga, baby music, the first attempt at soccer (I had forgotten about that failure) two gymnastics classes, many trips to the park, a few play dates and all the times I dragged you around It’s been real.


  1. Welcome to the 3's! Ton of cognitive development in this year; it's fun (mostly).

    We struggle with sitting and eating at the table too...although it varies from day to day. Some days are great other days nothing seems to work. AJ does eat quite a few foods but she likes foods that are not mixed together (i.e. she likes meat on its own but not in a stew). Generally the simpler the recipe the more likely she'll eat it.

    The one thing that usually works is to have an active day so she's good and hungry by the time its time to eat.

    Other than that, with the behaviour stuff, all I can say is stay consistent so that she learns some kinds of behaviour get her what she wants, and some don't. There's always going to be learning moments. It's a process but as they grow in understanding it also becomes easier to explain why certain things are done a certain way, at least that's my experience.

    I hope you enjoy fall and all the new experiences and activities!

  2. Jane, sometimes I'm reading your posts and just crack up! By god these kids can just be assholes sometimes. It's funny with the eating at the table thing, because my kid loves to eat, so she's happy as a clam while she's doing it, especially if we're engaging her. Where my problem is, is when she's done, she won't sit at the table, and we're working on her asking to be excused. So I'm guessing that's sort of a similar situation, except it lasts much longer for you and for that I have to offer solidarity. And hey, apparently I was just like Kate when I was a kid and now I love food and love trying new things, so there's hope. ;)