Lessons From Little Ones

I have mentioned that I have a three-year old.  And I have also mentioned some of the challenges she imposes me with.  So why not talk some more?

My daughter engages in a list of things that upset me daily.  From rubbing Vaseline all over her face and hair to crushing my toes with her “princess heels” as she walks around the house.  Or wiping her hands on her pretty dress at dinner rather than on the napkin she just asked for 30 seconds ago.  There’s a ton more but I’m sure you get the idea.  Well, right now, I am torn as to how I should feel when she does something like, say, pour water all over the counter and floor for no apparent reason or spoons soup out of her bowl and places it under the placemat at the dinner table and proceeds to smash it into the table.  Once I realize what she’s done, she immediately shouts out an: “I’m sorry” along with the appropriate level of ‘sad face’ to fit the crime.  Although these are the most insincere apologies, they are still well-timed and what I have been training her to say after doing something wrong.  The thing is, after one of her befitting apologies, she promptly goes into singing, talking to her dolls or going so far as to tell me how much she loves me! All thought of her recent wrongdoing seem to be erased from her memory and she goes on like it never happened!  Doesn’t she realize I just yelled at her and that my blood pressure has gone up at least two systolic decimals and that I’m still angry with her?  I recognize that this could be a ploy on her part to deflect my thoughts from deciding to punish her any further than I already have.  But nonetheless, here lies my dilemma.  The kid has a point–neither of us should be reflecting on the wrong that was just done.  We should be moving past it and getting on with our lives. But I don’t want to!!

Even though she is displaying the best attitude to have toward any negative situation, that’s not how it all usually goes is it?  When someone offends us or hurts us in any way, we want them to know what they’ve done, realize how it has affected us and to feel some kind of anguish for it.  We want them to stand there and listen to us explain how hurt we are and why.  Perhaps allow us to delve into soliloquy to truly define the torment and pain they just caused.  Then we want them to prostrate themselves at our feet and plead for our mercy. Stress their ignorance to the sensitivity of our emotions and request a plan for how they can do better–no, be better–in the future.  After my daughter engages in one of her many transgressions, I want her to carry a ‘look of shame’ for the rest of the afternoon.  Bow her head in humiliation any time I walk pass her to show deep remorse for the wrong she has committed.  Talk to her dolls about her well-developed plans to be the ideal adolescent for years to come.

But none of that is happening with a toddler, let me tell you.  She doesn’t care about the infraction 10 seconds after it occurs.  So it is now up to me to let it go myself. I need to remember there is no use crying over spilled milk.  Literally. (or juice or soda or oatmeal or ice cream)  I have to stop looking for more from her and just accept her apology. However contrived I think it may be.

I’m hoping I can get better with it in time because right now, I’m still battling with it all.  But I already see how following the example of my little hellion will be a good trait for me to attain.  It’ll help me to be more patient.  More forgiving.  Less stressed and angry.   It’ll enhance what we have together as well as benefit me and all of my relationships. What a good little lesson this little booger is teaching.

So if you catch me fussing at her for grabbing onto clothes as we walk by with our cart, nearly toppling over the rack…just know that I’m really going to try to be done with it after she apologizes.  And not fester with anger as I pick up all the items that have fallen to the floor.

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But, why?

I have a three and a half-year old. I have experienced the dreaded “terrible twos” which actually started earlier than two and extended beyond the threes. I’ll venture to say that they are just now starting to subside. Finally. And thank God for that!

I was always told about the “Why?” stage. That my child would bombard me everyday with ‘why’ questions. That I would grow tired of the endless questions like: “why can’t I have it?, why do I have to wear it, why is that blue?” I got myself ready for the endless questioning. But to my surprise, it never came. Sure, she would ask it every once in a while. But in a more controlled and understandable way. It actually made sense when she asked and it was easy to answer and/or explain her request.

But…! (you knew it was one coming, right?) I was never warned of the “Can I have…”stage. No one ever told me how bothersome this phrase would become because of the overuse of it. So I am here to educate you moms and dads of this displeasing and less often mentioned phase of childhood.

I don’t care what it is that I am doing or have in my hand, my child is asking if she can have it as well. I have never counted the number of times my child asks this throughout any given day. But I can tell you that the annoyance from it is considerable. Some things I understand her asking for. The typical things like snacks or treats. The unending request for candy!  But it starts to get out of control when she’s asking to have some of my heartburn medicine or some of the Bacitracin I’m putting on the cut in my nose!!

What is it about kids and them wanting any and everything you (or anyone else) have?!  My kid won’t even know what it is I’m rubbing on my arms, spraying in my hair or dropping in my eyes.  And it doesn’t even matter to her.  She must have it.  So, all day I am grieved to hear “Can I have some of that?”  “Can I taste it?”  “Can I smell that?”  “Can I have a flashlight?”  “Can I have some chapstick?”  “Can I have a rock?” I am sitting here and actually calling to mind a plethora of things this kid asks for throughout the day.  And I am strongly tempted to write them ALL in here.  Just in case you don’t have a child that has gone through this phase.  Or maybe you don’t have children at all!  Misery loves company and I’d love to share that long list of “Can I have’s” with you.  But I don’t want to lose you as a reader. So I better not. lol

I don’t know if my kid traded the ‘why?’ with ‘can I have?’ and that the irritation of both is the same. I can see that being the case. So, if you have been lucky enough to bypass either of these stages in your own children, sing your praises now and rejoice!  If not, brace yourself for it.  And if you have any warnings for me of any phases I’ve got in store–ones that aren’t abundantly mentioned (and kept secret) such as this one–please share it with me so I can be prepared!  Together, we parents can be triumphant!

“Do you need to go potty?”

I am beginning to fear my conversation with others.

I have a little one at home and there is no end to the training that must be done with her daily. The reminders to say “please” and “thank you.” Or the stern voice I use to show her that I mean business. However, I am finding that these ‘toddler talks’ are starting to become the normal template of my conversations. With adults!

 
I have caught myself on numerous occasions, saying something marginally inappropriate to family members,  friends, and even co-workers. Asking folks about going potty or if they need tissue for boogies.  Once, after handing my patient her shoes and eye glasses after her procedure, I found myself prodding her with a “What do you say…?” when she didn’t say thank you! And although that little old lady was in fact rude for not thanking me, it was so not proper for me to scold her!

I have the habit of asking my daughter why she did a certain thing that was perhaps out of line.  To get her to reason things out for herself and see the folly of her decision.  This too has become my mode of communication with others.  Asking “was that a nice thing to do?” or “will that make me happy?”.  And finding myself having to laugh things off as a joke once I realize what I’ve just said.

I have been mortified with myself at snapping my fingers to get someone’s attention.  Something I do to my daughter when she’s too distracted and not paying me attention. I find myself using “the voice” with my husband when we are in the middle of a tiff or disagreement.  You know how men don’t listen very well–they always want to fix things so fast that they’re not really hearing the diagnostics of the problem, right?  Well, my husband is no different.  I once caught myself sternly telling him: “listen to my words!”.  This is something I tell the kid when she’s not focusing on what I’m telling her to do and continues to do what she thinks is best.  Well, even though this applies to my husband trying to be Mr. Quick Fix, I’m sure it’s not the best form of communication for marriage mates.

I mean no harm with any of this.  But it is really hard to switch out of Mother Mode when I’m talking with others.  So far this hasn’t gotten me into too much trouble but I doubt my luck will last indefinitely.  The day is going to come when someone won’t be so understanding of my days spent coaching a little one.  So let me apologize now if I do this when talking with you.  But if you say “please”, wash your hands after you potty and put your toys away, we shouldn’t have any issues.  😉

Toddler Humiliation

I am a first time mom.  Along with that comes the stress of constantly wondering if you are raising your kid properly.  Because of  that, you look for any opportunity that will make you feel good about what you have done so far.  Sometimes you may find yourself pulling at straws to find even one tiny little thing the little hellian you created is doing right to finally feel vindicated to wear that “MOM” title.

But remember the saying: “One step forward, two steps back”.

One step forward:  I watched my friend’s two little girls for her one day last week.  They are both older than my two-year old.  I’m gonna say one is four and the other is either six or seven.  Very nice girls. After being at my house for a short time, I was a tiny bit surprised how they never said ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.  While playing in my living room, they kept jumping on the couches after me asking them numerous times not to.  And at one point, someone (no one has admitted to it even to this day) knocked a speaker to our tv off of its stand and just left it on the floor without saying anything.  These are not any actions that surprised me due to the kid’s ages.  But these things did make me feel good because my daughter was no part of it.  She does say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  She even says ‘excuse me’ when you’re talking to someone so as not to interrupt.  She was not running across my leather couches while wearing her shoes and she was not jump roping in the middle of my living room.  (granted, this last part is because she does not yet know how to jump rope but that’s not the point!)

Needless to say, I spent a small portion of that morning inwardly smiling because I was happy to see that the fussing and continuous hounding on my kid is actually paying off.  I was starting to get a little puffed up.  Proud even.  I was already having the conversation in my head how I was going to discuss my good parenting skills with my husband when he got home from work.  Surely he could benefit from the proven techniques I’ve integrated into raising our child!!

Two steps back:  Later that afternoon – after a trip to the park, indoor jump roping (as stated) and a quick walk through the woods – it was time for everyone (myself included) to take a nap.  I laid all three girls in the bed in the spare room.  As is the routine with my daughter, we read two stories.  My friend’s oldest daughter could barely keep her eyes open as we read the stories and was halfway asleep by the end.  I tucked them all in and eagerly headed toward my own sanctuary.  I could barely get out the room when my daughter sits up and calls my name.  When she sits up, my friend’s youngest sits up.  I soothe her and tuck them all in again.  This time, I make it out of the room and almost have the door closed when my daughter sits up and calls me again.  When she sits up, again the youngest sits up.

Let me here explain that my daughter is definitely going through the toddler “i don’t want to sleep, ask for more water, ask for another kiss, another hug, please put socks on my feet, door open, light on, babies lined in the right order and sing a song before I can go to sleep” phase.  I thought for sure that being with the other two, she would gladly and quickly fall asleep.  But after calling me twice, I knew we were going to have a problem.  I calmed her down yet again and this time actually made it across the hall into my room before I heard her calling me once more.  And you guessed it, when I went back into the room, her and her buddy were both sitting up looking at me.  The only difference was that my daughter was looking wide awake whereas her partner was looking droopy-eyed and might I add a little annoyed.  I knew this could get bad.  So I take my daughter out of there to sleep in her own room.  An idea she seemed fine with when I first mentioned it to her.  But as I’m sure you can tell, quickly disintegrated.  I put my kid in her crib, and she immediately started her list of requests.  No matter that I had just filled all of these before laying her down in the spare room with her friends!  Well, folks, the kid went into a one-sided screaming match once I told her no more requests would be filled.  My child started screaming at the top of her lungs, jumping up and down in her crib while beating on the side.  I couldn’t believe it!  Surely she knew her friends were hearing all this in the other room.  Surely she should be embarrassed to act in such a manner with an audience, right?  Ha!  Completely wrong, my friends.  And no, she did not do this for a few moments and then calm herself.  She did this for 45 minutes!  No, I didn’t say 4 to 5 minutes, I said FORTY-FIVE minutes.  Half the time I couldn’t make out what words she was yelling, but none of it mattered.  (i don’t think)  Because the racket she caused was unnerving!  And all the while, there were two sweet, peaceful and perfect little angels trying to get some sleep in the other room and at the same time allow me to get my rest to be recharged for them for the afternoon.  But my kid, the one I was telling you about who says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ sat there screaming like something possessed!  She did cry herself to sleep.  And you would think the story ended there.  And yes, yes it should.  But she didn’t stay asleep.  She woke up.  After only half an hour of sleep.  And basically picked up right where she left off.  And if you’re wondering–yes, she did wake up the other two.  And no, I did not get a nap myself.

I spent the rest of the afternoon wondering what I am to do about this behavior!  What should I have done differently so that situation would have gone a lot smoother? How in the world did my friend get her two kids to just lay down and go to sleep without any arguments, bribing or requests? And why the heck wasn’t my husband home to support me with this hellian we created rather than out working a job?  Doesn’t he know that I need his help?

So.  Do you see why this entry is entitled ‘Toddler Humiliation’?  It’s because my kid definitely humbled me last week.  After the briefest moment of gloat I’ve ever seen.  There are many simple lessons to be learned from this.  Two I’m going to mention.  Kids are kids and I’ve got to readily accept this roller coaster ride having her has put me on. And I guess my main one is to revel in the good things my daughter does.  Be sure to compliment her on them when they happen.  But don’t get myself so built up that it’s so shaming when she brings me back down.  LOL  You got to love her!