Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Three Year Old Frenemy

I'm having trouble writing lately, for reason in addition to the lack of time to write. Perhaps it's a bit of writers block, but I don't think so. I have plenty ideas, things I want to write about and even how I want to write them. But I am having a hard time actually typing them out.

I think I know why, but it's really hard to say out loud/write and publish. But I'm afraid it's a hump I have to get over by actually just putting it out there.

I've been extremely frustrated with my daughter.

Yes, she's amazing in so many ways. Of course I love her and am constantly thrilled with what she can do and how she does it. No doubt her spirited personality traits will help her go far in life, since they are especially powerful traits for an adult to have.

But...

But those traits are EXHAUSTING for a parent to deal with. She's always been so CONSTANT! Since she was born, she's needed constant attention, constant supervision, constant entertainment, constant vigiliance. After 3 years and almost 4 months of that, I'm just run down and feeling slightly depressed.

Even after all the books I've read, after pouring through the Raising Your Spirited Child book, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, after using positive labels, after time warnings for transitions and counting to three and providing options and enforcing consequences have all become second nature, it's still simply freaking HARD.

Even if the Pookie wasn't such a contrast in temperment and behavoir (for now, though that could all change as he gets older), even if I had enough time to recharge my inner introvert, even if she wasn't in the Tyrantical Threes, we will always have to work with her intensity, persistence, sensitivity, independence, high energy level and all the other spirited traits she has.

Even when she's not in a period of disequilibrium... But oh man, when ISN'T she in a period of disequilibrium?!?! When I recently started reading Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy, by Ames and Ilg, I was frustrated by the beginning which talks about how great things are when the kids turn 3. Oh, we had maybe a week of things being pretty good. And since March, we've maybe had a week here, a few days there. But overall? We went straight from disequilibrium of the Twos into the same for the Threes.

I'm reminded of something Londo said sometime in the first or second year of the Pumpkin's life. I was talking about either going through or preparing for a sleep regression, when he responded, "How can we call it a 'regression' when it's always like this?" I couldn't really argue with him.

There are certainly degrees of how frustrating things can be. There are even times of things being smooth and easy. It's just that those times seem so short and far apart.

So my daughter has a frustrating personality. It's something I think we're always going to have to deal with. I don't WANT to call it a frustrating personality, which is why I usually refer to it as "spirit." But every now and then, it's time to call a spade a spade. And my daughter? She can often be frustrating, either because of the energy and effort it takes to parent her or because of work it takes to deal with the fight she puts up over simple tasks and the tantrums she throws over goodness knows what.

I feel like my life with her is always going to be insanely hard work and often frustrating. And that is depressing me. Or maybe I'm depressed anyway, and simply focusing on this. I can't be sure, except it's summer and that's usually when I'm at my happiest.

I don't need to go on and on about how much I love her and just how awesome she is, do I? You all know that, right? I just need to let out my frustrations in this post.

Now I'm not sure if I feel better for having written this or worse.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Step By Step

Now that my little baby has turned a year, there are just so many changes in his life--the changes from within (developmental and growth) and the changes from without (by us parents and others).

Today, I dropped both kids off at daycare/pre-school for the first time. It won't be the last, as we are making changing to our childcare situations. In fact, the Pookie had a "free trail" day at the daycare where we are starting him full time next Wednesday. The Pumpkin will continue at her pre-school (a different location) through the summer, and then we are going to start her at a Montessori school in the fall (as long as they have room and are a fit for her! I'm feeling anxious to here back from them). He apparently did great, which is such a relieve even if it's no surprise.

The Pooki's a pretty easy-going guy, loves people and people-watching, and is very flexible with changes to his schedule and environment. The good news about starting him at daycare is that he seems ready for it and like he will enjoy it, and that the place I found (after MUCH searching) is also flexible and care more about the children's individual needs than getting them on their schedule or agenda.

He is starting in the 12-18 month room, where most of the kids are walking, eating real foods and taking one nap a day. He's not really walking yet (more in paragraphs below), but he is close and will do just fine in the room. He did fine with the one nap, as he has before when we were on vacation or sometimes when he just won't take the other nap. We think he's about to transition to one nap anyway, and we'll just get him back on an earlier bedtime. But he didn't eat the real food that was provided. He did eat up all the rice cereal and purees I packed for him. He didn't drink milk out of the sippy cup, but did suck down the bottles. He's not doing everything that other kids are in the room, but he'll get there little by little. Baby steps, if needed.

Speaking of steps: the Pookie took his first unassisted step last Friday! I didn't see it, but I saw him take one on Saturday and Londo said that he did the exact same the evening before. So we're calling it last Friday. His wobbly steps and even his failed attempts are so freaking cute! He's standing up without touching anything, he's cruising all around, and he's walking with assistance like a champ. He'll soon be able to trail after his sister on two feet instead of hands and knees.

Another new development has been his ability to figure out what steps he needs to take to accomplish things. I believe The Wonder Weeks calls it the World of Sequence. Sunday night while Londo was putting the Pumpkin to bed, I was playing downstairs with the Pookie. This was nice, because I rarely get one-on-one time with him just to play. I'm usually either with both kids, or when I'm with just him, I'm nursing him, putting him to bed or getting him ready for the day.

We had a cup between us, and we were putting plastic balls into the cup and taking them out. I was amazed watching him pick up a ball, look at the cup, put it in, and then get another ball to do the same. Once it was full, he would push the cup over so they rolled out, and he would start again (once I rightened the cup). I pulled over a bucket, and he started putting some balls in that one. He would look at the ball, look at the cup, look at the bucket and I could see him decide which he wanted! And then he'd put the ball where he wanted it.

Also, he would hand me some balls to do the same. And my favorite moment of that playtime was when he was handing me balls, but I had my hand so my palm was face down. He reached with his free hand, turned my hand over, and then placed the ball in my hand!

A year ago, he was a lump of broccoli. Now he is figuring out where he wants things and what he needs to do to get them there! My little guy is growing up!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Question of the Week - Good Night, Sleep Tight

I've got so many things I want to post about, so many thoughts and moments I want to get down. However, the time I have for writing them has diminished. I really want to sit down after the kids go to bed and write up my posts and poems that are swimming around in my brain, unfortunately, by the time I get both kids to sleep, I'm exhausted and can't even put two words together.

As I mentioned recently in comments on an Ask Moxie post, I've been working with the Pumpkin to help her learn how to go to sleep by herself. I've taken over this responsibility from Londo, who had been putting her to bed, because I have this going-to-sleep training plan, which requires consistency in it being me and how she responds to me at bedtime. It was going really well, and I planned to write a post about the method I had used to get her to go to sleep all by herself! Then we went on vacation. When we got back, I was back at square one with her. URG!!!

So we are struggling, as seemingly always, with bedtimes in our house. I'm making progress with the Pumpkin, but she takes time for every transition. And although I'm no longer pumping milk for the Pookie, I am still nursing him at nights (and in mornings), so Londo can't just take him for the whole evening. On most nights, I end up putting both kids to bed.

And the Question of the Week is:

How does/do your kid/s go to bed at night?

Right now, I'm sitting on the floor next to the Pumpkin's bed maybe rubbing her back for "just one minute, and that's all" or with my hand not moving on her back. Once I can get her to lie still, that is. Getting her to lie still? That requires a LOT of talking, insisting, counting to three and finally me holding her still (because if she can't hold herself still, I will do it so she can learn how--and so she doesn't keep flinging her less-coordinated-due-to-tiredness body into the wall or off of the bed with accompanying crashes and crying).

For the Pookie, he sometimes falls asleep nursing. But most of the time, he doesn't fall asleep nursing and I put him in his crib awake, where he screams for the first minute, then fusses/cries for a few more minutes as he is lying down, and then passes out cold, usually for the whole night (meaning until after 4, and usually between 5:30 and 6:30)! When he doesn't fall asleep nursing and I try to rock him or walk with him, he just gets more and more awake. If I'm with the Pumpkin too long and the Pookie is exhausted, Londo will put him to bed with a bottle or rocking, but he also puts the Pookie in the crib awake at times. It's amazing to have a tension releaser (a kid who releases tension by crying for a few minutes in order to fall asleep) in the house.

How about your house? Are your kids going to sleep by themselves or do they still need help? Do you and your partner (if you have one) share the bedtime responsibilities? Are you in a regression or are things status quo? Let's all compare without judgement the many ways our children go to sleep!