I took the girls out for their "nap walk" today, and three different people stopped me and told me how precious they were. And they were- at that moment, sound asleep in their double stroller. Petunia had reached over and was holding on to Pumpkin's blanket, and it would have taken a very hard heart indeed not to think they were cute.
But a mere 30 minutes earlier, Hubby and I were struggling to deal with a clingy 1 year old who screams if I hand her to anyone else, including her Daddy, and a 3.5 year old throwing a whopper of a tantrum over our insistence that if she is not going to use the potty, then she at least has to change herself out of her wet pants. This tantrum went on for at least 45 minutes. She finally accepted that we weren't going to change her pants for her and got into her new underwear on her own, but then she had another accident before she could get her pants on- because of course, she hadn't sat on the potty after her first accident. We're trying yet another new approach to the potty issue around here. In this one, we don't remind her or push her to go potty. We reward her if she sits on the potty and we have her change her own clothes after accidents. This is day one of the new regime, so it is too early to say whether it is going to do anything other than add a bunch of tantrums to our life.
My ability to deal with the potty issues and the other tantrums that come with being three and a half years old is severely compromised by my lack of sleep- Petunia's sleep went all to Hell during the 6 weeks or so of recurrent fevers, and we haven't gotten it back on track yet. Some nights, she does fairly well- even sleeping 5 hours in a row sometimes. And then there are nights like last night, when she wakes up every two hours.
Now, I could feel really bad, because here I have one kid who won't sleep and another who won't pee in the potty. But I actually think we're doing better than that summary implies. At her check up yesterday, Petunia was judged to be developing well, and was pronounced a smart little baby. (I know, they say that to all the mothers. But I still think she IS a smart little baby!) She is a delight to play with, and although I think it is too early for us to claim responsibility for any of her good traits (like being such an easy baby to take to restaurants), at least I don't think we've messed anything up yet. The clinginess is normal for her age, and I suspect it will pass once she learns to walk and decides that she wants to explore more on her own. I also believe that the best thing to do is to give her the attention she wants now, to lay a solid foundation of attachment from which she can explore later. Pumpkin was an even clingier baby, and is not clingy at all now.
And despite her infuriating three-and-a-half-ness, Pumpkin is a pretty amazing little girl, too. She doesn't always eat all that well when we go out to eat, but she almost never disrupts the meal (and I do claim some credit for this- Hubby and I ate many tag-team meals as we followed through on our promise to take Pumpkin out of the restaurant if she didn't behave). She can throw an impressive tantrum, but she is also quick to come and give me a hug and tell me that she loves me. When she chooses to argue rationally instead of throw a tantrum, she makes a good argument. She's very logical, and will catch us in any inconsistencies. I am not too proud to admit that I've lost more than one argument to her! She loves her Chinese lessons, and is also delighting in learning "pre-reading" phonics- she can tell us what letter most words start with, and is starting to get the hang of sounding out an entire word. I know that the tantrums and stubbornness are normal for her age, too, and will pass. Or at least, the tantrums will. I suspect she will be stubborn, um, I mean persistent for life. Let's just say that I see a lot of her Daddy in her in that regard.
So, I think I just need to come up with the patience to get through this difficult phase without compromising my parenting beliefs- or at least without compromising them too much, too often. Which brings me to beer. I think I should drink a beer more often- one beer tends to make me mellow and more patient. To the people who think that a nursing mother shouldn't drink (and for the one or two readers I have who aren't mothers, yes, people think this and no, they won't hesitate to tell me what they think)- I say: consider the alternatives. Cheers!