Saturday, October 23, 2010

You Can't Send Patience, So Please Send Beer

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!

12 comments:

  1. Crikey! I somehow ended up chatting with my friend at work about potty training and she remarked that everyone at work seems to be potty trained(as far as we can tell), so surely it all works out in the end! Good luck, and cheers, I think you deserve a beer!

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  2. Oh gawd, I lucked out on the potty training front with Rosie but not the tantrums or stubborness. The thing we're trying to convince her of is that she can in fact go potty by herself... I'm getting sick of having to follow her to the bathroom, watch her do her business including wiping and washing all by herself, then follow her out. What's the point of me being there? But she's such a creature of habit, and so stubborn, that if I refuse to go with her she will have a tantrum, which, because she's got to go, leads to peeing her pants. So off to the potty I go every time she does.

    This is nothing in comparison to your potty issues though. I feel for you. But Pumpkin will get it, and I think that the change-your-own-pants strategy is a good one... how could that not work? If she threw a tantrum over it then she clearly hates doing it, which should be deterent enough, right? Bah, what do I know. I have no idea how to deal with three year olds, despite having one myself, so maybe don't listen to me!

    Also, I am so impressed that both girls will still nap walk. Rosie stopped sleeping in her stroller sometime around 18 months and Annie already won't. I'm jealous.

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  3. I love this post. I've been trying harder to really focus on the good stuff with DS. We also lucked out on the potty training front and the food front, but we have our own issues (and I firmly believe all parents do). It's great to really take a step back and reflect on how awesome they are even if they are exhausting and will take everything that you have to give.

    Ugh, I hate pregnancy/breastfeeding police. Really, people have commented to you over a beer? When I was in Starbucks the other day I order my ridiculously descriptive drink and the barrista (an older man) tacked onto the end "decaf". I said, no, no, full caf please. He scrutinized my enormous pregnant belly and said, "No, you want decaf". EXCUSE ME! Give me my fricken caffeine. What he doesn't know (and I don't know why I am justifying this) is that my doctor has told me to drink one or two cups of coffee a day because my blood pressure has been so consistently low that I am constantly lightheaded. So please give me my coffee without the side of judgement!

    Anyways, my take is drink the beer. Whatever gets you through the day mama!

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  4. Hell, I believe in an occasional beer for pregnant mamas, too!

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  5. What, nursing mothers shouldn't drink?? I had my daily glass of wine with dinner and the occasional beer out with friends, but then again my kids night-weaned early and so it wasn't rreally an issue. But actually tell someone they shouldn't. I think I'd have told them to mind their bee's wax.

    Good luck with the potty training. At least you'll have it all worked out by the time it's Petunia's turn.

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  6. @Jac

    How dare he!! I'm indignat for you.

    paola

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  7. Still 'indignant'!

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  8. Oh the potty training and the tantrums! I think things were especially bad around 3.5. Now that we've hit almost 4 the number of accidents has gone way way down, so there must be a degree of body awareness that increases right about now. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but we decided to only enforce going to the potty right before bed...you sit on the potty, you get a story. You choose not to, you don't get a story. Oddly effective. We'd tuck her in and start to leave without reading a story...and up she'd be, heading for the bathroom.

    Your story about having Pumpkin change her own pants reminded me of my favorite middle-of-the-night tantrum. Elli was furious about something, my husband was dealing with it, starting to walk away, when she decided to pee in her bed "Now you have to change my clothes and my sheets". He just threw a fleece blanket over the wet spot, handed her fresh pyjamas to change into...and went back to bed. The look on her face was absolutely priceless, and she's never tried that particular trick again!

    Oh, and I'm going to agree with everyone who thinks you should have a beer when you need one. I was always amazed at how a little bit of artificial patience (alcohol, cold medicine, really good music) could make a real world of difference in my ability to cope. Cheers!

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  9. @Jennywenny- yes, they all pee in the potty eventually, just like they all sleep eventually. I remind myself of that frequently! Pumpkin just takes her own sweet time with things.

    @Melba- If I knew how to deal with three year olds, I'd write a book and get rich. They are delightful and infuriating, at the same time, aren't they?

    @Jac- I think I would have said something very rude to that barista. Yikes. I have lowish blood pressure usually, but it was never an issue during my pregnancies. I avoid caffeine now, but that is pure self-preservation. Given the poor sleep karma around here, the last thing I need is a baby hopped up on caffeine!

    And I agree. All kids have some sort of issue that gives their parents headaches.

    @Katie- yep. The only reason I was a complete teetotaler while pregnant was that the thought of alcohol made me queasy.

    @paola- all I can say is that some Americans are just prudes about alcohol. Now, i don't necessarily think it would be a good idea for me to get rip roaring drunk, but a beer or two now and then should be fine. But I do get some dirty looks when I drink at a restaurant with the kids along. I'm not sure if that is because of the nursing or the mother part, though....

    @Today Wendy- I HOPE things get better on the potty front here as we approach 4. Please let that be the case....

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  10. Yep, same tantrums, different reasons over here. Um, if you can call them reasons... And though we lucked out on the potty-training front, my girl is regressing a bit in that area, too. Good times!

    My friend's daughter is almost 4, and she's says it's like night and day! She was totally about to sell her daughter to the gypsies just weeks before. I'm hoping that miracle change comes sooner rather than later to these parts, cause I'm thinking eBay is easier than finding gypsies.

    And you know that a glass (or 2) of wine is what is getting me through some of my evenings/nights!

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  11. @Jac, the EXACT same thing happened to me when I was a million months pregnant with Annie. Except it was a woman about my age. And I was bitchy then, let me tell you, it was not a good pregnancy (crippling sciatica), so I did say something snarky... can't remember the exact words but something along the lines of "I'll decide what I'd like to drink, and since I sleep NEVER and am exhausted, that will be a full caf whatever-drink thank you very much." I hate getting served up something with a side of judgement.

    Oh, and everyone, we had a rip-roaring, trashed-her-room style tantrum just this morning because I wouldn't cuddle in bed with her because Annie, who is fighting a really bad cold, was crying. @caramama said it right - same tantrums, different reasons. The homes of three year olds across the world ring out with the same screeching fits, seemingly no matter what we do!

    Bring on the beer. Wine. Coffee. Whatever!

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  12. Geez those tantrum days seem like so long ago. Don't know why Sweet Pea (3.8 yo) really had so few while Gus was ... oh sweet lordy. anyway.

    It totally irons itself all out (and good for you sticking to your rules and principles) and before you know it it will seem like it was just a blip in time.

    You should come to Italy. My MIL pushed beer on me because the old wives tale here is "beer makes milk." I guess they think the hops are good for you and the low alcohol is just enough to loosen any inhibitions so the glands just let loose!!

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