Posts Tagged ‘ toddler ’

Why I Made The Right Parenting Decision

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

It feels so good when you know you made the right call as a parent. That’s how I feel about our decision to start Emmett in preschool 2 days a week. I already think he’s calmer. He is so stimulated there that he seems to have gotten some wild energy out of his system. The teachers tell me he loves to follow the rules, play with other kids, and share. I really think kids need–and crave–structure, other kids, boundaries, etc.

When I was debating on sending him, I had to ask myself what is in his best interest? If you let the guilt trip and judgment from others influence you, you’re doomed as a parent. I want to do what’s best for my kid. And if I happen to benefit as well, ie: getting 2 days to myself, then it’s just an added bonus.

So here’s to following the mom instinct–and being guilt free to boot.

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My Kids’ Health Crisis, Part 2

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

I hate to see my kids sick. Who does? I hate it even more when they are diagnosed with something “rare,” which is exactly what happened to Fia after the Wednesday doctor visit.  I left my last post off with Em’s pneumonia and the removal of Fia’s alleged tonsil stone, which was followed by a 105.5 fever.

Thursday morning I had to take them both back in. Emmett’s lungs were still “wet,” but they thought he sounded a little better. One down, one to go.

Fia however, now had a huge patch of white on her left tonsil, and it was really swollen and red. A different doctor saw us and said she had a peritonsillar abscess– something that is uncommon in a young child. She said that Fia now needed the hospital-grade antibiotic shot–the same one Em had the day before.

Note to self: Never tell your kid they won’t get a shot before taking them to the doctor. Technically, I told her she probably wouldn’t need one, so I didn’t swear it. But that didn’t help the wailing. Now she had to endure what she gleefully witnessed her brother getting the day before. A butt shot. She walked out limping–which the doctor said happens. However, Fia managed to dramatically limp for the next 36 hours. She’s my girl.

The pediatrician said we had to come back the next day to see if the swelling was down. She seemed worried. She also said the white stuff we thought was a tonsil stone was actually pus. She said this could turn into a serious infection that would require an ENT to surgically drain the abscess. If it got worse, she would need to be hooked up on antibiotics at the hospital with an IV line. You know when you are on a flight with turbulence and you look to the flight attendant for reassurance and she looks just as frightened as you? Well that is how I felt.

I don’t know what it is, but I somehow worry about Fia more than Emmett. Maybe because he’s such a wild boy who is capable of large-scale destruction while remaining indestructible himself. Fia is so lithe, and while tough and fearless, has a fragile, ethereal way about her. And she’s so damn sweet. Her latest thing is she wants to be a Superhero so she can help people. She has an empathy that I think is pretty remarkable for her age. Sometimes I think she’s too good to be true. Self-indulgent and narcissistic, I know. But it’s how I feel. I was really worried with this infection.

I went home and Googled the abscess. Why is it rare in children and what causes it? Leukemia is what came up on one site. I felt a sinking, sick feeling in my stomach. I stopped Googling. We all know Google is the devil at a time like this.

I watched her like a hawk. I bribed her with television then, 6 hours later, with a lollipop, to look twice in her throat. The swollen, pus-covered bulge wasn’t changing. Neither was her fever. I kept hoping the antibiotics would work.

The next morning she was no better, though I felt calmer for some reason.  It was also Friday. Once again, I took them both back. Em was still on the right track, though he had now developed an ear infection, despite being on oral antibiotics. Cue yet another butt shot. This time Fia didn’t grin. She grimaced. She even got her limp back–for dramatic effect perhaps?

The pediatricians sent us to the head ENT doctor at Children’s Hospital. They wanted us to see a specialist before going into the weekend. I scrambled to get a sitter for Emmett in case Fia needed surgery on the spot.

I have never been so happy in my life to hear the beautiful word: tonsillitis. That’s what he said it was. He said it was swollen more on one side, which could have made the pediatricians think abscess. But the white stuff wasn’t pus–it actually was a tonsil stone. It had just grown. He said it would go away in time. Now whether my pediatricians had averted an abscess by injecting her with antibiotics or not, we won’t ever know. I stand by everything they did, but I was gleeful to hear the words, “Go on home.”

We celebrated with ice cream. Doc said it was okay.

“Just the girls,” she said as she licked her “icing-on-the-cake-with-sprinkles” cone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Em would still barely eat and only take a bottle. Of course this meant diarrhea. Which meant diaper rash. So I found myself back in the throes of newborn territory. I have given them both Culturelle like candy. The doctors told me that right now probiotics are my best friends.

Despite all this, by Sunday, both kids were doing much better. We decided some fresh beach air would do them good. Off we went.

We played in the sand and splashed at the edge of the tide. Phil and I exchanged looks of relief. But fate wasn’t done with us yet.  We changed Emmett’s diaper in the back of the car. As I went to put his pants on, the wild-child-who-can’t-sit-still turned around and flung himself forward, falling face first onto the seat back. He stood up shrieking. Blood was streaming from the outer corner of his right eye.  We thought he sliced his eyeball. We threw them both in their car seats and rushed to the closest ER. He missed his eyelid by 1/8th of an inch.

When the boy is sick, he’s super cuddly. When he’s not, you have to be on a constant death watch. He would find danger in a padded room.

Ending the epic week in the Marina Del Ray emergency room begs the question: How many gods did I piss off in my previous life? I am burning 7 twigs tonight, one for each day of the week. I will recite “Ill luck is broken as these words are spoken.”

Yes, I’m resorting to fairy-magic, hippie-dippy crazy crap at this point. Why not? Of course if my luck doesn’t turn around, my twigs could catch fire and burn the house down…

 

 

 

Cartoon pic of sick kids via Shutterstock

 

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When To Start Time-Outs?

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

I’ve said it before, but I think I’m going to be saying this for a long, long time. I can’t grasp how the male species has survived. This, after having a boy. An 18-month old boy. A boy who has turned from tame to terror. Albeit, a remarkably happy terrorist.

My friends with boys just laugh it off. They are already in this club and have accepted what it means to have birthed a Y chromosome. For those of us who have girls, it is a rude awakening.

Fia was a wild child. I used to joke she was “like a boy.” I still hear moms saying that about their daughters. Baaahhaaaa. Not even close.

Fia has tons of energy and is still full of spunk. But she isn’t stupid. She didn’t climb up on counters and reach for butcher knives. I wouldn’t turn my back for 3.3 seconds only to find her dangling from a bar. Or climbing in the dryer. Or crawling in a drawer. Or, Or, Or…I could go on and on.

It seems each day I am reaching a new level of madness. It is making me feel like I no longer have control of my house. We are moving and our current place is really hard to childproof. But we are here for 3 more deadly months. Who knows what this tornadic force will do next? I can’t even make supper anymore without him nearly losing a limb. Hello? Calvary? Anyone there?

The thing is, he has about the best temperament of any child I’ve met. He giggles in his sleep and sings in his highchair. And as, um, “active” as he is, he will sit for 30 minutes and page through books. At least he used to do all these things. I’m scared I’m losing that part of him. I’m scared he’s turning into a gorilla.

So what to do? He is starting to get angry when his needs aren’t instantly met. He gets frustrated if he can’t figure out a toy and sends it hurtling across the room. Yesterday I turned my back for 1.3 seconds. He had a glass I had just set down, dumped the water out and as I screamed, “NOOO” he looked at me with that mischievous grin and sent it crashing in a million pieces on the floor. He has discovered that pulling hair makes Fia cry. He thinks “finished” with his food means throwing it all on the ground. “Emmett—NOOOOOO!!!!!” is becoming the dominant phrase in our house.

Oh, but it gets better. He yanked Phil’s prescription sunglasses off his face today and threw them across the room. As usual, we reacted. Phil yelled, “NO EMMETT! “YOU DO NOT DO THAT.” Emmett immediately burst into tears. Wailing. The word NO also equals meltdown. Or, in an act of animalistic defiance, he starts to eat his arm or foot. I am raising a gorilla, a canibal and a crybaby.

My sitter Michele just laughs. She has 5 kids, 4 of them boys. She said Emmett definitely ranks up there as a wild one, but at the end of the day she insists he’s simply “all boy.” She points to how fearless and fun his disposition is. I can’t entirely disagree. My pediatrician has said he is one of the more active babies she’s seen, but the fact that he does (or did??) sit and read and have quiet time made her think he just has a lot of energy to burn. My in-laws say he’s a normal, happy toddler. How can this be? “Normal” is making me pull out my hair. How does the male species justify their insane behavior as “normal???”

I know I’m probably painting a terrible picture of him and it sounds contradictory when I say he is almost always in a great mood. But these little snapshots happen throughout the day. What do I do? Should I start putting him in his crib for a timeout? I feel like he’s too little to “get it.” Am I being had?  Will he begin to understand consequences and boundaries at 18 months? Fia is 3 1/2 and I honestly can’t remember when she had her first time out. But it definitely wasn’t this young. She was far tamer. To date, she’s probably had less than 7 time-outs.

When he turns 2, I’m planning on putting him in preschool 2 mornings a week. I think some structure will help. But that is still 6 months away. A lot can happen.Maybe I just need to embrace this chapter. Let it pass. Or maybe I should find a different preschool… one that will take him now.

Looking for advice, tips and a survival timeline. Please.

 

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Dooty Diaries: When to Back Off the Potty Training?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, thanks everyone for sharing their potty training suggestions.  She’s backing off for now but, for those of you who may be in the same boat, she has summed up your comments below.

A month ago, in my first installment of Dooty Diaries, I posed the question: Can you miss the boat on potty training? The response was overwhelming. As near as I can tell, there’s no boat to be missed. Yet here I am with a kid who will turn 3 in July and shows absolutely no interest in using the potty. So what am I doing wrong? My best guess is that I want it too much. My daughter is pushing back against my desire for her to use the potty. The more I want her to go, the more she resists. It’s one of the few areas in her world where she is in complete control. I know I could probably force the issue but the idea of it just doesn’t sit right with me.

Many readers took the time to share their potty training experience and to offer suggestions. The vast majority of those who commented suggested that I simply back off and wait until my daughter is ready. Since I think our problem is a “simple” power struggle, I’ve decided to take that advice and see what happens. For those of you who are not locked in a power struggle with your toddler but who could use some help in the potty training area, I’ll do my best to sum up the many other great ideas left by fellow readers. Here they are:

Be a Role Model: According to a former preschool teacher, being a good role model for your child is a must. This of course means going to the bathroom in front of your child. I’m here to tell you I can go like a pro, and in front of little eyes too. My daughter has seen me peeing expertly for going on three years now. She is not impressed. Despite my best efforts, it would seem that I am a sh–ty potty model.

Log Potty Time: Quite a few readers swear that success flows from logging potty time. One reader recommends that I put my daughter on the toilet or potty seat for five minutes every 20 minutes, as well as every time I go. Using this method, her son was using the potty regularly by 16 months but wasn’t fully trained until 30 months.

Intriguing, but let’s break it down. If I plop my daughter on the potty for 5 minutes of every 20, she’ll be sitting there for 15 minutes every hour. That’s a full hour on the potty for each 4-hour period of time. Let’s assume the average toddler sleeps 12 hours a day. That leaves 12 hours available for potty training, three of which will be spent on the potty. Your average month has 30 days. Three hours a day multiplied by 30 days means my daughter would be spending 90 hours per month on the potty. Multiply that by the 14 months it took this mom’s son to become fully trained and you get 1260 hours of potty time, or 52½ days. Wow, this little boy logged some serious potty time.

Like every stay-at-home mother, I spend a butt load of time with my daughter. But to spend 52 days of the year on the potty? No thank you. Clearly I’m poking fun here but it seems to me to be a function of quality vs. quantity. Sorry, but I’m not about to invest this amount of time in the bathroom.

Watch Stupid Movies. Another mommy swears by what she bills as “the DUMBEST movie in the world.” Apparently it’s a bad movie from the late 80s or early 90s with “a bunch of completely annoying songs.” The songs got under this mom’s skin but somehow got her daughter on the potty within 2 or 3 days after she started watching it.

Okay, my daughter loves videos so this holds some promise for me. There’s only one problem. There are so many stupid movies that I can’t figure out which one she’s talking about. Molly, if you’re reading this please give me a little more to go on. You mentioned Potty Time but there must be 50 videos with Potty Time in the title. Do you mean the one with the song Super Duper Pooper? Because it looks like it could be the dumbest movie in the world.

Buy Big Kid Underpants. A number of readers suggested I take my daughter to the store and let her pick out special “big girl” underpants. Armed with underwear I should then repeatedly explain the importance of wearing them and of using the potty. This should be sufficient motivation for my daughter to trade in her diaper for underpants.

I wish. I tried this but even in the store she declared: “I don’t want underpants!” I bought them anyway. I took them home, washed them and made her try them on. It was not pleasant for either of us.

That was a few months ago and since then I’ve only forced them on her a time or two. Interestingly she’ll talk about her underpants. Sometimes she’ll get them out of the drawer and arrange them neatly on her bed. “Look at the beautiful underpants,” she’ll say. Beautiful though they may be, she does not want to wear them.

Make a Big Deal. Lots of readers said it helped when they made a huge deal any time their children went in the potty. Singing and dancing were also key motivators.

The first time our daughter tinkled in the potty my husband and I scared the crap out of her with our cheering and clapping. She bawled her head off and wouldn’t go anywhere near the potty. Our singing and dancing also flopped. What can I say? We can’t sing or dance to save our lives and our daughter knows it.

Offer Prizes & Rewards: A number of people recommended using small prizes such as dollar store items, stickers or candy as rewards for using the potty. One reader used this method with her two girls and both were trained within a few days.

I’m not knocking this as a legitimate and effective method of potty training but I just can’t do it, at least as far as the prizes go. I am fundamentally opposed to buying a bunch of junk to try to motivate my daughter. She isn’t wowed by stickers either, so regrettably, that’s out for us. I’m not wild about the idea of giving her candy but I’m willing to give M&Ms a try . . . just as soon as she shows some interest in going.

Ditch the Diaper. Another reader whose daughter was fully potty trained at age two, suggested setting a target date and switching to underpants when the day comes. With this, of course, you need to make a huge deal about every little drop that lands in the potty.

The obvious problem here, if you read my original blog, is that I’m not willing to deal with cleaning up messes throughout the day. If we didn’t have wall-to-wall carpeting throughout our house then maybe. In fact, we did give this method a chance one time about a year ago. That was before we moved into our current, and unfortunately carpeted, house. But regardless, I’m just not willing to run after my child cleaning up her messes.

Go Naked.  According to many readers, I’m not too late. One mother didn’t try to train her daughter until she was nearly 2½. It took her all of 2 days. Her advice was to completely clear my schedule for a few days and let my daughter run around naked from the waist down, watching her like a hawk until she makes a mess. I should ask her repeatedly (every 10 to 15 minutes) if she has to use the potty. The second she starts to pee I should grab her and run like hell to the potty.

There is one scenario and one scenario only in which I can see this working for me, and that is if I cleared my schedule and went camping. However, I loathe camping. For all the reasons stated previously, this method is not for me. See above.

Peer Pressure. Another reader didn’t train her son until after his third birthday and says the biggest motivating factor was being around kids who were using the potty at school. She stopped pushing and let her son come around to the idea, while pointing out when his friends or older cousins would use the potty.

My daughter turns 3 in July and will start preschool in the fall. I sincerely hope she’s fully trained by then but if not, perhaps she’ll change her tune once she sees other kids using the potty at school. My daughter’s teacher said most kids who aren’t trained at the start of school are fully trained within the first couple of weeks. This could be us! Let’s hope.

Clean Your Own Mess. One reader actually suggested that if your child does a job in his or her pants it’s his or her job to clean up the mess. Here’s her comment:

I don’t think you missed the boat, but I think you have made things harder for yourself. Take the diapers off, put her in big girl underpants and pull the potty out. When she has accidents it is HER job to take her underpants off and clean up the mess. Mom and dad should be there to help, but it shouldn’t be your responsibility to clean her up. When she goes on the potty (actually pees or poops, not just sits on the potty) give her a reward. There shouldn’t be a choice at this point. You’re the parent and two and half is old enough to be potty trained… Good luck!

Let her clean up her own mess? Surely you jest. It shouldn’t be my responsibility to clean her up? Whose should it be? I barely trust my husband with the task let alone my 2½-year-old. She passes a wadded up wash cloth over her mouth, smearing peanut butter across her cheek and into her hair, and she thinks she has cleaned herself. Imagine if she did this with her poop. Ummm…No. Not happening.

I hate to be judgmental but there are no words to describe what I think of this idea. Oh wait, yes there are: plain crazy.

Exercise Parental Authority. Another reader thinks my problem is that I’m not being firm enough with my daughter. She suggests I try exercising some parental authority, pointing out that at age 2 children are perfectly capable of understanding how to pee and poop in the potty.

I agree that most 2-year-olds are capable of understanding how to pee and poop in the potty. I’m just not willing to force my daughter to sit on the potty against her will (and certainly not 52 days of the year). I exercise my parental authority all the live-long day but, as this reader points out, you can’t use your authority as the parent to force your child into being ready.

Back Off. One mother whose son was motivated by peer pressure, recommends that I back off. She rewarded her son with small prizes once she thought he was ready, but admits she didn’t think the incentives would have worked if he wasn’t ready. She said:

If she’s hiding it from you, I’d back off for a bit and try again in a month or two. Read books about potty training, point out that other kids are using the toilet, but let her tell you when she’s ready to start. Good luck!

Wait Until They’re Ready. The overwhelming majority of parents who read my blog and took the time to comment agreed with that mother and recommended that I simply wait until my daughter is ready. So now we are all sitting tight.

For my part I haven’t asked her if she wants to use the potty and I’ve taken away the potty seats. For her part she has quit screaming that she wants to wear her stinky, poopy diaper. She has started, once again, to tell me when she has pooped. In the last few days she has even asked me to change her dirty diaper. It’s progress, I think.

Thanks to each and every one of you who took the time to comment. I very much appreciate the advice, even the advice I didn’t or don’t plan to take. Hopefully my daughter will come around soon. I’ll let you know when she does.

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Dooty Diaries: Can You Miss the Boat on Potty Training?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, wonders if you can miss the boat on potty training. If you have suggestions, please share!


My mom always told me I talked early and was fully potty trained at a very young age. Like, by a year-and-a-half or something ridiculous. Apparently the potty part happened in all of one day and didn’t involve training of any kind. The day I realized that unleashing my bowels equaled immediate discomfort I dumped my diaper and never looked back.

Like me, my daughter also talked at a very young age. Naturally, I assumed that potty training would follow early too.

At 15-months-old she said “poop” or “poopy” every time I changed her dirty diaper. After bragging incessantly to the other moms at the playground, I ran out and bought her the cutest little froggy potty you’ve ever seen. She was enamored with it for sure, but graced it only with hugs and kisses, never her bottom. Elmo, on the other hand, spent quite a lot of time on it.

Over the months we tried various methods and enticements. We set her up with a pile of her favorite books. That held promise for, like, a day. We rewarded her with M&Ms. But, being the suckers that we are (and by we, I mean my husband), she polished off a few bags before we realized the only success we were going to have was weight gain.

We then got the brilliant idea to let her watch her favorite video—Mickey Mouse Clubhouse—while sitting on the potty. We thought if she sat there long enough, eventually she’d go. Fat chance. She once sat watching happily for two hours with nary a tinkle.

At some point we traded in the froggy for an Elmo seat on the big potty. Didn’t help. The bottom line is she has zero interest in using the potty.

Not long ago a friend suggested I forgo diapers and try putting her in cotton training pants. The theory, of course, is that soggy underpants are so uncomfortable they’re bound to produce instant potty training success.

Given that this is how I was trained it sounded perfectly plausible to me. I ran out and bought a mega-pack of training pants and wasted no time getting started.

My daughter peed within 10 minutes of wearing her new underpants. She didn’t tell us she had peed—the puddle on the kitchen floor tipped us off—and it sure didn’t seem to bother her. We stripped off pair Number 1, cleaned her up and put on pair Number 2.

Just about the time we finished cleaning up the kitchen floor she peed again. And pooped. But again, she didn’t bother to tell us. She just sat there doodling at the kitchen table until we sniffed her out.

I’m sorry but…what? How long are you supposed to let your kid wallow in dripping wet, poop-filled underpants to get the full benefit of this method?  Clearly I hadn’t thought this through. My kid had poop-stained pee running down her leg. Am I supposed to let her walk around the house like that? Because we don’t live in a barn. I don’t particularly enjoy cleaning up the kitchen floor but our rugs? Furniture? There’s no way.

This method is not for me. And unfortunately, the time I’m willing to let her stew in filth does not create sufficient discomfort for my kid to feel the need to run to the potty.

So here we are. She’s two-and-a-half years old (32 months actually) and I feel like I’ve missed the boat on potty training. What’s worse is that I have no clue what to do.

She used to tell us when she had to poop. Now she denies that she’s done it. Me: “Honey did you go poopy?” Her: “No, I didn’t!”

Sometimes she preemptively denies it. She’ll look up at me out of the blue and shout “I’m not going poopy!” when, clearly, she is mid-poop.

Now when I change her diaper she cries “Don’t change my diaper! I want that poopy diaper! I WANT TO WEAR THAT STINKY DIAPER!”

Help me.

My daughter cannot be motivated, pressured or persuaded by anything or anyone. The more I want something the more she resists. She’s incredibly strong willed.

We are getting nowhere so I’m laying off for a while. I’m hoping one day she’ll just decide she’s ready and it will be over and done with. I just can’t help wanting to speed up the process.

Did I miss the boat? What do I do? I’ll take any suggestions you have. Please, I’m begging!

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