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Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Flipping through my blog, I realize that I don’t share too many stories about Caroline. But I really should. Because the kid is hilarious. Basically my entire personal Facebook account consists of funny Caroline quotes and stories. So, here’s a post-Christmas Caroline story for you all, too long for Facebook, that I haven’t yet shared anywhere:
I had gotten Caro a dollhouse for Christmas. Not just any dollhouse. A giant dollhouse. The size happened purely by accident. I’m not so good with the measuring and the planning. I just ordered a dollhouse that I thought looked pretty sweet. Which it is, but it’s also so huge that I could basically quit paying rent and just live in it.
The enormity of said dollhouse meant that I had to rearrange Caro’s entire room to find the wall space to fit the thing. I had pretty much managed it (by getting rid of some furniture), except for the problem of her stuffed animals. Any parent will vouch for me on this issue. The damn things just multiply. I swear they are breeding in there overnight. I don’t even want to know how it happens but I am positive that it does. No kid needs half as many stuffed animals as they actually have. I can’t even remember where half of them came from, which only strengthens my theory that something twisted is going on in there while our backs are turned. (Half of them are rabbits, okay? Case closed.)
I digress. So my solution to the stuffed animal problem was to rig up one of those Pet Nets, to stash the suckers up near the ceiling, out of the way. I was struggling to put it up one morning when Caro noticed what I was up to.
“Mama, what are you doing?” she asked suspiciously.
“I’m putting up a hammock for your friends to live in,” I said cheerfully. “This way they can look down at you and say, ‘hey Caro!’ and whenever you want to play with one, I’ll get it down for you.”
Her bottom lip started to quiver. “No, Mama,” she wailed. “I want my friends to live down here with me!”
“But honey there’s just no room,” I tried to reason with her. “I don’t want to have to get rid of any of your friends.”
This only set her off. “NO!!” she screeched. “Cannot get rid of my friends, no!” She snatched up the box to the Pet Net and pointed furiously at a forlorn-looking hippopotamus sitting in it among the other stuffed animals. “See!” she yelled accusingly. “Look at him! He looks sad! I don’t want my friends to be sad, no!!”
(To the extreme right is the hippo who screwed me. To be fair, he does look a tad miserable.)
We went around in circles for a little bit, but, in the end, my strong-willed child won out. She and that hippo outfoxed me. This time.
Hmph. I wasn’t using the changing table, anyway.
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Saturday, December 17th, 2011
Remember that time I blogged about how Caro potty trained herself? Yeah… forget I ever said that.
She was pretty much fully potty trained when I wrote that. And then? Then she went to Arizona with Tyler for Thanksgiving, and he put her in diapers the whole time. And she promptly un-potty-trained herself. I cannot, for the life of me, get her to go on the potty.
I’ve written about degprogramming after visitation before, but this is way worse. If we’re all being honest, this is pretty much grounds for murder. Right? I picture the scenario to go something like this:
Judge: You are here to be sentenced for the murder of your ex-husband. Do you have anything to say for yourself?
Me: Please, your honor, he un-potty-trained my almost-three-year-old.
Judge: Case dismissed.
(Brutally obvious disclaimer: I am kidding about that, okay, people?)
I know, I know, some of you warned me in comments and tweets that potty training regression might happen. But I guess I had hoped they were vicious lies. Turned out you were absolutely correct. I’ll never doubt you again, internet!
I shouldn’t completely blame Tyler, because regression seems like a pretty common thing. And I probably shouldn’t have made the final push on ditching the diapers shortly before she went on that trip. Oh well… poor planning on my part. But the end result is the same: she will sit on the potty, but she won’t go, and sometimes she’ll beg to put a diaper on and throw a tantrum when I tell her that we don’t do diapers anymore.
(I swore I’d never be that mom who talks about potty stuff on the internet, but well, here we are. Great to be here with you guys.)
I know that potty training is something that can’t really be pushed, and she’s definitely the sort of kid who has to make it her decision, so I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do.
So I turn to you all, who gave me such great advice about ditching the binky: what do you do about potty training regression? I hope someone out there has something that worked for them, because preschool age is rapidly approaching, and I’d like to have her re-potty trained so she can start on time!
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Monday, December 12th, 2011
Well, here’s an awkward topic for you.
My ex-mother-in-law always used to gush about how pretty Caroline was, to the point that it was almost uncomfortable. (I’m allowed to say this now because of the “ex” part. I think.) And I’m not just talking about the way your in-laws can annoy you no matter what they say. “You’re so pretty, Caroline,” she’d coo. “You’re such a doll. A beautiful little doll. You are gorgeous. What a pretty girl.” And so on, and so forth.
And I know this is horrible of me to think, and rude of me to say, but… I really don’t care for it when people go on and on to my daughter about how pretty she is.
It’s not that I don’t think she is. I mean, she’s my kid. I think she’s beautiful. But must we zero in on little girls’ appearances and ignore all the other great qualities about them?
What’s wrong with “You’re such a smart girl”? “You’re so creative”? “You’re so good at drawing”? “You know so many words”? Sure, tell her she’s pretty, because she is… because all children are. But don’t leave it at that. She isn’t even three yet, but everything anyone says to a toddler leaves an impression, and so a repeated focus on “prettiness” only tells her that it’s her appearance that is important, that it’s her blue eyes or her blonde highlights that people think are her best qualities, and not her big vocabulary or her sharp curiosity about everything around her.
There are enough messages lurking out there in the world for our little girls about appearance, prettiness, skinniness. There’s enough emphasis on it in the media and in society and in everything they’ll see and hear and read. Must they hear it from their family, their friends, their role models, that what matters most to us, and therefore to them, is the curl in their hair or the length of their eyelashes?
It seems silly, it seems subtle, it seems frivolous and picky and unimportant and possibly even ungrateful, I’m sure, for me to be griping about this. But I have seen so many times the way my smallest, most offhand comment can make the biggest impression on my little girl. I don’t want everyone she meets to reinforce the message that is already rampant out there… that what’s important is not what you have in your brain, but what you see in the mirror.
I want her to grow up secure in the knowledge that it doesn’t matter what she looks like. That although it’s all well and good to be considered attractive, her time is better spent learning math or biology or a foreign language than how to count calories or apply makeup. When I was in middle school, I’d have given anything to be the pretty and popular girl, and now I’d give anything to go back and tell myself that really, none of that would matter in ten years, or even five.
I appreciate that so many people in my life think that my little girl is beautiful, because I think she is too… inside and out. But she is also so many other things, and for the sake of her self-esteem, I’d prefer to focus on those.
What do you think? Does it bother you when others focus solely on your child’s appearance, or do you simply take it as a compliment and move on?
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Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
When I was a brand-new parent, I was a complete and total germaphobe.
Gallon-size jug of hand sanitizer at the entrance to our apartment as a hint to everyone who entered? Check. Shopping cart covers and antibacterial cases for her binkies? Check, check. Toys washed in diluted bleach, bottles boiled, and pump parts sterilized every night? Check, check, and check.
To be fair, we did two weeks’ hard time in the NICU for pneumonia, so it was somewhat warranted…
However, I, like most of us, slowly made the transition from germaphobic brand-new parent to, well, it’s not that I want her to be dirty, but if it happens, it happens. I hadn’t really thought about this until the other day, when we were on a train to Grand Central. Caroline licked the window of the filthy train and I barely even flinched.
At work last week I walked into the conference room and some of my coworkers were having a conversation about how they think that growing up “too clean” can lead to improper development of kids’ immune systems. “Hey, Julia,” one of the faculty said. “You have a baby, right? Are you a germaphobe about everything she touches?”
I snorted. “No,” I said. “Are you kidding? That kid is constantly filthy.” They laughed at me. “I’m serious,” I said. “If I were to keep her and everything she touched completely spotless and sterilized, I’d never have time to do anything else.”
Maybe it’s that I work at a place where there sometimes is literally hepatitis all over the counter (until I sterilize it, okay? Don’t freak out), but a little dirt and grime doesn’t get to me like it used to. Besides, she’s in daycare all day. I used to whisper to her to stay away from the snotty kid as I was leaving, but she never listened (kids these days!) and anyway they were all “the snotty kid” by mid-December anyway, including her.
In any case, I believe that in many ways it’s counterproductive to raise your kid in a bubble. I won’t go into technical stuff about the immune system, but I think it’s better for her health and it’s definitely better for my sanity if I don’t go around spraying everything she touches with bleach. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad or negligent mom… it just means I’m realistic, you know? For me, relaxing a little bit about stuff like this is sort of part of my development as a parent, just like I’ve slowly tried to let go of my helicopter mom tendencies.
So go forth, child. Be free, and be dirty.
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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
I wrote a post like this, long ago, about things I always said I’d never do once I had a baby that got shot to hell once my baby was actually born. I think it’s about time for round two: the toddler edition.
“When my kid is a toddler, I’ll never…”
1. Let her use a pacifier. Little kids walking around with binkies in their mouths were always a pet peeve of mine. Well, let me tell you (as I’ve told you before), Caroline is so attached to hers that prying that thing out of her mouth is a lot easier said than done. We’re pretty much down to naps and nighttime, but I haven’t dared to take the final push just yet. It has taken me this long to even get to that point because the fact is, I don’t have time to deal with my entire house going up in an apocalyptic mushroom cloud every morning over a stupid piece of plastic and rubber. I’m late for work, here’s your pacifier.
2. Feed her junk food. I try not to do this often, but there are several reasons I caved on this one. First of all, some days she’ll refuse to eat anything at all and if I can get a couple of Goldfish in her so she doesn’t starve and/or stay up all night, then that’s what I’m gonna do. Second, I just don’t have time to whip up wholesome food every single time she eats. Third, once in awhile I want to eat junk food, and she sees me doing it and makes a beeline for the bag of whatever salty, fatty deliciousness I’m shoving into my own face. And people, I’ve got enough on my plate as it is. Let me have my junk food, I beg of you.
3. Let her watch TV. I was opposed to this because of all the studies that tell you that if you let your kids watch TV they’ll end up with ADHD or Ebola or it’ll make all their teeth fall out or whatever. But listen, that wonderful machine lets me prepare dinner and clean the house and occasionally get an extra twenty glorious minutes of sleep. There’s no way I’m ever gonna pass that up. Everything in moderation, right?
4. Allow her to talk back to me in public. Haha. Hahahaha. Isn’t it hilarious that I ever thought I’d be able to control stuff like that?
5. Carry her everywhere she goes. Okay, she is getting to be way too big to be carried anywhere, at least for me, since she’s nearly a third of my weight at this point. And I shouldn’t let her force me to. But the fact is, sometimes I really need to get somewhere, like work, and she just. will. not. go where I need her to. So I have to pick her up. And then she wants to be carried the next time around. And repeat. It’s a vicious cycle and I haven’t figured out how to break it. In the meantime, the kid’s getting carried into daycare every time I’m late. Which is… every day.
6. Refuse to read books over and over. Because reading is good for them. Right? It feeds their brains. And sets up good habits for lifelong learning. Except by the time I’ve read If You Give a Pig a Pancake seventy-five times, there is nothing on this earth that could possibly resuscitate my brain from its childrens-book-coma and make me become a normal person who can function normally in adult society. The other day, after a particularly long weekend of The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, a patient asked for whitening and I came thisclose to asking them if they’d tried something called VOOM. I wish I were kidding.
Now, it’s up to you: leave your toddler I-will-never’s in the comments, so I don’t feel so bad!
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Babies, Caroline, Daycare, Residency, Single Parenting, Television, Toddlers | Categories:
Caroline, Must Read, Residency, Single Parenting, Unexpectedly Expecting, Work/Life Balance