Potty Training 101 – aka: reality is crap

It’s been about 2 weeks since we entered into the serious phase of Potty Training our 2/5 yr old.  Let me just say, I taught preschool/toddlers for 5 years.  Somehow I missed out on the full-on potty training involvement though.  Just like everything else with parenthood, it’s never the same until YOU are the parent and YOUR kid is the one who’s wet undies you are obsessed over keeping dry.

We’ve known the potty training phase was on the horizon for a while.  But with the little bit of knowledge I do have on the subject, I knew we were NOT going to rush it.  Boys are notorious for being hard to train.  Like their older counter-parts, little boys seem to have some control issues with regards to the potty…if my hubby’s 20 min poop sessions are any example.

Now that J is getting closer to the big 3, school suggested that we push a little harder so that he could move into the big kid room.  (BTW – suddenly realizing your LO is getting older NEVER gets easier.  I will be crying every year or more for the next eternity).  We already had the little potty set up in the bathroom.  He’d managed to use it a few times randomly since we got it.  One time about a week after we bought the potty, J pooped in it all on his own! Hooray! Except that I was in the shower at the time.  Lovely to jump out of the shower with your hair still soapy so that you can wipe a tiny ass before poop ends up all over the bathroom.

Now that we’re a couple weeks into the “serious” training, J has pretty much got it.  And my pretty much, I mean that he gets it when he wants to.  He held it for almost 4 hours when we went to the zoo the other day (phew) but then peed 2 times in an hour this morning within 5 feet of the potty.  Yay parenthood.  Guess we aren’t done with wet pants and laundry every other day yet!  Not that I had any misgivings about potty training.  I expected there to be an ebb and flow.  But at some point I’m going to get really tired of pee on my…well everything. On another note, we totally should have gotten furniture covers when we started this journey.  Turns out J’s favorite place to pee his undies is while sitting in Daddy’s favorite chair. LOL.

Really though, he’s doing so great.  Such a smart little boy with such a strong spirit.  He’ll get it 100% soon enough.  For now, we’ll deal with the accidents and slight pee smell in our house, and love him all the same.

Play places as “no-sorry” zones

Play places are a god-send when parents decide to take their little ones out of the house for a few hours to get some interaction with other kids, get some fresh air, or just a little change of scenery. Parks, indoor or outdoor playgrounds, gyms, and other for-children-only play places all provide that much needed location for social interaction, plus the added bonus that you don’t have to clean up after the mess your kids make while they play. No need for the destruction of your own furniture when you can let your kids climb, slide, and jump all over heavy duty “child-proof” play things.

But, here’s the catch. If you spend any amount of time in these play places, surrounded by other kids and their parents, you’ll soon realize that you spend most of your time there apologizing for your kids behavior. Yes, it is your responsibility to make sure that you kid isn’t being the bully of the playground, but is it really necessary to have to say “sorry” every time your 2 year old decides that it’s their turn on the slide and jumps in front of the 3 other kids patiently waiting in line?

The whole idea of visiting these places is so your children get some social interaction and start to learn from the things and people around them. Sharing, taking turns, playing nice, not pushing – those are all valid lessons they will *hopefully* pick up on. But why, WHY, do parents feel obligated, or guilted into feeling like their child is constantly doing things that need apologized for?

Yes, my kid probably did steal that toy. And guess what, if I saw it happen then I will use that moment, or another one of my choosing, to teach the lesson about not stealing and instead sharing the toys. But right now, I don’t want to have to turn to the other child’s parent and say “Sorry, he’s still learning about sharing.” “Sorry, she takes a while to go down the slide” “Sorry, we are still learning about taking turns.” Why should we be sorry that our children are learning lessons, learning how to play nice, learning what happens when they don’t? Why should parents have to apologize constantly for kids being kids?

I know what you’re going to say, “What about the kids who are being purposefully mean to other kids and the parents aren’t intervening?” Well, frankly, you chose to bring your kid to a place where that might happen. The way that you teach your children probably isn’t the way someone else teaches their own. That’s life. Instead of passing judgment or expecting that kid’s parents to apologize to the whole playground, why not instead move your kids to another area of the swing-set and move on. If your kid was being the mean one, would you really want to say “sorry” to every parent present? Probably not. Wouldn’t it be much nicer to have your 2 hours of playtime and be able to head home feeling like naptime will be a huge success today? Instead of being on-edge the whole 2 hours as you constantly micro-manage your child so that when they forget to wait their turn you are there to apologize for their child-like action?

It should be one of the unwritten rules that these play places are gathering spots for parents and children alike, where there is less judgement, less parent-to-parent guilt. These should be “no-sorry” zones. Let’s let parents off the hook here. Let them watch their children without feeling constantly aware of the judgment of every other parent in a 10 foot radius. Let them and their kids play without the need to apologize for every action. Play without the “sorry” around every corner.

12 Signs you’ve reached Terrible Toddlerhood

We’ve all been warned: The Terrible Two’s! What they didn’t tell you is that the “terrible” part starts as soon as that little one learns to walk and talk, and doesn’t really end until they’re at least 4…If you ask me the worst is right when they hit about 3 years, they can run faster than you, talk in sentences and therefore tell you exactly why they aren’t going to do what you asked, and they are starting to learn they have their own say in what happens.

Here are 12 tel-tale signs you’ve entered into the Terrible stage of Toddlerhood:

1.  You argue over food. Try convincing a toddler that a graham cracker that has been broken in ½ is the same thing as one that is full-sized. I dare you. Hint: you won’t win.
2.  Everything is a playground. Nothing is off-limits anymore. Not the counter tops, and especially not all those doors you put the baby locks on.  Somehow in the last few months they’ve figured out how to master scaling every chair, how to make those baby locks obsolete, and now they can reach every door handle in the house too.  Start locking the bathroom door…
3.  Costco is your #1 shopping place. Since you are now in need of mass quantities of mac n cheese and fruit snacks.
4.  You’ve forgotten what it feels like to not have a small child attached to your limbs at all times or your toes stepped on constantly. Or hearing the words “up, up, up” on repeat 24/7.
5.  You live inside the Shadow Game. Everything you do or say is repeated over and over and over.
6.  Every time you turn around your kid will have another bruise, and most the time you have no idea where it came from. Running into the table, sure. Falling off their chair, of course!  Refer to #2…
7.  They want to help. With everything. Ev.er.y.thing. Don’t even try to feed the dog without letting them help fill up the bowl or be prepared for an instant tantrum.  Get used to everything taking twice as long…but don’t worry, all those newly learned skills will translate later in their lives, right?
8.  If you have any pens, pencils, crayons, markers in your house, lock them up or forever hold your peace. Your toddler will find anything that makes a mark and apply it to every surface of your home. Maybe just accept that you will be re-painting every wall in your house in the next few years.
9.  They never stop moving. Even in their sleep. If you have a camera monitor you’ll see them literally roll all over their bed, spinning full 360’s over and over all night long.
10.  Say goodbye to adult conversation until after bedtime. Unless you like being constantly interrupted and trying to pick up where you left off for the zillionth time.
11.  You will have to interpret every word they say. Especially in public. If you don’t then every other word out of their mouth will sound like “fuck” or “shit”. Think about it, they don’t have enough enunciation for the T in trUCK, and everything ending with –it will sound like a cuss word.
12.  Most the time you’re not sure if you want to laugh or cry.  When your little munchkin has been so oddly silent for the last 20 minutes and you discover the reason has to do with a permanent marker and, well, anything in your house, for instance.  Laugh at the rediculousness of the circumstances? Or bawl like a baby?

The illness conundrum…

As much as we don’t want to be the parents that take our kids to the doctor every time they have a runny nose (aka: all the time), we also don’t want to assume our suddenly sicky-poo kiddo is A-OK if they really aren’t. Hence starts the Illness Conundrum. When do you break down and take your little one to the Doc?

Step 1: Kid wakes up with a temperature. Runny nose, maybe a slight cough. You break out the Children’s Tylenol and cross your fingers it will be a 24-hour-type-thing.

Step 2: Fever and runny nose continue for the next few days, but no other symptoms. You dread heading into the doctor for them to tell you it’s just a virus…so you decide to wait it out another couple days.

Step 3: 4 or 5 days go by and your little one still has the symptoms of a “common cold”, but then again it has been 4 or 5 days with a slight temperature and you’re starting to wonder if pumping them full of Tylenol is doing much to help.

Step 4: Spend hours on the computer on WebMD or Google terrifying yourself with the worst case scenario. Find one account of a runny noise leading to paralysis and start seriously judging your parenting decisions.

Step 5: Call the doctor first thing in the morning to set up an appointment. Even though the nurse on the phone tells you that there is a cold going around and pushing fluids and fever reducers is probably the only thing you can do to treat the symptoms and keep them comfortable.

Step 6: Take time off work to go to the Doc. Spend 30 minutes in the waiting room, then another 30 in the tiny exam room waiting for the Doc to actually see you. Try to keep your child occupied in said tiny room, which is also 40 degrees and has nothing but ripped books and medical equipment as entertainment.

Step 7: Somewhere between calling the Doc to make the appointment and arriving at the Doctor’s office, your previously feverish kiddo has suddenly rallied. They are acting perfectly normal and now has so much energy you wonder if they have a secret stash of espresso in their room.

Step 8: Doc attempts to do an exam, whilst your child screams and kicks away the stethoscope or anything else the Doc tries to use on them. You attempt to secure your kids arms and legs so the Doc can see into their mouth and ears, only to lead to louder screaming. And you’re pretty sure you’ve now scarred your kid for life about ever going to the Doctor.

Step 9: Doc finally gets a good enough look at all the pieces and parts and, surprise surprise, decides that your kid has a virus.  And guess what? There’s a whole lotta nothing you can do about it. “Let it run its course”, “Keep them comfortable with Tylenol for the fever”, and “if any other symptoms present, bring them back in.”

Step 10: Pay your $30 copay and cross your fingers that this trip to the Doctor has scared the “sick” out of your kiddo…only to arrive home where you discover your little munchkin’s fever has miraculously reappeared as if upon returning home The Sickness has reattached itself to its host child.

Finally you resolve to leave the computer off, continue pushing fluids and increase the cuddles. Maybe you can use pure snuggle power to force The Sickness away.

Breastfeeding 101 – How it really works

When I was preggers with J, I took the class Breastfeeding 101; where they teach you how to breastfeed using a stuffed boob and a plastic baby doll.  (Like somehow that actually relates.)  They also show you lots of pictures of other women with their little one perfectly suckled onto their full bosom. This class makes it look so easy.  What they don’t show you is the cracked and bleeding nipples, the bloody pink milk, and the sheer number of random strangers who will be privy to your used-to-be-private parts. Needless to say the class didn’t do much other than show us a bunch of pictures of boobies and babies.  It doesn’t matter how many times you practice the correct latch with that plastic baby or stuffed boob – it ain’t gonna translate.  So, here’s some things that breastfeeding class should teach you instead:

Lesson #1: Full Exposure
With the number of random boobies you will see in a breastfeeding class, it should be your first hint at how many total strangers will see, grab, and massage your boobs the moment that your little one makes their appearance from your other previously private area.  Especially if this is your first baby, get used to the idea that you will have nurses, lactation consultants, doctors, your husband, and probably even your mother “helping” you to get that baby latched correctly.  And by helping, I mean invading your personal boob bubble.  Don’t worry, you will be so focused on your new little miracle that you won’t even notice how many people have now seen your ta ta’s.

Lesson #2: Full Time Job
I hope you didn’t plan on leaving the house, showering, or ever leaving the couch for the first few weeks.  While it’s really awesome to spend all that time with your new little snuggle bunny, you will soon learn that breastfeeding is a full-time job in itself.  Those little piggies want to be fed (what seems like) constantly.  Yes, they sleep and poop too, but I swear the “eat” part of the equation accounts for at least 75% of their daily routine.

Lesson #3: Get Out
Once you get past the first few weeks, you’ll eventually fall into more of a routine.  You’ll hopefully have the latch part down, and you won’t feel like your nipples are about to fall off anymore.  Now it’s time to finally venture out of the house.  Since you haven’t left your couch for the last 14 days, you’ll be desperate to see the outside world.  But seeing as how you’ve gotten used to your routine of feeding your little one in the comfort of your own home, now you’ll face the whole new challenge of learning to feed in public places.  Consider this, one of the best things about breastfeeding is that it’s mobile…

Lesson #4: Let down your guard
The first few months of breastfeeding in public you’ll insist on using one of those cover-up’s specially designed for this very thing.  Let me just say, as soon as your little one learns to grab with those 10 tiny perfect fingers, say goodbye to your beloved cover.  Sorry to break it to you, but no baby wants to be hidden behind a sheet when the world is happening on the other side.  And while you’ll fight (without much success) to keep your boobs hidden under this protective shield of fabric, in the end you might win a battle or two, but your baby will win the war.

Lesson #5: Quick Latch
Once you’ve accepted the inevitable – that your child refuses to be covered for their required regular boob-fix – you will slowly let go of the comfort of your cover. Instead you’ll figure out how to unleash your boob and get your kiddo latched in 3 seconds flat, thus avoiding a prolonged boob exposure to the gawking eyes of any man or judging woman within a 50 foot radius.  This comes down to practice makes perfect.

Lesson #6: The Gawker or Judge
You’ll discover that while your child’s head actually blocks the majority of the exposed boob, any onlooker who really wants to get a peek will do their darndest, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.  Cover or no cover, if there is boob present, you’ll have someone trying to sneak a peek.  There’s also the random onlooker who decides it is their business to judge you for daring to feed your child in a public space *gasp*. Give both of these types a sweet smile as if they don’t bother you in the least and let your little one take their sweet time finishing their meal.

Lesson #7: That’s Right
It is your right to breastfeed – anywhere, anytime.  Do it proudly, Mama’s.

Lesson #8: Multi-tasking
After a few months you will have the latch down to an art and you’ll be ready to take on the world.  OK, maybe not the world, but you will become semi ambidextrous as you’ll have to learn to type, write, stir, or use the remote with whichever hand is free at the moment. Baby may be eating, but life and productivity must go on…

Lesson #9: Not all it’s cracked up to be
At times you’ll feel like your entire day is consumed with feeding or pumping.  All the privacy and mystery of your boobs and nipples has gone out the window.  Your nipples have doubled in size, and while your boobs have also grown, they will eventually shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size (sorry men).

Lesson #10: Savor the Moment
Like all things little and lovely, time passes too quickly and your little one will be done breastfeeding before you know it.  You’ll blink an eye and suddenly those days are long past.  So as cliché as it is, savor the moments when your sweet baby is nuzzled up against your chest. There will come a time when you miss it terribly, if even only for a moment.