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This is my life

So apparently, parents don’t need sleep.  No one tells you this.  It’s not in books.  It is not common knowledge and, the other parents that could tell you about it, are too damn tired to bring it up in casual conversation.

With that said, three year olds don’t sleep either.  At least, not when you want them to.  And especially with no kind of consistent pattern.  They also, all of a sudden, have all of these new rules about sleeping.  For example, a certain three year old in my home (who, let me say, previously went to bed on a very standard schedule, needed a dark room, and always slept a minimum of 10 hours at a time) has suddenly decided that he needs 2 night-lights, the hall light on, the bedroom door open, and one of his parents on the floor next to his bed in order to even consider going to sleep.  And, even then, might just flat-out refuse.

Now, (and I want to make this perfectly clear) when I am on the floor, I do NOT sleep.  I also have a very strict rule about putting Noah in the bed with us.  [Mommy and daddy’s bed is not for kids.]  So Matt, being the amazing and selfless individual that he is, has been sleeping on the floor with Noah for the past month since Noah has decided that he is afraid of everything in his room. I keep trying to think of an alternative option and Matt says, “No big deal.  I can sleep where ever.”

This horrible situation has been working for us for the past few weeks.  However, I can’t sleep on the floor and Matt can’t keep sleeping on the floor forever.

Well, last week, Matt had to go out of town for work and I was left to be a single parent of a toddler for 4 days.  This meant, of course, that I would take over “sleeping on the floor” duties while he was away.  The thought of this made me cringe so, without any hesitation, I headed directly to the mattress store, dropped $300 on a very nice twin mattress set, and made a “Mommy bed” in Noah’s room.  I bet you can probably guess what happened next…

Night 1:

Me- “Okay, Noah.  It’s time for you to get in your bed and mommy will get in the bigger bed.”

Noah- “NOOOO!  I want the new, big bed!!!”

Me- “No.  You can sleep in your bed and I can sleep in the big bed.  Or you can sleep in the big bed and I can sleep in my room.  You choose.”

Noah- “But, I’m scared. [Insert super sad Noah face here.]

Me- “If we put your mattress directly on the floor next to my mattress, will that help?”

Noah- “I think so.”

Both of us got a full night’s sleep.

Nights 2 & 3:

Me- “Okay, Noah.  It’s time for you to get in your bed and mommy will get in the bigger bed.”

Noah- “NOOOO!  I want the big bed!!!”

Me- “No.  You can sleep in your bed and I can sleep in the big bed.  Or you can sleep in the big bed and I can sleep in my room.  You choose.”

Noah then runs around his room, playing with toys, pulling the covers off of me, asking for milk, asking to go to the bathroom, and then finally settling down in his bed.

Night 4:

After learning from his teachers that he had several tantrums throughout the day at school, thrown a toy truck at a kid in his class, stolen a prize out of the surprise box, drenched me in gallons and gallons of water during his bath, refused to eat any of his supper, and kicked me more times than I could count, it was finally time for bed.

Me- “Get in your damn bed!”

Noah- “NOOOO!  I want the big bed!!!”

Me- “Fine.”

And now, this is my life.

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An unwanted lesson in patience

We have been having, what some might call, “behavior issues” at my house lately and I may have referred to my son as an “ass-hole” on more than one occasion.  Whatever.  I’m not perfect.  You might have called him something much worse if he had taken all of his little Hot Wheels and, one by one, thrown them at the windows, the walls, and at your face in a furious temper tantrum because I asked him to say “please.”

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Rather than scream and yell (like I really wanted to), I proceeded to gather all of the toys that he was throwing across the room and all other toys that he had access to, put them into boxes, load the boxes into my car, and drive them to our storage unit down the street.

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Matt stayed behind to monitor the tantrum that was happening next to the “time out” chair.

I get it.  He’s 3.  He has emotions that are bigger than his communication skills.  He is frustrated and has little to no control in his life.  I get it.  What I don’t get is why he has to choose the hardest, pointiest, most projectile-shaped toys to throw (in perfect spiral form I might add) directly at my face.  Not cool kid.

So, now Noah is currently working on his behavior to earn back the toys that were taken away.  I have discovered, however, that taking away actual toys just makes him turn regular household items into toys.  He played with a paper towel roll that he pulled out of the recycling bin for almost an hour the other day.  As long as he doesn’t pelt it towards my face, I’m okay with it.

With this terrible behavior in mind, and knowing that, overall, he is pretty awesome, he has had a few rare moments over the past week where he has been an absolute pleasure to be around.   There have even been a couple of instances where I felt slightly guilty for taking away ALL of the toys (then I look down at the giant bruise on my arm where Ripslinger, the air plane, was thrown like a ninja throwing star directly at me and the guilt disappears quickly).

The other day, after picking Noah up from school, I needed to run a few errands.  Noah was excited about the errands, held my hand in the parking lot without throwing his body onto the pavement in refusal.  He even got in the cart without arguing or stiffening his whole body as to not fit in the child seat.  It was a very enjoyable shopping adventure.

Because I am a huge believer in rewarding good behavior, I told Noah that he could pick out one new toy from the store because he had acted so nicely during mommy’s errands.

Now, this is no small thing for Noah.  He takes decision making over toys very seriously.  He scanned the isle, inspecting each toy.  He asked me questions about usefulness and batteries.  He finally settled on a rubber snake that, based on the picture on the front of the package, grows to be over 4 feet long when you put him in water.

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I loved this toy because it provided me with even more parental motivation.  When we got in the car, I reminded him that good behavior has to last through supper in order to take the new snake to the bath.  Bought me a few more hours of guaranteed pleasant.

Noah’s behavior was excellent through supper.  He even waited patiently at the table for Matt and me to finish our food and clear the table.  He darted upstairs ripped his clothes off and climbed into the bath tub.  He shoved that green snake into the water and…nothing.  The snake got a little slimy and sunk to the bottom but, overall, he stayed the same size.

Matt made up some excuse that he will grow eventually but, you could tell, everyone was disappointed.  After bath time, I rummaged through the trash to find the package the snake came in and it said, in the tiniest of letters on the back of the instructions:

“Snake may take up to 5 full days to grow. Keep snake submerged in water to maintain full size.”

Now, we get to have a long talk with Noah about what it means to be patient.

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Sanity…

I want to apologize.  I have been silent on my blog for the last couple of weeks.  Not because crazy parenting things haven’t been happening in my house, but because crazy parenting things can be so emotionally draining that the thought of sitting down at my computer and writing sounded about as wonderful as poking myself in the eye with a stick.

Don’t get me wrong- I love writing.  It has always been my solace when life gets crazy.  But, as life gets crazier and crazier with a 2 year old, finding time to write (which I used to try and do every day) has gotten to be more and more difficult.  I no longer have those 2 to 3 hours at night to think about my day, process my experiences, and enjoy the company of my husband.  Now, in those few hours after the baby is in bed and Matt and I can finally “let our guard down,” there is the laundry and the dirty dishes, cleaning and organizing, planning for the next day, and last night, Matt had to go out at 8:30pm and buy pull-ups because daycare sent a note home that Noah needs them to help with potty training at school (seriously- a little more advance notice would be awesome!).

And then the next morning at 5:00am, the alarm goes off and we start again (gym, daycare, work, daycare, 2nd job, bedtime routine, housework, bed…).  I never understood the “living for the weekend” mentality… until now.

Usually, it is not that bad (or at least it doesn’t seem like it).  I guess we still haven’t fully recovered from our crazy summer.  We haven’t been able to have any kind of down-time to collect our sanity.  And now, what seems to be adding to the exhaustion is that we have discovered the true meaning of “the terrible twos.”

[Man!  Does that kid know how to throw a tantrum!?! I mean, is it built into their genetic coding to throw themselves on the ground and writhe in such a way that it is absolutely impossible to pick them up?  Is there a toddler class that I don’t know about that teaches them how to go completely limp as soon as they hear the word no?]

1045032_10101376087586268_366568104_nFortunately, I have an amazing husband who does way more than his fair share of the work around the house.  He will be the first to tell you that I cannot clean worth a damn.  I don’t pre-rinse the dishes before they go in the dishwasher, I don’t measure the laundry detergent or separate colors from whites, and I only vacuum in the event of an emergency.  Oh and I am terrible at cleaning up actual messes (be it dog- or baby-created mess).

In fact, the other night, I opened a container of yogurt for Noah’s supper.  Somehow, the container slipped out of my hand and strawberry Greek yogurt went flying.  I mean, there was yogurt splattered all over the floor, the kitchen cabinets, Noah’s toys, and me.

What I should have done:  Get out the mop and cleaning stuff, gotten down on my hands and knees and cleaned up the spill (which is what Matt would have done).

What I actually did: Called the dogs in, let them lick everything, and yelled to Matt, “Don’t worry!  I handled it!”

Needless to say, Matt does all of the cleaning.  He even re-cleans everything that I tried to clean the first time.  I do all of the cooking and grocery shopping.  Pre-baby, I handled all of the financial decisions and banking stuff.  Post-baby, we split this task.  And we have reimagined our previously very defined and rigid roles within our relationship because, well, we had to.  Parenting not only shifts your worldview and the way that you experience your environment, it creates new challenges and opportunities that force you to reimagine everything.

I am not a perfect parent… I am so far from being a perfect anything that the word perfect doesn’t even sound like a real word anymore.  In a previous post, I talked about striving for adequacy.  And I think Matt and I are succeeding.  We just need to be reminded of this bigger goal every now and then.

I need to remember that it is okay to force my child to wear pants to school even though it takes 10 minutes to put them on his chunky little writhing and squirming legs.  I need to remember that being late to drop him off sometimes is just a fact of life now.  And, even though Matt would disagree, it is okay to let the dogs lick up the mess in the kitchen rather than clean it the proper way.

Oh, and remember to write more.  For my sanity!

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