October 5, 2012

The Public Meltdown of An Almost Two Year Old

I am so fascinated by how parenting changes people.

For me, I went from a strict Type A personality where I had schedules and looked put together to barely remembering to put on deodorant, forgetting which day of the week it is much less if anything needs to get accomplished that day, and allowing myself to be look completely incompetent in public.

Yes, if you were to see me today, you would see my hair pulled back sloppily, ketchup hand prints all over my white shirt (which thankfully I can't see because of my extra large boobs and ever growing stomach), and barely any make-up to even make it worth mentioning. On top of that loveliness, you would have witnessed my being publicly flogged by my almost two year.

Parenting really does amazing things to people.

A year ago, I would have never in a million years thought that I would allow my son to act so horribly in presence of others. The screaming, the loud "NO!", the thrashing of his little body on the sidewalk would just not be part of our life. No, in those moments, I would be quick. I would be smart. My son would listen dammit!

But the truth is my son listens just like any other two year old... when he wants to... when it is something he likes or wants... And by no means NOT when I need him to or when I want him to listen.  Nope. My son would rather fight me like a bull than walk 15 feet to our car while holding my hand.

And this is where I become "that" parent.

I watched. I watched as my son cried. I watched as he flailed his body on the sidewalk. I watched as he screamed at the top of his lungs, "NO!!" He was not going to hold my hand or be held. He was going to walk by himself across the very busy parking lot that was filling up for lunch hour.

And all I did was watched. You see, I've learned something about my son over these last 10 months as he's gotten personality and his own little voice. There's no reasoning with him. He doesn't care what I think or what is best. He just knows what he wants.

So I have learned that I have two options. I can fight him in these moments or wait. Wait until he gets a grip of whatever emotions he's feeling and realize that I will always win. Yup, it's what makes me an awesome mom. I know what's best in his little life and he just has to deal.

This morning was no different. Once I saw a break in screams, I calmly asked him if he was done.

Public meltdown #2 quickly commenced. This time we had plenty of spectators. We were right by the door to the restaurant. They had all parked their cars and were now wanting to eat except my son was blocking the door.

And this is where parenting gets really fun. I remember being them. I remember thinking, "why can't she control her kid??"  "Just pick up the stupid thing and get to your car!" "You're the parent.. show them you're in charge."

But, you see, I was doing all that and more. My son wasn't winning, because I wasn't giving in to his demands. I was in control because I was being calm in one of the most humiliating instances of my life. And I was diffusing a situation while allowing my son to learn on his own how to handle his emotions, deal with not getting his way, and realizing that it was more important for him to be safe crossing the parking lot than to be independent.

The second time I asked him if he was done, he said yes, took my hand, and walked to the car without a complaint. He just needed to see and to learn that listening to me is best right now. And that if I want him to do something completely different from what he wants to do that doesn't mean it is the end of the world. It just means that maybe I have a bigger picture than he does.

Once I got in my car and got the red off my face from the total shame of The Public Meltdown, I realized that getting publicly humbled just might not be that bad of a thing for me. Maybe it will teach my son that I am willing to meet him wherever he is and however he needs it in any moment so that when he leaves my house he can maneuver the world we live in confidently, strongly, and able to do whatever he wants with his life.

At least I hope that these moments have some purpose other than to totally abase me in public.

October 3, 2012

No More Pacifier!

Disclaimer: I don't know how Jeremy and I did it. But we did. We birthed an amazingly easy baby. Since birth, B has surprised us both by how well he transitions into each new phase. He is by no means perfect, but he handles this growing up thing pretty darn well. I just hope we don't screw him up along the way.

The pacifier. Shortly after Bradley was born we quickly nicknamed this amazing invention "the mute button." And that is exactly how it worked. Bradley would start to fuss, the pacifier would be inserted in, and he would instantly get quiet. How could parents be so against something so wonderful?? Jeremy and I loved its magical powers. We needed its magical powers. Heck, we may have even wanted some of those powers to use on each other!

As B grew, we decided to transition his pacifier usage with when it was needed most, not when it was wanted.

At around 6 months, we had to make B cry it out. He was realizing that if he cried Mommy would come. He didn't need me. He just liked me. So we had to allow him to learn to self soothe. After talking with our pediatrician, we came to the conclusion that a big part of his crying was that not only did he want one more look at me, but he also lost his pacifier and couldn't find it in the dark. He recommended we put a couple more in the crib so that one was always in reach.

At the same time, Jeremy and I made the decision to take away B's pacifier except for when he was in his crib or at our church nursery. Each nap and bedtime, we would give him three pacifiers: one in his mouth and one in each hand. At the end of the nap or in the morning, we would then make him put the pacifiers in the crib for the day.

I have to say he did great at this. Occasionally, he would sneak one past us, but we'd quickly remind him of the rule and make him put it back.

And then I started to look ahead. I'd heard horror stories of the pacifier being taken away. And that was usually only ONE. How in the world would I get B to give up THREE??? Jeremy and I started talking strategy. We knew we were entering a war zone and needed to prepare for battle.

When Bradley got 8 teeth at once, Jeremy and I decided to phase him down to one pacifier in an effort to prepare him for that final one. I took away the first one easily. I don't even think he realized it was gone. Four weeks later, I took the second one. The first time Bradley didn't get this pacifier, he looked at me funny, but didn't complain. He still had one. The last, dreaded one.

Our original plan was to take it away over Labor Day weekend. We figured we would need three days to transition him and wanted to do it during a time when we could sleep in if we needed it. Well, as luck would have it for Bradley, my parents asked to come that weekend and so we put it off. The next holiday was in October. B could wait one more month.

Except this past Monday morning, Bradley bit a hole right through the pacifier breaking the rubber piece in half. Now, it was a health concern for me. I had to act on impulse. I had to act without consulting Jeremy. I relied on my Mom instinct.

I showed B the pacifier and told him, "Look B! The pacifier is broke! You can't have it anymore. We have to throw it away so that you don't choke on it." To which B said, "Paci broke. Bye Bye." Then, we threw it away together.

Now, I have to interject here that Jeremy and I have no idea what B calls his pacifier. It starts with an M and ends in a vowel and that's all we got. So for this post, we'll just pretend he calls it Paci. You should also note that our son obviously doesn't know that we have about 10 pacifiers hidden in his bedroom.We are thankful for this.

Ok. Back to my story.

After we threw the pacifier away, we went on with our day. I called Jeremy to give him a heads up that I made a rash decision and he just needed to go with it and that I was sorry for what he might come home to and how our night may go. Jeremy was cool, but I could hear a bit of hesitation in his "ok."

On Monday, it was raining. This was good for sleep, but bad for all the energy my son has. We thankfully met a friend and her kids at an indoor playground to get some of that out. Then, we came home. I kept B up 30 extra minutes to see if he'd get even sleepier and then placed him in the crib.

"B, you remember this morning? Your paci broke. We had to throw it away. No more pacifier. Ok?"
"NO MORE PACI?????????"

B dramatically cried for 20 seconds and then laid down and fell asleep. I sat down in shock and wonder. Did my son really just go to sleep that quickly??? I wrote it off as a fluke. Tonight would be bad. I just needed to prepare.

That night, we did our nighttime routine, put him in the crib, and I reminded him again of his broken pacifier. He looked around for a couple of minutes just to make sure it wasn't hidden and then fell asleep.

I really think that if I could have opened a bottle of champagne at that time and danced through the streets, I would have. But Jeremy and I were too busy staring blankly and confusingly at each other. No tears. No screaming. We both agreed we'd be woken up at 2 am.

But we weren't.

The next morning, I was elated and so proud of Bradley. I could not believe he didn't complain once. I told him so to which he responded, "Paci broke." And went on to play. I mean, seriously, who's kid is this???

It's been three days now and I can safely say our son is free of a pacifier. He has asked for it at each nap, but once I remind him it broke, he moves on with no complaining and no tears.

I am still slightly in shock. Jeremy and I had dreaded this time for MONTHS. We would whisper about it and hint to B about it never imagining that our little man could handle it so wonderfully. I really couldn't be prouder of him.

Here's hoping transitioning to a sibling goes semi as well as this! Ha!