“The Potty Manifesto of Arlington, VA” Suspending 3 Year Olds–What’s Next?

Hello fellow readers, followers and bloggers!  It’s been quite a while since I’ve had the opportunity to post a blog.  But after reading this column in the Sunday Washington Post, (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/29/AR2011012903854.html), I just had to write!

What’s got my ire up?  The fact that a 3-year-old girl reached her “maximum allowances of potty accidents” at preschool and therefore, was suspended for a month.  Are you kidding me?!  It’s not like little Zoe was misbehaving–punching or biting her fellow classmates, or throwing objects around the room, or even using bad language.  No, she was suspended because she hadn’t yet mastered reaching the bathroom on time.

Zoe didn’t have accidents every day, or even every week.  But like a lot of children, she’d go through a period of multiple accidents.  Zoe didn’t make scenes about it, in fact she cleaned herself up and changed her own clothes.  According to the article, her parents did everything most of us do–a reward system for when Zoe did make it to the bathroom on time, cute songs to help her remember, even giving her a watch with a built-in alarm to remind her to go to the bathroom and try.  I’m sure it didn’t help matters when her teacher would bring her up to the front of the classroom at the end of the day and tell her class how many accidents she had that day.  Hmm, common sense, let alone child psychology tells me that public humiliation doesn’t work; it’s just cruel.

The school had the nerve to suggest Zoe go see a pediatrician.  The doctor said she was perfectly normal and so were accidents.  But when Zoe returned after her suspension, she was so scared and nervous that the accidents started again.  I can’t blame her, actually.

I understand that some schools aren’t equipped with enough staff to handle multiple accidents by multiple children, let alone a handful.  But to expect ALL children to be 100% potty-trained (no Pull-Ups allowed here!) at the tender age of 3 is absurd.  Although I’m not a resident of Arlington, VA, I fully support this mother’s efforts to change the school board’s policy.  I’m glad little Zoe is now at a better school and my heart goes out to all those other little children still going to that preschool who can’t switch out. 

Shame on you, Arlington School Board and shame on you, Claremont Elementary.


Can a Stay-at-Home-Mom Really Play Hooky?

I’m playing hooky today.  Sorta. 

Today’s one of the days my tot and I go to “gym class,” AKA “R-U-N like mad and kick balls around!!”  Usually I’m gun-ho about going as I too get to run–I mean, chase–around the gym.  It’s good exercise, if not a little frustrating when your tot is the one who insists on doing things “her way.”  Anyway, I do get to hang out with some neat people for an hour that are over the age of 2.  Not all bad, considering.

 Alas, playing hooky isn’t what it used to be, as in the days when I’d call in “sick” to work or skip a class at college.  Back then, I would have had the whole day to myself, to take a long and lengthy bubble bath while reading the morning paper, then sit immersed in some horrible guck on TV while chomping on chips and wearing my comfy robe all day.  Bliss, especially considering the work world I exited a few years ago.

But as a SAHM and writer, the traditional concept of playing hooky is well…just a concept now.  Because I’m still at home, which is my place of work.  I’m just choosing not to write today, but then again, here I am blogging!  And if I’m at home, there’s always something around the house I can be doing, such as painting that master bath, laundry, cleaning–you get the gist.  Not exactly the mental/physical break that playing hooky used to promise.

But I’m not giving up on it!  Instead, to honor the truant in my who once was, I hereby vow not to do any chores today and to indulge in some sophomoric television whilst the tot naps.  Otherwise, I will exchange my PJs for sweat pants and a t-shirt and play on the floor with my girl all morning, indulging my inner child.

Hrmm…not so bad, come to think of it!  And it won’t count as an absence or spent vacation day, either ;>

Teaching Tolerance to Tots

Recently, there has been a spate of media attention given to the tragedies involving children and bullies.  Given that mild teasing can turn into hurtful taunting and bullying, I believe that it’s never too early to start discussing bullying with your children.  Of course, what you discuss and how you discuss it will vary given the age of your children, but if we’re going to tell them from a young age not to hit, then we should be taking it a step further and teaching them not to taunt, either. 

The other evening I had a fabulous opportunity to do just that, by reading a new book with my tot entitled, Flightless Goose  (by E Goodman).  It’s a nicely illustrated tale about a goose who is different from the other geese and is teased for his differences.  The book does a nice job of showing how the teasing the goose’s feelings, which is an invaluable lesson to teach children.  The tale also goes on to show how the goose learns to accept his differences and embrace his new abilities.  He learns that although he is different from his friends, he is just as important as they and comes to embrace his own self-worth.

After reading the story to my tot, I explained that although this goose was different, it didn’t make him bad or mean or better or worse than any of the other geese.  He just had is own special talents, like we all do.   It’s never too early to teach our kids that being different is alright, no matter what that difference may be.

For more information on the book, you can visit the website www.flightlessgoose.com.  I highly recommend it for young readers.  Enjoy!

The Kentucky Derby of Customer Service

Before heading out to the picnic the other day, I dropped by a local retailer to pay my bill.  I hustled in the side entrance, hoping to leave my check with a cashier.  This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to process, I thought, yearning to already be back outside.  Luck would have it that the two lanes open both had a long wait.  Too long for me.

It was far too beautiful a day to stay in the store any longer than I had to.  So hustling my feet some more, I decided to zing off to the back, where the customer service desk was located.  On the way, another customer darted out of one of the side aisles, nearly knocking me down.  I graciously side-stepped and continued on my way.  We  then walked “together” down the aisle and I noticed that she was carrying a large store bag, full to the brim, and with a receipt tucked inside.

Uh-oh, I thought.  She’s going back to the customer service desk for a return.  All I have is this skimpy envelope with a check enclosed; a transaction that would take 1/10th the time hers will.  So I quickened my pace.

So did she.

Hmm…I thought…did she really do that?  Let’s find out, I thought.  So I lengthened my stride.

So did she.

Are you kidding me, I thought.  Is this older woman really racing me to the desk?!  In the voice of Sarah Palin, my mind said, “You betcha!”  I was trying not to laugh out loud at the two of us, both about to break into a run just to get to the back.  I even considered dodging through some of the back aisles to take a shortcut, but my internal GPS said it wouldn’t work today.

So naturally, I stepped up my pace once more; if Secretariat could do, so could I!

Well of course she did, too.  And she had a knack of zooming around other customers in the aisle, very deftly in fact, given the load she was carrying.  At that point, Clarity and Sense knocked on my door and said to slow down; let the lady get there first and conduct her transaction, even if that means you’re losing a few minutes of sunshine.

After an “agonizing” five minutes of listening to the return transaction (the whats and whys), it was finally my turn.  At least it was pleasing to see that what she had bought was ugly and indeed, needed to be returned ;>

Beach, Bisque and Bathrooms

Yang Mommy

Imagine a lovely mom n’ pop restaurant on a beachy island. Perfect ambiance, honest food, good service.  It’s also the last day of your family vacation, so you’re looking forward to a little celebrating at the dinner table.   The tomatoes on the salad are ruby-red and farm-fresh, the newly baked brown bread steams with delight,  the shrimp are gianormous and cooked perfectly and the crab bisque….ahh, that sensuous, mouth-watering, swooningly-delicious fresh soup.  All is peaceful and serene, right?

Well you know I’m going to say “no.”  See, my toddler is in the midst of potty training.  And just as I’m about to crunch on the crispy lettuce, she flashes her bright blue eyes at me and says, “Mommy, I have to go potty.”  OK, this is great, I think.  I praise her effusively and off we go to the ladies’ room as I spare a parting shot at my dinner.

We can do this quickly and efficiently, I tell myself.  Shouldn’t be a problem.  So immediately my bossy mantra starts of “don’t touch anything” followed by “stand still” and “wait one more second.”  All of which are answered by “why” in a Smurfette voice as she dances on her toes, trying to twirl in the little coral and seashell decorated stall. 

I can feel my own adrenaline start to pound, so I quickly cover the toilet seat in toilet paper for her to sit on.  Oops!  It falls to the floor. Try again.  Dang, it falls off again!  This can’t be happening, I think.  I mean, it’s just toilet paper! I rush to replace it and cover the seat again while my daughter tries not to wet herself.  Finally, I get her on the seat and she does her business. 

My mantra continues of “don’t touch” while I clean her up and get another pull-up on (“why??!” she croons, just itching to disobey).  In my haste to return to my to-die-for bisque, I rip the pull-up in half! OMG, I’m such an idiot, I think!  I frantically search my purse (for I’m without my diaper bag) for another one and thank the beach gods, I find one. 

Bless her little toddler heart, she needs to hold onto me to balance while we put each foot in.  But instead of resting her wee hands on my shoulders, she believes that sticking her fingers in my ears would be better.  Uh…not for mom!  Of course, I lose my own balance and summarily fall backwards, slamming into the stall door.  She giggles, I groan.  At last, after what was probably only 10 minutes but felt like ten years, we wash up and return to our seafood feast.

Now I was very glad that my tot went to the bathroom without any messy incidents.  Even if she needed to go before every course that was laid before me.  Which was three, for the record (I was too pooped for dessert).  The praises ceased to be so effusive, too.  After the 3rd time, I chugged what wine was left, stared my husband in the eye and clearly enunciated that if there was a 4th time, he could take it on.  With that, I tuned everyone out and dug into my ahi tuna.  Bliss…..

“Geek Dads” Generates Ideas for Non-Geek Mom

Yang Mommy

As a writer, I’m familiar with the dreaded “writer’s block syndrome.”  SAHMs (and dads) face similar obstacles when they just don’t know what activities to enjoy with the kids.  How many times can you really bake cookies together or go to the playground or play “dollies”  without going creatively numb?

Feeling the symptoms of play-day-brain-dead approaching, I looked over and saw the book, “Geek Dad, Awesomely Geek Projects & Activities for Dads and Kids to Share,” written by Ken Denmead.  My first impulse was this book was not for me.  First, I’m not a “geeky dad” and second, I feared it was it going to advise me to build rockets or make robots, things I have no interest in doing!   But I put aside my own reservations and cracked the book open. 

And I was pleasantly surprised by the various options of activities.  To my relief, they were not all uber-geeky.   Although a majority of the activities are geared to elementary and middle schoolers, I did find some that were suitable for pre-schoolers, such as creating an animal ABC sticker book (instead of a Superhero ABC book).  Another activity we enjoyed was using windup toys to paint with instead of only the standard fingers or paintbrushes.  It was fun to both watch the toys “walk” paint on the paper as well as check-out all the different designs.  When she’s older, learning how to compost or create an indoor hydroponic garden (ala the Aerogarden) would be fun to do together, too.

I do wish the book contained more detailed diagrams for the activities.  Yet perhaps if one is more geek-prone than I, such diagrams aren’t as necessary.  And some ideas seemed more sophomoric than geeky, like making light-up wallets or”exploding sodas.”  Mayhaps that’s the mom in me, and plenty of dads out there would find it both fun and silly to give a friend an “exploding” drink at the picnic!  But as a mom, I think of the clean-up factors involved. 

Overall, it was an interesting and inspiring read, and  nice to have on hand for those days when you have those creative brain-dead days.  just don’t know what to do with the kids.  For the more “geek-prone,”  and for a lot of dads, it’s probably a must-have on the shelves.

Thank you, Blackout

Yang Mommy

Recently we had some powerful storms rip through the area, causing widespread blackouts. Contrary to popular belief, losing electricity isn’t all that bad.  Depending on how long it’s lost for, of course.  During our outage, I became thankful for:

  • All the candles, in all their shapes, sizes, color and scents, that I’ve amassed over the years.  Now if I only had an equivalent match book collection….
  • The chance to chat with neighbors in the street who otherwise, with power, would still be inside escaping the heat and in their regular nightly routines.  Gets me to thinking we need to have a summer block party in my neighborhood.
  • Having a good excuse to polish off a pint of ice cream for dinner.  Don’t want that to spoil, now do we?!
  • The utter peace and quiet that descended over us in the late evening.  No fans whirring or ice maker groaning.
  • No Internet or TV (gasp!).  Even with a 2-yr old in the house, who was sick and grumpy, and who “really needed Dora!”   Although I missed the break Dora gives us at night, I enjoyed reading more than our nightly share of books together, especially by torchlight.   Another bonus to no TV–instead of collapsing on the couch together to watch some Sunday night dribble, my husband and I broke out the board games.  Scrabble’s never been so much fun when playing by candlelight!
  • Getting a chance to witness my husband’s geekiness in action.  Alas, a down side to no power is no air conditioning.  Even though the storm dropped the temps from a sweltering 105 to 75 by nightfall, it’s still hot on the upper floors of our home.  So DH turned into MacGyver and fashioned me a small fan powered by his laptop and some other wires and gizmos.  Bliss!
  • Being able to see the night sky as it was intended to be seen.  Without street lights and house lights on, we were really fortunate to view the starry sky and full moon.  It was beautiful and magical in its own right.

So thank you blackout, for reminding me of the beauty in the simpler things of life.  I think the TV will be “broken” again tonight too 🙂