Posts Tagged ‘toddler’

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…..

Tots and Tantrums

YANG:
“Can you believe that child,” I’ve said to many a friend. “And the mom. Surely she can control her child better! When I have kids, they’ll never behave like that.” That was something I’d say when in the ear-presence of a screaming child. My eyes would roll, my friend would nod in agreement, and we’d hustle to get out of ear shot as soon as we could. Both of us swearing that our children would never exhibit such behaviour.

Never say never, right? It’s funny how outlooks change once you have a child. As my daughter edges closer to the age of two and the “terrible twos,” I realize that I’m in store for some tantrums. Heck, she’s already thrown a few, including one in the  mall where she sat down on the floor, refusing to get up and cried her little heart out. When placed in her stroller, legs kicking of course, she continued to wail. Me, I figured that every other mom or dad in earshot would understand and perhaps feel empathy for my situation. But I knew all those without a little one would be staring at me, rolling their eyes and making snarky comments. All I could do was continue on and laugh quietly at my former self.

The tantrum didn’t last long and when she was done, we hugged and kissed.  After all, a tantrum is one of the few ways a young child expresses their frustration or anger with us until they know the words to do otherwise. They don’t love us any less, nor us them. So I don’t get mad when she gets mad. Rather, I take a deep breath (sometimes it’s a few deep breathes), then see what can ease her frustration, which can be anything from a hug, to a distraction, to letting her be and simply air her emotions.

Besides, I know that the tantrum stage will pass. Before I know it, there will be stomping of feet, arms crossing, a big pouty face and a door shutting loudly. Not slamming of course, not my child, ever. (Mom, stop laughing!)

YIN:
Temper tantrums stink. No ifs, ands, or buts. They’re just starting with my little one. Mostly so far they’re over food – when she’s hungry she wants to eat NOW. No matter that I have to actually mix the rice cereal.

I’ve been lucky that my child hasn’t had the meltdown in public. Yet. Oh I know its coming. It’s inevitable. But how I hope to handle it is to quietly remind her that she shouldn’t be screaming in public and to try to relax. Once that doesn’t work I plan on removing her from the situation, be it outside the store, to the car, etc.

Am I crazy enough to think that’s going to work all the time? No way. Kids get tired, hungry, angry, and frustrated just like the rest of us. But I know from experience that hearing your child scream and cry is one thing, because sometimes we can tune it out. Hearing someone else’s child scream and cry is a whole other story.

My place of employment is one where we get a lot of children. And what gets most of us isn’t the fact that the child is screaming. It’s that the parent is plainly blocking them out and isn’t trying to rectify the situation. I have tons of empathy for the mother who seems worn down and just can’t seem to take anymore. I have zero empathy for the mother who is talking on her cell phone while Johnny is standing in the aisle screaming “I want it, I want it, I want it!!”

Sometimes we push the kids to get all the errands in one shot and what they need is to nap or eat. That’s our fault as adults. We need to make time for the kids to be kids instead of running them all over the place. Some of my most relaxing times, believe it or not, are grocery shopping. That’s because I don’t take my daughter. Not only because I don’t want to deal with her grabbing things off the shelves but also because I know an hour in the shopping cart might just set her over the edge. I also try to time our play dates and other errands around her nap. Sure that means that sometimes I don’t leave the house until 2 hours after I planned on leaving but I also have a calmer, cheerier child. Which makes for a good day.

Healthy Bellies, Happy Moms

YIN:
Feeding young children can be a chore. You don’t quite know what to feed them, it seems like they never want to eat what you know is best for them, and you just don’t have time to think about it. I know how you feel.

My game plan from the beginning was when my daughter was old enough to eat solid foods that I would do only vegetables and eventually go to a few fruits. No juice for a while and no snacks out of the package. That lasted, in the words of my mother, about as long as Pat stayed in the army (I have never figured out what that was referring to but it pretty much means not very long).

I had good intentions but I don’t think most mothers, working outside the home or inside, have time to limit things that strictly. So I allowed myself to relax a little. But I still restrict what goes into my daughter’s mouth and do my best to give her a variety of different foods so as she gets older she’ll be more apt to try different things (here’s to hoping!).

The majority of her cookies and crackers are organic. Not all but the majority. I catch them when they’re on sale to help out with the cost. If I can catch a good price on organic veggies and fruit I’ll grab that for her too. I’m not a fanatic about organics but I figure every little bit helps. I make sure to look at the amount of sodium that is in the each serving. This is a big contributor that a lot of parents forget about. I also stay away from artificial colors and flavors in products that she eats.

To help with cost and to control what she’s eating, I make a lot of the meals that she eats. I stopped giving her baby food in the jar when she turned 1 because I didn’t want to spend the money when I could make it myself. Currently I only use jarred food if we’re on vacation or we are out of the house all day since you have to refrigerate homemade food.I had been making some of her food from the time she was 8 months – I bought a Magic Bullet blender and threw frozen or fresh veggies and fruit in there. With the veggies I’d put in different meats and the fruit I’d mix with cereal or yogurt. Once she got more teeth and could eat different things I started using the Magic Bullet less, although I still use it if something is too course for her. And I use lots of herbs and spices to flavor the food so I don’t have to put in salt. There are a lot of great books and websites out there that you can use for ideas on how to create your own baby food. One easy to use website is Weelicious . They have recipes, suggestions on kid friend restaurants, a message board and an online recipe box to store your favorites in.

One of the teachers at my daughter’s daycare asked one day what the “green thing” she had for lunch was. I told her it was mashed peas. The teacher was surprised, commented none of the other kids ever had vegetables and said “wow you’re a Supermom”. I laughed and said “I’m so NOT a Supermom. I took frozen peas, defrosted them, put them in the Magic Bullet with water, and ground them up. It took me a whole 15 minutes total.” But other than the nice (but not true) compliment, what surprised and shocked me was that none of the other 4 children in her class ever brought fresh vegetables, and I found out later, fresh fruit.

It really doesn’t take a long time to create healthy food choices for our children. If we have time to pick up products with high fructose corn syrup in it to feed to toddlers then we definitely have time to mush up some frozen peas for 2 minutes or cook some baby carrots on the stove top for them to snack on. Currently 30% of children in this country are overweight and it’s estimated that 1 in 3 children born in 2000 will develop diabetes before they are 18. My daughter I know will eventually want junk food and a little on special occasions is fine. But I want to start her off on the right track so if she has some junk she knows it’s a treat and not to expect it.

YANG:

I swear my daughter has a third leg that’s hollow, or she has a second stomach. Why? She eats way more than I do and yet is as slim as a filly. Sure, a lot of that is her toddler metabolism and genes, but that leaves me as mom and Head Chef to constantly review her menu to make sure she’s getting a balanced diet.

That includes introducing and reintroducing and reintroducing foods all the time. I didn’t really believe the parenting magazines and books when they said this would happen, but it does. It’s an exercise in patience and innovation for me. This week it’s green beans. I’ve tried them cold (preferred), warm (no-go) and with some melted cheese on them (picks off and eats the cheese, but hey, she has to taste some green bean while doing it!).

I don’t consider myself a “super mom” for adding broccoli or spinach to her mac and cheese, which she’s never had without some green vegetable in it. Nor do I consider myself great for giving her so much fruit every day that I personally, can no longer stand to look at another grape/strawberry/apple/peach/banana/ you-name-it! She loves it and it’s good for her, enough said.

But I do cheat now and then. I cheat with a twinge of guilty conscience, but it’s those days that we are in “survival” mode. Yes dear reader, McDonald’s has come in handy for us on quite a few occasions. Now, I’m not going to rear my child on chicken nuggets, but thank goodness she loves them! Realistically, the protein is good for her; the convenience good for me. And considering all the other fruits, vegetables, grain, dairy and eggs she eats on a daily basis, McDonald’s nuggets won’t hurt her, as long as she doesn’t eat them every day.

So parents out there, don’t beat yourselves up for occasionally cheating now and then and giving your kids “junk” food. But do make them wholesome meals. Vary their diets, allow them to explore new tastes and textures. Skip the empty carbs for snacks, like potatoe chips and cookies, and give them fruit or cheese. Try to eat dinner at the table every night.

Just don’t try to make dinner for the family and blog at the same time~~otherwise take-out will be the order of the night.

The conundrum of disciplining a toddler

YANG:
Recently, my husband and I have been introducing the concept of “time out” with our toddler, who’s not yet two years of age. We understand that she may not get the entire gist of time out–forget about “reflecting upon what she’s done,” that’s for when she’s older. And as for sitting in a designated spot for an allotted amount of time, well, we’re working on that. Typically we aim for her to sit for about twenty seconds, which is a long time for any toddler. After all, she can’t even count to ten so I don’t think she understands that she has to sit for double that! But she does understand that she has to sit in one spot. That much we know she knows. In fact, when I tell her that she’ll have to sit in time out if she doesn’t listen, she immediately sits down and gives me the most angelic smile–I have photos to prove it!

Well last night was one of those times when the discipline was an exercise in futility. In truth, there was more exercise (for us parents) than futility but we weren’t able to have one without the other. Sure, our daughter would sit in the time out area for about a millisecond, then get up and run away, giggling with laughter. Or if she didn’t run, she’d scoot on her bottom to move away from us.

On the one hand, I found myself getting rather frustrated that she A) didn’t listen to me in the first place and we were now doing the time out thing and B) surely wasn’t listening to me now because all I wanted her to do was sit still. How hard can that be? She’s a bright child, after all. Oh, and C) I was tired of chasing her down and bringing her back to the spot. I’d had a long day and having to chase her down was not on my agenda at this time of night.

But on the other hand, I was delighted to hear her laugh and giggle with such joy. To her, this wasn’t a time out, it was a game. And she was having so much fun with us! Even my husband found himself dropping the “Daddy Tone” and smiling at her antics after awhile. I had to step in then and tell him not to let her see him smile, after all, time out is serious business! Yet after another few minutes of aerobics and exasperation, he turned to me and asked why I was trying to put her in time out in the first place. And I couldn’t answer him. That’s when we called it quits and had a group tickle hug.

Disciplining a child is hard enough to do. One has to learn by experience, really, what works and what doesn’t. And no sooner do you have one proven technique down pat then your child changes and you have to start from scratch again. Plus, what works with one age group won’t work with another. As parents though, we have to teach our children discipline and to abide by the rules. Yet once and awhile, like last night, you realize it’s just not worth it. If I couldn’t remember why I was putting her in time out in the first place, then she didn’t need to be there, because what was I really teaching her? Ah, the conundrums of discipline….

YIN:
My daughter just turned 1 a few months ago so the idea of true discipline is a bit foreign to us. Yes we have to ensure that she knows right from wrong and that she doesn’t touch things she isn’t supposed to but let’s be realistic. She’s 1.

I’m personally not a fan of time out. As a youngster my mom would send me to my room and tell me not to leave until she said so. Worked for me! I love to read so being sequestered in my room was heaven. If she really wanted to punish me she should have sent me outside to run around the block. So from my point of view sitting someone down to “think about what they’ve done” doesn’t cut it.

What worked on me and my husband was a spanking. Yes I know some people are totally against spanking and believe that it’s cruel and unusual punishment. But the thought of having my behind spanked was enough to stop a lot of the things that I thought about doing as a child. I will agree there is a limit though. My mom would spank us for anything and after a while it became a joke to try to outrun her. My father on the other hand reserved his spankings for really big infractions. Usually his stern voice was enough to get us back in line but if we went too far, a spanking we got. And was it ever painful. Yes the hand or the belt on the behind hurt, but not as much as the disappointment you felt from my dad.

So what I’ve learned is that spanking doesn’t work if you use it like it’s the only tool you have. You also have to teach and be aware that you want your child to respect you and the other adults in their life. I’ve had to spank my daughter’s hand a few times, as has my husband. Ugh did it hurt our hearts. And did she ever make a show of it. She’s even gotten “spanked” by the cat for pulling his fur (he doesn’t have front claws but she cried anyway). Immediately afterwards we’ve spoken softly to her (as she screams and cries alligator tears) and explained why she shouldn’t do whatever. And then we give her a hug and a kiss. I’ve come to realize that my most important role is to bring up a well learned child who has respect for others and knows that there are consequences to every action. Hopefully we’ll learn from her as much as she’ll learn from us.