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After last week, I was worried about how Bear would act in future music classes.

This morning, as I was getting ready, she asked me, Where we goin’?

When I told her that today was music class day, she responded with an enthusiastic YAAAAAY!

At that point, I bent down and said, But, do you remember what happened last time?

Before I could say anything else, she interrupted me, stumbling over her words, I won’t lick the mat.  I won’t lick the mat.

Good, I told her.  What happens if you do lick the mat?

I won’t lick the mat, she said.

But if you do, what happens?

I don’t want to go home.

I smiled.  Apparently my intervention last week had made a bigger impression than I realized.

We arrived at class a little earlier, and Bear happily ran around the mat while her teacher pulled out toys to occupy her until the other children arrived.  Aside from knocking over a few kids with her enthusiasm, and head-butting the teacher, she was pretty well-behaved.  Of course, she seemed like a hooligan compared to all of the other quiet children sitting on their mothers’ laps, but only once – at the end of class – did she lay on her stomach and with the tip of her tongue, ever-so-slightly touch the mat.  She immediately looked at me, and I shook my head at her and looked at her sternly.  She immediately sat upright and joined the rest of the kids.  I decided that this response was good enough.

After class, we talked about that one moment, and Bear sighed and said, OK, Mommy.  She seemed weary of the topic.

Unfortunately, the last class of the summer is next week, and my ultrasound and doctor’s appointment had to be rescheduled for the same time so my doctor can assist in a surgery.  I am both bummed and relieved.  Hopefully by the time the fall class starts, Bear will have gotten all of this licking out of her system and we can go back to enjoying music class again.

Bear learned a hard lesson today.  Mommy is still trying to figure out hers.

Bear has been purposefully defying me at music class for the past several weeks.  There are not a lot of rules at music class.  The kids sit in a circle on a large, gym mat with their mothers, and aside from the general prohibition against hurting each other, they are not required to stay in the circle or even to participate.  Most of the toddlers in Bear’s class do sit attentively with their mothers.  Several of the more spirited children – like Bear – often run around the circle or entertain themselves when their interest wanes in the activity.  Bear, however, has taken to lying on her stomach on the mat and licking it at various times throughout class.  After she licks this dirty mat that everyone walks on with their bare feet, she looks at me like Mommy, what are you going to do about it? 

I should know better than to engage in a battle of wills with a toddler, especially my toddler.  Bear does not have a lot of “rules” at home, and she is a fairly cooperative child most of the time.  When I ask her to help me pick up her toys or her books, she will help.  Mealtimes are not a battle ground.  Bear eats what she wants, and if she doesn’t want to eat anything, we don’t force her.  If she doesn’t want to sleep at nap time, I tell her that she doesn’t have to.  Instead, she can sit in her crib surrounded by books and entertain herself until inevitably, she falls asleep.

Discipline has not been an issue in our house.  I do not hit my child.  I do not enforce traditional time-outs.  Instead, we try to be consistent and set reasonable boundaries and try not to expect more than Bear is developmentally capable of.  For the most part, our ideas about acceptable behavior and Bear’s wants and desires seem to coincide.  Maybe we have just been lucky so far.

At home, if Bear wanted to lick the floor, I would explain why she shouldn’t, but I would not make a big deal about it.  However, at music class, I have a real issue with her licking the mat, not only because it is disgusting and it spreads germs, but because Bear is a very intelligent and capable little girl, and this behavior reminds me of something that you would see from a wild animal.  It seems completely uncharacteristic of her.   However, even beyond this, Bear is obviously testing me, and I have struggled to decide if this behavior calls for a response.

For the first several weeks, I calmly asked Bear to stop or attempted to redirect her back to the group activity.  Last week when the licking began, I pulled her onto my lap and whispered in her ear.  I did this several times, and the last time, I told her that if she did not stop that we would have to go sit outside of the class.  She stopped.

This week, she began licking the mat and then looking at me, inviting a response, and I silently picked her up and took her outside the class.  We sat on a bench for a few minutes and talked about why we shouldn’t lick the mat.  I reminded her that if she did it again, that we would leave the class again.  She did it again, and again, we left.  I let her return to the class with one more reminder.  If she continued to lick the mat, we would go home and she would miss her favorite part of the class where she gets stamps on both hands and her stomach.  She nodded her head and said that she understood.

Within a minute of returning to class, she was back on her stomach licking.  Without saying a word, I picked her up, grabbed my purse and our shoes, and we left.  Bear began howling NO as I carried her down the hall.  She began wailing in the car and crying for Daddy and even for the dog.  I was sad, because I knew that she was missing her favorite part of the class.  She waits for this class all week, and all weekend, she shows off her stamps.  It was hard to not want to take her back inside and let her stand in line for her stamps.

I called my husband on the way home, and he said that he agreed with my response.  Even so, I can’t help but wonder if I am making too big of deal out of this licking.  It is important to be consistent, but it is also important to pick your battles.  I am worried that I’ve chosen the wrong one to fight, and now that I have made my stance clear, I can’t drop it.  We may never make it through another music class again.

It is hard to know which lines are the ones that should be drawn.  If Bear had been repeatedly hitting another child, my response would have been unquestioned.  But, was this one of those moments?  I just don’t know.

Bear is getting old enough that we’re starting to think about potty training.  Some days, I could care less about the subject.  I don’t mind changing diapers.  I don’t even mind washing her cloth diapers.  But others – like today – make me think that Bear needs to get potty trained and quick!

Bear is no longer content to wear a wet or dirty diaper.  So, as soon as she goes to the bathroom, and usually before I can catch her, she takes off her pants and her diaper.  In the world of wet diapers, this isn’t a big deal.  However, when I find my toddler running through the house with a dirty behind that has touched many things in the few minutes since it left the safety of the diaper, the story changes.  And then, once I have cleaned Bear and diapered her again, she and I go on a diaper hunt to find the discarded dirty diaper that (if we’re lucky) still contains whatever was left in it.

It’s days like these that make me think that Bear needs to be potty trained.  Diapers don’t do anyone any good if they don’t stay on!  And, Bear’s are cloth, so they aren’t that easy to remove.  She has to undo snaps to get the things off.  Not to mention, she is interested in the potty thanks to her potty-trained friends at daycare.  She wants to go.

This said, we will be traveling in August, and this upcoming trip has me questioning whether now is a good time to start.  Once we return and Bear gets readjusted to life at home, we’ll be looking at early September before I can really jump us both into potty training, which is also just a few short months before the next baby comes along.  This has me hoping that Bear will catch on quickly and not regress once she sees a little baby wearing her diapers.  Not to mention, I just don’t know if I can last that long with a little bare-bottomed toddler running through my house!

Bear’s two-year molars have started coming in.  She is still a few weeks away from her 2nd birthday, but they don’t seem to know this.

All week, I watched her perform all manner of tasks with one or two index fingers hanging from her mouth.  She’s developed a rash around her mouth, and for the past two days, she has moped around the house with a low-grade fever.

Owie, Mama, she has been saying all week.  Then, she asks for apple.  I’ve been giving her frozen pineapple cut into small bits for her to chew on, and she seems to agree that the cold helps.  Yesterday, she even let me put my finger into her mouth to feel her sore gums.  The small, sharp corner of her lower, right molar had already cut through.

Last night, she woke up crying.  I went to her and found her standing in her crib with her fingers in her mouth.  I held her for a little bit and told her that if she slept, her mouth would feel better.  I put her back to bed, but a few minutes later, she began crying again.  This time, my husband went to her with our tiny bottle of compounded, non-soy containing pain reliever, which cost us nearly $100.  When he came back to bed, I asked him if she took the medicine.  Yeah, he said, and I gave her a drum stick.  Not the chicken-kind, mind you, but apparently he handed her a plastic toy drum stick from the floor and she plopped it into her mouth.

Either the medicine or the drum stick did the trick, because she slept the rest of the night.  Unfortunately, she woke up this morning feeling just a poorly as she did when she went to bed, and several days of pain has put her in a bad mood.

She asked for a morning snack, and when I insisted that she sit at the table to eat it, she responded by twisting and turning in her new booster seat.  I told her that I was worried that she was going to fall on her head, and she replied, Thank. You.

Then, she told me to eat her foot.

She clocked me in the head this morning, when she was upset with me for some reason.  My glasses went flying and left a red mark on the side of my face.  When I picked her up to explain why we don’t hit, she hit me again.  So, I put her down until her daddy came inside when she ran to him looking for the good guy.

I decided to let her stay with The Good Guy while I went to the grocery store.  When I returned an hour later, she was watching a movie on the couch (another reason why he is The Good Guy), and when she saw me, she got off the couch, and ran and hit me on the leg.

Sigh.

Let’s hope that all four of those two-year molars bust through in the next several days.  Otherwise, I am fearful that none of us are going to survive.

Spooky Moon, originally uploaded by rcbodden, Flickr, Creative Commons.

I had just put Bear down to sleep for the night, and closed her door behind me, when she started screaming. At first, I thought that these were her typical, I-don’t-want-to-go-to-bed screams, but they quickly escalated in pitch, so I turned around and went back into her bedroom.

She stopped crying as soon as she saw me. She was hot – a damp hot. In a few minutes, she had soaked through her fleece sleeper, and her hair felt wet with sweat. She sat straight up in her crib looking at me, whimpering and gasping for air.

What is wrong?

She looked at her bedroom window, the blinds closed tightly against the night outside, and pointed. Her whimpering got louder.

Outside? Did you see something that scared you?

She nodded, and I picked her up. She curved her hot little body against mine and closed her eyes. I sat down in her chair and began rocking her.Bear twisted her body in my arms toward the window and pointed again. She wasn’t going to forget whatever had happened, and I felt a little prick of fear inside of me. What if she really did see something? What if someone was outside her window? I decided that I had to be brave, even though my little toddler pointing insistently at her bedroom window was starting to freak me out.

Do you want me to check to make sure nothing is there?

She nodded again. So, from where I sat, I reached over and quickly pulled back the blinds. Nothing. Either nothing was there, or nothing was there now.

See, honey? There isn’t anything there. You’re fine.

I rocked her for a little while longer, and she seemed to relax. I carried her to her crib and began to lay her down amongst her babies. Her eyes popped open. I assured her that I would be right outside her room, and if she needed me, I would be there. I told her not to worry anymore. She closed her eyes again and rubbed her cheek against her blanket.

But, I was still a little worried. When my husband got home, I asked him to go outside to check. He scoffed at my concerns. She saw a light, or a sweet gum ball probably hit the window, he said. Maybe.

Since that night, about twice a week, Bear will start screaming in the middle of the night. I’ll go into her room, and she’ll be sitting up pointing at the window. I’m fairly convinced that nothing is there, but her insistence is starting to spook me. What if she knows something that we don’t?

Bear has been asking for things lately, and I am having a hard time resisting.

Last week, after someone mentioned ice cream, she kept saying I want ice cream over and over until I agreed.  She’s never had ice cream for obvious reasons, but I was able to find some sorbet that was soy and dairy free.  It was an amazingly warm day, and we took it outside to eat.  Bear sat in a chair like a big girl and let me spoon feed mouthfuls of the stuff into her waiting mouth.  At that moment, her reaction of pure joy seemed reason enough to give her all that she requests.

Last Sunday, Bear watched as I spent an hour and a half untangling two hopelessly tangled necklaces.  When I finished, I put one on, and Bear was immediately fascinated.   She ran her chubby fingers around the chain.   I want a necklace.  My husband overheard her request and suggested getting her one for her birthday.  I began to explain the reasons why she wasn’t old enough, but her little ears overheard.  Pink? she requested.  A pink necklace?  Purple too? 

Aw, the stuff little girl’s dreams are made of.

After some brainstorming, I decided that I could make a necklace for Bear sturdy-enough that she couldn’t choke on it.  Of course, the mere act of her wearing a necklace is somewhat of a choking hazard, but perhaps, I thought, a necklace would be safe enough during supervised dress-up.

Yesterday, Bear and I went to a nearby craft store searching for some unfinished wooden beads that would be so large that she couldn’t put them in her mouth.  We found wooden doll heads, multitudes of small beads, various stones, colored pom-poms, and sheets of felt, but no large wooden beads that wouldn’t pose a choking-hazard.

After entirely too much contemplation, I bought a ball of yarn and two bags of good-sized felt heart stickers, both in Bear’s favorite colors.

At home, I stuck the stickers together so the hearts would be double-sided.  Then, I pulled out the largest needle that I could find, and using a pair of needle-nosed pliers, I began sewing the hearts together.

Sometimes, my imagination is bigger than reality, and while the end-product is cute, I was not sure that it was worth the effort.  That is, until I gave it to Bear.

Now, Bear is asking for a baby, but I think that just like her mommy, she’s going to have to wait for one of those.  Maybe for her birthday?

 

Bear ran out of milk at daycare yesterday.  Actually, she ran out of Lactaid.

In a pinch, my husband, who dropped Bear off and who was already running late, agreed that they could give her regular milk instead.  He did not have time to think about the consequences.

When I picked up Bear, she refused to walk with me.  When I held her, she screamed.  So, I let her walk, while I half-dragged her to the car.  She cried the entire way.  I assumed she was in a bad mood.

On our way home, I attempted to console her by explaining in detail all that we would do once we were there.  We would see Doggie.  Yes, she nodded her head.  We would change her clothes.  Yes, she nodded her head.  We would make dinner.  No nodding.  No eat, she said.  You’re not hungry? I asked.  No eat, she insisted.

At home, she agreed to a warm bath, which she quickly ended because of tummy trouble, and then I propped her up on the couch with her pillows, blanket, babies, and a sippy of Lactaid.

My husband called to say that he would have to stay late at work, and I mentioned that Bear seemed to have a stomach ache.  He cursed and explained why.

We have tried several times to slowly transition Bear back to whole, lactose-containing milk, but each time, she has developed issues fairly quickly.  We don’t dare introduce legumes into her diet, because we know that she will have an allergic reaction, but with intolerances, sometimes, we are a bit more willing to stretch her boundaries.

However, giving her multiple cups of lactose-containing milk in one sitting was not a good idea.  I don’t blame my husband, because he is not well-educated on such matters, but switching cold turkey must have been a shock to her system.  And, it is a good reminder for us that a problem that seems non-existent when well-controlled comes back in a fury when given the chance.

Without my realizing it, Bear has become a social creature.  She has playmates at daycare and at home, she recites their names lovingly.  She clings to my side for only a moment at the church nursery before running into the arms of her favorite high school girl who will be hers for the next hour.  She says “hi” to strangers in stores and then shyly turns away when they show interest.  Bear is starting to learn about how people interact with each other, and she now craves that interaction with people other than her parents.

Yesterday afternoon, I decided that Bear and I would take a trip to Target.  We had been cooped up inside for the better part of two weeks – first with Bear’s illness and then with the snow – and we both needed to leave the house.  When I told Bear that we were going to Target, she ran to her room shouting, “Shoesies, Momma!  Shoesies!”  She insisted on wearing dress shoes, which weren’t at all appropriate for the snow, but after a few half-hearted suggestions of more practical shoes, I decided to let her choose.  When we arrived at Target, several other children and their mothers were walking from the entrance to their cars.  As we passed each group, Bear shouted, “Kids!  Kids!  Kids!” until they had passed.  I realized then how much she missed playing with her friends.

Today after music class, Bear and I had lunch with a friend and her son, Jack, who is close in age to Bear.  Previously, they had always engaged in parallel play around each other.  They would acknowledge the other’s presence, but developmentally, they played alone.  Today, as I carried Bear to the restaurant, she cried out her friend’s name.  They sat across from each other in booster seats, and one would stand and then the other.  One would shriek and then the other.  One would throw food and then the other.  By the end of lunch, they were standing in our booth, hitting the blinds, and shrieking at the top of their lungs.  No matter what motherly attempts we made to quiet the kids, they would giggle and continue.   They were playing a game with us, and they loved it.  As we stood up to gather our coats, Bear and Jack shot out of the booth and ran to the other side of the fairly empty restaurant.  They cowered giggling in the far corner of the room.  When we made our way to them, Jack ran in one direction and Bear ran in the other.  Once I had corralled my little girl and wrestled her into her coat, I carried Bear to the car.  The entire way, she said, “Dack.  Dack.  Dack.”  She missed her friend already.

When did this happen?  Before I know it, she’ll have a boyfriend.

The New Year has ushered in a New Bear.  Although she is about four months from officially entering those “Terrible” or “Terrific Twos” (depending on your viewpoint), she’s always been an overachiever.

The disruption brought by successive holidays has caused Bear to refuse to fall asleep at night or at nap time.  She refuses to have her diaper changed.  She refuses to go to daycare in the morning, and she refuses to leave daycare at night.

On Monday evening, I arrived at daycare to pick her up, and I heard a teacher ask Bear if she was ready to go with Mommy.  I heard Bear quickly respond, “No.”  After I signed her out in her classroom, I walked next door where she was darting back and forth between a plastic swing and a slide.  She did her best to completely ignore my presence as she climbed to the top of the slide, slid quickly down, and ran to the swing.  The teacher observing all of this just shrugged her shoulders at the situation that clearly was about to unfold.

After watching Bear run the “circuit” a few times, I announced that it was time to go home and scooped her into my arms.  She stiffened, arched her back, and immediately swung her arms around to grab my hair.  A loud wail filled the room.  Carrying her back to her classroom, I held her on my lap and did my best to slip her arms into her coat.  She fought me and wound up on the floor with my hand beneath her head to cushion the impact of the carpet below.

Indignantly, I carried her to the car.  The swift chill of the air outside softened her resolve, and she pushed her body closer to mine.  Once I got her into and buckled into her car seat, she became silent.

On the way home, I called my husband to tell him about Bear’s reaction.  From the backseat, Bear began mumbling quietly – under her breath – as though she was saying something that she didn’t want me to hear.  Her grumbling continued and her words became a little louder and a little clearer, and her tone was pointed.

“No, Mommy.  No.  No, Mommy.  No.”

She would mumble something intelligible and then repeat her tirade of “No, Mommy.  No.”  She was chastising me, I think.  By the time we reached home, my transgressions had been forgotten, at least until bedtime when the battle began once more.

I am afraid that it may be a long road to three.

This increase in tantrums means Bear is asserting her newly realized individual self, I suppose.  She is leaving babyhood and becoming a little girl.  This afternoon, she discovered a soft baby doll in the bottom of her toy chest.  I showed her how to rock it, but she had no interest.  Then I retrieved one of her old receiving blankets and pulled out a nearby footstool and showed her how to put the baby to bed.  She spent half an hour folding the blanket, rearranging it, and adjusting baby, until she looked up at me and said something.  I asked her to repeat it.  “Bwinky.”  “A binky?” I asked.  “Yes.  Bwinky.”  So, I searched for a binky.  It had never been used except the handful of times Bear shot it out of her newborn mouth until we got the idea that she didn’t want a binky.   I am amused that her baby does want a binky.

We have also spent hours building towers with her new Christmas blocks and playing mail carrier with “pretend” mail.  She loves to dance with me throughout the house on silly mornings, and she picks up my purse, which is nearly as big as she is, and says, “Bye bye.”

It may be a glorious road to three, too.

Is spending too much time on eBay looking for a new pair of shoes for Bear a good excuse for not updating this blog in quite awhile?  Probably not.  I have a couple of pairs that I’m “watching” though.  I tend not to enjoy the bidding aspect of eBay, which results in a lot of watching and waiting.  In the past, whenever I’ve found something that I want – usually after a lot of research and scrutinizing – I have placed a bid only to lose to someone more eBay-savy than myself.  And then, I’ll spend a good hour or two mad about it.  Isn’t the “Buy Now” feature easier?  If only I could find good Stride Rite shoes for less than $30 somewhere else.  Bear is about to grow out the last pair that I bought her at a consignment sale in, um September, so we’re going to need a new pair very soon, and I grew weary of the monthly Target shoe purchases this summer.  I bought monthly not because she grew out of them, but because they fell apart.  The last pair Bear had from there, the ladies at daycare actually asked me not to send her back in them.  They wouldn’t stay on, and she kept tripping on them.  Hence, all of my time wasted on eBay, and I still have no shoes to show for it.

Instead of Trick-or-Treating this year, we took Bear to the zoo.  Fortunately, she is too young to really understand that she was missing the opportunity to amass a lot of candy.  Next year, candy avoidance is going to be much more difficult.  Hopefully, by that time, she will have outgrown her soy allergy.  I feel like we could work around the peanut allergy, but soy is in nearly Every Single Piece of candy that I looked at.  Finally, I purchased a package of special allergy-free Sour Worms at Whole Foods.  The package indicated that it had 20 packs of worms inside.  When I opened the package and took out a pack to give to Bear, I found that it had ONE worm inside.  Yes, one.  As did each and every other pack.  I bought 20 allergy-free sour worms for $6.00, which works out to 30 cents a worm.

Aside from the lack of candy, Bear had a great time.  She recovered from the stomach flu (yes, that came to visit us a week after Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease), and she loved dressing up for her daycare Halloween party.  She was the last to leave, and we literally had to drag her out of the building.  We treated Bear to the zoo next, and since her favorite books right now are Goodnight, Gorilla and I am a Zookeeper, she was delighted to see the animals.

We kept seeing another young couple with a sleeping baby at each exhibit.  Bear refused to ride in the stroller and for awhile, Dad carried her on his shoulders.  Before a long walk back from Africa, we decided that she needed to ride in her stroller, and we gave her no choice but to get inside.  Bear screamed and howled and trashed and kicked.  I noticed the young couple watching us.  As we walked away with a yowling Bear, I told my husband that they were thinking one of two things:  Either “That’s what we have coming next,” or “Our child will never act like that.”  I remember thinking something similar to the latter one day as a little boy followed me around a store beating on a drum.  Every time I turned around, he’d stop and walk the other way.  As soon as I started walking again, he’d follow me banging on the-most-annoying-toy-drum-ever-made.  Even now, as I recount this, I am thinking, “I can guarantee that my child will never wander around a store alone,” but I am sure that someday this thought too will come back to haunt me just as that young couple’s sweetly sleeping baby will soon enter the Frequent Public Tantrum phase.  I do have limited experience, but I am fairly certain that all toddlers try their parents in this way.  And, I have no doubt that Bear comes by it naturally.