You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Toddler’ tag.

I experienced a rare burst of energy and inspiration to clean my house this morning.  Despite regular vacuuming and sweeping, our floors have been feeling very gritty lately thanks to summer and bare feet, and I decided that I could stand it no longer.  After our walk this morning, I cleared everything off of every rug in my house (i.e., three) and ran the vacuum.  The dog hid and Bear yelled Quiet! through the entire cleaning.  Then, I pulled out the product of one of my grandmother’s holiday QVC shopping sprees – a steam cleaner.

I may not have read the long-lost product manual well enough, or maybe I just don’t know how these things work, but I have a hard time understanding how piping steam into my carpets makes them clean.   Therefore, I have used the thing all of one time in the three years that I have had it.  However, our dog has recently returned to his nasty habit of pooping in the living room and peeing in the dining room while we are at work, and something had to be done (aside from using bottles of enzyme cleaner every work day, which we do, and shipping doggie of to boot camp, which we may yet do).  So, after another good spraying down of the two rugs with enzyme cleaner, I covered both of them with baking soda thinking that maybe this would help the steam actually do something.  Then, I gave both a solid steam cleaning and then used more enzyme cleaner assuming that the hot steam probably killed all of the enzymes that eat doggie by-products.

The dog watched woefully from the hallway throughout this endeavor, no doubt planning his next deposit when he is fortunate enough to be left alone.  Bear too was less than impressed.  Instead, while I cleaned, she unloaded every toy from her toy chest in the family room and dumped each into a huge pile on my newly “cleaned” floor.

I then tackled our bedroom and stripped the bed while Bear gleefully made another pile of toys next to my pile of blankets and pillows.  Since it was then time for lunch, I somehow convinced Bear (O.K., bribed her with PBS) to pick up the toys in the bedroom and to follow me to the kitchen where I further bribed her with milk while I made lunch.

After lunch, Bear actually seemed tired by our simultaneous cleaning/toy explosion affair, so she willingly went to her crib while I sat down and tackled the remaining piles of toys that I had not convinced (or successfully bribed) Bear to pick up.  Fortunately, I managed to box up about half of them to spend some quiet time in the basement for a few weeks.  The living areas of my house look pretty good.  Until Bear wakes up.

I’m afraid that the kitchen and the bathrooms will have to wait until later.  My energy and inspiration have faded.  Now, I need a nap too.

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.

This post was written a week ago, but my computer problems were not as resolved as I thought.

* * * *

I’m back in business!  Our computer problem was not caused by a virus.  On the contrary, it was caused by too much security! A very helpful IT guru named Gunnar determined that we had too many security programs running at once, and they were so effective that our computer would not even function.  That is certainly one way to keep viruses away!

In the spirit of offering a quick update, I am almost out of my first trimester.  I’ve been doing lots of sleeping, eating, and throwing up.  In other words, this seems like a completely normal pregnancy, and so far, an easier one than my first.

I am knocking on wood as I write those words, though, because yesterday, I received a call at work from Bear’s daycare to say that several children had been sent home with suspected Fifth Disease, and they were concerned about Bear’s bright red cheeks.

That morning, she woke up with cheeks that were flaming red, but not hot to the touch.  I thought that she must have been hot at night, and I took off her sleeper and dressed her in cooler clothes for daycare, but still, the color did not fade.  I mentioned her cheeks to her teacher as I dropped her off, and I told her that I thought that the color was related to an irritation from another child’s sunscreen that I was fairly certain Bear was wearing when I picked her up the day before.  Along with Bear’s food allergies, she also has eczema, and several times this winter, she developed a bright spot on her cheek after being exposed to something her skin didn’t like.  Considering that Bear was wearing someone else’s pants and her diaper was on backwards when I picked her up the day before, it didn’t seem like a stretch to think that someone had applied the wrong sunscreen.

However, the call from daycare that afternoon concerned me.  If other children also had a rash, then Bear very well could have Fifth Disease.  Although Fifth Disease is a common and fairly mild illness, it can cause complications with a fetus in pregnancy.  As my doctor put it to me this morning, “the good thing about getting Fifth Disease early in pregnancy is that either you go on to have a perfectly normal pregnancy or you don’t.”  I must have given her a look with that remark, and she explained that the alternative is a rough pregnancy with complications to the fetus.  I wanted to ask what was good about the “you don’t” alternative, but I decided to keep my mouth shut.

Regardless, by the time I picked up Bear, she looked completely normal.  Her cheeks were not red at all.  If it weren’t for the signs warning parents about a “viral rash” going around the building and the city, I wouldn’t be concerned at all.

This morning, I had blood drawn to see if I am immune to Fifth Disease, meaning that I have had it previously.  If I am immune, then I have nothing to worry about.  If I am not, we’ll learn from the test if I have recently become infected, and if not, we’ll test again in a few weeks to be certain.  Hopefully, I’ll just be immune.  I’d rather not learn what could possibly be good about my doctor’s “you don’t” comment.

* * * *

Update:  I am still waiting for those test results!

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.

Yesterday was beautiful.  While Bear napped, I sat in the sun in the backyard and read.  By the time she woke, the afternoon had warmed to the point where I could discard my jacket and even sleeves were no longer necessary.  Bear and I spent several hours outside enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

Although Bear looks like me, she is her father’s daughter.  As far as I am concerned, the two of them have work confused with play.  Every weekend, my husband creates little projects for himself; ones that I would not find relaxing.  Likewise, yesterday Bear entertained herself by picking up sweet gum balls and collecting them in her wagon.  Unfortunately, she was not content to do this by herself, so I joined her in this unpleasant activity.

As I was marveling on prolific nature of our sweet gum trees, my doctor’s office called.  The nurse gingerly told me that my progesterone was “very low” at 0.6 and that she was sorry but that I had not ovulated.  She promised to call me on Monday with my doctor’s recommendations since my doctor is out-of-town on spring break.

After the call, I found myself thinking over the results as I picked up spiny ball after spiny ball.  The irony was not lost on me.  We have a backyard full of trees that generate millions of these unwanted balls in the name of procreation, and I struggle to generate one tiny, little egg on a semi-regular basis.

Aside from this, Bear and I did have a nice afternoon in the sunshine.  She piled rocks on the back of our ultra-complacent dog.  Then, she attempted to feed them to him.  Finally, she gave him sweet gum balls to munch.  After we had exhausted all of the fun that the backyard could offer, we moved to the driveway where Bear drove her little Cozy Coupe, and we wrote her name in many colors with chalk.

Today, the weather is its normal, fickle March self, but yesterday’s little taste of summer was enough to remind us that winter is nearly at an end.  And, I am ready.

While listening to Morning Edition on NPR on the way to work a few days ago, a story of particular interest to me began playing as soon as I drove into the parking lot for my work.  Instead of turning off the car, and going into work, as I should have since I was already late, I sat in the car and listened to this.

I self-congratulated myself as I heard the reporter beg her son to eat his vegetables.  I shuddered a little when she told him that eating his vegetables would make him a big boy.  I thought, that woman needs to talk to Ellyn Satter.

Within a few radio seconds, the reporter was on the phone with Ellyn Satter, a therapist and dietician who has written a number of books about feeding young children, and Ms. Satter began explaining to the reporter that the harder she worked to get her child to eat something, the more likely that he would resist.

When Bear was starting solids, I was at a complete loss at how to feed her.  I felt like her pediatrician gave us very vague guidelines, and as a clueless mom with no previous experience, I took to googling.  Fortunately, I began seeing a pattern of other moms who reported that Ellyn Satter’s book, Child of Mine, was pivotal in forming the way that they fed their children, and so I ordered it.

Shortly before the book arrived in the mail, I found myself engaged in the usual struggle to get Bear to try a new solid.  I put the spoon of sweet potatoes that I had lovingly pureed to her closed lips and she turned her head.  With animated gestures, I tried some and demonstrated how much I liked it.  She took a swipe at the bowl.  I began bargaining with her.  If you just try it, you’ll like it, I told her.  Finally, I stood over her and when she opened her mouth, I shoved in the spoon.  Bear protested and spit sweet potato onto her tray and looked at me like, why, mom?  I did not want my child to become a picky eater.  I am not.  My husband is not, and Bear was not going to be a picky eater either.

Early in the book, Ms. Satter essentially says that forcing your child to eat something means that as a parent, you have a problem with control.  This sentiment pained me.  Was I controlling Bear by trying to get her to try something new?  Was this control hurting her and hurting me?

Quickly, I shifted my efforts at meal time from trying to get Bear to eat to simply providing food for her.  If she did not want it, she didn’t have to eat it.  This approach made meal times so much more relaxed, and I quickly let go of the frustration that I felt inside when Bear refused to eat something.  I would still offer it, but she could choose whether she wanted to eat it or not.

However, this week’s story on NPR made me realize that I am still controlling Bear’s meal times in a way that Ms. Satter would not approve.  She tells the reporter to let her son eat bread, even five pieces of bread at meal time, if this is what her son wants.  In Child of Mine, she suggests putting food on the table and allowing your child to eat as much or as little as the child chooses and to always include some food that you know that your child likes.  Her theory, and that of others I assume, is that children instinctively know how to self-regulate, and they will eat what they need and not over eat what they do not.  According to Ms. Satter, by allowing children the freedom to control how much they eat during a meal, they will begin exercising their internal self-control.

My problem is this:  When I cook, I rarely make enough to put in serving dishes.  I make enough for the meal, and I dish food directly onto plates.  In light of Bear’s restrictive food allergies, sometimes Bear gets different food than my husband and I, although I try to avoid this as much as possible.  I serve Bear her food on a plate, and generally, there is no more of this food beyond what I have given her.  Then, I am comfortable with allowing her to eat all or none of it.  This is her choice.

The issue arises when I serve something that there is more of, like a slice of cheese.  I will cut up pieces for Bear and put them on her plate with the rest of her food.  She loves cheese and will always eat it first.  Then, she’ll turn to the refrigerator and beg for more cheese instead of eating any more of her food.  My husband and I do not indulge Bear in this request, and I wonder if in this way, I am deviating from Ms. Satter’s suggestions.  Perhaps I should cut more slices of cheese and make them available at the table when we sit down to eat.  Then, as Bear finishes what she has, allow her to have more if she wants it. 

This is where I find myself struggling with Ms. Satter’s theory.  I know that Bear will only eat cheese if given the opportunity.  I am comfortable with allowing her to eat the cheese on her plate and then allowing her to choose to eat the rest of her food (or not) with the assumption that if she is hungry, she will eat some of the rest of her food.  If she has an unlimited supply of cheese (at least, unlimited to the extent of what is on the table), I don’t think that she’ll ever reach the conclusion of “I am still hungry.  I have no more cheese, so I’ll eat something else.”

Perhaps, I need to return to Child of Mine.  Perhaps, I need Ellyn Satter on speed dial.  Are any of you familiar with Ellyn Satter’s theories?  Would any of you like to share your thoughts on this or your own battles with toddlers and food?