28 February 2011

Potty Mouth

Now here’s something I have yet to learn how to deal with: my kids are obsessed with poo, pee, toilets, underpants and anything related. They think the word “poop” alone is one of most hilarious things you can say or hear. My three year old can be waiting in an elevator with a stranger or in line at the market and he will yell “POOP” at the top of his lungs. Now whilst I don’t think any great harm is being done, it’s getting very old.

Yesterday at soccer class my three year-old son pulled down his underpants and gave all eight little girls in the class a full frontal flash. I managed to sprint over and cover him up before his coach turned around.  It was hard to discipline him as we were all laughing so much. I overheard his older sister telling him to “do it again”.  Somehow it always seems to be MY kids yelling poop or spontaneously removing their clothes, please don’t judge.

I’ll finish with a poem my daughter wrote recently…

I wrote an article on potty training if you are looking for tips.

Weaning from breastfeeding

I’m not for or against weaning a baby from breastfeeding. It’s such a personal thing to each mother and each child. With my two children my experiences were polar opposites. Weaning my son was not an issue as he stopped way before I was ready at 9 months old. He made his opinion pretty clear by biting me every time I came near him with a boob (I’m sorry did I say that biting has not been an issue in our family in that earlier post?).

My daughter who is the oldest was a completely different story. Born with a birth defect which necessitated major surgery at 48 hours old and a month-long stay in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), we didn’t get an early start to breastfeeding. I faithfully pumped for her and the nurses gave her breast milk through a tube that went directly through her tummy to her stomach. It helped to be able to do this small thing for her when I was otherwise completely unable to ease her pain or help her grow and heal. When I was finally able to nurse her it was rough for a couple of weeks as she was used to a bottle but with the help of some very sweet and kind experts we finally got there. Nursing became her absolute favorite thing to do and who was I to deny my baby that close comfort she hadn’t been able to have for her first month. There were many days in the NICU  we had not even been able to touch her and we would just sit for hours watching her sleep.

Fast forward eighteen months, we have moved to Los Angeles from New York City and my daughter is still incredibly attached to nursing. I would have carried on longer but for a couple of other circumstances. The month before I had miscarried an early pregnancy and I had just found out I was expecting again. My doctor my mother and my darling husband were all very concerned about the potential for another miscarriage. Although I didn’t 100% buy the notion I could cause another miscarriage by breastfeeding, with all that concern I felt that weaning my 19 month old was the right decision.

I was very concerned about causing my young daughter emotional upset as she took so much comfort from nursing and I was determined to find a gentle way to do it. I started by tackling daytime feeding as that seemed to do be the most sensible place to start. I came up with a time, say 5 minutes, and I would let her nurse whilst watching the clock. Then I would take her off. If she cried I would let her nurse again but for only 2 seconds and then take her off again. At first it would take a good few 2-second feeds before she would finally give up but it happened. It was annoying to her so she would stop without complaint. She quickly learnt it wasn’t worth arguing about the 2 second feeds as I would just keep repeating the same pattern. Within days I was able to cut the 5-minute nursing periods gradually down to 10 seconds. Before I knew it I was only nursing at nap time and bedtime. Nursing before she fell asleep took a little longer but I repeated the same pattern, slowly slowly reducing the time. I had just gone through a very tough couple of months teaching her to fall asleep without nursing so that she would be able to sleep better during the night so I had already laid the foundation.
I miss those quiet times with my little angel who now barely sits still long enough to hug but I’m pleased we came through it none the worse for wear and now she has that little brother to play with.

As far as teaching her to fall asleep without nursing is concerned, there was no easy or quick way to do this. Every night I would cuddle her when she got up and lie her back down in her crib…over and over and over again, until weeks later it finally stuck.

24 February 2011

The two tiddlers.


A few evenings ago I was busy tidying the kids’ room for bedtime whilst they played together in the front of our apartment in their heady after-bath excitement. Out of the contented chatter I could barely hear suddenly came the most sickening scream. I thought my 3 year-old had trapped a finger or otherwise gravely injured himself so I dropped what I was doing and sprinted to where the kids were playing. To my surprise it was my 5 year-old daughter screaming and in such agony but I couldn’t work out why. Eventually when she had collected herself enough to make herself understood she showed me her back where my son had sunk his teeth into her. Ouch, it looked so painful. I received the odd nip from my children when they were teething babies so I know how painful it can be but thankfully until this point biting hadn’t really been an issue for us.

I recently read an amazing book: Siblings Without Rivalry: How To Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. A friend sent the book to me, she had finished with it and wanted to pass on the love. Well, to date I have read it twice and I am sure I will read it again soon as I want every bit of information to remain in my poor forgetful brain.

I saw the situation in front of me as a very important learning experience for all three of us. I realized my response to what happened might be vitally important. I quickly dragged to the forefront of my brain what I had learnt in Faber and Mazlish’s book and went first to my poor daughter. My son tried to come in for a cuddle but I gently pushed him away without looking at him and hugged my daughter and talked to her about how much the bite must hurt and how I imagine she had also had her feelings hurt. We talked about how her brother needed to find another way of getting her attention without addressing him directly. I carried her to the sofa where I inspected the bite, gave her a colorful bandage and helped her to put her pajamas on. Only when she was settled did I turn my attention to my son. He was sad and shocked. I believe he has no idea, as it should be, how much it hurts to be bitten. I explained to him how very much he had hurt his sister and asked him to apologize, which he willingly did. Then I kindly told him he would be going to bed now before his sister and with no story. He protested a little but quickly settled down. Then I had time to comfort my daughter alone and she was feeling important and cared for by the time she went to bed.

My son explained to me that he had been trying to talk to his sister and she was ignoring him and that is why he bit her. I was pleased he was able to articulate what had happened and it gave me the opportunity to talk to him without anger about finding another way to get her attention. To date the situation has not reoccurred.  I was so relieved to have been able to find a way to deal with a horrible situation without relying on anger and raised voices.

Faber, A. and Mazlish, E. (1987). Siblings Without Rivalry: How To Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Potty Training My Daughter

Some people get very stressed out about potty training their child. There are children who seem to transition from diapers to underwear almost entirely by their own initiative and there are those who are extremely reluctant. I’ve had successes and failures along the way. It is one of those child rearing experiences which you can get really focused on and there is so much information out there to “help you” it is easy to get overwhelmed, confused or even obsessed. I liken this to “sleep training”, that’s a whole other story.

For us the trick was waiting until the kids were really ready. Trying before they are ready whilst perhaps possible seems a very time consuming and potentially upsetting experience for both parent and child.

My daughter was just 14 months old when I first enthusiastically bought her a pretty pink potty I thought she wouldn’t be able to resist. Fast forward to a year and a half later and she was finally interested in using it for its intended purpose.

We started off with the potty in our living area so she would not have to toddle far to use it. She quickly got used to peeing in her little pink potty and I was able to move it to the bathroom within days where she happily visited it whenever she felt the urge. It seemed like it was going to be very easy and we’d be out and about using public restrooms in no time. Then I noticed that first couple of days she had been wearing big girl underwear she had not pooped once. She seemed quite uncomfortable and I could see she wanted to go but was reluctant. I tried sitting her on the potty and stroking her back, I tried singing self-composed pooping songs to her, I tried coaching her on how to relax, nothing worked.

My daughter and I were in the living room playing with her big nylon crawling tunnel and I was struck by what may seem like a ridiculous idea for a game. I explained to her that she was the poo and the tunnel was a bottom and she had to try and get out of the tunnel and into the toilet. Well, little kids, as I have learnt so well since, just love to talk about poop, sing about poop, tell jokes about poop, be involved in just about anything that involves poop, so the game was a great success. Then I had another “stroke of genius”. Not only did my daughter evidently love playing poop-themed games, she also loved anything to do with babies. Her own baby brother was about 8 months old at the time. She was still very uncomfortable and hadn’t yet used the potty for anything put pee. So I told her a story only a 2 year old could appreciate about a mommy and a daddy poo who were just around the bend of the toilet and how they were waiting for their baby poo to come and join them. I explained to her that the baby poo was in her bottom and that it desperately wanted to be reunited with it’s parents. She’s a very compassionate little girl and this really struck a chord with her. She sat on the padded seat perched on top of the big potty and finally sent the baby poo home to it’s mother and father. My hero.

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I want to write about my parenting experiences, the ups and the downs, in a non-judgemental way that informs, supports and amuses parents and non-parents alike. This is NOT advice!