Archive | June, 2011

Cars II, and other forms of leniency

28 Jun
3D glasses

Cars II 3D with BD

This year for Father’s Day, my husband’s only request – as sad and depressing as it sounds – was to watch TV with Blake like a normal person. This, after going nearly six months without turning the TV on during Blake-light hours (er, daylight hours) in accordance with our strictly no-TV routine.

Maybe it was the pain in his eyes … maybe it was the fact that NASCAR happened to be on that day (and B *loves* race cars) but I decided, against my super-strict mama judgment, to go along with it – fearing that by the end of the afternoon Blake would once again be a zombie-toddler-TV-addict, and we’d be back to cleansing his obsession with Elmo and Thomas Train all over again.

Strangely, what I feared most – Blake’s total TV regression – didn’t happen. Before we even turned the TV off that day, Blake had gone back to buzzing about with his trucks and blocks, losing interest in the television way before his father did. It was then that I realized that maybe the work we’d done to keep his mind on the creative track may have actually paid off. Maybe it was no longer necessary to avoid the TV 100 percent in our household. Maybe it was time for a little leniency. Maybe.

Indeed, having said that, I also have to admit that I still haven’t allowed Blake to watch TV since that day, and I don’t plan to. I have, however, taken him to a few movies, including Kung Fu Panda II after Rhett was born (mama-monster date night), the dollar movie showing of Monsters Vs. Aliens last week, and Cars II this morning (decidedly NOT a dollar movie judging by the $18 charged to my debit card). We’ve also had a few “family movie nights” at home (usually on Sunday nights, when both my husband and I are completely knocked out from a busy weekend), which is the closest Blake has come to realizing that our TV does actually in fact work, despite the fact that I told him otherwise six months ago.

The funny thing is, even though we act like we’re making these movie exceptions for Blake, I know that we’re making them for ourselves just as much. Blake wouldn’t even know Cars II existed if I hadn’t told him. It was more my desire to share something simple and fun with him that forced me to break my own rule. I loved hearing him scream, “Go, panda!” or “Lightning!!!!!!” when the movies were in swing … I loved see him wear the ridiculous 3D glasses the entire movie long … and seeing him try to grab the birds during the Lion King 3D preview … and I loved even more that he was able to “hold it” the entire movie long, and use the potty like a big boy afterward. Those things made me super happy – just as happy as going sans TV (and seeing how his development has soared because of it) has made me.

I guess there’s not really a point to this post, other than the fact that I’ve come to realize that sometimes just a little bit of leniency won’t kill him – or me, for that matter. That’s a hard thing for an extremist like myself to admit, but apparently  it’s true. And perhaps, that lesson is also applicable to other areas of my life. Maybe :)



Wahhhh! (a.k.a. Seller’s Remorse)

27 Jun

Blake hides from raccoons in the Scamper.

So – awhile back we decided to sell our Scamp camper. I know. It’s hard for me to type those words let alone accept them. First and foremost, we figured we’d have expenses coming with Rhett being born. Secondly, we knew that it was way too small for a family of four regardless. So, we posted it on eBay and sold it for a pretty profit. It felt great for about two minutes … and then it just made me sad.

Now that the sun is out and we’re looking to plan our summer family vacay, I literally can’t go a minute without thinking of the soooooo many amazing memories we had together in our little Scamper. It hurts my heart to think about a trip that doesn’t involve cramming into a bed way too small for all of us, and waking up to the sound of crickets and raccoons outside our little camper windows … making burnt pancakes on the campfire while Blake runs wild in the woods … even just being able to take a weekend trip to the middle of nowhere without worrying about resort and/or cleaning fees.

I miss you, Scamp! You were the coolest thing I ever owned, and I don’t know how I’ll ever find a camper that truly fills the void. Although I’m definitely going to try. Soon. Don’t tell my husband.

xoxo :(

Making out with my Scamp after purchasing it. That's how much I loved it.

Soaking up some sun in Malibu.

Camping in Pomona.

To yell or not to yell … that is the question

5 Jun

So. Yesterday after I picked Blake up from camp, we hit a snag in our usually idyllic evening routine. Instead of waltzing into the house per my daily instructions, he decided to run into the middle of the street and lie down. Like – facedown – in the middle of traffic. With my hands full of a baby, a bag of groceries, and his camp attire, I was frantic. With no hands to yank him back to the sidewalk, I built a protective mommy-fort around him with my body and started yelling for him to get up. This led him to gently place his blanket over his body in protest … which only made me yell louder.

This comes to mind because I recently saw a quote via Facebook as follows.

If you find yourself still yelling at the kids out of frustration, you may still be holding on to the belief that it is better that your child listen and follow through to your request even if you have to yell. Not true. Your relationship with your child is primary and when you yell, you damage that connection. Your mantra through the day is, “keep the connection. control the situation, not the child.”

My question, then, is when is it OK to yell? Or isn’t it? I have to admit – yelling didn’t make Blake listen any better to my request to get off the street. In fact, it seemed to make him even more determined to stay there. I also could have chosen to drop the baby and groceries and drag him kicking and screaming out of the street – which I would have done had there actually been more cars coming at the time. In general, I try to avoid things that will cause him to meltdown even further, especially if we’re in a public space (unless he’s in danger). But is that the best route to take when trying to discipline a 2.75 year old child? Or should I be more assertive in kicking his butt (figuratively!) into shape? When we finally got inside, I was so happy that the event was over that I (embarrassingly) admit – I didn’t punish him at all. I just took a deep breath, told him I was disappointed in him (um – at 2.75, I don’t think he cared) and went on with the night.

Another quote, also shared via the same Facebook site, said this:

The less authentic parental power you possess, the more you will resort to force. A confident parent is a calm parent with authentic, healthy authority.

My issue, I think, is that I am really not a confident parent — at least not when it comes to discipline. With values? For sure. Love? Absolutely. Creativity? Hell yeah. But with discipline – not at all. I’m really not sure why that is.

My father was an extreme disciplinarian. I remember once my brother literally falling out of the car while we were driving (he had been playing with the door handle). When we stopped to pick him up, what was the first thing my dad did? Was it hug him? Tell him how happy we were that he hadn’t been killed? Hell, no. He smacked the crap out of him because he had been playing with the door handle. I guess that kind of extremist discipline has always stuck with me as the “wrong” way to go. But as an extremist myself in most other aspects of life, I’m not sure how to find the middle ground where discipline is concerned.

Not that I have a problem with it. I just don’t know how to do it well. I don’t have an imposing force. Threatening time outs seems to work a lot better for my husband than it does for me. Though I am super quick to jump down a stranger’s throat if I find them doing something wrong, the same doesn’t seem to apply to my children. I don’t want to be a screamer, and I am definitely not going to be a smacker. But I don’t seem to have the heart to listen to him cry enough to be a disciplinarian at all. Thus far I’ve been pretty lucky in that Blake has been a super sweet, big-hearted kid, and I haven’t had to pull out the discipline card that often. But for times like lying down in the middle of the street, I definitely need to have a better answer lined up. Because as sweet and big-hearted as he is, Blake is also extremely stubborn – like, as stubborn as I am. And I know that’s going to get me into some major problems down the road if I don’t nip it in the bud right now.

I guess my question is – what is the best way to discipline your child? I need some help. What works, and what doesn’t? When is it better to let your kid have a fit because you’re disciplining him, and when is it better to divert his attention to something else to get him to stop? When is it OK to yell, and when should I be trying to talk it out? Why am I the worst parent ever? Why don’t I have these answers? Ahhhhh!


1 kid vs. 2 kids = English vs. German

1 Jun

So – one of the things people have been asking since Rhett was born is whether it’s a lot different to take care of two kids than it is to take care of one. Those who already have more than one child already know the answer to this … but for those who don’t, I can only think of one analogy to accurately describe it. It was the semester I decided to study in Austria [despite the fact that I suck (like – SUCK) at German.] That day-to-day struggle of processing all of my thoughts into another language feels strikingly similar to juggling one more kid than I am used to …

Right. So when I decided to study in Austria, I did so knowing that all of my classes would be in German. Sadly for me, as mentioned above, I sucked at German. I had taken most of my German language courses as independent study, and I had even completely skipped a semester so that I could obtain the “two years” of credits required for the exchange program. What that meant is that when I arrived in Austria, I had virtually no idea what anyone was saying.

Just as bad, no one knew what I was saying either. My German teacher himself told me my voice was like a dog-whistle … as in, it probably didn’t even register in most people’s ears. It was frustrating to say the least, especially for a girl who felt passionately about my German heritage and wanting to make the most of my exchange experience.

In class, I’d sit for the entire period squinting my eyes in desperate concentration trying to catch words that sounded somewhat familiar. I’d write down phrases I thought I was hearing, only to get back to the dorm and look them up in my dictionary … and realize I must have mis-heard. It was the difference between simply being able to attend a class (like I’d done at home) and having to struggle through every single moment of a class (which I was doing overseas.) Nothing is as humbling to a perfectionist as struggling through things that usually come super easy.

What I mean to say is, to me, having two kids is like studying in Austria – at least at the moment. Most days require 100 percent attention and focus. There’s not a lot of opportunity to relax or think about “extra” things – let alone excel like I want to. I’m sort of just fumbling along – trying to figure out how to feed one kid while playing blocks with another … how to get one baby to sleep while soothing a toddler who’s suddenly convinced there are spiders and sharks living under his bed … how to get one baby out of the car seat while keeping one from running in front of a car at the same time … how to give 100 percent of myself to two different people. That’s one I haven’t quite learned the math for, but I’m trying.

I don’t think the feeling of overwhelm will last forever. After all, most people’s language skills do actually improve after studying in a foreign country for a period of time. (Mine didn’t, but that’s another story.) I’m just hoping that throughout my learning curve, none of my love is getting lost in translation. The challenge for me (as always) is being patient throughout the learning process.