Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lesson #28: Dogs Will Eat Anything

Whoever said dogs have cleaner mouths than humans has clearly never met my dog, Lex. Not only does he have one nasty case of doggie breath, but he's also been known to eat some pretty revolting stuff in his 12 years here on earth. Like the time my son threw up ham and pineapple alllllllll over the place and as hubs cleaned it up, Lex was right there beside him doing some "cleaning" of his own. *Gag* Little did I know, there was something much, much more horrid yet to come.

You'd think I would have learned by now that one must always diaper the toddler, but apparently I'm a little slow on the uptake. My just-turned-two year old is known for peeing wherever he's standing if he's left hangin' in the breeze. Well, almost anywhere. If he's anywhere near the potty, forget it. But that's another whole story. Anyway, I should have known not to leave him undressed, but I had just gotten him out of the tub, realized I hadn't put out any pj's, and figured he'd be ok for the 2.5 seconds it took to pull some pj's from the pile of clean laundry that seems to multiply exponentially every other second in my house. Why I would think such a thing is beyond me. I really should have known better. I turned to grab the jammies and when I turned back around I noticed something wet on the floor. I looked at the little dude and started to ask if he had just peed when I spied it-a nice mound of juicy brown poo. I looked from the poo pile to the puddle to the little dude. "Poop!" was all he said. "Did you just..." I trailed off as I saw the poo smeared on his backside and leg. Yep, he did.

I took him to get cleaned up and put the jammies on, then grabbed some paper towels and Lysol wipes and  returned to the scene of the crime. I had been gone for all of 5 minutes, tops. I thought for a moment that motherhood must have finally gotten the best of me and I had totally lost my mind because the offending poo was nowhere to be found. I knew I must not be crazy since the puddle of pee was still there. I stood there for a moment completely dumbfounded, looking around the room. That's when my eyes settled upon my dog, laying on his dog bed about a foot away from ground zero licking his lips.

Maybe it was some kind of weird alpha dog move to even the score after the Milk Bone incident (see Lesson #26). All I know is, I'm with Lucy...


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lesson #27: Privacy Is A Thing Of The Past

Oh how I long for the day when I can pee without an audience! C'mon  you know what I'm talking about. Don't pretend you don't! If you have children you feel my pain. You, too, have lived through the Bathroom Invasion.

Just the other day this scenario played out in my house:
I went into the bathroom and had just plopped myself down on the throne when the door slowly pushed open and Mr. Almost Two poked his head around it and exclaimed brightly, "Hi!" Sigh. I said hi back and as I tried in vain to gently shut the door, it came flying back at me and Mr. I'm Four And A Half poked his head in and said, "Whatcha doin?" Ummmm. WHAT DO YOU THINK I'M DOING??? I respond calmly something along the lines of, "Mommy has to go potty. Remember how we talked about privacy? Shut the door until I'm done please." Right about then was when the hubs walked up and started talking to me about supper. True story. You can't make this stuff up. Apparently the fact that I was on the toilet was insignificant.

Not too long ago I got up for work and jumped in the shower, intent on getting it done before my oldest woke up and the Bathroom Invasion began for the day. I almost made it, too.  Then, just as I rinsed my hair, I heard the door open and a sweet little voice said, "Good morning Mommy!" I could hear him sliding up on the toilet seat, making himself comfortable. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Good morning buddy! Mommy's almost done. Why don't you go sit in the living room and read a book and I'll be right out?
Privacy Poacher: No I'll just wait until you're done.
Me: You can sit for a minute but I'd like some privacy while I dry off. When I get out, you can go in the living room.
PP: No, I'll just wait right here until you're allllllll done.
Me: Remember how we talked about privacy? I would like you to give me some privacy please.
PP: But Mommy, I won't laugh at you!

That last bit melted my heart. I still have no idea why he'd think I was worried he'd laugh at me, but the sweetness of his reassurance was touching.

I like to think that the Bathroom Invasion and my less than perfect body is teaching my boys a realistic idea of what women's bodies look like, and helping them to appreciate and respect people of all shapes and sizes. Either that or the Bathroom Invasion is going to make some shrink very, very rich.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lesson #26: Milk Bones Make Great Teethers

My 22 month old is completely obsessed with Milk Bones. I'm not sure exactly how this started, but I am certain that it definitely relates to the whole second child concept. Does my oldest know what a Milk Bone tastes like? Heck no! Did I laugh when I saw my youngest running around squealing and laughing like a crazy person as he chomped down on one? Hell yes! 

Let me be clear that it's not as if the kid gets hungry and I just hand him a dog biscuit instead of actual food. In fact, I would really much prefer that he like actual food more than he likes Milk Bones! When he first developed a taste for them, I would "explain" to him that "Bones are for dogs" and give him a graham cracker or something equally crunchy to munch instead as he sobbed "Bone! Bone! Bone!" and pointed to the Milk Bone box. I'm not exactly sure when I decided that a little Milk Bone wouldn't kill him, but I think it was probably one of those parenting fails that occurs when you just let the kid have whatever it is they want so they will stop screaming and you can get out the door and maybe not be late for once. Now I try to keep him out of bone box as much as I can but once in awhile he manages to bust through the baby gate and zip up the stairs to steal one. After all that effort, I just don't have the heart to take it away, so I let him carry it around. 

You would be amazed at how many kids and parents you know have consumed some sort of dog food at one time or another. I was pretty sure that a little nibble on a Milk Bone now and then wouldn't hurt him, but even so I turned to my friends for input. A friend and colleague who has raised 5 children agreed that it's probably fine, and shared that two of her kids used to have a penchant for Milk Bones too. My brother's friend told a story about eating the free samples of Beggin' Strips at Petco because he thought they were bacon samples for the shoppers. (What???!)  A couple friends suggested my little guy was teething, some reminded me that there are worse things he could put in his mouth, and most shared that they have, indeed, crunched on doggie chow at some point. 

The thing that weirded me out the most was a suggestion that several people gave me: make some sort of cookie that's shaped like a dog bone, or make my own homemade dog treats to give him. While I have to agree that this would be a clever trick and I could be certain of the ingredients, somehow this just seems wrong. Maybe it's no different from letting him chow on a pilfered one every now and then, but it feels different to me! 

I guess the ultimate validation that a Milk Bone here and there is ok was when the dentist told us that the little dude "has remarkably clean teeth" compared to other children his age. Case closed! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lesson #25: Sitting Through A Meal Is A Thing Of The Past

You know how people are always saying to appreciate the little things in life? Once you have offspring, you start appreciating the things you used to have (privacy! a clean house! sleeping in!) and celebrating the microscopic things, like not having to wipe pee off the toilet seat before you sit down.

The thing that I find myself missing most is sitting down to eat. My husband and I both grew up having family dinners, and sitting down all together to have dinner is something we do with our children as much as possible. It sounds all idyllic and quaint all-American: the family meal where everyone eats together and shares all the wonderful things that happened that day. The reality is more Roseanne Barr than June Cleaver. 

I seem to be constantly getting up for one reason or another. Most of the time it involves my 4-year old having to use the bathroom even though he was JUST in there washing hands five minutes ago. This is typically followed by my 19 month old throwing food on the dog before launching his plate and cup as far as possible juuust as I reach out to take them away. The kid's got lightning fast reflexes. The thing is, he hasn't quite figured out the whole cause and effect thing and typically cries (this kid doesn't do anything halfway; when he cries he SCREAMS) because now he doesn't have his plate, or now he wants to get down and wreak havoc while we're all still at the table. 

Easter brought about a prime example of the sort of meal interruption that seems to always find me. We were celebrating with my mom's side of the family-she's one of 9 so there are typically a LOT of people at our family gatherings. We had just sat down to eat when my 4 year old announced that he had to go to the bathroom. Of course. I glanced at hubster but he was trapped at the end of the table up against a wall and couldn't get out (good strategy, I'm trying that one next year). I took ole potty pants to the bathroom and lemme just tell ya- he let out a doozy of a poo. I was pretty excited that he'd made it to the bathroom and I didn't have to clean out pooey underwear (definitely appreciating the littlest of things there). The situation went downhill a bit from there though. The little dude flushed the toilet several times in a row, then said, "Mama the water's getting really high". Oh yes. Clogged the toilet right in the middle of Easter dinner. Everyone else was chowing down on ham and there I was playing Roto Rooter in the bathroom. Most of the family found it amusing when I went out and asked where the plunger was kept. I'm pretty sure they all laughed when my son came running out shouting, 'The water's going down! My green poop went down now!" 

Maybe we should just eat in the bathroom. It has pretty much everything we'd need: the toilet is right there for the older one; the tub is in close proximity for those who are in splatter range of baby Babe Ruth; the sink is also right there for rinsing dropped cups and forks; heck, there's even towels to sop up those spills! I think I might be onto something here... 

Whether it's a potty trip, sopping up a spill, rinsing off dropped silverware, or pouring more milk, my job is never done- and neither is my meal. I just keep reminding myself that one day my babies won't need me to pour their milk or cut their meat, and I'll miss these days when they still needed me. That, and one day they'll be changing MY diapers muahhahahaha! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lesson #24: Perspective is a Funny Thing

As you know, my babies were both preemies requiring stays in the NICU. The NICU is housed on the 7th floor of the hospital where they were born. The 7th floor is the maternity floor. When you get on the elevator and push 7, people give you little smiles, and sometimes even say congratulations if they see the hospital id bracelet on your wrist. Going to 7 means you’re a new mommy or auntie or grandma; that you or someone you love is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new little life. What those elevator congratulators probably don’t know is that amidst all the joy and excitement of Grant 7, there is a place no parent wants to find themselves; a place where fear and the unknown abound. Of course I’m talking about the NICU. No parent wants to leave the hospital without their baby, only to return, day after day, having to push number 7 and receive those smiles and nods before walking past the anxiously waiting families, the rooms where babies and mothers cuddle and nurse, and the newborn nursery, only to ring a doorbell and gain entrance to the land of no guarantees.

One day when my baby was finally healthy enough to be moved to the Continuing Care Nursery on the 8th floor, I stepped onto the elevator and pushed 8 with what can only be described as a giddy sort of relief. NICU babies who have graduated to the 8th floor mostly just need to grow and learn how to eat; they are generally not in critical condition. In some ways, it means the storm has passed, or at least the worst of it. The CCN has private rooms and families on the 8th floor enjoy a sort of privacy not afforded to the families who are still “downstairs”. I was so excited to get on that elevator and push 8. That day as I pushed 8, a man looked at me with a sympathetic smile and nodded knowingly. “Got a sick kid?” he asked. You see, 8 is the Peds floor. People going to 8 have a sick child. In that moment I was struck by how subjective perspective is. I felt a sense of triumph in being able to push 8, while he saw a mother with a sick child; someone to feel sorry for.

The power of perspective hit me again last Friday. That morning the “Washer Fluid Low” message came on in my car. I immediately began fretting about it: did we have any washer fluid in the garage, what if I ran out, when would I have time to stop and get more? That afternoon my 17 month old woke up from his nap with blue lips and a 105.4 degree fever. We spent 6 hours in the ER while doctors and nurses worked on restoring his oxygen and bringing down his fever; getting chest x-rays and trying unsuccessfully to get an IV into his dehydrated veins; administering lab tests and blood cultures and breathing treatments. After six hours he was doing better and we were free to go. As we pulled out of the parking garage that “Washer Fluid Low” message popped up again, and this time I laughed. How absurd that I’d fretted so about something that, in the grand scheme of things is so trivial. Children have a way of putting things in perspective. 

In her book, "Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe", Alexa Stevenson says, "Being a mother in the NICU is a painful crash learning to swim by being dropped into the ocean by a helicopter". She's right. That experience is what gives me perspective. It's what allows me to laugh about and share with you the many mishaps of parenting that I experience. As my family gears up for our 5th March for Babies event to benefit the March of Dimes, I reflect on that experience and am reminded of how lucky we are, and of the many others who are not. 

Austin, born at 29 weeks and weighing 2lbs 10oz, 56 days in the NICU. Benjamin, born at 30 weeks, weighing 3lbs 5oz, 36 days in NICU. They are our miracles. We walk for them. 

We would greatly appreciate it if you would consider making a donation to our March for Babies team. You can learn more or make a donation at Thank you for your support. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lesson #23: Meltdowns Happen

I considered many titles for this lesson. Some of my favorite possibilities were "Four Year Olds Are The Devil", "If This Is Four, I Want My Three Year Old Back", "You Thought Two Was Bad??!! JUST WAIT", and my personal favorite (drumroll please): "Good Lord I Don't Know If I Will Live To This Child's Fifth Birthday And He Hasn't Even Been Four For A Month Yet!" Ok so that last one wasn't actually in the running but it's totally what I've found myself muttering lately.

You see, my child has never really had a meltdown of epic proportions before. I guess things had gone well for so long I started to think I was exempt from the public meltdown. Surely MY child would never do such a thing. Yet suddenly there I was, standing in Hannaford with a whining puddle of four year old at my feet.

It all started when he wanted his OWN cart to push. Dude, you can’t even see over the cart, you’re not pushing your own. I told him his choices were to help me push the cart or get into the cart. Of course, he jumped onto the end of the cart. Now, I have spent many a shopping trip balanced on the end of a shopping cart, so it’s not like I don’t get the draw. However, my kid isn’t exactly graceful and he JUST turned four so the odds are good that it would have ended in him getting run over by the shopping cart. I told him that it wasn’t safe to ride that way and he’d have to choose to get into the car or help me push. You know what he said? “But Mommy the big kids ride this way, I see them all the time!” Really. If the big kids jumped off a bridge would you do it too? No, I didn’t actually say that but it did cross my mind. I simply repeated his choices which resulted in him LAYING DOWN on the floor of the grocery store. I knelt down beside him and said, very calmly, “Get. Off. The. Floor. Right. Now. Or. We. Are. Leaving.”  I was all proud of myself for keeping my cool. I’d just read some Brazeltonian wisdom and was feeling like SUCH a great parent, all understanding and empathetic. He quickly jumped up and when I repeated his choices, he said, “I just want to get a basket.” Ok fine, whatever. We were only getting a few things: some chocolate chips so we could make cookies together and a couple ingredients for dinner since all we had at home were half meals: spaghetti but no sauce, bread but no cheese- you get the idea. Of course, he wanted to get his OWN basket. I didn’t care, I just needed to get the stuff and get out of there so we could pick up his little brother before childcare closed.

The real problems started when he had trouble carrying the basket because it was about as big as he was. He got frustrated with it and, long story short, ended up throwing it down on the floor before he ran over to the flower display and latched onto a yellow pot of flowers that he insisted we buy. I was still feeling pretty great about my parenting as I calmly and quietly told him we were not there to buy flowers. It went downhill from there and, needless to say, this little shopping excursion ended with me carrying him out of the store as he screamed, “I don’t wanna leave Hannaford” the entire way. Awesome.

We got to the car and he refused to get into his car seat, instead falling into a heap on the floor as he cried and shouted about going back into the store. The following conversation went something like this:
Me: We are not going back in Hannaford. You are not calm enough to go in the store.
Him: I AM calm! I just wanna be CALM!
Me: Yelling and crying is not calm behavior.
Him: I WILL have calm behavior and I WILL stop yelling! I want to go in Hannaford!
Me: I’m sorry buddy, we’re not going back today. We’ll have to go another time.
Him: [Unintelligible crying and screaming]

And on it went. I couldn’t get him into the car seat and wasn’t quite sure what else to do, so I simply closed the car door and stood there like an idiot in the parking lot, hoping to God people didn't think I was tying to kidnap the kid. He totally freaked out and pounded his fists on the window, screaming “Mommy! No! Don’t close the door, don’t close the door!” I openend the door and instructed him-very calmly- to get into the car seat. He refused. I closed the door. He pounded and screamed. This happened a couple more times before I just got in the driver’s seat and started the car. Apparently I should have thought of that first, because he immediately panicked at the thought of me driving off before he was buckled, and jumped right into his car seat. 

Leaving the store, however, did not end the meltdown. He started ranting and raving about how he was "Just going to HIT the baby room teacher and HIT the babies" when we got to the childcare center to pick up my other son. I was still totally rockin' the stoicism and said, "Hitting people won't solve your problem. Hitting them won't make us be at Hannaford." (See? Don't I totally rock?) 

We finally got to the childcare enter but he was still ranting and raving so I thought I should try and defuse the situation before going inside where his little display would have an audience. I knelt down in front of him and said in my best soothing voice, "Buddy I think you better calm your body before we go in. Let's try and get your anger out before we go into B's school." Wrong move. It was pretty much the equivalent of poking an angry bull with a hot poker. The kid went absolutely bat shit crazy. He started jumping up and down angrily, shaking his fists into the air and screaming "I JUST WANT TO GO IN HANNAFORRRRRRD!!!!" At this point my confidence might have wavered, just a little. That is, until he fell into me, sobbing, and said, "I just want to make cookies with you Mama." Insert heartbreak here. I explained that if his behavior got better, then maybe we could make a different kind of cookies that we wouldn't need the chocolate chips for. Wrong answer. This set him off again and he repeated the whole spectacle all over again. I could feel the eyes of other mothers and children on us as they came and went from the center. I was at a complete loss. 

We eventually picked up the little man, but unfortunately we had to drive back by Hannaford to get home. I gotta give him credit, he was really holding onto the hope that we just might stop on our way back by. When we didn't, a whole new wave of tears and anger came pouring out. Part of me wanted to give him another chance but there was no way in H-E double hockey sticks I was going to give him the message that having a huge fit is the way to get what he wants. 

Fast forward to the pb&j and yogurt supper we had since we hadn't gotten any food at the grocery store. I slapped the kids' sandwiches together on regular wheat bread, then made mine on multigrain, only to hear "I DON'T LIKE SEED BREAD!" I turned around just in time to see him THROW his sandwich on the floor. Right about then is when my awesome parenting went out the window. "Go to your room right now!" Of course he didn't, instead opting to lay on the floor. If you've been there, you totally understand how freaking maddening it is when they simply won't do what you say. Luckily, I've still got a good 2 feet and quite a few pounds on this kid so it was no thang to sling him over my shoulder and carry him upstairs myself. 

In the future, maybe I'll just pull an Erma Bombeck: "When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they're finished I climb out." I think she was onto something there, don't you?