Monday, September 12, 2016

Literature helping me raise my toddler

After nearly 5 glorious months, I now have less than two more weeks to use the #twoundertwo hashtag. I won't even know what to do with myself. I'm about to have a two year old. Unbelievable.

And his little brother is now four months old. I know it's the most basic thing I can possibly say, but where does the time go? There's a reason every single mom says it all. the. time. Because it flies by.

Chillin with daddy

He's even big enough to sit in the stroller like a big boy now! No infant seat (for walks)!

This is how he insisted on eating lunch while Royce was napping - with a picture of his brother.

Once upon a time, nearly two years ago, I had a baby. Like all new moms, I thought caring for a baby was SO. HARD. And now...I have a toddler. And a baby. And now caring for the baby seems SO. EASY.

It's hard in the sense that the baby requires middle of the night feedings, he's on his own schedule that none of us are privy to (read: we are never on time to anything), and he kind of sucks at communicating his needs. However, I recently realized that I put very little mental energy into parenting him. Feed, change, make a few goofy faces, sing some songs, put him to sleep. It can be time consuming, but I can do a lot of it while scrolling through my Instagram feed.

Now toddlerhood - that's a horse of a different color. No middle of the night feedings and he's on a predictable routine, but he really only sucks slightly less at communicating his needs. Which is odd, because he's incredibly clear when it comes to communicating his wants. Tons of mental energy goes in to deciphering, entertaining, teaching, and attempting to thwart tantrums (and let's get real, that last one is where most of it goes).

I don't mean it's hard in a bad way, not at all. I freaking love these ages. Dalton is this walking, talking, funny, sweet little PERSON. He actually makes jokes, like does things on purpose to be funny. I think I cry laughing on a daily basis. He runs up to us and gives us hugs and kisses, and loves to tickle his little brother and hold his hand. Royce is just the happiest baby ever. The other day, he laughed for the first time! There is truly no sound in this world as beautiful as a baby laugh. His face lights up with a huge smile when he sees me (and, ok, other people too). He can grab toys with just a little help, looks up when he hears our voices, and is just generally on his way to becoming a real little person.

When I say it's hard, I mean it's confusing, and a lot of responsibility, and I'm constantly doubting myself. AKA, it's parenting. Toddlers are inherently assholes. It's not their fault, they don't know any better. I can only speak for my own toddler, and say that he's probably the sweetest, kindest, most good-natured person I've ever met. But he's also currently an asshole, because he's too little to have fully grasped social norms or appropriate behavior yet. Here's the terrifying part: we have to teach him those things. Give me middle of the night feedings over that any day. (J/K, I get both.)


In the interest of teaching my toddler not to be an asshole and not losing my own mind or becoming an alcoholic in the process, I turned to literature. There's plenty out there, but nobody has time to read all of them. Obviously, kids don't come with manuals, so no book is going to be a quick fix or work 100% of the time. Personally though, I don't have a clue what I'm doing, so I'll take anything that even slightly nudges my kid in the non asshole direction.

I did what I always do, and just let my trusted mom friends tell me what to do. The verdict? 123 Magic. 

The premise: when your toddler starts acting a fool, he gets 3 chances to shape up or it's time out for that little asshole. Time outs aren't any sort of revolutionary discipline, but the eye opening part for me was to just STFU about it. I tend to have a real verbal diarrhea problem and would spout all sorts of nonsense about why what he did was dangerous or not nice or whatever and try to explain all this stuff. Based on the book, we've just been doing the counting and time outs if needed and saving the teachable moments for more appropriate times when he's (potentially?) able to take it in. We've only been doing it about a week, but so far, so good. Will report back in 16 years on whether or not he's a drain on society.

Hard to imagine such a thing though.

As I've mentioned on here many times, I'm a huge proponent of The Happiest Baby on the Block. Naturally, I read The Happiest Toddler on the Block last summer, when Dalton was about 9 or 10 months old. The book claimed that you could start that young, and while I was skeptical, we started using the language.

The premise: validate your kid's feelings with super simple language before doing or saying anything else to deescalate potential tantrums. As this blog very clearly illustrates, I don't know how to make a long story short, so the more books I can read with experts reminding me to shut my mouth, the better. There's a lot more to it with strategies to encourage good behavior and stuff, but, no one likes spoilers. I kind of forgot all about it since it had been so long since I read it, but recently I started to notice that using the language did seem to help Dalton calm down when I felt sure a tantrum was on the way.

He even allows face touching now. 

(I was going to link to the books on amazon, but I don't do affiliate links because I'm too lazy to learn how and I figure anyone who reads this knows how to use amazon or their local library.)

This summer, I was on maternity leave, which seemed like a great time to plan ahead and learn about the inevitable - potty training. Now, I certainly had no intention of doing such a thing with a new baby around, because I'm not insane. But, unfortunately, it seems we are going to have to tackle this at some point, so I checked Oh Crap! Potty training out of the library.

I've never had such a visceral dislike of an author so instantly. In fact, I didn't even know such a thing was possible, but the pied piper of poop really rubbed me the wrong way, and I couldn't figure out why. She seemed pretty slanted toward stay at home moms in most of her suggestions, but that's a common problem I've found in parenting books. She seemed a bit full of herself, which was annoying, but not enough to discount the book. She kept mentioning her one son in all of her anecdotes, and I wondered why she never mentioned any of her other children. She was also REALLY obsessed with watching your kid nonstop with no breaks or distractions while they are potty training, which seemed unrealistic. I finally looked up her website.

She has ONE child. No. You don't get to be a parenting expert with one kid. Dr. Sears has EIGHT. I don't know how many Dr. Karp has, but he figured out how to calm my babies so I'll just pretend he has ten because he's a genius. You need at least five who are productive adult members of society before I will even consider listening to your advice. Back to the library it went. I have a pretty big distraction from watching Dalton potty train when the time comes, and his name is Royce.


That said, we do want to try the 3 day bootcamp because my sister and a bunch of friends who know what they're doing said to. Date: TBD, will likely be kept top secret until I feel confident I didn't mess it up.

Taking any and all suggestions on: toddler literature, potty training, inexpensive box wine that still tastes great. 

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I'm with you on the not listening to parenting experts with only one kid. I have an almost 5 year old. He potty trained himself at age 3. Like I did nothing, just put it off for long enough that he took matters into his own hands. But I imagine that if I had tried to potty train him and that coincided with him deciding to start using the toilet, I would think I was a parenting genius. Hey, maybe I am! Maybe I should write a potty training book! It will be one page long: "Do nothing. Your kid will figure it out on his own."

    I am pretty sure my now 10 month old is going to thoroughly expose my complete lack of parenting expertise.


Thanks for commenting! Comments make me probably more happy than they should.