Tag Archives: toddler

They’re finally asleep…

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…and now I can see how amazing this day was.

I thought it was a bad day. In some respects, it was. My temper was short. My mind was occupied, attention elsewhere. I didn’t get a shower or do much of any self-care today. I was primarily concerned with my goals, most of which I didn’t even accomplish.

However, two things became glaringly obvious to me, after all was said & done.

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Sometimes, a kind smile is all we need…& wet wipes.

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Thank you, to the kind, older woman who took pity on the frantic, overwhelmed, not-entirely-sane mommy kneeling on the floor in a Target bathroom in front of her poop-covered preschooler while wearing her other baby yesterday afternoon.

You heard the panic in my voice, you knew how close I was to losing all my common sense, & then you realized how you could help me. You provided me with four wet wipes from your purse to clean the poop off of my potty-learning preschooler who had an accident during our shopping trip.

I don’t know how I appeared to you in that moment, but I know that, to me, you appeared to be an angel. My thank you was the most sincere, heart-felt, relieved group of words I’d spoken all day. You absolutely saved me in that moment, & you saved my poor daughter, too.

You heard the crushing tones I used while speaking to & around my little girl. You knew I was speaking from a place of fear & humiliation, not of love & understanding. And you helped me.

I wish I knew who you were, so I could thank you properly. But since I don’t, I will simply remember, forever, the simple kindness you showed me & the much-needed aid you provided. (I also will not forget to keep wet wipes in my purse again.)

Thank you, from the depths of my heart, for taking a moment to bring me back to my senses & providing me a moment to ground myself & regroup. And thanks for helping me to remember that my daughter deserves more than a frantic, frustrated mother who cannot control her own tongue in an overwhelming moment. I apologized profusely to her & listened to her tell me how upset it made her. I am shamed by my initial reaction, & I thank God that you were there.

What may seem like the simplest, easiest gesture to you was, in fact, an eye-opening moment for me that I won’t forget.

Thank you.

We all need help at some time or other. Have you ever had a complete stranger help you in a moment of weakness or need? Do you remember a time when you assisted someone unexpectedly? I’d love to hear about it! The kindness of strangers is a beautiful reminder of how much good there still is in humankind.

Children need to be liked

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“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

That’s what my dad told me when I was in my early teens, & it still rings in my ears to this day.

I don’t remember why he said it or how the conversation came about. What I took away from it is that my dad didn’t think I was a good person. When I’m feeling insecure as an adult, which is more often than I like to admit, his voice & those words still echo in my head. They make me question my value, my worth.

If my own dad couldn’t like me, why would anyone?

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Especially as I’ve gotten older & had children of my own, I think I can understand what he was saying. He didn’t like choices I was making. He didn’t like attitudes I displayed. He didn’t like how I treated others at times.

But what he told me is that he didn’t like me.

So obviously, there is something wrong with me. I am defective in some way.

He never told me why he didn’t like me very much. If he’d tried, I’m not sure it would have mattered. The fact is that, according to him, anything likeable about me was negated by the rest of me.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Those were his exact words. I still remember his exact words. They’ve defined a part of me that I’m not sure will ever change.

Most of us take our parents love for granted. Most of us assume that they like us, too.

Can you imagine if your parent(s) didn’t like you? What kind of hit to your self-esteem do you suppose that would be? Would you wonder how in the world they could love you if they couldn’t even like you? Would it make you doubt their love? Would it make you wonder if anyone ever truly liked you if your own parent didn’t? How important would it be to you, then, whether or not other people liked you? What would you do to get someone to like you?

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

As parents, we are the creators & protectors of our children, from their physical bodies to their emotional development, even down to influencing their personalities. We help them define who they are and how they see themselves.

We wield so much power.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Even though I now think he really meant that he didn’t like certain things I was doing or saying, a part of me can never say for certain that my dad actually liked me. Since he died seven years ago, I can’t ask him either.

I try to consider how he treated me to give myself some perspective. That’s a tough one, since he crossed over to the dark side (in other words, physical & verbal abuse) on several occasions. It’s hard to not believe that he wouldn’t have beaten me if he’d liked me.

What did I do to make my dad not like me?

I’ve answered that question in a hundred different ways over the years. None of that made me feel any better, nor did it “cure” my battered self-esteem.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

I’ve spent most of my life since that day trying to fix myself. I’ve done things I’m ashamed of in order to “earn” someone liking me. I’ve changed my personality, altered my physical appearance, participated in risky behavior, all to earn that elusive “like” of which I’m so undeserving.

It affects almost every relationship I’ve had since, even my marriage. I doubt almost every person’s claim of love. I analyze every compliment. I worry any time someone is “busy” & can’t spend time with me. I question whether people really want me or just want something from me. I accept every criticism in complete & utter humiliation as just more proof of how worthless I am.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

It became the defining statement of my life.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

I’m now a mother. I look at my children. I’m filled with the most ferocious, overwhelming love that often threatens to swallow me whole. I would do anything, ANYTHING, to preserve their physical safety, their emotional health, their mental development, their sensitive spirits, their very souls.

And I like them. A lot.

I like their inquisitive minds. I like their questions. I like that they call for Mommy when they’re scared or hungry or lonely or bored. I like their intelligence. I like their smiles. I like their view of the world. I like that they don’t fear me (or much of anything else, for that matter). I like to be there for them, to calm them down when they’re overwhelmed, to share in their simple triumphs, to watch as understanding dawns across their beautiful faces.

I like them. I like who they are. I like who they will become. I like how I feel when I’m with them. I like that they came from me. I like that I see the future in them.

I like them, & so I tell them.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

It’s the only way I know how to quiet my father’s voice. Whenever I sense its presence, I pull whichever child is nearby and handy into a big hug and whisper those words. The words I wish I’d heard instead.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

I say it often. No one ever sees us. No one ever hears it but my girls. Sometimes, they don’t even hear it except in their dreams. But I’m imprinting it on their souls.

To me, they’re the most miraculous part of life. They are a wonder. No matter where they go, what they do, who they become, they will always amaze me. I will always love them, & I will always like them, too.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

If I don’t like something they’re doing, then I have to look at myself & figure out what I’ve been teaching them.

If we don’t like our children, who learn from & mimic us, then really, isn’t it possible that we just don’t like ourselves? And is that really their fault? And are we really so unlikable? Really?

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

Our children take our love for granted. I want my children to take my like for granted, too.

Because ultimately, while we all want to be loved, don’t we all really want to be liked, too?

I like my girls. I bet you like your children, too.

You should tell them.

The Icky Sickies

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They say there’s no rest for the wicked, & tonight, it’s true for me. My biggest little girl, T-bug, is sick with a fever, so Mommy’s not sleeping for a while.

There was a time that fevers didn’t bother me too much. I’d just monitor that it didn’t go above 103 or so, but I rarely gave medicine. All of that changed last summer when T-bug had a fibrile seizure.

If your child has had a fibrile seizure (or any seizure, for that matter), then you know the absolute terror which gripped my heart that day. It was almost crippling, & I thank God my husband was there.

The day had started like any other, but when I went to fix T-bug’s hair, she began to howl at the cool water I spritzed on her head. I checked her temperature, & she had a fever. So I kept her close to me, nursed her frequently, & tried to keep her comfy. While we cuddled on the couch, she in my lap & nodding off to sleep, or so I mistakenly assumed, she seized. Her whole body stiffened while her eyes went blank & her breathing went shallow. Her temperature was 102.3.

My husband & I spent the next minute or so of our (severely shortened, I’m sure) lives calling out to her, trying to get her to come back to us. We were looking at her, but we couldn’t see her. She wasn’t there. I don’t know where she went, but she wasn’t there.

She slowly came to as I was calling the pediatrician in a panic. That was the strongest adrenaline rush I’ve ever had. I could’ve moved a semi. The office told us to take her to the pediatric urgent care, so off we went. My poor T-bug was exhausted during the drive, while my husband sat in the backseat next to her, not letting her fall asleep (per my insistence). I couldn’t bare to even look at her in the rear-view mirror. My little girl was breaking my heart!

They checked her over, ran a strep test, & verified that, other than the fever, she was fine. They assured me she would be exhausted & need to sleep. They told me that she ran the risk of another one if her fever spiked too fast again, so to keep her medicated. I had no problem with that.

I’ve done a lot of research on fibrile seizures since then. Although, based on that research, I know the risk of another is slim, it doesn’t reduce my dread of fevers. T-bug is now 3, & she’s had several fevers since without incident, but I still dose.

Tonight, in keeping with my resolution to keep moving forward on our path to all-natural organic, I have avoided giving her any medications until her fever reaches 102 or higher. This also means that I’m having to check her temperature more frequently, & I’m probably not going to sleep until I’ve given her a dose. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet invested in the essential oils I’ve been researching. (Guess what I’m doing next week?)

It’s probably going to be a long night, but that’s kind of what a mother does, isn’t it? Staying awake, keeping watch, even while the husband snores obliviously on. Maybe not all moms do it, but this one sure does. When I know she’s no longer under threat, there’ll be time again for sleep.

What about you? Have your children ever experienced a fibrile seizure? How do you handle sickness? Do you use essential oils, & if so, what’s your favorite?

I hope all your babies are sleeping peacefully & healthily tonight.

Toddlers & Technology: The Great Compromise

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Yes, I let my toddler play with my Kindle Fire. If I deny her, it just makes that shiny, fun, colorful, taboo object oh-so-much-more desirable.

You know what I’m talking about.

And if I refuse to let her use it, then I’m constantly having to make sure it’s not anywhere remotely close to being within her reach. I’m just not organized enough to make sure that happens.

So I’ve done the only other thing I can do. I’m teaching her how to use it.

While some parents have readily jumped on the bandwagon of allowing very young children access to electronics, I know others who haven’t. While I’m not a fan of giving children technological free-reign, I think it’s important to teach children how to use technology responsibly.

And unless I never use my computer, cell phone, Kindle Fire, or TV in my toddler’s presence, she’s going to want to use them. She’s a toddler, not a pet. She wants to do whatever I do, so it’s my job to teach her how while instilling self-discipline & a sense of respect & responsibility.

So here are a few common-sense guidelines I try to follow while teaching my toddler how to use the technology around her.

  • By Permission OnlyThis is a compromise that she is quite capable of both understanding & following. She knows that she must ask to use said technology. She also knows that sometimes she will be allowed to use it (if Mommy is able to sit with her & isn’t currently using it herself) and sometimes she won’t. While disappointed when she can’t use it, she is willing to move on because she knows that some other time, she’ll be able to play with it again. When she is confident that asking leads to results, she will ask. If she only hears no, she will not ask, then simply take when I’m not looking. So we compromise, & it works.
  • Mommy-Approved Content Only – The toddler knows that, once she’s got access to the technology she wants, she then has to get approval for content. This is easy, for now. I’m Mommy, & I know what this child loves. I’m also more experienced than she is, so I know what all the buttons do & how to digitally hide things. I make sure I’ve got apps on my smart phone & Kindle Fire that she loves. I get fun, interactive books for her to “read.” I utilize every tool in my Netflix bag o’ tricks. And I read, watch, or play almost every piece of content before my child gets her hands on it. (If I don’t get it pre-screened, then I’m right there with her, ready to turn off whatever it is if it violates my moral code or child-rearing goals.) Like I said, it’s easy right now. It gets more difficult with age. (I have a grown step-daughter, so I know this well.) Yes, I’m 100% controlling what she’s exposed to right now, & yes, I know that I won’t be able to as she ages. I’m ok with that, because right now I’m laying groundwork for the day when she’s in charge. I’m conditioning her to play educational games that make her think, to read classic books like Beatrix Potter, & to favor cartoons that aren’t Japanime. Will she only ever use technology for these things? Of course not. But there will be an expectation built into her subconscious & a draw to certain things with a noticeable lack of interest in other things based on the framework I’m laying right now. How do I know this? Because someone laid a framework with me when I was a child, & it still impacts what I watch, listen to, & read today.
  • Time Limits – No, my toddler may not play with electronic toys willy nilly for however long she wants….usually. I hate to admit it, but there have been a couple of occasions when I sat her in front of the television with Curious George queued on Netflix & let her have complete dominion over the PS3 controller. (Can you say ‘super pregnant?’) Nobody’s perfect. But generally speaking, that is far from the norm. I limit TV shows based on number of episodes she can watch, movies by number of repeats (yep, there’s been an afternoon or two where we watched The Tale of Despereaux more than once, back-to-back), Kindle Fire apps by minutes, etc. These guidelines aren’t perfect, but they work for me, so I use them. Toddlers actually do respond to limits, & surprisingly well, so I’ve found. I state the limit up-front, repeat it occasionally throughout, & calmly, gently repossess technology at the end. It’s rare for a tantrum to arise. She grasps the concepts of one & more than one. She understands what “one more episode” means. However, to help her transition, I usually have an activity to follow-up technology time. It could be anything: put a puzzle together with me, go play at the park, ride her bike, prepare a snack, etc. Having something to transition to makes it easier to say goodbye to technology for a while. Besides, children actually get quite bored with technology. If there are alternatives, they usually opt for those.
  • Don’t Break It!!! – Fact: There is inherent risk that my child will break my $200 Kindle Fire or lose the PS3 controller or accidentally purchase & install an embarrassing & sexy app on my phone. Fact: There is inherent risk that I will break my $200 Kindle Fire or lose the PS3 controller, although I’m unlikely to accidentally purchase & install any app on my phone. Yes, the risks are greater with my toddler, so some oversight, restrictions, & guidelines are needed while she’s learning. Remembering that I am also capable of breaking & losing things helps me stay calm in the face of inevitable failures my toddler encounters while learning. First, she can only use the technology with me there. This satisfies several needs, including being able to intervene if she decides to bang my phone repeatedly against the TV screen. (It’s never happened, but I’ve learned to never assume it couldn’t.) Second, she must remain seated on the couch in the family room while she is using said technology. This ensures (usually) that things are going to remain in a general location, minimizing losses. Third, depending on the technology (but especially with my Kindle), I sit with her, directing her in using the technology in the way she wants. Sometimes she wants to explore it, so I guide her in that instead of saying no. Maybe she doesn’t want to play the app anymore & wants to see what else Mommy has on there. Ok. But I’m there to make sure that both she & my Kindle come out of the experience intact & fully functional.
  • Days Off – We have days when no electronics are used in our house, period. (Using my smart phone to place necessary calls is the exception, I suppose.) I think this is important for many reasons. Primarily, my toddler’s developing brain needs extended breaks. I firmly believe that too much electronic exposure contributes to disorders like ADHD, plus said exposure is simply not natural. Also, with electronics off, we’re able to spend even more time together as a family. Furthermore, over time it sends my toddler the message that electronics are not needed for day-to-day living. Quite frankly, I need the days off sometimes, too. It’s very easy for me to get swept away by the technological advances available today. Having my children taking their cues from me forces me to behave more responsibly than I perhaps might otherwise.

While there are other guidelines I’m certain I’ve failed to mention, these are my Big 5. And like my mommy skills, these guidelines grow & evolve over time.

Although many people completely oppose combining technology with the toddler years, I’m no longer one of them. I used to be. I swore I’d never let my toddler watch TV, & I never even dreamed of a Kindle or smart phones. But one thing motherhood has taught me is that anything I do, my children will inevitably want to do. And while I’ve changed a lot of things in my life to make room for responsible parenting, my love affair with technology cannot be moved. I’m no longer convinced it has to be.

So for those of you who are adamant against toddlers using technology, I commend you for your commitment & support your continued efforts in that regard. For those of you who find themselves more & more ok with it, I’m right there with you.

Let’s teach our amazing kiddos how much fun responsibly-used technology can be.