Last Sunday was Mother's Day, and along with all of the 'Happy Mother's Day!' sentiments plastered across the internets, I over heard and saw a few sad comments as well. Comments from Moms who feel inadequate. Comments from Moms who feel overworked and underappreciated - even on Mothers day. And comments reminding all of us to remember that for some people around us, Mother's Day might be quite difficult - when Mothers have died, or when they have left their children to be raised by someone else.
For the first seven years of my life, Mother's Day was a day of longing. My school teachers would adapt my 'Mother's' Day gifts and cards to say 'Happy Grandmother's Day' instead - even though I knew it wasn't Grandmother's Day, and I knew that none of my friends were making crafts for their Grandmas. I tried calling my Grandma 'Mom', but she wouldn't allow it. I don't remember if I ever wrote 'a Mom' on my Christmas list, but I remember dreaming of a life that included her.
I suspect that my lack-of-Mom for those seven years is something that I could not adequately describe to anyone - and that anyone who has been raised by a mother who birthed them, and loved them, will never truly know the value of what they have. I expect my own daughters to take me for granted in so many ways, and that is completely ok with me, because it means they have the luxury of... well, me!
Just as someone who has never been without running water will never truly appreciate the convenience of a kitchen tap, and someone who has never been without food - and I mean truly without food - will never really appreciate a full pantry. I think it's ok for us to recognize our ignorance in some situations, because these are places we are ignorant because we have been blessed. Someone who has had two loving birth-parents who were there to watch them grow, will not truly appreciate their parents. I can say certainly that I took my Dad for granted completely - but I only realized that after he had died, and I couldn't take him for granted any more.
So, I wanted to write this to all of the Moms out there who might be feeling overworked, underappreciated and the worst - inadequate. Trust me to know that being THERE is the greatest gift you can give your child. I'm sure that making it clear to your child that you also love them dearly is important too, but in order to do that, you really have to be around. Whatever choices you make for your kids and your family, and however frequently you fail in your own plans and goals, know that it is not the success of these things that matters most - it was always the attempt. Whatever choices you make, I know that all of you Moms out there are making choices that you believe are best for your family - and whether or not they turn out to be, it matters so much that you are there and trying.
And if your kids take you for granted, which they will - from one little mother-less girl, be glad that they don't know what it's like to be without you. They are lucky. They are blessed. Just because they have you. Please do not ever feel inadequate, because who you are to your children is amazing and incredible.
Obviously this post is written for birth mothers, who are raising the children they carried inside them. Because of my experience, I feel an overwhelming admiration for the Moms out there who choose to raise children who were birthed by someone else. When I was 8, my Dad remarried and I was given a 'Mom' - finally. Choosing to be my Mom was the greatest thing she could have done for me, and nothing she did after that mattered as much as that initial choice.
Just be there, Mom!
*If my birth mother is reading this - please know that I believe every path my life has taken me down has been because God had this plan for me, and you were a part of that plan. I am not angry with you for leaving, and although I understand how I struggled as a result of missing you - I also understand how that has shaped the person I have become and for that I am completely grateful.
When I was a child, there were a few politeness 'rules' that weren't effectively drilled into me. I may have asked for things nicely, but I rarely said 'please', and it wasn't until one of my uncles patronized me when I was already an adult about this, and - despite my embarrassment at being treated like a child - I made an honest effort to change my bad habit in this regard. In the end, I appreciate his willingness to let me know that I - even unknowingly - was coming across as rude.
I would like to spare my children this particular embarrassment, and teach them how to be as polite as possible in all circumstances. This can be a little bit tricky, because what is considered 'rude' can be entirely different depending on the company you are in. Some people appreciate when you ask about their personal lives, because it shows that you care about them personally, while others are annoyed and even offended when you ask about their personal lives because they see it as being 'nosy'. There are also cultural differences in different areas of the world, and although our girls haven't yet been exposed to a lot of different locations or cultures, I would like them to be, and so it's important to me that they (and I) have an awareness of how to be respectful to other people.
So, for those of you who are parents - what basic manners do you teach your children? And for those of you who may not have children, what manners do you think should be taught to children?
Here are a few thoughts I have now - I'd love to hear other people's responses.
- Always say 'please' and 'Thank you'.
- Always say 'sorry' when you have done something wrong - even if it was an accident. When someone else apologizes, tell them you forgive them.
- Always greet others - whether this is someone who comes to your house to visit, or whether it is a stranger on the street - smile and say 'hi'.
- When you are in a conversation, ask other people about themselves; their lives, their families, their experiences, their thoughts. I've decided that in this regard, it is better to let someone know that you care about them, and that most people respond well to being asked personal questions. In cases where people are uncomfortable with personal questions, hopefully I will learn enough to be able to teach my daughters how to read these signs.
- Ask others - particularly those older than you - what they would like to be called. As an adult, I tend to take my cue from how a person introduces themself, but for my children, I like to ask what that person prefers. I was forever annoyed when my sister insisted that her children call me 'Auntie Sam' when I would MUCH prefer to be just 'Sam' or 'Samantha' to them, although I have come to understand the significance of this to the family. I am now ok with being called 'Auntie Sam' for her sake, but because I know many people who would prefer to be addressed by their first names, I would like my children to get into the habit of asking "What would you like me to call you?" We no longer live in a world where 'Mr. and Mrs.' can be assumed (and don't you dare call me that, ever!) and I think it's most polite to call others what they are most comfortable being called.
- Close your mouth when you chew.
- Stay at the table until everyone is finished eating. (We are working up to this one).
I'm leaving out some of the obvious ones, like 'don't throw food on the floor', and 'don't talk about pee at the table', but I assume that my daughters will grow out of these particular habits soon so I'm mostly thinking ahead to the manners and habits I would like to teach them as they grow.
I know I've missed many things on this list - what are your thoughts? What have I missed? Do you disagree with any of these?
Tonight we had some friends over for supper - something we've been doing a lot lately, since we have a big open space to do it now! We had a great time, and although our friends kids were considerably older than Clara, they all played really well together and we were really impressed. It's good to see examples of Clara being a well-behaved 'big kid' in certain contexts. Poor Audrey still had to stay near the adults while the older kids went downstairs - because the older kids are still too young to have a gate up blocking the stairs, but Audrey can't be downstairs without a gate up. Looking forward to next year, when she can do stairs, for her sake!
Last Week, I wrote about our behavior issues with Clara. She's 3. I have a friend who uses the term 'threenager' and I have to agree - the amount of attitude she has is shocking. Like I mentioned earlier, she does have her really good times - times when she's really well behaved, and plays well with other kids, and is polite and calm and even sometimes patient. Usually her nights are not so good, though, especially lately.
Wednesday of last week, we started using the methods outlined in 1-2-3 Magic, by Thomas W. Phelan. If you know me by now, I'm a big fan of using books and the internet as resources for anything, including raising kids. Some people say you should just do what feels 'right' or 'natural', but what feels 'natural' to me is not guaranteed to be right - because I'm not perfect. I also like learning about alternate methods of parenting, whether I agree or not, just so I can be sure I know why I would choose something different. In this particular case, I felt so completely lost and useless as a parent and - knowing that my own choices were not working - I was willing to try anything that was different from what we were already doing.
So far, I'm about 80 pages into the book 1-2-3 Magic, and the basic 'rules' of this method involve two simple principles that the author feels many parents need. The first is to separate emotions from parenting. Phelan discusses how reacting emotionally to a child's misbehavior can begin with negotiating, pleading, and arguing and then lead up to yelling and hitting (spanking). Typically, I'm not opposed to spanking although when spanking comes from an emotional parent response, I absolutely agree that this is very wrong. To refuse to get emotional is tricky, but Phelan argues that it is necessary because often your emotional response is exactly what the child is looking for, and to respond in that way only ultimately makes them feel powerful.
The second rule is 'no talking', in the context of when your child is looking for an argument or when you are tempted to give a grand explanation of their misbehaviour. Phelan says that because young children can't be reasoned with - and are inherently selfish - it only complicates things when we try to 'make them understand why' we want their behaviour to stop. I might have wanted to disagree with this one - I want to believe that my daughter has the potential to understand, if only I give her the chance - but I had to admit that my personal experience says otherwise. Whether or not she understands or not, as a toddler, she is too selfish to care. She wants what she wants and it doesn't matter how many 'good reasons' I have otherwise. Not to say it hasn't worked occasionally to get her to stop doing something, but as a general rule she doesn't react at all to 'good reasons' - in fact, they often aggravate her further. Also, I have seen parents spend hours discussing with their child the wrongs of their behaviour, outlining the problem from many different angles, only to have the child leave their presence and immediately repeat the bad behaviour. And, at this point, I appreciated an approach that was immediate and simple.
So, to stop bad behaviour, we say 'That's 1' and then give Clara 5 seconds. Then, if the behaviour hasn't stopped, we say 'That's 2' and give her an additional 5 seconds. At this point, she is out of chances and at '3' she is given an immediate time out. We will sit her in her room (during the day) or in the bathroom (at night) for 3 minutes, saying nothing the whole time, and then letting her out calmly with no discussion at the end of the time period.
I used to disagree with an in-room time out, because it made sense to me that you wouldn't want your child to view their bedroom as a 'punishment area', but as I said earlier, clearly our parenting tactics from before weren't working so I was willing to suspend that particular issue on the basis that maybe I was wrong about that - at least for Clara. I guess we'll see how that goes.
We had one really great night, and then a couple of nights where Clara received a few time-outs over the span of about an hour and then fell asleep. Then, we had another good night where she fell asleep quickly, and tonight again was pretty awful. She had 4 or 5 time-outs and during the last two she screamed bloody murder all the way through. We changed the location of her time outs after the first few, though, so there was a bit of inconsistency, so I'm not ready to give up yet. I want to give this at least a few weeks before making any decision about its effectiveness. Wish us luck.
Audrey gets a bit stressed when she hears Clara tantruming nearby, but there's not much we can do about that. Poor girl.
Another thing we have been doing, because the girls share a room, is separating the girls after 20-30 minutes of excitement. For most of the past week we have had to move Audrey into a playpen in our bedroom until Clara fell asleep, and then we moved Audrey back. We were worried about this, because Audrey is a light sleeper, but so far it's worked pretty well. Once or twice Audrey woke during the move back to her bed, but Clara slept through her jabbering until Audrey finally fell asleep also.
I'm still reading, because I know 1-2-3 Magic contains a chapter on bedtime, but this is where we're at so far.
It's not every day that Cinderella walks through our front door, but here she is, stopping by to pick up the soother for Snow White's baby... I should maybe back up a little...
Months ago, when we had lessened Clara's soother usage to only while she was in bed - and when we wanted her to sleep in the car - we informed her that when she turned 3 years old, she would no longer get to have her soother at all. This was in the far distant future, and since she no longer had her soother in her mouth when she was out in public or even most of the time at home, we didn't think it really mattered to let her keep it under her pillow for awhile longer.
Now, typically, I'm a fan of getting rid of 'baby habits' (things that you don't want your kids doing when they start school like being in diapers, drinking from a bottle, using a soother, etc.) as soon as possible because the longer a child has these habits, the more difficult they can be to 'wean' from. I also typically have the mentality that 'if you have to do it eventually - you might as well get it over with'. So, I would not probably have allowed Clara to use a soother up until her 3rd Birthday if she hadn't become a big sister at under 2 years old, which meant she was moved to a toddler bed at about 19 months and was toilet trained at 22 months. Since so much changed for her in such a small time, and she was so dependent on her 'gummy', I allowed her the small indulgence of keeping it for awhile longer.
Shortly after the agreement to remove the soother at 3 years was made, she experienced a few things that made us a bit lazy about the whole thing. She became quite sick at one point, and since she was almost always nearly sleeping - we let her keep her 'gummy' while she was sick. Then, it became a means of comfort for her if anything in our life was amiss - such as a huge renovation - and over summer we went on a couple of trips with at least nap-length drives and so she seemed to be using her soother more and more. As she had it more and more, she began to try to keep it in her mouth more and more - even when we had no 'good' excuse for her to have it. For a week, I tried to stay strong about the 'only in bed' rule, but Clara's determination won over when she decided to then spend every waking moment in bed. I suddenly had a toddler who would spend more than half of her day in bed - lacking energy or joy - because she didn't want to be without her gummy. Since I had already made the promise to take it away when she was 3, I didn't feel like it would be fair to take it away sooner.
So, I gave up. I let her have it all the time. Her 3rd Birthday was only a couple of months away, and I decided it would be easier to end her dependence cold turkey.
As her Birthday neared, we continued to remind her of this promise. She knew the story, and when we asked what would happen when she turned 3 she would recite "I won't get my gummy ANY MORE!". But this statement didn't bother her at all until a few days ago, when we began counting sleeps. She started to avoid the subject, and when we were down to two days, she started seeming visibly stressed. I knew we couldn't back down, so I tried to think of ways to make the transition somehow easier for her.
I recalled hearing about something that Disney would do in a circumstance like this - where you could write a letter to your favourite princess, and she would write a letter back. I heard about this being used somehow in the context of a child 'growing out of' something, but I couldn't quite figure out what the letter would accomplish. Would it be simply congratulatory? Would it be a deal made between princess and child? Also, I was skeptical that it would work - a letter in the mail? How real could that seem to a 3 year old?
Anyway, her birthday snuck up on me anyway and in the end I wouldn't have had time to contact Disney.
This brings me to the morning of December 10 (the day before her birthday) when I decided to tell her this story to go along with the gummy-taking event. I wanted to give her some reason to WANT to go along with it:
Clara, when you are 3, you can finally be a REAL princess. But princesses can't have gummy's, so you can't have your gummy any more.
She seemed happy enough with this story, and then I overheard her repeating it. "When I'm 3, I'm not going to have my gummy any more - and a REAL PRINCESS is going to come!!"
I quickly jumped in to explain that a princess wasn't going to come, but that she would BE a real princess - but as I was explaining this, I realized that I could probably make a real princess come after all...
A nearby business in our city, called Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo that hosts birthday parties - complete with Disney princesses - or you can hire a princess to come to your home if you are having an at-home birthday. When Clara was watching her afternoon quiet-time TV, I called them up and asked for what may have been an unorthodox favour - would they be willing to send a princess (Cinderella) to our house to talk to Clara in person and to take away her soother? I was extremely flexible on the time, so we were able to work out some time in the afternoon.
Clara knew nothing of this plan until the next morning when I told her that Cinderella would be coming to take the soother for another baby somewhere who needs it. Clara was animatedly playing with her small plastic princess figurines, and she suddenly seemed very stressed about this situation.
"No! Cinderella can't take the gummy! Snow White needs it!"
So I asked Clara if Snow White had had a baby, and when Clara nodded, I explained that Cinderella was going to come and get the soother for Snow White's baby. We continued to play with the figurines, and I suspect she didn't actually think Cinderella was going to come...
But she did! At 12:30pm, Cinderella walked through the door. Clara reacted with a bit of awe, confusion and excitement. She ran from Cinderella to Brian and back a few times over, exclaiming randomly that 'That's Cinderella!!'.
Cinderella gave Clara a gift that the mice had made for her...
Her very own Cinderella ball gown! (That we had purchased at Target a few days earlier, and I had set it in the closet and told the woman at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo where 'Cinderella' could find it)
Cinderella then told Clara that she could stay for a little while, and so Clara got out her Disney story book and immediately had Cinderella read Cinderella to Cinderella. As she read, Clara would point to the pages at the cartoon Cinderella and say 'That's ME!!! And You!!! We're BOTH Cinderellas!!!'
I informed Clara that she could take Cinderella downstairs to play with all of her toys, but I don't think she was a little bit afraid that if she dared move that Cinderella might disappear. She said 'No! I want to stay right here!' I felt bad for the older Cinderella, since 'right here' was basically at the front door where she walked in, but no one complained.
After reading Cinderella at least once, and I also heard Alice and Wonderland being read, the Cinderella's began to play in other spaces of our (new) main room. They played with the princess figurines on the living room floor, and then the 'real' Cinderella painted Clara's nails. I think Clara was in heaven.
Of course I made them pose...
And they each had one of Clara's birthday cupcakes. Cinderella stayed longer than I paid her for, taking time from school to be with Clara. I am so unbelievably grateful that this worked out, and for this teenage girl who took time out of her day to spend time with a 3-year-old. I can't imagine how magical it must have seemed to Clara to see her hero in person, and be able to spend one-on-one playtime with her!
It was a fairy tale dream come true!
I was going to post about how her first gummy-free day had gone, but I'm already at 1500 words and I'm sure we don't have any idea how Clara's first few gummy-free days will be, and after a few days I'm sure I will have more to tell. So, for another post...
I have had so many moments in my parenting journey where I've fought and fought with something only to discover I was missing something 'key'. In a lot of these cases, I realize that I could have saved myself a lot of frustration if I had simply discovered this 'key' thing earlier. Like the time when Clara was only an infant and we tried swaddling and cuddling and rocking her for days and days of fussing and crying only to discover that whas she really wanted was to be put down so she could stretch out!
When Clara was about the same age that Audrey is now, she went through a stage where she became increasingly fussy. I was thrown because she had previously been a rather contented baby, and suddenly she seemed discontent all the time. It took me a couple of weeks to discover that she was BORED. My baby had grown to the point where sitting in her high chair and watching me rummage around the kitchen was no longer enough for her - she needed more stimulation.
A few days ago, Audrey started doing the same thing. Luckily I caught on a little bit quicker this time, and after only a few days of checking her mouth for signs of teeth - I started setting her up with more toys and stimulation.
What is this, Mum?
It feels nice...
Does it taste yummy...?
This has been a valuable discovery for me, since she is now much more happy sitting in her high chair or bouncy chair for longer periods of time. She has also finally gotten old enough that she enjoys watching Clara run around and play for longer periods of time.
About Clara, I've discovered that her stubbornness has waned. After weeks of watching way too much TV, and feeling somewhat sick and too lazy and tired to fight this too hard, I tried saying 'No' one day. This was predictably followed by a tantrum, however the tantrum only lasted for a few minutes and then Clara wandered off to play with her toys.
I actually won an argument with this girl???
So, for my own future reference, I've discovered that even if I'm feeling completely exhausted (as I still do, with this not-quite-sick-feeling threatening to last into its third week...), I probably don't need to expect a battle of epic proportions to get Clara to obey.
These are exciting revelations for me - parenting is, at least in some ways, getting a bit easier for the moment. :)
Random food for thought - especially in light of it being Valentine's Day... I've over heard a few conversations about this recently, and even come across some articles on discounts given for well behaved children in restaurants, so I thought I'd pose the question...
What do you think of younger children, and toddlers - who may be unable to behave appropriately - dining in restaurants? Particularly higher end restaurants, where people around them may be out on dates or business meetings, etc.
This week is Valentine's Day, as well as my Birthday. Earlier in the week, we were trying to make a plan to have supper with my family sometime this week - for my Birthday, and because all of my Birthday/Valentine's Day plans with Brian are being pushed into the long weekend, the fact that today is actually Valentine's Day didn't really cross my mind. Thursday night was the first evening that worked for all of us to get together, so we were about to make a reservation for supper.
As Brian and I were discussing how Clara might behave for a late supper out (I teach piano until 6:30, so we wouldn't get there until at least 7), we realized that it was Valentine's Day, and that the restaurant would probably be filled with people hoping to have a quiet romantic evening - and that it might not be the kindest thing to bring our toddler daughter, who may be unable to behave at that time of day. So, we changed our plans and will have supper with my family on another evening.
This, to me, is just common courtesy. If I don't think my child can necessarily behave in a certain situation, I should not bring my child into that situation if it will probably ruin a nice experience for other people.
However, I know that not everyone would make this particular call, and sometimes there are children in restaurants who are causing all sorts of disturbances to other customers.
There are also parents and families who go to great lengths to teach their children how to behave properly in restaurants, and children who are naturally gifted at sitting quietly...
Years ago, Brian and I went out on a date of some kind at a relatively high-end restaurant in our city and ended up at a table next to a family with a young daughter and a baby. The girl was probably about 3 - maybe 4 - years old. Despite the longish wait for their food, the little girl sat beautifully and if we hadn't specifically looked over at their family, we would never have known that there was a young child at the table at all.
My opinion? I think that restaurants should have and stick to the policies that say 'Disruptive persons will be asked to leave'. End of story. No age particulars, because although children are more likely to act out because they may not yet understand the social norms, it is not ALWAYS children who misbehave in public. Families should expect that if they or their child is disruptive in a restaurant, the restaurant is within their rights to ask them to leave - without causing offense.
I think it's great when children know what is expected of them in 'fancier' restuarants, and hope to teach our children how to behave in them. In the meantime, we will attempt to teach them at more family-friendly restaurants, at family-friendly times. I hope also that I will understand if we have a bad day and an attempt at someplace nicer ends in us being asked to leave.
Those are my two cents. What are yours? Do you think kids should be allowed in fancy restaurants, or not? Does it ruin an evening for you if the family sitting next to you on a 'night out' has a bunch of rambunctious toddlers?
Our house technically has 3 upstairs bedrooms. One is the Master bedroom, the other two were initially smaller bedrooms, but the way our house is situated on the lot means the back bedroom is closest to the garage - so a previous owner chopped a big hole in the wall and put in patio doors so that there was closer access to a backyard deck as well as to the garage.
So, our 3rd bedroom is actually our entrance room now, which really is great because if it weren't, we would have to walk all the way around the house and yard to get to our garage.
Unfortunately, it leaves us with only one small (7 by 10 foot) bedroom for the girls, which they will have to share until we either move out of this house, or until one (or both) of them is brave enough to move into one of our downstairs bedrooms which are a long walk away from our bedroom upstairs.
Here's the back story:
When Clara was about 6 months old, we moved her from the bassinet in our bedroom to her crib in the other room. By 6 months, this was WAAAY too late for us for a couple of reasons. 1, she was starting to hit the top of the bassinet with her head every time she kicked her feet. 2, As time went on, I became more and more terrified of something happening to her if I moved her across the hall - I was really becoming consumed by terror, and was often unable to sleep at night because of the ridiculous thoughts that constantly haunted me. When we finally moved her into the crib, I slept soundly for the first night in weeks, and I realized that I had been neglecting to 'cut a cord' that needed to be cut (for me) - she was ready and old enough to be distanced a little bit more from me, and I needed to let that happen.
Audrey's story has been different than Clara's in a lot of ways. Most importantly, Audrey is not yet sleeping through the night where Clara was at about 6 weeks. This meant that Clara was happily sleeping all night long in the bassinet and all we had to change was the location, and the transition was really easy and fast.
This was my plan:
I had hoped to have Audrey sleeping through the night, and in her bassinet, before we tried to move her into Clara's room, but it was starting to look as though this might not happen on its own before Audrey is too big for the bassinet.
What was happening, I think, was that I had become too lazy to put Audrey back in her bassinet after her first feeding every night because I was only partly awake when I picked her up - I don't have to get up to reach her in the bassinet. Then, she would sleep in our bed and 'snack' all night long. We used the Baby Wise method with Clara, and if what they say is true (it all worked well for Clara), then Audrey will be less likely to sleep through the night if she isn't getting 'full' feedings and becomes used to 'snacking' at night. This makes sense to me, and the only reason I haven't tried harder to fix this situation is truly laziness on my part - because I really appreciated how everything went with Clara. I won't lie, I also like the cuddle time with Audrey - Clara wasn't really a fan of cuddling...
So I hoped that if I had to actually get up to feed Audrey, maybe I wouldn't be too asleep to put her back in her crib and after awhile her eating would regulate and maybe she would even start sleeping through the night sooner. Since this wasn't happening with her sleeping in our room, I figured we might as well move her straight to her crib and start getting both girls used to the new sleeping arrangment.
We started on Friday night.
Friday evening started with a couple hours of back-and-forth between the girls: Audrey would fuss and wake Clara, then Clara would fuss or talk or yell and wake Audrey, etc. Finally we brought Audrey downstairs with us where we were watching the movie 'Hugo' to wait for Clara to fall asleep properly, and fed Audrey for the last time around 10:30. Then she slept in her crib until about 2, and at that point I just brought her into bed with us and fell asleep.
Saturday night was really good - both girls fell asleep shortly after 8pm and Audrey slept until midnight when she woke up hungry. After feeding her, I put her back into her crib and she slept again until about 3:30. Then I fell asleep feeding her and she was in our bed for the rest of the night.
Last night wasn't so great again - the girls took turns keeping each other up until we brough Audrey downstairs to give Clara some peace. Then we put Audrey in the crib at about 11, but when she started fussing shortly after midnight, she ended up in our bed for the rest of the night.
I had taken the opportunity to clean the bassinet bedding with Audrey moving to the crib, and it's still kind of disassembled. I was hoping it would motivate me to keep up with moving Audrey into the crib, but it might actually mean she's spending more time in our bed. Possibly a backwards move???
Has anyone else had to move an infant into a toddler's bedroom for nights? What age did you do it, and how did it work? Any advice?
Interestingly, Circle of Moms just recently published this article on how to tell if a child is spoiled.
It gives ten 'signs', including frequent tantrums, being unsatisfied, unhelpful and ungrateful, attempting to control adults and embarrass parents in public, an inability to share, disobedience unless bribed, ignoring parents, and an inability to play alone.
I love when websites come out with lists like these, because they are always followed up with about a billion angry comments from parents saying 'What??? You can't expect a 2-year-old to know how to share!!! That doesn't mean they're spoiled - my kid isn't spoiled!!!". I always kind of assume that parents who are so defensive of something like this are probably the parents who are actually just trying to convince themselves... but maybe not.
Anyway, the article says very clearly that they are all 'possible' signs, and gives an appropriate age and frequency for all of these so I don't see the need to be offended. And of course, everyone needs to realize that all of these things can be part of normal child development, and when we see children behaving this way in public, it is completely unfair of anyone to assume 'spoiled' or to judge the parents in any way.
It gets me thinking, though - because I, of course, don't want to raise 'spoiled' children. But what are spoiled children, really?
I was a spoiled child - and the comment above about 'embarrassing parents in public' (assuming deliberately) is interesting to me, because I've never heard this before, and because I did this to my Dad all the time. I didn't realize that I was trying to do it for attention, but it's likely that attention is exactly what I was looking for.
I was 'spoiled' because I grew up being given everything I wanted in life without having to work for it - which means that I have a little bit of an entitlement problem, and it stresses me out sometimes when I can't buy things I 'want' whenever I want them. I also wasn't expected to help out at home with chores (until I was older, but by then I think it was too little too late), and I struggle with keeping my own house in order because I'm seriously not good at disciplining myself to do something I don't 'want' to do. I desperately do not want to pass along these same struggles to my children.
We don't give Clara everything she wants, but we do give her a lot, and rarely do we leave the house without getting her some kind of treat - and she's perpetually in need of new clothes, and my clothes-buying money-saving method means I spend $10-20 dollars on sale items each and every time I go to the mall to spread out the cost over time, and to make sure I don't over-purchase items until I really know she needs them. Is seeing us come home with bags of clothes for her seemingly constantly going to hurt her somehow in the long run? Is it ok?
I'm inclined to think that yes, this will be ok, provided she learns the value of working for things as she grows - which may be more difficult if she seems to be getting a lot of 'stuff', but not impossible. And so far, she really is a good shopper - we don't have temper tantrums or begging fits in the mall. She will ask for things, by saying 'I buy this?' or 'Is this mine?', and she is totally ok with being told 'No'. She stays with us and doesn't run off if we let her walk down the mall beside us instead of being in a stroller, and is actually quite patient when we shop for something 'boring' for a toddler.
When I was a child, I remember seeing the giant pink teddy bear that a friend's Dad had bought her for Valentine's Day. I was so impressed because I didn't get any kind of gifts for the 'minor' holidays except candy and chocolates. Maybe it was simply my spoiled-child-syndrome that wanted another opportunity to get more 'stuff' (this is likely, actually), but I've carried that with me as a good idea. I also liked how this family had taken Valentine's Day from being simply a holiday for lovers, and had made it a holiday for anyone you loved. As I grew older, I liked the idea of giving something that wasn't always candy to kids...
We get fliers from Build-a-Bear in the mail, and recently I saw this bear. I love him, because he looks a little bit like the bear I loved growing up, and thought it would be a cool Valentine's Day gift for Clara. It also occurred to me that I probably didn't want to get her a new bear for every holiday, but the beautiful thing about Build-a-Bear is that they carry a ton of accessories for bears and I thought that after buying her this bear- we could buy it a t-shirt or accessory for each holiday instead of getting her candy or a larger gift... Thoughts? Is this too materialist? I really am a fan of minimalism, but I also like toys - like teddy bears and dolls - that you can play with in many ways, and dress up, etc. so it kind of feels like just one toy still.
Am I on the road to raising a spoiled child?
Some days I feel as though my love for my daughters is purely functional. I 'love' them by feeding them and clothing them, and making sure their needs are met over the course of each day.
Lately, I have felt a surge of emotion almost every time I look at these little girls. Audrey is at my favourite baby age - still completely dependent, but old enough to react to us and start showing a distinct personality.
I seriously need to learn how to use a better camera... I think the bunny is teaching her some kind of martial art...
And Clara... well, Clara is becoming more and more her own unique little person. I love her so intensely and every once in awhile it hits me like a brick wall. I remember moments growing up when I would catch my Dad looking at me with this funny gleam in his eyes, and I could tell he was fighting back tears. I know what those moments were, now - they were moments of such overwhelming love and emotion that he had to blink back tears.
Clara is also becoming more and more - each day - like me. She is spunky and stubborn, and talks constantly - about everything. We hear her chatting to herself for hours after she goes to bed, to her stuffies, going over and over the events of the day. She is adorable.
She is also a pain in the butt.
The other night we had friends over, and I had made this incredibly yummy looking (it was amazing) fruit pizza for dessert. Clara had decided to eat no supper at all, and so one of us - I can't remember if it was Brian or I - told her that she needed to eat at least a few bites of supper before she could have dessert. She refused. I got out a smaller bowl and pulled out just a few items from her plate and said she had to eat 'only this'.
Again, she refused.
Then we had a battle of epic proportions - she would take a bite, but then spit it out again and cry. In the end she could have gotten away with only eating one small piece of mushroom, but she refused to even do that much. I really wanted her to be able to eat the fruit pizza...
I sent her to her room twice, only to let her out again for a 'second chance' (I really wanted to indulge her, so I did everything I could to help her). At the end of our battle, she was sitting on my lap refusing to swallow OR spit out a piece of food, but demanding her soother which I refused until the food was no longer in her mouth. After about 10 minutes I fished the food out of her mouth with my fingers and she was sent to bed with no dessert.
It was unbelievable how much a fight she put up. Her stubbornness is a little bit terrifying sometimes.
She's also hilarious and has me in stitches most of the time with the things she says...
The other day I wrapped a gift for a friend, and showed Clara what I was doing. I told her that when my friend showed up, Clara should bring her the gift we had wrapped for her. Then when my friend showed up, she seemed to have forgotten about the gift until I said "Clara, what did Mommy say you should bring her?" and Clara said to my friend "I give you a necklace!"
I guess it's time we need to stop showing or telling her anything we want kept secret.
This afternoon she stuck her tongue out and slowly moved in to lick my face. I saw her coming and said "What are you doing? Don't lick me!" To which she replied "I have to lick you!"
Toddlers are so weird...
Brian's parents have offered to take Clara for an entire weekend. I think they are hoping to start a Christmas tradition for themselves to have time to do Christmas-y things like bake and decorate cookies with her, etc. The reason they gave us was to give us a chance to get some Christmas shopping done, which is definitely more complicated with a toddler AND an infant in tow.
Shopping with Clara has always been pretty ok - when she was younger, we just had to stop to BF occasionally, and as she got older and started enjoying shopping it became a fun activity to do with her. Now that we have to stop to BF inevitably every time we go shopping, and Clara is only so good at staying interested in shopping - not good enough to take a 30 minute break so her sister can eat - it's much harder to actually get anything accomplished. Especially since we're really bad at planning and our Christmas shopping usually amounts to aimlessly wandering through malls asking each other these questions:
Who do we need to buy for again?
Which family gathering do we need that for?
Didn't you want to make them something?
What did we already order online? Did we actually order that, or did we just talk about ordering that? If we order it now, will it still come for Christmas... no... ok, what should we get instead?
Who do we need to buy for again?
Isn't that what we got him last year?
Do you think we have enough for Clara's stocking yet?
Go away! I want to get you something...
Do you want another Starbucks?
Who do we need to buy for again?
Now do we have enough for Clara's stocking???
Crap, we forgot about Audrey (as will be inevitable this year, or it will be someone else, it always happens - not that we don't love y'all, there are just too many people to remember!)
So today at about 5pm, my Mother-in-law is taking my daughter for a fun-filled weekend at Nana and Grandpa's and we get to have a weekend with only one child again. I love my daughter dearly, so I feel a little bit guilty about being so excited about this. I keep thinking about the possibilities - sleeping in past 8!!! We are going out for supper tonight and we won't have to worry about a toddler tantrum!!
Unfortunately this weekend is also the week of my piano recital, so I technically have to 'work' on Saturday. That should be over by 3ish, though, and then it's Christmas shopping for us! I decided a few years ago (when I worked in retail) that it was a hilarious sort of irony that people would get so stressed over Christmas shopping - a time of year that was supposed to be 'the happiest'. The only way to not let other people's moods get to me (because working in retail, often these people would take out their anger on me) was to secretly find it comical. Ha! That woman just punched another person over a TOY!!! They're yelling 'It's Mine!', 'No, MINE!' Really??? I hope I'm never one of those women, but the things we do for our children sometimes... Anyway, so I don't mind the crowds at Christmas, because I find them kind of funny. Also, we spent a few weeks in Asia a few years ago as well where it was busier than Christmas shopping EVERYWHERE, and all the time, so Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve suddenly didn't seem that busy anymore in comparison.
Anyway, I'm excited, and I hope that doesn't make me a negligent mother. I'll be toddler-free!!!
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<div align="center"><a href="http://www.pinkbears.ca" title="On Pink Bears and Pacifiers"><img src="http://www.pinkbears.ca/images/grab-my-button.png" alt="On Pink Bears and Pacifiers" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
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