Thursday, December 3, 2015

Reasons the Two Year Old is Pissed

Ahh 2 year olds.  There's really nothing like them.  Combustible dynamite in a cute, little, baby package.  If someone could figure out how to weaponize two year olds, that person would rule the world.  They are irresistible in their cuteness and lovableness.  Yet, flip that switch and they are like wild banchees, running around naked, screaming injustice, beating on whatever thing or being stands in their way.  Then suddenly, back to the sweet, little cherub you know and love.  Two year olds run this world.  I bet most world leaders have a two year old that they end up running around, waiting on, trying to suppress the madness.

Cohen is a rare species of two year old. He doesn't get mad, he gets pissed.  Like instantly, and kid can hold a grudge.  And the things that set him off are just, well, ridiculous.

So as a warning to all of you out there who hope to get in the Co-man's good graces.  Here are the top 10 things that will PISS HIM OFF.  Beware.

Legal notice from Cohen: This list is in no way all encompassing.  The two year old is allowed, and should be expected, to lose his shit whenever he sees fit.  Just because something was okay yesterday, does not make it okay today.

1 - Putting his shoes on the correct feet on Wednesdays.  Twice now, when I've gotten the kids off to school, Cohen has lost his mind because I would not put the left shoe on the right foot and vice versa.

2 - Making him open his advent calendar in order.  I need to be sure that on the 5th of December we go back and open the 2nd of December...all because Santa's glove happened to be the picture in the 5th of December box.  Know what?  The effing chocolate wasn't even a glove, it was a Christmas tree...which pissed him off even more.

3 - I will not pour an entire box of cereal into his bowl.  He will kick, scream, throw, bawl when I refuse to open a regular box of cereal and not pour "allamen" into his little green bowl.  Eventually, hunger wins out in this scenario.  But whimpering will ensue between bites, because obviously the world is ending.

4 - No more green lollipops.  Cohen loves lollipops.  He asks for them constantly.  And he wants green ones.  But when you think about a bag of Dum-Dums, there are 4 different green wrapped lollipops: lemon-lime, pineapple, green apple, and watermelon.  He prefers green apple, because not only is it wrapped in green, the actual lollipop is green.  Since a bag of Dum-Dums has about 473 mystery flavored pops, that leaves only a few of the other flavors. When the green apple are gone, just buy a new bag.  Other colors are out to murder two year olds.  And those pretending to be green?  Lemon-lime, pineapple, watermelon - I'm looking at you.  Well those are the worst of all, they're traitors.

5 - I won't put on his "ice-skating-shoes" at bedtime.  Last night, 30 minutes after bedtime, Cohen decided that some shoes he owns are "ice-skating-shoes" and he needed to wear them.  I refused, because it was bedtime.  He cried for a solid 30 minutes and refused to move from the bottom step.

6 - Providing dinner in lieu of snacks.  Cohen "na yike dinner, mi yike nacks."  Snacks are way better than dinner and if you force dinner and deny snacks, you are satan's spawn and deserve to be destroyed.  Don't even talk about dessert.  Dessert is a given and if you take dessert away...well, we can't even talk about that.  The scars are too fresh.

7 - Wiping his hands with a napkin instead of letting him wash them in the bathroom sink.  After dinner, we make the older kids wash their hands and faces in the bathroom.  Cohen mostly gets wiped down because he's a disaster - when he eats, see #6 - but sometimes we'll let him wash up in the bathroom as well.  Make sure you read his mind though, because you'll never know which he actually wants otherwise.  That is until he's a crumbled mess on the kitchen floor, wailing for days.  Well, and then it's just too late and you've ruined everyone's life.

8 - Not allowing him to sit in Freddie's booster seat.  Cohen thinks he's as big as his siblings.  He won't sit in a highchair.  He hasn't worn a bib since he could pull it off.  He refuses to use sippy cups.  Car seats are no different.  He knows that he's not in the same type of seat as his big brother, and that is totally unacceptable and you are discriminating against him for his height.

9 - Helping him do anything he wants to do himself but doesn't have the physical ability to accomplish. Examples, unlocking the front door with a key.  Getting the mail.  Brushing his teeth. Turning on the water in the sink.  Turning off the water in the sink.  Unloading the dishwasher.  Checking dinner in the oven.  Stirring a boiling pot on the stove.  Buckling his carseat.  Zipping his coat.  

10 - Anyone but mommy doing anything for him.  Mommy must do everything, from wiping the bottom to providing water cups.  No one else must attempt to help Cohen or they will be met with a loud and resounding "NOOOOO, MOMMY DO IT!!!!!!"  Mommy is the only one who can be trusted with such delicate matters.

Two year olds have to be cute.  Have to be!  Would anyone deal with this from anyone but a two year old?  But we do deal, because they say things like "Mama, it's Bissmas time," and "Mama, zippidy do da my dacket," and "Dat a dood idea," and "let me-me see," and "Mama, I sow you."  And how can that even, ever be resisted?  It can't.  Absolutely can not be.  So he can spend 20 minutes naked in my room at 10 pm, screaming because I wouldn't let him bring cheese to bed with him - but all he has to do is say "Mama, I seep wit you?" and all is forgiven.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Lessons Learned

My kids have taught me so much.  They've taught me to be more open minded.  They've taught me to embrace diversity.  Their existence has encouraged me to be more patient, more kind, more loving.  To be a better person for them to look up to.

Freddie, in particular, has taught me to never, ever, EVER, underestimate the significance of an upset stomach.

We spent the holiday in Connecticut at Clif's sister's house...Caitlyn.  It was a wonderful Thanksgiving spent surrounded by family.  Plenty of cousin playtime and snuggles.  It was so nice to be away from work and life and just hang out with people we love.

We decided to leave Saturday.  Avoid Sunday traffic.  We'd drive at night.  Have an early dinner with Clif's brother, Cameron, and his family.  Then hit the road around 6.  We'd be home by 11 or 12 and then have all day Sunday to relax and get ready for the upcoming week.

The universe had other plans in mind for us.

A bug took root over the holidays.  Cohen got sick Thanksgiving night, but it was short lived.  I chalked it up to no actual dinner and a bunch of pie and chocolate.  Because why would a kid eat turkey and stuffing when there is blueberry pie, whipped cream, and amazing Thanksgiving cupcakes made by Auntie Amanda?

He got sick, and then he was fine.  No other symptoms.  But then Saturday, some grown ups started feeling ill and getting sick.  And then Freddie started complaining of a crampy stomach on Saturday afternoon.  He kept saying he did not need to throw up, that it didn't feel sick, it hurt.  Looking back, I should have known.

We sat at the restaurant, and he went through another fit of crampy stomach.

"Freddie, do you need to go potty?"  I asked.
"Freddie, are you going to throw up?  Maybe we should go to the bathroom," Clif suggested.

He looked at me, and I saw it.  I saw that glassy-eyed monster behind his pupils.

"Let's go Freddie, let's go..." I urged.

And then it happened.  At the table that our food had just been placed on, the monster let loose, and so did everything he had eaten in the last 8 hours.  All over him, all over Cohen, in front of the entire restaurant.

I had never been so humiliated...except for that other time that Freddie spewed all over Fuddruckers in the middle of Ainsley's end-of-year soccer party.  That was also pretty embarrassing.  I saw the monster then too.  But he never shows up until it's too late to maneuver a 5 year old out of a booth or long table and into a bathroom across the restaurant.

So we cleaned up.  Changed clothes.  Cohen tattled that Freddie had spit on him.  Thanks Cohen.  I hadn't noticed.  Freddie felt much better, a bit hungry.

"Do we stay?" I asked.  I didn't want to, but wasn't sure what to do with a 5 hour drive stretched out before us.

Before anyone could answer, my sweet little nephew, just 14 months old, followed suit.  Took after the big cousin that I'm sure he'll look up to one day.  Landon's monster let loose as ferocious as Freddie's had.

"We gotta go" I said, and Clif promptly flagged the waitress for the bill and boxes.

We spent the next two - three hours waiting for the next one to puke.  Would Ainsley come down with it?  Was Cohen's random puking on Thanksgiving related?  Would he still go through the virus?  Would Clif or I succumb?  Turned out it was Freddie, every time.  We pulled over two more times to use the bathroom, to clean up, to empty the puking trash bin.  The third time we were still north of Philly.  Still 30 miles from the Delaware bridge.  We were done.  The hotels, with accessible toilets and warm baths and cozy beds, were calling our names.

We spent the night in Westhampton, NJ, off of the turnpike.  We got up and continued our trek home, through normal post-Thanksgiving traffic.  We got home after 2, tired and hungry and annoyed.

So Freddie has taught me to never ignore a sour stomach.  He's also taught me to be flexible.  And he's taught me to ignore those judgy, disgusted looks from strangers in a restaurant.  Maybe they're not what they seem.  Because as we were gathering our things, our puke covered clothes, our green kids, our luke-warm food...the woman at the table next to us said "Hon, I think you forgot his shoes."  And the table across from us the woman smiled and said "Hang in there mom."  And the manager and waitresses treating it like it was a normal occurrence.  They got a big tip.

When I think about it, how would I react?  If a kid started barfing just 10 feet from me and my kids and my food?  I probably would not revel in the experience.  Would not rush to help.  It would probably take a minute to let it sink in realize that it could happen to any of us.

So thank you Freddie.  Thank you for throwing up all over everyone and everything.  You taught me a valuable lesson once again.  Next time though...let's just talk it out.  No need for all that mess.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Perfect World vs. My World

So let me set the scene...

Swim lessons.  Three kids.  Two of them heading into the pool, one eating snacks, watching videos, and terrorizing the lobby.  One mom trying to get said kids to pool on time and hoping that the other one doesn't pee or poop all over himself in public.  Also, hoping she can contain the younger one for the thirty minute lesson.

Child A is very excited and can't wait to get back in the pool after a two month hiatus.

Child B is very nervous and shy and really loves swimming, but insists he doesn't want to do this, but only just this minute, not any time leading up to the activity.

Child C is, as usual, along for the ride.

If you know my children, you know exactly which one is which.

Last night was the first swim lesson for a couple of months.  We took a break at the end of the summer since we weren't around much, and then I just didn't get them signed up again until recently.  My kids love swim lessons.  LOVE them.  Both of them love swimming.  And they have come so far in the 10 months that they've been going to swim lessons.

So Ainsley goes right in.  Freddie holds back and starts crying.  And in my head, I know this is one of "those" moments.  You know.  Those moments that you read articles about.  Like "How to be a loving, caring, mother and raise confident children without ever raising your voice or disciplining at all because kids are SUPER rational if you just give them the chance and if you talk softly and let them lead they way they will do exactly what you need them to do at exactly the right moment."

Bullshit.  Well maybe not.  Not in a perfect world, where I have unlimited time for each child to work through his or her issues.

In my head, I think - okay, stay calm.  Who cares if every one's staring at you as you drag this determined, 50lb, 5 year old onto the pool deck.  And who cares if the 2 year old is by himself in the lobby.  A lobby that he has escaped from before.  A lobby that opens to a busy parking lot.  And who cares if the 2 year old decides that this exact moment, while his brother is throwing a fit, is the perfect time to relieve himself in the middle of the lobby.  And who cares if I drop a small fortune on swimming lessons, and he wastes half the classes crying over being shy.

So instead of sitting on the edge of the pool and saying things like "Okay, let's just sit for a minute and see if you want to participate.  Ohh...doesn't that look like fun.  Hey look, you know how to float, show the teacher."  And other soothing, calming, encouraging things like that, I end up "yelling" through hushed, gritted, teeth "Get in the pool.  You love swim lessons.  Get in the pool right now!!!"

Eventually, I hand a screaming, squirming, powerful child over to an instructor and escape through the door to find Cohen.  And I listen to the instructor talk to Freddie.  Say all of the things that I want to say.  Do all the things I want to do.  I think about these things, and figure out how I should handle them either before or after the fact.  But the problem is, I'm never just dealing with this scene.  I'm dealing with multiple scenes all at once.

If I had walked in there with just Freddie, I could have been as patient and available as he needed me to be.  The the fact is, I can never be 100% available to any of my children.  I can't spend all evening putting Cohen on the potty, so he has accidents.  I can't sit all night with Ainsley explaining multiplication and division, so sometimes her homework doesn't get finished.  I can't sit on the edge of the pool with my sweet, shy Freddie and gently coax him into the water, so he screams.

And I feel so guilty.  I see people with one child and sometimes I think, "imagine how much I could give to one child."  Now, one child is NEVER something I wanted or ever considered.  I honestly don't know what I'd do without my siblings.  When Clif and I go crazy and someone needs to figure out which home to put us in, my kids will have each other to turn to and that's important to me.  But I will say, I look at families with one child and sometimes I feel a twinge of jealousy for my kids.  That they could have all that attention and patience and love just showered down on them.  A million free hours to talk about fears and shyness.  Days on end to work through math and reading challenges.

Freddie finally got in the water.  And I watched him sit on the side and pout.  I watched the teacher eventually move the class closer to him.  I watched him finally participate and then have a blast.  I greeted him at the door with his towel and said "Hey!  How was it?"

"Good," he smiled.

"So are you glad I made you go?" I asked

"Yes," he responded, and that made me happy.  Made me feel like I made the right decision, but it doesn't erase the guilt.  All I did was drag him in there and shut the door.  Someone else gently coaxed him into the pool.  And someone else figured out how to get him to participate.  And I watched from the one way mirror.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The P Word

So I did it.  I convinced myself that it was the right thing to do and now I am paying for it.  I can't go back.  I have to keep pushing forward.

I started potty training Cohen.

Excuse me while I scream and gouge my eyes out.

Is there anything worse than potty training?  Changing dirty, stinky diapers is way better than carefully removing, dumping, and rinsing out dirty, stinky underpants!

For awhile now, I've been thinking he was ready.  He was already asking to sit on the potty at times.  They were putting him on the potty at daycare on a regular basis.  He was telling me when he went so I could change him.  Classic "readiness" signs as outlined by the "experts."

Experts...they need to come hang out in my house and sit on the bathroom floor while holding a squirming, pissed-off two year old on the toilet.  All while trying not to get peed on.

Ainsley and Freddie were three or older when we really hit the potty training hard.  It was difficult, there were plenty of tears (mine) and tantrums (mine) and screaming (also mine)...but after about 2 weeks, I felt like we were pretty solid and the accidents quickly subsided.  It was around that two week mark that I felt like I could say "Yes, he/she is potty trained" and feel pretty confident that the child would let me know when he/she had to go.  I didn't feel the need to carry around an entire wardrobe and rolls of paper towels, just in case.

Well, we are on week three with Cohen, and though there have been wins...there have been lots of accidents, lots of extra clothes, lots of clean ups in public places.  I've never wanted to buy diapers so badly!

After a week, I was ready to throw the towel in.  I could not get him to sit on the potty for longer than 7 seconds.  During that time, he was able to dribble a little pee in the bowl and then proclaim "DONE!" and slide off the seat.  Just to run to the corner and pee and poop all over himself.

It was then that I decided we need to buy a little plastic potty.  Ainsley and Freddie had not used one.  They were older and taller when they potty trained.  But I bought one because his little toes barely brush the step stool when he sits on the big potty.

We had major success.  Not only was he more comfortable, now he could do it on his own and that is just what my stubborn, independent, third-born needed.  He could do it "BY MINE SEFF!!!"  That night, I finished my dinner and got up to find him standing over the little potty, Star Wars underpants around his ankles, bowl full of...everything, and him exclaiming "Yook Mommy!  I DID IT!"

I thought we were home free.  He lulled me into a false sense of victory and accomplishment.  I was feeling so proud of us.  We actually could potty train a child at a reasonable age.  The feeling was short lived.  Yesterday I threw away an entire outfit at a playground just moments after putting him on the potty.

So that's where we are.  He's definitely holding it and he's telling me about 30% of the time.  But I'm still asking regularly and hearing "NO, my already went" or "NO, I no yike potty."

Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.  This too shall pass.  And then we will be diaper free.  And it will be awesome.  It's just going to be a shit show (literally) getting there.

Friday, September 25, 2015

About Kindergarten...and Summer...and Graduation...

We had this huge, momentous thing happen recently, and I didn't write about it.  I honestly don't know how I ever found the time to stay on top of this blog.  It's just not possible these days.

But the huge, momentous thing...

This guy started Kindergarten.

Here he is just a few months ago graduating from Pre K.  I didn't post anything then either.  The middle child really does get shafted.

When Ainsley was a year old, we took her to the beach for the first time.  I posted a ton of pictures and broke the post into two parts - I used to have so much time, not sure where it all went.  We also went to the beach this summer.

And Hershey Park.

Visited Philly for a day.

And we celebrated birthdays.

We got hair cuts.

Spent time with cousins.

And Grandmas.

And Papas.

We dressed as super heroes.

We played.

Ate lots of ice cream.

And apparently, lobster - but not lots of it.

I love summer.  And suddenly, here we are at the beginning of Autumn (officially).

But I'm getting away from the point of this post.

Freddie.  Our sweet little Freddie started Kindergarten and he is such a rock star.  He was very nervous.  He missed his old classmates.  He didn't want to go.  But he is doing so awesome.  He comes home with new stories and new knowledge every day.

After the first day he got off the bus very excited, but soon explained that he didn't want to go back because of fire drills.  Freddie does not like smoke alarms, or any loud, sudden noise.  There would be a drill later in the week and could he stay home?

He talked about it a lot that first week, so much so that I felt the need to warn his teacher.  Told her about is fear of loud beeps and buzzes.  Told her, he'd be fine, but he might cry.  Might lose his shizz for awhile.  Be prepared.

The fire drill came, and went and when I asked Freddie about it, he shrugged and said "I'm not afraid of that, I'm a big kid now."

Yeppo, I guess you are.

Happy first year of school buddy.  You are so bright and insightful and sensitive. I just know you're going to blow that whole school away with your sweet little smile and thoughtful questions.  They're never going to know what hit them after they meet my Fredders.
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