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.
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