I’m not the fun parent

I’m not the fun parent

20171117_2256111354219021.jpgThere are times when I wonder how my children really view me.

I know they love me. I’m essential personnel around here. I’m the one they cry for when they fall and scrape their knees. They scream my name in the middle of the night to rescue them from a nightmare. And they blame me when dinner doesn’t suit their fickle tastes.

20151213_1905231925404260.jpgBut when they want to wrestle on the floor, or get a piggyback ride, or get flipped off the couch onto the hard floor, I’m not the one they call. They always ask for dad.

I’m not the fun parent. But I really want to be.

I want to live in the moment with them and race cars along the dining room wall and throw all the toys out of the toy box just to hear them crash on the floor and delight at the mess. I want to help my three-year-old line up every shoe from the front door to the back of the house and then insert toys into the shoes and pretend they are all standing in line.

Because it looks like fun.

screenshot_20171117-2154381438551004.pngBut there’s just SO MUCH TO DO. Let me figure out what to cook for dinner. And oh, let me finish that other load of laundry. I should really take a minute and call my mom. Or my dad. And my grandma, lord bless her most folks don’t have grandparents around anymore.

So I shoo the children away to work on something that needs to be done, fixed, finished, cleaned.

And when I do get a minute, I actually just want to sit and play with my phone and be by myself. You feel me?

Thus, the angst. Because I wanna be fun.

My husband shrugs it off. “We all have different roles,” he says. He reassures me that I’m needed and loved and that the house would totally fall apart and be nasty and everyone would starve without me.

For me, that’s not the point. I want to be fun. And I want my kids to see it and feel it. And love it.

After dinner and right before bed, my husband’s routine is to take the kids to our bedroom and let them jump on the bed and his head. While I clean the kitchen. Sometimes I relish the time alone to think or listen to music or just be alone for a few minutes.

But most times, I want to be right up there with them.

So the other day, I just decided to leave the kitchen as is. I went upstairs and belly-flopped on the bed with my family. The kids screamed and squealed. And I was happy to hear it.

After five minutes, my back started hurting. One of the kids kicked me in my c-section scar. And I had to use the bathroom.

This is why I’m not the fun parent.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pee and Poop on Demand: Potty Training Baby #2

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Has your kid ever screamed, or got pee all over the floor, when the automatic flush in a public bathroom went into action and scared them half to death?

Have you ever thought of covering those sensors with a post-it note so your kid could finish the deal in (relative) peace?

Genius, right? Well, I didn’t come up with that. That tip came from Tot on the Pot, a new potty training system designed to coax toddlers to use the bathroom by encouraging play time and rewards for success. They advertise themselves as “potty training simplified for parents.”

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My Tot on the Pot came with the toy doll, toy potty and activity cards that are part of the rewards and incentives to help your child be successful using this system.

I came across their site on Instagram and reached out to them, particularly after several frustrating days of encouraging my two-year-old to use the potty and having her pee on the floor EVERY SINGLE TIME. Aren’t girls supposed to be easier to potty train?

My Tot on the Pot system came in the mail this week (it’s not available in stores yet; the company is raising interest and money on Kickstarter) and included a toy potty, an anatomically-correct girl doll, activity cards and a parent guide (an illustrated book introducing the doll was mistakenly not included but hopefully will come later).

First impressions: This simplified system requires you to read a 35-page guide to get started.

But don’t let that scare you. It’s pretty large print. And as I started to skim the book, I actually found its advice and tips quite helpful, even though I’ve already potty-trained an older child. The parent guide helps you find ways to use the doll, the book and activity cards as a reward system when your child successfully pees or poops. It also keeps the process engaging and fun for them.

But do I really need a system to help me potty train my kid? Big Mama said she potty trained six kids at the same time all on the same day.

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The guide was a fast read and informative. Now if someone could just publish a guide on parenting and motherhood….

You can start this process over confident if you want to. But trust, know and believe: a self-willed two-year-old will break you down and render you emotionally inept very quickly.

I started off skimming the parent’s guide but I’m glad I ended up reading it. It feels like a preemptive pep talk, encouraging us to be mentally ready, remain positive and consistent throughout the process. I need all of this right now.

Some of the advice includes: Don’t compare this child’s potty training progress to that of another child, even a sibling. This is your child’s very own journey.

Another tip: Some children need to be alone to poop. Casually walking out of the bathroom for a moment might give them the privacy they need to succeed.

And keep the mood light: If your child seems anxious when they catch sight of the poop swirling down the drain, encourage them to wave bye-bye as it disappears from sight.

The guide seems to incorporate some of the science behind potty training without overwhelming readers, as well as Tot Tips based on the experiences of countless parents who have already been through this. There’s also modified tips to support parents who are potty training children with developmental delays.

The system encourages setting aside a block of time–around four days– when the parent and child will be home or nearby to start this process.

So I’m prepping now. Next week, we begin.

I think my little girl is ready. I hope I am too.

 

 

 

Cuddle Time in a World Full of Ouchies

Cuddle Time in a World Full of Ouchies

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My hubby cuddles the kids after a long day at work.

So how did you explain the terror attacks in Vegas to your children?

I wasn’t planning on saying anything to mine. But my three-year-old son caught the tail-end of the news report before I could get around the corner from the kitchen and dining room and hunt high and low for the remote to turn it off. I never did find the remote in time.

“Mommy did those people die? Did that man kill those people?” My heart just ached hearing him say words like “die” and “kill”. Please just let him stay innocent for a little while longer. Let’s turn on Thomas the Train or something happy.

But the questions just kept coming. The simple answer: Yes, baby. He did. “Why did he do that?” Because there are bad people in the world today who hurt other people. “Do they have ouchies now?” Yes baby, they have really bad ouchies. “Will they go to the doctor and get some medicines?” Yes, some of them will.

I could see his little face trying to make sense of what was happening, using leading questions to connect the little bits of life he’s figured out so far. Bless his little heart.

img_20160129_191432-11586642913.jpgA few days later, when his two-year-old sister was caught in the midst of a tantrum, he put his toys down and wrapped his arms around her and said, “Aww you need a cuddle.”

It was so spontaneous — he usually puts her in a headlock– that I just watched in awe, quiet and still, trying to capture the moment in slo-mo. As the two-year-old pulled away, you could see the relief on her face. Cuddle time saved her day. They returned to playing with their toys.

This brief window into their lives proves my kids are watching a fair amount of television — Lambie, an affectionate stuffed animal on Doc McStuffins, solves most problems by offering her peers a cuddle.

But it also showed me that my three-year-old son is learning how to show sympathy to others. Watching his sister, he was moved to show compassion and comfort her. For them, this is how they solve problems, with a little love and a hug that shows that someone else cares about how you feel.

In the years to come, my children will certainly shed their layers of naivete and acquire an understanding of how the world works, including the cycles of sadness and pain, evil and death that have existed since the dawn of humans.

But I hope to also instill in them a sense of sympathy–the ability to show compassion and comfort to others. To naturally be moved with emotion when you see another person in pain, whether or not you know them or agree with them.

20171006_211936791832466.jpgIn the face of horror and unspeakable acts, sympathy and compassion become guiding principles for humanity again.

Comfort provided in a hug, a cuddle, can provide the first stitch of hope to close a raw wound, the promise of a balm and soothing help in just a little while.

In a world full of endless ouchies, we could all use a little more time to cuddle.

Have you ever lost your kid in a store?

Have you ever lost your kid in a store?

I’ve never lost track of my kids in a store.

Not yet. I actually try not to go into stores with them. I’ll go out of my way to pick up a girlfriend so she can stay in the car with the kids while I run errands or do grocery shopping. Or I’ll just wait until the hubby gets home and run to the store while he’s home with the kids.

It’s just too much trouble to unlatch car seats and wrestle them both out of the car and grab a cart and get them both in and then make sure they are not knocking everything off the shelf or begging every minute for something. I like shopping. And I like to do it alone now.

So losing track of them in a store is rarely something I think about. But keeping track of two toddlers, I’m very aware it could happen.

Today it happened to someone else. In J.C.Penneys. On a Saturday afternoon. During the holiday shopping season.

I was standing in line waiting to get checked out and the cashier hangs up a store phone and yells “CODE ADAM!!” She picked up another phone and yells it again over the store intercom: “CODE ADAM!” The registers stopped.  The Christmas music paused. Floor salespeople, wearing red JC Penney t-shirts started to walk quickly to the escalators. And they kept yelling Code Adam. “We’re looking for a little girl with a black hoodie and gold barettes.”

My heart fluttered. My little girl has a hoodie too. I looked down at my side expecting to see her. Wait, she’s in the car. With her father. Get a grip Tav.

“CODE ADAM!”

Adam. The little boy who was kidnapped from the store. In the 1980s. Walsh. That was his name. And his father kept looking for his killer.

“CODE ADAM!”

SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING! Somebody’s baby was missing. I turned to the guy behind me. “Oh my God, maybe we all need to start looking.” He just shrugged.

Another lady said, “I ain’t got time for this.” And she threw her clothes on the counter and walked away. The middle-aged lady in front of me was clearly annoyed too. “Who loses a kid in the middle of a busy department store? You need to be watching them.”

“I have a three-year-old and I can definitely see how it might happen,” I said, defending the parents of the little girl with the black hoodie. My voice started to sound shaky. “They can get away from you so fast.”

“Well I raised three kids and that never happened to me,” she said.

“Now you know that was at least 30 years ago and you barely remember it!” I was thinking that but I didn’t say it. Another judgmental mom. I decided to stop talking to her.

I wanted to keep defending these parents, whom I didn’t know but who were obviously somewhere in this store likely going crazy looking for their child. And what really mattered at the moment was finding the little girl. I got out of line. Where could I look? What could I do?  I didn’t have a plan or anything, just a sick and nervous feeling in my stomach because if that was my child I would want all hands on deck.

And as I was walking away from the line, someone shouted that they found her.

THEY FOUND HER! The little girl with the black hoodie. And the gold barettes. She was somewhere safe again. Probably with her parents. Probably crying because she had gotten scared. Or maybe she was laughing somewhere under a rack of clothes. Yep, she was laughing and okay again.

So I’m standing here, blinking back tears, heart still fluttering, and now thinking about how I can ask this guy to give me back my place in line. As I turned to ask him, he just nodded and stepped back. I said thank you. He nodded. Was I the only person who had freaked out?

The cashiers returned to the counter and started working again. I dont know when the Christmas music came back on but it was back.

And everybody just kept going about their business again.