I’m a nervous wreck but can’t help laughing when I see news reporters describing “wet conditions” and the always-shocking “windy conditions” in the middle of a hurricane and imploring us to STAY INDOORS. I know it’s your job, but you’re standing on a dock in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s like me saying “Holy sh-t Ryan. Stop f-cking cursing!”
I feel like the only person on Earth with a bottle-addicted toddler. Of course it’s all in my head, you probably have/had one, too. Or at least you can pretend you did to make me feel better.
Yeah yeah, she’s only 16 months old, last month you all told me not to panic and to try again later. But I started panicking about my little girl with a baba at her Baba Bat Mitzvah and I knew I had to try again.
Alexa drinks water out of a cup, but still not milk. She has fits about her freaking bottles – there are times when she refuses to get up off the floor until she sees a frantic Mommy filling up her baba. But I refuse to be a pushover just because she’s cute. In the past couple of weeks, her comprehension and communication has soared to new heights, even though the words are still stuck somewhere in her head. It made sense to try again. I also realized that by delaying this, I’m just setting myself up for a worse addiction as time goes on. (Did I ever mention that I introduced the paci to Alexa at 6 months after her not caring about it at all? And now she hops in the crib and searches for it like she’s digging for gold? Yup, I’m a moron.) That aside, it’s either a scream-fest now or later. And since Alexa is getting three molars at once and we’re up in the middle of the night now anyway, it’s a great time to add to the unpleasantness.
Sunday night, I took all of the nipples off of the bottles, put them in a drawer and replaced them with yellow Born Free sippy cup tops. Basically, it’s still the bottle on the bottom, just with a different top. This is a great ploy by Born Free to make parents feel like they’re taking some big step when really they are doing nothing.
This is what our big girl baba looks like.
Not impressed? Me, either.
But we made a big deal about it and I’m not taking those nipples out of the drawer – ever. She drank from it tonight before bed. A bit tentatively, but she drank some.
Night #1 was a toss-up. I can’t tell if she took almost two hours to fall asleep because she had three blood-lined molars busting through or because she hates me.
The following nights went smoothly. Now I only give her the “big girl baba” first thing in the morning and last thing at night with straw cups during the day, so today I actually told my friend that Lexi doesn’t drink out of a bottle anymore. I know it’s a lie and I told her the bottom half is still the bottle but it makes me feel better that I took a baby step for her.
She’s freaking cute with that bottle. If she can be my baby a little longer, I won’t mind.
A couple of weekends ago, we had a BBQ with my two best girlfriends from growing up and their families. One topic of conversation was a subject rarely discussed openly (or at least honestly) among friends – discipline methods. We’re all so comfortable with each other that it wasn’t a big deal conversation, but for sure it was a hot button issue.
We’ve all heard about time-outs. And you know I’m a Supernanny fan. But not everyone chooses to go the time-out route. Among the various options, some people feel that domestic corporal punishment, better known as spanking, is an acceptable option for disciplining a child.
One of our friends at the BBQ was spanked as a child and felt that it was effective, as it made him think twice before becoming a repeat offender.
I piped up that I don’t get how you can hit a kid and then turn around and tell him not to hit someone else. He said that it’s different – one is meant to hurt another person, the other is meant to stop a behavior. But I think that spanking hurts, otherwise why would it be so effective?
I feel that spanking makes a child fearful instead of respectful when it comes to their relationship with their parents. That being said, I bet Ryan would be more respectful in his actions if I spanked him, but I think it’s for the wrong reasons. Just one opinion. Also, talking to other adults who were spanked as children and reading studies on discipline, spanking causes a high rate of childhood aggressiveness and can later breed resentment, fear and anger towards the family members doing the spanking for the long-term.
Our friend said that time-outs don’t do anything to stop behavior and that I probably do a ton of things in my personal life that I tell Ryan not to do. I agree to a point – it’s not like a time-out will keep Ryan from grabbing something out of Alexa’s hand ever again, but it does serve as an effective way to remove him from a bad situation. It forces him to think about, and then explain (out loud) what he did wrong and to sit and watch silently while others are having fun around him. When I need to do something for a really egregious offense, I realize time-outs aren’t as effective and at that point, begin taking away privileges.
But I disagree that time-outs aren’t effective in general. Honestly, and I’ve said this to people, the reason why time-outs “fail” in a household is because the person attempting the time-out did not do it correctly. A person has to be committed to the process from the beginning. If you have an escape artist, you’ll need – from Day 1 – to take that child back to their time-out spot (sometimes dozens of times) without engaging them. Depending on your child, this could take hours. Ryan learned it quickly. I can tell Alexa is going to be hard work. But that’s what it is in my opinion – work. I know you think I’m all BS and I don’t know your family and what works and I shouldn’t poke my nose in anyone’s business, but if Supernanny can go into a house worse than yours and turn a family around from the brink of collapse, you can bet I believe it works. If I fail at this with Alexa, it’s because I failed. Not her.
I said to our friend that I don’t think spanking is work on the part of the parent, that it seems like an easy way out. He disagreed, explaining that if you decide as parents to spank your child, that it’s not an act of laziness or impulse, that it is an agreed upon method of discipline. True, but I just don’t understand the rationale behind spanking. What is it teaching the child?
We both agreed that no matter how a child is disciplined, chances are that child will grow up to be a productive member of society. So why is it that we care so much about what’s going on in other people’s houses?
What are your thoughts on spanking, time-outs or other methods of discipline? Do you care what other people do in their own homes?
UPDATE: I ADDED A FEW HELPFUL ARTICLES ON THIS SUBJECT ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE… https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Playing-Mom/187972617887257
So I’m in the middle of a post on discipline, but I’m THISCLOSE to launching my store website (thinking September 1 as the launch date)… point being, I’m too lazy to finish my post at the moment. So sorry, but I’m just sooooooooo excited about my site, working really hard on everything and I can’t wait to share it with all of you!
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a post ready to go for you. I happened to receive a reader letter from someone I actually know this morning, so of course I have to post it. Please help a dear friend with a problem that she’s having…
My 4 1/2 year old son is a good, smart, outgoing and generally happy kid. He has gone to nursery school since he was 1 1/2 and gets only the most amazing reports from his teachers. He does great at playdates when we go to other people’s houses, and he has great playdates with girls at our house. But when another boy his same age comes into his “territory”, he becomes a complete and total nightmare. I’ve seen this happen with him so often that I’m afraid to invite anyone over. We’ve had to cut playdates short and ask kids/parents to go home because he won’t let another kid touch any of his stuff. He literally growls at them and swipes the toys out of their hands. He tells the other kid that he wants him to go home. Before the playdate he acts very excited that the other boy is coming to play and then as soon as the other kid enters our house he flips out. I try every bit of discipline I’ve got – threats, bribes, time-outs – and nothing works to get him back to being himself. I really just don’t know what to do. Any advice out there? I’m at my wits end.
I’m going to withhold my own advice and see what my readers have to say. Okay, go!
Ryan has recently been asking for a playdate with Ben, a boy on his camp bus. I was hesitant to mention it to the bus counselor because Ben is six and I wanted to be sure it wasn’t a one-sided request. Wednesday morning, the bus counselor confirmed (to my relief) that both kids wanted to hang out, so I gave the OK for her to give Ben’s “handlers” my number.
Wednesday afternoon, I came home to two adorable voicemails from Ben himself. I returned the call and identified myself to Ben, who requested that Ryan get on the phone. Ummmmm… I’m thinking this kid wants to talk to Ryan about what? The only phone “conversations” Ryan had in the past were grunts of “yes”, “fine”, “where are you?” and dictations from me of “I miss you, Daddy” and the like. I kind of forget that not only does he speak English, but that he carries on actual conversations with other human beings so a phone conversation isn’t that alien of a request.
I willingly give the phone to Ryan. He handles it awkwardly, as he usually talks on speakerphone at home.
He’s playing with Lexi’s Aquadoodle pad. I notice he’s doodling absentmindedly, head cocked and listening with earnest at what Ben is saying on the other end. He looks like a teenager. I run to get my camera. I can’t resist snapping a few pictures of Ryan’s first real phone conversation. (And maybe a short video was shot as well…) I know – what’s wrong with me – but it was so cute.
“Ben, I have a new Captain America disc shooter – is that the one you have? The one that really shoots? You can play with it.”
“Ben, the next time I come to school I’m gonna wear my Batman costume.”
Some listening, and then -
“Uh huh. Okay, bye Ben.”
I get on the phone with Ben’s Dad and make a plan for next week. I sound like an amateur – I know that six-year-olds do drop off playdates but I’m not sure if having Ryan to his house without me is the right thing to do at first. We leave it up to the kids to decide whose house they’ll play at and make a note to talk after the weekend.
The whole thing was so cute. My little boy, talking on the phone and doodling. As we walked upstairs for the kids’ bath with the camera still around my neck, I realized that I am – and most likely will be - the most meddlesome parent ever. I’m probably going to photograph the first time he shaves and take video of his first date. He’s going to hate me.
Meanwhile, as the tub slowly filled, I realized Alexa must have felt left out of all of the photo-taking because she decided to nonchalantly climb into the bathtub with all of her clothes on and then sit down to play. We cracked up and watched her splash around, oblivious to it all.
These are the small moments that I cherish.
They’re growing up way too fast.
We started doing workbooks/activity books in addition to reading with Ryan before bed. He always liked workbooks, and I like the idea of him continuing to learn during the summer when the only thing he seems to absorb otherwise is “You’re not my boss” and various other phrases from camp.
The page we were on last night was all about the letter V. There were three pictures – a violin, a vase and something that didn’t start with V. You had to ‘X’ out the one that didn’t begin with V. So I point to the first picture and Ryan says, “Violin. Vvvvvv. Yeah, that begins with V.” Then he looks at the second picture.
“What is it? A bottle?”
“Nope. I’ll give you a hint – you put flowers in it.”
“OH! A vase! Like the Wizard a Vase!”
I love how kids think.
It reminds me of all the ways we mangled song lyrics as kids. I have a friend (who is probably reading this) who thought the chorus in Paul Young’s Every Time You Go Away went, “Every time you go away… you take a piece of meat with you.” Or the chorus of Elton John’s Tiny Dancer, “Hold me closer Tony Danza…”
What were some of your all-time favorite lyrical mess-ups?
To the Mommy stuck in Lonelyville,
Usually I’d just write back a personal response, but – LUCKY YOU! – I decided to draw it out and turn your letter into a post because I’m really feeling you right now and I’m sure others are, too.
I’m a new Mom with a 4 month old daughter and I feel really lonely most days. I love spending time with her, but I could really use some adult conversation. I go to the park in my neighborhood, but haven’t met anyone yet who I clicked with to the point that we’d exchange info or anything. How did you meet people when Ryan was born?
I totally feel you and wish I could come over and play right now! Don’t despair – there are people out there – you just haven’t met them yet.
Now I can’t exactly tell if you’re on maternity leave and heading back to work or if you’re at home for the long haul, but it doesn’t really matter because people everywhere are looking for friends – weekday or weekend – you just need to look in the right places (and I will help you find some of those places – and hopefully some commenters will, too!)
One thing I will stress is that when looking for new friends, you have to keep an open mind. The first few people I met didn’t seem like my “usual” kind of friend and I thought all we had in common was that we had babies in the Spring of ’07, but those were the same girls that invited my depressed, lost, cheerless self into their homes and kept forcing me to attend gatherings of human beings and for that I am forever grateful. And surprise, surprise – I am still in contact with them.
All I wanted when I went on my “find a friend”
rampage search was someone who lived close to me. Preferably someone who thought I was worth spending time with. Like, every day. And maybe we would have sleepovers. With wine. And go on vacations together. Perhaps a Mommy BFF who wanted to wear the other half of my heart necklace. Okay but really, I just wanted to meet one freaking person who got me excited about being at home with my kid and made me want to shower and get dressed and get outside. And someone who definitely wanted to chat about more than breastfeeding, napping and poop. Although that would be allowed, of course. A lot of pressure for that one person, but whatever, that would be their problem.
I found two such people. G lived in my apartment building and I met LB in a baby class. They pretty much restored sanity to my life. They both had baby girls born in March and we would take walks, go to the playground and to lunch.
Eventually, G went back to work but we still hung out at night and on weekends, LB and I met other people through our baby class and a bunch of us joined music and gym classes together, went to lunch and found tons of places to hang out in the area.
With time, our circle of friends expanded. I knew this would be my Mommy support system – I knew there were girls out there that I could depend on if I needed to drop Ryan off in an emergency, if I needed a doctor recommendation or just to talk. To this day, I consider some of them my closest friends. Not all remained – some moved out of the area, others went back to work and naturally some of us simply grew apart, but each one made a profound difference in my life and for that I am so thankful that we crossed paths.
It felt so amazing to create a new life for myself. It was hard work, but it needed to be done. I had gone from having a work schedule, a community of people and a place to go every day to waking up and … well, nothing.
I actually need to work at this again, now that the 4-year-old set is in camp all day and Lexi and I talk openly about how she needs some friends. I’m currently stalking a woman from our MyGym class and begging my neighbor to pop out her 3 month old fetus now so we can hang out. Nevermind that she has a 6 year old and a 4 year old in camp and probably wants to enjoy her quiet summer before she goes back to work. But that doesn’t stop me.
I’m close to printing a sign and hanging it on all of the neighborhood trees with a sad looking picture of Alexa beneath the bold headline “Looking For Friends”, and my contact info on it. For sure someone would contact me immediately. Probably the police, but someone nevertheless.
Okay, I’m sure you’re thrilled that I turned your letter into a post, because in no way have I answered your question and you’ve been reading this for waaayyy too long and you’re annoyed because you could have been out making friends and instead I’m disappointing you.
So here goes…
Meetup is a website where you can find groups of people from Pet Lovers to Singles Over 50 to Lonely Mommies like you. By zip code! So try a search there and be creative with your search terms. Just be careful if you join a group that only has 1 or 2 members. It very well may be a startup, but if the group was founded a year ago and nobody has joined, you’re probably not going to find what you’re looking for.
Stroller Strides is a way for you to get back into the exercise game, meet other people and use your baby as a dumbbell. Just kidding, sort of. Check it out – they are all over the country and you can take a free trial to see what it’s all about.
Music Together is an internationally recognized music and movement program for babies through kindergartners and their caregivers. There are tons of music programs out there, and I tried to stay away after something like 5 semesters with Ryan because I was afraid of a growing addiction (I actually started listening to the CDs in the car by myself when I didn’t even have to) but I’m back there again with Alexa and loving it.
4. Search out your local YMCA, library, church, synagogue, other place of worship or community center. You may be surprised at just how many free or low cost classes are offered just minutes away. Especially at the library – you can find everything from Storytime to Zumba to Drivers Ed.
5. Pick up your town’s free parenting magazines. There are lots of community events going on throughout the year and you can get great ideas about where to go (once you’ve made that friend to share your necklace with). Everything from farms to museums to playgrounds to gym classes (The Little Gym, MyGym, Gymboree, etc.) to indoor play spaces can be found inside these little gems.
6. Websites. I have a bunch of sites bookmarked that have great ideas for places to go and things to do in my area. One of these is Mommy Poppins… but obviously do your own search (although I’d love to hang with you!) Online Birth Clubs are another way to meet people. I have friends who have a whole online support system from BabyCenter and BabyZone. There is also the MOMS Club. Play around a bit…
One final thought – treat this like you’re scouring the Mommy Dating Scene. You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Talk to people at Birthday parties, say hello on the street, ask people you know if they know anyone. If you’re like me and give off a stand-offish vibe when you meet a new person and cannot imagine blurting out, “It was great meeting you – let’s get the kids together!”, you’ll have to get over it. Now is the time to be your most outgoing self. Try not to make decisions based on how she carries her baby everywhere in a sling, co-sleeps, breastfeeds exclusively and makes her own baby food while you maybe can’t imagine doing any of that. That doesn’t make you opposites, you just have different parenting styles. The woman who doesn’t seem like your “normal type of friend” may just be the one who helps you out of Lonelyville.
P.S. Anyone else, please comment with suggestions. I am more than confident that I’ve left out other great ways to meet people.