Cooperation At Two

I often write about my daughter.  About how funny, how brilliant, how inspirational and how fantastic it is to be her mom.  Even though all these things are true, our days aren’t always filled with cotton candy, rainbows and sunshine, lovey-dovey happiness.  Oh no, far from it.  Parker is a product of my husband and I and shows for it with all the independent stubbornness capable of being supported in her two and a half-year old frame.

Today was one of those days where every direction, limitation and plea for cooperation was met with equal or greater opposition.  If I said here, she went there.  If I said up, she went down.  And when I said no, she took it as a yes with a running head start.  Battle after battle, talking it out followed by Parker’s apologies and eventual follow-through with requests.  It seems on days like today I have to work twice as hard to maintain my patience and consistency to prove I’m not going to give in, hoping it will curb tomorrow’s behavior.

By the end of the day I was exhausted counting down the minutes until bed-time and still prepared for Parker’s next challenge.  She had dumped out a large bag of foam blocks to play with and after a short while abandoned the blocks for crayons and paper.  “Parker, you need to put the blocks away before coloring,” I instructed her.heycrazylady

She looked up at me with a Crazy Lady Leave Me Alone glare and said, “Mommy you not cooperating!”

Yes, exactly what I have been telling her all day.

Big Girl Bed, Again.

sillinessA few months back the baby crib came down and was replaced with a toddler bed for my growing tiny tot.  Then a few weeks afterwards the realization set in, too many growing up changes happening too soon and Parker was not accepting them all.  A pack and play was assembled next to the toddler bed for sleeping and temporary reassurance.  The pack and play remained up for both naps and bedtime, while the fancy new toddler bed sat lonely, only getting an occasional hop, pretending to put Mommy down for a nap or movie time cuddles.

Despite the obvious lack of space in the confining pack and play, Parker chose to sleep there and didn’t try to climb out until this week.  She casually walked out of her room following a nap one afternoon, so I promptly set her back into the pack and play to demonstrate how she escaped.  Swinging her leg over the rail and onto her toddler bed as a step down, she proudly showed how she braved her long limbs into her escape plan.

Now, I have to say I have been ambiguous about the use of the pack and play.  In a sense it’s nice to restrict her movement when it’s time to slow down and fall asleep.  Although the structure became an obstacle in her room to manuever around and it was intended to be temporary in the transition.  I have been ready whenever she was and her climbing out seemed to be the obvious sign it was no longer necessary.

As much of an explanation can be comprehended by a two-year old, she heard it while I disassembled the pack and play.  “It’s time to use your big girl bed now,”  I told her.

“Why not?”  She asks, as this is the standard response for questioning even when the ‘not’ part doesn’t fit in.  She appeared bothered, as if the folding boards thinly covered in foam and synthetic material was the most comfortable sleeping arrangement possible.  After some convincing Parker was more excited about the impending night back in her new bed.

Bedtime loomed closer, I felt my nerves rising.  Would she stay in her bed, would she fall asleep and would she stay asleep through the night.  No matter how often I try to prepare, it’s impossible to predict the behavior to expect from a toddler.  Our nighttime routine stayed exactly the same and when it was time I laid her down just as smoothly as I had the previous night in the pack and play.  Momentary success as I closed the door and wished Parker sweet dreams.

I continued my evening downstairs until nearly an hour later I could hear her footsteps, then the door knob and then her chattering.  Back upstairs I went, preparing to set a strict tone of needing to stay in bed.

“I not sleepy Mommy,” she pleaded to me with her big brown eyes as I escorted her back to her door.  “I stinky Mommy,” she said with more urgency.  “I need to go potty, need to go potty,” she said rapidly as a final distraction before I silently steered her back into her room.  Climbing into bed she reiterated “I stinky Mommy.”  I knew she was using any tactic possible to delay going to bed, and I also figured while I was there I should check her claims to be sure.  Against my wishes I switched on her lamp and asked her to stand up to peek in the back of her pull-up.  Sure enough, she needed to be changed.

Parker was delighted to have a captive audience now, she released her delirious inner comedian while I laid her down to wipe her clean.  She sang The Wheels on the Bus using different tunes, voices and tempos with each line.  I did my best to contain laughter, knowing it would only encourage her more.  I couldn’t keep from smiling at her ridiculous state and was relieved to have my face in the shadow of the light so she couldn’t see my response.  Parker went back to bed easily and sang herself to sleep.

All this week we have been redirecting her back to bed, though each night seems less and less.  We also have been getting up several times during the night to bring her back to bed when she comes into our room after we have gone to sleep.  The second night in her big girl bed I woke up early in the morning to find her laying between us, oblivious to when shesleeping arrived or how she climbed up, although from her mummified sleep I knew she had been there a while.  Since I was exhausted from the frequent wake-ups the night before, I fell back asleep before having a conscious thought about needing to move her back.

The next few nights were more of the same.  Redirections to go back to her own bed, and carrying her back to her room after we had gone to sleep.  One early morning my husband awoke when he heard her door knob and from his position in bed he had a clear view of her charge from her room to my side of the bed.  My recollection of the event was a terrifying jolt from my peaceful slumber by an excited tot, exercising her new-found freedom from the confinement of a pack and play.           

Hits & Misses

Spending all day with my sweet little girl it’s impossible to give her undivided attention all the time.  It would be lovely to just get to play nanny and focus only on her, unfortunately I have to play housekeeper, cook, chauffeur, and house manager cohesively.  This conflict of roles lends it’s self to many hits and misses as far as connections we get to have as mother and daughter thoughout the day.

We both have times when we deny each other’s affections, when the opposite is fulfilled by a task.  Like this morning while she ate her breakfast I began preparing a crafting collage until she finished eating and promptly decided she needed to be sitting in my lap.  I held her off with distractions in her own chair as long as I could and somehow she ended up crawling her way back into my lap, blinding my efforts with scissors and paper with her curly brown locks.  Eventually I gave in and assumed the project would have to wait.  We pulled down the Play-Doh for her to roll and press shapes, this time it was her brushing mommy’s affection.  It’s just so hard for me to resist her enthusiastic smile and positive energy, I want to swoop in to her kissable cheeks and savor the moment.  And as if she suddenly incarnates a “too cool for parents” teenaged attitude her shoulder comes up to block her cheek – too busy for a kiss right now.

Those moments of craving attention are frequently coorelated with times of being tired or hungry, and when this is the case there is lot of whining involved.  My response to the whining is encouragement for her to use her words, and when that doesn’t seem to make an impact I tell her I think she might be tired and needing a nap.  This technique usually works since naps are the enemy and she would never volunteer herself for one.  Except since this has been my response to her whining, she has begun beating me to the punch.  She informs me: “I’m going to take a nap,” when I have repeatidly told her I can’t hold her while I am cooking.  She doesn’t actually take a nap though, she just leaves for a minute and usually brings back a toy from her room.

I have to learn to not be hard on myself about the misses.  I can’t entertain, hold, clean and fix everything for her and I have to be okay with her being upset about that sometimes.  It makes it easier to accept the rough parts of the days when there are so many hits of the days to look back on and appreciate.

The mornings we stay extra long in bed pulling the covers over our heads to play with a flashlight.  Dancing in our living room for hours on end stomping, twirling and shaking with laughter and songs.  And closing each day with reading books, snuggles and kisses.  There are so many moments when it’s just me and Parker, when I am completely present with her.  In those moments she heals me from the chaos of life, problems in the world and the grown up worries which consume my mind most other waking hours of the day.  For now though, I had better go finish my collage while she takes her nap.

Under The Covers

Under The Covers

Like Mother, Like Daughter and Daughter

“You have to slow down and watch what you are doing,” the words escaped my mouth echoing from my own childhood.  My mom would calmly and assertively interfere in careless actions or growing frustration with this statement.  Now decades later with my own child it seems an automatic response, my mom’s words filtering through my mouth.  When I first noticed this and other comments I have relayed to Parker, I couldn’t help to stop and think I am turning into my mom.

I know this thought evokes a comedic horror for many, the idea of resembling parents.  For me, the thought of turning into my mom carried a chuckle in a different sense, there is no way I can live up to who my mom is.  It would be a blessing if I could maintain a portion of her patience, an ounce of her generosity, or a sliver of her organization.  I envy her diligence and work ethic while I have mastered procrastination – efficiency under pressure.  She is the most dependable person you will encounter, and since she is a horrible liar you know you can trust exactly what she says she will do.  There are so many incredible characteristics my mom emulates, it wouldn’t be a burden to be more like her.  So I guess if I mimic some of her phrases, that’s just fine with me.

Nana & Parker

Nana & Parker

If I do my job right, decades from now, Parker won’t mind repeating my words either.  These days she is constantly cracking me up with the things I tell her for encouragement or warning which get reflected back to me.  Parker congratulates me with “Good job Mommy,” when I use the toilet.  She cautions me to “Be careful Mommy,” when I am mopping and the floor it wet.

I so appreciate the statements from both my mom and my daughter.  It’s a small reminder of the beautiful generations of women in my family, strong influences who have shaped who we are and how we think.

Sentimentally Adorable

prairieback“Dressing her in ‘Little House on the Prairie’ again?” my husband remarked at the sight of our daughter dressed on Easter morning.  Without clear intention to find this dress I stumbled upon it the night before in a box my mom had given to me.  The box contains my three decade old baby book, a kindergarten t-shirt, a hideous beaded shirt friends signed at my 9th birthday party, and countless school and girl scout projects.  The real treasures of the time capsule are the clothes my mom made for me when I was little including a lavender dress with white smocked pinafore.  It may be slightly home on the prairie, still it is too sentimentally adorable not to have my daughter wear it too.

We had a family celebration on Saturday at my parent’s house where Parker wore a new, very cute, brightly colored, springy dress.  Then Sunday our plan was to go back again for dinner with more family.  Despite there being plenty of dresses to choose from in her closet; I opted to take it back to 1986 or 1886 depending on how you look at it.  I knew no one else cared what she looked like on Easter and my mom would appreciate and love it.

prairieprofile

Finally with spring weather arriving we were able to play out in the yard on Sunday morning.  Her Easter basket from Nana contained some fun outdoor activities like bubbles and chalk.  Parker also got her first glimpse of flying a kite, though with trees and power lines constricting the yard it wasn’t as entertaining as I remember from my childhood.    She was delighted watching me run back and forth across the yard to get it up a few feet, and when it was her turn she was thoroughly disappointed when she didn’t get the same result.  Perhaps another try in a park or open prairie would be worthwhile.

prairiekite

prairie1

           Out of curiosity…

                 Would you dress up your child in

                            something you wore at their age?

Bye Bye Bye Baby

Some weeks I look back and wonder, how did that happen? I had one of those weeks recently where in a mindless one activity to the next, I looked back and distraughtly noticed three major milestones conquered in days for my two-year old.

First, the adventures in potty training, I have written about them before just waiting for the momentum to really pick up and for her to grasp onto the concept. Finally it was me who committed hard-core, she wore big girl panties and a t-shirt at home most of the week. Strongly motivated by candies after successful tolieting and a rigorously timed routine of going to try about every 30 minutes she had very few wet accidents. She even stayed dry during an overnight in Nana’s bed, which after hearing about it made me panic since I had not warned Nana we were not there yet at home and she still wears diapers at night.

In the same week I assembled and painted her new big girl bed. With no plan or intention of making the transition, I just happened to have the time to work on the project. However, some days I end up being like the Mouse and the Cookie, with one step leading right into another. Before I really realized what I was doing her crib was disassembled in the basement and she was jumping up and down on her new big girl bed.

babaThe last major milestone was a completely happy accident. I don’t feel strongly about an age where pacifiers are unnecessary for other people’s children. For my child, I felt she was old enough and still she was hanging on to them. Despite chewing off the tips of the nipples and looking completely unappetizing, she would still cry for her “baba” to go to sleep or to ride in the car. She had been warned these would be the last baba’s she would have and when they were gone, they were gone for good. I frequently asked her if her baba was broken and if she wanted to throw it away, she did throw some away and as she realized she was down to her last one she lingered over the trash can a few times before deciding it wasn’t broken enough.

One evening before bed we searched the house together upstairs and downstairs, in the kitchen, in the bedrooms, in the bathrooms and through every nook and cranny to find her last baba, it went missing. I honestly did search hard, I was nervous about her big changes and adapting to life without her baba AND being in a new bed. At the same time I was silently cheering, the unnecessarily dependent relationship with this wrecked piece of plastic was finally going to be over.

After a good long search we had a talk about the baba being gone. My two-year old melted onto the floor for a few brief seconds and then went back to being excited about her new big girl bed. She asked for a baba a few times since and calmly settled herself when we talked about how it was gone.

A few days after the baba disappeared, it reappeared under the couch where I hadn’t been able to spot it before. I hurried to it before she noticed to keep it gone for good this time.

Miss Independence

trainingpantsandcheeseThe other morning PJ woke up with wild bed head, we put on her training pants and a sweatshirt. She also strapped on her white glossy church shoes which will accessorize any outfit in her two-year-old mind, all to come to the kitchen for breakfast. When I asked her what she wanted to eat she replied “cheese,” despite it not being a meal this is an improvement from her usual response of “juice.” Before I could even get back to her about what breakfast meal to eat she opened the fridge and helped herself to the remains of the parmesan cheese container.

On another note, potty training has been a big success this week with a little sugary reinforcement. Maybe too good since she is now trying to go potty without my help so she can flush and say she went to get a treat then turn around to try to potty again two minutes later for another treat. Nice try smarty pants, not gonna pull one over on me yet

Life is always entertaining with this silly sweetheart, I love being her mommy.

Happy Sleep

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Just a photograph to share from this past weekend. Parker had a busy morning playing with cousins and caught some quick zzz’s before an afternoon birthday party. I have a friend who loves to check in on her little ones while they sleep peacefully and says it’s the best moments to catch them looking angelic. I, on the other hand, don’t reenter the toddler bedroom until I hear her calling for me or on the occasions I have to wake her up to be somewhere.

Hope you get some happy sleep tonight.

Just Like Winning The Lottery

I’m a little out of the loop on child development research and all of the very specific (I’m sure very useful yet soon to be out of date) information on toddler potty training. It seems there is a treasure trove of data regarding when to start, how to schedule and what reinforcement should look like in regards to toileting. On the one hand, had I taken advantage of what knowledge is out there I could have an underwear wearing two-year-old. On the other hand I could have spent hours carefully plotting my methods and then banging my head against the wall when my independently minded two-year-old sabotages my agenda (speaking from experience.) Needless to say, we bought a seat for her and have crossed our fingers for the last six months she would gain interest and decide when she is ready.

potty

In the last week she has requested “pooh-poddy” (she has a habit of creating her own nicknames for things) and successfully completed #1’s and #2’s in the toilet. YES – Progress! There were plenty more diaper changes than uses of the pooh-poddy, progress nonetheless.

And when she makes the request to remove her diaper and give it a try, I sit on her bathroom stool patiently observing her face grimacing and squeezing pause. When she sees my expression in response to the sound I hear in the toilet she looks as startled and happy as me. Parker receives high fives and praises. We have invited in daddy and any house guests who happen to be there to also give congratulatory high fives. We have called Nana’s and Papa’s on the phone to share the news and hear their encouraging “yay, big girl!” Her pride in a job well done is so enthusiastic.

And after she has properly wiped, flushed and washed; Parker gets a rewarding treat, of the Peez variety. She holds her treat between two fingers with an exploding grin. She dances and displays her prize holding it out long in front of her “Look mommy, look daddy… Look.” Finally, sometimes after some redirection, she finally puts it in her mouth and quickly chews it until it’s gone. She has so much energy and excitement about her new found accomplishment, just like she has won the lottery.