I read a lot of parenting blogs - mainly to steal ideas. Last week, I read a blog post from a father stating that he thought he was going to go insane and be committed because of his daughter's two-year molars. I thought this was serious overreach but funny. Now it's my turn, and I am not laughing.
Shortly after a child turns two, the four back molars make their appearance. This experience takes teething to a whole new level. I thought ten new teeth last year was evil. Try four large ones each with four peaks. They come slowly and make my son fine one minute, crazy the next minute and pop a fever the next minute. Thank God for Motrin.
Last round of molars (the lower 2) cut during his week of stomach virus when I was supposed to be out of town. This week, his upper 2 molars come on the heels of a consultant flying across country to give my employer feedback about various aspects of our school including my department. His daycare sent him home with a 100 degree fever and now I have been scrambling all day to find daycare for Thursday. It's the ultimate game of logistics. This person can babysit these two hours and this person can babysit these two hours.
There is no death by molar over here. This situation will sort itself out. It's days like this that make being a single parent harder than heck. I need some peace - and a free live-in nanny STAT.
All day I have been telling myself to "be water." Be shapeless, formless and just flow. Stress is happening now all around me, but I can get through it if I just "be water". Thank you Bruce Lee. (Don't worry, I have his full passage below.) It sounds so easy, yet so hard to do. I try to let things happen without my judgement or intervention, but too often today, I crashed.
It's Monday. That means returning to work and daycare. We do this EVERY WEEK and yet, he forgets. This morning was effortless. After some minor whining about his teeth, he was up and dressed eating Cheerios by the fist full. After I washed his hands in daycare, he turned and immediately transitioned into play effortlessly. Be water. We had Monday fooled. I ran out the door and was off to work.
Be water. Be water. Get behind your desk and be water. Finish one task, do another, eat your lunch, go for a walk, come back and be water.
It's time for pickup. My son is so giddy to see me walking towards the play ground that he squeals. As I approach the fence, he is now jumping and down. He can no longer contain himself so he turns to his buddy and pow, right in the face. His mom tries to console him and my son tries to knock him down. My son is water in the form of a hurricane tearing up a pier. He is water so happy and out of control that he can't stop himself from hurting the ones around him.
I freeze behind the gate watching this happen since the scene is playing out directly in front of the door. My son is uncontainable. He runs for the play ground trying to out run us. We gather him. He is laughing and fighting at the same time. Then he turns his fists on me. Be water. The teacher is shocked and trying to stop him. Be water. I turn his body to face him away from me and hold his arms. He is losing and I am quiet and focused. And dang it, I am water, boiling water.
In the car, he whimpers as I stare out the windshield. We don't speak to each other which is rare. I am trying to drive the car and remember how to breathe. He is looking out the window in disbelief. He wants to be held as we move from the car to the house. No. Be water. "Boys who hit their mother don't get carried." He cries.
Once inside, the fighting storm of a boy turns into pitiful rain drops begging to come inside for a cuddle. He is tired and hungry trying to recover from the sudden outpouring of emotion.
My son will stop hitting his friends. My son will stop hitting me. He is learning that his rage pushes away the things he loves. It just takes time and a mother who must remember, to be water. Thanks Bruce Lee.
“Be like water making its
way through cracks. Do
not be assertive, but
adjust to the object, and
you shall find a way
around or through it. If nothing
within you stays rigid, outward
things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless.
Shapeless, like water. If you put
water into a cup, it becomes the
cup. You put water into a bottle
and it becomes the bottle. You put
it in a teapot, it becomes the
teapot. Now, water can flow or it
can crash. Be water, my friend.”
~ Bruce Lee ~
My name is Amy Brown and I am addicted to my Smart Phone. It's been two minutes since I used it last. Yes, I am an addict, but I am in good company. Lately, I have been working on my addiction.
I heard a story on NPR about the link between Smart Phones and boredom. We are the people who hate to be bored. Instead of daydreaming, we reach for our phones. I listened to the story and thought about my usage. If I accidentally left my phone at home, I would drive home to get it. I have notes on my back door reminding me to bring it with me. Without it, I feel naked. Then recently, something happened.
I got a text from my phone carrier that I was reaching the 75% point of my data plan with two more weeks to go. Within minutes, I turned off my phone data and set up my home and work WiFi on my phone. Between home and work, I am phone data naked. Translation, I can't post on Facebook, I can't write entries on my blog, I can't surf the Internet nor can I make my apps do any of their fancy things. Suddenly I found myself using the phone less to ensure that I don't go over my data plan.
One week in and I think I am OK. Those times when I would check my phone, I now do other things like think, breathe, close my eyes, sit, etc. One little change in the name of finances has changed how I use my phone. So now, I can't post immediately on Facebook the cute expression of my son. I drove out of town this weekend. Instead of using my GPS, I mapped it and took a screen shot of the directions for reference. We arrived there without someone talking me through every turn.
My phone is still with me at all times. That is not changing. In fact, my two-year-old son now wants to carry his fake smart phone in his pocket in case, "he gets a call from one of his friends". Yeah. Message received.
It's a tool. It's not a third arm. It's not a friend. It's how people can reach me. Sometimes though I have to remember to look away and experience just being me for a while too.
It's 6:15pm on Tuesday. It's Pilates time. Tuesdays mean that I have to race out of work to daycare, convince my son to put on his coat, race out the door, pick up the sitter, race home, change clothes, hug the boy and drive to Pilates class. Then for the next 60 minutes, I focus on my core, form and the directions of my Pilates instructor. It's the only thing I do just for me. Tonight though was different. I wanted to turn myself into liquid, seep into the yoga mat and not go home.
Let me go back. 5:20pm, I was driving my car towards daycare. I peer reviewed 15 courses in one 8 hour day. My eyes were glued to my monitor and my back formed a small C by 5pm. I was frustrated, tired and mad that I was once again leaving work late on my Pilates night. Traffic seemed heavier than normal so I was testy.
I arrived at daycare, last parent to arrive. Three kids in the room with two mommies present. My son was relieved that I was finally there. He immediately runs to the pretend kitchen to make me soup for dinner. I am signing him out and trying to figure out the quickest way to get him out of the room. Suddenly he takes off and starts hitting his friends in the room like an episode of the Three Stooges. Now instead of putting on his coat, I am trying to get him to say he is sorry to his friends. It's not happening. Instead, he turns his rage to me. Arms are swinging. I am getting punched, hard, in the face. I am overwhelmed. My only response was to pull his arms down, wrap my arms around this arms, face him away from me and run. It worked. We are in the car.
Our family has the rage. I am worked up thanks to peer review, too many things to accomplish in one day at work and assorted other private things. My son has parted ways with his beloved passy, growing two-year molars, loaded to the brim with mucus and pushing himself to great bounds of tired whenever possible. As I laid there on my yoga mat this evening considering the idea of not going home, I thought about our rage. It's OK. It sucks, but it's OK.
I did come home. My son still has to make peace in a world without his passy. Tonight, I put my son to bed early to help him get more rest. I actually have the TV to myself right now. I got to eat my dinner from beginning to end without his assistance. Tomorrow, we will try again. I have some ideas and strategies to try when his fists start to fly. We are going to help each other through this rage phase. That's what families do.
I knew this day would come but I never thought it would be like this. Today is the first day that my son believes that our house holds no more pacifiers. It's weird being on this site of the "passy", that's what we called it.
Until this day, my son needed a passy to sleep and when he was tired. Taking it out of his mouth was the last thing we did when we left the house and finding it was the first thing we did on arrival. As he ate his meal, it sat beside his plate always in his view. In the middle of the night, if he could not find it in his bed, he woke me up to find it or bring a new one. This small piece of plastic dictated his happiness and actions.
His old daycare did not allow pacifiers in the toddler room so he learned a year ago how to go without it during the day. At that time, I made it a rule that it would never leave the house. If he could go all day without it at daycare, then he could go without it on the weekends.
So the passy became more important since it was associated with home, comfort and mommy time since I was one of the rare people who saw him with it. So, it's only fitting that he saw me bring it to an end. Let me explain.
My son, like most toddlers, is going through phases of showing his frustration through hitting, especially hitting me. At home when he hits me, he gets put in timeout immediately. He has to say he is sorry and hug me to get out after several minutes in his room. Time out works for my son. It changes his behavior and gives him a safe place to calm down. Lately though, the hitting has been increasing. So I stepped up the game by taking away his passy.
This morning at breakfast, my son lost his mind. He threw a small fit at the table throwing forks. So, I gave him another fork stating that if he did that again, that I would throw a passy away in the trash. Seconds later, he looked at me in the face and threw the fork. Up I stood then plopped a passy in the trash in front of him. He looked shocked and stopped immediately. I was tested and proved that I meant what I said. His behavior changed immediately.
About an hour later, my son's barber texted me to see if we wanted to come in for a trim. Thanks to snow and sickness, everyone is behind and using the weekend to catch up. I said yes. When we arrived, his barber was cutting a man's hair. My son typically sits in my lap for a cut so that I can hold him. Last cut was his first time not crying during the cut. He seemed excited about his turn calling the trimmer a lawnmower.
Then it happened. my son lost his mind again. He was sitting in my lap sweet as pie and then he started to swing hitting me in the face multiple times. I placed him on the ground and he kept trying to reach my face laughing all the while. I picked him up asking him to stop trying to lecture a two year old. It continued. It escalated. When I put him in the car earlier, he thought it was funny that I forgot to ask him to leave his passy. I took it instantly once I realized. While holding him in my arms while trying to dodge the swings, I remembered this - that the passy was sitting in my cup holder in the front seat.
I grabbed my keys and in the rain I took him out to the car, grabbed the passy and walked to the trash can outside. I announced that the passy was going into the trash for hitting me. He watched and calmed down immediately. His barber, a father of a young son, saw what was happening and we talked about the importance of tough love, standing your ground and not letting your child dictate the situation.
At that time, it was his turn for a cut. As we walked to the chair, his barber grabbed my son insisting that he could sit in the chair by himself. My son cried, reached for me and squirmed but with some stern words, he became quiet and sat still for the majority of the cut. He did great. I was close by, less than one foot away all of the time.
My son had the snubs the entire way home - you know that noise that you make when you have been crying really hard and you are still trying to recover. He napped for two hours in his bed then woke up asking for his passy. Sorry baby, but remember you watched me throw it away in the trash when you would not stop hitting me. He didn't believe me. So he ran to the kitchen where I stored the extra, clean ones. I hid them. Gone.
Of course the day is young. He is still asking for his passy, but I say, sorry baby, remember I threw it away when you would not stop hitting me. I hope to make this stick. We are one nap down without passy so far. The rest of the day and the next few days will be a tough, but I plan to stand my ground. My son will learn that hitting is wrong and not a great way to get attention.