Just today on Instagram, I posted this photo and comment:
This is Damien to a T. Gives me a smirk then walks just off the path. #rulebreaker
And the photo truly does sum up Damien in so many ways. He likes to assert his personality and have his way. He likes to test his limits.
Store shelves? Grabs everything and puts it on the floor or throws it. Paths? Let’s walk in yards instead! Electrical sockets? Hello, holes for fingers! Breakable objects? Can spot them a mile off, has to investigate!
Nothing escapes Damien’s observation. If there’s a limit, he will test it. In the photo above, Damien stopped, gave me “the look” (a smirk), then walked purposefully onto the grass. While I am all for romping in the grass when appropriate, he thinks running into people’s yards or running straight for the nearby road is great fun, so I’ve been trying to enforce this limit. Over and over again.
It will be interesting to see what Damien does with the Christmas tree…. Aiden never pulled off ornaments… I don’t think Damien is going to be like that ;)
The limit testing has given me a lot of incentive to revisit parenting tactics such as sportscasting, positive reframing and holding my limits. It’s a work in progress ;)
There used to be a time when a kiss could make it better. When the magic of a touch could dry the tears and warm the heart. And while a gentle touch and cuddle still do the job, there’s no more “Mommy, kiss it better!”
Instead, there’s a subtle hand sneaking up to wipe away that kiss just given. A smile and a shrug. Thanks mom, but no thanks.
They grow up quickly.
Aiden has always been a thumb sucker. I tried my hardest to get him to use a soother as a baby, since he was so fussy, but it only ever lasted a day or two. Once he could find his thumb, it was his default whenever he was tired or overwhelmed. He went through times where he would suck his thumb less, but I still would say he was a pretty heavy thumb sucker. In the car, watching tv, reading, bored – always there.
When Aiden began preschool, he was asked to stop thumb sucking there and he was ok with that. Our thought had been to kick the habit before age 5 with work to begin when he turned 4. However, not yet 4, the habit is gone. Here’s how it went down…
Aiden was at the dentist, where we discussed our plans for addressing the thumb sucking. Despite what we discussed, the dentist approached Aiden and told him that we had “agreed” to stop thumb sucking and that the dentist would give him a prize if he could do it. Well, we were like “oh crap,” but Aiden was relaxed: “Ok!” So, if he was on board, we got on board. I quickly made up a chart with an additional prize reward after 2 weeks of success, one I knew he wanted but that was a pain to get (so I’d told him he wouldn’t get for his birthday). Well, that did it. He was very highly motivated.
That night, Aiden struggled for a while, clearly saying “I’m really trying not to suck my thumb” many times. And he didn’t suck it. His complaints went down within 3 days and only from time to time is it now apparent that he is craving it. For a while, he complained of being tired throughout the day and after a while I realized it was at times when he would have otherwise sucked his thumb. Overall, it was super easy (for us) and we are so impressed with his personal drive to stop a very difficult habit. I’d say that since he kicked the thumb sucking it actually mellowed him out – perhaps he had to learn a different way to calm down or maybe the thumb was making him tired/grumpy sometimes. Nice bonus outcome.
Although Aiden no longer sucks his thumb during the day or to fall asleep, we do sometimes see him sucking his thumb during the middle of the night when he’s asleep. Since this is obviously when he is doing it unconsciously, we’ve let it slide.
The reward chart worked really well in this situation, but it has not helped at all with potty training at night. Just goes to show how readiness is a key factor in the success of these methods.
Aiden has been attending preschool for just over a year now. In September, he began attending preschool for 2 mornings a week, 4 hours each day, and recently went up to 3 days in preparation for the two socials that mark the year-end for the year. Ideally, preschool offers me a break from taking care of 2 kids full-time. In reality, that’s not usually the case.
Damien at the beach today for the 2 minutes he was happy before crying non-stop. I *thought* I would give him a relaxing day at the beach and park. Completely backfired.
Damien’s morning nap begins around the time that Aiden leaves for preschool. As the shortest of his naps, I was sometimes returning home just as Damien was waking up. Ianiv thankfully stepped in a couple of months ago to do the drop-off so that I could at least get some break / work time before Damien’s nap was over.
On a typical non-preschool day, we go to a playgroup or park or activity of some sort then return home around 11:30 or 12 for lunch and some playtime before Damien takes his nap around 1. On preschool days, our schedule is much different.
After Damien is awake from his nap, I try to keep him home when I can, but he often is antsy to get out. Most days, he’s not ready to go out before 10am, so the more age-appropriate playgroups don’t line up with us spending solo time in that way. Most days, we run errands, which means many trips for him in and out of the car seat. Some days we return home for lunch and some play, but I need to time it correctly or he will want to go for his nap before we even leave the house to go pick up Aiden. Many times, I’ve had to take him out for some random errand again before pick-up because he’s simply beside himself wanting to nap.
Today’s Hectic Example
Today, I rushed Damien out after his nap (which had been both early and short), hoping for some relaxing time at the beach followed by lunch at home – no errands, just a Mommy & Damien day!
I took Damien for his snack at a cafe first, since Mommy needed some more coffee after being awake since 5:20am. After 2 minutes in the sand, he had a major tantrum about his hat being on and simply would not calm down after that. I tried to walk him to the water, but he sat down and cried. I took him to the park, which occupied him for 5 minutes, but he burst into tears when I tried to sit and play with him. Hours too early to return home for lunch, I ran some random errands in West Van to fill time and bought him some Tylenol. He was still frantic, so I decided to feed him out rather than return home with him in that state. He calmed down some after a big lunch, but we now had no time left to return home, so I took him to another park to kill 20 minutes before preschool pick-up. He was down for his nap by 1:30.
Damien is always a little out-of-sorts on preschool days without Aiden around, but the past 1-2 weeks have been particularly hard. Damien is going through a period that mirrors his worst colicky days, so I would say it’s probably deep teething pain. Not content at home or anywhere I take him, we end up having to go to even more places than usual, and it’s so damn exhausting.
So, while I have a break from Aiden, it’s not always a break for me! Once Damien is over this hump of fussiness, it should calm down…
One of the biggest struggles I’ve had to adjust to in having 2 kids is my need for personal space. This struggle began when Damien was born, who turned into another high needs baby, and was intensified when Aiden stopped napping (when Damien was 2 months old). 10 months later, parenting a 3.5 year old and a 1 year old, I struggle with this issue on a daily basis.
I’d like to tell you I love every moment I spend with my kids. But that’s the thing. It’s every moment. From the time they wake up, I have no time to myself until they go to bed. On preschool days, I sometimes luck out and Damien takes a longer morning nap. I use this time to relax a tiny bit, but mostly to work. Other days, Damien’s nap times are spent with Aiden having “special Mommy Aiden time”, which he really needs. He’s a cuddly kid who needs a lot of attention.
Since Aiden still gets tired in the middle of the day, and so do I, Aiden is allowed to watch some tv during part of Damien’s afternoon nap. Thankfully, this nap is almost always over an hour (it wasn’t for many months). I used to sit with Aiden to watch his shows most days, but honestly I still felt overwhelmed. When I sit there, Aiden asks me a lot of questions (which is great to moderate the tv experience, I know) and often wants to sit in my lap. That’s not really giving me the space I need.
Instead, most days I spend the majority of the tv experience doing other things: cleaning, organizing, having my lunch, doing stuff around the house. This time is interrupted many times by Aiden, who wants food, a drink, has a question, needs the episode changed, etc. It’s not a time I can go be by myself to read a book or even to work (I tried in vain for many months, it wasn’t productive). Our house is slowly getting more organized than it has ever been. And yet I’m still wound too tightly.
I am lucky to have a husband who is very involved in parenting and often gives me a half hour to relax between dinner and bath time, who will drive Aiden to preschool to give me more time to myself when Damien is napping, who will play with both kids while I take a walk (schedule and weather permitting) or at the very least clean the kitchen and make coffee in the morning.
Although I may struggle for ‘down time’, taking care of the kids full time and working, it’s this lack of personal space that overwhelms me. I don’t have a solution. Anyone else struggle with this?