Category: Parenthood

Three Year Olds: Causing Parents Everywhere to Swear Off Future Children

Yep.  I'm three now!

Yep. I’m three now!

Guys.

Seriously.

What is this age?

I’m starting to think that they say “Terrible Twos” to lull you into a false sense of relief.  That if you’ve made it this far it’s only downhill from here.

Wrong, friends.  I feel like I’ve been lied to, like the lying liars who repeat “You’re almost done!  Just five more minutes!”  the whole way to the summit, all 20 hours of it.

Honestly, age two wasn’t that bad.  We were armed with some pretty mad talking-her-down-from-the-ledge skills through the Harvy Karp book about toddlers (highly recommend. Although it’ll make you unappreciative of three).  What his book didn’t cover, however, was how to handle, not tantrums, but just naughty.

It’s like she’s suddenly become super aware of this deep desire to light her hair on fire just to watch it burn.  You’re going down with me suckers!

I have become that person.  You know, the one that seeks out the parents of other delinquent three year olds, digging for stories of parental frustration and toddler nastiness to ease my own burden.  Why not suffer together, I say.  And yet, for those who are blessed with angelic spawn that listen and share and don’t ever hit, the conversation becomes rather bleak, punctuated with squints, wrinkled noses, and blank stares (thoughts of “Oh my child would never do that!” written all over their face).

Which leads to more digging for veterans who can tell me:  It’s normal.  It’s a phase.  It’s ____ (fill in the blank with whatever will help you feel better).

Grandparents are generally sympathetic but find these stories a bit funnier than they should, the universal payback from all the horrors we caused in our three-year-old life.  Don’t worry Anne.  Someday you’ll have a three year old that will also terrorize you and cause you to question every bit of parenting skill you have.  And I’ll be there to laugh a little too hard and send her home when she is a butthead.

So for the millions out there suffering, I have a feel-good pick-you-upper.  The other night we were snuggling and giggling and completely out of nowhere she bonked me on my cheek.  Seriously.  WHAT JUST HAPPENED?  After losing every privilege I could come up with and sending her to bed, I was wracking my brain for the cause.  What was it I had done to cause this mental break in my child?

And I was like OH ya.  She totally got that from me.  You know, when we were just hanging out and I thought it would be funny to kick her dad in the back of the knee.  Shoot.  I should probably stop doing stuff like that in front of her and maybe she’ll stop copying me.

Anne, when you’re ready to return from your out of body experience, we’re ready for you.  And we love you.  And hopefully all this spice will translate into a rockin teenager who will be the easiest person on the planet to get along with and we will love you even when you drive your car into a ditch.  As long as the car is okay, of course.

Seriously.  I love being a Mom (said with all sincerity in the world and almost as much sarcasm).  How is it so?  I just wish I knew what the heck I was doing.  It seems like you sure do.

Road Trips & Toddlers: Keeping the Crazy to a Minimum

If you’ve been following my Instagram feed lately, it’s pretty clear we’ve been up to stuff.

On a whim I decided to tag along on a weekend trip to my brother’s house with my Mom and Anne.  Ryan just finished up in court (Oh yes. Weeks of jury duty has come to a close!) so we let him have a bachelor weekend to decompress.  As full-time Dad to our supersonic daughter, or Princess Anne-uh as she has been calling herself, I would say it was well earned.

Anne told me her favorite part of the trip was the dancing.  Her boy cousins entertained her like you wouldn’t believe.  Dance parties x 4.  “Hey fancy dog!  Do you want to dance?”  Go ahead and Google the dog breed Catan.  That is the fancy dog of which she speaks.

She also spent a ton of time at their Lego table and only tried to stick them up her nose once.  I’d say it was a success.

My Precious!

Kids toys be creepy.  My precious!

On the way home we got caught in the weekend traffic. It took two extra hours due to a “one hour delay.”  Right.

Needless to say the day started out with calm spiritual music and books on tape.  It ended with Fall Out Boy.  (She calls it the “dark, dark” or the “day, day” song.  She sings along and will ask for it repeatedly.  I dream to someday stealthily capture it on film.)

Toddler Road Trip Lessons (because you can’t plug a 2 year old into Ninjago and take a nap)

Toys and Books!

We brought all her favorites and added a few of the newest hits.  She spent a long time with her doctor kit making the baby feel better.

Toddler Car Trip Toy House

She somehow managed to get to her doll house and proceeded to play with it like this for an hour.

 

My only tip:  Make sure your child can reach their toys so you don’t get car-seat-burn on your arm from constantly fetching stuff.  But honestly, you might end up fetching it any way.  I know our girl thinks the most logical thing to do with a toy she’s done playing with is to toss it.

Speaking of…

Dry erase crayons are awesome—to throw.

We laminated some coloring pages a few months ago and thought it would go great with her new car seat activity tray.  I figured it was a pull-out-the-stops activity for when she got bored/frustrated.   Major problem:  Crayons are excellent ammunition.  And you can bet the ones we didn’t find will melt into the upholstery once the sun comes out.  *Fingers crossed we got them all*

Favorite Activities

  • Play I Spy or talk about all the things you can see outside.
  • Lights!  We have a star nightlight she loves to bring along.  She will put her fingers over it to make different shapes on the ceiling.  Low power flashlights are fun too.
  • American Girl Magazines—or any toy magazines—but those are her favorite.
  • Magnetic doodle board.  She will doodle on her own or we will draw her stuff like letters, numbers, or shapes to guess.
  • Play What’s that Sound?  We downloaded White Noise Lite  for bedtime but ended up using it most of the trip.  My mom and Anne had to guess the following crazy sounds that were on there:  dripping water (Really?  This is the kind of thing that keeps me awake!  Does someone actually like falling asleep to this?), vacuum cleaner, purring cat, clock, heartbeat, hair dryer, lightning, fire, waves, crickets, frogs, dryer, dishwasher, airplane, car, etc etc etc.  There are 50 I think.  I don’t know why but we laughed—a lot.

Car Trip Thumbs Up

Snacks, snacks, snacks.

Our child isn’t necessarily a picky eater but she’s a fickle one.  If she’s not in the mood for something, she will. not. eat. it.  We were having dessert the other day and Grandpa walked in eating some freeze dried peaches.  I was just handing her a cup of ice cream when she said “No Mommy!  No ice cream!  I want peaches!”  Whoa there.  Whose child is this?

Anne’s favorites: bananas, crackers, cheese, cashews, fruit leather, reusable pouches filled with coconut yogurt and apple sauce, etc.

So.  Bring lots of variety but…

Be careful not to snack or drink constantly.

Road trips are the perfect storm for cavities.  (I saw that eye roll!)  Try not to overdo sticky stuff, hard candies, sugar or fruit drinks, crackers, fruit snacks, etc.

Have them eat it up and be done for a while.  You are actually much less likely to get cavities eating 20 pieces of candy all at once than sucking on 6 pieces of candy all day long.

Then follow up with nuts, cheese sticks, or sugar free mints (or gums for older kids) to bring the acid levels down and strengthen the teeth with calcium.

(Sorry.  Day job coming through.  You think I just know this because I am in the dental field.  No friends.  I am in the dental field because I got tons of cavities. I guess you can take the girl out of the dental office…)

Hide the goods.

Hold out your best tricks for as long as possible.  Don’t let on there is anything else in store until you absolutely have to.  You don’t want to hit bumper to bumper traffic and already have blown your gummy bears or favorite episode of Yo Gabba Gabba.

Once you reach that point, though, got for it!

Toddler Car Trip Paci

After 10 hours in the car with another hour to go, the toddler gets whatever the toddler wants.   She wants her bedtime-only pacifier?  She can have it.  She “needs” another sippy of juice?  Fine.  At this point we are all just trying to survive.

If necessary, I will even to sing all 107 verses of Old MacDonald to keep the screaming to a minimum.  Sanity can be hard to come by on a long car trip and even less so when small children are involved.

Guess how we ended the trip!  We did our first successful car-seat-to-bed sleeping child transfer.  It was a bit surreal.  We kept looking at each other in shock.  “Did that really just work?”

Meltdowns, Mania, and Keeping Things Interesting

Our two year old is beginning to outsmart us.

While taking the leap from baby to toddler, the child formerly known as delightful transformed into a tantrum-throwing Amazon-cave-girl. We struggled to know how to help her (and ourselves), and how to talk her down from the ledge of horrible meltdowns that just kept on coming.

Her pediatrician recommended the book/video “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” by Harvey Karp. The baby version of this saved our first-time-parent butts a few times, so we were hopeful.

We read it, we watched it, we tried it, we loved it. It was completely bizarre but it actually worked.

We won at parenting! Gold medal for us! #victorylap #ourworkhereisdone

However, with Anne’s third birthday only four months away, the tables have slowly started to turn. She now sees our tactics for what they are, sincere and heartfelt as they may be, and knows they really do work. Like the snugly teddy bear who’s soft embrace lulls her to sleep, she sees our “help” as a sneak attack and is not about to let that SOB take her down.

We make feisty babies. What can I say.

Between the firecracker that is Anne and the sickness that took our house by storm, our two year old has been in rare form lately.

Reasons For Anne’s Best Meltdowns:

  • Sams Club and Costco are closed.
  • She wants to budget on Daddy’s computer.
  • She closed the door.
  • I closed the door.
  • Today is not her birthday.
  • She wants to go to Lowe’s.
  • She didn’t dance during the opening music for My Little Pony and now wants to rewind it. If we do, she still doesn’t dance and will ask me to do it again…so she can still not dance.
  • It’s the wrong paci. The other three are wrong too.
  • She wants to look at clocks. Or mirrors. Or vacuums.
  • We are leaving the toy isle. (This happens whether we spend two minutes here or two hours, if I give her lots of warning or none. One can never spend enough time with un-purchased toys, apparently.)
  • She threw her favorite toy.
  • She didn’t push all the buttons on the soda machine.
  • We put away the food she’s refused to touch for the past 45 minutes.
  • She needs to wear her fancy dress.

I foresee no real danger of becoming bored with this one around.

P.S.  This post was inspired by the  Reasons My Son is Crying blog.  It tickles my funny bone in the very best way.

10 Things Toddlers Do Just to Screw With You

Has your toddler ever asked for chicken sticks and then refused to eat them? I’m pretty sure my kid does tons of these things just to screw with me. Big time.

10. Refuses to get in the bathtub.  Then refuses to get out.

9. Holds a pose for as long as it takes me to almost take a picture and then immediately flee. 90% of the pictures we have taken in the past two years look like this:

Toddler Blur
To be fair it’s a pretty accurate representation of her.

8. Crying for whomever is not around and once she gets said person cries for someone else.

7. Hides her pacifier then asks for another one, repeating the process until she has the greatest paci stash of all time.  She’s no fool.  She knows she only gets them at bedtime.

6. Wakes up minutes after I have fallen asleep.  Wake up any other time the rest of the night, little girl, and I wouldn’t even care.  She must know that in those first few minutes after sleep has swept over me I am completely and udderly incoherent.  I am forced to groggily stumble around, fetch her a sip of water (because you can bet she will not go back to bed until she has it) and change her diaper, all the while drunkenly tripping on toys and falling into the walls.

5. Reorganizes.

Our toddler tipped over a case of water bottles and filled it with toys

Would you like some toys with your water?

No need to help.  I’m really great at losing things all on my own.

4. When my toddler decides it’s time for solitary play she completely ignores everyone else. That is until I answer the phone, pull out a book, or do some work on the computer. At this point she has nothing to do but sit in my lap and mess with whatever I am doing. She doesn’t seem to care if I am staring at the wall but balance my check book? Oh ho no!

Just because I am busy doing my own thing doesn’t mean you get to Mom.

3. Flitting around like a hummingbird, dancing, running, high-kick ninja jumping but when there is something two feet away she doesn’t feel like getting herself “Mommy do it.”  I don’t.  Yet she is nothing if not persistent.

2. Throwing both a tantrum–and her pacifier. Then sobbing because she doesn’t have it anymore.
And Finally…

The Number One Way My Toddler Likes to Screw With Me:

Stuff My Toddler Does to Screw With Me.  Refusing food she's requested.  Or anything else we have in the pantry.

Potty Mouth Training

My sweet little princess has a way with words.  Swear words.  It seems to me that all children arrive with the ability to not only identify cuss words but sense their power to cause an immediate response from any adult in the area.  All the ‘Excuse Me!’s in the world could never compete with a well placed F-bomb.  Are you paying attention now?

I’m embarrassed to admit that my daughter has a potty mouth.  She says damnit.  It started about a year ago whenever she’d awake from a nap and realize her diaper had failed her once again.  And oh how the profanity would fly!  We knew before we hit her crib that it was time to do another load of pee soaked laundry.  Ahh sheet!

Who knows where she got that from, right?  I blame the Little Einsteins.  They seem like an unsavory bunch.

It seemed that whatever attention we brought to it whether it be matter-of-fact instruction, scolding, timeouts, and even more serious trouble, the more powerful and tempting it became. And more frequent. Her 2 year brain found a way to meet our match.

So far we’ve found the best course of action is to first scold without emotion (no frowning, laughing, smiling, chuckling, etc)  and then ignore her. Holy crap.  It’s hard.  It’s so freakin hard to ignore.  Stored somewhere within my Mommy brain is the urge to dress her for a blizzard in 60 degree weather and the overwhelming feeling that swearing is like electrocution or falling down a flight of stairs. Every parenting cell in my body calls for immediate action.   Ignoring it is dangerous.

This approach works if you can pull it off.  It does.  Much better than anything else we’ve tried.  But the results come excruciatingly slowly.  And it requires us to hold our poker faces long enough for her to lose interest. Do you know how long that takes for a Lets-Do-It-Again two year old? Ryan and his mom once had to endure two whole minutes of profanity after she overheard a fellow walmart shopper say the D word.  Two minutes!  That means she said it at least a hundred times.  In public.  They were not amused.

That girl is seriously resistant to training or conditioning or whatever you want to call it.   It must be my blood running through her veins.

Don't let her fool you.

Don’t let her fool you.

How do you deal with the potty mouth? What has worked for you? Or does anything work? We are seriously starting to wonder….-

Ah Poop. Potty Training Chronicles

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Our 2 1/2 year old has been dabbling in potty training for the past year. We thought “Oh my, she’s so advanced! Already going on the toilet at only 18 months…” We didn’t say it. I mean of course we didn’t say it. We hate hearing crap like that from other parents but you can bet deep down we were secretly feeling it.

But of course it didn’t stick. Or rather it hasn’t yet.  Switching to panties full time will change your life forever.  I think she senses the magnitude of the decision and has resisted it wholeheartedly. Start now and you’ll never stop! Soon you’ll be married with a mortgage, a job, and two kids.

Several times I have made the statement “This is the last pack of diapers!” and returned home with new stickers, treats, books, and potty charts. Every single time she just loves it.  The whole experience.  She calls Rachel on the Potty Time ap, gets a predetermined treat she picked, and proudly shows off her pretty pink panties at the most inappropriate times (I suppose there is no appropriate time. Just varying degrees of inappropriateness).  At least that’s how it starts.  Eventually she loses interest, either when I go back to work on Monday or when she realizes she will actually have to poop in there eventually.

One positive result is the update she now gives us when she has to go.
Me: “Should we do it in the potty and get a sticker?”
Anne: “No! No!!! In my diaper!”
Me: “Ok… Are you sure? We can get a treat and call Rachel!”
Once she has left her little diaper surprise, she usually follows up with “Ya, lets go poop on the potty. Okay?!”

Oh man, the bitter tears of regret. She thinks about the reward and wants to be big but just doesn’t feel up to the process, princess seat or not. *sigh* I dream of a diaper free grocery bill.

In any case yesterday Anne stated that she had business to attend to as she crept out of sight and into the corner. She returned smelling just as fresh as before. After a bit I asked her “Did you ever poop?” to which she responded “No! I did not poop everywhere!” sounding a bit shocked and offended.  Silly mom.  What do you think this is?