Lessons Learned from a Ladder

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When you have a handy husband, you have ladders.  Sometimes those ladders get used and left out and your toddler becomes fascinated with them.

When we arrived home the other day I noticed my husband had left a ladder out underneath the pergola.  The babe and I emerged from the car and headed to the yard for some outdoor play.  I scanned the yard looking for signs of foul play and oddities. I couldn’t figure out why the ladder was in that spot underneath the pergola and it took me a moment to deduce what was different.  “Oh,” I thought relieved to have found my answer.  My husband had moved a metal cow skull from the pergola to his workshop.

When my gaze turned back to the pergola and the ladder I realized my child had decided to take advantage of my 30-second distraction and was making his way to the top of the climbing apparatus.  My adrenaline kicked up a notch and my first maternal instinct was to rip him off the ladder and knock the equipment to the ground so he couldn’t climb to the top and fall off.  I pushed those thoughts aside and opted for method number two.  I took a picture to show my husband what mischief the child was making and followed him up the ladder to provide him a buffer between himself, the ground and the possibility of a fall. When we parent our primal protective instincts can overwhelm us to try to shield our children from any and all dangerous situations they may encounter.  While this is a good inclination to possess, I think more often than not we go overboard listening to our instincts and forget that our tiny humans were created to learn and explore.  I knew straight away that my determined child would not stop until he had climbed the ladder, so instead of fighting him on the issue I let him climb while remaining a short distance away in case he needed help at some point during his new adventure.  After he reached the peak of the ladder and had his fill of playing with the tiny lights that were now in his reach he decided he wanted to come down.  He more or less turned around and practically jumped on top of me.

When we parent our primal protective instincts can overwhelm us to try to shield our children from any and all dangerous situations they may encounter.  While this is a good inclination to possess, I think more often than not we go overboard listening to our instincts and forget that our tiny humans were created to learn and explore.  I knew straight away that my determined child would not stop until he had climbed the ladder, so instead of fighting him on the issue I let him climb while remaining a short distance away in case he needed help at some point during his new adventure.  After he reached the peak of the ladder and had his fill of playing with the tiny lights that were now in his reach he decided he wanted to come down.  He more or less turned around and practically jumped on top of me so I’m glad I had taken up position a few rungs behind him.  I turned him back around and taught him the proper way to come down the ladder, one rung at a time, slowly and carefully.

We need to remember in parenting that letting our children make mistakes  and fall down and get up are all integral parts of their learning process.  We have to let them try things so they might fail things so we may teach them how to cope when they fail at things.  Or we have to let them try things to succeed at things so that we can share in their triumph  and foster their independence that, yes, they can do things on their own.

Your challenge for this week is to allow your child do something that you find somewhat terrifying.  Stay close in case they need you but let them complete whatever task or adventure on their own. If you aren’t one to just stand around feel free to join in the fun, but remember you are playing beside them, not interrupting their independence.

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I Know You Have a Babysitter

Why is that when you ask a room full of parents who has a good babysitter the answer is almost always a room full of crickets?

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is being a new parent and being leery of trusting your child into the hands of a stranger, but it’s even more frustrating when you ask a parent with a bit more experience for help and you are met with silence.

I finally threw up my hands and opted for an internet solution on Care.com.  I tried Sittercity.com first but wasn’t happy with the results, so I thought, what do I have to lose? I don’t have a babysitter and I could end up not having a babysitter. . .  I posted an ad and received an enormous amount of responses.  I combed through the responses looking through profiles and even looked through other local profiles.  I ended up messaging someone who had a profile, but hadn’t responded to my add.  We conversed a bit and then set up a date for a trial run.

The first babysitting episode I always think of as a trial run.  The babysitter comes over and my husband and I disappeared outside to his “mancave” to work on the paperwork for his business.  We were right outside in case needed and so we could monitor how things were going.

We lucked out.  The babysitter we found has turned out to be incredible.  Our son likes her, (he even asks if she is coming over), our dog approves of her and it turns out I worked with her Aunt at a previous job which further brought me comfort. (She’s also a baker which is super awesome since the person I had been using for cakes and cupcakes just moved!)

I recently had a friend ask for our babysitters information and I had a moment of hesitation.  I almost didn’t want to relinquish the information, but after I texted the babysitter to make sure it was okay with her I turned over the information.

So to those of you with a good babysitter. . . please share.  For the sake of sanity, please share.

 

The Monday Blues

Running late
Nothing new
Arrived at work
Sailed through the day
Escaping the normal
Monday hiccups

Pick up the child
Arrive home
Orchestrate dinner
Manage to clear all the dishes
With ample time to
hit the gym

Arrive early
Drop off the babe
Head to class
Waiting with the Yogi’s
Only to get a call
“We need you in the childcare”

The babe has gotten sick
I need to collect him
Please don’t return for 24 hrs
Is he really sick
Or was he crying so hard
he threw up?

I am frustrated
I wanted this class
I needed this class
By my child needed me
And his need at this moment
supersedes my own.

Dad is in class
We wander outside
Until the hiccups have passed
Back inside
Bright eyed and bushy tailed
There’s no hint of sickness.

In the bath
the truth is revealed
“A girl took my wagon
And I wanted you”
He cried because he was upset
The sickness a reflex of frustration

abruptly I want to cry
I want to give the
people at the childcare
A piece of my mind
And I plan to on our return
So these events are not recurring

But for now
I snuggle my child
try to let the frustrations melt
from my body and mind
And chalk it up knowing
Monday had the last laugh

© -LRFB

If you like poetry, check out some of my other creations here.

 

Things We Need to Teach our Children – Good Eating Habits

Good Eating Habits

I am always slightly appalled when I see people feeding small children McDonalds. We really should do better for our children.  I have a child that has survived more than two years now, never having tasted a McDonald’s anything.  I won’t lie and say my child has never eaten any sort of fast food.  There have been several occasions where he has eaten chicken strips or tenders from ChickFila or Sonic, but these events are few and far between.  I want my child to grow up liking to eat healthy foods and so I try my hardest to provide him with healthy food and to show him that I eat healthy in hopes that he will follow suit.

One thing about being a parent is that we try to model behaviors that we want our children to have.  When you want your children to eat healthy that means you end up eating healthier too! Our children learn about food mostly from us, so we need to take advantage of this and TEACH them about food.  Show them that you eat healthy food and they will follow suit!

To aid in teaching our children to eat healthier, we need to teach our children where their food comes from. Food doesn’t just magically appear in stores or in restaurants and children should be aware of this.   We need to teach them about where the plants and animals they eat come from.  If you have a green thumb or if you’ve always wanted to try. . . planting an edible garden, an herb garden or just a few tomato plants in a pot is an excellent way to teach them about where their food comes from.  If you children pick out and grow their own vegetables they are usually more willing to try new ones as they helped in the creation of them.  (Also, buying a bag full of ladybugs and releasing them into your garden is incredible fun.)  If you’re not so great at keeping plants alive or you can’t imagine adding one more daily activity to your already hectic schedule try driving your kids to the local farmers market, or to the actual farm once a month.  There are lots of farms where you can pick certain fruits and vegetables straight from the source during certain seasons.

After your kids know where their food comes from they need to learn how to prepare their food to eat.  We should teach our children to cook and eat whole foods and explain to them the difference between fresh meals and processed ones! If you don’t think you’re a good cook, it’s never too late to learn!  I learned how to really cook a few years shy of turning 30 and now I actually enjoy cooking (it’s the cleaning part I figured out I don’t like).   Start with simple recipes.  I have found that the best meals are always made from simple ingredients and a short list of ingredients at that.  There are so many great recipes out there.  Just pick a few and get started!  Baking  is another great way to get kids involved.  Baking with kids is always fun.  My little’s favorite thing to do in the kitchen is “mix, mix, mix, mix” and it is a great way to get really young kids involved in the kitchen!

If we teach our children about food from a young age and involve them in preparing and cooking their own food we are setting them up for a healthier way of life for the long haul.  We all want what’s best for our children, so help set them up for success and give them the food education they deserve.  You never know, you may just learn something in the process.

018 hummus

Bang, Bang, Bang Goes the Baby

Bang, Bang, BANG. 

You watch in horror as your child smacks their head on the couch, the wall, the floor, their crib, a door, your leg… whatever happens to be closest to them at the moment. You think to yourself, “That was odd,” and hope you were just hallucinating from lack of sleep. 

Bang, Bang, BANG. 

Your child then repeats this odd and rather concerning behavior of banging their head and this being the second time you witness this feat, your throat drops into the pit of your stomach as you realize you were NOT hallucinating. Your child is indeed purposely banging their head on things. Now your whole body is tingling and your mind is racing as minor panic mode sets in. You are convinced there is something seriously wrong with your child, so you do what all mothers do best when they have a problem, you Google that shit. You read article, after article until you come to the conclusion your child is indeed a “Headbanger”.

Research says that about 20% of children are headbangers. Reading statistics like this does not make us, as mothers, feel any better. We don’t want our child to be part of statistics like this, and if it’s so common why do none of our friends children seem to be doing it?

Why is my child banging their head?

There could be many reasons you child is banging their head. Self-soothing, pain relief, an outlet for frustration, attention seeking and in some cases developmental disorders seem to be the main reasons toddlers head bang.  So, great how do I know which category my child falls into?

In the cases of self-soothing and pain frustration, the offenders often bang their head repeatedly or rhythmically while they are playing or when trying to sooth themselves while the crib. Frustration bangers head banging seems to come more in bursts when they can properly express their feelings or become overly stimulated. Attention seekers may head bang when they want attention from you. Head banging can be a sign or a developmental disorder, but I caution you not to burst into tears yet as headbanging alone is not enough to diagnose a developmental disorder and head banging in itself is quite common.

So what do I do?

Some researchers say you should ignore the behavior, that they will outgrow it. That might be easy for them to say but they don’t have to witness this odd behavior several (or a lot more than several) times a day every day. I am sorry, but when my child is doing a behavior to himself that seems hurtful I am definitely not going to stand around to watch the show.  Every time he would smack his head on a cabinet or door, or even the floor I would cringe and fight back tears. There had to be better advice than Ignore the behavior.

We tried holding him when he got frustrated and telling him “No hurt baby,” when he would bang his head.  We tried really hard to make sure he got lots of positive attention.  We rocked him, a lot.  We would place him in a room with carpet, pillows or a bed so he wouldn’t hurt himself (as badly). I figured out my child was a frustration head banger and I engaged other moms for advice. One comment a mother said stood out with me.  She said not to worry too much, that it lessens with time and growing communication skills. We had already been trying to teach the babe sign language, but after this comment we ramped up the signing effort and I also made an extra effort to observe him more intensely so I wasn’t missing any of his communication cues. For us the sign language helped immensely. The more he learned to communicate with us the more the head banging began to diminish.

The experts say that most children outgrow head banging by age three, so between now and then while you are trying to deal with this newly discovered toddler trait, try not to worry too much, keep your child as safe as you can while they are head banging, repeat to yourself, it will be okay.  I found this snippet by Dr. Alan Greene to help me, “Curiously, one large study of this habit in healthy children found head-bangers to be measurably advanced compared to their peers. If anything, then, head banging in healthy children can be a sign of increased intelligence.”  It made me think the problems of head banging might be small compared to the problems that come with a highly intelligent child.

Welcome to the Seven Depths of Hell (aka Having to bring your Toddlers to the Grocery Store)

Sometimes I would rather be sitting in a car with no air conditioning during a Texas summer than be walking the aisle of the grocery store with my toddler. Don’t get me wrong, I love my child, but some tasks are tenfold more difficult to accomplish when you have a very active toddler in tow.

My child has never wanted to sit in the seats of the cart, where many children seem content to sit and observe while they are wheeled around.  We went through a phase where he would sit or stand in the main basket with the groceries, which was great.  He was in the cart and as long as I didn’t get too close to the Broccoli (which he still to this day will grab a head and start eating) or anything else he might be able to get his hands on we could cruise through the store with no problems.

Next we began the carry me phase. . .he would stay in the cart maybe through the produce aisle (if I was having a streak of luck) and then would insist that I carry all 30+ pounds of him around the store while I pushed the cart or else deal with him screaming bloody murder.  We have thankfully moved past that stage but have entered a new stage where he wants his feet on the floor and to “help” me with the groceries.

This current phase is definitely the most challenging I have encountered and it involves lots of redirection of him and breathing and patience for me.  My first experience I let him push the cart and directed him to the items we needed to purchase and I let him pick out items and put them in the cart.  This worked beautifully, through the produce aisle. . . we then got the the bakery items and he was all “Ooo’s and Aahh’s pointing at different bread items and looking at me to name them for him. . . I was breathing and attempting to redirect him to the cart to push some more when he saw cupcakes. . . why do they have to have cupcakes on display all the time???  After a battle of yes those are cupcakes, no those are not your cupcakes. No, we are not getting cupcakes, I finally managed to wrangle him back to pushing the cart.  We stopped and got lunch meat which he missed throwing into the cart and threw in front of another shopers cart. . . Lucky for me it was another Mom with a toddler.  She just laughed and smiled at me while he picked it up and threw it again, this time making it into the cart.

Now instead of pushing the cart he decides hanging off the cart handle while picking up his feet is fun, so he acts like a little monkey and we make it through dairy.  In paper products he helps me put toilet paper and paper towels underneath the cart and gets complimented by two elderly ladies about what a great helper he is.  Yes, he was a great helper, thankfully they were long gone when in the next aisle he screamed bloody murder when I wanted to put him in the cart or carry him.  He settled on letting me put his butt on the handle and half holding him we wheeled to the front.  We made it to the checkout line, my saving grace, as his little hands can stay busy putting the items on the belt, and as long as he isn’t too close to the checkout computer screen (because he turns them off) and gets a sticker, we are home free.

As I check out I can think of at least three items I forgot.  I don’t care.  I can work around them, I am not going back to get them. . .