I had another stretch of time without my kids (see here for why). The calmness and freedom that ensues that alone time is great. This time it was almost two full weeks which is a very long time for a kid. However, due to the circumstances of my departure, I wasn’t thinking too much about them. I was enveloped in the moment at hand. They did great when I was away after Christmas, but signs of trouble were showing. Two days before leaving to return back to the United States, I got an email from the 6-yr old hurricane’s teacher that my girl hit a teacher twice in school. Whhhhhaaaaaattttt? I about died on the spot and was really confused. This was way out of character for her. Aside from the immediate scare that she would get kicked out of the one darn school I was happy with, I was stunned to hear my girl had lashed out. And then, reality hit me and I knew I needed to be home ASAP. It actually made leaving the motherland a little easier. The oldest of my two was resorting to violence to work out her feelings and lashing out at those around her. She’s never done that before, but we’ve also never been in this situation before where I’ve had to disappear for a long time (to a child) with 10hrs notice.
Two days later, I walked through my airport and was literally tackled to the ground by the force of the hugs and love showered on me. I stayed on that floor for a few minutes, just hugging and kissing my two little terrors that encompass my heart, silently acknowledging to myself how lucky I am. But so began damage control.
I had a talk with her teacher the next morning and I am truly grateful that they were completely understanding of what happened, how hard my absence had been on her. When I first left to rush back to Ireland, I emailed her teacher to let her know what was going on. She was appreciative for the heads up and she told me that the tornado had been out of character all of the past week. Very little was made of her incident. It was recorded and she was given two conducts points, but nothing else was to happen. Phew. OK.
Not unexpectedly, the 3-year old mental patient is a mess. He’s been sick with a cough and snotty nose for a couple weeks now. We can’t seem to get rid of it, despite all attempts. Mind you, I’ve had the same thing for a month so I guess we have to let it run its course. But add to that my absence and I’ve had a little boy who has been a bit of a nightmare since my return. Basically, he’s now releasing all that pent up anguish and confusion that surrounded him for two weeks. We didn’t have this when I got back from South Africa, but that was for 10 days, hubby only had to work for three of those and Grandad was here most of that time, keeping them company. So a very different kettle of fish than the past two weeks. Either way, it’s all manageable and I’ll let that run its course too. Once he is confident that the old routine is back and isn’t stressed that I might disappear again, he’ll be back to his old cuddly self.
I’ve laughed over the things that can come out of their mouths though. For example, while in carpool lane on Monday afternoon to pick up the 6-year old, my son exclaims “Mom, my penis needs to come out.” Uh… what? He was strapped into a 5-point harness child seat. There is no way that he can maneuver what he wants to achieve.
By Tuesday, I was trying to normalize the routine by taking the boy to the park to meet his best friend. As I unstrapped him outside the park, my phone rang and I heard the dreaded words that it was the school secretary calling about Lilly. My heart sank and I wondered what she had done now. Instead, she told me that Lilly was at the front desk, they suspected she had ringworm, and I needed to collect her. Again, whhhhhaaaattt? Since it’s highly contagious, she wasn’t allowed back into the school until I could provide a doctor’s note confirming with treatment or denying the condition. In the end, the doctor’s office couldn’t work us in, but the nurse was kind enough to let me email her some pics of her arm, and then confirm it was ringworm, assign treatment and email me back a doctor’s note for the school. She definitely was going to miss the next day of school though. So much for the routine. I decided to turn it into a day of fun. We chilled around the house first. No rushing. Then to the park for a few hours, then onto their favorite – the numbers restaurant. Then off to Target to get some frames for the pictures of my aunt. A pretty simple and fun day for the kids and they needed it. The boy is still a little mess, ready to break down at the drop of a hat. That just means he needs lots of extra loving to make him feel good.
Today is Thursday. I’m still delirious from exhaustion and a little vertigo. Despite the eventful four days since I’ve been back, it has highlighted to me how much Mommy is needed. I’m their Mommy. Their well being, emotional and physical, is mostly on me since Daddy works god awful long hours. It’ll be good for me to get back into a routine too. The world turned upside down at the end of January for me and my stress level went through the roof.
So it’s time for us all to get back to normal and while our ‘normal’ can sometimes resemble the Addams Family, it’s still good to us.
Today saw our 6-month dental check up. My oldest, the 5-year old hurricane, thinks the dentist is awesome and loves looking at her x-rays. She has perfect teeth, thanks to her Daddy’s genes, and the dentists always love her. She’s a breeze.
Last year, just before my escaped mental patient turned 3-years old, I took him for his first visit to a pediatric dentist which was less than stellar. In fact, he refused to lie down for the dentist to examine his teeth, so the dentist held him down on the table. The entire scene turned into something resembling The Exorcist. Needless to say, both he and I were traumatized, and I vowed we would never go back to that pediatric dentist again.
Flash forward to today, six and a half months later. New dental office, new dentist (he’s also my dentist now as he does general family dentistry too). I really like him and his staff. They treated me superbly so I was OK referring my children to his office. My oldest breezes in there, claiming it’s the best place ever. The dental hygienist is ready to run away with my daughter because she’s been the easiest minor that she’s ever treated. Not a cavity in sight and she’s pearly white. All done.
I tried to warn them about my son. I asked for a soundproofed room, but they thought I was kidding. I wasn’t. The hygienist couldn’t even get close enough to him to count his teeth. So I ended up holding a Q-Tip, and using that to count his teeth while she watched. The closest we could get him to the actual dental chair was to put Elmo on there and he watched. Honestly, this wouldn’t be a big deal except he has the start of a cavity between his two front teeth. His first teeth arrived when 10 months old. During his second year, the majority of the rest of the teeth came in and made it so that his front teeth crossed over a little, catching food in between them. No, I didn’t think to brush his teeth. Seriously, I wasn’t about to scar an 18-month old by holding him in a headlock while shoving a foaming stick in and out of his mouth. But by the time he was two-and-a-half, I could see something was forming and that’s when I brought him to the dentist over six months ago. And the damage was done, psychologically and physically.
Today’s dentist, as good as he is, couldn’t get my boy to sit in the chair so I pretended to count his teeth with that Q-Tip while the dentist had a peek, while we all stood next to the dental chair. All he could say was that it probably needed a filling, not caps, and should be done under sedation given my son’s reaction to dentistry in general. He would need to refer me to a pediatric dentist for that and I immediately nixed the ones we had visited previously.
So now we get to go to a new pediatric dentist who isn’t in our network (oh joy) and prepare for a cavity to be completed under sedation. I am scared to think how much that’ll cost, nevermind how much it’s going to freak my little guy out. But I have to get it taken care of before the cavity gets worse. So in two weeks, I get to scare the ever-living crap out of my little guy again, and that’ll just be the introduction and evaluation phase. The sedation will come at a later appointment. Oh the fun, fun, fun.
I was begging for mercy just a short while ago in regards to potty training. Something has clicked with my little three year old escaped mental patient and all of a sudden, he’s barely having any accidents at all. We automatically put on the cutest little pair of boxer briefs every morning and the diapers have been retired from daytime duty. Woo-Hoo!!!! As an added bonus, he prefers to have privacy when he goes potty and wants to wipe his own bum. That he actually does a pretty good job of wiping is the Universe spoiling me.
Aside from making the usual big deal “YOU WENT POTTY!!!!” smiling and clapping like an idiot, I began The Spin. Each time he goes potty, I take him in my arms and spin around really fast ten times. He loves loves loves this, and at the moment, I reserve it for potty time. After that, I chase a naked butt that bounces around the house with still the hint of that special toddler run. It’s not a stride but part hop, part jump and part run. He then decides to run back into my arms so I can tickle him and smother him with kisses. It’s pretty damn awesome, in fact.
So thank you, Universe. Thank you. <3
I saw this post and loved it enough to repost. There are few articles that I feel nail it on the head when it comes to small children and this succeeds.
1. It really is this hard. You’re not doing anything wrong.
“If I could go back, I would say, relax. Tantrums, running away, accidents, lost belongings, mischievous nap times… it’s all a normal part of toddler life. I wasn’t making life harder than necessary. Raising two toddlers really is just that hard.”
Please. I am done with pee and poop. It’s been years. Did you hear me? YEARS! Not only do I have a blind dog that randomly pees around the house, I’m onto year number six of cleaning poop from bums. And now we are potty training. Odd as it sounds, I think I almost prefer diapers to this potty training business. At least it is predictable. While my three year old does a great job of using the potty when he’s naked, the little mental patient doesn’t understand that underwear isn’t a diaper and without fail, will soil himself. The unmistakable scent of urine wafts permanently through the house now no matter how many loads of laundry I do. So we live in a constant state of red alert. You never know when those accidents are going to happen. Asking him if he needs to go potty just antagonizes him. He’ll go when he’s ready, and refuses to think ahead on these matters.
I understand this is a transitional phase. But it’s as much fun as when kids transition to dropping naps. Napping is great, not napping is great. But that hellish phase in between? Oh yeah baby!
So please look down kindly on us. My washing machine could do with a break and my sanity could do with saving.
The Ragged Mommy.
P.S. Seriously, how does one get rid of this smell from clothes?
- If it is quiet, scream.
- If it has a button, push it.
- If you see it, taste it.
- If it has liquid, pour it.
- If it is clean, throw up on it.
- If it is fragile, break it.
- If it is inedible, eat it.
- If it has a lever, pull it.
- If it is bedtime, wake up.
- If it is a door, open it.
- If it is a hole, fill it up.
- If it is juicy, smash it.
- If it’s high up, jump off it.
See that toddler freaking out over there? Yeah, the one that makes you think “Oh dear God,” and all sorts of thoughts run through your head? Or the child who begs for chocolate at the checkout line and you watch in horror as mommy or daddy cave? That used to be me watching and wondering.
When I sat on my childless perch, I could solve any parenting problem at a glance. With ease, I could be your executioner in the parenting battlefield. And then I had a child. Yes, you can snicker. Because no other singular act teaches you that you know absolutely nothing than the arrival of a child.
I walked through the grocery store yesterday afternoon, with my 5-year-old preschooler sitting in the shopping cart wearing her cupcake pajamas. My 3-year-old was manically running through the store. I’m now at the point where I don’t care about the looks I get. I accept now that these people, whom I will never see again, don’t understand that it was Pajama Day in school or that they both had really long days the day before so they are both cranky and tired. However, I needed to get milk. I ignore the looks I get because even if these other people are put out by my kids’ behaviors, I don’t have the effort within me to care what they think. I couldn’t even be bothered to explain. Most of the time when I snap at my children, it’s because I’m the one stressed out. I’m panicking about what other people think. If I take away the fear of other people’s thoughts or reactions, things become a lot less stressful.
Most of the time, when you see a parent that seems like they’re out of their depth, they probably are. That doesn’t mean they are incompetent. It may just be that they’re having a really bad day. You don’t know if a loved one passed away. You don’t know if someone else lost their job. Perhaps the rent is overdue or the mortgage is defaulting. You could be looking at a mother who hasn’t had any sleep for five years. Perhaps a growth spurt is to blame (my two turn into unholy terrors during growth spurts). That possessed devil you see running amok may have been an angel just an hour ago. Maybe it’s a simple as a missed nap. Maybe, just maybe, what you are seeing is someone who is doing their best, but needs help, or it’s a child who has just reached their limit on what they can absorb and contain.
Sometimes, very small gestures of kindness can turn a day around. When you see that baby freaking out in front of you, start a game of peek-a-boo. Begin a conversation with the preschooler to distract him/her just long enough that mommy can swipe her debit card and get everyone out the door. A little nod of understanding or a smile also can go a long way. A look of disdain or disapproval does nothing but aggravate an already stressful situation. When we choose to be nicer to each other, everyone wins.
Something else happens when you do this. Your day gets brighter too.