Friday, April 27, 2012

The Disappearance of Lapland!

My lap has become an increasingly uncomfortable place for Andy to sit.  It's a little uncomfortable for me- but it's very uncomfortable for him.  He's running out of room, and when he chooses to plop down on my lap, he basically has to precariously perch himself at the edge of my knees.  It's clear to everyone that our usual lap sitting arrangement is no longer working out so great, and the glint in his eyes when he looks up at me from the cliff of my knees is sharp with resentment and the inherent understanding that nothing can make this situation better, except for, of course, a cookie.

Santa, waving good-bye to Lapland.  The
other Lapland, not MY Lapland.
I keep telling him that there's a baby in mama's belly, and that's why it's so big.  He seems to accept the idea, and yet I can't help but wonder if he isn't- on some level- completely terrified by the thought of a baby trapped inside mama's tummy.  It's a big concept for such a little person to understand, especially if they have zero understanding of human reproductive biology.  I tried to sign him up for an introductory science class at the community college, but I ran into a roadblock when trying to get day care to send out his transcripts.  "He doesn't have a transcript," the director told me, eyebrows cocked.  "He spends his day taking his socks off, begging for someone to put his socks back on, and then taking them off again."   And, what, she couldn't write that down for me?

I mention the new baby to Andy as often as I can, lest he forget that there's a small person trapped inside me that's going to burst forth in about eight weeks and turn our world completely upside down.  "This is your baby," I keep telling him, trying to give him a sense of ownership.  "This is your brother.  This is your best friend in the whole entire world.  But he won't be much fun for at least six months- possibly a year- so as far as best friends go, he's going to be a pretty crappy one at first.  Which is fine, because I expect you to be a pretty crappy big brother for a while, so it's all gravy.  We're embarking on a journey, Andy, a period of serious personal growth and major sleep deprivation.  Hey, you still listening to me?"

I'm getting a whole lot of advice and words of encouragement from seasoned mothers now that my belly is so big it's smothering out my lap.  Moms seem to know what I want to hear, and they tell me.  My own mother is excluded in this list of moms who are offering their sweet reassurances, as her comments have been mostly along the following lines.

Two kids are really going to drive you nuts.

Are you sure you won't go crazy sitting at home with two kids?

I hope you don't feel like you're losing your mind.

How are you feeling lately?  Like you're mentally disintegrating into pieces?  Yep, been there!

If you ever need someone to convince you that you either are insane or are about to GO insane, my mom's the one you want to call.  Her talents really fulfill a unique niche in today's market.

The other moms, though- friends, relatives, clients, strangers at the grocery store who are dying to know my unborn baby's gender and future name- have all been telling me what I need to hear.  I'm not sure I believe them yet, but the statements are along the lines of:

Two kids are easier than one!  Several people have told me this.  There's no way this can possibly be true.  It sounds like an oxymoron- Twice the trouble is only half the trouble!  I mean, do you take me for a sucker?  And yet, I take comfort in the sheer volume of times I hear this ridiculous statement.  

I was afraid I wasn't going to love my second as much as my first.  But you totally do!  I really appreciate the moms who have come out and said this without being prompted.  It seems like such a horrible thing to worry about, but the fact that moms- other than myself- have expressed this sentiment aloud makes me feel a little more normal.  And less, you know, crazy.  

You've quit your job to stay home with your kids?  GOOD FOR YOU!  It's nice to be validated that this is the right decision.  I mean, I KNOW it's the right decision- for my family although not necessarily my family's finances- but in this dimension, I've had a job non-stop since I was 16 and have never stayed home and have never been without an income.  In other dimensions, I'm relatively certain I'm an heiress who's never once lifted a finger and instead spends her days working on some eccentric hobby involving items that are gold-plated.  In this dimension, learning to let my husband worry about the money and not actually having a job (aside from the 24/7 full time job of raising two little boys) will be a new venture for me and a prospect that alternately fills me with absolute joy and utter fear.

The second baby slides right out.  This one is from my mom, in a rare conversation where she didn't bring up going crazy.  Of course, this statement is disturbing in its own right and somehow paints a picture that is not necessarily reassuring- but I hope the overall sentiment of second time labors being easier holds true.  I'll let you know.

As Lapland disappears and my firstborn true love gets pushed further and further away from me, the new baby is now more present than ever- as present as he can be without actually being here.  The whole situation is rather bananas.  Crazy.  Coming soon: new family member.  And at some point, my sweet Andrew, you will get your lap back.  But you may have to share it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Go To Sleep, Andy!

A friend warned me that after about a week or so of not having had the pacifier, it would finally sink into Andy's head that it was gone for good, and he would have an absolutely awful night as he coped with the loss.  He would be up all night crying and asking for it, and I believe the word she used to describe this event was "hellish."  She was spot on, and we had that night last night.  Andy was wide awake at two a.m. begging for his binky and he didn't stop until after six in the morning, when he finally just passed out from sheer exhaustion, his mouth making little sucking motions around a ghost binky.  If tonight is anything like last night, I may start researching military schools for toddlers.  I just hope my own lack of sleep and crazy soup of pregnancy hormones doesn't lead to me do anything rash, like choosing a military school that is out of my budget.

It's amazing how absolutely frustrating these children can be at times- but how you still find yourself googling the lyrics to "Where is Thumbkin?" because you know it will make them happy.  And how you can be totally sleep deprived and exhausted, but when they snuggle against you during your nightly story time, you basically find yourself forgetting how freaking tired and just plain shitty you feel, because your little boy is abruptly back to being perfect again.

Two Andy moments from the weekend that made me smile:

(1)  He found the baby oil, and because I've been Yes Mom for the past few days, I went ahead and opened it for him.  What's the worst that could happen- oil all over my rugs?  Oil all over his clothes?  He might drink a little baby oil?  Eh.  I handed over the opened bottle of baby oil, went back to what I was doing (I want to say it was string cheese-related), and when I looked back over at Andy a minute later, he had set the baby swing to vibrate, plopped into the vibrating seat, pulled up his pant legs, and started to massage his calves with baby oil.  It was the funniest thing I had seen in a while:  Andy Berger, weirdo pervert in the making.

(2)  On Sunday night, I asked Andy what book he wanted me to read him. He usually picks out his book of choice from a highly organized slop pile of children's books scattered haphazardly on his bedroom floor.  Andy leaped off of my lap and, instead of choosing from one of his children's books in his room, ran off into the loft where Chris and I keep our books.  He came back with a copy of "Hamlet."  "I'm not reading you 'Hamlet,'" I told Andy.  "Pick something else."  He ran back into the loft and returned a minute later with the atlas.  "This works," I shrugged.  "Once, there was a magical, mythical place called 'Phoenix....'"  Andy Berger, weirdo librarian or cartographer in the making.

I will hold on to these two funny memories from the weekend at two a.m. should the little guy wake up again in another state of panic.  As I told Andy at four thirty this morning, there's no going back now.  It's been too many days.  The goddamn binky is gone, and you need to go to sleep.  Otherwise, I'm taking away the baby oil.  Also the atlas.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Twenty Four Hours Of Awesomeness!

Day care has a way with transitions, and I will miss letting them do some of the dirty work after I become a stay at home mom.

I had told day care on Wednesday night that I didn't want Andy having his binky at all during the day, not even for napping.  With the napping, I gave them some flexibility- if he NEEDS it and is really inconsolable, then, yeah, go ahead.  The teachers replied, "Okay, got it, no more binky," and we went home.  Andy had it for bed and a half hour or so before dinner time, but when he woke up, I made him trade it with me for his milk and then did not give it back after he had finished his drink and started asking, "My?  My!"  Instead, we kind of ignored the request and took him to day care, where- bless those women- he had a binky-free day, including for his nap.

"How did he do?"  I asked the one teacher upon pick up time, expecting to hear the worst.

"Fine," she said.  "Cold turkey's the way to go. He asked for it a couple times, we just distracted him, and then he was so tired at nap time he basically passed out without it."

"AWESOME," I replied, holding back the urge to kiss the teacher.  Andy and I got his bag and coat and headed out into the world.  I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that the rest of the night was not going to be quite as binky-less, but I decided that I was just going to do my best.  I had stopped at the dollar store on the way home and picked up a couple of new objects to keep Andy occupied- a slinky, a colorful bag of art supply puffs, an alphabet puzzle, a new music CD, some more play dough (they can't call it Play Doh for obvious legal reasons), and a bunch of stickers.  I was on a Distraction Mission, and was going to try my hardest to succeed- but not beat myself up if the evening did not go as planned.

We pulled into the garage, where, upon releasing Andy from his car seat, he bolted to the front of the car, plopped himself into the drivers seat, and put his hands on the steering wheel to simulate driving.  He had done this on Tuesday, and when I took him out of the front seat, he had thrown a major fit which included biting me and had ended in a time out- which had then resulted in him being so upset that he was utterly inconsolable until he could find his pacifier.  Looking at him in the front seat, I decided to let him stay there a few minutes as to hopefully avoid the tantrum, which would then maybe avoid the post-tantrum binky need.  Besides, it's not like he could reasonably, accidentally drive the car right into the house or back down the driveway or anything.  I assumed.

So, in the spirit of thinking ahead, letting Andy have his way, trying to avoid a melt down, and keeping the ultimate goal in mind, I let Andy "drive" the car until finally the timed light in the garage when out and we were bathed in darkness.  At that point, he reached for me, and we went inside to the tune of Andy murmuring "Vroom Vroom!"  He is very good at making car noises and pointing out all the various cars he sees.  I think I may have the next Henry Ford or Peter Honda on my hands.

Our usual routine involves me sitting with Andy on the sofa for a little bit while he has some water or juice and we "unwind" with a little Sesame Street or Caillou.  Then I leave him there to finish watching his show while I get dinner ready.  This is about the time he starts asking for his binky.  So the plan?  No TV tonight.  Nothing that would remind him of the routine.  Now, I know that technically kids aren't supposed to watch television until they're two anyways, but I appreciate not being judged by you unless you're a full time working, pregnant mom who also has to figure out time when to make dinner, clean the house, use the bathroom, and do their kegels.  Also, I'd like to point out that I was basically raised by the television, and my attention span has turned out to be... hey, look, cupcakes!

So, instead, we got out the lap top, and Andy watched Sesame Street on that instead, on his little table, and sitting in his little chair.  Again, no judging.  It sounds like it's the same thing as just watching TV, but it's totally, kind of not. Andy LOVES the computer.  The other day I caught him playing Daddy in Chris' office- sitting in Chris' chair, banging on Chris' keyboard, and pretend slurping out of an empty Dr. Pepper can that Chris had left on his desk.  Computers are FUN!  And Dr. Pepper is damn delicious.

I snuck away just long enough to toss dinner in the oven (stuffed shells and garlic bread, could there be a better dinner for a family for under eight bucks and involving almost zero effort?  I submit that there could not!), and then I was all about Andy.  We watched some Sesame Street together, Andy thoroughly enjoying Feist's children's version of "1-2-3-4"  (One, two, three, four, penguins standing by the door. I love counting, counting to the number four!).  Then we did some tickling, got out the slinky, which amused Andy greatly, threw the puffs all over the floor in great excitement (which was how I had correctly assumed we'd use them), and by that time, Chris was home, dinner was ready, and it was already almost six.

Dinner went great, as it always does when we have something ricotta-filled, and then after dinner, I sat on the floor and played with Andy, getting up only to fetch him cookies when he asked.  I had recently been able to convince Andy that rice cakes were cookies, which is pretty brilliant on my part, and I let him have as many of them as he wants as long as it's post-dinner.  Of course, I should disclose that the rice cakes are chocolate flavored, but there is literally only five grams of sugar in SEVEN little rice cakes, and even Andy can't eat seven rice cakes.

Although, last night I think he did eat four, which is kind of a lot.  He just kept asking... and it was keeping his mouth busy... so it was all good as far as I was concerned.  Plus, every time he wanted a rice cake, he also wanted to bring one to Chris, and this lesson of sharing that he's learned with his "cookies" is a pretty good one.  So Chris had four chocolate rice cakes, too.  And I may have had two or three.  I also had six real cookies after Andy went to bed, but that's neither here nor there.

After playing and cookie eating, we had a grand old time in the bathtub.  I sang "Three Blind Mice" no less than fifteen times as that has become a new favorite song for Andy to hear while he takes a bath.  I let him stay in the tub for as long as he wanted and then read his favorite books before bed time while he drank his milk.  I started feeling very, very nervous about what was about to happen.  Is he going to start demanding his binky?  Is this going to work?  At what point am I going to get up and go find it for him?

We finished reading, he asked for his daddy, and Chris came in for his night time hug.... and put Andy down... without the binky... and he slept like that all night long.

Holy.  Shit.  I can't believe that worked.

This morning, he had his milk, fussed like usual during his diaper change, and I made it a point to pretty much rush him to day care before he could get bored and start asking for it.  By that time- we had hit the twenty-four hour mark.  And, may I just say, I feel like a million bucks.  I know he won't have it today at day care (I love day care), tonight should be easy enough to keep him distracted, and by the time tomorrow, Saturday, rolls around, hopefully he'll be okay without it since, at that point, it'll be forty-eight hours since he's had it.
I'm just so thrilled about this.  And now that I know Andy can go a full day, I know that there's no going back, and that I have to be strong.  It's over.  I really think it is, unless I'm a total idiot and have forgotten to hide one or cave in for some horrible reason.  I should probably stop for some more chocolate rice cakes on the way home tonight, though, don't you think?

So, to summarize, here's the secret to the first full day of no binkies:

Have day care do the dirty work during the day.

Buy your kid a bunch of interesting crap from the dollar store.

Don't let him sit on the comfy sofa where he usually likes to chill with his pacifier.

Let him have "cookies" and pretend to drive the car.

Make your husband put him down to bed after an evening in which you've gone out of your way to make sure Andy is the happiest kid on the block.

Celebrate a huge success by eating six real cookies after your wonderful little son has fallen asleep.

And don't forget to give your kid some credit (and yourself too) when you start feeling downtrodden and depressed about a difficult parenting task, such as binky removal.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Behavior, Binky, Baby Birthing, and Bagels

These last ten weeks of pregnancy are going to be the hardest.

I'm hoping that I actually only have nine weeks left, since I'm gunning for an elective induction the week before my due date.  I hate surprises.  I like to plan.  And doctors probably hate being woken up at two in the morning to come deliver some baby.  So, let's be civilized about this whole matter and just schedule it for a reasonable day and time just like one would a dental check-up.

Ten weeks.  Nine weeks.  Who knows....

The pressure's on, though, both physically and emotionally.  Physically, I feel like my bathing suit area is going to crack open and expel an undercooked baby any day now.  I remember feeling pelvic discomfort the last time I was pregnant, but nothing like what I'm going through now.  I read that this is relatively common and that I should be doing kegels, but every time I start thinking about kegels, I immediately start thinking about how much kegel sounds like bagel, and then suddenly I'm on a mission for a bagel and some cream cheese and I'm pushing through the pain right to the toaster.  I'm slowing down quite a bit, and it's been increasingly harder to carry Andy, stand up after laying down, or bend down to the refrigerator's crisper drawer where I keep all the lettuce.  Thus, I've been trying to strike a balance.  I'm still carrying Andy, but I'm not eating as many salads.

Emotionally- I feel like I've been a wreck.  Just thinking about how this new baby is going to affect the threesome of Andy, Andy's Mommy, and Andy's Daddy gets me feeling all sick and teary-eyed.  This is NOT to say that I'm not looking forward to meeting the fourth member of our family and holding my new son.  But- I know things are about to change, and it's not going to be easy.  I can only hope that Andy surprises me by being the kind of kid that takes immediately to being a big brother and sharing his mother's time and affection.  I'm pretty sure it's not going to work out this way, though.  If I hold another baby, Andy resorts to physically abusing that other baby, as witnessed a couple weeks ago when I tried to- hold another baby.  At day care when I pick him up, all the kids run up to me when I walk in the door (I'm confident every Mom/Dad gets that reaction), and Andy systematically pushes and slaps away all of the other kids surrounding us as if to say, "Get away, you vulture, this one's MINE."  Now, none of those kids are his flesh and blood relative, and that's a key point to consider, but Andy does not want me giving attention to anyone but him- and has recently (in a fashion that is heart-sinkingly adorable) started referring to me as "My Mommy."  As in- not YOUR mommy- MY MOMMY.

Mine and mine alone.

Aside from all that, we've been having some behavioral issues.  Andy has entered that period of time known as the "Terrific Twos."  Wait, I think I have one of those words wrong.  The "Terrific Twenty-One Months."  He's been throwing tantrums, testing me, hitting me, biting me, and has, at times, been completely- unmanageable.  I use the word unmanageable because I have not yet found a way to manage him.  This is because my parenting style is of the softy, lovey-dovey, my-baby-can-do-no-wrong, let's-just-hug-it-out style.  Only in the past week or so have I come to realize that this style ain't working.  I fear that I am on my way to raising a supreme brat unless I start putting my foot down more and giving firm and consistent consequences.  It's ridiculous that it's taken me this long to figure it out, but better now than in two months when I have a newborn to deal with on top of all this.  That is why Andy has spent several sessions in his new time-out area- a place that he can't get to me and is all his own to cry it out after he has been willfully disobedient. 

It's Detroit.  A small, abandoned warehouse in Detroit.

No, it's the pack and play.  Andy's not allowed to go to Detroit.

The pack and play is working pretty good.  It contains him for his time out period and give him a safe place to scream.  It works way better than my other method of trying to physically restrain him on the sofa in the front room.  That sort of time-out session always escalated into an even worse tantrum, and I feel like Andy was never learning anything and was still getting my attention.  This way- he's not. 

Of course, once the new baby arrives and starts using the pack and play, we'll have to find a new time-out area for Andy.  UNLESS- Andy's behavior drastically improves by then and he no longer requires time-outs?  Can that happen?  Yesterday was already a better evening than Monday and Tuesday and the weekend- is it possible that these kids are quicker to train than I originally thought?  Wouldn't THAT be something!

There's another issue here, though, which has been weighing on my mind.  Andy's behavior has gotten so much worse since we started trying to actively wean him from the pacifier.  I keep going back and forth on how to handle this whole thing.  Sunday was an epic fail- Andy threw a monster fit in the library, Chris took him outside to calm down, and then, when we got to the car, we caved and passed him back a binky.  Instantly, Andy was calm and quiet.  He even sat there calmly, in a totally chill and quiet mood, while Chris and I stopped for milkshakes at Dairy Queen.  We didn't get Andy a milkshake.  As Chris pointed out, Andy's not old enough to know yet that he SHOULD be getting ice cream whenever the family goes to Dairy Queen.  And, as I pointed out, he was happy as a clam with just his stupid binky.  So why spend the extra three dollars?  Why not just thoroughly enjoy a milkshake in front of your kid like some kind of horrible, selfish parent?  Exactly.

Then we got home, Chris promptly fell asleep on the couch (in literally five seconds, he truly has a gift) and I was too tired, pregnant, and crabby to deal with being the bad guy- so Andy basically had his binky in his mouth until bed time.  And then it was bed time, and that's when Andy is "allowed" his binky, so he didn't exactly have the binky *until* bedtime- he had it *through* bed time- and into the next morning.
This has been a struggle.

Here's the problem.  Andy loves his binky.  And I love Andy.  Because I love Andy, I'm torn between trying to take the binky away for his own good and letting him just have it when he feels like he needs it because, after all, he's not even two, he's still got teeth coming in, he really relies on it for comfort, etc, etc.  And yet I know that now is the time to get this under control because, as you may recall, the new baby will be here in June and then, for serious, what are the odds of Andy relinquishing HIS binky when the baby gets one?  Because I'm dealing with this internal conflict, my message to Andy has been very mixed.  I've tried hard to stick with giving it to him only at nap times and bed times, with the ultimate goal being to get down to just that and then just at bed time and then... poof, binky gone... but- this is hard.  I feel like it's almost as hard on me as it is on him.  When he wants it, he really wants it.  He begs for it, stuffs blankets and other objects into his mouth, and looks at me with the most betrayed look I've ever seen, and sobs so hard my heart just breaks.  

I try to distract him and be firm about it as much as I can- but there reaches a point where I just let him have it, with the hopes of hiding it again once he's gotten his fix- and of course THAT makes me feel sooooo guilty, like the world's worst mother who will have the world's biggest baby, with misaligned teeth and delayed speech all because he had his binky an extra hour a day back when he was twenty-one months old.
I seriously don't know what to do about this.  We're not at the point of me snipping the ends of the binkies since I really wanted to try and do this gradually- but maybe I should?  Is the best way to do this cold turkey and deal with all the screaming and tantrums and awfulness for a solid four days or so?  Or maybe I should just let him have it when he truly "needs" it while still making a very strong effort to keep it away as much as possible- and let Andy wean as gradually as he needs to it? And, in that scenario, am I allowed to cut myself a break and not feel so awful and like a failure as a mother when I look over at my sweet little boy hugging his teddy bear and relaxing with a bink in his mouth?  Also, in this scenario, does cutting Andy a little slack for now on the binkies correlate with his tantrums not being so out of control?

I want those answers to be yes.  But I also want to do what's right.  As you can imagine, this is a major conundrum.  It's weighed on my mind much heavier than other recent problems I've had, including the whole "Should I be doing kegels or eating a bagel?" situation I brought up earlier.

See how this blog entry has gone full circle?

That's what I've got.  Ten (or nine?) weeks left, a little wild man I'm trying to tame, and the on-going pacifier struggle.  On the bright side, my weight gain is still fabulously under control, every evening I get to unwind with an episode of "Breaking Bad" (LOVE that show!), and I get to meet my new son soon enough- and be pleasantly surprised and proud by all the hugs, kisses, and cuddles my eldest son bestows upon him.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Battle: Diaper!

Lately, Andy has not wanted his pajamas taken off or his diaper changed first thing in the morning.  He lets me know his disinterest in this event by screaming as if having bamboo shoots eased under his fingernails and by, usually successfully, attempting to escape from our morning changing area.  He runs around the upstairs sobbing as I waddle after him, and once I'm able to grab him, I carry him back to his room and basically straddle my screaming, fighting son while I yank his pajamas off and swap out his diaper.  Carrying him is no fun at this time of the morning since his diaper is often soaked completely through, and I've learned to not put on my work clothes first thing in the morning since showing up at the office with a circle of pee on my blouse usually results in less invitations out to lunch. 

I've been asking around as I tend to do (asking around is my not-so-secret parenting technique), and this tantrum throwing during the morning diaper change appears to be a normal thing among Andy's peers.  My co-worker K seems to think it has something to do with the kids not wanting to be rushed in the morning and wanting that cozy feeling of keeping their pajamas on until they're ready.  H thinks that the babies just want to snuggle and be held in the morning, and that's why they get so upset when we put them down for the change.  G thinks it's just one of those mysteries of toddler-hood that we'll never figure out.  And I'm leaning towards the theory that kids are just dicks who will do anything to make our already difficult mornings even more awful.

The tantrums have been out of control lately, and our mornings together before I leave for work have been stressful and miserable.  Every morning, I deal with the inevitable wresting match.  Our wrestling matches are not as exciting as the ones on TV.  There are no bells or victory belts, and all I get when I win the match is a ten pound diaper to dispose of and a sobbing child to half-heartedly console while I hurry about getting ready for work.  Andy doesn't seem to recover well after the diaper battle and will whine, cry, and cling to me while I ready myself.  "Andy," I try to beg him, "Please let go of Mommy's leg while she draws in her eyebrows!"  I can usually give in to him for just a few minutes before I have to run, and will give him the attention he wants by doing one of his two favorite things- reading him a "Maisy" book or singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  Go ahead, quiz me on what the true love gives on any of the twelve days.  I KNOW THE ANSWER.  Finally, I really do have to leave, at which point he will call "Mommy!" after me as I head down the stairs.  It's a pathetic call that makes me semi-believe that what he's trying to say is, "I take it all back!  I'm sorry to have been so difficult!  Don't leave me with Daddy! He doesn't know what happens on the eighth day of Christmas! Come baaack!!"

If we spent less time fighting about the diaper and pajamas, Andy, I could probably fit in a verse or two of your other favorite song, "Happy Birthday."  It's really your loss.

This morning, I woke up dreading the inevitable fight and gave myself a pep talk as I brushed my teeth.  This morning WOULD be better!  I could handle this!  As I finished up, I could hear Andy waking in his room and calling out for me.  I plastered a big old smile on my face and walked into his room to find Andy standing in position in his crib, arms already upraised in preparation of being lifted out.  I grabbed a blanket to wrap him in case the diaper was super duper full, picked him up so that he was bundled in the blanket, and held him close to me, secure in the barrier created by the blanket's fabric.  I did something daring and brought him back into my bedroom, into my bed, and put him down on the mattress- blanket still in tact around his mid-section to absorb any leaks- and snuggled with him for ten minutes while he drank his morning milk, which I'd already had waiting for him.

We cuddled and giggled, and Andy finished his cup of milk.  Thinking that enough time had gone by, I lifted him out of bed- ever so aware of that blanket- and carried him back to his room, where I started singing "Twelve Days of Christmas" about fifteen minutes earlier than scheduled. I laid him out on the twin bed in his room, the one I use for diaper changes in lieu of a changing table, and started unzipping his pajamas.

Instant meltdown.

Andy slapped at my hands, tried to roll and climb away, and pulled his pajamas back on as I tried to keep pulling them off.  He started screaming, and the tears began forming.  My blood pressure immediately spiked, and the baby inside me started kicking like crazy as if to join in on the fun.  "ANDY!"  I said sharply, "STOP MOVING!"  This only made Andy move more.  "ANDY!" I cried, suddenly desperate and in need of a solution.  "If you stop moving NOW, you can have a cookie after you're dressed."

I've never seen a kid freeze and shut up so quickly.

Now, I've bribed Andy with cookies before.  Never this early in the morning and only on a couple occasions when I was really, truly at my wit's end.  The reaction out of Andy has always been resigned compliance, which is usually good enough for me.  But this morning?  The promise of a cookie?

And B is for Bribe.
Well, once the C-word was out there, we embarked on what had to be one of the most pleasant diaper and outfit changes in the history of his existence.

After I got him changed and standing back up, he hooked his hand in mine and looked up at me expectantly.  I walked him out of his room and to the top of the stairs, where I let go of his hand and said, "Wait here while I go get the cookie."  I often tell Andy to wait in one position while I go do something.  It never works.  Andy doesn't know how to stand still- he's incapable of it.  Today, however, when I opened the gate to the top of the stairs, started walking down the stairs, and closed the gate behind me, I kept an eye on Andy while I embarked down towards the kitchen.  He stood perfectly still, a tiny soldier awaiting sugar, a sweet little smile playing at his lips as he watched me walk down.  In the kitchen, it took me a minute or two to find the box of cookies, get the box open, and dig out a single cookie.  I took a generous bite out of it (hey, I never promised Andy a WHOLE cookie), and then carried it back upstairs.  And there was Andy, standing in the exact same spot, patiently waiting for his cookie.  "Here it is!" I said, brandishing the cookie, at which point Andy's face broke out into a grin so bright it could have lit the darkest winter sky in Norway.  "Cookie!" he exclaimed, then reached out for it.  I walked into the bathroom to start getting my make-up on (first the left eyebrow, then the right), and Andy followed me in, where he sat on the floor and happily, quietly, consumed his cookie, all while issuing the occasional, joyous "Mmmm!"

I found it.  I can't believe I found it.  The ONE thing that pacifies my son in the morning- and it's a god damn cookie.  Which he clearly can't have every morning- or can he??? No, you're right, he totally can't.  Or can he?  No, that's too much sugar.  Or is it?  And it's definitely not right to bribe him in order to get my way.  I know this.  But if it works this well- THEN WHY NOT?

Parenting is hard.

I will not be offering Andy a cookie tomorrow morning no matter how difficult the morning diaper change is.  I made that promise to myself as I left the house this morning, Andy and Daddy engrossed in another, less physical battle involving teeth-brushing.  I did however, learn a couple things this morning from the whole diaper-cookie exchange.

One.  Andy is perfectly capable of laying still for his morning diaper and clothing change.  Little bastard.

Two.  Andy deals with delayed gratification surprisingly well for someone so young.  Just the promise of a cookie was good enough for him, and the patience he exhibited in waiting for it was pretty shocking, all things considered.

Three.  Bribery does work- it's undeniable, and all parents do it- so maybe I may just need to figure out how to tweak that bribery so instead of handing Andy a sugary treat, he's getting some other incentive.  Such as a banana, or my undying love.  Although he knows he has free, unlimited access to both of those things, so it may be back to the drawing board on that one.

Four.  A bite of cookie in the morning is really a phenomenal way to start my day.  Sooo- we're not making it a habit of giving Andy a cookie every morning- but maybe Mommy???

We'll see what happens in the morning.


You may remember my blog post a week or so ago about the impending "tomorrow" of removing Andy's binky.  At this point, it's been over a week of Andy only having the binky at nap times and night time- and it's gone rather well except for the one time Chris, in a less sensitive moment, yanked it out of his mouth after his nap time.  Just a tip- you have to ASK for it, not take it.  Andy wants to feel like it's his choice when he gives it up, which is fine since he WILL give it up if you ask or offer a trade (like a drink)- and then it's our job to run and hide it really quick while he's distracted.  Anyway, for now, he can have his little security nub when he sleeps- I feel like I've won the bigger part of the battle, and, hey, isn't that what being a mom is all about?  We'll deal with night time binky... tomorrow-ish.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Table Fable!

We bought Andy a little plastic table and chairs set. The poor kid has nowhere comfortable or ergonomically satisfying to sit when he colors or types up his monthly newsletter "Keeping It Dandy With Andy," and my efforts in setting him up with a breakfast tray as a makeshift desk have gone mostly unappreciated. "You expect me to sit on the carpet and bend over this tray while I crank out my manifestos?" Andy has spat in my face. "I may eagerly eat dirt and sand when we go to the park- but, please, I do have SOME dignity."

I ordered him his table and chairs as a way to make things right between us, and they arrived yesterday. When Andy saw the giant box, he just about wet his pants. In fact, he did wet his pants, but that's unrelated to his level of excitement- it's just a thing he does. I got the box open and, slowly- with much fanfare- pulled out the table and two chairs- and watched as Andy shoved them aside and crawled into the box, squealing with delight like a homeless child who had just hit the jackpot.

Why didn't I see that coming?

With his attention span being what it is, it wasn't long before he lost interest in his new box house and decided to check out what I was doing, which was arranging his new table and chairs in the center of our living room. I'm trying to eventually make the front living room of our home into a play room, since all we use the room for now is changing diapers and spying on the neighbors through the front window. I thought the table and chairs would fit perfectly in the center of the room, and of course they did because I'm often right about these things. Andy came over to the new set up and began to investigate his table. I took this opportunity of Andy being distracted to sneak away for a minute to the back of the house, where the family room and kitchen are, so that I could get a start on dinner. It was just me and Andy for the evening, which means- scrambled egg night! Chris despises eggs because there's something broken in his head, which means that Andy and I indulge in eggs and hashbrowns whenever Chris is out for the evening. And sometimes cake, but don't tell that to Chris, he'd be so upset with me.

Not even ninety seconds had passed, however, when I heard a ruckus- the sound of a plastic table being dragged from the living room, down the little hallway, and into the family room. I watched from where I stood in the kitchen as Andy shoved the table into the family room right up against the couch. Having accomplished this task, he turned on his heels and ran off. I heard some more grunting and groaning and then the scrape of a plastic chair against the lineoleum. He put the one chair in place by the table, then ran off again and came back in a minute with the second one. Having set up the table and chairs perfectly in the house's center of attention, Andy admired his handiwork for all of two minutes.

Then he grabbed one of the chairs, knocked it down, rolled it to the front door, and left it there. He came back, grabbed another chair and basically threw it down the hallway. He came back once more, tilted the table, and completely overturned it. Having then run out of ways to use his new table, he walked up to me, lifted his arms up, and sweetly demanded, "Uppies."

"God dammit, Andy," I thought to myself as I picked him up. So much for him enjoying his new gift, which I had been so excited to present to him. Aloud, I said, "Soooo... want to watch 'Caillou' for few minutes while I scramble nature's most perfect food, the egg?"

Andy nodded, and I set him down on the couch and put on an episode of "Caillou." Andy loves that show, and it's currently his favorite. This infuriates me, because there's something about that Caillou kid that rubs me the wrong away. That French-Canadian bastard is always whining about one thing or the other. "I wanna be big right now!" he sings in an alarmingly catchy tune, "I wanna be big right now! I wanna do the things that grown-ups do- RIGHT NOW!"

Give it a rest, Caillou. Why don't you go hug your grandma, you big baby?

The rest of the evening rolled by, and before long, Andy was fed, played with, bathed, and pajama-ed. We sat in the chair in his room, and I sang him a few songs while the sun set. I sang two Tori Amos songs, one wildly inappropriate Red Hot Chilli Peppers song, a Tom Petty tune, and a verse or two of "Old McDonald Had A Farm." I was horribly off-tune on every song, but every time I finished singing, Andy looked up at me and said, "More, more." There's another perk of being a mom- having someone who loves your singing voice even when it's as soothing as a scalding hot mug of tea filled with glass shards.

After Andy was in his crib, I headed downstairs and cleaned up the house, collecting the three pieces of his table and chair set and re-arranging them back in the living room. I followed this up with eating two buttered English muffins and contemplating having a third but instead settling for just licking the butter off the knife since I don't want to gain TOO much weight in this final trimester.

Off to bed, and in the morning, I brought Andy downstairs and into the living room. "Why don't you sit at your new table set while I make breakfast?" I suggested in an upbeat voice. I had even put a puzzle in the center of the table to tempt him, although Andy's never once been "tempted" by a puzzle since puzzles fall in that boring gray area between edible and poisonous-slash-choking hazard.

I left him at the plastic table and walked into the kitchen. Five seconds later: Scrape, scrape, scrape. Andy appeared around the corner pushing the table back into position by the couch in the living room. He wandered off, returned with one chair. Walked off again and returned with the other. Then he sat down in one of the chairs and waited patiently for his bowl of Cheerios. Just for fun, I tried to bring the Cheerio bowl to his normal place at the normal table- but was stopped by the sound of Andy whining and pointing down at his new plastic table. "I'm eating here now, lady," I could almost hear him say. And, despite my obvious losing battle at keeping the table in the front room, I was happy enough in his interest in the table- and in the fact that he didn't throw the chairs- to let him have breakfast at his own new spot, on his own new table, at its super inconvenient and unattractive place by the couch.

But, Andy wants what he wants, and I guess that's where we're keeping the table. Although I'm pretty sure I'll be moving it back to the living room tonight if just for the joy of watching Andy move it back again tomorrow. Either that, or keeping the table where it is and then moving myself and all the food and the TV into the front room. I would do that just to mess with his head, and it would be hilarious and awesome and just the right amount of jerky.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

That Blasted Binky!

Andy loves his binky, but we try not to give it to him too often, unless, of course, he wants it.

When we are at home, Andy has his binky in his mouth basically all the time. When he can't find it, he wanders around the house moaning, "My! My!" We can only assume that this is Andy-shorthand for "My goddamn binky- where is it??" Sometimes, Andy becomes desperate and manages to fashion other items into a temporary binky. I've caught him with his Mickey Mouse doll, Mickey's round black nose jammed firmly into Andy's mouth as he tries his best to make do. The other day, Andy was walking around with a rubber ducky sticking out of his face, pathetically slurping on the head of the rubber ducky and looking up at me as if to say, "You. You drove me to this. Where. Is. My. BINKY?"

Cleaning house, with binky.
For the most part, though, I haven't forced Andy to rely on his inventiveness and find other acceptable sucking solutions. Part of me is afraid that he'll discover his thumb, and that would be an even bigger problem. There would be no cutting off his thumb when it was time to put our foot down, and he'd end up having the tell-tale red, wrinkled thumb that all thumb-sucking kids develop, the one that tips them off to the bullies that they're an easy target and are one veiled threat away from pissing their pants. If he wants his binky, I pretty much just hand it to him. "We'll start weaning him off of this tomorrow," I say to myself, watching as Andy's face instantly relaxes the second the binky nub hits his lips. And then I reward myself with two servings of ice cream for being such an excellent parent.

A baby's pacifier strikes me as very similiar to cigarettes for a small child. The binky takes the edge off, but it's an increasingly unacceptable habit. I have this vision of Andy disappearing on me, and then finding him out back, leaning up against the house while he alternates between sucks on his binky and gulps from a can of Baby Coors.

I feel like the "tomorrow" in which we need to wean Andy from his binky is rapidly approaching, though. I've done some precursory research on the old interweb, which has proven to be mostly inadequate. None of the experts can seem to agree on when a child must stop using the binky. Some say babies should stop at the age of one. Others say two. Surprisingly, still others say "between three and four." I'm half-tempted to stick with one of the more forgiving "between three and four" experts and just let Andy have at it for now. I totally would, too, except I've seen some of the books these experts have written, and they have such titles like "If The Baby Wants A Pepsi, Just Give Him A Pepsi," "Tried and True Parenting Techniques Of The Occasionally Sober," "The Stinkier The Diaper, The Better Off You Are Waiting For Your Husband To Get Home," and "Who Needs A Crib When You Got A Box?"

Don't get me wrong- these are all finely written books. And while I agree with some of the parenting advice given (I think Andy would LOVE sleeping in a cardboard box!), I'm thinking that I should work to wean from the binky now. Or, at least, soon. By tomorrow, for sure.

Andy trusts me with his binky, so I have a small amount of guilt when it comes to taking it away from him. When he takes it out to eat food or during some of the activities that I've arbitrarily set up "No Binky" rules for (No binkies in the bath! No binkies in the stroller! No binkies when we're discussing anything that happened pre-Obama! No binkies if your feet smell!), he hands it to me and says "Thank you." It's one of the few times he says "Thank you," but he always says "Thank you" when he hands me his binky. I believe he is saying, "This is THE most important thing in my life. I trust you with it because you're my mother and would never do anything to hurt me. Thank you for taking such good care of what is basically a piece of my soul, and, yes, I'll be asking for that back in about three minutes."

Of course, when Andy says, "Thank you," it sounds more like "Dick You," but we all get the point.

As of now, I think the first step will be to allow binky usage in the crib and in the crib only. Then, once that's been established, we can figure out how to eradicate binky suckage entirely. This sounds like a pretty solid plan, except for the fact that limiting the usage is going to be a nightmare. That Andy, when he wants something, he makes it very clear that he wants something, and is not going to let up until he gets it. He's RELENTLESS.

"My My!" Binky.

"Shoes!" To go outside.

"Cookie!" Cookie. I blame "Sesame Street." And myself, for letting him have cookies.

"Uppies!" To be picked up.

"No!" Boy, do I hear this one a lot.

"Mommy!" I've disappeared for two minutes, and this displeases Andy.

"More." Something amazing just happened (such as the appearance of a cookie) and we won't be satisfied until we've had three hours worth.

It's pretty shameful that the binky removal aspect of parenting falls under the "I know I should and I definitely will but I don't have the energy today" category, but it totally does. I keep reminding myself that getting rid of bottles back in December/January ended up being *relatively* painless, so perhaps binky eradication will end up being okay, too. That category, by the way, is not just for parenting, but for life in general. So, I'm not a lazy mom, I'm a lazy person. That somehow makes all this more palatable.

I'd be okay setting the limit of "age 2" for the binky except for the fact that I've got this built in time line, now. The new baby is forcing things to happen less organically than they probably would have. The binky is one example, as is the big boy bed. I want to move Andy to the big boy bed before the baby is born so that he doesn't connect the dots too easily that the baby is taking over his crib. That means that I'm planning on moving Andy to the bed some time in May (holy crap, is that next month??), regardless of whether or not he's ready. I don't know if this is the correct approach to raising a child- making decisions based more on an outside need rather than what the child is ready for- but it's kind of what I'm going with. And, hey, I'm pretty sure I just finished reading a book called "How To Teach Your Toddler To Just Man Up Already," so at least ONE expert agrees.

Anyway, wish us luck with the binky. Some hard core binky tough love starts- tomorrow.