Monday, October 20, 2014

Bathroom Business!

Andy's preschool teacher sent a letter home with all of the parents today stating that his class has a real problem with bathroom breaks- as in every child needs to use the bathroom constantly to the point where it's disruptive.  I know Andy is one of the offenders on this issue because I've had to wait for him at pick-up while he's dawdled in his classroom's bathroom.  At home, Andy spends a lot of time in the bathroom.  One time earlier this summer, Andy was in the bathroom for a very long time. Finally, when he emerged, he announced, "I need some help washing my hands.  I was touching my penis A LOT."


At home, the problem is not so much the going to the bathroom as it is the substantially prolonged period of hand-washing that follows.  Andy can spend twenty minutes just soaping up his hands, making bubbles, talking to himself, and running over fifteen gallons out of the faucet and down the drain.  He completely loses track of time while hand washing.  I guess his mind just wanders, perhaps playing out feature-film length Dora episodes in his head while he soaps and unsoaps, soaps and unsoaps.  I finally had to tell him that hand washing should take no longer than the amount of time it takes to sing the ABC song.  I'm slightly amused every time I hear the bars of ABCDEFG come floating through the bathroom door.  And I'm slightly irritated because, to me, that's STILL too long. We have a schedule to keep around here.  Soap, water, dry, go.  Why must everything be a production?

I do feel like I may be a little to blame for Andy's prolific bathroom use at school.  It hasn't happened in a week or two, but Andy has recently had a string of unfortunate accidents around the house. Sometimes it's pee, sometimes it's poo, but, either way, the guy is four and should really have a handle on all this by now.  I don't know about you and YOUR four year old, but I certainly feel like we have ALL failed on days when I have to scrape a man-sized poo out of Spiderman underwear from a child who's memorized facts about the planets and is interested in learning how pistons work in engines.  How can a youngster so bright and aware not feel such a very large poo coming on?  We are supposed to be beyond crapping ourselves.  I don't care that you couldn't figure out how to pause the television in time.  No show is worth this!

After a couple of accidents and some disgusting laundry, I put it all on the line for young Andrew. You have to pay attention to your body because if you poo or pee yourself outside of the house around other kids, they will shame you until we have no choice as a family but to move to a ranch in Montana with limited cell phone service.  Don't have an accident.  It's embarrassing.

And so it should come as no surprise that Andy is one of the kids in his preschool who likely goes all the time as to avoid packing his toys up in a U-Haul headed out West.

I have been trying to potty train Alex.  He's been using the potty for over six months now, but we're finally at a point where I feel confident in taking him out of the house in underwear.  This is a huge transition for not only young Alex but for me as well, as now, when I take the kids out, there are three of us with urgent bathroom needs.  I truly need to factor in about an extra forty-five minutes worth of time in bathroom breaks as not to run our schedule too tight.  Potty training is good and necessary and I'm happy at the prospect of weening off expensive pull-ups, but man is it a pain in the ass.  No one quite appreciates a child in a diaper like a mom with a newly training kid.  Especially one who has to pretty much completely undress in order to go while you kneel on the bathroom floor and try to pretend like it's not the most disgusting surface your pants will ever touch.

Of course, Alex is doing great with number one, but mastering number two is definitely going to take a while.  So let me tell you how Alex handles that one.  I put him in a pull-up for his nap.  He takes all his stuff out of his toddler bed and insists on sleeping in big brother Andy's bed.  Then, whilst in there, he releases the obnoxious amount of poo he's been holding all morning.  And so it seems that Alex has two toilets.  One, the real toilet.  Two, his brother's bed.

Which is fine with me.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Less Than, Greater Than, Equal To!

We were watching "Team Umizoomi" today while eating dinner.  I'd read somewhere that watching TV while eating dinner was bad for children because it led to mindless eating; thus, since my children don't eat, it stands to reason that TV watching during dinner might actually be a good thing.  Plus the pediatrician's office has a big poster in it that says "Two Hours of Screen Time A Day!"  Since we're overachievers, we try to keep it in the five to six range.

If you don't know what "Team Umizoomi" is, it's a cartoon featuring two miniature, sibling superheroes (Milli and Geo) and their epileptic robot that gets the "crazy shakes" at the end of each episode.  They just love math, and they cruise around Umi City looking for ways to show off their math skills.  I heard Umi City has a pretty big teenage runaway and drug problem, but those social issues are never quite addressed during the allotted twenty-two minutes airtime.

Today the gang was trying to unlock a door by putting numbers in order on the lock, and the robot held up the number "3" asking what number it was and where it would fit.  I glanced at Andy who was mindlessly eating (mission accomplished!) to see if he would jump in with the obviously easy answer.  When, lo and behold, Alex (not mindlessly eating, goddammit), spoke up.  "Three!"  Alex cried.  "Three!"  And I turned, surprised, to look at him, as I'd almost forgotten he'd existed for a moment.

"That's very good, Alex!" I gushed.  "That IS a three!"  Could Andy identify numbers at twenty-eight months?  Heck, can MOST kids identify numbers at twenty-eight months and this is something Alex should have been doing earlier this year?  Or am I right to be proud of Alex- Alex, whom I hardly ever, ever address questions to?

His piping up with the correct answer reminded me of something yet again.  I forget to ask Alex as many questions as I ask Andy.  When we're reading books, I ask Andy questions along the way to see if he's understanding the story.  When we're out and about, I ask Andy questions about what we're doing or seeing.  And when it comes to making decisions about where to go, what to eat, what to play, I ask Andy.  Not Alex.  Because Alex is a silly baby who doesn't know any better.

But he does know better.  And he's not a baby.  When Andy was Alex's age, I had mentally promoted him to an older phase in his little life simply because there was a new baby, someone smaller around.  When Andy was Alex's age, we did activities and had conversations suited to him and his growing brain.  But now Alex, at that same age, doesn't get quite the consideration that I gave to his older brother.  Even though he can identify numbers and would probably enjoy answering a question here and there and perhaps making a choice or two.

It'll never be even.  I have to forgive myself for that and be reminded that it goes both ways, though. I've had so much more alone time with Alex than I ever had with Andy, especially since I worked full time the first two years of his life.  I take Alex to do fun things that he might never get to do because I might see it as a waste to do with just him.  Like the gymnastics gym we went to a lot last year.  I probably wouldn't have bothered to take just Alex, because what's a not even two year old going to do there?  But I went because I had an almost four year old who was going to love it, and, wouldn't you know, Alex was basically pommel horsing by himself after the first week or two.  He got more out of it than I would ever expect a toddler to- even though he fell UNDER the trampoline that first week and I had to slither myself beneath a bunch of equipment to pull him out- all whilst basically being smirked at by the staff.  Man, that could have really killed it for all of us then.  It's a good thing I have so little dignity to start with.

So there you have it.  A reminder that Alex exists and has a brain that needs to be nurtured, too.  A reminder to try and be fairer with my attention.  But also the acceptance that each aspect of their lives will never be totally equal.  Besides, there's no way Milli and Geo were treated totally equal by their parents (who I can only believe perished in some crazy mathematical accident), and they both turned out mostly fine.  Joint ownership of a personal robot is a big sign of having made it in Umi City.