Posts tagged parenting

Happy hearts

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Nathan was being a little bit of a pain this evening (ok ok, a BIG pain!), so I had to discipline him and put him in his room. I explained to him what he’d done wrong and how his behavior was breaking my heart. When I said that, he burst into tears, hugged me, and said, “I want Mommy’s heart to be happy!”

What a sweet little man, even when he’s pushing all of Mommy and Daddy’s buttons!

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Positive reinforcement- our secret gem

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So as you guys already know, I started going to a gym that has childcare. The one I go to is great, and the ladies that run the childcare center are wonderful. However, it’s only considered a casual childcare center- it’s not an accredited daycare center. They don’t do snacks, change diapers, or anything like that. And there is a two-hour time limit. But I’m super happy just to have the option!

The childcare at the gym is great to have, but it’s a little zoo-ish and a bit of a free-for-all. There is no structure, which is something Nathan really needs.  The other kids get really wild, which Nathan can’t handle. Don’t get me wrong, the workers try. They really do. But since it’s a casual childcare center, they’re not trained to handle kids like mine.

So we’re working on lots of positive reinforcement. I am innundating Nathan with positivity. Its important to catch him doing something right. But when he acts up, he gets only one warning, and then I discipline him. I’m not going to give him chance after chance to behave. Why, you ask? Because that’s not real life. And because respects me when I give him boundaries and limits and I STICK to them.

As for the childcare at the gym, I’m using a coupon system. You see, the workers had lost control of him. When they try to put him in timeout, he fights. I mean, tooth and nail. Complete with scratching, kicking, hitting, the works. Once he reaches that point, they have to let him go and not force it since he could hurt himself or them. Unfortunately, to Nathan it meant that all he had to do was fight like hell and then he could get out of trouble. It’s not like that with me, though; I’m Mother. I don’t care if it takes me an hour to get him to stay in timeout for three consecutive minutes. Fighting me never, ever gets him out of a consequence. I have never, not one time, given in. Never. He can’t get out of discipline with me. But he knows he can with others. Hence, the coupon system.

So Nathan and I will draw a picture of a special treat (ice cream, popsicle, etc.) of something he doesn’t get often, and we call it his coupon. We hand it over to the workers when we arrive, so Nathan has a visual of the workers being in control of whether or not he receives his coupon when he leaves. And then if he behaves, they give him the coupon and he redeems the coupon for his treat when we get home. However, if he doesn’t behave, we wave bye-bye to the coupon and leave it there for next time.

There has been only one time I’ve had to veto the coupon they gave him. There were about 15 screaming kids running around in there, and Nathan lost control. He started pushing and kicking and screaming, thrashed and crashed and lost control. He fought the workers when they attempted to put him in timeout, so they had to come get me. After I disciplined him, I had to take my shower. While I was gone, Nathan pulled the fire alarm (WHY do they have those damn things within children’s reaches in the nursery anyway??) The building had to be evacuated, the fire department came, the whole kit-n-caboodle.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with the ladies who work there are wonderful women. They have huge hearts and genuinely like the kids, especially mine. They dote on him, and there is one lady in particular who tries to spend as much on-on-one time with him as she can when he’s there- because she’s noticed he does better when she does. And she told me she just loves how precious, sweet, and kind he is. So anyway, this particular worker (I’ll call her A) said although Nathan was quite naughty, he still deserved his coupon because he tried to be good… A told me it wasn’t his fault the other kids were too rowdy, causing him to become overstimulated. She said she could tell he tried so hard to be good, but it was just too loud and too rowdy in there, and he lost control. So she handed him the coupon and said he did a good job trying to be good.

I thought long and hard about that as Nathan and I drove home, and I made the executive decision as his mother to veto the coupon. I understand what A meant, I really do. And I do agree with her. He really DOES try, and it’s not his fault that he has sensory issues. However, trying won’t get you shit in real life. You can try not to be late for work, but your boss won’t give a damn. You can try to turn in a work project on time, but that won’t matter if you miss your deadline. Trying doesn’t mean squat in real life, only what you actually do.

So I vetoed the coupon. Nathan was gloriously angry about it and had a monstrous meltdown, but I stood my ground. We as a society have to remember that we’re not raising children; we’re raising adults. Yes it would have made me feel good in the moment, short term, to give him his coupon and make him happy. But it would have been self-centered of me because I would be thinking of how it made me feel rather than teaching him an important lesson. It would have hurt him in the long run and not taught him anything. Because even though it’s not his fault, per se, that other kids’ rowdiness overstimulates him, as his mother it’s my job to teach him that his behavior was unacceptable. It’s my job to teach him what behaviors are and are not appropriate.

The only way he can learn that is if I teach him. And I don’t want my child to be like this entitled generation of kids we have on our hands now whose only thoughts are me, me, me! I want him to be responsible, successful, and self sufficient.

But you know what? After that incident, he has earned every single one of his coupons thereafter. And the last few days, he has been SPECTACULAR. As in, zero incidents! The workers told me his behavior has been PERFECT. He’s been so kind to everyone, including the other children. He’s been doling out hugs and affection, and today I was told that when he saw a little girl crying, he got her some tissues, dabbed her eyes, and said “No cry, dry the tears” and then gave her hugs.

Stuff like that melts my heart.

In fact, he’s been so well behaved that today one of the male workers made a point to go to the manager’s office after his shift was over (before it was time for me to get Nathan) to tell management to tell me that Nathan was so well behaved that he deserved TWO ice creams (which was his coupon today.) The manager told me Nathan has been a pure joy.

My heart felt like it was going to burst with love.

Being a parent is a rough path to walk, that’s for sure. Its hard to come up with the right strategy to control your children. Parenting is fluid, constantly changing. At least with Nathan. That kid keeps me on my toes, I tell ya. We’re constantly changing our tactics to keep up with what works best for him. And as cliche as it sounds, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Oh how I love him!

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Thinking about how these past three-and-a-half years have flown by. I look at my little boy, remembering how not too long ago, he was just a little baby. Now he’s growing up. I wonder what kind of person he will be when he gets older?

He has such a sweet personality. He’s constantly giving me hugs and kisses. He’s always wanting to sit with me in the recliner and snuggle (and let me tell you, I relish our snuggles because I know it won’t be long before he finds himself too old for such things!) He cleans up his room when I ask him to, puts his dirty dishes on the counter, pushes his chair back under the table, say please and thank you, and is always doing sweet little things to make me and his daddy smile. He loves to give me hugs and will embrace me for so long that sometimes I wonder if he’ll ever let go! (Not that I’m complaining; I absolutely adore his affection.) He’s quick to apologize if he bumps into me and will even apologize to the cats if he runs into them. He likes to run his little hands along my cheeks and asks me if I’m ok or if I’m feeling happy. He has a sense of humor, too. He’ll ask me to close my eyes, then he’ll take a strand of my hair and tickle my face with it. He likes to clown around to get a laugh, and he likes to ask me what my favorite part of my day was (which, of course, is always spending my time with him.) Gosh I love him!

On the other hand, he can be quite onery when he decides to be! He has an incredibly strong-willed personality. I have to be cautious with disclipline- too much negativity sends him into a meltdown. I’ve found that positive reinforcement works quite well with him- I try to catch him doing something right, even if it’s as small as holding over his plate as he eats. And boy, we can really get into Battles of the Wills, let me tell ya. This child is incredibly strong-willed and will fight tooth and nail for what he wants. This can be an asset for him as he matures into an adult, but right now it definitely makes things difficult. Like potty training. Oh man. I’ll save that story for another time.

He loves, loves, loves being around other children, but the poor fellow doesn’t have much in the way of social skills. He’ll run up to other kids, seemingly excited to engage with them, but instead of saying “hi, I’m Nathan! Would you like to play?”, he’ll push them. He also has a rather narrow threshold for the number of kids he can be around. According to the ladies who run the childcare center at the gym, he gets incredibly overstimulated whenever there’s more than four other kids there. If other kids are being obnoxious, running around, and screaming, he loses control and will start melting down. He’ll crash into the floor and walls, pick up chairs and throw them, hurl toys through the air, push, and kick, bang his head on the floor… Then they have to come get me.

I’m not sure if his lack of social skills are due to him being an only child or what, but its definitely something we’re working on. The workers in childcare tell me he is one of the sweetest, most precious children they know- as long as it’s calm in the room. I’m sure it doesn’t help that he has issues with talking. I mean, he IS talking, but just not on the same level as other kids his age. He doesn’t know how to say what he feels, or how to ask other kids if they would like to play, share, take turns, etc. I can imagine how frustrating that would be.

It’s hard to see your child struggle with something, but Paul and I are really working with him, so I’m sure things will work themselves out soon.

He’s a very smart little boy. He’s known his abc’s, both uppercase & lowercase, since he was 2 1/2. He’s been able to count to 100 since he was 2 (with help- he still needs help with the teens and needs to be prompted after 39, 49, 59, and so on.) He loves, loves, loves puzzles! He also loves taking things apart and putting them back together. He’s known all his colors and shapes for over a year now and also knows which way is left and which is right. He can do simple math in his head and has a steel-trap memory. Seriously, this kid can remember something seemingly arcane that I said one time a number of months ago. He can recall commecials he’s only seen once weeks before, and he knows more about dinosaurs than I do. I’m telling you, sometimes I think we have a genious on our hands!

Being a parent is hard. I can say it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. But oh so rewarding! He makes my heart swell with so much love that sometims I’m convinced my heart will burst. Like when I finish a shower and hear Nathan’s little voice ask me if my shower was nice. Or when I get up in the mornings, hearing Nathan ask me if I slept well. And the hugs! Kisses! And the way he wraps his arms around my neck when I hug him. And when he tells me thank you for giving him amazing hugs. It’s so incredible to watch him grow and learn, seeing his personality develop, and knowing that we are playing a huge role in molding him into the adult he will become.

I love being Nathan’s mommy!

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Oh how I loathe viruses!

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We’ve had a distressing past couple of days here. On Tuesday, I took Nathan with me to the gym and dropped him off in childcare. He was perfectly fine; he was energetic and happy to be there to play with some kids and the toys. After my workout a short time later, I came to pick him up. To my surprise, he was just laying down in the floor, which is uncharacteristic of him. I called him over to me, but when he got up, I noticed he had a hard time walking. He had a stumbling/lurching gait. I asked him if he was okay, and he said his tummy hurt. At first, I thought he had overexerted himself and was tired, and I attributed the tummy ache to being hungry since it was past his dinner time. When I gave him a hug, however, he felt hot.

As soon as we got home, I knew something was amiss. He normally loves to help me carry stuff inside, but this time he was too weak. He said he couldn’t do it. When we came in, I took his temperature and he had a fever of 102.1. And things just escalated from there. He kept complaining of his tummy hurting and barely ate any of his dinner. We gave him some medicine for the fever and decided to call the doctor if he wasn’t feeling better the next morning.

He woke up multiple times throughout the night and Paul and I would find him curled into a ball, crying that he was hurting. Morning could not come fast enough.

So the next day, it got worse. He was very weak and had no appetite, still had a fever, and his stomach pain was so bad that at times, he was unable to stand, walk, or sit up. All he could do was curl into a ball and cry, pleading with me to help him in between sobs. I called his pediatrician, but they couldn’t get him in until the next day. I felt this couldn’t wait, so I took him to a walk-in clinic.

By that time, the little guy was screaming in agony. The doctor said that she wouldn’t even waste my copay- he needed to go to the emergency room. She said the thing with young kids is that abdominal pain could be anything from a stomach bug to a bowel obstruction to appendicitis; since a youngster can’t communicate very well exactly what’s hurting and where, there was no way to know unless he had some tests run and she didn’t have that kind of equipment at the clinic.

So off to the hospital we went. I was a wreck. I tried in vain to be brave and not cry in front of Nathan, but I was so scared. With the way he was acting, I was certain it was something serious. Then I had flashes of horrible images race through my mind… I had flashes of us getting to the hospital only to discover he had to have emergency surgery for a bowel blockage, and then he got an infection with (MRSA, Staph, or some unknown pathogen), then the infection overtook his little body and he went into cardiac arrest, they tried to rescucitate him but failed… as these unwanted images flew through my mind, I became very nauseous. My heart dropped into my stomach and I had to consciously keep myself from puking. I felt like I ate a twenty pound brick and it was sitting right in the pit of my quivering stomach. I had to fight the urge to turn around and not take him to the hospital. At the very least, I was worried he would pick up another bug and come down with something else on top of what he had already.

So we arrived to the hospital and little man was feeling just awful. He had a fever of 104.0 and I couldn’t get him to calm down and stop crying. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long before we were taken back to a room. After a while, we saw the doctor who ordered some x-rays to check out his tummy. Come to find out, she said he had nasty, fast-acting virus causing his fever and body aches, an inflamed (sore) throat, and was incredibly constipated, which was causing his severe stomach pain. I asked her if she was sure that’s what the problem was, and she said oh yeah. The x-rays showed he was clogged up with a ton of poop!

Apparently, constipation like that is quite common in kids his age. Especially when they’re potty training, because the child typically doesn’t want to take a break from playing to go use the potty. And as for the fever, that explains the weakness and trouble walking. The doctor said when a fever hits a child really fast (especially a high fever), it will definitely make the child act different. They could act confused, shaky, and even start hallucinating.

So when she told me his diagnosis, the relief I felt was exhiliarating. It felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. I was so afraid it was something major by the agony he was in. Oh sweet, sweet relief. I can’t even adequately articulate just how sweet that relief felt.

So anyway, they gave him some medicine to help de-constipate him (is that even a word?) And it worked! With some medicine to control his fever & virus symptoms and his bowels cleaned out, he was like a whole new kid.

The next day, his fever broke and he was back to his normal little self. And let me tell you, he was as sweet as he could be. He kept wrapping his little arms around my neck, calling me his sweet little mommy. When we sat down for breakfast, he pulled my chair out from under the table and once I sat down, he even helped me scoot forward. After we finished, he helped clean off the table and then ceremoniously picked up his juice and told me he was going to drink it “for Mommy.” All day long, he sat with me, adorned me with kisses, and told me how much he loves me. I think he was making up for being a bit grumpy (understandably!) while he was sick. I was sad that my husband had to work and couldn’t experience this with me!

I tell you, being a parent is hard. Not just the parenting aspect of it, but all the worry it entails as well. Especially when your child’s hurting and there’s nothing you can do to help. I wouldn’t trade being a parent for the world, but sometimes I wish I could be Superwoman and save him from every little hurt. I’m willing to bet that most parents feel the same way.

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