Category Archives: Parenting

Why Parents Turn from Jekkyl to Hyde

Why can a parent lose his or her patience within the span of one minute? The same way a child can go from oh-so-sweet to . . . well . . . read and learn, dear friend.

AJ at bedtime, sweet and snuggly as can be: “If I wake up I can’t go back to sleep.”

Me: “Yes you can. If you wake up, just go back to sleep.”

AJ: “No, I can’t go back to sleep, I have to call you.”

Me: “No you don’t!  If you wake up in the night just close your eyes and go back to sleep.”

AJ: “I can’t close my eyes. I can’t. That’s the way God made me.”

Ten seconds later . . .

AJ, putting her finger in my nose: “Smell this!”

Me: “I don’t want to—it stinks.”

AJ: “It was in my butt.”

AJ, sweet and snuggly as can be: “If I wake up I can’t go back to sleep.”

Me: “Yes you can. If you wake up, just go back to sleep.”

AJ: “No, I can’t go back to sleep, I have to call you.”

Me: “No you don’t! If you wake up in the night just close your eyes and go back to sleep.”

AJ: “I can’t close my eyes. I can’t. That’s the way God made me.”

Ten seconds later . . .

AJ, putting her finger in my nose: “Smell this!”

Me: “I don’t want to—it stinks.”

AJ: “It was in my butt.”

Love and Logic to the Rescue

Or: Hand Over the Toys and No One Gets Hurt


I’ve been reading Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years (cheesy cover edition) for a while but the last week or so I’ve been picking up my reading and my implementation. I had to, because the Joygirl’s been testing me and sometimes I flunk.

The basic idea is that you show your child love by offering empathy, setting boundaries, and showing you can handle them testing their limits (and yours). You use logic in that you give swift, clear consequences and you are always trying to help them learn to make good choices.

I thought I knew the general idea of Love and Logic but once I got into the book I realized some of my errors/weaknesses:

  • too many warnings
  • emotional reactions
  • too much lecturing
  • too much attention given in general to bad behavior, even if it’s negative attention
  • not making/helping her learn from consequences

So for example if AJ would throw a toy at my face, I might be on my last nerve and shout at her, grab another toy away, physically put her in time out, and then lecture her on how throwing things is dangerous and hurts and is not taking care of her things. Yeah, like a two-year-old cares about taking care of things. I mean, this is a being that poops in its pants.

Now if she throws something, I immediately and calmly take it and put it out of reach, saying something empathetic like “I’m sorry you won’t be able to play with this now.” (I read that I must work on banishing sarcasm. Oh, right, like I would ever use that tone of voice.)

And now, to curtail one of her favorite stalling techniques, I’ve started “you can keep the  toys you clean up.” If I have to clean them up, I get to keep them.

You should see my stash.

Also new is that instead of me just giving them back whenever, she can earn them back. So when she discovered after her nap that the Fisher Price house and Sesame Street are up on the shelf, I told her since I helped clean them up I got to keep them, but she could earn them back by helping me by putting her books that are dumped on the floor back on her bookshelf. She thought that sounded fair but then wanted me to help. I said I already helped you, now you have to help me. (Cue the tantrums.) She made an attempt later on when I was in there sorting laundry but got distracted and never finished, so I still have all the goods. Looking forward to having all the books cleaned up tomorrow, because dang she loves that Sesame Street!

She’s a great kid overall but this end of the two’s has definitely been more challenging than the beginning, and the older they get the harder it is to “make” them do anything. You can’t start too early. I definitely recommend this book. Especially if you feel like your child is an angel one moment and a demon the next–or turning you into that.


You were eighty percent angel
Ten percent demon
The rest was hard to explain
—Over the Rhine, “What I’ll Remember Most”

Mama Always Comes Back

AJ has been going through an insecure/clingy phase of late. It’s not that she has a problem leaving me so much as gluing herself to me and whining when I’m back. She was fine staying at the seminary for “Parents’ Night Out” (or as we call it, “Glory Hallelujah”). But I went to the library to work for a whole five hours on Saturday, for example, and when I came back she glued herself to me and threw “Mama do it!” temper tantrums if Aaron attempted to help her with anything. Then Sunday she was fine going in nursery and running all over the church afterwards without us. But despite me spending all day playing with her, the writing of this post was interrupted because Mommy had to put her pajamas on her (I did cut a deal that Daddy would read the stories).

I’ve also been noticing quite a bit of play acting with little Fisher Price people and animals involving babies/children/animals crying for their mommies. So yesterday I started not only having the mommy come but telling her mama always comes. I talked to her about how when she goes away, like to Grandma’s, or I go to work, she might miss me, but I always come back. And so it’s okay to miss me but it’s also okay to enjoy going or playing with someone else because she can know that I’ll come back and spend time with her later.

At bedtime she said unprompted, “Mama comes back.”

I guess that connected, so I’ve kept it up today. “You can go to Grandma’s tomorrow and play, and then the next day I’ll come get you. Do I always come back? Yes, I always come back.”

We have been talking more about adoption lately just by virtue of her birthday coming up and friends having babies and her interest in how she came on a plane (we got I Love You Like Crazy Cakes from the library too). I’ve also been busy with work, trying (semi-successfully) to get hours in, and had a friend babysit when my mom was gone for a week. Some disturbed routines and extra busyness.

But who knows if anything has anything to do with anything else, for who can know the mind of the toddler? (Pretty sure that’s in the Bible.) Could be just a phase, like kids have and she’s had before. It’s just tough because she’s overall so fearless and loves her dad so much (and I so love the breaks he gives me!). But for whatever reason she seems to need more of me right now. I’m just trying to play Fisher Price Sesame Street on the floor as much as my body and brain can handle and not think what would happen if I ever get a “real job.” I think I would have to coat myself with Teflon to get out the door.

And I’ll just keep telling her, Mama always comes back.

Work-at-Home Parenting: A Quiz

Imagine you had a very large and important work project requiring great concentration and you also had an almost-three-year-old at home. Would your child:

(a) be sweet and fun for the friend who kindly helped with babysitting

(b) go on a two-day nap strike, complete with hours of wailing

(c) pee on the couch

(d) all of the above

I think anyone who works at home knows the correct answer.

This Little Piggy Flu Away…

…and found out she does NOT have H1N1 swine flu of doooooooooom.

But she does have some nasty flu-type virus. Wednesday AJ was at my parents’ house seeming warm and with a little cough, and by after her nap she was burning up and coughed up a big pool of slobbery mucus. At which point my mother began the process of FREAKING OUT more every hour and reciting swine flu symptoms and horror stories (what? you can’t imagine her doing this?) until I she had me freaked out too. Mostly because due to the continuing saga of our insurance/Medicaid adventures, AJ doesn’t really have a doctor around here that I could call.

AJ’s fever did respond to Tylenol, and after dinner she was up for her usual  jumping on the bed and yelling calmly playing and sweetly singing lullabies. But alas, at 6:00 a.m. her temp was 104 and I decided I’d better take her to urgent care (or my mother would kidnap her and do it).

The H1N1 test was negative so we were sent home to just do the usual (Tylenol/motrin, etc.) unless she developed trouble breathing. Her cough’s not getting worse and her temp is under control now that we got a different flavor meds that is not so apparently death-defyingly horrible that it required two people and a syringe to get it in her. Seriously, that girl can fight! Okay, okay, no cherry Tylenol. Duly noted. Sheesh.

I know you’re not supposed to put medicine in food because you might not know how much they ate. But I was home alone and she’d bested me at wrestling. I made sure she ate it all, all at once, by taking pictures to get her to ham it up slurping it so she’d keep eating. Desperate times are creative times.

Acetaminophen-laced applesauce . . . ahhhhhh! Refreshing!

IMG_9527 IMG_9529

Let the record show that this was the Joygirl’s first trip to a doctor for sickness of any kind. Parting gift from a third world orphanage: one kickass immune system.

Seriously, that girl can fight!

Brown and Yellow P-Words

Everyone_PoopsWarning to my friend Jem, in whose presence we are not allowed to utter “brown or yellow words,” and all others who fear and loathe descriptions of all things bathroom-related: this blog has a potty (training) mouth today.

We have been living in potty training central for a few weeks now. We had been trying to get AJ started for a while, but she was resisting (though not as vigorously as she was protesting diaper changes). Then one week she went to my parents’ house for a night and came back from that Bathroom Boot Camp full of the enthusiasm borne of finally understanding that yes, you really do get an M&M! right now! every time you go! And two for #2!

She’s been doing really well since it all clicked, and oh yes, she is proud of herself. She will tell you and anyone else about (here come the words) potty, pee, poop, M&M&M&Ms, Elmo underwear, how much, how big, how fragrant, etc. Recently Aaron came home for lunch and got this as soon as he opened the door:

“Dadadadadada Nanananana pee poop potty poop BIG POOP!

(On second thought he skipped lunch.)

As a result I have been spending a lot of time at the top of the stairs outside the bathroom (where the little potty is) waiting for results; in the bathroom reminding her that 47 gallons of water is enough hand washing already; and yelling those only-in-parenting gems like Get your wet naked butt off daddy’s pillow!

But it’s worth it since we’re using far fewer diapers–she is able to go diaperless unless she’s sleeping or on a long journey–which means less laundry/expense, plus we are extending the life of her pants and pjs now that she doesn’t have fat cloth diapers.

And she’s already better at math than I am: “Onnnnnnnne Mmenmememem pee, twoooooo Mmenmememem poop, Nana treeee memenmememems, Mommy. TREEEEEE.”

It’s a real-life story problem. And she always shows her work.

She Speaketh

The Joygirl has been having Early Intervention sessions for her speech for three months now, so I thought I’d give an update.

Judy comes every other week and plays for about 45 minutes. Obviously Joygirl loves her! She brings puzzles, books, blocks, crayons, and other toys that are very interactive so she can encourage Joygirl to use words to indicate what she wants and so on. Mostly I think she’s training me to interact this way.

Joygirl has made a lot of progress. When she was first tested I made a list of words she said consistently without prompting and it was maybe 50. About a month ago I listed a bunch more. This time before Judy came I made another list, and I was amazed how long it was. I didn’t count, but it might have been 50 more, and she’s putting together more phrases.

In the last couple weeks she has really gotten into using people’s names. She can identify and say several colors, a bunch of letters, and of course her favorite condiments. She can count to ten.

It’s amazing what you can learn when you start talking, eh?

Next visit Judy is going to do a mini re-evaluation of Joygirl’s language development to see how her scores now compare to her first test. Normally they wouldn’t do this until a couple months before she turns three, at which point she enters a different phase of the EI program, but since we’re moving, this will give us some sense of her progress.

I plan to contact the Michigan program, and I’m sure they’ll want to do their own evaluation. Their system appears to be similar, so if she still needs help when she turns three, she might be able to go into a group learning situation, like a focused preschool program, which I think would be good for her since she’s not getting that social aspect much now. We’ll see.