Friday, August 27, 2010

Friends: I Have Two Questions for You

 Friends and parents:  I need your help.

Here is my story…T definitely understands the word “No”.  He doesn’t really care to stop doing whatever it might be that Z or I think is a bad idea, like playing with the cat food or water, crawling into the unbaby-proofed pantry, or pulling the safety plug thingies out of the sockets.  We usually have to remove him from the situation and try and distract him.  But he will pause when we say “No” and he will also wave at us.  He has actually started waving as soon as he’s started doing something he knows he shouldn’t.  It does crack me up that he sells himself out that way.  Sometimes I haven’t realized he’s doing something forbidden until I see the wave.  I can only pray he will continue to tell on himself when he’s a teenager.

Anyway, we are at the stage where he knows he shouldn’t do something and he does it anyway.  And more than half of the time when we stop his behavior he has a little tantrum at us.  Not the most charming of stages.  I know he is too little to understand why we don’t want him to do things.  He probably thinks we are pretty arbitrary and mean, although we try and be as consistent has possible.  He has to be as frustrated as we are, or maybe even more frustrated because he doesn’t understand the whys of any of this. 

We are stumbling through the best we can, but he has started doing something that is completely not cool with me.  He has a sweet little friend who is just about the same age.  They both are at the point where all they want in the world is to play with whatever is in the other one’s hand.  Totally normal, totally fine.   The un-fine thing is he has started to hit her in the head right before he grabs whatever she is holding.  I firmly (and I admit loudly) say, “No!” and try to distract him with something else, but I don’t know what else to do.  I ended up removing him from her immediate area, but it seems like such a crappy solution because I want him to get used to playing with another kid.  I am comfortable with him being with me full time until he is 2, and then I think it is important to get him into a preschool a few times a week to get him socialized, but Z is already worried he doesn’t spend enough time with other kids.  I understand this is a stage, that this too shall pass, but I am looking for another solution so I don’t have to pull him away from her.  What would you guys do it this situation?  I need experienced parent help!

This shirt is one of my all time favorite gifts for T.  It has a lovely appliquéd hammer and was made by an artist in Providence.  Man, we miss Providence...

Now on to the second question and a tiny bit more about Love:

First of all, we are major NPR people in this house.  I mean, we aren’t just listeners we are members.  Scott Simon, host of Weekend Edition Saturday, is out with a new book about the adoption of his two daughters called “Baby We Were Meant for Each Other” and he has been all over the radio doing interviews about it.  A few days ago he was the guest on Fresh Air and he was talking about the exact moment that his eldest daughter was placed in his wife’s arms.  I am paraphrasing here but the gist of what he said was at that moment he loved his wife more than he had 20 minutes before, and he loved his daughter more than he had ever loved anything in his entire life. 

It was particularly interesting for me to hear that so soon after writing about my feelings concerning love in the nuclear family.  And I guess it really drove home to me what should be obvious, everyone’s feelings about love are specific to their own situation, and it goes without saying valid.  And while my feelings about love in my little family haven't changed since I wrote the previous post, it made me curious about how you guys think of love within your families. 

As this is a two parter I thought a bonus picture was in order.  Dude is really bald, huh?


  1. So here I am weighing in on what we have experienced. Bella and Luca are 15 months apart and have had the same type of upbringing as far as me working at home and with the same child care, etc. Bella would never think of hitting and Luca will do it for no good reason at all (and to anyone who is in arm's reach might I add). In our situation, I do not think it is because of the social aspect. I think it is because Luca does not express himself with words as well as Bella.

    Another question to ask is if T is hitting more when his friend is at your house playing with T's toys or if you are there playing with her toys. I have come to see that this too makes a difference.

    With that said I do think that social interaction is a neccasity. Perhaps not a structured regiment from day one but visits from time to time are very important. Even though you probably want to keep him away from other children when he does act in this manner, the best thing might be for him to interact more. Things like the Children's Museum, story hours etc are great ways to get them into social circles without the whole regimen. One if the best things we have done is the Mommy and Me Gymnastics. Helps both socially as well as a great learning tool for balance and coordination.

    Bottom line is that even from the smallest of ages, we all have personalities and everyone is different. I would not worry much about it but I probably would send the mom a fruit basket so she will let them play together again.

    As far as love I don't think I could try and explain it; I would never do it justice. However, when I think of my love for Jason and the kids it is so strong that it is almost physical. By that I mean I can almost truly feel it in my heart and when I am away from them I feel that my heart is heavy and that I am missing something.

    Lastly, bald is beautiful (and so is T). You guys are truly blessed and I hope you are well. Miss you all!

  2. I'm not sure if this will help with T due to age - maybe, maybe not. Anyway, recently Alice has been up to no good (smoking, stealing cars, etc) and we basically count to 3.


    we see her doing something like standing on the couch.
    We say, "Alice, no standing on couch, Sit down". She does not. I say "Thats 1…" wait 5 seconds. Nothing. "Thats 2…". Wait another 5 seconds (these days this is enough and she'll sit down, but I'll continue). "Okay Alice, Thats 3! Time for a time-out" (even if she sits down at 3 exactly, no compromises).

    Then I pick her up, carry her into her room and close the door. She stays there for 2 minutes (guideline is 1 minute per year of life), and then can leave.

    After a timeout there is no mention of the problem again, no rubbing it in. Its over. Thats that. I *think* you could do this with T but I am not sure at all… I'll check the book Anna and I read. It think variations of the method can be applied.

    It has proven very very very effective.

  3. When you tell him no he is now old enough to be taught what the no is for. When he snatches something get down to his level tell him no and show him the toy, then let him watch you give it back to her and tell him "no snatching" or whatever you want to say, but use the right word. Next time he does it do the same thing and add a slap on the hand. I know I know, totally un PC and I'll probably get flayed by the Attached Parenting internet gods but its like dog training. A quick clear directive makes an impact. I'm not suggesting you do anything that would actually hurt him, just a little startle. You will have to do this over and over and over again. It will be frustrating. I recomend sticking to your guns and just keeping at it and not removing him from his friend unless he causes her or himself any actual harm.

    As for love...that's such a big issue. I'm going to have to mull on that and maybe do a blog of my own on that.

    I don't think T is old enough to understand a time out. He's just 1 right? Action and consequence don't have meaning yet which is what Time out is based on. You have to teach him that in the moment.

  4. Thank you guys so much for your comments. They are really thoughtful and helpful.

    R-Pointing out that each kid is different is so helpful, and so easy to forget when you only have one.

    M-would you send me the info on the book?

    K-I like the idea of getting down on his level, but because the issue is hitting I'm not sure I want to use that as a teaching tool. Although at this stage of development I agree that parenting can be like dog training. The repetition is key.

  5. R-forgot one more thing. The physicality of love that you talked about? I totally get that. Such a perfect way of putting it.

  6. I can totally feel you on the fact that when a kid starts acting terrible (and you know, age-appropriate), it makes me want to take her away from the scene (it gets so much more violent when they are 3). But hanging in there is so important so they can learn that sometimes things will be frustrating but that we can work them out. They can't really get taking turns at 1 year old, but they can watch and learn how you deal with the situation. I am by no means an expert, but I remember doing much the same kind of thing you describe, saying "no" and removing her from the immediate area, to return her later and show her what sharing is like. Maybe get doubles of some favorite toys (or spoons or whatever; or get some thing that's easily shared and different, like finger paints or something) and put away the ones that he's not ready to share.
    As much as I want to spank her sometimes, I do everything in my power not to because I tell her not to hit people now and the memory of me hitting her would make that confusing for her.

  7. Re: love. As always, this comes with the "having a brother is NOT the same as having your own child, but hell -- he came into my life when I was 17 and I'm his 'second mom' by his actual mother's own admission so I'm really really overly invested" disclaimer.

    Anyway. And p.s. I am already crying without really typing a word of consequence...

    My heart expanded in ways I could never imagine possible when Corey was born and I held him for the first time. Watching him grow and having an tangible impact on who he is now as a man has been...beyond intense. He turns 20 tomorrow; I look at him or talk to him and think: "How is it possible that I helped create THIS?! This MAN who is kind, smart, well-spoken, driven, respectful of women (despite EVERYTHING Kansas could throw at him), etc. How did I do this?!?"

    The answer is: I don't know.

    But I have full faith that you will feel the same about T. in 19 years. And you will look back in wonder at what you have helped to create. And it will be marvelous.


  8. J-love the doubles of the toy tip. I am going to totally try that.

    S-You know, I've never met Corey, but I feel like I have because of the way you talk about him. And anyone is lucky to have you love them!

  9. i think yer solution with the whacking of the head and subsequent snatching are totally right on. when bear was his age and that happened, we checked in with the other kdi, said "we don't hit" and moved the bear away to play with him and some other toy. no shaming, no anger, just "sorry, dude, not happening." if he needed to lose his shit about it, we said "ooh, yer pissed." and waited it out. he's 2 and a half now, and that's still the deal. the hitting is more random, but also more fierce, the tantrums are extremely arch backed and earnest, but, ya know - deep breaths and whatevs, cuz it's alright to be mad, it's not alright to be violent.

    reference love: it is bone-crushingly joyously breathtakingly heavy, this love of mine for my child. mingled with absolute desperation for a moment to myself. however, i gotta say, one of the first things that came into my head when they put him in my arms at the birthing center? "man, i want a sandwich."