Monday, July 27, 2009

Bye Bye

Bicycle helmet swallowing his head, the baby turns to me. "Bye, Bye!". He then toddles over to his three wheeler and begins, yet again, the thousandth circle under the picnic pavilion. Each circle is punctuated by a screech as he hits the same chair, at the same place, at the same time as he did the last bazillion runs.

Periodically, he'll walk up and give me his 'lovey' and bink. "Bye, Bye!" and walk away. Intent on some journey or another, he goes forth.

He turned two this past Sunday. More little boy than baby, he is my little dynamo, always moving and grooving. He dances to his own beat and often sings songs right from the bottom of his little, cutey belly.

"Bye, Bye!" is what is happening to the babies in my house. There are none, save for the whiny meltdowns when tired or hungry. The days for diapers are numbered (a sure sign potty training is close is the glee he shows peeing in the tub). He prefers a cup (usually of Pappy's iced tea or pop). He eats grown up food and despises baby or toddler food (he even likes burritos and chinese food). He can tackle his brother and lay him flat (a little payback for the inevitable big brother tease not caught by mom).

I am thankful for being able to count on sleeping at least a few undisturbed hours each night. I like being able to pick up and go with just some wipes and a diaper. I appreciate the baby googler conversations I have with my now two year old. I like to see him discover new things (tonight he bit into a tomato I harvested from our topsy turvey and promptly spit it out, eyes wide when the seeds/juice popped through). I like singing and humming with him each morning.

I will, however, never forget the 'squishy' time. My strongest memory of my first son was laying beside him as a newborn. He fit between my elbow and hand. His little feet fit barely made a dent in the palm of my hand.

My strongest memory of my second born, my now two year old, was minutes after being born. I wanted to strengthen our bond and lay him on my chest, skin to skin. It had been a relatively easy birth, as he was 4 pounds lighter than predicted by the multiple ultrasounds for this 'older' mom. I was a little nervous to try breast feeding, as it was a struggle with my first son. Tentatively, I tried to feed him. He looked up at me with his beautiful blue eyes and he nursed. No struggle. No problems. As easily as he came into the world, he connected deeply into mine.

As you are walking up to get your diploma, as you wait at the altar for your heart's desire, as you hold your baby and look into his eyes for the first time, know that I will still be waving, "Bye, bye!" to my sweet baby boy.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Noodles of Discipline

I bought four of those neoprene, plastic, foamy noodle thingies for our trip to the beach. At first they were to be placed under the sheets to keep the almost two year old in the bed.

On an attack of, "What if he climbs out of bed and wanders through the house at night?", we opted to bring the pack-n-play for sleeping. The noodles then reverted to their original purpose, to float, splash and be, well, noodles.

However, in the four days the noodles were in the house they became (ominous music here) "The Noodles of Discipline". Here's how it went down.

I told my almost 6 year old to leave the noodles alone. At first it was the calm, mommy, behavior management voice. "Honey," make eye contact to demonstrate respect to the little person, "please don't take the noodles off the porch, fold them in half and beat your brother. We are using them at the beach for the baby."

Next(after 4 or 5 noodle incidents), it was more stern, again reasonable and with eye contact. "What did Mommy tell you the first time about those noodles? Use your remember-er (my word for memory). Patiently await an answer for at least 5 seconds to ensure child can process request. "That's right honey now go put them back where they belong."

The next 6 or 7 times, "Sweetie, put the noodles away." No eye contact this time, as the noodles were now stuck in the doorway horizontally as he couldn't figure out they were too long to fit through sideways.

Let's take a pause to discuss childhood behaviour management. I am not one of those 'nuts and granola" mommies. You know the ones, who think children are full of goodness and light and can do no wrong as they strum their harps and teach us all about love and fun.

I am also not one of those mommy's that has to have a perfect child. Perfect outfit, perfect behavior, perfect manners. Children are to be little adults and should act accordingly. Children are no more angels than they are adults.

I do, however, think that I have the job to build within my children the ability to control and understand their own behavior and the consequences it can bring (both good and bad). All behavior has consequences, like ripples in a pond, it affects everything around you. My job is to help them understand how not to completely splash the pond dry.

Now the noodles were being used to chase the dog, "If you don't put those noodles away," loud tone,"you will get a spanking!" In my head I am thinking, "Please don't do it, buddy."

A word about spanking, I think it's a bit superfluous. -Smack!-"Stop hitting your brother or I'll hit you!" Makes sense, huh? What happens when no one is around to do the smacking? Does the kid go buck wild? On the other hand, there has to be a consequence that is, well, consequential enough to deter bad decisions. For my sweetie son, spanking might be that consequence.

Another aspect of child behavior management is to always follow through on what we say, both positive and negative. Not only does this instill security and predictability in children's lives, it builds character in parents. It makes our "Yes" be "Yes" and our "No" be "No".

So, on the fourteenth time of telling him to leave the darn noodles alone, I had to do it. I had to spank. I couldn't back down. I looked him in the eye and asked him how many 'spanks' he deserved for being 'sassy' (my word for rebellious). Tearfully, he choked, "Fiiii-vvvvee." I told him I wasn't mad at him, but wanted him to understand that he should listen to Mommy and Daddy. After the 'spanking' I held him and told him I loved him. I asked him what he would do differently. He responded,"I wouldn't -sniff- play wiff da nooooo-doooools."

What would I do differently? I would have put the darn noodles in the garage and been done with the whole thing. However, there were still important lessons as part of the "Noodles of Discipline".

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Field of Dreams

"If you build it, he will come." The pseudo-creepy, dream voice whispers to Ray Consela in the classic movie, Field of Dreams.

I am sitting in the recliner with my sons. Watching the movie and explaining how sometimes dreams are whispered in our ears. And we have to sacrifice to see them come to pass. And, I asked, what would happen if he had not followed his dream? With a serious face, and a final hand gesture, my son said, "Nuffing woulda happened."

That's it. Nothing. I have next to nothing right now. So, what do I have to lose by following the dreams God has whispered in my heart?

I have nuffing to lose. And every-fing to gain.

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