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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's one of those days . . .

I know that before I've mentioned that preschool stresses me out.  Before, it was because I kept getting these reports telling me that I needed to work with Gavin on his letters and writing his name, even though I ALREADY WAS!  Well, there's another reason it stresses me out.  Okay, maybe two.

First, someone else is witnessing my child's bad behavior and then watching me like a hawk to see how I handle it.  Last week, or maybe the week before, I got a "bad behavior report" from Gavin's teacher.  It seems that Gavin had some issues keeping his hands to himself.  And by that I mean he punched another boy (who supposedly also punched him).  Apparently, they were wrestling and sudden blows were being thrown.  As the teacher tells me this, she stares at me, scrutinizes the interaction I have with Gavin (which included dirty looks, disappointment, a punishment of never being allowed to wrestle again, and, of course, the ever-famous, "What do you think your father is going to say?"), and secretly judges me in her mind (or at least that's what I think she's doing).

But truthfully, bad behavior and (supposed) criticism of my parenting doesn't stress me out as much as all the things I have to remember.  For example, this is a "theme week" at preschool.  I only know this because they put a poster on the wall at preschool.  Today, was pajama day - probably Gavin's favorite day of the year.  Well, I forgot.  And, I didn't realize it until I was well on my way to work - my hour long commute in 6 inches of snow) - running late, of course.  I made the mistake of mentioning it to Gavin ("Oh, I forgot today was pajama day), who was utterly panicked. 

"Mommy, you need to pull over.  Then you can turn on that street and go home and get my pajamas."
Honey, I don't have time to go back home and get you some pajamas.  We're already running late.
"Well, call my daddy and he will bring me some pajamas to my daycare."
Daddy can't bring you pajamas, honey.  His work is too far away from your daycare.
"Well, call Grandpa Ronnie then."
Gavin, Grandpa Ronnie lives far away.
"But I have to have pajamas."
I know, sweetie.  I'll figure it out.

So, this is the part where I feel like Worst Mom Ever because, once again, I forgot about something for school.  But, honestly people, you can't just put a poster on the wall.  I need a note home - a calendar - something I can hang on the fridge that I can check on an hourly basis to make sure I'm not FORGETTING ABOUT PAJAMA DAY AND THOROUGHLY DISAPPOINTING MY CHILD. 

But, the good news is that I figured it out - even though I only got to work with 2 minutes to spare.  I decided to stop at Meijer and buy him some new pajamas.  I explained to him that we had to be fast, and I'm pretty sure we were in and out with pajamas in hand in under 6 minutes.  And, Gavin was thrilled.

Seriously though, do you think it would be out of line if I asked preschool for email reminders or text message reminders???

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What the heck??? And also, I'm a murderer.

Sometime over the Thanksgiving weekend, Gavin picked up a new favorite saying:  What the heck?

I'm not sure where he heard it, but I imagine it went something like this:

Some random family member or friend:  What the heck?
Gavin (quietly to himself):  What the heck . . .
Someone overhears him, and they chuckle.  Gavin hears them chuckle, smiles, and thinks, "Oh, I'm funny."

The rest of the weekend goes like this:

Me:  Gavin it's time to eat.
Gavin:  What the heck?

Me:  Gavin, you need to get in the shower.
Gavin:  What the heck?

Gavin:  Mommy, I can't find Finn McMissile.
Me:  You'll have to look harder.
Gavin:  What the heck?

Me:  (drops something on floor)
Gavin: (pauses, looks at me) What the heck?

Me:  Gavin, will you let the dogs in?
Gavin:  What the heck?
Me:  I don't think it's cute when you say that.
Gavin:  What the heck?
Me:  I want you to stop saying that.  It's not funny or cute.
Gavin: (whispering) What the heck?

In other news, Gavin recently told a story to some of my family members that went like this:

I saw a firefighter at daycare.  I didn't see a policeman.  The police is going to come get my mommy and take her to jail.  She killed someone.

Okay, so maybe I shouldn't tell him that I'll go to jail if he unbuckles his seatbelt, but I still can't figure out (or remember) who I murdered.  I haven't seen any dead bodies lying around.  I mentioned to him that he probably shouldn't tell stories like that . . . especially at daycare.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I don't want my own private island; I just want a top-secret bathroom.

All I want is five minutes.  That's it.  Just five minutes.  Five little minutes so I can just pee in peace.  But, I'm thinking that the only way this is going to happen is if I build a secret bathroom that no one else knows about.  Okay, and so maybe I'd like twenty minutes instead of five . . . you know, so I can shower in peace, too.

Ever since Gavin could crawl, my time in the bathroom hasn't been my own.  I thought that, as he got older, it would get better, but it hasn't.  Before, I would have to take him in the bathroom with me while I showered so I could keep an eye on him.  Now, he's more than capable of staying in the living room and playing with his toys while I shower, but that doesn't happen.  It seems that once I turn that water on, he suddenly has a million things he needs to ask me, tell me, or show me.  And, he has no problem flinging open the bathroom door and ripping back the shower curtain in order to do so.

The other day, the toy ad from Target came.  I gave it to Gavin to look at, telling him that we would go through it together when I got out of the shower.  I barely had my hair wet when the shower curtain went flying back, and there stood Gavin with the toy ad, pointing to something he liked.  I said, "Okay, honey, we'll look at that when I get out of the shower."  He left, only to return 30 seconds later to show me something else.  And then 30 seconds after that, and 30 seconds after that.

Things like this happen every time I get in the shower.  Suddenly, Gavin can't find his shoe or one of the 16 Lightening McQueen cars he owns, he can't open his juice box and he's dying of thirst, he's starving and needs to know if he can have a granola bar, or he really has to go potty and can't remember that we have another bathroom he can use.  The list goes on and on, and none of these things can wait six minutes while I finish shaving my legs.  They are urgent matters that must be dealt with right this very second.

I've thought about locking the doors to the bathroom when I shower, but invariably I would only lock one and not the other or the house would catch on fire or Gavin would simply sit there and pound on the door thereby ruining my 20 minutes of peace and quiet.

The problem is that this doesn't only happen when I shower.  I can't even get three minutes to pee without being interrupted.  As soon as I shut the bathroom door, Gavin suddenly realizes he has to go potty or needs something.  No matter how many times I tell him, "Mommy goes potty by herself," the door still comes flying open 10 seconds after I shut it.  I even go down to the basement to use the bathroom down there.  I tiptoe down the stairs.  I don't even turn the basement lights on.  He still finds me.  In less than 30 seconds.

So, while many people imagine having their own private island to escape the general public, I just want a secret bathroom where I can have anywhere between three and twenty minutes to myself.  It doesn't seem like too much to ask, does it?

Friday, November 18, 2011

This isn't a game; it's dinner.

Ever since Gavin began eating real food (not that baby food crap), I've been annoying boastful about his eating habits.  He was always a good eater, but more importantly he's not one of those kids who will only eat macaroni, pizza, and waffles (but the waffles have to be the exact kind the kid likes or he /she won't even give them a second glance).  Seriously, the kid will try and eat almost anything.  He likes peas, he loves broccoli, and he devours steak when I make it for him.  Actual words that once came out of my mouth: "Honey, you can't have anymore lobster until you have some more of your cheeseburger."  And he was two.

I'm just going to drink this so it looks like I'm eating.
 Of course, if given the choice, he will always choose macaroni, peanut butter and jelly, or candy, but he'll still eat everything else.  Once, when I asked him what he wanted me to bring him for dinner, he said, "Fish."  And, he was actually disappointed when I brought him chicken fingers instead - he really wanted fish.  So, I like to pretend that my militant attitude of he-will-eat-what-we're-eating really paid off - I always said I wouldn't make separate meals - but he might just have a sophisticated palate or some weird thing like that.  All I know is that he'll eat almost anything.

Except when he won't.

Lately, dinner has become a battle.  And, if I'm being completely honest, almost every meal has become a battle.  He didn't suddenly wake up one day and become picky; he woke up one day and decided he had much better things to do than eat.  It doesn't matter what I make - if I serve him grilled cheese or stir fry - he would much rather screw around than touch one bite of it.  If he tells me he's hungry and asks me for macaroni and cheese, he's suddenly no longer hungry when I hand him his bowl of steaming Sponge Bob shaped noodles.  You see, he's too busy making up silly songs, spinning around on the table, pretending he has to go to the bathroom, and throwing a fit to eat.  I mean, really, who has time to eat anyway.

So, now it's become a game.  A game where we have to talk about how many bites he has to eat of each item; a game of how many times he can sneak away from the table before he gets a timeout; a game of how many different threats can I make before he actually just eats the damn food.  And, it's exhausting.  I'm tired of waiting almost an hour for him to eat his six bites of chicken, five bites of peas, and three more bites of rice while I continually remind him that if he sings with food in his mouth he will choke.  I'm sick of having to set a timer (yep, a timer) to give him a limit on how long he has to finish eating something before there is a serious consequence. I'm done with putting him in time-out seven times before he finally eats his last TWO bites of pizza.

I'm not even gonna eat this ice cream!
 Our pediatrician said that he'll eat when he's hungry.  Well, Doc, you were wrong.  You see, no matter how hungry he is, he won't eat if something else is more interesting to him.  And, honestly, everything is more interesting to him than eating.  We were also told not to force him to eat.  Well, you know what happens if he doesn't eat?  He gets cranky.  C-R-A-N-K-Y.  Suddenly, every little thing causes a meltdown.  When I tell him he needs to eat because he's cranky, he tells me he's sick or his tummy hurts.  That's because you're hungry, kid!  Now eat!

So, somehow, some way, I'm determined to find a way to get him to sit, eat, and be done in under 30 minutes without all the games and without having to negotiate how many bites he's taking of each item on his plate.  I'm also trying to figure out how to get money to grow on trees.  I'll let you know how they both turn out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut . . .

It seems (to me at least) that once we've done something one time, we're suddenly experts on it.  And, we want to share our knowledge with the world - whether they want it or not.  Bought a house? You're now an expert on house buying.  Tiled a bathroom?  You could start your own tiling business.  Been to the doctor?  You can now diagnose a wide variety of diseases.  Went to school?  You now know all there is to know about education and teaching.  But, nothing is worse than when it comes to parenting.  If you've had a child, you know everything there is to know about child-rearing, and you'll gladly inform others as to exactly what they're doing wrong.

You see it's hard for us to keep our opinions to ourselves because we want everyone to think and feel the same way that we do.  It's hard not to tell your friend that it's probably a really bad idea to buy a new car right before she quits her job to attend graduate school.  It's hard not to speak up when someone overreacts to an off-handed comment their mother made.  It's hard not to mention to someone that they should probably be nicer to and more appreciative of the people that go out of their way to help them out.

The fact of the matter is, however, that it's really none of my business.  Just because something seems logical to me doesn't mean it is logical to someone else.  And, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with a choice someone is making, it's not my place to say anything (unless they are hurting themselves or someone else)- especially when my opinion is unsolicited.  It's not my choice; it's not my life; it's not my business.

But, it's especially hard not to intervene in the parenting methods of others.

I hate nothing more then when I am scolding Gavin, and ten other people are yelling at him at the same time.  I get defensive, and I usually say something like, "I can handle this, thank you."  To me, it's an insult.  I feel pretty capable of parenting my child, and I parent him on a daily basis, so the one time you're around, I don't need you to help me discipline my child.  I got it.  It drives me absolutely insane.

Once, someone laughed at me while I disciplined Gavin.  They said, "I just can't take you seriously when you try to be authoritative."  Well, that doesn't help me.  And it doesn't help my kid to see you laughing when I'm punishing him.  So, why don't you just keep that to yourself.

The problem is that I'm also a hypocrite.  You see, when I see someone's kid throwing food all over the floor and spitting it out on the table while the parent messes around on a cell phone (oblivious to all that is happening), I really want to put that kid in a timeout (and slap the parent at the same time).  When I see other children misbehaving, I have the overwhelming desire to discipline them, especially when I feel that the parents aren't taking appropriate action (and by "appropriate" I mean what I think they should do).  Because, you see, I've managed to keep my child alive almost four years now, so I must be a Super Expert Parent.

Just the other day, I put my sister's kid in timeout for supposedly hitting her sister.  My sister was right in the room while I just charged in and took over.  I have to give her credit for not killing me because I might have killed her had the roles been reversed.  As soon as I did it, I thought, "Oh god.  I can't believe I just did that.  I would've have flipped out if she had done that."  

So, I'm going to vow (and try really hard) to just keep my mouth shut when it comes to other people's children - unless my advice is solicited.  If it's not my child, and it's not directly affecting my child, it's not my business.  I parent the way I choose to parent, and I expect people to respect that.  Consequently, I need to respect other people's parenting choices whether I agree with them or not.  I'm going to try to get down off of my high horse and "live and let live."  Wish me luck!

Monday, November 14, 2011

No, you're not having candy for dinner, and I'm not buying you a toy.

Man, I am one mean mom - a modern day Mommy Dearest, if you will.  I'm probably single-handedly destroying my son's childhood and scarring him for life with my horrible parenting and lack of empathy.

Or, maybe not.

Lately, Gavin has been vocal about his (ridiculous) desires, and he's not a big fan of "No."

Me:  Gavin, what do you want for dinner?
Gavin: Candy!
Me:  No, you're not having candy for dinner.
Gavin:  I want CANDY!
Me:  You're not having candy.  Pick something else.
Gavin:  I want . . . junk!
Me:  You're not having junk. 

*Cue tears and tantrum.

Or . . .

Gavin:  Mommy, we need to go the grocery store.
Me:  Why?
Gavin:  So you can buy me that boat from Cars 2.
Me:  I thought you were going to ask Santa for that boat.
Gavin: No, I don't want to ask Santa.
Me:  Why not?
Gavin:  Because I want it now!
Me:  Oh, well, you're not getting it now.
Gavin:  But I need that boat.  I don't have it.
Me:  And you're not getting it now.
Gavin:  Come on, Mommy, let's go.
Me:  We're not going to the store.  I'm not buying you a toy.

*Cue tears and tantrum.

You know what else he doesn't like - besides nutritious food and being told "no"?  Calling me "Mommy."

"What are you doing, Andrea?"
"But I thought your name was Andrea?"
"It is.  But you call me Mommy."
"Okay, Andrea."
"Your name is Andrea.  My name is Gavin."
"Yep, and you call me Mommy because I'm your mom."
"Where are you going, Andrea?"

Sigh.  And he's not even four yet.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gavin's First Story

In my mind, I picture Gavin growing up to be an engineer or a baseball player or maybe a baseball-playing engineer.  I'm fine with any of them, really.  However, I never pictured him as an author.  But, after reading his first story that he wrote at preschool the other day, I'm thinking it might be a potential career path.

Now, when I say he wrote his first story, I mean he told it to his teacher, and she wrote it down.  (We're still working on the name-writing thing, people.  Give me break, will you?)  The topic of the story that each child was writing was "A Puppy Story."  Given the fact that there are three mangy dogs running around our house, Gavin had a lot of material to work with.  Hence, his story went like this:

Gavin's Puppy Story

I almost died laughing when I read it, not because it's a complete work of fiction but because it's completely TRUE.  You see, our lovable, gentle, sweet, adorable labrador, Dan, (Dan, not Charlie.  Charlie is possibly the spawn of the devil), has one or two bad habits.  One of them is eating things he's not supposed to (a loaf of bread, an entire bag of dog food, twelve sticks of elk jerky with jalapenos).  The other one: escaping.

Behind our house, there is a field.  Nothing special, just a field.  A field in which cats and squirrels run free. For years, Dan has found ways to escape the backyard and roam the field.  This wasn't a problem until recently.   A year or so ago, someone in our small neighborhood bought the field, and they fenced it in.  No big deal, except that the entire field can only be accessed from their house.

A month or two ago, I sent all the dogs in the backyard to, well, act like dogs for awhile - you know, play outside and whatnot.  Thirty minutes later, Arnie and Charlie are at the door, but Dan is nowhere in sight.  Why?  Because my 7-year-old lab with all kinds of hip and elbow dysplasia that has required multiple surgeries and expensive supplements decided to jump the five-foot tall fence and play in the field.  By play I mean chase a cat or two and roll around in some shit.  Really, he always finds a pile of shit and rolls in it.

This meant that I had to get Gavin in the car, drive around to my neighbor's house, knock on their door, trapse through the field, find the naughty dog, stick his shit-covered doggy self in the back of my car, drive home, give him a bath, and clean out my car.  No big deal, really, until he did it again the very next day.  And the day after that.  And the day after that.

Not two days ago, he jumped the fence to frolic around the field with another dog.   By the time I got there to search for him, he was gone.  Nowhere to be found.  After talking to my neighbor, he said he had seen Dan back there playing with his neighbor's dog.  He called his neighbor, and his dog was back home safely.  Dan: missing.  So, after searching the field, I returned to my car and slowly drove back home, keeping my eyes peeled for Dan.  I was a little panicked thinking I lost him.  But, moments later, there he was - tied to someone's tree eating a bowl of food and drinking water.  Embarrassed, I knocked on the door, and when the lady answered, I said, "Um.  Hi.  So, that's my dog right there."  Then, I proceeded to tell him what a naughty dog he was the whole way home.
Look, I feel really guilty.  Can't you see it in my face?

Now, you're probably thinking, "You silly people! Find a way to keep him from jumping the fence," or, "You silly people! Stop leaving the dog outside."  Well, we tried to find ways to keep him from jumping the fence.  And he's outsmarted us every time.  Damn smart dog.  As far as not leaving him outside - did I mention there are three dogs.  If they're in the house all the time, I will go (more) insane.

I continue to offer any of my dogs to everyone I know, but no one's biting.  I even offer to let them take one for FREE.  How can you pass that up?  At this point, my other solution involves a concrete wall and a moat, but I think we might try a different type of fence first.  Which is too bad because I was really hoping for a moat.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm going to need you to wear some pants.

Fall is here, the weather is taking a downhill turn, and winter is quickly approaching.  Gavin is not adjusting well at all.  He doesn't mind the cool winds, the rain, or the shorter days.  No, all of that is fine with him.  He minds the pants.  Pants, you say?  Yes, pants.

Part of this is my fault.  All summer, I let him run around in shorts.  No shirt; just shorts.  (Unless, of course, we were going out in public.)  I figured that he was spending most of the day playing outside and getting dirty, or playing in the humid house (because I didn't want to turn on the AC).  On my behalf, it meant I had less laundry to do. 

So, when the end of August rolled around, there was a little bit of a struggle getting him to wear shirts and shoes again.  I patiently explained that daycare and preschool had a rule that said you had to be fully-clothed in order to go there.  He begrudgingly put on a complete and acceptable outfit, but the second we walked in the door, he stripped of his shoes and shirt faster than our naughty puppy could devour an unguarded cupcake.  At the time, it was fine because it was still warm.  Hot even.

Only a few short weeks later, the mornings became chilly.  Chilly enough to where I had to insist that he wear pants - mostly so the daycare workers would stop giving me that disapproving, your-kid-is-the-only-one-without-a-jacket look.  In a nutshell, this wearing-of-pants did not go over well.  One morning, as he laid in his bed semi-conscious, I walked in holding a pair of jeans.  He took one look at them out of a half-opened eye and all hell broke loose.  Cue crying, screaming, and other sorts of dramatics and hysterics.  He did not want to wear those pants.  After ten minutes of listening to whining in the form of, "No pants!  Shorts and short-sleeves," I finally had to hold him down and wrestle the pants on him.  He promptly jumped out of bed, ran down the hall, took off the pants, and threw them at me.  So, this is going well.

Fifteen minutes later, with a tear-streaked face and a package of fruit snacks, we left the house, and he had pants on.  Whew.   Since I didn't hear otherwise, I'm assuming that he had no problem keeping the pants on at daycare, but the second we walked in the door, those pants came flying off.  He said, "I have to go potty," and emerged five minutes later wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  It's like he couldn't get those jeans off fast enough.

I figured that, as time went on, he'd adjust to wearing cool-weather clothing.  Alas, it's almost two months later, and he still tries to put on shorts and a t-shirt every morning.  He's a little more willing to put on pants and long-sleeves, but without fail, he races to his room to change into shorts and a t-shirt every night when we get home.  Every.  Single.  Night.  No matter how cold it is, he'll tell me he's hot, and then he'll race off to change his clothes (after which he will promptly park his butt in front of the heater to stay warm).

Mind you, even though it's dropped below freezing a few nights already, I refuse to turn on the heat.  Doesn't bother Gavin.  He wants to wear "boxers and a beater" to bed every night.  When he gets out of bed in the morning (shivering), he refuses to wear a sweatshirt or put on sweatpants because he's "not cold."  If we go outside on a cold and windy day, it takes less than five minutes for him to tell me that he's hot, and he wants to take his hoodie off.  I have to practically threaten him so he'll leave the hoodie on.

But I'm hot!

Now, I know young children (I'm talking 1 and 2 year olds) like to take their clothes off and run around naked, but this is a completely different beast.  My child has an affliction to winter clothes.  He peels them off his body like they're causing a horrible rash.  I can't wait to see what he tries to pull when the snow starts flying.