Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How do you balance it all?

Balance. It's a touchy word. Not touchy in that it's difficult to define but touchy in that it's incredibly elusive. For a minute or maybe two you feel like you've found it, you've reached that place where things come together and you're doing it, perhaps really rocking it out. And then poof! It's gone again.

It's on her mind. I bet it's on yours too. We all strive for some sort of balance in our lives as parents, as employees, as friends, as children, as productive members of our society. Yet I know I feel like I don't give 100% to anyone or anything. Like K, I spend some (ok, a lot) of my work day accomplishing tasks that fall outside of work...I schedule doctor appointments, research new recipes, make grocery lists, write blog posts (ahem), read up on random weird toddler behaviors, and manage our calendar. I also do my work-work. When I'm home I am attending to a child, making dinner, answering emails, answering the phone, returning calls, walking the dog, cleaning up after the child and dog (and husband), sorting laundry, doing laundry, folding laundry, putting away laundry (sense a theme?), all the while trying to sneak in as much quality time with my son as I can in three short hours a day. Oh and my husband too. He deserves a little attention from time to time.

No one person or task gets 100% of my attention and time. It frustrates me because I know I could do better. I could be more productive with my time. I could focus more on my daily work at my job and put aside all the "home" tasks during the day. I could not care so much about the state of my house or if the laundry is all done every week. I could ignore the pile of dry cleaning for a while longer or say OK to boxed mac and cheese for dinner a little more often. Most importantly, I could play with my son rather than stew over the dirty dishes in the sink or the bill that needs to be paid.

I know there isn't an answer, or at least not a perfect one. Most people just try to get through each day with their heads still screwed on and so many of us fall into bed each night wondering how we can do it all again tomorrow. But we do. We do it because that's life. And we keep seeking the magic formula and the perfect alignment of the stars that will keep it all together.

I don't mean this to be a complaint because I know we're all there, we all feel it and understand it. So let's celebrate the fact that we all made it through today...GOOD JOB, YOU! Treat yourself to something nice tomorrow, even if it's only a pumpkin spice latte at 2 pm (don't mind if I do). You deserve it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Parenting Test #1,863,954

You’re not going to judge me, right? You’re not those kind of people are you? The judge-y kind? I mean, unless you are a JUDGE in real life, and then I will address you as Honorable Judge So-and-So from this point forward. I trust you, readers. You’re nice people. Right?

Noah bit at preschool yesterday. For the third time. He’s on “watch” with his teachers. WWWWAAAIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.  

The first time he was provoked by another child and responded by biting. We started our reinforcement of “No biting, biting hurts. Use your words to say “No! Stop that!” or walk away. Biting is never ok.” He got really good at parroting what we wanted to hear but I wasn’t so sure he really understood.

The second time was completely unprovoked. He and another little guy were playfully shoving each other while waiting their turn for the balance beam. Two minutes after they stopped playing, while still waiting, Noah turned to him and laid into his arm with his teeth. Why did he do that? Was he upset that his little friend had stopped playing with him? Did he, two minutes after the fact, decide that he didn’t like his little friend having touched him earlier? The toddler brain is so confusing. We went home and began again with the reinforcement of no biting. Again, he parroted.

The third time, yesterday, was again provoked. The other little guy was draping himself all over Noah during their planned “centers”. The teachers noticed, and knowing how Noah has some personal space issues, gently asked the other child to stop touching Noah and removed him. The kid went back for more and Noah had obviously had enough. Noah turned around and bit him square on the arm. Did the kid deserve to be bitten? No. Did Noah have the right to defend himself? Yes. I asked his teachers if Noah felt remorse afterwards and if he understood that biting was unacceptable. They were clear that he gets very upset after it happens and repeats to himself “No biting! Biting hurts!” but he has problems controlling himself in the moment.

Yesterday I added major emphasis to “using your words when you get angry” to our daily behavior discussions.

I will not classify my son as a “biter”. It is not a serial problem with him. He is not biting everyday or even every week. However, he does have impulse, or temper, control issues. Noah’s temper flares quickly but dies down just as fast. He has always been this way. As an infant, if he was hungry and I wasn’t able to nurse him within 30 seconds of his wails starting up, I could have sworn his head would begin spinning on its axis. His face would turn so red and his little fists would ball up and he would just lose it. As a one year old, when he didn’t yet have such a great grasp on language but needed to express himself, he would use a high-pitched scream to get my attention and then keep going until I figured out what it was he needed. At that time I had hoped and prayed that once he could communicate he would find more patience and use his words to express himself when he was angry or frustrated.

On one hand, he’s two. TWO. Two is tough any which way you look at it. Every two year old has their “issues” whether that be temper control, inability to share, lack of communication, not playing nicely with others, defiance, etc. On the other hand, aggressive behaviors are not a proper way to express anger or frustration at two or beyond. I want Noah to understand that biting does not make him “bad” so we never use the words “You’re a bad boy for biting” or “You’re naughty for biting”. The action is bad, not the child who is doing it. However, he does need to understand the appropriate way of handling his anger.

We’re proactive parents. We’re addressing the biting immediately and consistently. As we see a ramp up in his imaginative play, we’ve begun acting out good behaviors, bad behaviors and the proper responses using his favorite toys. We ask him “We don’t use our mouths for biting. What do we use our mouths for?” and he responds with “For eating! For talking! For kissing! For making funny sounds like Beep Beep Beep!”. We say “It’s ok to be angry or frustrated. But what do you do when you get angry or frustrated? Do you hit? Do you bite?” and he answers “Nooooooo, no hitting, no biting. You walk away! You say “No, stop that!” and tell your teacher”.

Now, I’m pretty sure he gets it. He knows that biting is not ok. He feels awful after it happens and remembers to apologize. But how do we address his temper control without making him think it’s bad to feel angry or frustrated? I know we continue to reinforce “walking away” and “using your words to say “No, stop that!”.

I’m trying really hard to not let Noah’s recent biting episodes reflect on me as a parent. I know we’re doing our best. I know in my heart that he’s a good, smart little boy with a whole lot of love to give. I also know that he inherited his father’s quick temper and we have some learning to do. This is one of many parenting tests we’ll be faced with in raising our son and I really hope we’re doing the right thing.

We were at the grocery store the other day and I looked at Noah in the cart and said “Buddy, Mommy really doesn’t feel so good today.”

His reply? “Mommy, you need a vacation.”

Damn straight, kiddo.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Straight outta Chicago

The following conversation was had between myself and a lovely employee of the Alderman's office, read: Chicago accent straight out of an SNL skit.

Me: "Hello. My name is Sara Smith and I'm a resident in your Ward. I'm looking to do some minor debris removal from our basement this weekend and would like to use a Bagster as our dumpster. How do I go about getting the proper authorization to put the Bagster on the street?"

Alderman's employee/life-long Chicagoan: "Yous gots to call the dumpster place, ma'am."

Me: "Right, but I am not using a dumpster. It's a Bagster. It’s a giant waste bag that you can buy at Home Depot, put it out on the street, fill it up, and then call Waste Management to pick it up. It's smaller than a dumpster. I assume I need a permit or authorization to have it on the street?"

Him: "I’s don't know about this Bagster business. You don't need no permit. Eh, yous gots to call Streets and San. Yeah, theys over der can help yah. At Streets and San."

Me: "So you can't help me figure out what I need?"

Him: "That's whatta just told yah. Yous gots to call Streets and San. Call Marty, yeah, Marty Casey, he's your guy."

Me: "Ok, do you have a number where I can reach Mr. Casey?"

Him, shuffling papers: "Here's the number xxx-xxx-xxxx. Ask for Marty."

Me: "Right, ok, thank you."

Him: "You prolly just put it out der on de street and see what happens."

Me: "Yes, that is an excellent plan. Thank you for your wonderful assistance."

Me: "Is Mr. Casey available?"

Lady on the phone: "Who?"

Me: "Marty Casey? I was told to call him by my alderman's office."

Lady: "Oh yah, Marty? I don't know where he is. Call back in an hour."

Me: "Right. Obviously."
The End.

Marty never did call me back...I'm just so SURPRISED.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Such a Lush

Just in case you haven't checked in lately, Style Lush has a brand new look and some fabulous new posts! 

Also from the creators of Style Lush is the just launched Food Lush
From their first post: Food Lush isn't just a recipe blog or a blog written by a bunch of expert foodies, but if you love eating, cooking, or just straight talking about food, we think this will be the food blog for you.

Hop on over and say hi!