24 January 2012

X files - 21 Months Old - Express yourself

21 months and shes branching out her modes of self-expression, both good and bad (expletives, food throwing, make-believe play, spelling), which means we are adapting as usual. we are starting to really get in to the hairy stuff that prompts the phrase "kids dont come with instruction manuals".  i wasnt really feeling the full brunt of that saying until now, and im certain we are just getting the first mini doses...

amusing/amazing phrases: girl...? where could she be?...could be lost (talking about one of her little toys), its a little bit hot...blow on it, momma throwing pillows at papa, waves over here...someone draw them (saying this about some waves we saw on the wall at the new england aquarium), [fart]...poo poo coming...poo poo in a little while, it disappeared, papa tooted out of his bum...it was wet...lie (to clarify: dave did actually fart, but it was not a wet one), pull the chair out...mama sit in it, theyre frozen with ice! (exclamation while helping dave spread out frozen sweet potato fries on a baking sheet)
obsessions: putting things away and taking them out again, blinking, piggyback rides (or whatever you call it when the adult crawls on all fours on the ground while the child grips on to your neck), the letter "U"
new food: agave nectar, chocolate rice dream
good books: three billy goats gruff, angelinas christmas, wheels on the bus, boogie monster, starfish, cookies, to market/to market, little pea, swimmy
fun videos: meerkats united, nyan cat, lion roaring
(playing with scarves with papa; my mom got her a stroller for christmas, i put a doll in there first thing. she took it out, power bombed it to the floor and then put her animals in there)
(she grabbed my hat out of my bag and put it on; with daves hat on and making a new cute face)
(showing me her bandage from her first blood draw; literally the first time this child has ever fallen asleep without an adult in the room and/or while playing. i heard her reading to her herself from the other room and didnt want to disturb her. we came over a couple minutes later to find her passed out on "the little engine that could")

X-citing developments:
1. medical encounters. as mentioned a couple months ago, X needed some blood work done to take a look at her food sensitivities from the modern medicine angle. we finally found time and the nerve to take her for the first blood draw. we talked to her about what would happen and it ended up going really well. she was very curious about it and barely cried. i foolishly hoped that was how all her future pokes could go...

then we went to the doctor for the results. all the results were normal except her iron was a little low. he wasnt going to jump to put her on iron supplementing without a little more investigation, so he suggested another blood test to check out a few more things. of course i wasnt crazy about another blood draw, but low iron (especially given her food sensitivities) could be something that leads us to more information if we examine it more closely (ie. she could be losing blood in her stool [not that im seeing any, it could be microscopic though] or her digestive tract could be doing a poor job of absorbing the iron she does ingest. her diet is pretty high in iron, so im not thinking that is it). also at that dr visit, she got a vaccine (delayed from her 18 month visit). boy was she pissed about that. but we managed to leave the office happy.

now that she had done both kinds of pokes (blood draws and vaccines) i was hoping we could just talk to her about them and continue with the message that they are "no big deal". of note however: she got the vaccine in her leg, which was fine until later in the day when we were coming home in the car from something and it was apparent that the car seat strap had been pressing on her leg and had inflamed the site of injection. she freaked out and couldnt stop crying to tell me what was wrong. i ended up having to give her some advil and working hard to distract her until it started working. there was about 20-30 minutes of inconsolability. fun. next time we will be getting the injection in her arm i guess.

lastly, we didnt want to hem and haw about the blood draw again, so we got the second blood draw done asap. when we went back in she was wise to the crap that was going to happen to her. and shes a fighter man! the ladies remarked at her ability to whip herself into a frenzy. it was much less about the pain than it was about the fear and the massive hatred for being restrained. i hope we can quell some of her frantic squealing in the future. poor kid.

2. teeth. teething for the last 4 molars has begun. her hands were jammed in the mouth most of the time this month. she was rabidly eating things off the floor just to have something to bite on. gross. i will be BEYOND happy when the oral stage abates for X! this teething bout is the first time ive actually seen both cheeks red too. perhaps these molars will all be out by summer.

3. weaning. when X ditched her nap she didnt immediately ditch that to-nap nursing. she asked to nurse at her old nap time every day for a couple weeks until we could distract away from it and/or find other comfort measures to replace a nursing with. so now its just night nursing that i do (however many she wants, usually twice at this point). the exact opposite of what i expected a couple months ago. lol. i told dave im going on an isolation vacation once she is weaned totally (hotel room, books, trash tv, a long bath, maybe a movie and dinner out by myself, and all the sleep i can luxuriate in by myself). currently, my goal is to begin my final assault on weaning after our trip to florida. that will be close to 2 years (the world health organization recommendation) and will put her mostly beyond cold and flu season.

4. food note. she is really in to carbs lately. getting her to eat fruit and veggies is a challenge.

5. sleep. its been maddening that even accidental 10 minute cat naps (when she falls asleep in the car, or in the carrier/stroller) can push Xs bedtime 30-60 minutes beyond what it is supposed to be. a nap longer than 10 minutes...forget it, you are up until midnight. a 10 minute nap is even deadly on days when she appears not to have gotten enough nighttime sleep and is a whiney ball of fuss. you literally have to keep daytime snoozes in the 5 minute range or else you are screwed. its been really frustrating. and now i wonder...what are we supposed to do with car trips of any length?

6. personality. general items: she is starting to really like puzzles, both the baby kind (an animal fits into an animal sized shape cut into the board) and the more traditional puzzles that come in a box and you need to fit together. she can blow raspberries on our stomachs now. she thinks its hilarious. and she plays make-believe games now (offering [pretend] chocolate milk to her animals, driving her cars on her road, pretending cardboard tubes are horns, etc).

i see her playing make-believe by herself too, and adding to our games. so, the more one-on-one creative play we have, the more i find im buying myself a little quiet time in the future. she is also starting to like to play dress-up (my favorite game as a kid). and loves to feed her puppets letters. her favorite toys are animals, arts and crafts stuff (playdough, crayons, paint, markers, stickers, stamps, etc), and books.

a new and amusing thing this month was her creation of her own expletives. her arsenal now includes: roaring "bah!", hand clapping (picture something similar to the gesture done on "friends"), blowing air in your general direction while shaking head, hissing, vigorous hand waving, yelling "dah. long way run" (this is some form of an expletive using "fa, a long, long way to run" as a template), etc. needless to say, its hilarious. but we do our best not to laugh. she seems to be testing out all the ways to express frustration, anger, irritation, etc. on us and strangers these days. for really no reason at all she will use her "expletives" on us (and strangers, ugh.), its often not really a clear event that will trigger it and she seems to want to see what context to use it in and what peoples reactions are to it. this is...fine, except she doesnt seem to be learning and moving on quickly. i do want her to come away with a useful understanding of when and how to express frustration, but she is pretty all over the map with it. we shall see how it develops i suppose.

and last, she is little miss independent. she seems much more capable now of going off and playing quietly in another room now. she can busy herself through most of the day with only off and on attention from me (we go out for a morning program, have lunch, maybe run an errand, and maybe do a craft...and between that shes able to pretty much entertain herself, if i let her). this is, honestly, the first time ive experienced this kind of freedom since she was born. consequently, i have to remind myself not to abuse this new found awesomeness. these freezing cold winters days are not making it easy on me though. theres not much to get out and do.

7. spelling. she is playing with her bag of letters more and more these days. one day i spelled a small word for her and talked about the word and now shes been really interested in putting letters together and pretending they make words, or she'll ask me to make a word. i feel like i need to work on my scrabble skills. after a couple weeks of putting any two letters together and asking me "whats that say?" (so cute, most times it would be a "2" and a "v" or something. or just two letters that arent a word, so i would tell her "its not a word, but it does make a sound...g-u" or whatever). one morning she brought dave just the letters "F" and "a", put them together on the couch and said "Fa, long way run". i guess sound of music is teaching her all kinds of things!

8. anecdotes.
-we were reading "little blue, little yellow" and a line from the book says "after school they run and jump." after reading that one day, X says "just like the popcorn". a few days before this, we had made popcorn on the stove and i let her watch the popcorn pop and talked about how the corn kernels jump around.

-she climbed on the bed while i was laying down (my stomach hurt) one day and said "momma crying other day. climb up, watch you cry. thats what happened." (i think she was replaying the last time she saw me laying on the bed and she had climbed up to see me). then she said "momma feels sick. hugs and kisses. no pounding. [she gives me a kiss] that was a wet one. [i say that it wasnt wet]. a dry kiss."

-while playing with her letters she found the "U" and said "ah-u, ah-u, u and u and u" (this is her version of what she thinks they say in the "so long, farewell" sound of music song...the actual line is "adieu, adieu, to you and you and you"). so funny. honestly though, we dont watch that video all that much!

9. current battles of patience.
- physical aggression, again (mostly toward us and sara and nutmeg, not other kids or adults, so far. she will occasionally hit, bite, slap, headbutt, etc for no reason).
- her "expletive" use (she displays her frustration to us and sara and certain adults who try to talk to her. thankfully most people cant tell that shes irritated with them).
- throwing food on the floor (for months, weve been talking to her about not throwing her food on the floor when she is done eating. she seems unwilling to simply say "all done").
- getting her winter gear on to go outside or getting a diaper change (depending on her mood and timing of said activity she will either readily comply or test our patience to the hilt).
- "soothing" her after a fall or scary event (depending on her mood, the circumstances, her level of embarrassment, etc. each encounter is a ballet of how to interact with her. sometimes she will not let you touch her, sometimes she will not let you talk to her, sometimes she can be snapped out of it with a song or a distraction, other times this surges the inferno. it is a guessing game).

we have to choose consistent boundaries and reactions to all of this and deliver them in a way that doesnt belittle her. if at all possible, i really want our reactions to her to model reactions we hope she has with other people when encountering the same situation (if another kid hits her, how do i want her to react?).

10. potty update. it seems X can "hold it" (pee) for a very long time (even overnight), is able to tell us when she is going to poop (see quote from the top of this blog entry), and when she is done pooping often she asks to have her diaper changed. when given the chance to run around naked, if i see her holding herself, i ask if she has to go potty and if she wants to use the potty or get a diaper put on. so far, she has really only asked to get a diaper on. but, one time she said she wanted to sit on the potty, and she did, but nothing came out. we talked, sang, and then i told her i "wouldnt watch" to see if that would help her go (she normally likes her privacy). i wasnt making it a pressure situation, she seemed to want to use the potty, she just wasnt sure how you made it "work". well, at the end of this, i peered in to the potty and there were a few drops of pee! wow. i showed them to her and we dumped them in the big toilet, she wiped and we flushed it all down. she liked waving bye bye to her pee. dinner was a short while later. she climbed up in her chair and said "X went pee pee". we shall see where things go from here...

11. step stool(s). X was regularly pushing chairs over to the kitchen counter to get up and watch us cooking or doing other tasks in the kitchen. she REALLY enjoyed this, so we got a legit step stool (partly because the apt needed one anyway) and now she can also climb up in the bathroom and wash her hands. she now has access to all areas of the house that we do and it seems to please her greatly.

momma mentionables:
1. sleep adjustments. with X sleeping longer at night and not during the day, my body is still attempting to adjust to this sudden change. i still get tired spells (15-30 mins in length) on occasion during the day, and adapting to having more time after she goes to bed and how to wind myself down is tricky. X also seems to be soothing herself back to sleep better. it used to be that within 30 minutes of me coming to bed she would need my attention, but often that is not the case anymore. so now, my body lies awake, waiting, for potentially hour(s). i SO wish it would adapt faster. i could be having much more luxurious sleep...

2. the "more kids" issue. other people i know, here and "back home", who have kids Xs age seem to be getting preggo. im even more aware of pregnant strangers with kids Xs age, and moms with newborns and kids Xs age, and celebrities pregnant with their seconds. its all screaming "look at us. we're doing it. you need to too!" im definitely noticing the pressure to "reload" and take on more kids. sometimes i feel an aching guilt feeling that i should have another kid, or rather, that i should want to. that i should just find a way. i can see other people who have situations so different from my own that make it a no-brainer to say "yes" to more kids. currently i dont feel anything but future isolation from the idea of having another kid. what if its another monster pregnancy? what if its another X? and we wouldnt be able to travel anywhere after the second kid turned two.

3. parenting styles. i am seeing more and more of the vast variety of parenting styles unfolding, now that X is getting older. im seeing lots of threats and punishing going on at the library lately, for example. its really striking to me the way adults attempt to exert control over kids. im totally not saying i have all the answers, but ive found enough playgroups with moms who take a more "positive parenting" approach that these gruff reprimands really make me turn my head. and it makes me look at the child for their reaction, i never see anything that seems to suggest theyve "learned their lesson", usually all i see is embarrassment, fear, and dejected spirits. it seems to be mostly a power trip by the adult who feels they are being willfully undermined and have no other option but to be a bully. this whole parenting world has made me an extremely curious observer, my lens was never really trained on these people before, so its quite a new thing for me to really see.

4. giving people Xs age. im ready to start saying "she is 2 in april" to any normal person who asks, but i still need to keep her age in months in my head for any moms who ask. im SOOO done counting months.

5. education. dave and i are actually chatting about Xs future education, what we hope for her to "succeed" in, whatever definition that turns out to be. i could care less about harvard, or raising a rich, powerful child. i want her to find herself and do what she loves with a minimal amount of artificial boundaries. life will give her enough of them. right now i feel like she has enough strong personality traits to potentially get her labeled as a "problem child" in certain rigid classroom environments. this wouldnt be an accurate label, but it would certainly stunt her growth. i would love to find educational environments that bring out the best in her and give her confidence and understanding, even if it means playing and singing and painting a lot as opposed to prepping for standardized tests, writing book reports, and reciting mathematical equations.

6. good parenting articles:
- scientific american article about toddlers and direct instruction vs. free play. if you can get access to the whole article (or email me and i can send you the pdf) its a really interesting read.
- nytimes article on middle childhood hormones and the major internal changes going on during a seemingly "quiet" part of childhood development.
- npr article about the benefits of having a teen who talks back.
- brief scientific american article about the "orchid child". apparently a descriptor of "children [who] are highly sensitive to their environment, especially to the quality of parenting they receive."

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