Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Bad Kid at the Dentist

Three kids went to the dentist. One kid was just fine. One kid was skeptical but cooperative. And one kid cried and squirmed, and blew snot and spit bubbles everywhere.

My oldest is seven and I worked through his fears with him over time. He went from being exactly that kid in that dentists chair to being the chatty know-it-all that befriended everyone and that weasled an extra prize out of the dental hygenist.

My youngest will be two in about three weeks. She squirmed a bit and wanted to grab at everything, but she was cooperative, she laughed at the “funny mask” and popped up at the end with a slobbery grin and said “THANK YOU” before asking for a PINK BALLOON to match the green and red ones that her brothers had.

In the middle was Mr. Middle. Three and an introvert. He doesn’t like being touched, he doesn’t like loud noises, and he’s hesitant around strangers.

He was the “bad kid”.

No one at the dentist TOLD him this.  They’re wonderful at that office. Very child-focused. They take as long as a child needs to feel comfortable. In Mr. Middle’s case that comfort just wasn’t coming. He didn’t find their mask funny, he found them scary. He didn’t think that the whirling brush tickled. He thought it was scary. He didn’t want them to brush his teeth with the toothbrush that he chose from the drawer of kid’s toothbrushes. He… Didn’t want them to count his teeth.  He wanted nothing to do with any of it.

He simply did not want to be there. He found it overwhelming and scary.

This is the type of kid that people don’t brag about. That they feel embarrassed of, that they second-guess. That gets labeled as “bad” by the not-so-nice people and that the nice people apologize to after the dental cleaning is done.

But no one usually says “I’m PROUD OF YOU.”

I did. I said it to each of my children. I was proud of how independent my oldest was. I was proud of how well my daughter handled it and how she interacted with the dental hygenist and dentist. And I was proud of my yelling crying snot bubble.

I’m proud of this child that lay on my lap and made his fears and thoughts known. I’m proud of how he opened his mouth and let the dentist do what the dentist needed to do, even if he was scared and wanted to run away and hide. I’m proud of how he didn’t bite down, he cried and he voiced his fears and he used his words and told us what it was that scared him. So next time we have a plan. Next time we’ll use the noise-protection earmuffs that Grandpa bought the boys for Monster Truck rallies. We’ll bring a marker and ask if we can draw a smile on the masks. And we’ll remember that even if we’re scared it’s okay and we’re in mommy’s or daddy’s arms safe from harm.

My two “good” kids did not “have a hard time”. Mr. Middle did. He had a very hard time, and he came through it to the other side. To the here. To the after. To where he found the words to tell us exactly what it was that scared him.

I might be proud of their behavior, as it makes me look good and it makes life easier for everyone. But I am proud of my middle child. He passed through something rough. I am proud that he trusts us enough to not hide his feelings. I am proud that he listened to and agreed to solutions for the next time around.

And if the next time around is the same? I’ll be proud of him still.

Learning and overcoming fears doesn’t look like the end-product. When my seven year old was three he didn’t look as calm as he did today. And my daughter? She’s just a strangely fearless little bean. Mr. Three has a fear, and he’s working on learning and moving past that fear.

Today this was what learning looked like. Today I am proud of his progress and his journey.

The REAL Ten Reasons Not to Use Handheld Devices With Children

1. You will drop it on their head. It’s just a matter of time.

2. Your child will throw it at your laptop monitor. Hard.

3. Your child will throw it at the floor. Hard.

4. Your child will simultaneously discover the answers to two important questions: “will it float?” and “can I flush it down the toilet?

5. The epic expensive warranty? It only covers two replacements every 12 months.

6. You will never get to use your cell phone because your child will grab it from your pocket and demand her favorite YouTube video. (Ask Grandpa. As soon as my daughter sees him his cell phone gets yanked out for TICK TOCK TICK TOCK! I laugh because I’ve convinced my children that my phone does not have youtube. By removing it.)

7. Gummy Bear song. Right. That right there is a reason to never allow your children near a computer. Because you will hear it in your sleep. I never put it on. But the grandparents do. And I HEAR IT IN MY SLEEP. (I’m deaf too. Imagine what it would do to me if I actually had normal functional ears the way most people do.)

8. Your child will put it everywhere and you will become known as “the person who can never find her phone.”

9. When you can’t find your phone or it’s swimming in the toilet it sort of defeats the purpose of a phone.

10. I would list more reasons but my three year old just asked to watch Spongebob** and it’s 30 degrees out so I said okay.

That said.. As soon as it’s above 50 degrees on a regular basis I’m going mostly media free again. o_O You can join me if you want. Or not.

**Spongebob has been scientifically proven to make children insane and reduce their intelligence.

I’m Not Against CIO, I’m For WIO

I’m often asked “So you’re against CIO?” No. I’m not “against” CIO. I don’t use CIO. I have reasons why CIO isn’t a tool that I choose. And I don’t spend much time thinking about those reasons anymore.

Being “against” something doesn’t give me TOOLS. It just makes me focus on what other parents have chosen to do. It takes me out of my here and my now and puts my head and heart in another place with another baby and another set of parents.

No. I’m not “against CIO”.

I’m for Wait it Out. I’m for waiting while my child learns to sleep. I’m for teaching her about sleep. I’m for comforting her when she’s upset because she doesn’t yet understand how to sleep. I’m for looking at her, seeing what she is able to do and what she still struggles with. I’m for watching her behavior and trying to figure out what I can do to support her at each stage based on her abilities.

That’s not “against CIO”. CIO is just a tool that I’ve decided I’m not going to use. Not because I’m “against” it, but because there are other tools that I am for. Not because I’m “against” CIO, but because it’s just a tool that doesn’t fit into my relationship with my child.

I don’t want to waste my emotional energy on someone else’s child when I need all the energy that I have for my own.

I can spend time coming up with the tools that fit my life without having to create demons out of the tools that other parents find useful.

Haha Just Kidding on the Sleep Thing

Dear Daughter,

Haha apparently you were just kidding with the sleep thing. After I wrote the letter that you were sleeping through the night at 23 months old? Daylight savings time happened. And a cold happened. And your two year molars decided that they had not been happening enough, and they upped their ante. The end result? You’ve become a screaming thrashing neck warmer that makes it more than a little bit hard to breathe.

I understand.

Once I got a new pair of rollerblades after my old ones became too well-used to use. And the first thing I did was hurt my ankle. And my knee. And my butt. And my pride. So those shiny new blades went into the closet for a few weeks while I recovered.

You know how to sleep now. You’ve done it. And now you’re sick and unhappy that you can’t do this thing that you learned and mastered and appreciated.

You’ll sleep again. This I know. You’ve figured it out.

Before I was waiting it out with you. Now we’re waiting it out together until your nose is no longer stuffy and your body has adjusted to the craziness of time changes.

I’ll take it as a reprieve. A last chance to enjoy those snuggles. I’m just hoping that I can convince you of a less oxygen-depriving type of snuggles because the scarf thing? It doesn’t work too well for me.

<3 Mama

A Letter to Those Still Waiting

Dear Mama Who is Still Waiting It Out,

I can’t tell you to enjoy your time. I won’t. I just spent the last Very Hard Six Months not really enjoying the wait on top of the other months that I only sporadically enjoyed in moments of bliss that were sought out.

You might not enjoy it while you’re waiting.

I waited six hundred and eighty six nights with my daughter.  With my oldest I waited nine hundred and twenty nine nights.

I know it’s hard to read about a child sleeping through the night when yours won’t sleep. I spent the last six months avoiding reading about any of that, as I had a toddler that would rather practice speed crawling and standing on my flibbery belly while trying to jump. A toddler that would be ALMOST asleep and that would then pop off, yell “MOMMY! DANCE!” and dance around the bed in the dark doing jazz hands while I wanted to both laugh and cry.

Just a week before she slept I was Very Very Unhappy and didn’t know if it would be another six months before sleep came. In fact I was battening down the hatches for just that. In fact, when she randomly slept through the night for the first time I was preparing myself mentally for a very bad “regression” to hit because that’s what always happens. A random night of good sleep before a lot of bad.

So the second night that she slept through? I woke up repeatedly waiting for her to wake up. I woke up 6-8 times that second night that she slept through.

I don’t know if her two year molars (which are still shifting under her gums) will wreak havoc on her sleep for a bit. What I do know now is that she is able to sleep through the night and that the things that come after now are truly “regressions”. Temporary periods of worse sleep for a child that knows how to sleep.

Looking BACK at the past 686 days they seem minscule and tiny. Looking at my oldest’s 929 nights also seems tiny in the face of the seven year old that he has become. But no, those nights didn’t seem tiny while I was waiting. The first 60 nights didn’t seem tiny.

It’s a thing that only gains context when it’s past.

So don’t feel guilty about struggling, about not enjoying every minute. If you sometimes wonder if you NEED TO MAKE CHANGES NOW.. I understand. I sometimes bounced with a toddler in the dark of the night and wondered if I should possibly ditch the whole WIO thing and just go straight to extinction training because I was exhausted.

I can tell you now, at the end of it, that I am so very happy that I waited it out. That I got to witness that transition in my daughter. That I trusted her enough to wait. Of course I can. She’s sleeping now. I can probably also solve the question of World Peace and do other impossible things just because the impossible has already happened.

Was I happy two weeks ago? Not so much. Should you be happy in your now? Nah. I won’t tell you to be happy. If you can find happiness it makes it easier. But that is something that has to be found. It’s not a thing that anyone can hand you.

Just like this sleep thing. It’s a thing that your child is looking for. Not something that you’re failing to give or to teach.

You’ll get there, mama. And yes. It’s hard running blind.

<3 – Sarah

Sleeping Through the Night at 23 Months

Dear Daughter,

In just 39 days you will be two years old. You have just started sleeping through the night. I remember just two weeks ago I COULDN’T DO IT ANYMORE because YOU WERE NOT SLEEPING AND I WAS TIRED AND I COULDN’T DO IT ANYMORE BECAUSE TIRED. And I remember when you were eighteen months old and I really couldn’t do it. And when you were 13 or 14 months and I knew I couldn’t do it. And when you were 9 months and 6 months and three months. And I was tired.

Now you sleep. Not every night, but approaching most nights. More often than not. Eleven at night to five AM without waking. I wake up still, sometimes, and sit up and look across the bed to where you’re curled up in the side-carred crib. You’re a big little tiny thing. Tiny tight curls have grown down to the middle of your back, and your mouth has filled itself with teeth that kept you sleepless for months while they came in. You talk in your sleep, sometimes. Sometimes you let out an angry squawk and roll over and thump your arm down against your bed and fall back to sleep again. Easy peasy pudding and pie for you, little one. I guess this is the “self soothing” nirvana that they speak of. And I don’t doubt that it is what it is, because I saw you learn your way here.

So how did we get here?

It’s been a journey. Just like it was a journey with each of your brothers.

In the end you started making choices. I’d ask you if you wanted to pop off and put your head on my shoulder or have your daddy bounce you. You’d pop off and put your head on my shoulder or sometimes you’d crawl over to your daddy and he’d try to bounce you and you’d get angry because that wasn’t what you wanted. So he’d lay down and you’d fall asleep with your head on his shoulder instead of mine.

Sometimes you’d want to nurse. And I’d say that you could. And sometimes you would. But sometimes your latch was terrible and I’d offer you a drink of water instead. Sometimes you’d cry and I’d say “I’m sorry but you’re biting me.” and then you’d be more careful. Or other times you’d keep on biting me and daddy would try to get you back to sleep and then I’d try to get you back to sleep. And you were upset that you couldn’t nurse back to sleep, but I couldn’t let you chew the skin off of my nipple the way you were every time you tried to nurse. Sometimes you’d want to be with daddy. Other times you’d want to snuggle up to me even if nursing wasn’t possible. Sometimes you’d fall back to sleep. Other times you’d wake all the way up because you did need to nurse. And once you were awake you would nurse and then you’d fall back to sleep and I would stay awake in the wee hours of the morning knowing that my alarm would go off too soon for me to crawl back into bed beside you.

The last stretch wasn’t a “method” or a “process” or something that can be quantified or outlined or made simple. It wasn’t consistent because it was based on your needs and on my ability to meet them, it was based on your latch, your ability to nurse without hurting me. It was my willingness to offer comfort, and ultimately it was your willingness to accept comfort in the different ways that it was offered. It was three people seeking balance in a dark room.

That’s what the “Wait it Out” method is for me. Seeking a balance together rather than forcing a balance apart.

You’re not “Sleeping independently” just yet. You still prefer contact while you sleep for part of the night (although you roll over into your own space more and more). You still nurse to sleep and will probably nurse to sleep for a long while. You still sleep in a sidecarred crib. You still wake up early in the night and then again towards morning.

But this is the part that I’ve been “waiting” for. The part where progress becomes tangible. Where I have proof that you can self soothe. That you are moving forwards. Where I am starting to get the sleep that I want and need.

Now it’s here. And the bad nights still happen sometimes. But that’s okay.

Things are how I said they would be from the beginning. You’d pass through the different stages where you could do different things. You’d master mobility. You’d cut your teeth. You’d learn to speak. You’d be able to listen. We’d talk about sleep. And you’d learn to do it on your own.

You have.

I don’t know if you are my last child or if we will have another child in the future. I know that if you have a little brother or sister we’ll wait it out with them, too. And that passing through it a fourth time won’t be any easier than the first, the second, or the third. I know that I will pass through the same periods of questioning if I could do it, of knowing that I could not. And I know that when it’s all said and done it’s so easy to look BACK and see and understand the progress that you made to this point. But that it’s never something you can see looking forwards.

From here on out we talk. I tell you about sleep. How soft and warm and snuggly it is. How it’s safe and delicious. How you’ll have your own bed in your own room just like your brothers do. And how you’ll move there when you’re ready, and how I might move there too just for a bit as you’re getting comfortable. Then you’ll stretch out and push me away and I’ll know you’re ready for me to leave your room behind.

For now, though, we sleep together still. Sometimes you sleep in your sidecarred crib. Sometimes you sleep snuggled up to your daddy. And other times you sleep with your head on my shoulder and I breathe you in. Your long soft hair tickling my  nose and your breath still smelling milky like a newborn.

All of these things will fade over time all on their own without me rushing it.

<3 Mama