"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Top Parenting Conundrums

Ah, the power of a list. One of the great things about making lists, especially bad lists...is that they later become records of things you no longer sweat over, a way to look back and grin because that list is no longer dogging your heels.
I like to make lists but I also like to keep lists so that they can be persued later, and generate smiles. One of the things that's so very infuriating about a current stressor you're dealing with is how it seems so overpowering in the moment. Don't you hate that? I do. The way that whatever-is-your-current-nemesis seems tower over the rest of life in a threatening way. I know full well that it really isn't half the big deal it feels but it really is hard to remember. One of the ways life can get overwhelming fast is with parenting conundrums. You know, whatever puzzle is currently keeping you awake at night...how in the world do you get your kid to______________??? Or to stop doing ____________?

I was just pillow-talking with A the other night as we were drifting off and I told him how helpful it is to me when parenting issues seem insurmountable and baffling to remember the last battle I conqoured as a mom and how truly hopeless I felt about that one too. I have done the cycle enough times that I now "get" that I will always feel like I'm on the brink of disaster about whatever issue I'm trying to solve...and then I'll get through it, somehow. And the other side feels really good to be on.

I thought it might be kind of fun to write down a list of the top things that are driving me insane with my kids right now. Then I can look back and remember how the things I never thought could be resolved mended themselves and you never know, maybe some of you have answers for me! There's power in numbers.
My Top Parenting Conundrums
  1. Trying to get Ru to keep his pants dry.  It's not a capability problem, and it's not an issue when we're out and about, just when we're home but I'm pulling my hair out and losing my mind trying to keep up with his laundry, sometimes I'm making him change his pants and undwear three times a day. When I ask him why he's wetting he tells me that he is too busy playing to go to the toilet, and that he "stays dry when we go places." Argh! I have talked until I am blue in the face and am clearly not getting through. Am considering giving him a limit for how many outfits he gets in a day and then making him wear his pajamas the rest of the day if he runs out of clean options. Am still puzzling over a solution.
  2. Teaching Nib not to take bites out of fruit at random. We have a low fruit table, well within the reach of children and the boys are allowed to snack on fruit sometimes and also to pick fruit to each at meals. We want healthy food to look alluring and we like stocking enough produce that the boys can "graze" a bit on fruit. That said, part of our philosophy involves even allowing this fruit to be within reach of the baby's little fingers. Nib likes fruit too and Nib has learned about picking out his favorites for snacking but he doesn't know about asking first and he also doesn't remember to eat only at the table. I keep finding peach pits hidden about the house and coming upon him sitting on the floor with juice running down his chin. I keep telling him firmly to ask Mama first and the big boys keep and eye out and remind him too but in the meantime it feels like it will never. I realize this is problem of my own creation and that most American moms would never dream of leaving fruit down where their baby can get it and assume they can teach him to ask first but I truly believe it will work. That said, I also am finding this tiresome and would sure love it if he'd "get" it.Until then, the baby gate is coming in handy for making sure he doesn't jet away out of the room and make a beeline for the fruit table.
  3. Teaching both older boys to be socially polite. They used to be! I swear they did but somehow there was some kind of a hiccup and suddenly they're self-conscious which ends up equally socially awkward. They reply to greetings in public with mumbled replies, horrible faces, absurd nonesense or even snarling and tears. I am not sure how in the world to get them to remember their pleases and thank yous and learn to look people in the eye and smile when they arrive someplace. Argh! I keep reminding them before we go inside a business or enter a friend's house and we do some rehearsing scenarios at home, and of course I try to model social warmth myself. So far...we're still striking out a lot of the time. Boy, would I ever like to win this one.
  4. Teaching Nib not to sel-injure. When reprimanded for something, or told no about something he wants, he's taken to trying to slam his head on the floor. It's all quite distressing, and although he's clearly communicating his upset (what he's after, I'm sure) we're worried he'll hurt himself or develop a bad habit of violence for expressing unhappiness. We're alternating between scolding him firmly, stopping him physically by grabbing his head or picking him up and warm, soothing words to calm him and help him feel that life is still worth living. We're clearly not sure how to handle it since we're waffling all over the place with method and he's still doing it so we haven't solved it yet.
  5. Wheedling. Ru is the biggest culprit here. When we tell himself something he doesn't want to hear or he asks us if he can have five candy bars at the grocery and he doesn't get the answer he wanted...he wheedles. Instead of taking our answer respectfully and dropping it he figures if he asks over and over and over he'll eventually get the answer he would like. Infuriating! I have to really watch it to nip this in the bud with him or else I can quickly steam-train into an emotional wreck after he hammers me with "Please, please, please, please!!!" and a few whines thrown in for good measure. Another little twist on the theme is when he wheedles and I say to him, "You were given an answer...what did I say?" And he replies..."You said yes?" with a wickeded little sneer. Oooo!!! That's a bad one. So far I'm emplying time out and firm scoldings when he wheeldles and am not making any firm headway. Anyone have a brilliant solution?
And if any of you want to share your own personal headaches at the moment, then I'll know I'm not alone and when we're down the road a couple of months we'll be able to look back together!


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