Parenting Pauses October 2003
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Parenting Pauses

These are my entries from October, 2003

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October 3, 2003 -- Welcoming the "terrible two's."

Well, today Jennifer turned two years old. Yay!! The BIG 2 is finally here! Hello, toddlerhood!

Some parents may think I'm crazy about being so excited that Jennifer is now two years old. But, really, I am excited!! While I get all weepy that my "baby" is growing up (just like I do every time I see her newborn clothing), I am very happy about her growing up and being more of a kid than a baby. Of course she has definitely been exercising her independence by drinking from a regular cup (and not the tippy cup) and working on her potty training since she hates wearing diapers, but her actually turning two years old is a big milestone for her.

I have begun to start calling her "girl" instead of "baby," as in "good girl" or "what a big girl!" And she seems to have taken notice of this new title of hers. I can't help but to feel a little pride and excitement as I watch her grow a little more each day.

She had a blast on her birthday. We were going to have her party at Chuck E. Cheese but I changed my mind because I wanted to have something which I personally could be in charge of as far as decorating, games and refreshments were concerned. I couldn't find Dora the Explorer decorations at Target so we had a "SpongeBob party" instead. We had Charlotte's Web  on TV and she played "tag" with her cousins, Carolyn and Little Guy. My mom later told me she was running and saying, "You can't catch me!" The kids also played on the swingset and she also visited with her two younger cousins, Noah and Jeremy (they were too small to play with the bigger kids yet). There was cake, ice cream, lots of presents and a pinata. I took a ton of pictures (used up a whole roll of film!) and she had fun playing with her new toys. Of course I ended up spending more money on her party at home than I would have if we'd gone to Chuck E. Cheese, but making it a special party just for her, with her favorite cartoon character, made it worth it.

 

10-21-03 -- Dealing with a "night owl."

Ever since she was an infant, Jennifer has been a night owl. Of course she slept like a log during the first couple weeks of her life but that later changed. There were so many times Jason and I would wearily try to get her to sleep as late as 1 a.m. She never had colic, thankfully, but we just couldn't get her to go to sleep before midnight, even as I'd feed her or bathe her.

I wish there was some way to get a baby to understand that while they only have to worry about playing, eating and going to the bathroom, her parents have to work, clean the house and run errands throughout the day. And usually without a nap.

For a while, I let this happen. I just gave up on trying to get Jennifer to go to bed before the clock struck twelve and let her tire herself out. Once, when I spent the night at my parents' house, it was impossible for me to get Jennifer to sleep, even though her 6-year-old cousin was already drifting off in bed. My sister advised me to just let her play until she conked out on the floor. It wasn't until after midnight she finally crawled into the bed next to her cousin and fell asleep. I took a cue from this and tried letting her go to sleep on her own, but Jason started complaining about how it was 11:30 and she wasn't in bed yet or how letting her stay up so late would encourage her to stay up late as she grew, and that would be a problem when the school years get here.

Of course I worry about how this will influence those school years. Even though I let Jennifer stay up until she's tired enough to go to sleep, I have started to once again try to get her to bed sooner. I have found that if she has a little something to eat before "bedtime," usually some cereal, she'll fall asleep easier and, best of all, sleep better throughout the night. Finally, no more waking up at 3:30 a.m. when she crawls into bed with us and enduring an hour of being kicked in the back as she restlessly tries to fall back to sleep. I only hope that giving her a little meal before her bedtime will continue to help her get to sleep easier, and sleep better.

 

10-23-03 -- Teaching sign language.

 

I have been trying to teach Jennifer ASL. We tried to do this when she was an infant but didn't really have the patience for it. We figured that if we just signed in front of her enough, she would pick up on it. Unfortunately, even as she imitated our gestures, this didn't happen. So I have once again tried to teach her to sign.

The approach I have decided to take is to try to teach her to sign a word every day, just one word. I would use this "word of the day" as often as possible and give her plenty of time to try to sign it herself. Some signs have not been very easy for her to copy but I still reward her effort as though she had signed it correctly.

I know I should have started this sooner. I recently read that if you want to teach a baby to sign, you should start before they are able to even talk, at around three months of age. Still, I don't think it's really "too late" for me to teach her how to sign. Yes, it will take longer and it may be harder, but I still have to give it a shot. I owe it to her to teach her to sign because she has two deaf parents she will need to communicate with in ASL.

And even though she has not yet remembered the sign for "daddy" even though I spent a good portion of one day trying to teach it to her, I keep trying nonetheless. Like potty training, I have to be persistent with it, just keep doing it every day and try to sign something to her whenever possible.

Today, though, I have reason to celebrate: I got her to sign something on her first try! Yeah!! It may be an easy sign, but I'm still happy about it all the same. We were reading one of her alphabet books together (she's gotten to where she can recognize the large letters in her alphabet books), and I was signing each letter to her. And out of all of them, she was able to sign "D" on the first try. I was very excited about that!

I guess today's word will be .... "D"!

 

10-28-03 -- Learning where the "terrible" comes from.

 

Now that Jennifer is 2 years old, I braced myself for the so-called "terrible twos," greeting her second birthday with: "The fun begins." I had absolutely no idea what I was in for but knew it had to be something bad. Otherwise, they wouldn't call it "terrible." 

But I am beginning to think that the whole "terrible" part of a child's second year of life is different for every parent. I mean, the "terrible" can be because of the child or because of this experience for the parent. Or both.

In my case, however, it has to do with this experience for me. It is "terrible" for me and not because Jennifer is being "terrible." Oh, she is exercising her independence and challenging her boundaries. But, she is just being a kid. She doesn't know how to handle her emotions properly, how things are done, the limitations we have, etc. She is a good kid. Of course she will have her bad days but thanks to some research I did for an article on children going through negative situations, I know that she acts negatively not because she is "bad" but because of other factors: She's tired, scared, hungry, confused, hyper, etc. I have to remind myself of this the next time she screams for something she can't have or does nothing but cry after she wakes up from her nap. She just doesn't understand things and her limited vocabulary makes it even harder for her to understand me when I tell her why she can't have something, why someone has to leave, etc.

But it is "terrible" for me in that I can hardly have a moment's rest. She is so active! And I mean active!! Never mind that she likes to play soccer or climb all over the furniture (or me!). She is constantly on her feet which means I am constantly on my feet. And, yes, this means she takes less naps than she should (and shorter ones, for that matter). Additionally, she explores everything and we have had to put locks on doors to rooms she's not allowed to go into on her own.

Of course I am happy about my baby growing up and learning everything. I just wish there were times she'd let me sit down every so often to catch my breath while she is doing so.

Read past Parenting Pauses

Parenting Pauses

Parenting Pauses August 2003

Parenting Pauses September 2003