I’ve practically stopped blogging in the last few months. At first, there wasn’t much time with a newborn and all. Now though, I do have a little time but I’m not sure what to write about. Plenty is going on, and yet, nothing much. Life with three kids! That said, I do have family that keeps up in this space, so the least I can do is a once a month update! And this one is a long one, since it’s been so long!
I can’t help but start with this boy, whom I’ve written about so many times with the struggles we’ve faced. He’s been a high maintenance kid for sure, and yet, as I tried strategy after failed strategy, I started to realize that maybe the issue was with ME just as it was with him. I wanted to follow the cultural norms and punish like seemingly everyone does – with time outs. With apologies. With a stern voice. With reflection. With “If you do ___ then I’m going to ____.” With “I’m going to count to 3.” With “You stay in this room until you calm down, and when you do, you can come back out.” His meltdowns grew in length and severity along the way, culminating with him dumping over deck chairs, throwing his body into the slider, and our neighbor coming to check to see if he was hurt. After that rock bottom moment, I resolved to get help. Was there something wrong with him?
To make this ongoing parenting saga short – no, there’s nothing wrong with him. What works for one child (or a society of children?) won’t work for everyone. And after talking to a few people and doing a bit of research, I “figured it out”. B is extremely anxious. His anxiety, when spiraling out of control, looks like anger. It presents itself as anger. Anyone who doesn’t get to the bottom of the issues causing the meltdowns will only see anger and misbehavior. But the root cause is, 99% of the time, anxiety based. And one thing that makes him SUPER, super anxious – is when I start to lose my cool. When I raise my voice, when I threaten to take something away, when I start counting to 3 – he panics, freaks out, and then….hits. Throws something. Tries to tip his chair over. Rocks his crib. While he is definitely an anxious kid by design anyway, it’s ME and MY behavior that affects him more than anything else.
That was a big time lightbulb moment. Why, after all these months, couldn’t I just remember back to when he was 1, and I tried time outs and he would laugh at me? Or hit me harder? Why couldn’t I remember what I had read about positive parenting? Clearly, it’s still the way to go with my son.
And since I came to this realization about a month ago, he’s SO, SO much happier. He truly is. We haven’t had a major meltdown in – well, since I figured out how anxious he really is. No meltdowns! That’s not to say he doesn’t get upset. He does, often, daily – usually about little issues causing him a little anxiety, such as going to bed every night. Or the dogs suddenly rushing to the window and barking their heads off (the baby cries, too!). He doesn’t have a ton of patience, and he does get frustrated pretty easily. But he’s HAPPY. And once in a while, when he gets upset and starts to rock his chair at the dinner table (to attempt to overturn it), instead of the old, “If you rock your chair one more time, I’m going to…..”, I now put my hand on the chair to steady it, calmly say, “Rocking your chair isn’t going to help you right now” and quickly follow with a question (“What’s the problem?”) or acknowledgment (“You’re so angry because your food fell on the floor, right?”) Oh man, what a difference!! He quickly stops the behavior (since I’m not paying any attention to it) and either asks for a hug or tells me what’s wrong. This works for hitting, too. He was recently hitting, throwing, kicking, you name it. Not anymore! He occasionally raises his hand in the air and looks at me, and I calmly say, “Hitting me will not get you what you want. Are you feeling frustrated?”. I can’t emphasize this enough – this method of dealing with these behaviors is hands down, the BEST strategy we’ve ever used. He’s the happiest he’s been in a very long time. A LONG time. Can’t you tell?
He’s a silly, giddy little boy. He loves to be outside, he loves to talk, and he loves going to our preschool/playgroup classes while I’m on maternity leave. No real shyness here! He’s like a new kid. Is he potty trained? Well – no. One thing at a time.
C has always been my trusty little girl. And she’s always demonstrated a severe loyalty to her brother more than anyone else. With B’s newfound happiness, C is happier too. She had been picking at her fingers and showing some signs of anxiety herself, and those behaviors have now stopped. She’s still (generally) a rule follower and a people pleaser. She’s always been, and continues to be, happy, giggly, talkative, and sweet. At 3 years old, she’s starting to also present herself as a bit bossy and very much what you’d expect from a young girl. I hate to stereotype but man, my children fit them! B used to dictate to her every move she made, and he still is the “dominant” twin, but she tells him what to do just as much. “Come on, B. Come get your shoes on, it’s time to go in the van!” And then she’ll go over and take his hand and guide him towards his shoes. What did she just say to him tonight while they were brushing their teeth? “B, don’t suck all the toothpaste out. Mommy said if you run out of toothpaste she isn’t going to put any more on!” B heard me the first time, but she decided it needed to be repeated. That type of stuff. She listens and repeats, with a touch of sass. She is suddenly, completely independent. Puts both shoes on totally by herself. Puts on almost all her clothes. Flips her lid if you do something simple for her because you’re in a rush – like turning on the water faucet. I put her PJ pants on for her tonight while she was busy chatting with B and when she realized what I did, she INSISTED she take off her PJS and completely start over, with no help from me. Heaven forbid I put my hand on her while she’s going up the stairs! But this is a good thing. While B still wants me to do most things for him (a slow process to convince him to be independent!), C can’t wait to show me what she can do on her own, which is lovely.
And this includes using the potty. I always thought potty training was a switch-flip kind of thing. Like, one day, your kid is potty trained. No, in this house it’s been very, very gradual. B’s training is stalled, and C is 95% there. She’s only had maybe 2 or 3 accidents since we started potty training over the summer. She pees on it, she poops on it. She’s good. The only thing she needs work at is using it on her own, when she feels like she needs to go. I’m still making her sit 4 times a day, essentially making her pee before she can get up. So, we’re not quite there. But basically.
And this sweet pea started her first “class” – ballet. B is starting gymnastics this week and I have a feeling he’s going to jump right in with no issue. C, on the other hand, has shown to be SUPER shy in public. Like, really, really shy. So far at ballet, she doesn’t cry or anything, but she doesn’t feel able to join a group without me right there. This is the first time that I’m NOT right there, I’m sitting with other parents in the audience. She needs to listen to a strange woman she’s never met tell her quickly to jump, point her toes, twirl, sit down, stand on the line, etc. It moves fast, it’s loud, and she’s completely shell-shocked. Up until the last 10 minutes of the last class, she was unable to get comfortable enough to join in with the girls, opting instead to stand or sit way behind everyone else. Finally though, I caught her jumping and twirling with the others. Here’s to hoping she gets it. It’s hard to watch your child be uncomfortable, and know you could just scoop her up and drive her home and put her back in her comfort zone. I haven’t done that, though. I know this is good for her. It’s good for me. My little peach.
Yes, I do have a third child. Lol. This poor baby, being the third, just has to roll with the punches around here. There’s kids, there’s dogs, there’s chaos. And I’m so lucky to be able to declare – he’s an easy baby. While I can’t (and haven’t) controlled the noise level and the hecticness, I have been able to give him what he needs. He’s still solely breastfed, though he takes a bottle for my nanny a few times a week when the twins and I are at a class. In the last 2 weeks, he’s finally started to sleep, like, late. Between 4:30am and 7:00am, with no other middle of the night wakeups. He takes 3 naps a day, with the second one being a few hours long. It’s, thankfully, worked out to be the same time the twins are napping. Almost daily, all three nap at the same time. Ahhhh.
He’s got a flat head spot and a stiff neck, which I take him to the chiropractor for. He’s growing like a weed. Similar to B, he’ll be a big boy and is certainly nowhere near a preemie, as I’m putting his almost 4 month self into 6 month clothes.
He’s, unfortunately, showing an aversion to dairy. Which means I’m in the process of becoming dairy free, as well as already being gluten and sugar free. YUCK! I’m trying to figure out what to eat while not killing my supply from eating lettuce every meal.
He’s smiley now, and has even chuckled a few times, which is so cute. I is so good that if he’s upset – there’s a reason, there’s something wrong. He never cries for no reason. This is my last baby, and I’m still succeeding in soaking up every morsel of his baby-ness. My favorite moment of each day is when I put him down for bed at night, after I nurse him. He curls up on my shoulder and we just stay there a few minutes while he falls asleep. It’s heavenly. I’m so in love! Having one baby is a BREEZE.
I’m on leave right now and will continue to be for a few more weeks. It’s been – the best time I’ve had in a few years, since I was on leave with the twins. Only this time, I get to take the twins out. We go to playgroup, we go to the store, we go apple picking. (Except for this picture – when we tried to go apple picking and then a storm rolled in FAST, and then we had to go home!)
I’m able to enjoy them being 3, before next year when I’m at work, they’re at preschool, and that’s it – they’ll never be home like this again. Neither will I. Between enjoying my time with them and soaking up Baby I, I’m in a good place right now, just being Mommy.