Ok, I need a little advice.

Bowie picked up a new phrase at some point, and started using it quite a bit while we were on our trip.

“I hate you!”

As in, I hate you Mommy, for making my PB&J with different jelly than what we have at home. I hate you Daddy, for making me put on sunscreen before sitting out in the hot, Hawaiian sun. I hate you Grandma for making me listen to my mommy. I hate you Grandpa for telling me to listen to Grandma and Mommy and Daddy. I hate you random kid I don’t know for splashing me in the pool.

Hate hate hate. One of my least favorite words, over and over. And I have no idea what to do about it.

If I ignore it, he keeps repeating it, louder and louder, until the entire universe has decided that I’m a bad parent.

If I respond, in any way, he wins. He gets attention. Negative attention, but attention nonetheless. And I seriously don’t think he’s not getting enough attention otherwise, though who knows. Maybe some kids need more than others?

So, help me bloggy universe. I think that this is a relatively normal phase. But, I would still like to nip it in the bud. Believe it or not, I don’t enjoy hearing “I HATE YOU!” 300 million times a day.

What do the “experts” say? What have you tried? What works? What doesn’t? HELP ME.

Regression

Bowie has been acting less and less mature lately, and it’s starting to irk me. A few examples:

1. He won’t sit with me during his preschool’s opening circle time. Ten minutes of welcome songs, finding out what’s for snack, and finding out what the day’s projects will be. When he was 2, he wouldn’t sit, but that’s to be expected. He’s been sitting for it this entire school year, but for the past week, he refuses. It’s okay if it’s a day or two, sometimes they need to just let loose. But it’s been more like 8 days. At this point, he’s just being obstinate. I hope when we return from winter break, this ends.

2. I figured we were fully and totally a potty trained household when, about a month ago, he started going into the bathroom on his own, pulling down his own pants, going potty and most of the time also pulling up his own pants. All of a sudden this week, he demands that I help him with the entire process. And if I, you know just hypothetically, tell him, “I’m really busy with dinner right now, could you please be the big boy I know you can be and do it yourself.” Then, I am rewarded with an accident mess to clean up.

3. He’s obsessed with age right now. The bigger kids at school are all turning 5, and he really likes to pretend to be 5, and be “a really big, strong boy”. Then yesterday, he announces he’s pretending to be 1. And he’s acting like a baby, not a big boy. But, not just for fun, he is working it. Anytime he doesn’t feel like doing something, he plays the baby card, “I’m 1, I’m a baby!”

So, Internet, what gives? Is this kind of regression normal sometimes? I kind of think he’s going through some kind of hormone-surge-growth-spurt kind of thing. Maybe that’s part of it?

Sophomore Year of Preschool

This is Bowie’s second year at preschool. It’s a co-op preschool, so it’s totally run, top to bottom, by the parents. Well, there is a director, an assistant director and two teachers to guide us, but the rest of the stuff: supervising the children with activities, providing and serving snack, cleaning the school, purchasing supplies, fundraising, etc. We, the parents, do all of that.

It’s a tough thing to get used to, having it be YOUR school and all. But, I dig it. All the parents get to know each other, and a solid community is built. It’s great for the kids AND great for the parents. Anyway, whatever, I’m not trying to sell you on the school. It’s just that, there’s a lot to learn. And, we started late (in December) because another family had dropped out (hey, thanks by the way!), so it was even harder to fully fit in, having not gone through the official new-parent orientation and all of that. I felt like the new kid at school. For the entire year.

Dealing with the kids is especially difficult. There’s a whole philosophy and methodology surrounding how we take care of less-than-desirable behaviors. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the right words to say, and to get the children to listen. A lot of times last year, I fumbled it, and a teacher or more seasoned parent had to step in, and it was…well, not embarrassing, but…just frustrating. I felt like a fraud or something. I was afraid they would think I didn’t care, when I really did, very much.

This year, we’re kind of old hat. But, I didn’t expect it to feel that way. I still expected to feel a little out of place, a little nervous, a little unsure. As I started meeting some of the new families, I saw myself in their faces. They were all nervous and unsure, afraid of doing the wrong thing.

My first workday back (we do one workday per week), I fell right back into the routine. Only this time? I knew what to do. I knew what to say. I knew where to find stuff. I knew when to step back, let a teacher handle it, and not beat myself up over it. What is this strange feeling? I think they call it…CONFIDENCE.

I think it’s one part experience, one part of the kids knowing who I am now and respecting me as an adult at the school, and one little part of knowing I’m not the new kid anymore, and I need to step up to help those who are.

Yay for a second year at preschool that so far feels like it will go a whole lot smoother.

A Kind Word

We’ve all been there: you’re at the store, or the post office, or a restaurant, or just walking down the street. And your child chooses that precise moment to throw an unprecedented Tantrum of the Century over something seemingly innocuous, something you could never have guessed would cause such a fit.

This has happened to every. single. parent. You can’t deny it. Kids are just like that sometimes. So, if it’s such a common occurrence, what is with the typical response? A snicker, a sneer, a TSSSSKKK, all eyes glued to you as if you were a street performer. Never a sympathetic glance, never an “Oh, honey, we’ve all been there, it will pass.” Not even a passerby that can completely ignore it, this totally normal toddler behavioral moment.

People who don’t have kids think they would handle it so much better than you. People whose kids are grown think they did a better job, and their brains have selectively deleted the memories of their own children doing this. And even people who have young children, EVEN the people who have toddlers, think you’re a terrible parent.

And, what can your response possibly be? If you leave the establishment, you’re an ineffective parent and you let your kid walk all over you. If you spank them, you’re an authoritative parent that abuses their kid. If you try to talk to them, you’re a stupid hippie. If you do nothing, you’re lazy and raising a spoiled brat, not to mention forcing everyone in the vicinity to listen and watch. There is NOT ONE SINGLE THING you can do in response to a tantrum that will please everyone in the room.

It puts so much undue pressure on us. And we feel so isolated, when we should feel like we’re a part of the large, diverse parenting community.

But, there was this one time when a mother surprised the hell out of me. We were leaving Bowie’s swim lesson, it was only the second or third time we had been there. He wasn’t quite into the routine, and he didn’t understand that he had to leave because the lesson was over. He was kicking, flailing, crying and screaming at top volume as I tried to pull both him and myself out of the swimming pool, as we made the long walk to the locker room, as I tried to get my clothes on, as I tried to get his clothes on. And, I got the usual response: nasty looks, judgmental stares, barely-audible snarky comments.

At the moment I was about to give up, when I had only managed to get socks and a Pull-Up on Bowie (and he was in the process of ripping them off, still screaming), I sat down on a bench in the locker room, just to catch my breath. And a woman came over to me and said, “I just want you to know, I have been there. You are doing a great job of staying calm. Don’t forget: it will pass. I feel for you.”

I was so stunned, that all I could muster was a “thank you.” And, I can’t, for the life of me, remember her face. I’m sure that we still see her there, week after week, in the locker room. But, I can’t remember which mom she is, so that I can say, “hey, thanks so much for that pep talk that one time. I really needed it.”

I can’t remember her, so I can’t repay the favor. But, whenever I have the opportunity, I offer my sympathies to another parent in the throes. And I urge you to do the same. Try to recall a particularly bad moment for you and your child (because there IS one there) and put yourself into their shoes instead of judging them into oblivion.

Into the Mouths of Babes

All of my blog drafts lately have been long, ranting messes. Thus, their lack of “Published” status. I don’t enjoy reading angry run-on blog posts, and I reckon most other people don’t either.

That said, I haven’t published a post in a while. So, I’m just going to talk about something sucky that happened at the zoo today, and if it gets a little ranty, well, sorry. Mostly, I just want to see what other moms think of this.

Bowie and I went to one of the handful of food stands they have at the zoo. I had brought food for him, but not for myself. So, I ordered the chicken strip basket, comes with fries. Got the kid a juice. We sit down at our table, he’s drinking juice, I’m eating food. He’s eating some of the cheddar bunnies, applesauce, cheese stick and raisins I brought. But, he is picking up a French fry every now and then.

A mom comes over with her brood of 4, and from what I could surmise, her mother-in-law. She denies her son a snack from the food stand, they’ve just come to sit at the tables and eat the lunch they brought. Totally fine. But, then she goes on a long tirade on the food at the zoo, deeming it “some of the worst stuff you could put in your body” and “probably even dangerous, this place CAN’T be clean.” And she gives them each a big thing of Yoplait.

Eventually she notices us, we’re only a few tables away. I get a long, purposeful stare from her, and a look at our tray followed by a dramatic and audible “TSSSSK.” But that wasn’t it! She KEPT giving us the stinkeye, probably a half dozen times. And, she started saying things to her kids like, “Doesn’t it feel so good to eat healthy foods? We’re helping our bodies with this healthy food!”

I mean, let’s just push aside the fact that the healthy food she was having them eat is riddled with sugar. And let’s also bypass the totally useless passive-aggressive method of delivering her “message”. And, let’s instead focus on the fact that, from her vantage point, she couldn’t see the food I’d brought for Bowie and put on the tray for him to eat. She also got there long after I was finished eating, and there was a fair amount of food leftover. So, from first glance, it looked like I had intended for my 3 year old son to eat all of that fried, greasy food. But, the whole time she was there, not once did he put a fry into his mouth.

If she was truly that concerned about the food that a complete stranger’s toddler eats, then she could have tried a little harder to assess the full situation. That’s the whole thing about judging other people: most of the time you have no idea what their situation is, you have no back story, you have NO IDEA. And it’s best to just leave well enough alone.

What’s more, we are at the ZOO. If I want to let my son have some junk food during our fun day out at the zoo, then what the hell business is it of hers?! We certainly don’t eat like that all the time. When I go somewhere like the zoo, or an amusement park, or the movies, somewhere fun like that where going is kind of an event, I like to indulge a little. If my kid eats a handful of French fries at the zoo, he’s not doomed to poor health for the rest of his life. I know it’s not great for him, I know it’s not the most nutritious lunch, but I’ll make up for it at dinner.

That woman acted as if she saw us every day, for every meal, and saw the same lack of nutrition in front of us each time. What she should have reminded herself of is the fact that she’s never seen us before a day in her life.

Have you ever encountered something like this? Not just with food, but with any of your parenting? I hear a lot online about moms getting judged, but this is the first time it really happened to me. And such a seemingly innocuous situation. Would you feel the same way if you saw us sitting at the zoo today?

Shout Out for Cloth Dipes

I didn’t put Bowie in cloth diapers because, I’m sort of a wimp when it comes to all things bodily fluid. Especially the #1 and #2 variety. I try to live as green as possible, but I didn’t think the material that modern disposables are made of was that bad, and I knew I’d be washing the cloth diapers like 765 times a day each because of my poo and pee phobia.

Of course, now that I’ve been diapering him for almost 2 years now, not only do I know a little more about diapers and am horrified that I’ve thrown approximately 5000 diapers into the landfill (and that’s a REAL number, not a comedy made up one) but, I am also aware that motherhood gives you a fair amount of immunity to the poo and pee gross factor. You get a little poo on your hands and you’re like meh.

I became a little perturbed a few weeks ago, as I mentioned in a previous post, about the lack of consistency in the anatomy of a Pampers diaper, depending on where you purchase it. And, as I recently found out, they have changed all of their diapers, so you’re getting a lower quality diaper pretty much wherever you go.

But also now, someone that I follow on Twitter has pointed me to this lovely gem (Edit: No longer available thanks to a powerful mommy blogger community, way to go ladies!) from the Pampers web site about disposable vs. cloth diapers. Just take a moment to read through it, and I’m pretty sure that whatever side of the fence you’re on with your diapering, you’ll find this a little condescending and offensive. Some of the stuff that’s written there is complete, outright, bold-faced lying. And misleading statements. And manipulation of facts at its best.

Bowie’s going to be out of diapers in (KNOCK ON WOOD) maybe 4 to 6 months. So, I’m not going to make the change right now. But I SO WOULD if he were younger. I was na├»ve and I was suckered in by the Big Box Company Marketing Campaign. Cloth is the way to go. I salute you, cloth diapering parents!