Tuesday, August 16, 2016

July 2016: Gray Skies are Gonna Clear Up?...

Tyler refused to take an afternoon nap on July 4th, so we ended up having to miss the fireworks. I knew he'd be crazy grumpy if I kept him awake until after 10pm, so I figured he wouldn't enjoy them much anyway. Instead we went downtown to the festival and played in the bounce houses. We got in line to ride the ponies, but it was enormous, so we kept walking to these firetruck inflatable slides, assuming it would be less of a wait.

I assumed wrong...The line was much longer and slower because it was more than just slides. It was a simulation of all the things firemen do, accompanied by a fireman. The line was turtle slow (nearly an hour), and Ty had a hard time staying in one place and understanding that he couldn't climb on the poles while he waited. But he did have a blast pretending to be a fireman for about 3 minutes. I'm glad we did it once, but man, that line was pure torture.
Putting out the fire!

I just love watching these two play together! Tyler's gotten really into building with Duplos lately, which is great since Allison can play with them too. It's fun to see what he comes up with. He loves building towers, temples, and garbage trucks.

Tyler and I like to sing and play to a song called "Run, Baby, Run." It has run, clap, dance, swing, jump, etc. and the one that's been most difficult to get him to respond to is "sing, baby! Sing." I don't have an action to teach him with that, so I just sing bright and loud, but he'd never responded to it. Then one day he got to that part of the song and said "I have to go get my speaker!" I had no idea what he was talking about, but a minute later he brought down his little toy microphone and totally sang with it. I loved it! It's so great to see him make connections and come up with his own ideas.

Nibbler came to play during a diaper change. Allison didn't mind.

Super cute! Allison gets so into her toys you'd think they were the greatest things she's ever seen in her life (and they probably are!).

On the left they're playing with the potato heads in the church nursery while we were waiting for a Chennault Beach activity to get started.
Having fun in the backyard with daddy!
Oscar gets the cutest reactions out of her, and she's such a good little imitator.
Head bobbin! I took her to the doctor recently and asked if this little bobblehead was okay or if it was a nervous twitch. She said it's totally fine. She's just dancing to her own little rhythm and music.

Little Allison finds admirers whereever she goes. One afternoon at the park, two separate people told me "I love her thighs!" and another couldn't stop smiling at her little head bobble dance.

Allison has been crazy for the swings since the first time I put her in one. Tyler's never liked it much. He actually asked me to put him in this one then whined the whole time.

Tyler likes putting his head in Allison's lap and letting her play with his hair. It doesn't even seem to bother him when she pulls his hair. He just finds it amusing.

Allison is such a good little self entertainer at storytime. You can see her just sitting there in the middle of the crowd happily amused by her toys not even caring that no one is playing with her. Unlike most babies (including when Tyler was a baby), she doesn't demand mommy interaction, though she does appreciate it when I give it to her. My mom says I was the same way.

Oscar kept wanting me to watch Battlebots with him, but it isn't all that appealing to me. I am entertained by it, but when there are a bunch of shows on our DVR, it's fairly low on my priority list. He eventually gave up on me watching it and found his ideal partner in Tyler.

Cute video of Tyler carrying Oscar's backpack. 

While Oscar was cooking he said "do you want to help pour the pasta?" To which Tyler replied "with you daddy!" He then ate a frozen pea and came up and told me "it's crunchy and cold."

Before Tyler started potty training, all the advice I read said "do not use pull ups! They'll make it take longer. They need to feel what it's like when they pee and poop in their pants so they stop doing it. Pull ups are awful. They should only be used at night." This was only half true for us. We didn't use pull-ups for training. For several months I put him in underwear at home and a diaper when we left the house. He was happy to use the potty when I'd take him to the bathroom, but it was a long time before he'd tell us he had to go, and it never made the slightest difference to him whether he was wearing underwear or a diaper. He would pee/poop in them whenever he felt like it, even if he'd just sat on the potty for 45 minutes. This made a lot more laundry and clean up, but it really didn't bother me. It felt like what I imagine cloth diapering feels like, and since we have hardwood floor, a little bit of pee on the ground was no big deal. About a month ago it clicked. We didn't do anything differently, but he seemed to just suddenly get it. We still have the occasional accident, but he'll use the potty more often than not and will usually tell us when he needs to go. Now pull ups are awesome. He wears underwear most of the time, but if he's going to be outside of our care (like at the gym), I can rest assured that if he does have an accident, at least they won't have to deal with messy pants or pee and poop on the ground. He's no more likely to pee or poop in pull ups than underwear, but if he's wearing underwear and starts peeing, he'll usually notice the wetness and stop himself before his bladder is empty.

Of course, right after posting that, Tyler had two poopy accidents in his underwear....He's been good since then, though. I was just really upset and overreacted because on the last one I kept asking him if he needed to poop and telling him to let me know when he did only to have him close the bedroom door and poop in his pants. I didn't think anything of it at first since Tyler often likes to close the door and play in his room, but I checked on him in the camera and could tell he was pooping.

Splashing it up at Forest Park! Allison loves it but when she's done, she's done. She'll play excitedly for a long time and then all of a sudden she turns into a huge fussball. This happens sooner when the big kids step on the spouts and shoot water in her face.
Playing at Jetty Island! The kids both got a bit sunkissed from that beautiful day, and Allison still has a visible tan mark from that headband.
Oh so cute! She adores that little clapper and pretty much anything else she can hold in her hands that makes noise.

I asked Oscar to work on organizing the garage while I took the kids to the gym and then took Tyler to the Tour de Terrace festival. He built this while we were gone! 

I heard the Tour de Terrace would have fireworks, and since we'd missed them on the 4th, I really wanted to give Tyler a chance to see them. We got down around 7pm to do rides, but I didn't know the ticket office wouldn't take credit cards, and I didn't bring enough cash to pay for an all day ride pass. It was $26 and I only had $22. I bought 5 rides for $18. He enjoyed them but really wanted more. I was really wishing I'd had an extra $4.

We still had a couple hours until the fireworks would start, so we took off after the first ride to play at a nearby park. I could tell there was closer parking available from there, so we grabbed our car, ate at Romio's (which did take credit cards), then moved our car into the closer lot. Tyler wanted to eat the tomato sauce straight with his plastic knife.

We got back to the festival and did this obstacle course. Tyler had been totally uninterested in it when we'd come earlier, then wanted to do it when we came back, then asked to do it again. I was really sad I hadn't gotten him that all day pass. Now I know for next year!

He enjoyed this Scrambler a lot at first until it went way too long. It was ridiculous how long it lasted. All the kids were getting upset and Tyler started crying and trying to get out. I had to yell at him to stay in.

We finished off our rides, did a few games, and sat down for fireworks. Coincidentally we were seated right next to a mom and son I know from the gym! We'd set our chairs up before they got there and didn't know the other was coming, so it was just totally random that we sat next to each other. The fireworks did not disappoint! They were right over our heads, and if anything were a little too intense. I was surprised Tyler wasn't scared. I think he was a bit since he wanted to sit in my lap, but he was also thoroughly enjoying them. He just needed a mommy huggie to help him feel safe.

Sweet ladybug in green. This was a hand me down from my mom's friend Pat, but unfortunately it was a bit snug when I put it on her, so she only wore it once before I passed it onto a friend and her 8 month old.

6 months ago someone on "Buy Nothing Everett" offered free unopened containers of baby cereal. I was expecting like 3 or 4, but when I got there she gave me a box with over 20. Apparently she'd belonged to some sort of baby food subscription deal. Since Tyler only went through about 7 his entire infancy, I was afraid I wouldn't use them all either, but I actually had to buy more recently. Allison can't get enough baby cereal! Now it's just a thickening agent for her fruit purees, but we go through tons of it. She's the kind of baby that subscription deal was meant for!
This girl could sit and splash forever! It's nice we live so close to Silver Lake park.

And now for a little extra parenting rant from me...
We'd only been back from our trip a couple days when I was pulled aside by the manager at the gym saying Tyler's behavior was out of control. I was a bit upset since he'd only been to the gym twice after nearly two weeks away, so I had a hard time believing that two days warranted being called out like that. They weren't saying they couldn't take him anymore, but they needed to see some change and wanted to figure out a better system for when he misbehaved (things like spitting in a caregiver's face or pushing a girl off a chair into the wall). I think they'd gotten the impression that I wasn't taking his bad behavior seriously enough because I'd stopped seeming upset upon hearing about it. The truth is that I'm not nonchalant, I'm just exhausted. I have tried a million things to fix his behavior, and anger and spankings and time outs and other obvious discipline measures are completely useless on him. I do the positive parenting stuff (like if he wants to hit, I show him a pillow or something soft he can hit), which is very effective at helping him channel his energy appropriately, but there's literally nothing I can do after he's been naughty that will prevent him from doing the same thing again. Once I yelled at him, slapped his hand hard enough for it to turn red, and put him in time out after catching him in the act of pulling a girl's hair and tackling her to the ground, and he did the exact same thing to the same girl the next day. Obviously the harsh punishments don't result in positive change. Tyler makes no connection to my actions being brought on by his choices. Since then I've gone for a softer approach and looked up all kinds of positive parenting approaches, but I think that makes the caregivers assume I don't care and need the manager to come give me a talking to. In all fairness to her she was very professional and not judgmental, there were some misconceptions that we cleared up, and I probably would have done the same thing in her position, but it was still pretty humiliating. I felt like I was being put in time out for not being a good enough parent. Since then we've figured out a system of giving him smiley or frowney faces when we come to pick him up, and that's had a enormous positive effect on him. When they see him about to do something bad, they say "uh oh Tyler, you're going to get a frowny face," and that usually stops him, or they remind him about things he can do to earn extra smiley faces (like sharing and playing nice and gentle with the younger kids), and he does great. His behavior has improved a LOT, but we're still stuck without an effective consequence when he does misbehave. :/

After that conversation, I took a shower and cried pretty uncontrollably while I came to a few decisions. I love my boy like crazy, and even if he's overly aggressive and wild sometimes, I refuse to break his spirit in order to truly "control" his behavior. That exuberance, that energy, and that fierce determination will serve him well when he is older. I will never try to break him of it just to make him a bit more manageable. I once heard him described as a Niagara Falls child - that water's coming and it's far too powerful to stop, but you can redirect it, channel it, and make it beautiful.

Tyler does not need to be taught that hurting others is wrong because he doesn't intentionally cause harm. His actions and his aggression are not vicious. On the contrary, he is incredibly sweet! Just now I had a few tears come down my cheeks while writing this, and he came up and gave me a hug because I looked sad. He's very affectionate, and he's very good at apologizing when someone gets hurt. He'll even say sorry when it's not his fault (like when I yelled out after some boxes from the top of the fridge fell on my head when I opened it). Though I've seen him hit and pull hair, he never does it as retaliation or to punish another child for doing something he doesn't like. He does it purely for the reaction. Even if another child hits him, he rarely hits back, and if he does it's because he thinks they're just trying to horseplay with him. When he pushed the girl off the chair, he did it because he wanted the chair and saw her as an obstacle, not because he wanted to hurt her.

My responsibility is to prevent my child from harming other children. When I'm around him, I try to watch him as closely as possible. At places like library storytime, I often grab him out of the way just before he's about to step on fingers or barrel through a crowd of babies. I think I do a fairly good job of this, in spite of Allison demanding my attention as well. The challenging part is when I can't be there to stop him. I think what Tyler needs is to understand when people are hurt and that their pain was caused as a direct result of his actions. I've tried many tactics for this, some have been more effective than others, but even the effective methods take time and a lot of repetition to really sink in. It's a huge trial and error process. He doesn't see yelling or loud wailing as a sign of distress. He sees that as a big reaction, and he likes big reactions. He laughs at them, but he's not laughing at other's pain. He's amused by their response, and it only encourages him to repeat the action that caused it. That was a tough lesson for me when he would bite while nursing. If I yelled at him and screamed out in pain, he'd giggle at me and clap for more. I figured out how to stop it by pulling him off immediately, setting him on the ground, and suppressing every part of me that wanted to cry out. Once he knew that the biting meant nursing was over and it wasn't even giving him an amusing reaction anymore, he stopped doing it. I try to use similar techniques when I discipline him now (like leaving when he's misbehaving), but that's hard to do at places like the gym. I can't make the other children not react to him, and I can't be there to immediately pull him out. By the time I could get there, he'd have no understanding that the reason we're leaving is because he'd made bad choices, and he'd just be excited to see mommy again. So I try something else, like the smiley/frowny technique, and cross my fingers that it works.

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