Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sorry, but a long one.....

I am going to forsake part three of my Quirks for now and come back to it. I am too tired and frustrated with my son right now, and this post is about him anyway.

Tonight in church was a trial. While trying to pray, he told me to sit up because he wanted to snuggle. I ignored him initially, but knew he wouldn't give up. I realized I had two choices: to get up and snuggle him and try to pray, or to take him downstairs because my refusal would increase his volume - necessitating the trip downstairs - and therefore get no prayer time in at all. I chose to sit up. He then got on my knee, off my knee, on my knee, off my knee, you get the picture. When he finally seemed settled off my knee, I again knelt down and tried to pray. This resulted in the "pest" routine. This is when he has to touch me in some way, and tonight it was by very slightly pinching my earlobe.

For those of you who have not read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, I'll quickly explain that in his experience, people usually have at least one domineering love language. These are either quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts, or physical touch. He explains in great detail the signs of each with the purpose that if you can learn to love your spouse, children, or loved one by their love language, they will be the most content, and in particular with children, their behaviour will improve. Now, I knew almost from the moment Seth entered our world that his love language was physical touch. It has not changed. Besides being a snuggler, hugger and kisser, he is also a total pest in that he always has to be touching in some way. Which is the way he was in church tonight.

I find that at almost four years of age, he is harder to handle in church than he was at age two. People always told me to watch out for the "terrible twos", but at that age he was very good in church and listened a whole better than he does now. It seemed almost from the time he turned three, it's all been downhill, and he has become a regular BOOGER. If that word offends someone, sorry, but it's one of my favorite words for him when I'm frustrated (even if it doesn't make sense).

Seth is a mama's boy. I've been teased quite a bit about that. However, I think any boy whose main love language is physical touch will be a mama's boy simply because moms tend to show the physical affection more than dad's do. Obviously most of the time I love this. Sometimes I do not, especially when it manifests itself by his being a pest.

I remember going through a frustrating time with him around age one (another time we were trying to get him to sleep in his crib through the night). He wanted only me constantly and I felt I could not escape for even a short time. One particular night, Dave had no mercy on me because, after all, it was my fault that he was this way. He was more than willing to help but could do nothing when Seth pushed him away, crying for me. In my frustration, after he finally fell asleep, I wrote a poem. It took me approximately 45 minutes to write it. I have never sat down and written something that just seemed to "pour" out of me. I hardly had to stop and think. When I was done, I felt like I had exorcised, for lack of a better word, the frustration. Here is the poem. Sorry, it's long.


Last night I heard for about the 25th time

I needed to do something with this boy of mine

After all, I'm the reason that he just will not sleep;

With the half dozen times he wakes up at night

Not laying in his crib without a big fight

Only rarely closing his eyes without a peep.

So I'll deal with it, I made him this way.

And also the times he screams himself hoarse

Because no one but me can comfort him, of course

Keeping everyone in the house awake at night;

When dad goes in to settle him down

The cries accelerate, waking everyone around

So that half of our cul-de-sac can "hear" our plight.

So I'll deal with it, I made him this way.

And Lord help us all when he wakes in the night

For you know that to him his crib is not right

Which in turn makes me bring him into bed with us;

And he tosses and turns and crawls in the bed

Until I'm sure he's going to fall off on his head

And once again the whole house will hear his fuss.

So I'll deal with it, I made him this way.

Or the times I try to get away for a while

When I leave he gives me a great big smile

But I know he's only okay for an hour or two;

I then get that call, "Can you come home right away?"

"This boy continues to push me away

After all, this is something only you can do."

So I'll deal with it, I made him this way.

So I reply, "Let me explain how things got this way

It could take a while, be patient", I say

But it began when he was only two or three month's old;

He had this cute way of snuggling up to me

And smiling as adorable as can be

Filling me with a love that cannot be told.

There were times when I'd nurse him in the night

When he'd smile that impish smile of delight

Which in turn would make me pull him up close;

We'd rub noses and cheeks, even eyelashes, too

Just about anything that could be rubbed we'd do

Until he'd close his eyes and finally off he'd dose.

So now in that half hour before he goes to bed

A ritual's been formed after he's been fed

That includes all of the above and so much more;

He looks me in the eye and touches my cheek

Sometimes we even play hide and "peek"

So that he's almost asleep before I sneak out the door.

Which explains why at this time in his life

Only mommy is the one who can make things right

But how can I regret nurturing my boy like a king?

Some people say this could make him a sissy

Who likes to give hugs and be kissy, kissy

But let me tell you what I think the future will bring.

I see a brother who's learned that affection's alright

Who'll love his sister and become her knight

He'll fight off her foes and lead the enemy away;

He'll shield her from hurts and fight some of her battles

Put up with her rants and fits and tattles -

I know, because my own brother was this way.

And perhaps even times when he comes home for the day

From whatever adventure has kept him away

And brings a buddy for his dear mom to meet;

He'll give her a hug as quick as you please

Regardless if his dear pal will tease

Maybe he'll even quickly peck my cheek.

And of course he'll go through that terrible stage

When parents aren't cool and girls are the rage

And I'll have to take time to sneak into his room at night;

I'll coax him to tell me about the latest chick

And he'll ask me how in the world he'll pick

And I'll sneak out knowing everything's going to be alright.

I see a husband not afraid to kiss his wife

Or cuddle, or hug, or hold her tight

He won't be afraid for all the kids to see;

He'll give her love pats and tweak her cheek

And even when those little darlings peek

He'll show them the way a husband's supposed to be.

He'll cuddle his babies when they cry at night

And try his best to make everything right

He'll wrestle and play and pull them on his knee;

They'll see that he loves them because it'll show

Everyone who sees him can't help but know

He's trying to be the best daddy that he can be.

And when he finally comes to see his old ma

He'll give her a hug, and one also for pa

He'll make time to hear her even if she yaps all night;

He'll listen to her stories and let her reminisce

And when he returns home he'll even give her a kiss

That just made mom's day so much more bright.

So I guess I'll just deal with it - I made him this way.

My purpose for this post? The same as this poem. By the time I've finished it, my frustration is gone. Once again, I'm content, and I wouldn't trade anything about my children for anything in the world.

Good night.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Quirks.......Part Two

I believe that routine is a good and mostly necessary habit to develop in life. I know sometimes it's the routine that has helped me keep my sanity. I struggle with several areas of self-discipline (which I totally hate about myself) and have found that only by maintaining a strict routine can I become more disciplined in some of these areas.
There can be a time that routine can be way over-kill. For instance, I believe in semi-regular bed times for my kids, somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 on non-church nights. For everybody's sanity. But if I was a total stickler for routine, I would not be able to cope on the nights when church ran later and the kids did not get to bed until 10:00 or 11:00. That is just one example of why I believe that routine is mostly necessary. Because life itself throws too many curve balls that are not part of our plans, strict routine followers will often end up more miserable and unable to cope with change of any kind.
That is why Hannah's "ducks-in-a-row" quirk is much more serious to me. I can laugh about it at times, but really her personality I believe borders on OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Dave and I noticed this about her from as far back as we can remember. It started with little things like the exact placement of her dish, spoon and cup. If anything was too close to her dish, this would at times cause extreme upset. When she was really young she would want to clean the tub instead of play in it while bathing. She would constantly want to straighten out things that were "crooked". These are just a few examples.
Now I realize that any one of these things is okay and normal. We all have something we absolutely have to have a certain way. But for her there were and are several of these things. Even if she got over one issue, it presented itself in another way. She is not so concerned about the position of her plate anymore, but she is still obsessed with germs and cleanliness, to the point where I have to stop her from washing her hands because her hands actually bleed from over-washing. I know that this is one of the strongest indicators of true OCD.
I remember someone commenting to me when she was really little to just leave her alone, after all, why wouldn't you want your daughter to have "clean" habits? And not be lazy? True, of course, but to a point. I do want my daughter to keep a neat house. But living with her day after day and seeing the extremes of her personality, Dave and I believe that as much as possible, we have to upset her routine. Whenever she was irritated with her bowl and spoon being out of position, we would start them in a different position the next day. Or we would set something (like a used napkin, which she hated) close to her plate. Whenever she had a compulsion to clean something excessively, we would mess it up. We realized that we had to consistently upset her little apple cart and kept doing it until she adjusted to whatever it was that upset her. If that doesn't sit well with some people, that's okay. We believe, however, that in preparing her for life, she will be miserable, AND she'll make those closest to her miserable if she can't cope with her little world being tipped upside down EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE.
I do believe she is improving. And that is the reason that I believe Dave and I have handled this situation correctly. Her worst problem now is the excessive hand washing which we're still working on, but almost every other thing she can be talked-through and reasoned with. She is learning that she can be uncomfortable with imperfection. And with God's help she will become more balanced in general in this area.
The nice thing about her personality is that she is wonderful help to me. And I do encourage that.
As with everything in life, it's all about balance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Quirks.....Part One

I know everyone has quirks, some more unique than others. Some other time I will even post some of my own quirks, but for now, these are my children's. And none of these ones came from me.
Both of my children have a phobia with blowing their noses. Yes, that's what I said. Blowing their noses. Neither of them like the sensation of snot passing through their nasal passage, so instead they walk around with runny noses, constantly sniffling, and driving me nuts. Kleenex is totally wasted by my children. They grab it and wipe, but they will not blow, and they waste 3/4 of the kleenex. And it's expensive. I have not figured out a way to get them to do it.
Both of my children get grossed out very easy. This started with Hannah and I believe Seth picked it up. If they see a crumb (doesn't even have to be gross-looking) anywhere beside their plate, on their clothes or on their body - you get the picture - they do not like it. Now, Hannah is almost past this stage, but Seth is at the height of it. He had a piece of rice on his lip and he spazzed. It can be IN his mouth, but cannot be anywhere else or he will freak. Almost every time they eat something with some sort of visible spice, they have to be convinced it is only a spice. I think they think it is a bug.
Speaking of bugs - specifically ones that fly. Now this is not an uncommon phobia, I understand, but I do often wonder what Seth would be like if he wasn't first influenced by his big sister. I think they are both excessive in their fears, Seth in particular for being a boy. He is all boy with wrestling and exploring and climbing, etc., but he is NOT the typical boy in this way. I can't wait for Spring and the first flying insect. Believe me, Winter is a bit of a break for me. Being in the van with a mosquito on the loose is quite a treat for the eardrums. They've also both let loose in church, and it was not in harmony with the singing. And no, they did not get this from me. The only insect phobia I have is spiders, and that I have improved about 80 percent since having children. I even kill most of them, (and without hairspray....a little inside joke). I do not freak around grasshoppers, moths, bees, wasps, mosquitoes, ants, cockroaches, or beetles. And I will kill them. So I will NOT be blamed for this one.
Seth was three before he could suck out of a straw. And this from a boy that was nursed until he was almost two. Go figure.
On Part Two, I'll talk about Hannah being very "ducks-in-a-row" and Seth the "flirt and the total snot". Until then....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rewards of Homeschooling

In just one short week, Hannah will have completed her school. She was doing a prekindergarten program which I began last January because she was asking me to teach her to read. I schooled her until early March, then stopped because I realized I was pushing her too hard. Unfortunately, this was just one of those experiences that I had to learn the hard way. Because she was asking, I was teaching - and with a vengeance. And I believe she burned out. We set it aside for six months.
We picked up where we left off in October, so in approximately six months total, she completed her schooling, and since October she has been doing just three days a week, one hour or less a day to accomplish this. She reads chapter books that are an age 7-10 level (she will be 6 in March) and will complete one in one week or less. She likes math too, but it's reading that she loves.
I will never forget the first words she read. I remember her eyes getting big when she realized that she just read that word all by herself. The satisfaction I felt as the parent who was the one able to teach her can be likened to the first few steps she took as a toddler. It was truly a magical moment.
I face a greater challenge now; she will be starting grade one and choosing the best curriculum for her inquisitive nature can be daunting. I have realized that the textbook approach will work, but is extremely boring for her. She is the kind of girl that gets fascinated about a certain subject and asks a million questions. As the homeschool conference approaches in a couple of weeks, my main goal is to approach the curriculum venues with an open mind. In the past I was determined that because the text book approach worked best for me as a teacher (and as a student) and because almost everyone I knew used it, surely it would work for her. After all, that's what public schools use, right?
I am truly grateful for this first year schooling my girl. It taught me a whole bunch before she has really entered school age. I still have bunches to learn, but I do believe I'm of a much better mindset to change if necessary. It allowed me to be "hands on" with her education. Most of all, in spite of the hard days and learning curves, we really have grown closer than ever. And that means the world to me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Something To Lose Sleep Over?

Anytime between 2:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., every night, my dear son comes into our bedroom, always to my side of the bed, usually with his Tigger, four more stuffed animals he goes to bed with, and sometimes his pillow. He comes with the total confidence that he will be sleeping with mommy and daddy for the rest of the night. And yes, 99 percent of the time, he does.
Let me explain. When I was expecting Hannah, it never crossed my mind that my children would be sleeping with us. This was not something I contemplated deeply, did an in depth study of, or even frowned upon. I just never thought much about it, period. I was surrounded by people at work and even most of my friends and relatives who just didn't do this. When I thought anything of it at all, it was basically that yeah, sure, my kids will sleep in their cribs, in their rooms, because isn't this just where babies slept, after all?
One of my biggest influences when Hannah was a baby was my dear friend, Chantal. She found out she was expecting her first baby right after Hannah was born, and after extensive research she had formed some very strong opinions about pregnancy, child birth, nursing, etc., and one of them was keeping your baby in your own bed. One of the points she made that had the biggest impact on me was that in almost every continent on the face of the earth except North America, mothers did NOT believe in separating themselves from their young right after birth. Think about this. Your baby is living inside your belly for nine months, is warm and secure, close to your heartbeat, and suddenly upon birth we want to keep them as far away as possible? Does this make sense? Even animals' instincts are contrary to western society. Observe your pets and their young. Now, I never did any of this research myself, but I will admit this hit a very strong chord in me and after that I became a believer in NOT separating myself from my newborns. Thankfully, I had a husband who was supportive in this as well. So, for the first year or so of Hannah's life, she slept with us at night. This ended when she stopped nursing in the night, which, yes, could have stopped sooner than a year, but that topic is for another day.
Having Hannah sleep through the night in her own crib at night was a battle, yes, but being our only child at the time, it was a battle we won after a few nights. And so it is today. Hannah sleeps in her bed all night long (except when she is sick, of course).
Now for Seth. He is a cat of a different stripe. Seth thinks every human function is meant to be a "social" event. He does not like eating alone. He does not like going to the bathroom alone. So, it stands to reason that sleeping alone just won't do. Add to this the fact that he is a cuddler. Now, lest anyone is too troubled, this battle has been fought numerous times and won - for a season. Dave and I have taken turns marching Seth back to his room and then sitting beside his bed until he fell asleep. This was not without the usual boo-hoos and singsong, sometimes waking up his sister, and sometimes more than once in the night, but eventually after a few days he would be sleeping through the night in his own bed - only to start up again a few weeks later. Usually it starts up on a night when I am too tired to care and give in. There have even been times when I did not remember letting him get in with us. And then for a while I would let him lie beside me and if I didn't fall asleep too quickly, take him back to his room after he fell back asleep. This would be the routine for the next several days/weeks. Eventually he would be with us for the rest of the night. Which is where it's at now.
I have been thinking lately on why I've let this carry on so long. After all, he will be four soon and it's not like I prefer him to be with us. He HOGS my pillow. And then it struck me: I believe it's because he has total confidence in his mission. Even after he's lost the battle for a while, he knows that eventually he will win again. And for me, I think this is one of the reasons I have such a hard time saying no. Think about it. It's like making a request to God with total confidence and faith. How good are our chances that God will answer our request when we have this faith? When I see my happy boy in the night, reaching up to me in confidence because "he just wants to snuggle", how can I possibly say no?
How long will I let this go on? I don't know at this point. I do not believe, however, that this will permanently mar him in adulthood. If I did it wouldn't be happening. I believe that other than not getting quite as good of a sleep, nothing else is lost in the long run. Now, if he's 15 and still with us.........just kidding.
Let's just say, in choosing our battles as parents, this doesn't rate very high on my list at this time. It will in the future, yes, but not now.
You might think differently.....

New to the blogging world.....

Well...I said I'd never do it. Now it's time to eat crow. I remember quite emphatically stating several months ago that I would never join the world of bloggers. Who would possibly want to read what I had to say?....cynically. And how many times I've read other's posts and wondered why in the world they felt they had to share that with the world?....again cynically.

Now I'm here, trying my hand at full-fledged blogging. My mind has changed for two reasons: First, having two children, I have been horribly negligent in keeping a baby book for my second child especially, and only for about a year for my first. I realized that keeping a blog would give regular updates about the life of my children, stories that perhaps they would like to hear when they are older. Secondly, there have been times when I wished someone could give me practical advice, someone who had already crossed that bridge. For instance, I'm just finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with potty training my youngest. It crossed my mind many times that if I had a blog, maybe someone could give me some great tips. That is, if anybody actually reads it....again, wonderful cynicism.

So, this blog is essentially dedicated to Hannah and Seth. Most of what I write will be about them.

And, thanks in advance to my sisters and maybe even my nieces.....I'm quite sure they'll read my posts at least!