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My toddler is wearing underpants. Sort of.

4 Aug

I came home today to find my two and a half year old, naked, in the front courtyard wielding a garden hose. I wish I’d gotten a picture!

The next time I saw him, he was wearing his older brother’s underpants…over his diaper. His nanny tells me that this fashion choice was his own insistence. Is this his way of telling me that he’s ready for potty training??  

I ask this because, well, for a variety of reasons, I’ve let potty training sort of slide this summer. This being my second trip around parenting, I’ve learnt to pick my battles. Potty training falls under that category for me. I mean, he’s not really even talking yet (and that’s a post for another day), how can I start potty training?

That being said, I was rather surprised at the reaction I got from the director of the Montessori preschool that I just enrolled my youngest in when I told him that my son wasn’t toilet trained yet. “You mean he still wears a diaper at night?”, he asked. “Um, no, he wears a diaper all day too”, was my response. It wouldn’t have taken an expert in body language to tell me that this man did NOT approve.

I took this up with another teacher mommy friend of mine with a child of similar age. I told her about how this school director responded and, that up until that moment, I’d thought I was doing well as a parent – or at least I didn’t realise that I was ‘failing’. She was predictably supportive and reminded me that we all learn at our own pace. 

So hopefully, soon, my youngest will be fully potty trained and I will gain the approval of his new school’s director. In the meantime, I’m happy to continue changing diapers. 

An open letter to the ‘big boy’ at the playground

9 May

We live in a high-rise apartment building that has its own playground. There are perhaps two dozen kids living here that use that playground regularly – from teeny toddlers to teens.

My 4 year old son has a particular fondness for one of these boys. I’ll call him Adam.

Adam is a ‘tweenager’ : so he’s much older than my son. But he’s a sweet boy with a kind soul and he often goes out of his way to play with my son and to make him feel included. My son’s face literally lights up whenever he sees Adam.

The other day my son and I were down at the playground when Adam and a couple of friends came running in. They were obviously playing a game together and, naturally, my son wanted to join in. So off he ran. I started having a chat with some of the other parents there but very soon it dawned on me that the boys were gone.

And that’s when I saw it – my little boy’s head poking out from the spot he’d crawled into under the Little Tykes playground equipment.

He’d crawled in there so that no one would see him crying.

Apparently, as he tells the story, when he went up to Adam to ask if he could play too, he was told by another boy that, “Adam thinks you’re stupid.” just  before the boys ran off. And if that wasn’t enough to bring tears to my eyes and want to hug him for eternity, the next thing he said certainly did. “And Mommy, where was (sic) you? You’re supposed to come and give me hugs when people say bad things to me.”

So we had a great big cuddle right then and there on the playground floor, tears streaming down his face.

I did my best to reassure my son that he wasn’t stupid, that that was a mean thing for that boy to say and that people are sometimes going to say things to you that aren’t true. “I know it hurts but you have to learn to shake it off.” I told him.

If I could say anything to the boys in question, especially Adam, this is what it would be:

Dear Adam,

My son thinks that you are a pretty special person. But you probably know this already by the way that his face lights up, and the excitement in his voice when he calls your name, whenever he sees you. He looks up to you in probably the same way that you look up to the older kids at your school and your brothers. He doesn’t have an older brother so you are, in many ways, a role model to him. 

I realise that he’s a lot younger than you; and probably not your first choice in a playmate. I understand that. He can’t play the same games as you (or at least not as well) but you’ve always let him try. That is so important to him. You’ve shown patience and maturity with him that is beyond your years. And for that I would like to thank you. 

I would also like to remind you that my son is only 4 and a half years old. He’s just learning what the word ‘friend’ means. If you asked him to tell you what a ‘friend’ is, he would probably tell you that a friend is someone that you play with, share things with and who doesn’t fight with you. 

Can I ask you a favour? Please be careful what you say to him. He takes everything that you say to heart. Because he looks up to you, he’s likely going to do and say the same things that he sees you doing and saying because he wants to be like you: his ‘big’ friend. 

If he hears that someone that he thinks of as ‘friend’ thinks that he’s ‘stupid’, then I’m afraid that he’s going to think that that’s what friends do; put each other down.

His Dad and I understand that the world is not a perfect place. We understand that our son is going to get his feelings hurt from time to time and we are trying to teach him how to best deal with that. But if you could understand the influence that you have to set a positive example of what friendship is all about…well, we would be grateful. 

The problem with short bedtime stories

20 Sep

My eldest son started “big boy” school this past August. The day he came home from school after his first trip to the library he exclaimed excitedly, “Mommy! That’s where aaaallllllllll the books are!” The kids each have their own library bags and when I opened his up to see what he’d borrowed I chuckled a little bit. If you’ve ever spent any amount of time with my son, you wouldn’t need to be a psychic to predict that he would have located the only book in the library that combined dinosaurs and football/soccer.

A week went by and I eagerly waited to see what he would bring home from the library. I admit, I was a little surprised when he came home with this.

Based on the famed Russian ballet of the same name, it tells the story of a king with three sons. The king discovers that someone, or something, is stealing the golden skinned apples from his tree and he offers a quarter of his kingdom as a reward to whomever brings him the thief. Full of mythical images and undertones, it is the youngest son who is cast as the hero.

So we read the story and he enjoyed it. It was quickly apparent that he was drawn to the book because of the illustrations. He really loved touching the picture of the firebird with the golden threads running through it. However, as the story was a little on the long side, I decided to read it over two nights. It struck me that we’d never before read a story at bedtime that couldn’t be finished in one go. And that got me thinking of the idea of delayed gratification.

When I was a kid, my bedtime stories were read from thick, hardcover books (like the complete tales of Winnie the Pooh). And even if the books were compilations of short stories, and my mom finished one of those stories, I always wanted more; because in my child’s mind the book wasn’t finished until you flipped the back cover over. I eagerly looked forward to bedtime. I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

In this ‘instant’ world that we now live in, I am going to be conscientiously on the look out for ‘big’ books that we can read together at night. I want my son to learn patience. I want him to experience healthy anticipation. I want him to learn that good things come to those who wait. But above all, I want him to always yearn to ask, “What’s next?”

Who is with me?

*On a side note, I’d really like to thank the librarian who didn’t say to my son, “Don’t take that book. It’s not for you.” That lover of books who didn’t tell my son that this book was too complicated, too grown-up or too difficult for him. Because of that book, mommy had a little epiphany. 

Go ahead! Be a big baby!

8 Aug

This summer was  a summer of a lot of “firsts” and “lasts” for me as a mother.

My son Gabriel (Gabe to his friends) is my second and last child. My last son. My last baby.

This summer, we witnessed a lot of “firsts” with Gabe.

Celebrating his first Canada Day (in Bangkok).

Eating his first solids.

Sleeping through his first long haul flight.

Meeting his extended family in the UK for the first time.

Discovering how his knees work and putting them into action for his first proper crawl!

Sitting up for the first time.

Pulling himself up to a standing position (using a suitcase, ironically enough) on July 4th at the age of 6 months and 1 week.

Being weaned from the breast. 

As I watch him grow and achieve, I feel at once a sense of pride and yet a sense of sorrow; knowing that these are the last baby “firsts” that I will witness with my own children.

But watching him I was also struck by the thought that “being a big baby” shouldn’t be a putdown. We should all strive to be big babies; every day. I have observed for endless hours my big baby trying to work out how to navigate the world around him and to find his place in it. Trying to figure out how his own limbs work. Testing his own strength. I have seen him fail more times than he will ever remember. And that’s the thing. Any parent knows, from even the most casual observation, that babies/toddles/kids don’t dwell on their failures. They remember their successes; and build upon them.

As my eldest son prepares to start “big kid school” tomorrow, I will try to find a way to remind him that it’s ok to be a “big baby”.

Feeling a little needy

2 Apr

One morning last week, as I was sharing giggles in bed with my now 3 month old. My three year old came in, as he usually does, to say good morning. What he said next was so innocent yet so cutting.

“Mommy, Gabriel needs you too much.”

Yes, he does need me but how do you explain to a three year old that it’s not “too much”?

The newborn baby blurs

20 Feb

This last month has been a blur generated equal parts by lack of routine and sleep.

Hard to believe that Gabe had his two month check up today. For those of you who need to know, he’s gained another kilo this past month and now tips the scales at a smidgeon under 5kg. He’s also grown another 4cm which brings him up to 59cm. The doctor is very impressed with his overall growth and neck control. Nevermind that he peed and pooped on the nurse while she was checking his temperature. The baby that is, not the doctor 🙂

Will you be tracking Santa this year?

20 Dec

As a child, one of the most magical and exciting things for me on Christmas Eve was watching the evening news updates on TV ‘tracking’ Santa’s progress around the world. And waiting throughout the evening for “breaking news” about which city Santa had most recently been seen flying over.

Well, now with power of the internet we can track Santa’s progress in real time! The site is available in 8 languages.

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! Sawadee Pee Mai!
Jodie

http://www.noradsanta.org/en/

Wonderful: an underrated word

3 Sep

This morning I read the most wonderful of status updates on Facebook. A colleague and her husband welcomed a little boy, born just over a week ago, into their home and hearts. They are fostering this little boy with the goal of adoption.

Wonderful.

I’ve always admired the love (and often relentless paperwork and determination) it takes for a person/a couple to choose  to welcome with open hearts and homes another who is not theirs yet. And while their hearts and homes may be open, like those of all expectant parents, they are by no means empty. They are full of bassinets, stuffed toys, diapers, wet wipes, bottles, sterilizers, monitors, books, blankets, hopes, dreams, love and wonder.

Wonderful.

I can only tell my story with any certainty but knowing the universality of parenting, I can’t imagine that my first hours, days and weeks as a mother were any different than what my colleague and her husband are going through right now.

I remember cradling this unbelievably tiny being in my arms and wondering how did I get so lucky? And thinking to myself, I wonder if your eyes will stay this blue. I wonder if you can feel how much I love you. I wonder how I’m going to keep you safe. I wonder what I’m doing/will do wrong. I wonder what kind of person you will be. I wonder if you realise how amazing you are. I wonder what you dream about. I wonder if I’ll ever be worthy enough of you. I simply wonder and I am full.

Wonderful.

 

The roles we play

19 Aug

In both our private and public lives, we all have our roles to play. Some roles we assume, some we are assigned and some are simply thrust upon us.  At work, for example, I know that there are situations when, if I need something done, I don’t necessarily go to the person who should get it done but rather to the person who will.

Yup, that’s right. I often bypass the chain of command and I bet that sometimes you do to. If we’re lucky, we all have that person who is your “go-to-guy or gal” that we know we can always count on. And I suspect that one way to know if you are truly valued at work is if you are that go-to-person to someone else.

The notion of roles, and who does what in my family, was brought to a shrieking reality last night by our nearly three year old son. Apparently, he has much clearer ideas about what Mommy’s roles and Daddy’s roles are than Mommy and Daddy do themselves.

The home is no longer the sole dominion of Mommy. In today’s modern family, Daddy is expected to do everything that Mommy does; breastfeeding aside. And I have to say that most of the dads that I know are happily and successfully doing just that. They are parenting their kids and not babysitting them.

After work yesterday I was particularly tired after a particularly long day. At 21 weeks pregnant, I find that while I feel physically well I do tend to tire more easily. And so it was that I found myself in desperate need to lie down and close my eyes. And then, predictably, my little nap turned into an 11 hour sleep: with one small interruption.

At around 8pm, I was woken up by a high pitched and obviously distressed little voice screaming “Momma!! Momma!!” Half asleep and without my glasses I ran to see what was going on. I opened his bedroom door to find a teary toddler at the door, all the lights on, toys littering the floor and Daddy silently lying on the bed next to Aidan’s. It seems that our toddler has decided for himself that while Daddy has his many uses, it is Mommy’s job to put him to bed. Within minutes, toys were cleared, lights were off and baby was safe in bed and soundly asleep. Yeah, I was probably feeling a little smug about how quickly I was able to get the job done (so to speak) when I left that room. I was also wondering why the whole incident had happened in the first place.

While it didn’t seem right to me, I can see now how it made sense from the two year old’s perspective. Because I am the one who puts him to bed nearly every night that that’s my job; it’s my role. I guess I just found it odd that he wouldn’t let Daddy pinch-hit for me. I mean, he lets the nannies put him down for naps and bedtimes, he lets his Grammy do it (a person he might see once a year), why not Daddy? I mean, we’re not talking a complete stranger here. The only conclusion that I can come up with right now is that Daddy isn’t a woman. Could it be that our son might be assigning adults in his life roles along gender lines?

For the moment, I am more than happy to resume bedtime duty. After all, it’s a role I enjoy. But I will now be looking out for other signs of lessons that we are teaching that we are oblivious too.

Raising kids is never boring.

8 May

What to post as your very first WordPress blog? It’s a daunting question. But seeing as I’m making my first post on Mother’s Day, a picture depicting my superior parenting skills seemed appropriate.

In case you’re wondering what you’re looking at, it’s a shot of my husband trying to comfort our 2 and a half year old son who has managed to lock himself in a change room of the Tokyu department store at MBK Shopping Center.

Few things grab department store security’s attention as the sight of a grown man lying on the ground with his arm under the door of a change room accompanied by the sounds of a screaming toddler. Come to think of it, this sight quickly grabbed the attention of a great number of shoppers as well.

So how did this happen you ask? It started with boredom.

Toddlers are not known for their high boredom threshold as anyone who has spent more than 6 minutes in the company of one can attest to. Daddy was in a change room of his own somewhere and I was simply attempting to keep my son amused. He found an empty change room and did what just about any other kid his age would do. He walked in, closed the door and then opened the door. And so a game of peek-a-boo ensued.

I must admit, the thought of him locking himself in there by accident momentarily crossed my mind but then I thought, “What are the odds of that actually happening? Geez mom, let the kid have his fun.” Yup, you guessed it. No sooner had those thoughts formed and evaporated…the predictable happened.

Universal parenting truth #1

If you are a parent, this has happened to you.

By “this” I mean, your child has caused you some degree of embarrassment in a public place. Their actions (or inaction in the case of doing the “rag doll” in front of till 7 of the supermarket because they are not leaving until they get that sugary treat so annoyingly displayed at their eye level) have caused complete strangers to look at you with their contemptibly rumpled nose and roll their childless little eyes in a way that suggests you are a bad parent.

But in this case I couldn’t help but think that this scene was all my own doing. I should have stopped him from playing in the store. I should have stopped him from playing when it crossed my mind he could get trapped. I should have… (insert the endless possibility of things I should have done to avoid this from happening in the first place).

In the end, a nice man wielding a screw driver arrived and pried open the door in seconds and our son dived into the arms of his waiting daddy. Ten minutes, and one whole coconut later, said son was right as rain.

So. Superior parenting skills? I propose that there is no such thing. We are all making it up as we go along. Should I have acted on that little voice in my head? Probably. Will I do things differently next time. Perhaps. But I will also continue to try to temper my propensity to overprotect with my wish for my son to make his own discoveries and come to his own conclusions about the world around him. Yesterday’s lesson: beware of closing doors that you don’t know will open for you.