Four-part denial

I’ve been thinking about the four-part denial lately. The steps are:

1. Acknowledge what they wanted.
2. Tell them they can’t have it.
3. Acknowledge how that makes them feel.
4. Offer an alternative.

I think this works really well for kids ages about 3.5 and up. And adults you have to deal with, too.

“I know you want ice cream. We’re not having ice cream today. I know that makes you feel angry and frustrated. We can have ice cream tomorrow.”

“I know you want the project rushed to be finished by tomorrow. That can’t happen given the project workflow. I’m sure that makes you feel frustrated. We can have all the specs revisited this afternoon at the regular meeting.”

Have you used it? Does it work for you? When were your kids able to respond to it?

More Deep Thoughts

Spending too much time talking to my mom to delve into baby/kid issues the way they deserve. And talking to her is bringing up all sorts of stuff.

Today I’m wondering about the path not taken. I know we’re supposed to be living with no regrets, blah blah blah. But I’ve been thinking a lot over the last four or so years about what I could have done (in any number of situation) and what might have happened. It could have inspired despair (hey, ex-boyfriend became super-awesome and successful but still funny and kind!) but instead it’s been inspiring me toward a better decision-making process for the present.

So. The road not taken. Any thoughts? I’m looking for stuff about process and content, but if you want to ‘fess up to something you wish you had or hadn’t done, feel free to. To post anonymously, just fill in a fake email field and put in the URL field.


Whoa. Is it just me, or did a ton of people have nightmares last night? Even those of us who don’t usually have them?

What do you do when you have a nightmare? When I was a kid I figured out that I could will myself to go back into the dream and resolve things to my benefit if I could get over my fear. But I’m a freak, and I don’t know anyone else who can go back into their dreams at will.

What do you do when your kids have nightmares? How do you comfort them, and how to you teach them to comfort themselves?

Musings on Parental Relationships

My mom is here this week, taking care of the kids during the day while their dad is on vacation.

I’ve been thinking since she got here about how our relationship has changed in the past few years. When my older son was born seven years ago she became my main advisor on parenting and being a mother. I saw her as someone who’d been about as happy as was possible being a SAHM. (I now know she was lonely and isolated a lot of the time, but that’s a big part of the SAHM burden, and I think she weathered it as well as anyone could.)

But there was a big distance between us that had always been there, but was getting worse. As much as I needed her, I couldn’t be honest about my marriage and how toxic it was. So we did the same dance we’d always done–I pretended I knew what I was doing, and she let me have space because she thought I knew what I was doing.

I was terrified to tell her I was getting a divorce. I floated it to her as we were cooking on Thanksgiving morning 2006, and she was horrified. But when I called to tell her and my dad “for real” a few weeks later, she stepped up. And she was my champion, the one who kept telling me she knew I could do it, that it was worth it, that *I* was worth chewing my foot off to get out of the trap.

Since then our relationship has been unfolding and refolding in new ways. As we come to new insights about each other and ourselves. The irony is that I need her less now–we’re not enmeshed in the immature way we were. But I value her more.

I’m wondering if this is common for our relationship with parents or parent figures to become looser and more dynamic as we weather the crap-pile of life together. What has been your experience?

Q&A: post-partum weight loss

I got a question from an anonymous mom who was very upset that she was still 20 pounds over her pre-pregnancy weight and her baby was “already” 6 weeks old. She was angry that she hadn’t lost the baby weight yet. I explained to her that it took her body 9 months to put on that baby weight, so she couldn’t expect to drop it all in a month, and that if she did lose so much weight so quickly it probably wouldn’t be healthy for her.

She asked me what a realistic expectation was, and I said that I knew very few women who’d lost the weight before 4 months post-partum, but 9 seemed to be the magic number with a first baby. And even women who lost the weight before 9 months felt like things didn’t start to go back into place before then.

So I’m asking today for some data points. Tell how long it took you to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight and size, which baby it was, whether you were breastfeeding, and any other special circumstances.

With my first I lost the weight by 9 months, and then lost another size over the next year. I was breastfeeding, and walked a ton with the baby in a carrier, and was basically trying to wil myself to perfection since I knew my life was in bad shape.

With my second I actually put on weight after he was born to hide myself. I was breastfeeding and running after a preschooler, but eating my emotions and maintaining the protective barrier so it all stayed on. It’s coming off slowly but surely, so I’m the size I was pre-pregnancy with my first, but still have a way to go to get to my true fighting weight.

What about you? I’m trying to collect as many data points as possible so women looking for the reality of post-partum weight loss can find it here.

Primal Scream Thursday

I’m so, so sorry everýone for disappearing on you. Let’s have a little primal scream here. As usualy, everyone’s issues are unique so there’s no misery poker. No issue too big or small to post.

Here are mine:

1. I went completely AWOL on you and didn’t even realize it until yesterday.

2. I was on a business trip and got a speeding ticket. I can call next week to get the amount I owe, which I fear will be as much as the cost of an actual car.

3. My apartment looks like a bomb went off in it. Still boxes, and I can’t find the hardware to put my couch or dining table back together.

4. I’m freaking out slightly about my kids getting older and not wanting me anymore.

See, mine are kind of whiny and not so bad. What are yours?

Q&A: toddler not eating

Andi writes:

“I’m getting a little scared for my son. He’s almost 2, and for the past two weeks almost all he’s eaten has been milk. He’ll eat breakfast in the morning. Usually waffles, a banana, and maybe some watermelon. But for the rest of the day all he wants is milk and maybe some grapes. Do you think it could be the heat wave? We live in Texas. I’m just scared he’s getting some kind of problem I’ve never heard of before.”

I love it when people answer their own questions. Most kids (unless they do have feeding issues, which you’d have noticed before age 2) go through spurts of eating nothing but certain foods or refusing things they previously loved. But I think this has a whole lot to do with the heat. If you look at the pattern, he eats in the cool of the morning, and then the rest of the day he’s just keeping his fluid levels up. Makes sense to me, but then I consumed almost nothing but iced coffee all day Monday when the weather was like Borneo here. (Apologies to any Bornean readers, but the high heat and humidity combo kills me.)

If I thought this would last forever, I’d be worried. But to me it sounds like yet another example of human beings being ultimately flexible to get our needs met. He’s covering calories, fluids, and vitamins. I’d make sure I’m also offering water. And you might see if he’ll eat at night when it’s cooler, even if it’s after his designated dinnertime. I’ll bet cash money that he goes back to eating on a more regular pattern when it gets a little cooler.

Is anyone else dealing with weather-related eating patterns in your kids? Or yourself? Or your pets? (My cats pretty much only want to eat at night when it’s hot.) What are your kids favorite hot-weather snacks? (Grapes win hands-down here.)

Q&A: IEPs and advocating for your child

I’ve had a series of communications with Ashaki, who has a 7-year-old son. His old school (a private school) told her that her son needed to be in “special ed” because he has ADD. He doesn’t, however, have any of the symptoms of ADD (more than any other 7-year-old kid has focus and listening issues, especially around putting on shoes to leave in the morning). He’s reading well above grade level (and reads for fun at home), but seems not to understand math as it was being taught by his teacher and tunes out in class.

They just moved, and he’ll be going to public school in a few weeks. She doesn’t want him to be marginalized at this new school.

It seems to me that her son has some specific issues around math and would benefit from some testing to see what those are and how to help him, and that he and she will be better off if she can get an IEP for him. (For those not in the US, an IEP is an Individualized Education Plan, and it lays out what a child needs to get an education equal to the one given to the kids closer to the median. Our laws guarantee each child equal access to appropriate education, so theoretically a district/school/teacher has to follow the IEP.)

So my questions for you all are:

How does Ashaki start? What’s the first call she needs to make to begin the process of getting an IEP? (She’s in NJ, if that helps.)

For those of you who’ve been through the IEP process with a kid, what advice do you have for her?

For those of you who had trouble or issues in school, what do you wish your parents had done or known? What would you tell Ashaki from her son’s point of view?
For everyone not in the US, do your countries have protections for non-traditional learners? How do they work?

Q&A: molar teething

If you like to see amazing things, watch my friend’s brother and his wife dance on “America’s Got Talent” tonight on NBC from 9-11 Eastern Time. They’s called Paradiso Dance, and they’re a skinny woman and a fat man, and they’re really good. Then call in and vote for them, please.

Hey, hey–teething! Apparently there are a lot of kids dealing with molars coming in, and a lot of parents not dealing with it so well.

To recap all the major symptoms of teething (molars or not):
Drool stool (shards of drool in the poop)
Cough from drool running down the back of the throat
Runny nose (clear) from the drool
Rash around the mouth from drool
Rash around the anus from the changed acidity of the poop from the drool
Stinky acidic poop
Problems falling asleep and staying asleep
Sudden shooting pains
Flash fevers that spike and then go away
Constant low-grade fever
Wanting to chew things
Sticking fingers in their mouths
Drinking more milk
Not wanting to eat or drink at all
Pulling on the ears

…and I’ve probably forgotten some.

If your child has none of these, and just sails through teething, that’s normal. But it’s also normal for your child to be a big mess of symptoms for teething, too.

In some ways, the molars are slightly easier because at least your child kind of understands that the pain is from teeth. But they can take so long to come in that the pain almost becomes constant and your kid can get worn out just from dealing with it. If you feel comfortable giving pain relievers, give them so your child can get a little rest from the pain.

Were there any things that have helped your kids get their molars in? Mine liked to gnaw on the handles of wooden spoons–they could shove them back there but the spoons wouldn’t get lost or accidentally be swallowed. The homeopathic remedies that helped so much when they were babies (Hyland’s teething tablets or Humphrey’s #3 formula) didn’t seem to touch the molar irritability.

What did your kids like? What helped them?

Back to school

Some of your kids have already gone back to school (too early!), but most of us have another week or three before the kids go back.

I thought we could talk about being prepared, what to expect, and what to watch out for.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for, when my older son switched from preschool to Kindergarten, was feeling like we were just cogs in a machine. I hadn’t realized how hard it would be to go from a place where the teachers knew and cared about him to a place where the teacher really just needed him to sit down and be quiet for the first month. And it wasn’t the teacher’s fault, but there are just too many kids per teacher so they can’t care about each individual kid’s inner thoughts right away.

I would hold off on buying new school clothes until you see what the other kids are wearing. It’s horrible to be excited about new clothes and then realized they’re not what’s cool at your school.

Try to work within school rules for communication as much as possible, and remember that for the most part it’s OK if your kid doesn’t get special treatment. But if something’s wrong, advocate for your child. I will forever regret those days I told my son he had to “just go in” to a teacher who was mean and scapegoated kids, because I’d mentioned it to the Assistant Principal and thought administration would be on top of it.

By the same token, if you have a great teacher, realize it. My son’s teacher last year was amazing (different school) and I still tear up thinking of all the little things she did to honor who he is. I did what I could to thank her without becoming a sycophant, ’cause that’s just creepy.

What questions/issues/advice/wisdom do you have? Things you’re glad you did? Wish you’d done differently?