We gushed on and on about how The Baby was such a good listener. If we had been horrible parents, we may have even said that he listens better than his brothers ever did. You tell him "no," he stops about 75% of the time. That's excellent for a toddler and near perfection for a male toddler.
He would help me find his shoes. He sat pretty quietly when I put his clothes on. There was minimal trouble getting him into his car seat. And then two days ago, all of that changed. Baby Mason woke up with a personality and it was not necessarily a good one. When I don't respond the way he would like me to respond to things, he pinches me or hits me. In fact, he even gets a cranky face so I know to throw up the armor.
He is fourteen months old. He is starting to really talk but our comprehension of what he is saying is not meeting his needs. I can visibly see his frustration at not having his needs met and not understanding what he wants. I'm frustrated because he's lashing out. Here are some ways that we have handled the onset of toddlerdom in the past and tips for surviving it.
Praise is a big motivator. There is a lot of appreciation and positive reinforcement in very loud sing, songy voices in our house. It's annoying to everyone but Mason seems to like it. Sure there are still moments when he runs away with the clicker and hides it or tries to flush rolls of toilet paper down the lav but I have seen an improvement in his overall feisty behavior.
Remember it is age-appropriate behavior. I have a friend who is panicking about her child biting everyone right now. Well, her child is eighteen months old and is still at that stage where she is trying to talk but not everyone is understanding her yet. Her frustration mounts and she bites. My friend has gotten very good at seeing the warning signs and cutting her off at the pass but the 24/7 stress of keeping everyone safe from the biter is wearing her down. I just keep reminding her that in a few months, her baby will be able to communicate better and will be less likely to bite in frustration.
Enlist help. My children love nothing better than to be in each other's business. I have recently used those tendencies to get a little back up from the older boys. I sat Ethan down the other day and explained to him how Mason was getting bigger and that he watches everything his brothers do all the time. I may have mentioned that if Mason is copying Ethan or Nathan's bad behavior, everyone will get in trouble. Now Ethan is on task to lead Mason in the way of righteousness. He makes sure that everyone is following the rules and he has designated himself as Chief Translator for the Baby (even if he can't understand anything Mason is saying either).
Know your child's limits. Mason gets cranked up when he is tired or hungry or hot. As my friend does with her biter, I try to make sure that I stay ahead of all the basic needs so that everything doesn't come to a head in the worst possible way. It amazes me how much a late lunch can throw all of my children into a tizzy. I'm getting better and so are my kids.
Do you have some tips or tricks to taming the wild bear? Please share.
I turned around and Ethan was five. He was just born so I don't know how that happened. Everyone you know says, "Enjoy them while they are young because they grow up so fast" and every study you ready says that they learn the easiest before turning five.
I'm failing miserably on both ends. I really want to enjoy my kids while they are young but when your day consists of keeping one child from flushing pretty much everything down the toilet and the other two from getting into a light saber fight that ends with someone's eye getting poked out, feeling "enjoyment" may get lost in the mix.
As for filling up your children's brains with absolutely as much as possible until they reach saturation, I'm missing the boat. Luckily for me, Ethan has taken to teaching himself things. Today was about money or "cents" as he was calling it.
E: Momomomomom. What is a cent?
K: It's a penny.
E: Dad offered me 10 cents to help him clean the car and take all the tree branches to the side of the yard. Is that a lot?
K: No. I told you not to accept that. Ugh with your father. Don't get me wrong. Ten cents is nice to have but it isn't much.
E: How about a dollar?
K: A dollar is good. A dollar is 100 cents.
E: WOW! That is a lot.
With that we went through nickels, dimes, quarters and a junk silver peso his father had given him (except I had no idea how much the junk silver peso was worth since you really don't see them in circulation these days in D.C.). Combinations of these coins and those coins. Seeing what we had left when we took some away.
I continued to drag the branches to the back as he asked me the questions. He told me he had a thousand dollars. I looked over and he had $1.25. He asked me how much more he needed for a jet.
K: What kind of jet?
E: A real plane.
K: You want to buy a plane?
E: So we can fly places. How much more do I need?
K: You could probably get something fairly nice for about $7 million more.
E: Is that a lot?
E: Dad said he would give me 10 cents. How much more would I need after that.
K: I think it's still safe to say you need about $7 million.
He walked away with a pocket full of money and a very big dream. The nice thing about five years old is that they are really good at asking all the questions they need answered.
Have more questions about your five year old? PBS Parents can help.
I watched them as they surged ahead down the row, picking as fast as they could. Someone had deserted The Baby just behind me and I turned around to see him eating a green strawberry. I tried to point out the red ones, but he didn't really care.
I know that the stems of strawberries are bad for you and I'm guessing the green strawberries aren't at the top of the great list. I thought about googling on my phone to see if they were poisonous but then I got caught up again in picking.
I heard a shout from down the aisle and I looked up to see boys with half-filled pails and a dad making great progress. This was odd since I looked down in my pail and I had only managed to find eight berries. It was at that exact moment that I realized what I was missing.
I turned to check on The Baby and he had a stem hanging out of his mouth. I snatched it out, promised to return and then ran down the aisle. I looked into the pails. My fears were realized. There were three pails full of strawberries with green tips. I looked at my husband with a glare and he blinked back a "whaaah?" I asked how they tasted. He said they were just okay. I mentioned that perhaps the ones that were ripe were better. He laughed.
I did what any self-respecting mother would do. I played the Mother's Day card.
K: Why don't you guys go play in those wagons over there while I pick? And can someone dig the green strawberries out of The Baby's mouth?
I'll admit I was a little worried about all the green-tipped strawberries because I was fairly certain that this was the field that charged $5 a pound of strawberries and that is a LOT of money for unripe strawberries. I said nothing to the offenders but everyone wandered off to play while I worked.
The weather was a gorgeous 60 degrees with sunny skies and I looked over to see Derek pulling all three boys in a wagon at the edge of the field. They were laughing excitedly and before long I had a fair amount of strawberries in my pail. I took them up to pay and realized with relief that they were $1.90 a pound instead of the $5 I feared.
I was glad I had decided to embrace the moment instead of giving a lecture about following rules and listening to your mother on Mother's Day. And those strawberries? They will make great sorbet tomorrow.
Welcome to the Supersisters Great Day of Gratitude! Today is the day we honor teachers everywhere for the sacrifices they make every day for our kids.
If you are still looking for ideas for things you can do to show the teachers how much you care, how about handwritten notes to the teacher or a professional letter of recommendation and appreciation?
Are you crafty? Vickie from Craft Apparent shows us how to make these adorable Teacher's Pots that are sure to bring a smile to any child's face as they make it and any teacher's face to receive such a lovely (and super easy to make) tiny pot.
Gina from Booklights has some great book ideas for sparking conversations with your kids about gratitude beyond this Great Day of Gratitude and our very own Patience has some of her own ideas for teaching your kids the importance of gratitude.
We made it really easy for you to tell us how your kids made their teachers feel special today.
If you have a blog:
Badge: just cut and paste the following into your Great Day of Gratitude blog post and then come back and share the link to your blog so we can check out what you did today! Be sure to share you link to your Great Day of Gratitude post (and not just your blog).
<a href="http://www.pbs.org/parents/supersisters/archives/2010/04/pbs-supersisters-great-day-of.html"><img src="http://pbs.org/parents/supersisters/badges/supersisters_badge_greatdayofgratitude.jpg" border="0" alt="The Great Day of Gratitude is May 5, 2010" /></a>
If you didn't blog about your own Great Day of Gratitude:
You did do something fabulous to show our teachers how much you care or you don't have school age children but you have a favorite teacher you would like to honor. Please let us know in the comments. We can't wait to hear!
Thanks so much for being part of our Supersisters Great Day of Gratitude and we know this is going to be a fabulous one!
Every once in a while I take my children somewhere and it's only in the middle of the activity that I think, "thinking this through would have been helpful PRIOR to doing this." The problem is that there really isn't anything that I think we can't do in this family of ours.
Fast forward to last Friday and the brilliant idea to take the kids by myself on the glass bottom boat to see the coral reefs below the water in the Florida Keys. I decided to take the kids when my parents were at work. I was trying to remember if we had ever gone on the glass bottom boat growing up. My mom says that we went once and that all she remembered was that it was claustrophobic. That cracks me up. I don't remember going at all.
We paid for our tickets and waited in line. The people in front of us gave us those glances you give when you realize you are getting on a transcontinental flight and there are kids crying in line to board. I started to think things like, "why does everyone keep making announcements about sea sickness" and "what am I going to do if any or all of my children get sick on this three hour tour?"
I'm not saying I panicked at that point. I'm just saying I could see panic from where I was seated on the boat. I let all three run around from deck to deck and was glad to see that the water was calm and the railings were high.
We got out to the reef and the captain began to instruct everyone how to sit by the rails. It was then that Nathan began to have an epic freak out. Screaming. His language skills are slightly lacking so I wasn't sure what frightened him so much. I think that perhaps he thought he would fall into the water if he sat at the railing of the completely enclosed boat with the glass bottom. At that point Mason decided that he would like to look at the fish from the bottom of the boat so he tried repeatedly to jump out of my arms.
Old ladies began to look at me with empathy. I got up from my spot and whispered to Ethan that I had to take care of his brothers. He said that he was okay sitting there by himself and I began to walk around with one screamer and the other one yelling in baby talk at the fish through the glass. I was pretty sure I was going to lose it.
Ethan looked back at me after a while. "Mom, can you sit with me?" I told him I couldn't and he said, "because Mason is trying to jump down there to the bottom of the boat?" I laughed. Nate wailed from his spot as he laid on the bench and the baby gave me an unsolicited kiss.
Sure it would have been easier if we had an extra set of hands but sometimes you just don't have it. They call them "adventures" for a reason, right?
Don't forget that the Great Day of Gratitude is on Wednesday. You can find more information here and be sure to come back here and share a link to your blog where you shared your Great Day of Gratitude adventures.