Night Potty Training and An Update

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Diapers don’t flatter my style.

I post so much less frequently these days than I used to. I wish that weren’t the case — I wish I posted more regularly — but the truth is that I’ve grown a little tired of the concept that originally defined this site. Analyzing parenting-related science is so much dang WORK, and frankly, I feel like I’m either preaching to the choir or pointlessly arguing with folks who don’t want to be convinced, depending upon the audience a particular article attracts. I enjoy the “blog” side of this site much more, but I feel guilty if the blog-to-science ratio gets too high, as though I’m eating dessert without finishing my dinner. Lately, everything I’ve felt like saying has been “bloggy” instead of “sciency,” and I haven’t been sharing it as a result. Screw it. It’s my site, right? I’ll leave all the old science posts up for reference, but those of you who have followed this blog from the start will probably notice a change: I expect that the pure science posts will be much fewer and farther-between (if they continue to show up at all). As a caveat, of course, I am me — a “squint” to the core — and I suspect science oozes out of my pores even when I don’t mean it to. Still, if I don’t feel obligated to analyze articles, I’ll probably write more, which is a good thing all around. More


Little Girls’ Swimsuits

I read this article by Pigtail Pals (which eventually made a stir at Blog Her, etc, etc), and it got me thinking. I don’t like the idea of a little girl in a “sexy” swimsuit, and I’d never buy W a string bikini, but what really got my gears turning was the argument for such swimsuits that I saw in the comments sections of the articles. Among them, the idea that a pedophile is a pedophile, and dressing one’s daughter in a specific way doesn’t increase or decrease the likelihood that a pedophile will think bad thoughts and/or do bad things. Regarding this, I heartily disagree.

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W at 9 months old, enjoying the pool with Grandma.

I want to share a story about a friend of mine. He’s a really good, stand-up guy with a moral compass that points due north, is in his late 20s, and is in a committed relationship with a great woman. I saw him at a social event a few years back, and as we were talking, we both noticed a very pretty young woman of about 18 or 19 walk by. She wasn’t dressed inappropriately for the event or for her age. Her clothing was attractive and stylish but not particularly revealing; her hair and makeup were impeccable. Still, despite all the appropriateness, she was one of those people who just sort of radiate a sexy vibe. My friend noticed her. Took another look. Really noticed her. Shortly thereafter, as he and I were still talking, we saw her walk up to a couple around my age and address the man as “dad.” Turns out, she was the couple’s (very tall) 12-year-old daughter, who — when all dolled up — managed to look completely legal. More

Weaning My Toddler

It’s 4 am. I can’t sleep because my brain (and my right breast) are full. It’s been 54 hours since my daughter — the one I wryly imagined someday calling me from grade school to come nurse her — had “ne” (our word for nurse) for the last time. Weaning didn’t happen quite the way I’d anticipated it would. It was neither traumatic nor was it completely “child-led” (sorry, LLL). Still, it was, without a doubt, gentle and, in the end, mutual. This is our story.

I’ve been nudging W toward weaning for Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 5.47.56 AMa long time now, because (truth be told) I’m getting a little tired of it. I have little enough milk that the sensation of nursing is, if not unpleasant, at least annoying. I’d rather interact with W in other ways. Still, I’ve had no desire to make the experience completely one-sided or traumatic for her, so my intention in nudging her was largely to assess her feelings about it. I thought I was getting nowhere with all that nudging, but as I look back, I was building a foundation, laying the extensive groundwork. At this early and dark hour, the analogy that comes to mind is that of the Hawaiian islands; eons of volcanic eruption produce underwater mountains that go unnoticed until they eventually break the surface, and when they do, they do so suddenly. W loves stories — both from books and those imagined by my husband and me — and we’ve invented a fictional character “Erin,” who is just a bit older than W. We use Erin stories to help W work through coming changes, prepare for vacations, and so forth. For instance, we’re in Oregon this week staying with family, and W will be learning to ski. She’s excited, and she knows all about skiing, because she’s been listening to stories about Erin skiing for 3 months now. She knows that skiing will feel like sliding on her toboggan, only she’ll be standing up. She knows Mommy will be by her side the whole time. She knows she’ll fall down sometimes, but it won’t hurt the way it does if she falls on the wood floor. She knows (and it’s entirely possible that this is the greater part of why she’s so excited) that we’ll have a thermos of hot chocolate when the lesson is done. Toddlers aren’t great with theoreticals, so telling W “what Erin did” works better for her, in terms of allowing her to form a concrete image in her mind, than telling her what she will soon be doing. More

A Totally Unexpected Allergic Reaction

As moms go (especially first time moms), I like to think I’m pretty relaxed. I let W do quite a bit of exploring, and while I’m certainly not going to let her experiment by sticking a fork in an electrical outlet, I’m not against letting her learn from experience that if you jump on the couch, you risk falling off…and it hurts. I don’t lose sleep over that every possible negative outcome. I’m not a “what if” mom. There’s one thing I’m a little neurotic about, though, and that’s Benadryl. I pretty much carry it everywhere. This, despite the fact that W is 19 mos old and has never shown any sign of being allergic to anything.* Still, carrying Benadryl is pretty much old hat for me (I always have some of the pills on hand in case I have an allergic reaction), so while I realize it’s probably an unusual thing to have around at all times, I purchased a bottle of the children’s version and started carrying it as soon as I started W on solids.

*Which is fabulous…and lucky. Both her dad and I are allergic to nuts, and my allergies in particular are quite severe; I have to carry an Epi-pen, and have had to visit the ER more than once.

Funny thing, though…after carrying an unused bottle of Benadryl around for 19 months, I ended up having to break it out last night. W ate salmon for the first time, and apparently she’s REALLY allergic to it. She tore into her dinner and gobbled down several bites very quickly, but then she stopped eating and got a funny look on her face (not unlike the funny look I get on my face when I accidentally eat something with nuts in it; it’s sort of a vapid, staring-off-into-space look that my face adopts as I ponder the impending allergic reaction). She signed all done and asked to get down from the table. Then she started asking to nurse, which is weird, since lately she’s only been nursing before bed and first thing in the morning. While this all happened very fast — within a minute or two of eating the salmon — it was really obvious that she didn’t feel quite right. Moments later, red splotches appeared all over her face, her eyes swelled up, and she started wheezing.

Thank goodness for Benadryl. We’re house sitting out in the boonies right now, and the nearest hospital is 17 miles away. I dosed her up and we headed toward the ER, figuring that either the meds would work and we’d be able to turn around halfway there, or that they wouldn’t work and at least we’d be partway to the hospital by the time we realized we had a real emergency on our hands. We lucked out; the Benadryl cleared things up, and we were able to turn the car around after about 10 minutes.

Anyway, there’s a reminder in all of this that even a kid who doesn’t appear to have any food allergies can pop out with one all of a sudden during the early years of life, and in some cases, the reaction can be quite severe. Particularly when the nearest hospital is more than a few minutes away, Benadryl can be a lifesaver.


Have your kids had allergic reactions?


Potty, Here We Come!

Most Favorite Duck using the potty.

We’re home after spending the last two months traveling. It’s been a wild and fun summer, and W’s grown up a lot. One of the biggest changes in the last few weeks is that she’s telling me in many ways that she’d like to start learning about the potty. It started with an increased interest in the mechanics of adult toileting; instead of coming to the bathroom with me just to chat while I used the potty, she wanted to talk about what was going on down there. This has been accompanied by a recent fascination with “the difference between boys and girls,” fueled by a few shared baths with young male cousins. It’s funny how, despite my generally relaxed attitude toward body parts, I’m finding myself pausing and choosing words carefully in response to some of her questions these days. If she points to a little boy’s penis in the bath and asks what it is, I have no problem telling her that it’s a penis, that it’s what a boy has, and that she doesn’t have one (and we talk about what she has instead). When she invariably makes the connection, however, that boys have penises, her daddy is a boy, and therefore (though he’s sitting beside the tub fully-clothed and she can’t see anything) he must have one too — and then points to the crotch of his pants and asks what’s in there — I fumble. Somehow, there’s a big difference between talking to her about little boy penises and talking to her about grown man penises. Thank goodness I’m not the parent who will have to dash through the men’s room with her during future potty emergencies, trying desperately to shield her eyes from the guys and their penises standing around the urinal, while fielding questions about what they’re doing and what they’re doing it with. There are definite perks to being the mama.

Anyway, regarding the potty, she’s also been telling me to change her diaper when she poops (instead of just waiting for me to ask), and even telling me when she pees (which is a big step forward; she never used to care about a wet diaper). She wants to get the wipes out of the box herself, and she prefers to be changed in the bathroom instead of her room; she’s clearly made the connection that toilet stuff takes place in the room with the potty. I have a copy of Elizabeth Pantley’s The No-Cry Potty Training Solution (I just love her books), and I took the “potty training readiness” quiz before we left on vacation. W was not ready, which didn’t surprise me. I took the quiz again yesterday, though, and she is apparently ready to start. I’m excited for her; she’s definitely growing up. I don’t have any expectations that the process will be quick; she’s still young, and I know it’ll be a year or more before she’s really capable of independent toileting, but if she wants to give it a go, we’ll start working on it!

I’m excited, but I also feel totally clueless. I’d love any tips or experiences that any of you would care to share. Also, W is a big fan of books; are there any great books about pottying that your kids loved?

Post-script update: After I wrote this, I bought W a potty that she could just sort of check out, sit on if she felt like it, etc. She is very excited, and has been asking me to read her potty books while we sit next to the potty. Her animals have also been using the potty. A stuffed turtle and Most Favorite Duck used the potty once each. Doof (the lovey) used it twice yesterday, followed by having his tushy wiped with actual toilet paper. I honestly think W is almost as excited about getting to use the toilet paper as getting to learn about the potty!


Sleep Training and Night Weaning Update

I’ll sleep anywhere as long as I have Doof. Oh, and Mama.

So, I talked here and here about my attempt to sleep train and night wean W, and I thought you all might like an update (well, that, and also a reader asked for an update), so here’s the scoop.

Shortly after I wrote the second post on sleep training, we totally gave up on it. There were a few reasons for this, one of which was that I wasn’t emotionally stoic enough to handle her crying and carrying-on (sigh…weak, I know…and may I just add that it’s probably MUCH easier to sleep train a preverbal child than one who can yell MAMA in piteous tones), and one of which was that I realized, in the course of trying to sleep train her, that I like having her in bed with me. I determined this when, on the two occasions that she actually fell asleep in her crib and was still snoozing by the time I was ready for bed, I found I couldn’t sleep without her annoying, sharp little feet poking my thighs, and her sweet-smelling hair in my nose. Consequently, on both occasions, I lifted her out of her crib and into bed with me. Anyway, the sleep training went out the window, and I don’t regret it. For one thing, it’s made summer travels a LOT easier than they might otherwise have been. W is “at home” no matter where we sleep, whether it’s in a motel, at Nana’s house, or in a tent…all she needs to be happy are Mama’s arms (and Doof-the-lovey, of course).

I also (temporarily) gave up on the night weaning when I gave up on the sleep training; it just didn’t seem like she was ready, and since we got a respite in teething for a while, she dropped back down to only one nursing a night, which I was fine with.* Teething resumed about two weeks ago, though, and night nursing requests increased again.

*She still only has 6 teeth at 18 mos. What’s up with that!?

After one night in the tent during which she asked to nurse every hour on the hour (followed by a day during which I was an absolute beast because I was so tired and cranky), I decided enough was enough. I talked to her during the day about what a big girl she was (always a good way to get her to cooperate…she’s really into the notion of being a BIG girl), and told her that while babies needed to nurse at night, big girls like her didn’t need to. At bedtime we did her usual routine, and then I told her that “nene” (both the state bird of Hawaii and, oddly, her name for nursing) was going night-night too. Nene, I said, will be waiting for you in the morning. She did her pre-bed nursing while absorbing my running commentary, happily drifted off to sleep, and woke up at midnight demanding nene. I reiterated, but she was having none of it. She cried, she cajoled, she screamed, she hit and bit; as tantrums go, it was a solid 8…maybe an 8.2. Still, I held out. I cuddled her, rocked her, sang to her…and she slept in fits and bursts (though, short as they were, I did not) through the rest of the night, waking at intervals to yell at me and demand nene. We had three really bad nights, but on the fourth, her first request came further on toward morning, and her protests were weaker. A week out, we were sleeping through the night.

I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence. I thought the day would never come. {happy dance}

So, that’s where we’re at. She’s sleeping with me, but she doesn’t expect to nurse until dawn. Every few nights she’ll fuss around 2 am, asking to nurse, but I just cuddle her and remind her that nene is sleeping, and she goes back to sleep herself.

Based upon some of the stories I’ve heard, honestly, I think I got off pretty easy with only a week of fit-pitching (knock on wood).


How about you, ladies? What’s happening on the sleep-and-feeding front?


Lessons In Positive Parenting

W at the aquarium touch pools.

W, my husband, and I are currently on an Extended Summer Trip.* We’re using our time to visit family on the left coast, hang out with friends, take W on her first camping trip, and so forth.

*We’re both university faculty, and once the first summer session is over, we’re free as school children until August. I realize that this sounds amazing…and it is. But before you get too jealous, let me point out the downside of having two months off each year that can be used for an Extended Summer Trip: two months off = two months of no paycheck.

This week, we spent some time hanging out with a family member to whom I’ll refer simply as AwesomeMom. AwesomeMom has a 5-year-old boy, who is just a really cool little guy. He’s intense and a bit clingy, which gives me a glimpse of what life with W will likely be about 4 years from now, given that she shares those qualities. Further, observing AwesomeMom interact with her child — let’s call him SharkBoy, not because he bites or anything, but because he loves sharks — is a constant, low-key lesson in How To Interact Positively With A Child.

I suspect I’ve learned more than I realize this week — and I realize I’ve learned a TON — but I wanted to share a few of my aha! moments from our time with AwesomeMom and SharkBoy.

  • Toddlers crave independence. I know this, and I do everything I can to ensure that W has choices. When I need to change her diaper, she chooses whether to walk to the changing area or be carried. She gets to pick which color diaper (we use cloth hybrids) she wears. She picks her clothing (I pre-select two options) each morning, and her pajamas each night. However, there are things in life, like taking medicine when it’s necessary, that aren’t optional. While we were staying with AwesomeMom, W needed a dose of medication, and I was muttering to myself about how difficult the whole process is — it takes two adults to hold her, goes about as smoothly as pilling a cat, and half the time results in W upsetting herself so much that she vomits the meds back up and we have to start all over again. AwesomeMom suggested I put the dose in a little cup and let W take it herself. I looked at her like she was crazy, thinking that there was no way W would choose to swallow the medication. AwesomeMom explained that I wasn’t offering W a choice between taking the medicine and not taking it, but rather a choice between taking it herself from a cup or being held down and dosed against her will. I shrugged and gave it a go, explaining to W that she had to take medicine, but that she could choose to hold the dose cup with her own hand and swallow it herself OR I could give it to her from a dropper. She shook her head NO (just as I anticipated), but I kept talking to her calmly and quietly about it (and explained again that not taking the medicine wasn’t one of the choices available to her), and she finally reached out for the cup and took a small sip. She made a face and said NO again, and once again, I explained the choices. It took a few minutes, and she rested between sips, but eventually she took all her medicine by herself. You could have knocked me over with a feather!
  • We went to an aquarium at one point during our visit. The kids had a great time checking out the fish (W has now added “ish” to her vocabulary — she’s not big on first consonant sounds). Toward the end of the day, SharkBoy wanted to go to the gift shop, and while AwesomeMom was fine with that, she had zero interest in dealing with the “gimmes” that kids inevitably get when surrounded by shameless commerce. She gave SharkBoy a ten-dollar bill and told him it was his to spend as he liked. She later admitted to me (out of SharkBoy’s hearing) that she didn’t realize how few options he’d have for $10; even little stuffed animals were closer to $15. Still, she stuck to the original allocation, and helped him find several items within his budget from which he could select. She also pointed out a sale table in the middle of the shop, and explained that choosing from it would help stretch his money. He ended up making a purchase with which he was very happy, and got a great lesson in economics as well. What I liked about her strategy was that he was too busy figuring out how he’d spend his money to beg her for item after item, and was so pleased with being able to make his own decisions regarding what to get within his budget that he valued his eventual purchase much more than he might have done had she simply bought him whatever he asked for.
  • A few times, we were really late getting dinner put together for the kids. AwesomeMom taught me her trick for getting SharkBoy to eat veggies while simultaneously helping to prevent the meltdown that generally occurs when a hungry child and a meal fail to converge on demand in space-time: she simply puts out a smorgasbord of kid-friendly veggies, and he digs in. W, famished from a long day of playing, happily chowed down on grated carrot, thinly-sliced cucumber, cold steamed cauliflower left over from a previous night’s dinner, and frozen corn kernels (AwesomeMom taught me about these, too. Apparently toddlers and little kids love them, and peas too, right out of the freezer. Who knew?). The corn kernels, in particular, kept her busy as she worked hard to pincer each one between her chubby fingers and pop it in her mouth, and we were able to finish making dinner without having kids clinging to our legs and whining.

As much as I learned about parenting this week, I might have started to feel a little bit insecure in the presence of AwesomeMom’s sheer awesomeness had it not been for a conversation we had one night after the kids had gone off to bed. For some reason the topic of baths came up, and she mentioned that when SharkBoy was about W’s age, he’d pooped in the tub. She reacted by totally freaking out (not in a mad way, but in an ohmygod there’s poop in the tub way). Her freak-out apparently freaked him out, to the point that he refused to take a bath for more than a week, and when he finally agreed to get back in the tub, he insisted upon doing so diapered so he wouldn’t poop. In this story was the most important lesson about parenting I learned all week: no mom, no matter how awesome, became so instantly upon the birth of her first child. AwesomeMom has amazing mom-skills, but she has learned them and honed them over the years, and has made a conscious effort to transform herself from mom-who-freaks-out-at-tub-poop to AwesomeMom. This, she’s done by talking to her own cadre of mom-mentors, by reading, by trying and failing, reevaluating, and trying again, and mostly, by watching her child and getting to know him. There lurks within each of us — even moms like myself, who go to bed so many nights thinking tomorrow, I must do better — the seeds of parenting greatness; the seeds of AwesomeMom-ness.


What’s the most amazing thing you’ve learned from another parent?

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