Testing Mommy & Daddy is Neat.

Like many 3-year-olds, Nathaniel’s new big fun thing to do is to test Mommy & Daddy. He gets in these super fun moods where he tries to do everything he knows we don’t want him to do – and this list is in no particular order – like throw things indiscriminately (this is his all-time most frequent negative behavior), grab and shake the TV,  stand on furniture, throw things into my garden beds, hit, bite, turn lights on & off & on & off & on & off. Did I mention the throwing?  I mean, each thing on its own is wrong – but when he goes from one to the next & the next and he’s totally looking for what he can try next to get a rise out of us? Oh man, my brain just hurts.

Tonight’s recap: When I got home from work, I asked him if he wanted to go for a jog with me, take a ride in the stroller. Nope, he wanted to play out back. Okay, that’s fine. I was in a mood to have a happy, easy night. Ha ha.

In the half hour or so we were outside:

Played with trucks in the (anthill covered) dirt in our spotty backyard, despite our expressing we didn’t want that – he did not want to play in his perfectly bug-free sandbox.

Made a move to throw a ball into my vegetable garden – I told him not to. He threw it in anyway. And got upset because he couldn’t get his ball (there’s a wire/mesh fence around the garden). I asked him if I gave it back to him, would he throw it into the garden. He said yes. Eventually, he behaved well enough for a few minutes that I gave it to him with the condition that he didn’t throw it in the garden. He almost threw it into the neighbor’s yard before being stopped.

Had a tantrum because I told him that we weren’t going to be weeding tonight. He got a little obsessed with weeding this past weekend, when I thought it would be fun to have him “help” in the garden.  He’s the only person on Earth who has a fit because there’s no weeding for him to do. (There are actually plenty of weeds, but none that he could do – ones that would require me to be in yard clothes, cultivator in hand, digging down to the root. Not happening at 6:30 at night on a weeknight.)

Saw Daddy put the lock on the gate. Suddenly had a tantrum because he suddenly needed to go out of the backyard. Threw truck over the gate, thinking that would get us to open it long enough for him to run out. Nice try, kid.

Finally wanted to play in his sandbox – but then took shovelfuls of sand & dumped them over the deck, with a defiant look on his face, knowing he’s not supposed to do that and after told that if he did it again, we’d go inside

We went inside after that – and he had a bigger tantrum, attempting to throw more toys into the fireplace before being stopped (fake gas fireplace, pilot off).

This is what much of our time has been like lately. The thing that bugs me most about it, is that I don’t want to get overly mad at him. I do not want to yell or shout – it doesn’t accomplish anything other than to maybe upset him more, escalating things & getting us all tense. It doesn’t stop him from misbehaving. And I feel bad about it, as I only get so much time with him per day on weekdays. I want to calmly just tell him no & have it be that. But then I feel like I’m constantly saying no, no, no, no, don’t, don’t, don’t. If I redirect him, it ends up going into something else where it’s no, no, no, don’t, don’t, don’t, becoming louder & more strident as it goes on. Sigh.

Not that there haven’t been really awesome moments too – like the amazing sentences, phrases & words that are coming out of his mouth. I need to start writing them down – I think at the time, I can’t believe he just said that. And later, when I want to tell someone about it, I can’t remember it. He’s been saying “I feel better now” or that someone or something is “all better now” because of the Doc McStuffins cartoon – and he’s using it functionally. If he’s watching something he’s seen before, he’ll start talking about what is going to happen next or commenting freely on what is happening. If he falls or hits himself on something & I ask him if he’s okay, he says, “I’m okay.” (This is new – I didn’t used to get any response at all). We were watching a movie and at the end, when there’s a view of a whole bunch of green plants growing, he said to me, “Look at all the plants, Mommy.” He’s also been saying “Not what I’m talking about” when we misinterpret him. And describing things as “Neat!”

And thankfully, at the end of each day, even if he was on our last nerves 20 minutes earlier, he cuddles on my lap for his bedtime books, kisses me goodnight & after getting in his crib, holds my hand for a bit before I leave. And I totally let go of how much I wanted to scream earlier and kid myself into thinking that I’ll be cool as a cucumber the next time he decides that testing me is neat.

It’s been awhile

I knew this would happen. I would start a blog & write a few posts & then it would die. That’s kind of what it seems like – so I’m writing a post here, hoping to revive it a tad.

Things have been going quite well around here, with lots of good changes & things we’ve been hoping for coming to fruition.

My brain’s been a tad scattered – I have all these things I want to say here when something happens & then by the time I have enough time to type here, my brain goes all fuzzy. So I’m just going to start throwing stuff out there.

This past Monday, the weather around here was positively gorgeous, so my husband decided to take Nathaniel to the beach/boardwalk – we live about 1.5 hours or so from Ocean City, NJ and it’s one of our favorite places. Nathaniel’s not been a big fan of the shore, for the most part. We had a few day trips where we hung out on the beach, but Nathaniel never wanted to venture onto the sand & nowhere near the water – he’d just stay on the blanket or on my lap – also had some meltdowns, both on the beach & on the boardwalk. But we had two promising trips last early autumn, where he actually very gradually was comfortable with being on the beach & a little on the boardwalk. So again, this past Monday, the weather was right, Daddy decided to give it a whirl.

They had a perfect afternoon – Nat played on the beach in the sand and, with some reservation, made it a short distance on the boardwalk to get water ice. The car rides were just fine – no problem coming or going. I was at work, of course, but Eric kept me updated with photos, like this one (see how close to the water – and it’s hard to tell, but he’s smiling – apparently, he had a good time running up to the water & then running back as soon as a wave would come in.):

ImageOn Tuesday, after I got home from work, I asked Nat if he’d like to take a ride in the stroller while I jogged, he very excitedly told me that he did – and chased me upstairs while I got ready to go and happily got into his stroller, answering “yes” when I asked him if he was comfortable with the straps. While I jogged, he commented on what way we were going, “This way! That way!” and also answered “yes” when I asked if he was happy. We only did about two miles, as it was getting kind of late in the evening, but it was awesome because we had not been out for a jog together in a very long time and I wasn’t sure if he’d be comfortable. Not to mention that this was the first time we went jogging that he was talking & really communicating with me, so I didn’t have to guess about his level of comfort. It was liberating.

On Wednesday, I learned that I have to stop with the potty mouth. For the first time ever, Nat repeated a swear word that I’d said the second earlier (I swear when I do something clumsy, which is, unfortunately, rather frequent). He didn’t use it in context & he was simply repeating & went on with what he was doing – but I know now, he will repeat, so no more being able to say whatever I want & not worry about him saying it too. This is both good and bad.

On the negative side, Nathaniel has found a new way to make my brain hurt. He used to have a non-verbal whine, a whine that drove me nuts from as early as 8 months. And then this past year, he started whining with words. And there was a period of sudden screeching. And then there was the constant counting & reciting of the alphabet song. Now, when he gets excited, he talks very fast & says one or two words over & over again, with some “d,d,d,d,d” in between. He expects a response and I’m sure he means to say a whole bunch of other words in between that would make sense, but really, all he’s saying, in a loud squeaky-ish voice is “Train!….train!….track!…train track!….train! train!….track!….make a train….!” or “waterfall….water fountain….make a waterfall….train…” There have been multiple times recently that I’ve had to leave the room to clear my hurting head. I’m trying kid, really, I want to do whatever it is that you want, but omg, if I hear the words train/track or water fountain/waterfall one.more.time, I will lose my mind. My head hurts just typing about it.

On a separate positive side, I’ve been able to do some things for myself that used to be darn near impossible. I’ve been exercising at least 4 or 5 nights per week. My running is getting a little better. I’m doing some cross training. I joined a new gym where I can start swimming again (I probably look ridiculous when I swim & all I know is a basic arm stroke, but whatev). I also have real & true plans for gardening this year. This morning, I was even able to do some yard work while Nathaniel played in his new sandbox & out in the yard with a truck – I used to think I’d never be able to do yard work with him around. Then, thanks to Grandmom taking over for the afternoon, Eric & I got our first vegetable garden dug (plants go in hopefully next weekend).

I did run last spring, but it was sporadic at best. I started some yard work last spring, but it was mostly just cleaning up from the previous 2 years neglect & eventually, everything just went to weeds because I couldn’t keep up with anything.

This spring, I feel truly optimistic. I haven’t felt truly optimistic about much of anything that was just for me in a long time.

 

Easter Improved

Glowing in more progress & improvement in our life – holidays are often a big marker for change.

For our first ever Easter as a family with Nathaniel, we were dealing with the throes of colic. It was also unseasonably warm. So throughout most of that Easter, my husband & I took turns rocking & comforting a sweating, overwhelmed howling colicky baby. Not to say that there weren’t some very sweet moments as well, but it was a very challenging day.

Easter 2010(Early in the day of Nat’s first Easter, before things got a little out of hand)

Easter 2011 – I barely remember it. Based on the few photos I took, I know it was warm and I know Nathaniel wasn’t walking or talking yet, although he had said a few words maybe once or twice and was cruising along furniture. I remember the general time frame, I remember the dress I wore and I remember Nat’s outfit well – although I thought it was 2012 that I had that dress & the pictures that I just looked at to refresh my memory just confused me. Nat was about 14 months old at that time, I believe.  I’d post a photo from it, but they all include someone else who probably doesn’t want to be posted. Alas.

Easter 2012 – Nathaniel had been diagnosed a little over a month previous. We had just started to ramp up his therapy, but he still wasn’t talking – he had made a couple word approximations, briefly, & mimicked a couple isolated sounds. He was having frequent meltdowns and I was stressed out & depressed. We had recently adopted a dog & things weren’t going well with us trying to balance everything. But the Easter festivities went well; Nat was extremely good at a rather crowded restaurant where we had buffet brunch with my husband’s family. He was also excellent at my parents’ house – participated in the yearly Easter Egg Hunt for the first time ever & enjoyed it more than we could’ve hoped. But the evening ended with a meltdown, mostly because we left too late – I was enjoying my family’s company too much to remember that we had to leave. We then got home & I had to take the dog for a walk in the midst of discontent and I ended up sobbing throughout most of the walk with the awful feeling that I was some kind of failure, holidays would never be simple and I was very much missing the carefree days of being young and not having to be responsible for much of anything. I cried so hard, I ended up upchucking my Easter dinner & suffering from a major headache. I so wish it hadn’t ended the way that it did – because the good really did outweigh the bad that day.

Easter 2012(How cute is that kid? This was part of the 2012 Easter obligatory photo session.)

Easter 2013 – this Easter. It was a mostly gray day, on the chilly side & raining by afternoon. So no traditional Easter Egg Hunt at my parents’. We also did not get to see my husband’s side of the family, due to a scheduling conflict. But despite all this, this was really a great Easter. We had an egg hunt at home for the first time & Nathaniel was fantastic & excited, carrying his basket & collecting all the eggs & then counting them out with me. He played with the plastic eggs off & on through much of the day, along with the Hot Wheels cars & little toy dinosaurs that were packed within. He made it through the entire day without any major tantrums or tears. He was good at my parents’ for dinner through dessert, although a little tired & overwhelmed at times. He didn’t want to eat any of the dinner food, but he let me put some of each thing on a plate in front of him, without getting upset when I gently suggested that he try it. But despite whatever not fun stuff was present for him, despite having a couple relatives present that he rarely sees and not having his cousin there who he normally would play with (due to said cousin being sick), he didn’t meltdown or cry – just came over to me for some hugs & softly said, “wanna go home now.” But each time, something happened to cheer him up, whether it was a chance to play with some apps on his uncle’s phone, to play with a new toy or the ever wonderful cake & candy available at dessert. He came home without one single tantrum & went to bed without a hitch. Now that he’s talking, he could say bye-bye to everyone, along with “Happy Easter.” He was even comfortable enough to talk off & on throughout the evening. When I kissed him goodnight & said, “Happy Easter, baby,” he said back to me, ever so sweetly, “Happy Easter, Mommy.”

It really was a very happy Easter.

Easter 2013