Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Looking for bedtime solutions

I once read on another blog that after you make it through your child's first year, you never give your child's sleep another thought. Either that parent was extraordinarily lucky or we're abnormal, because sleep is just about all we do talk about here (well, and the futility of potty training).

I've come to terms with the idea that Jack is not a big sleeper. He sleeps fine, just not very much. Most nights he's slumbering by 8 or 8:30, and he wakes up for the day between 6-6:30. That doesn't leave us much time to ourselves, but we take what we can get. The real problem is getting him to sleep, a task which Hans undertakes most nights. About 1/2 the time Jack does fall asleep on his own (eventually and after some power struggles), either when Hans is reading to him or by himself once Hans leaves his room. But the rest of the time is not fun: Jack gets out of bed, runs to his door, opens it, and runs out to find us. And, oh how he laughs.

I pretty much avoid specific-topic parenting books, but I'm wondering if we need a little sleep guidance here. We've tried a bit of a technique I saw once on Nanny 911 (back when I thought the experts had the answers), wherein the parent continually places the runaway child back in bed, as many times as it takes until the child gives up and goes to sleep. It hasn't worked and I surmised it was because we didn't keep it up until he surrendered, but last night I tried it until Jack became totally hysterical, so it doesn't seem like a good option for us.

I guess that leaves us, on those nights when Jack won't settle down on his own, in a familiar position of reading with him until he falls asleep, which we did just about every night from the time he started teething until Jack got his big boy bed last year. Maybe we're lucky it took Jack this long to discover he doesn't have to stay in bed at bedtime. But we sure would like things to be a lot more mellow. How does everyone else get their toddlers to sleep?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mental health day

We had a somewhat rough week at home, recovering from colds or flu or whatever it was, and then Jack went and got himself sick. He's been sick only a handful of times in his life, so I am never prepared for his illnesses; they surprise me each time.

This week his nose has been stuffed up, he's been coughing a bit, and running an occasional low fever. I treated him with Tylenol and a few extra popsicles, but he was a little beast for 2 days, with operatic tantrums, super clinginess, and crazy sleep patterns. Last night Hans fought the Epic Battle of Bedtime, and Jack didn't go to sleep until 10:30. As usual he was up this morning at 6 something.

Hans gave me the day off, so I headed out for a hike around 10:30, only to discover it was flaming hot on the peninsula! Oh well, I hiked anyway, enjoying myself at Pulgas Ridge. (You can read some more about the hike on my new blog: http://bayareahiker.blogspot.com/) I came home hot but happy, took a shower, checked in on Jack (still crazy, still a little sick), then took a nap. What a wonderful relaxing day. Thanks Hans!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Two from the zoo

Almost forgot, we had a fun but mercurial (word of the week around here) trip to the Oakland Zoo last Sunday. This was our second ever visit and the first time we never made it to the Children's Zoo, so Sunday we started there. It is excellent -- the animal areas are large and cheerful and there's plenty of interactive stuff for the kids to climb on and explore. Unfortunately there is no goat feeding at this zoo, but Jack did get to pet these goats. Jack really really loved the fruit bats -- none of us had ever seen them before, and we can't stop talking about them. Our visit was marred with a few "goes to 11" tantrums, but all in all it was a fun trip. One of the highlights was watching Jack ride by himself on the little car ride. That was a first.

Berry picking

The weather was lovely Wednesday, so Jack and I hiked up Mount Davidson for some berry picking. Most of the blackberries were still very green, but we picked about a cup while watching swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds zipping around. We'll be back!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Poor poor pitiful me

Out of nowhere Tuesday while eating dinner I got caught by the flu. It was so strange, one minute I was fine, the next I was sick. Yesterday I slept all day which helped a bunch, but I'm still a mess. My teeth throb, throat is raw, ears ache, nose is stuffed, and even my eyes hurt. I've had two nights of lovely fever hallucinations -- the first night it was blood dripping down the wall (a red shirt was hanging on the outside of Hans' closet) and then last night coyote-goats were pooping on Hans' side of the bed (sounds like one of Jack's dreams).

Hans may have the flu now too, but there's still hope that Jack will dodge it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Motherhood blues

When Jack was a baby and we made our first excursions to our local playgrounds, I expected other moms (I'm not being sexiest here, there just aren't many dads) to welcome me to their club. I didn't expect everyone to love me instantly and want to be my best friend, but I did anticipate a certain level of civility. Instead I found that some moms would chat, but more often than not, I came across moms who were not willing to engage. Some wouldn't even make eye contact. I took this personally for a very long time. Any time a mom would talk to me I felt like I was getting mom validation. When I was shunned, I felt like crap. I can vividly remember many days spend sulking at the playground, with babies crawling all around and no one recognizing my existence. Yeah, just like high school, only with the addition of an infant.

Things weren't much better at Acrosports, where I saw and was ignored by the same moms every week. A neighborhood moms group helped a bit, but just about everyone in it was headed back to work when their children were still quite young, so there were few opportunities for hanging out.

After a while, I had an insight. I had been treating motherhood like one giant hobby club, and expected that every mom would want to be friends with every other mom. Look at all we had in common! We've all had babies! We change diapers! We all need more sleep! Instead, it's been more instructive for me to see motherhood as a job. Sure, we are connected by our common motherhood, but that in itself, sadly, doesn't pull us together. When I think about all the coworkers I've had throughout my working life, there have only been about a dozen people with whom I really connected and became good friends. With most people, I interacted in polite water-cooler relationships, and some coworkers were so crazy/creepy/whatever I went out of my way to avoid them. Why should the giant motherhood cartel be any different?

Luckily over time I have made a few mom friends. I cherish them, and look forward to preschool, where I am sure I will make some more friends.

But that sad lonely feeling is still there sometimes. Maybe it never goes away. Some days as I chase Jack around the playground I catch sight of new moms with small babies. I always make sure to smile, say hello, and compliment them on their children. Life as a mom is rough enough -- we can all use a little bit of kindness, or just the acknowledgment that we are seen. And when it comes right down it, I love every mom, because every mom is me.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The end of irony and other assorted tidbits

Big brain growth spurt this week. All day long Jack asks "why?".

Here's an interesting mental exercise: explain the concept of jury duty to a 2 1/2 year old.

We have many earnest conversations where there is absolutely no room for irony. "That's right, that man does have a penis" and "the goat poops out of that hole".

When we read "C is for Coyote" (one of our alphabet books) we substitute words, so instead of b is for bobcat, b is for butterfly. Then we read the text with the substitute words (anybody out there remember Mad Libs?). He thinks it's hysterical.

Jack pronounces coyote "coytoye" and I don't think I ever want him to say it the correct way.

After months of passionately loving the wild animals at Coyote Point, Jack is getting crazy about farm animals. The goats at the zoo are his new favorites, although he is a bit scared of them still. Each time he gets more brave. Today on the way to the zoo he said "I really really really want to pet the goats today." He enjoyed brushing and petting them over and over.

Jack's also nuts for snakes. When we went for a hike last week at Arastradero we saw a gopher snake, which thrilled him. He has 2 small plastic snakes, which he calls gopher snake and rattlesnake. Dig his explanation of snake names: rattlesnake have rattles at the end of their tails, king snakes have kings at the end of the their tails, gopher snakes have gophers at the end of their tails, etc.

We kept the stroller at home and walked everywhere this week. He willingly walked (or ran) for 3+ hour spans through the zoo, as well as on the sidewalks to and from the playground and through the farmers market.