Parenting Fail: Weaning

When Ellison was 18 months old, we weaned. We did it cold turkey, and it worked beautifully. Sure, there were a couple of rough nights, but he got used it relatively quickly and painlessly and all was well.

weaning failSo when I started really feeling done* with the whole nursing thing with Rory, I figured it would work pretty much the same way.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Excuse me. Ha.

At 17 months old, Rory was not ready to wean. She was nutritionally ready – she ate a TON, and rarely wanted to nurse during the day – but emotionally she needs to nurse. I figured this out after three nights of basically zero sleep, in which she screamed uncontrollably and wouldn’t let anyone touch her, all because I calmly and firmly told her we weren’t nursing anymore.

She also began refusing to nap during the day, and developed separation anxiety like crazy. According to Dr. Sears, this is a textbook example of how not to wean.

I’ve backed off on weaning for now. I’m hoping that once we get her settled back into a routine and feeling secure we can try weaning again.

*I’m very much a fan of nursing, but I’m also a fan of my own sanity, and the two seem to be at odds with each other. Seriously, though, you want to breastfeed into toddlerhood? More power to you!

The Six-Year-Old Teenager and Other Stories

Is this thing on?

So I know you’ll all be shocked, but parenting a 6 year old is HARD. Here I thought that as soon as he started school it’d be all smooth sailing, but he has all these opinions and ideas and stuff. Also energy. My kid will literally run around in circles, for fun. We make jokes about hamster wheels. (They are only partly jokes.)

The kid is a teenager in disguise. He tells us, quite seriously and often, that he knows more than we do and that he’s always right. We explain things, and he dismisses our words out of hand (“You’re wrong. I know.”). There are many, many episodes that involve storming off to his room.

And then he comes and snuggles up and argues about who loves who more, and we wonder how we could ever have thought he was anything other than a very little boy.

mama and ellison Those are my days: hair-pulling frustration followed by heart-bursting affection. Was this what I expected when I was so desperate to be a parent? I barely even remember what it was like to not have a kid. How much free time I must have had! How much sleep I must have gotten! Except I do remember being terribly busy and terribly tired, so there goes that theory.

I do know that I thought it would be easier. Or maybe not easier: more intuitive. Like, for example, the way I know he’s sick by the smell of his breath. That’s something that just happens, without my having to try. Whereas when my hyperactive, physical, reading-averse kid tells me things like “sometimes I just get excited and then I don’t know how to stop,” I honestly don’t know what to do, and I feel like I should. I should just know. I should be able to adjust my parenting style to fit my kid’s learning style, and instead we both just get frustrated and upset. (A really good mom would look at this as an opportunity for personal growth. A challenge, in the best way.) (I am not a really good mom.)

A long time ago I worried that he hadn’t learned to clap. Other kids could clap, but not my kid. Was he clap-deficient? Had I failed to properly teach him how to smack his hands together in a rhythmic fashion? Would he forever lag behind his applauding peers?

He claps just fine now, of course. Surely that can’t be a metaphor.*

*Or is it a simile? I can never remember.

preschool preparedness

Today I dropped off the paperwork for Ellison’s preschool. Paperwork, I’m telling you. It was somewhat unsurprising that I had to make an exhaustive list of the kid’s immunizations (which are thankfully up to date), but then there was this parental survey in which we were to wax lyrical about “things you appreciate about your child” and “what makes your child joyful?” Dude. When I was in school, no one gave a damn what made me joyful. (Hint: it was reading.) They just cared whether I showed up on time and sat quietly during class. This whole new-age preschool thing is nuts.

Even so, I can’t wait. Ellison is so excited he can barely stand it. I have a feeling preschool is one of the things that is going to fill my child with joy.

premiserable syndrome

I keep finding myself trying to describe what it feels like to get depressed. Which is ridiculous, if you think about it, because it’s not like I sit around trying to find the words to explain not being depressed – and, let’s face it, if you look at the averages that’s how I spend most of my life. But the Prozac (you knew I’d talk about the Prozac again eventually, didn’t you?) has been working, so there has been much less of the doom and gloom and somewhat more of the hey, look at that, things don’t suck entirely! which is a very nice change and I hope it stays that way.


So I just snarfed a huge piece of really gross cake and I feel elephantine and miserable and I really want to sit in a quiet room where I have no projects (over)due and no one is demanding that I console them while they pee on me,* for christ’s sake, and maybe, just MAYBE, I can sleep for more than two hours at a stretch, please, yes?

*The kid is having a slight potty-training relapse. I mention this in case you were entertaining notions of a more adult nature, which, ew.


If I could have given my new-parent self one piece of advice, it would be this:

Don’t worry about it.

Seriously. I started worrying pretty much the second I found out I was pregnant (am I gaining enough weight? What does that pain mean? Am I gaining too much weight? Is he going to be born with both legs fused together? Did all that kicking dislocate one of my ribs?) and it only ramped up from there.

First there was the milk situation, and the fact that mine took like 4 days to come in and the lactation people were making me feel really, really bad about it, like I was deliberately starving my baby or something (note to lactation consultants: I would tell you to suck it but you’d probably take it the wrong way).

Then there were the milestones that did not correspond with established charts: clapping (oh, how I worried about the clapping), jumping, talking.

We got walking out of the way relatively early, what with the taking his first steps at 8.5 months, but he didn’t really talk until well after he was 2 and still has some trouble with pronouns. And I think I may have mentioned how worried I was about potty training (but we all know how that turned out).

But for all my fretting and teeth-gnashing and late-night scouring of the internet, the kid did just fine. He reached all his milestones when he was ready to reach them, with relatively little input from me. It’s like – gasp! – I don’t have total and complete control over my child’s development! It’s like things happen when they happen no matter how much I worry about them!

He might not be reading super early like some of his friends, or drawing recognizable pictures like other friends, but I’m not going to worry about it. My kid is who he is, and I can’t imagine him any other way.

mama + ellison

Except maybe he could eat more. That would be okay.

somewhat increasingly less cranky

Now that I have a potty-trained kid, the world is suddenly opening up to me in the way of an oyster or something similar. Oh, the things I can do: at the store, for example, I can stride blithely past the diaper displays without obsessively checking to see if they have his size. I no longer have to worry that I’ve ventured out into the world without a diaper tucked into my purse (I ditched the diaper bag when he was about six months old so this is more of an issue than you’d think). And the best part?

I can now use the childcare center at IKEA.

(Honestly, it was the first thing that occurred to me when we realized he was potty trained. But I have yet to do it, since they’re remodeling. Remodeling! Damn them and their delicious meatballs!)

On a larger scale, we can actually actively consider sending the kid to preschool, the thought of which fills me with a giddy sort of glee. Not that I don’t enjoy spending every second of every day with a small child climbing on me and yanking or poking some portion of my anatomy, but since I’m usually trying very, very hard to get some work done during those seconds, I think the kid is often bored. I’m a firm believer in boredom as parenting device, mind you, but I also like the idea of the kid learning to play nicely with other children his own age and listen to authority figures who aren’t his parents. Plus he’s seriously awesome, and why would I want to keep that all to myself?

So, we’re looking. Preschool hasn’t even been on my radar, so I have no idea if other parents are reading this and laughing hysterically at the idea of me thinking I can just waltz in and enroll my kid all willy-nilly. Go ahead, laugh. I can’t hear you over the sound of my own denial.

potty training: check

I’ve been dreading potty training the kid, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about: he did it on his own.

Yes. You read that right. He potty trained himself.

About two weeks ago, Ellison announced that he wanted to use the potty. Nothing new; he’d been doing that periodically for months, but last time I hunkered down and tried to get him to use it reliably resulted in nothing but soiled underpants and tears. So, sure, he used the potty, and then I went to put his diaper on and he was like “No! No diaper!”

Okay. So I let him wear some big-boy underpants, thinking what the hell, we don’t have to be anywhere.

And he wore them all day. And didn’t have any accidents.

And then his diaper was dry in the morning. And he wore underpants all that day, too.

And then all of the next night.

And it’s been two weeks.

DUDE. If I had known potty training would be this easy I would never have stressed out about it. This parenting thing is a piece of cake.

scratch & sniff

My kid’s breath smells different when he’s sick. Not gross-different, but definitely different. My mom used to say that my breath smelled like rubbing alcohol when I was sick, and it’s kind of like that with Ellison too. It’s cool that the mom nose notices things like that, isn’t it? It’s like an early warning system.

I mention this because today Ellison’s breath smells like rubbing alcohol, and I foresee nothing but doooooom. (Though it does explain yesterday’s foray into Meltdown City, in which a sobbing tantrum was thrown every five minutes or so by my normally cheerful kid.) We all had the flu a couple of weeks ago & are only just now getting back to normal; the last thing I want is another illness! But the kid’s got a fantastic immune system and usually kicks whatever bug he gets pretty quickly. Mommy and daddy, though, are another story…

one toddler. price: cheap.

So I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself with the afternoon off. Hooray, I said (I’m pretty sure all-caps were employed as well), I totally needed an afternoon off, if by “off” you mean “doing laundry, replying to work emails, cleaning the house and dealing with a two and a half year old who refuses to eat.” Because, yes!

And the kid, he’s such the icing on the proverbial two year old cake. He wanted a granola bar. I suggested that mac and cheese might be more appropriate for lunch. He SCREAMED NONSTOP FOR 38 MINUTES. (Yes, I timed it.) Then took a break. Then saw me eating my mac and cheese and screamed some more. Then – finally – agreed to a pb&j…of which he consumed three bites. And then asked for a granola bar.

This is comedy gold, people.

I had grandiose dreams of taking the kid to the park, having one of those idyllic mom and baby experiences that one sees in magazines and commercials for Happy Meals, but now I’m exhausted, and cranky, and full of angst, and any park-going experience would resemble one of those other commercials, the ones involving Calgon and pleas to be taken away.

So instead I’m going to fold laundry and wish I had some vodka in the freezer while the kid (apparently) empties out every single bloody toy bin in the living room.

(Oh, what, you were expecting something funnier than this? Pfft.)

i’ll be over here

I always imagined that once I had kids I’d morph smoothly into some sort of calm, Earth Mother-y type. You know the type, right? The sort of mom who always has a story or a song and knows just the right thing to say, both to little ones and their parents. (In retrospect, this should have sent up a warning flag, because since when do I know the right thing to say to anyone?)

I was well on my way pre-baby, actually. I’ve always wanted kids, so I jumped at any opportunity to hang out with my friends with little ones. I was always volunteering to babysit, hanging out with the toddler set at parties, what have you. Back then, it was the easiest thing in the world for me to gauge a toddler’s emotional state and figure out what they needed to be happy.

And then I had my kid. I get my kid. I get his moods, his needs, his sleepy face and his fake cry. I know how long he needs to sit with me when we go to a new place before he’s ready to run in and play with the other kids. I can tell when he’s refusing food because he’s not hungry and when it’s just out of frustration with something else.

But other people’s kids? Forget about it. I feel like I’ve suddenly become one of those people who think kids (while cute and charming) are baffling, inscrutable creatures. You there! Why are you crying? What’s the – oh. Right. That’s just how you react to loud noises. Fine then, maybe you want – no? Okay. Tell you what, I’ll just be in the other room.

It’s like having a kid of my own ruined me for other people’s children. It’s sad, really.