New Mama Musings

Sunday, February 28, 2010

More Henry Highlights

More Facebook postings. Deal with it.

From October:

[New Mama's] son had a good question at bedtime: "Why do they call him 'Sam-I-Am' if his name is Sam?"

[New Mama's] son asked for a second helping of oatmeal, saying, "It's so delicious, I just can't help myself!"

[New Mama's] son was waiting for her to finish eating lunch so she would play with him. After watching her take a second bowl of noodles, he said, "GOD, you're eating a lot."

[New Mama] loves it when Henry talks straight out of the Charlie & Lola books: "I absolutely and completely do not like this."

From November:

[New Mama's] son was mad at her today when he noticed she hadn't put the "right" pants on him, so he yelled, "You don't even know ANYTHING. You don't even know how to cook!" Ouch.

[New Mama] swears her four-year old is trying to drive her insane. He just said, "Mom" and when she said, "What, sweetie?" he screamed, "I'm not talking to you!"

[New Mama] just apologized to Henry for yelling at him earlier. He said, "It made me sad and made me feel like you weren't my friend anymore." I'm so proud of him for being to express himself so well, but I feel about *thisbig*.

[New Mama's] son just said, "Here comes a bear!" I said, "Oh no, please don't eat me," and he responded, "I won't eat you; I'm a chiropractor."

[New Mama] was trying to explain "stranger danger" to her son by role playing (what would you do if a stranger offered you candy or toy trains to come with them?). He listened quietly and then said, "Mom, you're playing outside when an alligator walks down the sidewalk and says, 'I have some gardening stuff for you if you come with me...'"

From December:

[New Mama] overheard her son playing just now, and he referred to something as "a pain in the buttcrack."

[New Mama] says you know your kid has old parents when he's playing trains on the floor and you hear him say things like, "I can't lean over like this too long because it hurts my back."

[New Mama] just had the following exchange with her four-year old:

Henry: Mommy, clean up the Lincoln Logs I'm not using so Venus (our cat) won't get them.
Me (starting to clean up): Wait, why am *I* cleaning them up?
Henry: Because I don't want to.

[New Mama] overheard the following exchange this morning:

Henry: There are different kinds of buffers for trains, Daddy.
Daddy: How do you know so much about trains?
Henry: I was born that way.
Daddy: I was there when you were born, and you didn't say ANYTHING about trains.
Henry: I didn't feel like sharing.

[New Mama's] husband was telling her about a scene from Inglourious Basterds in which a Nazi was interrogating a homeowner hiding Jews. When he finished, Henry said, "Now why would someone hide juice?"

From January:

[New Mama] just had to tell her four-year old, "No tongue." I thought those days were behind me.

[New Mama's] son wants to know what number comes before infinity. My head hurts.

[New Mama] was changing into a gown at the doctor's office when Henry said, "You look more pretty with your clothes on."

[New Mama] made a new cookie recipe today (oatmeal, coconut & chocolate chips) and as she and Henry were munching them she said, "These are pretty good!" Henry's response? "They're even better than poop!" Ah, four.

[New Mama] was listening to a Ralph's World song about monkeys with Henry when he said, "I would hate to be a monkey." When asked why, he replied, "Because I don't like to eat bananas."

From February:

[New Mama] was in the upstairs bathroom when she heard shrieking from the family room. She called down, "Henry, I'm upstairs!" and he replied, "I wasn't calling for you. I was pretending to be a washing machine that was overflowing."

[New Mama] asked her son this morning if he wanted her to cuff his too-long pants, or maybe for her to put his slippers on, and he said no thanks to both. Then he said, "I don't need any of those things. All I need is you."

[New Mama] recently read that Neil Young is a huge model train fan and that he set up a layout that his disabled adult son could control by himself. I shared this with Henry and now he has us playing "the singer and the kid in the wheelchair."

[New Mama's] son just said (prompted by an earlier conversation), "VENUS [our cat] is a carnivore!" Pause. "So why doesn't she eat US?"

[New Mama] heard her husband yawn loudly from the bedroom this morning and said to Henry, "I think I heard a bear! Or a monster!" Henry said, "That's just Daddy. Stop your nonsense."

[New Mama] took a break from playing with Henry to check Facebook just now. He crawled into my lap and said, "What happened? You were playing so nicely, and then you just stopped."

[New Mama] reports that this morning Henry is pretending to be a tiger. He says he lives in the zoo, but he's at my house because he's visiting all the people who don't get to the zoo very often.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What say?

Recently it occurred to me that a verbal tic Henry had when he was three and for a while when he was four had disappeared. And then I realized that I had never blogged about it. I meant to, because Henry's dad and I found it both maddening and endearing and I don't want to forget it.

For some reason, instead of asking, "What did you say?" Henry merely said, "What say?" And not only that, he had a habit of either not hearing or not understanding what we were telling him, so he would repeat "What say?" every time we said something. (His dad and I called it "getting 'what say-ed'".) For example:

Me: Henry, we're going to Grandma's today.
Henry: What say?
Me: I said we're going to Grandma's house.
Henry: WHAT say?
Me: We're going to Grandma's today.
Henry: What SAY?"
Me: Are you listening to me?
Henry: No.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Buzz Cut

For months and months Henry resisted our attempts to give him a haircut, saying he wanted his hair "as long as Mommy's." Honestly, I don't mind long hair on boys in general, but his was always in his face and it was becoming a collector of both food and snot. Lovely. This past weekend he finally consented to a haircut, and I cannot stop looking at him.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Little Push

I grew up in a very authoritarian household. There was absolutely no question that my parents were in charge and that the opinions of the children were neither desired nor valued. We were "good" kids not because we were all naturally easygoing but because we lived in fear of our mom and dad.

When Henry was born I could not imagine parenting that way. I read Unconditional Parenting when he was a baby and much of what Alfie Kohn wrote resonated with me. I had known that my childhood had adversely affected me, but suddenly I realized where my intense desire for approval and acceptance, my insecurity about my own abilities despite praise, and my inability to make even the smallest decision without agonizing had come from.

Parenting Henry unconditionally was fairly easy at first. My husband and I cut "Good job!" out of our vocabulary; instead, we strove to let Henry validate his own accomplishments or to make neutral comments like, "Wow, that's a really tall tower. Can you show me how you did it?" Shaming him by giving him time-outs away from us just didn't feel right so instead we did "time-ins," holding him close and talking to him.

We also discovered that playing to Henry's interest in pretending often quickly worked to turn a bad situation around. When we sat down to dinner and Henry complained that he wanted a spoon, not a fork, and wanted us to get it for him, suggesting that we'd like to see how fast the “spoon train” could zoom to the kitchen worked like magic.

But now he's four and the gap between philosophy and reality seems, at times, to be a giant yawning chasm. He’s stuck between baby and big kid, and sometimes it seems as though he acts badly just to see what he’s capable of.

Last fall Henry decided he was no longer going to take baths. He’d never been in love with the water, like some kids, but he had started to have fun playing in the tub. And then one day, he refused. It felt wrong to force him to bathe, so we let it go for a while. I really, truly thought that eventually he would decide that he was ready to take a bath. I tried talking to him to get to the root of the issue – was there some fear we needed to overcome? – but he said he just didn’t want to.

I found myself sponge-bathing a four-year old. For MONTHS. And then one day I snapped. I didn’t know if this would be Alfie Kohn-approved, but one morning I told Henry that he would be taking a bath that afternoon. I was calm and matter-of-fact about it. He cried and said he wouldn’t take the bath, and I just told him that I knew he was upset but it was important, and it would be happening later that day.

When the time came, my husband got the bath ready and Henry – still crying – followed us willingly into the bathroom and allowed us to get him in the tub. And when it was over he wanted to take another bath immediately.

A similar thing happened with potty-learning. At almost four-and-a-half, Henry is still in diapers. He’s been dry all night for years now, so I know that he has the control. He has just been refusing to go in the toilet. But flush (no pun intended) with the success of the bath ultimatum, I told Henry one night that he would be using the toilet the next morning. I wasn’t expecting him to start using the toilet all the time, but I thought that if we could get him using it first thing in the morning we would be off to a good start.

Again, he cried and insisted he would not be doing it, and again I calmly said he would but that Mommy and Daddy would be right there with him.

When morning came he sat on the toilet, we read books to him, and he peed, and he’s been doing that ever since. Now he tells us when he has to pee and goes in the toilet most of the time. He’s only had one BM but I’m hopeful that this will come in time.

I’m still a fan of Unconditional Parenting, but I’m learning that Henry might need a push here and there and that being firm about things that are important is not the same as my parents’ “us against them” style of parenting. I never felt as though my mom and dad were on my side and I never wanted Henry to feel that way. But maybe being firm when Henry’s unsure -- as long as it’s done with compassion and understanding – is actually another way of showing him my support.

Maybe. This parenting stuff is getting harder.