April 18, 2010

Carrot Sticks

IMG_0177 So, I’m sitting here totally frigging miserable, partially because I have less than two weeks (hold me) before I give birth to Version 2.0 (but really could be any day now… hyperventilating… paper bag…) but mostly because I realize how long I have left my blog without a post. This reaffirms for me why I’m doing this – for me, for releasing something periodically, and for exercising my writing muscle in the creative arena. That makes me satisfied, but also irritated, because I once again let all of life’s urgencies fill up my time and I left that part that benefits from taking a few minutes to muse to fill up and flow over again, like an untended garden. Interesting, for sure.

So, on to more topical topics.

Ladies and gentlemen, against all odds and with a little fanfare, we have a potty trained child. We hadn’t tried hard, and hadn’t put in much concerted effort but one day Hubby decided that we were not going into another birth with two kids in diapers. Personally, I was blasé on the subject as I didn’t mind diapers that much and Version 1.0 showed no interest whatsoever in her potty. Correction: she was interested in the potty as a special place to store knick-knacks or toy cars or sit her dolls and sometimes the cat. But try to get her to sit for even 30 seconds, and she was out of there like a shot. Way too busy, way too impatient and I wasn’t much interested in forcing the issue. After all, she’s only just turned two and we have lots of time during which we can reasonably expect her to start.

However, Hubby sat her down one day for three hours straight, during which she did a little trickle. Much fanfare ensued, and they went downstairs to celebrate, during which she promptly peed all over the floor. Hubby was so frustrated, and I figure she knows that, and for the rest of the day started trying in earnest. By the end of the night, she was peeing like a rock star and running around the house clothed like one (no bottoms). The next day, he tried pants. One or two wet spots and then we had the pants licked. The next few days (and to some extent, still now) she struggled with #2, getting much anxiety over the thought of having to do it. She tends to hold it in rather than have an accident, which I suppose is more convenient for us, but damn, that girl is stubborn, and will hold for a day or two before she can hold no more. Poor thing gets all shaky and cries when asked to sit and release. But then, out of the blue, will sit down and perform with no problem. So, we’re getting there but it’s to the point where we can take her out without diapers and she will confidently ask to visit the washroom at whatever frequency is required. We’ve been using diapers at night only, and on the occasion of a longer car ride to the city. She’s normally dry when she wakes up or at the end of a diaper day. We’re proud, needless to say.

What has emerged, though, from my observation, is a newfound change in attitude (or shall I say Attitude) from this young one, whereby her skills of ignoring (and I shall not say ignorance) rival only that of her father in deep concentration. She can easily and without guilt tune out Mommy and Daddy when necessary and/or convenient. These spells of inattention are maddening and I have noted a pattern in myself of trying to break through them. In particular, we have a problem at dinner time, but it is no different than any time of trying to motivate this child to do anything other than what fancies her in the moment.

I will waffle between carrots and sticks. Sometimes I negotiate baking cookies in return for peaceful naptime. Other times I will threaten no movie (“moo-bee”) treat later if we don’t get dressed for preschool. We’re back and forth in a perpetual carrot-stick-carrot-stick holding pattern and it makes me crazy. I’m running out of things I can threaten/tempt with and my threats and temptations are becoming increasingly ineffective. I don’t like to raise my voice and have caught myself more often than not reverting to a strong tone these days (blame it partially on being huge and uncomfortable and partially on my inability to find alternatives), which does get results but won’t continue to do so if overused. I am not opposed to speaking firmly to my child (let’s clarify, this does not mean abusively or disrespectfully), and I feel strongly that parents these days are too prone to the fear of not being their child’s best friend vs. demonstrating boundaries, which I feel are sorely needed at this age. So many kids run amuck and are completely out of control because there is a movement to try and use logic and distraction all the time, when a more firm tactic is required. But, I digress. Our child has seen the firm side of our tone on more than one occasion. Sometimes it is appropriate, sometimes it is perhaps more the result of my own fatigue and impatience, but I never professed to be perfect and will continue to waver, but try to make sure the end result is where I need it to be.

So, I’m looking for tactics, suggestions, camaraderie. Is this typical behavioural development for my two-year-old? With Daddy and Mommy, she pushes her boundaries. With teachers, instructors, playgroup leaders, friends and family, she’s a perfect, alluring, engaging little angel. I don’t think this is anything new. I need some new tools though, to be one step ahead and anticipate how to get her sitting down for dinner without needing to be naked and reading a book, or whatever other litany of ridiculous conditions are set upon us for compliance.

Your stories, experiences, gentle nudges in the right direction are appreciate.

And holy heck, y’all … I’m about to do it again!


Stephanie said...

I am just popping in to let you know I have a blog award for you!! You can come over and pick it up here:


Keep up the great work :O)


Lynsey said...

Nothing new here. Its all about control and what, exactly, in her world Version 1.0 has control over. Bending her to your will during this phase is a lesson in futility. I can offer a few tactics which will perhaps work, but will more likely reduce your frustration.
May I suggest natural consequences. If we don't get dressed for preschool then we go in our pajamas (or a long coat?). If we don't sit up for dinner then we don't have dinner. No nap = quiet time in her room. In other words, don't rise to it and allow her to see the consequences of her actions. And here's to hoping that she changes her mind and decides to get dressed before you actually make it to school!
Good luck with 2.0. Mine are 2 1/2 and 1 now. They are great buddies and play quietly together for ages. Keep your eye on the prize!

linseyv said...

I took Jackson to school in a diaper once (in cold weather too) because he wouldn't get dressed. The teachers were great, they took his clothes and said when you put them on you can play with the toys. Never had that problem again! Although I suspect I could take his sister to school naked for weeks and she'd still resist! ;) Degrees of stubbornness!

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