Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

"The Wizard Of Oz" has become a big hit recently at our house. Twig hasn't even watched the movie yet, just many many clips on YouTube. She even decided to be Dorothy for Halloween, which was a welcome change from what she wanted to be before (a cash register or a yellow dump truck). I am all about being "outside the box", but how would I even cut a box to make it look like a cash register? So when she decided on Dorothy, I ran with it.

As she gets more into the videos though, we had some explaining to do. My husband and I stumbled on "Ding Dong The Witch is Dead," and played it for her while we cringed. She didn't ask, so we didn't say anything. The lyrics go on about how Dorothy killed the witch, and the song is such a big celebration of death. It all felt wrong. Now as a kid I watched this (a bit older than my daughter is now) but I remember being a little spooked by the image of the dead witchs' legs under the house. As I mentioned in an earlier post, death is not a subject I am avoiding with her, but celebrating the death of a "bad person" is something I haven't even figured out yet.

This past week when bloody pictures of Kadafi were everywhere, I was disturbed. Yes, this man needed to be stopped, and his death represents the possibility of freedom for people he controlled for years, but seeing him dragged along with cheers sits strangely with me. As I write this I have to remind myself that "The Wizard Of Oz" is only a movie and she hasn't asked about Kadafi. I hope I have a few more years to think about how to respond to those kinds of questions.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cling Wrap

My sensitive, delicate little flower turns on a dime. She can be a happy, adjusted little three year old on moment, and a pouty, needy kid the next. I never know when this switch will take place, and once it happens, how long it will take for her to shake it. Most nights she goes to bed no problem. I say, "Sweet dreams," and she says it back. Last night she hugged me tightly and said, "Mommy, I love you and I don't want you to leave. I want to be with you." At this point I am backed into a corner. I can try to comfort her, and leave, which never works. Or I can say I'll come in and check on you when you fall asleep. That works sometimes, but then she calls out asking when I am coming back in.

I have gone to the books on this issue and let me tell you -- they don't work! Every kid is different and general solutions don't work on my kid. She is tricky and extremely persistent. We fix a undesirable habit of hers and it reappears again. She goes off to school great for a while, then suddenly one day won't let go of me again. She sleeps through the night without calling out, then five days later it starts again. It's frustrating but not abnormal. Patience just doesn't seem my strong suit lately. My husband seems much more skilled at ending a tantrum or turning her mood around lately. My tricks don't seem to work that well right now. Plus I think she has an added reserve of stamina for her mama.

Trial and error, as always. As awful as it is for both of us when she grabs to hold on to me, I have to remember that it is sweet how much she loves me. That need of wanting me physically close is only going to be around for so long.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Candy Girl!

It seems we have an addict here.

Anything with sugar and this kid is all over it. The day starts with her asking for a waffle ("with a LOT of syrup!"), then on to gummy vitamins (which I am pretty sure is candy disguised as vitamins), then snack, a treat after nap, and if she can squeeze in time for an ice pop or frozen yogurt -- she will. I try not to make a big deal about it all and I don't want it to be taboo. I remember my mom hiding treats from us, and I'm pretty sure that's why I have the sweet tooth I have today. With Twig though, I make it available. What I hoped would happened hasn't though.

My friend's daughter (I know, don't compare to others) takes two bites of a sweet and puts it down. She saves her lollypops forever, whereas my daughter will demolish a lollypop in five minutes. She has even had nightmares about wanting a lollypop. There is only so much sugar I can let her have. I say yes, but rarely does one treat a day suffice. I don't know what we did wrong.

Every tantrum she has these days revolves around her wanting a sweet. She will ask for a snack before dinner, or candy with breakfast, or a jelly bean before nap. We don't give in on these. She has had some pretty bad meltdowns, and as awful as they are, I can say she is starting to see that the whining and crying doesn't work. Unfortunately, bribing her with a lollypop has been something I have sunken to lately. I think we are all a little sugar-whipped now. Three isn't that easy. If I can't get through to her on the candy, maybe her first trip to the dentist will make an impression on her.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Golden Books

Yesterday my parents and I were at Costco and we saw a box set of books. We were trying to make the decision between getting Curious George or Dr. Suess when Twig spotted the Golden book set. It had "The Pokey Little Puppy" in it and she thought he was really cute. I remembered this book from when I was little, so in my moment of nostalgia we bought the set. Also included were "The Rainbow Kittens", an elephant book and an animal orchestra book. The drawings looked like a vintage throwback, so I was kind of excited to read them to her.

We read two before nap, and much to my chagrin they were so overwritten. "The Pokey Little Puppy" was not at all how I remembered it. The Pokey one keeps disobeying and wanders home late, letting his siblings take the blame for his mischief. We read it and Twig said, "That was a naughty book." Then I read her the elephant book, which was all about a young elephant who hides because a bird tells him he is wrinkly and his features are too big. He almost gets eaten on his way to a safe hiding spot, and is saved by a group of other elephants that he is shocked to learn look just like him (not exactly the message I want to send her). The other two books are okay but so long. So much for my sweet memories of them. I am sure my mom must have paraphrased as she read. I try to do that with Twig, but if she hears it once the right way she corrects me the next time.

I should have probably gone for Curious George, but I took a chance. So sad to get things you were excited about as a kid only to find they aren't as you remembered. She is perfectly happy with them, so until she stops asking, I will continue to read them -- just slightly edited...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

My daughter doesn't stop moving.

About a year ago, when I saw her hanging upside down from a bar at a playground, I decided to take her to a gymnastics class. She loved it, and we have been going ever since.

We started in a mommy and me class. Later this year, she was old enough to try it without me. I struggled with the decision because of her slow transition to preschool, but the decision wasn't entirely up to me. She wanted it, as did the coach. So she's now a Mini Flipper.

I explained to her that unlike before, I would watch her from the side. Not only did she go off willingly. she loved it. She was up on the bars, the beam, learning cartwheels and a lot of other cool looking flips I don't know the names of. She loved the two other girls and couldn't wait to return for week two. The next week she got to wear a leotard like the other two and she was stoked.

Today when we got there she was the first one there. I brought my parents with us, since they are visiting. When the coach wanted to start before the other two got there, Twig froze. I saw the face: shy mixed with fear, and on the verge of tears. She wouldn't say a word and wouldn't move. I asked her if she wanted to wait for another girl and she barely nodded a slight "yes." Once the other little girl arrived though, Twig was still unhappy. All morning, the only thing see wanted was to hurry up and get to gymnastics. She kept saying, "I want it to be now," yet here we were and all she wanted was to go home.

As a parent in this moment, I tried a few options. She would say she wanted to go home and I would respond by saying, "We aren't going home, but if you want me to come with you for a little bit, I will." When that didn't work, I said we could stay and watch together. That lasted a little bit, but when she asked to leave again, I slipped and said, "We aren't leaving, we paid for this class and it's expensive." Note to self: she doesn't care. Finally I said, "It looks like you're scared, and if you are uncomfortable, we can go. But if you want to watch a little longer, that is okay too." That is what did it. Together, we watched the other two and within two minutes she joined them. And within five, I was back to sitting and watching.

There really is no clear answer. I had to try a few things before something worked. Perhaps she wanted the option to leave and then needed to make her own decision. I remember going to London in college and freaking out when I arrived. I called my mom in tears and asked her if I needed her if she would come. She said yes, and suddenly I was fine. She said later that there was no way she was flying off to London to rescue me, but she knew I needed to hear that she would. It helped.

Today, I was torn about leaving. I didn't want to be a pushy mom who makes there kid do something when they clearly aren't enjoying themselves. But I also didn't want her to give up on something because she was scared. We all get scared, and most of the time we have to figure out how to deal. I was proud of her, and the outcome, today. She loved it again, and at the end my mom was there with reassurance once more and told me the best way to handle this is to not talk about it with her. She worked it out on her own, so now she is done with it.

We shall see what happens next week...

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Visit

Last night I took Twig to go see my friend and her daughter that flew in from New York for a few days. This friend is not just any friend, this is my best childhood friend. From second grade on, we were attached at the hip. We grew up walking distance from one another and spent so much time at each other's houses. She now has a daughter as well, and she is about 10 months younger than Twig. When we are in NY, we see them, so here and there, our girls have gotten to know each other a little bit.

We met for pizza and then took them out for an ice cream. Watching them sit side by side with their scoops and spoons, I got nostalgic. Both our girls bare a resemblance to us and it is evidence right there in front of us how much time has passed. People grow up and make other people, but I keep getting surprised that I am one of those grown ups now. The fact that we both have girls is so sweet too. We know the likelihood of them being super close like we were is slim, since we live so far, but it is so touching to see them get along when they do see each other.

Twig had a little plastic frog to share with her friend, and we both forgot how much this little girl loves frogs. She was so excited! At one point she got up to dance in the pizza place, and then Twig joined in. Soon we were all up on our feet "shaking our booties" as Twig says. It's amazing how ridiculous we were willing to look for our kids. I know my friend and I did some crazy things when we were younger, but if you told us we would be dancing in a crowded pizza place with our daughters one day, we would have told you we would never do that to them.

As long as they still want us to though, we will.

My Mistake

Ooops! My daughter had a cough for two weeks and although I called the pediatrician, it took me a while to bring her in. My doctor is expensive. They don't take insurance, which sucks -- but we like them, so we bite the bullet and hope against hope that we'll be fairly reimbursed by our insurance company (ha, right?!). The situation does make me hesitate to take her in for things like a cough, though. Over the phone, the nurse and I determined she had croup, and there wasn't much we could do.

After another week of a barking cough and no sign of sleep for any of us we decided it was time we brought her in. She has bronchitis. Now she is taking an antibiotic and I feel like a negligent mom. But soon, we will all return to full nights of sleep.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

To Jew Or Not To Jew

When I first moved to LA over 10 years ago I was faced with a big question when the high holidays came around. Would I participate? Now that I was on my own, did I want to? My whole life it wasn't an option to not celebrate Jewish holidays. I was with my family and that is what we did. At twenty three though I wasn't a child anymore, and had to decide for myself what being jewish meant to me exactly. With a lot of thought and some guilt tossed in I suppose, I decided I wasn't ready to stop caring about traditions. What I did realize though is that I wasn't sure how religious I felt.

Traditions were what was important to me (and still is) but how I am "supposed" to feel about G-d and following very specific rules in order to be accepted never resinated with me. My connection lies with being part of a lineage that has sung the same songs and eaten the same festive meals year after year. Holidays have rituals and I like the meaning behind them but I don't always believe that because a book said "it" happened that it is so. I still like the stories though, and I love keeping something going and finding new ways as well.

My husband is not Jewish. He felt very strongly when we first met that we could run into problems down the line if we didn't map out how we would raise our kids one day. We went to speak with someone about it and together we agreed that religion was for adults and traditions are for children. It made perfect sense. The things I look back on in my childhood during holiday time were the festivities, the music and the food. So when we had our daughter that is how we decided to do it. For the most part it has worked, but every Jewish holiday that comes around I feel the responsibility to keep it going. With Christian holidays everyone celebrates them, schools are closed and families are together. It's not that easy when it comes to Jewish holidays, it's up to me if we do anything. I have started my own traditions here with friends and the same group of us usually gather at my house. This week is Rosh Hashanah, the new year, and with all of us being sick I wasn't so sure I wanted to do anything. In the end I am glad as always I made the effort. The togetherness feels good, and making challah with my daughter makes me think of my grandmother making bread with her mother. She also beheaded her own chickens and swung them around the kitchen, but traditions need not go that far for me to feel connected to the past.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All The Single Parents

All the single parents: I applaud you. I am in awe of you, and although I am sure you love raising your children, I know it's not easy doing it on your own.

This weekend I was alone with Twig. This wasn't the first time, but this time we were both sick. Trying to take care of someone else in the middle of the night when you have the chills and are throwing up yourself is just plain awful. She wanted her mommy, and I wanted mine.

There is no question that having another person to support the weight of raising a human is helpful. Not to mention an extra set of hands. I know women whose husbands travel for work and are away weeks at a time. It is so challenging. When they come home, it isn't exactly easy either. Everyone has to readjust to the new dynamic.

But with two peoples comes opinions -- sometimes competing ones, too. The other day my daughter got a splinter and I explained to her that we needed to take it out. When we got home and my husband tells her it's ok, it will come out on it's own. We both strongly believed we were making the right decision by her. In the end we called out pediatrician and he agreed with my husband and now it is indeed gone. The downside: a minor moment of humility. The upside: an additional hands-on parent.

My husband gets back today and I am so happy. It's not like she and I aren't on our own most days anyway, but usually one of us is feeling okay. I am going to take a good long nap and shut down (which I know is virtually impossible for a single parent). I had always thought if I hadn't met the right person by a certain age that I would still want to have a child. I think that I would have done it, because I knew I always wanted to be a mother, but boy would it have been different. I was so ignorant. Even with a degree in education, years as a camp counselor, babysitter, and teacher -- none of it prepares you for the real deal.