Saturday, August 27, 2011

Post-toddlerhood depression

My baby is starting school in a few days.  Okay, so she's five and my oldest, so not really a baby. But when did she really get to be old enough to be in school and not be a toddler anymore? [Insert here songs from Fiddler on the Roof and Saturday's Warrior for effect.] Maybe it's because I have 3 even younger children that aren't old enough for school yet that I find it hard to believe one is. 

She may be excited and ready to start school but I'm not.  I fear change.  Not really, but I definitely enjoy the flexibility of my schedule the past 8 years or so.  It's one of the many reasons I'm self-employed.  I decide when and where I want to go anywhere.  School will change that.  Whether or not I want to, every day I will need to take my daughter to kindergarten at 8 am and pick her up at 10:45 am.  Every day.  In fact, I almost felt guilty telling my daughter that yes, she will go to school still when it's winter, and every day until it's May.  I wanted to warn her that she would also have to go to school every day for another 12-16 years after that.

I like having toddlers.  I guess that's my parenting specialty.  Doesn't every parent have a stage they really enjoy? For some it's the new little babies, for others it's teenagers.  For me, it's toddlers.  Maybe it's because I haven't had any older than that yet.  Some of it is because of the control.  I control my children's schedule, I control what friends they play with, what they learn, what they watch, what they hear, what language they use.  School starts, and I know I will lose a lot of that control.  I'm sending my child away to be with other people for several hours every day. 

I loved school and I have no doubt my child will enjoy it as well.  I also love my daughter, though, and I guess most of all I'll just miss her.  I have no doubt how I'll handle her leaving for college.  Thank goodness I've got another 13 years to prepare for that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Family night chaos

Every Monday night our family has Family Home Evening. I completely understand how important it is for our family to develop this tradition of putting other things aside and spending time together as a family.  And about every other week I wonder how effective it really is and whether it's worth it.  Here's a sample of how it went at our house this evening.

By the time we finally finished dinner & treats (we have those before we start), there were about 20 minutes until bedtime.  We all sat down on the couches together, except for the baby who was on the floor making noise.  The 2 year old had been having a fit, so the only thing that made her happy was if we gave her the little American flag to hold that has been perched on top of the bookshelf since July.  This, of course, required that the 3 year old and 5 year old have their flags also. The 3 year old was in charge of music, so we sang Popcorn Popping, with flags waving.  Our 5 year old gave an opening prayer. 

Our 5 year old was supposed to be in charge of sharing a family history story.  She decided she wanted to just talk about families.  It went something like this: "Families should have family home evening.  Some families have gardens with lots of flowers.  Some families have dogs.  [I'm going to talk about the year]. Some families go sledding together."  While this was going on, I was in between 2 children waving flags, trying desperately not to be poked in the head.  Dad gave a lesson then on Jacob & his sons (Joseph, etc.), talking about how we should be nice to others even if they are not nice to us. (A timely lesson considering the amount of fighting going on in our house lately). The older 2 children are listening and giving examples of people doing mean things, while the 2 year old wanders and I have to pick up the baby who is yelling, so that he can be fed.  This lesson was repeatedly interrupted with me saying "No fencing with the flags". This was followed by a closing song of "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission" and a closing prayer and a 10 minute game of Hide and Seek.  Topped off, of course, with some fighting and whining as we head upstairs for bedtime.

I understand that really the consistency is what is key and is what our children will remember, more than whatever is taught in a lesson.  But, wow, sometimes it's easy to see why so many families don't take the time to spend time in a confined space together on a weekly basis.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sleep deprivation math

We went camping last weekend, and so of course my children were awake until about 11 pm.  This is long past their normal bedtime of 7 pm (where most of them are asleep by 8 pm).  You would think that after coming home and having one good night's rest, that somehow this would equal out and they would be back to normal.  I've found that it almost always takes 2 good nights of sleep, though, to make up for every 1 late night.  And it's not just my children.  I think I have this same problem.  I'm never as tired the morning after a late night as I am the following day, as if there's a one day lag.

I started calculating what this means for catching up for sleep in my lifetime, if I have to have 2 good nights' sleep to make up for every 1 bad night of sleep.  I pretty sure I went through 4 years of high school and 5 years of college without many good nights' sleep.  So, 9 years x 2 to make up for it, would mean I would need 18 years of good sleep.  Maybe the first 13 years of my life I slept pretty good, so that gets me pretty close.  Then we get to starting to raise a family.  We can rule out about 6 months of each pregnancy x 4 children, so there's another 2 years.  Oh, and then there's the first 3 months of having a new child when you're up in the middle of the night regularly, x 4, so there's another 1 year.  That's 3 years, so I'll need another 6 years to make up for that.  I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen until all my children are older and done with night terrors, bad dreams, etc.  Oh, but wait, then there's are those teenage years when I'm up worrying about my children or waiting for them to come home at night. 

I've decided I should probably stop calculating it all and just go to sleep.  Apparently I need all the good nights' sleep I can get.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My future dentist

I think my child wants to be a dentist aka Steve Martin style. She has pulled out 4 of her teeth in the past month, and I mean pulled out.  She hasn't just "lost" her teeth.  Her friend who is 3 days older than her was showing her one day how he was missing his 2 front bottom teeth.  By the next day, my 5 year old said her bottom tooth was loose, and she started wiggling it around.  Three days later, at 9pm, when she was supposed to be asleep, she came running downstairs to the kitchen saying "Mom, Dad, I've got great news! My tooth came out!" She was so excited to show us her tooth, and the blood on her face and hands didn't seem to concern her at all.  Less than a week later, she once again after bedtime came running downstairs to show another tooth out.

At this point, we started emphasizing to her that her teeth would come out when they were ready and there was no need to wiggle and wiggle them to make them loose.  About a week later, she apologetically came down at night with a bloody washcloth in hand to say her mouth was bleeding.  She was "cutting" a new tooth like a baby does, and it was bleeding.  I told her to just pat it with the washcloth and go to sleep.  About 5 minutes later, she came down and apologized that the 3rd bottom tooth had come out (with quite long roots, I would add).

I'm thinking of naming her Toothless the Night Fury.  There are 2 bottom teeth coming in now, so apparently those 2 really were ready to come out.  Today (a month after the first tooth), a 4th tooth has come out.  This one she has been playing with for several days, and today I just told her to pull it out.  She was quite excited to do so, and wanted to hold the tooth all evening and play with it.  We nixed that idea. 

As dramatic a child as she is, I assumed the blood would freak her out.  Or, that she would be squeamish like I always was as a child and not want to pull a tooth out, even when it was barely hanging on.  Not so.  Perhaps I should start training her for dental school right now.