Friday, January 16, 2009

thinking about parenting today

Any ideas on how to keep Clare in her bed at night that don't involve shackles?

This morning, Clare wore a "new" shirt (she is growing so fast! nearly all her pants are too short, esp. for cold winter weather, so I hit the thrift store yesterday--3 pairs pants, 3 tops, $18). She was so excited about the bling-bling heart on the front that as soon as she got to school she ripped off her jacket, found her BFF, threw her arms out wide and squealed, "I'M A PRINCESS!" (while I groaned in the background, "but I'm a feminist.") What she doesn't know is that two pairs of her new pants are "boy pants." Including the ones she is wearing today. Hahahaha! Gender subversion will occur at every opportunity around here, princess.

Clare does a great "villain laugh." I wonder where she got that.

She has, for reasons still obscure to me, started proudly proclaiming that she's got "a big ol' belly." I like her big ol' belly, and mine too. We like to compare. Mine is bigger.

Yesterday afternoon one of the teachers asked what we were doing re potty training, since apparently most of the time they check Clare's diapers at school, she's dry and clean. She certainly gets the whole potty thing, and willingly perches on the potty (esp. when she wants an effective excuse for getting out of bed), but generally, she still comes to me to announce she's poopy after the fact. She likes the whole plop-plop poopy-in-the-potty thing (we have our own little song for this), but she seems to prefer plopping it in the potty from her diaper rather than poop direct. We were making slow but steady progress till December, when everything went topsy-turvy in terms of daily routine. Now our slow but steady progress seems to have stalled.

We caught a couple episodes of an unfamiliar cartoon on Noggin the other day, Spider Something Sunny Patch. I've been "Mommy Spider" and Clare, "Baby Spider," and all her teachers, "Teacher Spiders," ever since. We eat Buggy Snacks and drink Buggy Water and go to our Snuggy-Buggy Bed. I've been wondering if I should try to explain this to her teachers, so they won't be offended when she calls them spiders, or alarmed when she tells them she's drinking Buggy Water.

We got a mid-year progress reoprt from St. Stephens and have a parent-teacher conference scheduled for next week. It's interesting to look at the items checked off on Clare's developmental skills list--some things she does at school that she doesn't at home (perhaps pottying?), and some things that she's always doing at home that she apparently doesn't at school (communicate in short sentences, sing parts of songs. At home, the girl is talking nonstop, unless she's eating, and sometimes then too.) It's nice to see that she is on schedule with all the physical and social stuff. It's even nicer to get a glimpse of how other people perceive your child.

Personally, I have discovered an absolutely necessary strategy for maintaining my sanity in the face of mounting frustration during Clare confrontations: the Jesus prayer. At first I resorted to something like, "God give me patience to be a good mother to my child" but that was too connected to my sense of frustration to be helpful--it focused on it rather than alleviating it and making it possible to redirect my energy in interacting with Clare. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," for whatever reason, works. I think it has to do with the way it simultaneously reminds me that 1) taking frustration out on my daughter, no matter how frustrating a 2 1/2 year old can be, is sinful, unhelpful, pointless, and harmful; and 2) I am forgiven for being so frustrated. Somehow, that does the trick of producing heretofore unknown powers of transcending the frustration, thinking creatively, and communicating love while negotiating acceptable compromise with my precocious Clare. I'm no mystic by nature (something I sort of lament); but stuff like this is my experience of the reality of the Spirit and her power to transform.

Mothering, as always, defies my analysis when I contemplate it. No wonder no parents could say anything coherent about it to me while I was pregnant, other than the promise "it will change your life." It does, but not just because you will be chronically sleep-deprived for the next eighteen years (minimum). It is its own sort of ontological change--without the choirs and prayers and laying on of hands, of course.


jch said...

We highly value sleep in this house and so we've worked hard on keeping the kids in bed. And the work has paid off. Those kids don't get up! (Sure, they get up after a scary nightmare and Sophia might get up to pee on her own but it's all very rare.) That came, of course, through really mean looks and a few harshly toned lectures but it worked. In the a.m., they wait for us to come and get them before they get up. It's nice.

And thanks for sharing what you do in those frustrating moments of parenthood. I've been searching for something as of late to help me cool down in the heat of the moment. I'm gonna try the Jesus prayer. Thanks for that.

R-Liz said...

After Bryan got into a routine of waking up in the middle of the night and wandering out into the house and getting scared to see the house all dark and shut down, we changed tactics. I don't know what kind of doorknobs you have, but we put one of those baby/toddler-proof knob openers on the inside knob of his bedroom door. He wasn't very happy about it for a few nights, but he quickly came to accept it, and he started sleeping through the night again.

allison said...

oh jen. the jesus prayer. i'm trying that at the next opportunity. it's good to be reminded there's forgiveness and grace, how could any of us get through any relationship without that...

i'm making a major change -- work only part-time... and be home afternoons to do some tutoring with Sol and Levi in English, since they both go to Spanish school.

i'm gonna need some patience and grace for that.

clare is so awesome. i have a package to send to her... be on the lookout.


TKP said...

So, can Clare not be a princess and feminist at the same time?

Stasi said...

I think the Jesus prayer thing is brilliant.

JTB said...

when in doubt, reach for the wisdom of the ancients, I guess. and nothing = doubt like parenting. sigh.

good news: we put the gates up on Clare's doorframe (the French doors don't have handles like regular doors, so the doorknob thingies were a no-go), two of them stacked (because she knows how to work them). In two nights she got the message. The first night she watched Brent put them up over my shoulder as I carried her back to bed, and said very audibly and pitifully, "I never get out of here." Last night she said several times, "no gates," so I said, "stay in bed, no gates. get out of bed, gates." then, before leaving the room, "stay in bed, no gates. deal?" and she said, "deal." and she kept the deal. woo-hoo! (now, we'll see if we can rehabilitate that forgotten practice, the afternoon nap.)

thanks for all the encouragement and the advice. (Joe, I would have tried the stink-eye, except that Clare just giggles at my stern looks and lectures and takes it as sanction to continue adorable defiance.)

Princess-feminist? :) First agenda item, chuck the pedestal. Then maybe we could negotiate. (But what's a princess without the pedestal?)

kel said...

i was never into pink, but i thought a spiral staircase would be cool, that's what i imagined a princess having that i didn't have. cool architecture.