Two spoons: Congenital Hypothyroidism, video timeline

Two spoons: Congenital Hypothyroidism, video timeline

I keep an unorganized mental log. I have vivid memories, especially of the emotionally-charged moments.

I decided to share some more video clips and notes about my daughter, Rebekah Ruby Kate (currently 7 months old)

Born on February 15, 2016

Born at 39 weeks 6 days

Weighed 5lbs 10oz (my 5th daughter)

Rebekah had velamentous cord insertion (cord attached to amniotic sac instead of placenta). Because of her abnormal cord attachment, she had IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), and she was also SGA (small for gestational age).

Tiny and perfect to me. She has had some health setbacks, but she faces them with the sweetest temperament. They don’t subtract one ounce from her perfection to me. 

Rebekah had abnormal thyroid levels (elevated TSH) at 1 week old, 4 weeks old, 13 weeks old, and 16 weeks old. But because her thyroxine was always in range, and because I had read extensively about the differences in the hormonal profiles of SGA babies…we waited. 

We chose not to start Levothyroxine until she was 16 weeks old. 

Before 25mcg Levothyroxine…

February 16 (one day old)…

March 19 (one month, 4 days, 6lbs 15oz)…

April 8 (almost 2 months, 6lbs, 6oz )…

Rebekah lost 9oz of weight between week 5 to week 8. My milk supply was low, and I had to fight hard to continue breastfeeding, something I never had to do with my other 4 daughters.

I tried fenugreek, pumping, coconut oil, lactation cookies with Brewer’s yeast, ground flax, tons of water, chia seeds, coconut water…you name it.

And when she was 10 weeks, and had gained her 9oz back on only breast milk, I finally started supplementing with goat milk. I would still pump daily as well. 

May 17 (3 months, 2 days, 8lbs 14.5oz )…

May 22 (3 months, 7 days, 9lbs 8oz)…


June 2 (3 months, 18 days, 10lbs)…

June 6 (3 months, 22 days, 10lbs 8oz)…


I did feel that she was doing well with all her milestones without starting Levothyroxine , but we agreed to start it when she was 16 weeks old.

I put all her thyroid level results on this paper, including the lab ranges which are different.



SHE STARTED 25mcg LEVOTHYROXINE ON JUNE 8, 2016 (16 weeks old)…

We crush her pill between two spoons, every morning. We mix it with about an ounce of apple juice or water. 

We read in the drug’s instructions to take it on an empty stomach. This is quite a feat with an infant. For the first 3 weeks, we would feed her at 9pm; she would wake herself around 12am to eat; then we were waking her at 3am to eat, then waking her again at 5am for her med, and then she would wake at 6am ready to eat again. 

Pretty much…we didn’t sleep. 

Then on June 30, when we met her endocrinologist for the first time, she told us she tells her parents they can just give it with a feeding. 

Well hallelujah. So then we would just let her wake us. 

Rebekah developed torticollis (her head leaning right) almost immediately after starting Levothyroxine. I looked up anything I could to find out if there was a connection.

I only found that muscle aches were sometimes a drug side effect. So we decided they weren’t connected.

June 11 (3 months, 27 days, 11lbs)…

On the med, she started to be incredibly lethargic, especially in the afternoons. There were several weeks that her overall health was much worse after starting Levothyroxine. (Though some things improved later.)

I kept a detailed log of several of her daily habits and figures. Just to see if anything changed…


On June 12, when Rebekah was about 16 weeks old, I started making a more complicated formula that I got from Dr. Axe’s website–goat kefir, coconut water, flax oil, nutritional yeast. 
June 15 (4 months, 11lbs 2.5oz)…


It seemed that her torticollis was worst when she was sleepy and/or had a full belly.

June 16 (4 months, 1 day, 11lbs 5oz)…

I stopped pumping breastmilk for her completely around July 1, 2016. My supply just dwindled and dwindled. It was a heartbreaking choice, and even today…2.5 months later, I hope to somehow go back to it. 😞

_____________________

Rebekah had what seemed like a panic attack on June 24. It was incredibly scary. She had a mild fever, shifty eyes, very quick breathing and a fast heart rate. I guess I deleted the videos from that night. I wish I could delete my memories of it.

She ended up falling asleep that night, but then her fever continued the next day. I called the on-call nurse at AR Children’s; they recommended I call poison control. The poison control guy recommended I not give her any more Levothyroxine until her thyroid levels were checked.

This was all on a Saturday, so that means I spent about an hour at a walkin (after calling to find out if they check thyroid levels, and verifying with AR Children’s that I could use them), only to have the walkin Dr check her vitals and  recommend that we go to the emergency room instead.

I spent about 5 hours in the ER with her–rectal temp 102.7, heart rate 185, 36 breaths a minute. This is my 5th child, so I realize these aren’t alarming vitals by themselves. But I was concerned about her behavior; the poison control guy wanted her checked out; the walkin Dr wanted her taken to ER, and her whole life has been so drastically different than my other girls.

They did a chest xray, a port in her foot (which ended up being unusable), drew blood, did a catheter, drew blood again. Everyone was incredibly kind, but the experience was sooo traumatic. But mostly…we waited and waited and waited.

Her thyroid levels came back in range. She was diagnosed with a UTI; they said her behavior was “normal” febrile seizures. She was prescribed Cephalexin…and we all went home exhausted.

________________________

Rebekah woke several times at night, and she would have a completely soaked diaper 3-4 times a night, so soaked that they would soak her outfit and sheets every time. 

If you’ve followed any of Rebekah’s story and you thought to yourself–that baby needs drugs! Well, I’m sure you were relieved when we started her on Levothyroxine, but if I’m completely honest, she has faced her biggest health challenges and scares right after she started and the entire time she was on 25mcg of Levothyroxine. 

I can’t say, and I’m not saying that the med CAUSED her torticollis, insomnia, panic attack, excessive urine, her UTI. But I am saying it’s been rough. Rough on her. Rough on us. 

July 3 (4 months, 18 days, 11lbs 12oz)…

Rebekah started seeing a chiropractor on June 22, and her torticollis was better almost immediately. 

July 10 (4 months, 25 days, 11lbs 12oz)…

Rebekah rolled over around 5 months, and in many ways she was adjusting her her dosage and doing okay. 

July 29 (5 months, 14 days, 12lbs 10oz)…


However, she still woke several times a night with soaking wet diapers, and she was not gaining much despite her large calorie intake. 


HALF DOSE 12.5mcg LEVOTHYROXINE (STARTED AUGUST 17)

On Wednesday August 17, I decided to start giving her only a half dose for a few days to see if it changed her naps and sleep quality overall, her excessive urine output…etc. 

I contacted the endocrinology nurses; they consulted her Endocrinologist, and she said we could leave it at a half tablet until September 12 when she had her levels checked again. And then we would go from there. 

.

August 17 (6 months, 2 days)…

Her sleep quality improved overnight; she only had to be changed once at night now (instead of 3-4 times); she has started keeping her weight on, and her energy levels improved as well. I hoped her levels would “agree” with her behaviors. 

Rebekah sat up on her own for the first time ever on August 19. She’s been more talkative and active, and also…more peaceful and restful at night and nap times. 

August 19 (6 months, 4 days) …

On September 12, Rebekah’s TSH was 4.32 (in range) and her fT4 was 1.28 (also in range). Her endocrinologist said she can stay at 12.5mcg until her level check on December 12. 

Depending on her levels in December, the endocrinologist said that we might talk about stopping the med entirely by Rebekah’s first birthday. 

God is good no matter what, and we are hopeful…

.

September 18 (7 months, 3 days)…

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hamster wheel

hamster wheel

If you see a mom…

Early on a Sunday morning…

In an empty parking lot…

Leaning on a steering wheel…

Face down on her folded arms…

Shoulders shaking…

It’s nothing important.

Just don’t…

Honestly, you wouldn’t even…

It’s the hole the squirrels chewed into the soffit,

And this isn’t her first time,

And it’s all the condensation cup circles,

And don’t text,

And it’s the sliding minivan door that’s off-kilter,

And don’t attempt to understand,

And it’s the beeping smoke alarm,

And she doesn’t want to do this,

And it’s the pile of unread books,

And don’t make that face,

And it’s that mountain of Wal-mart donation bags full of clothes.

I know I am, but if I know it,

Then I’m not.

If this is my sanctuary, 

Then let it be that, please. 

I don’t have a walled garden of flowers. 

This is what I have, where I have. 

Don’t you think I know crazy when I feel it pulsing?

If you give a mouse a cookie…

I think I might have. 

You know how it will be. 

If you don’t get it,

Do you think I care?

If you don’t…

Look away. 

Stay away. 

Ripple

Ripple

Even a pebble makes ripples, Dad says.  But I didn’t drop a pebble in the pond, did I, Dad? It wasn’t a pebble. 

It was a boulder, wasn’t it? It was two boulders, maybe. It was…a landslide. And the water may never be still again. 

Our life was a series of pedestals, and we tiptoed around on them. I guess I never did belong up there, trying hard to balance precariously alongside people who proudly live on pedestals, who look down at people below who never deserved to be up there. 

Who is a good person? Who? Who has a good heart? The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? Only God. Not any person on any worldly pedestal. 

We were kids, 17 and 16. I remember well. Funny, smart, hardworking kids. Making bagels. Scrimping. Making plans. Listening to Radiohead. Thought we had the bull by the horns, maybe we did for a while, but no. I guess we caught the tiger by the tail instead.

People like wrapping loss up in little justification packages–

The problem is…I married an asshole. The problem is…she turned out to be crazy. We just, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into…

Bullshit. 

You know it is, and I know it is. 

There was love. There was more than one betrayal from both of us. There was forgiveness. There were hurts. There was a lot of interference from people who didn’t belong between us. People I let in; people you let in.  There was apathy. There was triumph. There were so many laughs. There were cries. Sure. 

Every marriage is two sinners who buckle down and refuse to give up on each other, against whatever odds they have both brought to the table. And we did that. For 15 years, we did that. 

I cannot tell you how many inaccurate, blatantly ignorant comments have been made to me over the years by so-called friends regarding my first marriage. 

“I think maybe you just never loved him.” “I didn’t know your marriage was a facade.” “Don’t say hi to me in public, Emily, because I’m not ready for that; I know what’s really going on.”

Oh do you? You all knew the intimate intricacies of my own marriage better than I did? Interesting. 

Where were you when we decorated our first apartment? Where were you when we took care of each other when we were sick? Where were you when I cried about his betrayals? Where were you when we held hands as I pushed our daughters into the world? Where were you when he forgave me for my betrayals? Because I don’t remember any of you being there for any of it. So you go ahead and believe your shallow lies. 

We became the ending only.

If every marriage is a refusal to give up, then every divorce is…giving up on each other. We did that, too. And none of you were a part of any of it. 

 “I will kill every feeling I have for you. You will mean nothing to me. Nothing.” You said it. And you meant it. And you live it. Fifteen years of mostly good memories, but none of it will matter. 

Used to was: I could do no wrong in your eyes, even at times when I knew I was so wrong.

“Emily, I’ve always been on your side. Even when no one else was. It was me. I was. You know that’s true. Even when we separated, people would tell me how it looked, what you were probably up to…and that’s never how I saw it. Not my Emily. No. ” He loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar. Choked it back. Not one to cry.

But now. It seems I can’t do anything right. Every way that I handle things, you have a judgment, a criticism, a remark, a request. You see me through crap-tinted glasses. Everything about me is shit now. Okay.

I became the ending. The fleeting backstage deceit made the spotlight years a lie to you. My name becomes a knell that few dare to toll in your presence. Or maybe a joke…Yeah, probably a joke. 

I did do lots of wrong. And I’m sorry. Do you even know that I’m so sorry? I’ve said it, but you aren’t one to acknowledge any emotion. I remember your brother sobbing at your grandfather’s funeral. And you leaned over to him, “You don’t have to think about anything sad, and then you won’t cry.” Your solutions. 

Would it make me a better person to pretend my heart never loved you before? I don’t really trust people who do that. To turn every speck of love into loathing? Erase every photo. Block every memory. Never happened.

Should I pretend we don’t know each other? Maybe we don’t anymore. But we did. 

Tell it however you want to. No, you will choose to say nothing. You do that. I will keep the photos and memories and stories.

If I die first, don’t worry, no one expects you to cry. But when you die, I will quietly sit on a back row at your funeral. And I will cry. I’ll remember the full story. And I will cry.

Eleanor, hand me a flag…

Eleanor, hand me a flag…

Up early, vacuuming under couches, scrubbing the stove top, reading articles, and now headed to Little Rock for a 9am appointment with the pediatric endocrinologist. 

Many thoughts and feelings bouncing around my head and heart. God, please guide us, please let us make the best decisions for Rebekah’s well-being, help us stay humble and kind, and please let my many concerns be assuaged and my many questions be answered satisfactorily. 

I don’t know that I would agree with her political views or her personal life, and I don’t know if she would agree with mine. But I certainly agree with and value many Eleanor Roosevelt quotes…

“No writing has any real value which is not the expression of genuine thought and feeling.”

“When life is too easy for us, we must beware or we may not be ready to meet the blows which sooner or later come to everyone, rich or poor.”

“I have never felt that anything really mattered but the satisfaction of knowing that you stood for the things in which you believed and had done the very best you could.”

“At all times, day by day, we have to continue fighting for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom from want — for these are things that must be gained in peace as well as in war.”

“We must know what we think and speak out, even at the risk of unpopularity.”

“This freedom of which men speak, for which they fight, seems to some people a perilous thing. It has to be earned at a bitter cost and then — it has to be lived with. For freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.We must all face an unpalatable fact that we have, too often, a tendency to skim over; we proceed on the assumption that all men want freedom. This is not as true as we would like it to be. Many men and women are far happier when they have relinquished their freedom, when someone else guides them, makes their decisions for them, takes the responsibility for them and their actions. They don’t want to make up their minds. They don’t want to stand on their own feet.”

“Will people ever be wise enough to refuse to follow bad leaders or to take away the freedom of other people?”

“One of the best ways of enslaving a people is to keep them from education… The second way of enslaving a people is to suppress the sources of information, not only by burning books but by controlling all the other ways in which ideas are transmitted.”

“In the long run there is no more exhilarating experience than to determine one’s position, state it bravely and then act boldly.”

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

“Women are like tea bags. You never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water.”

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”

Two minutes with a Toddler: Chocolate Milk, Anatomy of a Tantrum (with video)

Two minutes with a Toddler: Chocolate Milk, Anatomy of a Tantrum (with video)

She’s sweet, she’s sour. This is the full tantrum (video at bottom of blog). She’s gotten faster at getting back on track. She’s even had a few that were much faster than this one. And she has DEFINITELY had longer tantrums. 

Toddler wants chocolate milk: let’s break it down. Every tantrum, every fight at our house can be divided into these same parts–unacceptable behavior, gentle chance, a firm and predictable punishment, an apology, forgiveness, makeup. 

That’s it. It can be over that easily. You know…in theory. 

Part one–Unacceptable Behavior I didn’t get it all on video. She just woke from a nap and demanded chocolate milk in the her whiniest voice ever. No. Not a chance that I will reward that. 

Part two–Gentle Chance I explain how she’s acting and give her a chance to change her mind quickly. Sometimes it’s over RIGHT then, and we skip part three. Other times, part three is the longest step…her choice. 

Part three–Clear Punishment (or Consequences) If she chooses not to change her behavior, she will be punished–go sit on the couch. She tested me because I was filming, and she will usually test me if someone else is here as her audience…or if we are in public. 

Ideally, and theoretically, she gets ONE chance to obey. And if her mouth or body language “tell me no,” then I will go pick her up and put her on the couch. That’s “yes.” 

(But to be honest, I don’t always get up when she doesn’t obey the first time…as you see in the video. But if I’m making eye contact and I’ve told her TWICE, and she disobeys a second time…I will get up. Trust me. 

I have had to place her on the couch many times. I’ve had to catch her trying to run off as many as 12…possibly 20 times in a row, and I sit her back down, and back down, and back down…until she stays. 

Part four–An Apology She knows when she can get up. All she has to do is say, “I’m sorry.” This particular time, she chose to say it quickly. Cool. Fine by me. 

I have done things like set a timer for 5 minutes and ignore her until it goes off, and then give her the opportunity to apologize or sit longer. 

Clara is 2 years and 9 months now. She doesn’t usually need a full 5 minutes to change her behavior. Sometimes she chooses to take that long, but not often anymore. 

I learned a long time ago with toddlers–give them a choice, and make sure YOU are fine with either option. Example–Get yourself dressed in the next 5 minutes…or wear your pajamas to the store. It won’t embarrass me. 

Apologize…or sit there. Either way, I’m fine. 

Part five–Forgiveness I have a long list of personal habits that I hope my daughters don’t remember or learn. If they only remember one thing about growing up with me, I hope they remember my capacity to forgive. 

For practice with my toddlers and children, this is an unskippable step. And under my rule, unforgiveness will often get a punishment. 

Definitely at least a lecture–unforgiveness is your biggest character flaw, _______ (insert name). You need to learn not to do that, especially to your sisters. 

Part five–Makeup Remember it enough to learn from it, forget it enough to move on.  Making up usually looks like a hug at my house.

Forgiveness can be that quick with adults, too, but usually isn’t. 

As adults, we often get hurt by grudges, judgment, moral superiority, scoffs, repeated mistakes, jabs, criticism, gossip. But to be hurt, we have to consent to allow any of those reactions to hurt us, which has been an incredibly liberating realization for me. We don’t have to be hurt. 

Probably why I get along better with kids, and probably always will. I prefer their simplicity. 

Church shoes 

Church shoes 

“Dad. Dad.” I bug out my eyes and lean my head to the side a few times, toward the little girl who has become my shadow at Creekmore Park. She smiles at my dad. 

“Oh did you make a new friend?” Dad doesn’t see well. Are you kidding me? 

“We go to school together.” She makes the announcement proudly. 

She has a buzz haircut. Even as a second grader, I know this means she has lice that they couldn’t get rid of. Dust defines the creases in her elbows and knees. This is not my definition of friend. 

She’s wearing an oversized Rheem tshirt. We get these free from school; Rheem, an air conditioning company in town, is our school’s partner in education. No one wears the free tshirts they give to every student. Maybe as a night shirt. 

She followed me over to my dad, and she’s just standing here, waiting for me to go back to the playground equipment. No chance, Crystalina. Yeah…that’s her name. See what I mean?

Just because we ended up in the same class in public school, you think that means we are friends if I accidentally see you in public? This is also not my definition of friend. 

She rocks back on the heels of her pale pink Easter-dress church shoes, loses her balance a little, stumbles a few steps backward; her shoes tap and scrape loudly on the sidewalk pavement. 

“Do you want to go on the swings, Emily?” She’s scratching some mosquito bites on her ankle, forcing me to examine the condition of her fingernails. 

I feel my face expressing my heart. I don’t try to stop myself. She pulls up her dingy ankle sock out of her church shoe to tuck in the bloody mosquito bites. 

“No thanks. I think we are about to go.” I’m crossing my arms and looking at my dad, still bug-eyed. I’m not being subtle, and the clues are just bouncing off his skull. 

“Nah, we don’t have to go yet. Go play with your friend, Emmy.” Dad settles onto a shaded park bench, crosses one ankle onto his opposite knee. Nicknames are for the house; we’ve been over this. I will have to get Mom to explain it again. 

Crystalina twists her long red and white gingham cotton skirt around, lining up the seams. I’m not certain, but it looks like someone made it for her from a picnic tablecloth. 

“You go ahead, Crystalina. I’ll be over there in a minute.” I know tricks. I get on the bench with my dad.

Crystalina beams. She shuffles across the pavement, slides through the dewy grass, crashes into the pebbles, slams onto a swing. 

“Dad. Let’s go. She’s not my friend. She just goes to my school, and she’s really annoying.” I have to spell it out for him. 

“What’s annoying? Is she mean?She likes you and wants to play. She seems nice to me.” Dad is thumbing through his Bible. Maybe he can’t hear well either. I get the feeling that possibly…I’m already smarter than him, at least socially, for sure. 

“Well…no, she’s not mean. But like…she’s gross. Did you see her sock with the dried blood on the inside from her mosquito bites? Her clothes are always dirty, and like…” I feel like I’m being so obvious. Why isn’t he getting this?

“None of that is her fault. You never know what someone’s home life is like. You don’t know if she has running water or electricity. You don’t know any of that. You have to look at someone’s heart.” Maybe he did see well. 

“Some people don’t have water at their house? Every house I’ve ever been to has a kitchen and a bathroom.” Yep. What house, Dad? You’re making it up. 

“Emily. You have to pay for water. It doesn’t just flow from any sink.” His voice is gentle; he briefly looks up from his Bible at me. 

“Oh.” I remember lots of moments when I learned something that I never knew before. 

Dad never makes me feel stupid  when he teaches me things. I don’t like when someone acts like I should already know something. 

I sat for a while, swinging my feet slowly, letting love melt ice. 

“People are attracted to the Christ in you. You have to look past a lot of worldly values, and always try to see people how God sees them. The world might tell you who is annoying or gross or unworthy, but don’t listen. Get really quiet and listen to what God tells you about them.” Maybe Dad could hear. 

I felt ashamed. I played with the strings of my braided friendship bracelets; I must have had about 40 of them on one wrist. I felt tears well up in my eyes. I wasn’t trying to be mean. I mean…I don’t want to be mean. 

An idea. 

I wiped away my tears very quickly. I picked my favorite green and yellow friendship bracelet, and freed it from the others, wriggled it off my wrist. 

I hopped up and ran to the swings. As she swung, Crystalina had been holding the chain of an empty swing next to her, saving it for me.  She dragged her feet through the pebbles to stop herself quickly. 

“Thanks for saving me a swing. Here.” I handed her the friendship bracelet. It was a wide one, the kind I didn’t know how to make. 

“Thank you!!! This is my first one.” Crystalina eagerly put it on her wrist. 

Listen to your dad. Just…listen. 

Balance

Balance

So I saw a friend’s Facebook status yesterday about how she had a seat on an airplane next to a baby and a toddler. And she referred to this as her personal hell.

We talked a little, and she mentioned that she feels anxious around kids. And she also mentioned that she has been told by parents that she “doesn’t understand” things because she doesn’t have kids. 

So I took all that in, and I truly feel that I understand every feeling she said she has regarding kids. That is, I understand as best as I can…as a stay-at-home mom who rarely flies anywhere, who only leaves the house weekly to teach six 45-min fitness classes, who mostly only has to interact with her own kids. 

But I think I “get” both sides. I do. 

As a parent of 5 daughters, I cannot tell you how much anxiety I have felt and do feel when I know I am going to have to be in an unavoidable situation when my babies and/or toddlers might do and say…only God knows what.

GOOD MOODS

Clara is 2yrs and 8months. I don’t accept that “terrible twos” is some unavoidable certain misery.  Kids understand way more than we give them credit for. And Clara and I figure it out together. 

At her young age, she understands the difference in using rude words and polite words. She knows how I expect her to talk to me AND TO ANYONE. She understands this 100%…I promise you.

Not every child grasps that, and I understand not every kid will understand that at the same time. But I hold her to a high standard of obedience and polite behavior because she DOES KNOW. At my house, she will behave, or she will not get what she wants from me.

We talk a lot about expectations when she is in a good mood. Not when she’s hungry, not when she’s tired…those aren’t the role-playing moments, those are the “let’s use what we learned moments.”

Sometimes the lesson works in the naughty moment…not always. 

PRIVATE BATTLES

Does she ever throw a toy at my head and scream, “I hate my nice words!!!!!”

Yes. 

And I scoop her up, put her butt in bed, and we can talk after your nap, Clara. Thank you. 

Do I ever give in? Do we ever negotiate? Does she ever flat out “win” our battles of will? Yes. And yes. And yes. 

But I am pretty firm and pretty stubborn, in a calm and quiet way. 

Sometimes, Clara and I make deals. She wants a red Popsicle; I ask her to eat a banana (or some turkey) first and then she can have one. 

She likes to watch the same shows over and over and over…and over. Sometimes I just let her. And sometimes I make her try something new. Negotiate.

Theory and practice…and utter exhaustion–hers and/or mine.

There are times I let go of my rules completely. I have let her climb into my bed in the middle of the night, and I just hold her. Even though I’ve asked her to please stay in her own bed and to go back to sleep on her own. It’s just…

I don’t pressure her to potty-train. I don’t and I won’t. She will let me know. I don’t believe she will be in diapers in kindergarten. 

I let her have a pacifier, and I don’t care…like even a little bit. I don’t care. If a stranger asks her/me–“Uh! When is she going to stop using that pacifier?!”

I just say–“Maybe never? Is that hard on you? Does it affect your life?” And eye contact is my favorite. People usually forget what else they want to say.

MORE PRIVATE BATTLES

It is a battle of wills, and I’ve found that the best approach is very calm, but very firm and very persistent. 

Watch any episode of Super Nanny to see it in action. I don’t think the parent should yell or spank hard. The key is control. Showing self control by example. 

You can’t do this every time, but I have had to do it at least once with every daughter–stay at it until you break them. Like a wild horse. 

“Your behavior is unacceptable; sit in that chair until I tell you that you can get up.”

And then–ignore. Go about your day happily. Talk to her siblings, talk aloud about everything you are doing, calmly and happily. 


If the child gets up, you say–sit down. If she doesn’t or if she screams no…you go get her and put her back down. That’s yes.

Repeat 1000 times. 

That’s it. Until the child apologizes or changes her attitude. That’s it. We can do this all day. You will not break Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller. 

It’s amazing what level of shrill scream and kicking that I have and can ignore. The rest of us can all play cards or watch a movie…and the “chair kid” is welcome to join us as soon as her attitude changes…or not. Her choice.

PUBLIC BATTLES

So when a child or baby is throwing a fit in public, it’s the parents’ fault 97% of the time. Usually some basic need (nap, meal, etc) has been ignored…sometimes it’s beyond the parent’s control. And sometimes the parent is shopping and ignoring.

But if every need is met, and the kid is just testing his limits. Let him know the limits, especially in public. People say–pick your battles. A public battle is a yes, every time. 

How the fit is handled is 100% within the parent’s control. I can understand a warning, maybe even a few…but after that, it’s “remove the child from public” time. 

I remember clearly a day in the store when Audrey was about 3 years old. She taught me a very important lesson, and I’ve used it since that day. 

I was in a hurry, grabbing this, grabbing that, and Audrey was sitting in the big part of the cart. Every time I stopped the cart to look for or grab something, she would stand up and act goofy. I don’t remember exactly what she was doing or saying, but it was funny and entertaining to everyone else in the store…except me, her mom in a hurry. 

I chuckled it off the first few times, and then I said–“Audrey, I want you to stay seated.” And I held the “I’m serious” eye contact for a few seconds. Audrey is hilarious, and sometimes she’s so funny that nothing penetrates her thick layer of natural comedy, nothing can extinguish her mischievous eye twinkle, and you have no idea what she will say or do next. 

So I stop the cart again, and sure enough…Audrey stands up and does a goofy dance or whatever she had been doing. I get her attention with a swat on the rear, “Audrey. Sit. Down.” Not a hard swat, I barely make pat-contact. It’s the act, not the force. An attention-getter. 

Audrey was mortified. When the other person on the aisle left, she asked me incredulously, “Why did you spank me?”

“Audrey…because you didn’t obey me.” Disobedience isn’t cute. 

“Well, that embarrassed me. And it hurt my feelings.” I can’t remember my oldest two daughters ever telling me they were embarrassed.

“Well…it embarrassed me that my daughter didn’t obey. Then people will think–oh she lets her kids do whatever they want.”

“You don’t have to spank me. Then everyone knows I’m in trouble.” She was truly hurt, sulking in the cart with her little arms folded. 

“What do you think I should do?” Kids have really, really good ideas. Ask them sometimes. 

“Just whisper to me and say I am embarrassing you.” Brilliant. 

And to this day, her brilliant 3-year-old brain idea has worked with 100% success (with my daughters 2.5 years and older). All I have ever had to do in public, is motion for them to come over to me, and lean in–

“I want you to stop behaving this way. You are embarrassing me. This is your private warning. Do you want me to embarrass you?” And they know they have a choice. You can see wheels turn, smell smoke. 

Kids have pride too. And they are brilliant. I have found that their punishment ideas are especially appropriate.

MORE PUBLIC BATTLES

I remember one time Margaret was maybe 18-20 months old. I was pregnant with Hazel. And who knows what went wrong but she started throwing a fit in public. 

Threw herself of the filthy mall floor, kicking and screaming. What to do?? I didn’t have our “timeout chair” with me! Plus…all these people were around to watch all this. 

A bribe?? Promise her chocolate? Um…heck no. A reward for this insane behavior? NO. But it crossed my mind, sure. 

I picked her up and put her on the mall bench, and I sat on the other end of the bench. Here? Now? This battle? Yes. 

It was an eternity before she stopped. Probably 5-7 minutes. She flipped herself over to her belly and attempted to flee at least  7 times. Nope. Even pregnant I could catch her, snag her back up, sit her back down. And wait. 

It’s tiring. But it’s worth it. 

CURIOUS BREED 

Kids are a curious breed…
Not exactly like a pet (well trained or poorly trained). But a lot like a pet.

Not exactly like an adult–they have no filter or need for social pleasantries. But in many ways, they are like adults.

For good or bad, I’ve always kept a good portion of my dialogue to kids as “adult words” (not cuss words, I mean not baby talk). A respectful conversation between equals.

…and a good portion of my interaction with kids involve “adult expectations.” Kids usually  understand way more than adults give them credit for, more than adults give them access to.

And within reason regarding their ages, they will behave and perform to whatever standard you hold them to. That’s the damn truth.

They have basic needs that require regular attendance… that’s the big one that parents try to stretch to limits. A toddler should not be expected to shop for 3-4 hours during his lunch and nap time; it’s going to be bad for all involved. 

That sounds a lot like humans of all ages. It is.