Tag Archives: control

Book Review/Discussion: Raising Your Spirited Child

First of all, let me just lay it out there and say I love this book. If I had the skills to write an ode to this book, I would. Cover or Raising your spirited childFor one thing, when things went a little nuts with Boopsie, this book was the first I read (out of several) that made me feel like what we were dealing with was manageable. Secondly, it provided an new lens for considering why the whole situation was getting my goat so much. When I look at my copy of the book now, I see at least 30 pages that I have dog eared for future reference. (Interesting aside: I’ve stopped buying parenting and most other nonfiction books on my Kindle because I want to be able to mark them up and clicking to highlight just isn’t the same as marking with a pen and folding over pages.)

Some of the details about Raising Your Spirited Child:

  • It was written by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
  • The subtitle is “A guide for parents whose child if more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent and energetic.”
  • The paperback edition I have (revised edition) is 468 pages long
  • The book is organized into five parts: Understanding Spirit, Working with Spirit, Living with Spirit, Socializing with Spirit and Enjoying Spirit

Kurcinka’s definition of a spirited child is, “The word that distinguishes spirited children from other children is more. They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive and uncomfortable with change than other children.”

She explores temperament, facets of “spiritedness” and even includes a little quiz to help you gauge your child’s level of spirit on the different facets: Intensity, Persistence, Sensitivity, Perceptiveness, Adaptability, Regularity, Energy, First Reaction and Mood. Once you’ve done that, she also encourages the reader to look at his/her own spiritedness in terms of these traits. I found these exercises particularly helpful because they helped me put words to Boopsie’s personality (and positive words at that!) and showed me where my own “spunkiness” might be contributing to our challenges.

In subsequent parts of the book, Kurcinka walks through the various traits and how to deal with each of them. In addition, she spends chapters on tantrums, planning for success, bedtime, meal times, dressing and topics like socializing, vacation and school.

I’ve read this book through twice and I will probably continue to refer to it regularly. I recommend this to anyone struggling with a “spirited” kid!

Now that I’ve waxed poetic… have you read this book? Any thoughts? What parenting books have you found most helpful?

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The Things I Will Say Yes To

In our little corner of the world, Daddy-o is the “fun” parent. He’s usually the chaser and the thrower, and I’m usually the one saying things like, “Don’t shake her upside down! She just ate!” or “Please calm down, it’s time for bed.” It’s not all bad. For instance, I’m often the “comfort” parent, and the one Boopsie wants to snuggle with in the morning (which is awesome unless I want to sleep in a little. Eh-hem.)

The downside of being the “bad cop”/stern parent is that I feel like I say “no” a lot. A lot. It’s not that Daddy-o doesn’t or won’t say no, it’s just that I’m usually a little more on top of what the situation is and where it’s headed. You want Froot Loops at the grocery store? No. You want to go outside in your pajamas when it’s 20 degrees? No. You want to throw the ball “10 more” and “10 more” and “10 more times” before bed? No. You want to wear just your undies at the dinner table? Okay, maybe.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed a few things I seem to always say yes to… I guess these are my parenting weaknesses?

Books. Dear lord, please don’t let me go into a bookstore with Boopsie. It will be at least $38. At least. Thank goodness she’s also a superfan of the library, because we would like to help pay for her to go to college some day.

Art projects. “Mama, can we do a craft?” I usually say yes, even if I’m trying to do something like make dinner. (Because nothing says “recipe for success” like simultaneously cooking and crafting with a three-year old. I realized this was one of my key weaknesses a couple of weeks ago when Boopsie was painting and requested that to paint her feet. Yes, her feet. And yes, I said yes.

painting her feet

Sure, why not?

I mean, what can go wrong, right?

painted preschooler feet

Who can say no to those feet?

Truthfully, it turned out okay. And I was happy I said “yes” when I wanted to say “no.”

My third “yes” has to do with food and the grocery store. No matter what the fruit or vegetable Boopsie wants, I will say yes. Jicama? Sure. Five different kinds of apples? Okay, great! I figure it must help balance the multiple “no’s” she hears in all the other areas.

What about you? What do you say “yes” to?

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Filed under creativity, Fun, mom guilt

Today/A Lesson

Today was not a great day at work.

Today, work sucked. I made an error (a dumb, frantic error). No one died or got hurt (and no one will), no money was lost and no milestones will be missed because of it. But because of the nature of my job, this error was very public. And it meant I received a follow-up phone call from an executive who was frustrated and wanting to “problem solve.” (He was very fair and solution-oriented, but it still wasn’t fun.)

By the time the end of the day rolled around (after my 5 p.m. meeting didn’t show, and the video I needed to upload failed), I wanted to crawl under a blanket and hide for a while. But Daddy-o had evening plans and we’ve got a busy week so I picked up Boopsie and took her to the grocery store. (Because I guess I wanted to flog myself a little.)

When I picked Boopsie up, I immediately realized I was going to be in for a long evening with her. She was wild and defiant. She’s spending most of the next two weeks in back-up care through my company because her day care closed for three weeks (starting last week) without warning. She was exhausted when I got to her (at nearly 6:00 p.m.) and was a scoundrel in the grocery store. By the time we drove home she was stripping off her shoes and socks in the car and whipping them at me from the back seat.

Every part of the evening was a battle. Going potty? Torture. Washing her hands? Despair? Dinner? Well that started with a meltdown and a demand for me to hold her and feed her. I was standing there, calculating my options when it hit me… I needed to drop all the crap and baggage from my day and face her with as much compassion as I could muster. She’s two. She’s exhausted. Her schedule (and therefore a big part of her world) has been completely upended. She went from a home day care to a preschool setting, with an established class of kids she doesn’t know. While she’s doing great (lots of positive reports from the teachers) she is fried. Toast. And frankly, I get it.

So I dropped my expectations for one night. I held her in my lap and spoon fed her sweet potatoes and macaroni and cheese. I stopped doing the dishes to help her draw a turtle. I brought my focus much more to her needs. And you know what? It worked. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I got her fed, bathed and in bed with minimal additional melt downs.

For me, this was just a good reminder that no matter where I’m at, my job is to try and meet Boopsie where she’s at. This was not the night to force issues. Hopefully tomorrow we’re both a little more rested and upbeat and she will go back to feeding herself. And going potty without a hissy fit. And she’ll make it home without throwing things at me in the car.

Until then: Amen, she’s in bed. And I’m going to have a glass of wine.

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Filed under day care, drudgery, feeding, mom guilt

Winding down the weekend…

Daddy-o has been out of town (for work) since Thursday morning. Thursday evening I had to call in the cavalry as I got a migraine. Grampie came to the rescue and played with Boopsie while I went to bed with earplugs and a pillow over my face. Things went really well otherwise… until this morning.

This morning Boopsie drank a cup of milk and then coughed… and threw it up all over us. The rest of the day she kept saying she had to “cough” (aka barf), but didn’t. Interestingly enough, those moments seemed to happen as soon as I picked up the phone or said I needed to do something. Suspicious? I thought so.

Tonight at dinner she wouldn’t eat a thing, and talked the whole time about throwing up:

“I need da bucket.”

“Th yellow gonna come out.”

“I gonna cough again.”

I tried to play it very blase… and ended up just giving her a bath and putting her to bed, explaining (as usual) there wouldn’t be any food/milk until morning. Now she’s in there wailing for “milky.” Here’s a few recent pics to help me remember that I love being a mother. (I need the reminder right now.)

Toddler watering flowers

Watering plants in fuzzy polar bear footie pajamas, pink rain boots and her bike windbreaker.

toddler picking yellow dandelions

Picking dandelions…

Black goat with toddler running toward it

Chasing goats at the zoo… apparently Boopsie loves goats as much as I do.

There, I feel much better now. (And it helps that she’s fallen asleep.) Let’s face it, this could be worse: Daddy-o is currently stuck in an airport, where his flight is delayed three hours. Blech.

Now, say it with me… “Please don’t puke, please don’t puke, please don’t puke.”

 

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Filed under drudgery, firsts, Fun

Things That Happened When I Got Pregnant

In sort-of chronological order, numbered for my own comfort:

1) I cried. (I was not sad, just a little surprised and overwhelmed. Within one hour of taking the pregnancy test I literally had to walk out of my house and get on a plane for a business trip to effing Las Vegas.)

2) I lost all my mommy-grody-mojo. Remember when I couldn’t handle anything even remotely disgusting? And then I had Boopsie and could handle lots of it? Yeah, that disappeared again. One night she had the stomach flu I couldn’t get within 10 feet of her without retching. It was 3 a.m. and Daddy-o had to do comforting and clean-up while I ran from room to room in our house gagging into the kitchen sink, the upstairs toilet, the downstairs toilet, a trash can, etc. I didn’t even have the flu yet (that came later).

3) On a related note, I started barfing (or at least retching) at the drop of a hat. Generally, I felt better this time around (as compared to Boopsie) but I was barfing a lot more. Go figure. Taking out the diaper pail? Puke. Catching a whiff of a bag of dry cat food? Gag-o-rama. Drink caffeine? Yark-tastic.

4) My dreams got… wow. Intense would be one word. Almost every night I was treated to a feature length movie with plots and subplots. There was the one where Boopsie was 14 and got kidnapped by sweet potato farmers. It was the same way when I was pregnant with Boopsie. Both times, my dreams were my first “tell”… vivid and memorable are both understatements.

5) I was convinced it was a boy and started name-storming. I find boy names much harder than girl names and was stressed about that. I was also worried about getting Boopsie out of the crib, potty trained and off the pacifier in short order.

6) I was sick as a dog, virus-wise. The stomach flu took 4+ days to get over. The doctor said, “You’re pregnant. It takes longer to recover.” Then I got a respiratory flu-like virus. I missed a week of work. I could only take Tylenol and I coughed so much I bruised my ribs, which was intensely painful.

7) I had a miscarriage. (Sorry for the Downton Abbey-like plot twist.) I started spotting and I went to the midwife and he couldn’t find a heartbeat and ultrasounds confirmed the shitty news. After all that barfing and all those dreams and slogging through all that illness and just before the holy grail of the second trimester it was done. Becoming undone. The fetus stopped developing at about 6.5 weeks and I miscarried at home just before 12. And it sucked. It was much more physically draining than I expected, on top of all the other physically draining illnesses that made up January.

In the days surrounding the actual miscarriage I was a hormonal mess. I was insanely nauseated and drained to the point where getting through each day was a physical battle. (Sleep on the floor of an unoccupied office? Why, yes I think I will.) My theory is that my body was finally catching on that things were not going well, and I know (based on multiple blood tests) that my HCG counts were in a total free fall. I had more insane dreams, but they were more ominous than usual. Right after the miscarriage I had one in which I was caring for a bunch of little babies and I was doing a crap job of it. CRAP. There was a little baby boy, and I didn’t know his name. I should have known his name. He was hidden in a crib in a closet, as happy as could be, but when people asked me who he was, I didn’t know. In the dream I was panicked.

I went about my life, letting people know on an as-needed basis and I was shocked at how many women had gone through at least one miscarriage. It’s so common, and yet so few people talk about it. For me, there’s something about it that makes me feel a ever-so-slightly ashamed. Rationally, I know that I couldn’t have done anything differently. And I’m not walking around feeling broken, or scarred, or in emotional pain. I’m living my life as I normally would. But deep in my gut, there’s one tiny, ugly voice that sometimes whispers, “You failed.” And so I tell it to shut the eff up.

This was way back in January. I don’t have any lingering health impacts (and my ribs finally “healed” about six weeks ago). I’m fortunately not overwhelmed by sadness and I thanked my lucky stars every day that I had Boopsie to distract me and Daddy-o to hug me. We haven’t decided what this means for our future family plans, but I do know I need some more time to get my physical act back together and my mental game “on” if we decide to try again. Because if there is another pregnancy, it’s going to be a long 14 weeks of trying to stay calm (while barfing).

Why am I sharing this? Like I said, no one talks about this. I don’t think women should feel like they have to talk about it, but I think they should feel like they can. No shame. No drama. Just be. Godspeed to all you pregnant ladies, and to all the ladies who are mourning/have mourned little ones. Hugs to you.

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Filed under medical, mom guilt

Springing Forward

So tonight I was folding Boopsie’s underwear and suddenly I thought, “Holy CRAP… I’m Folding. Boopsie’s. Underwear.” You read that right. And it’s true. Last weekend a small miracle happened: Boopsie decided she wanted to wear underwear. Then we put her in undies. And she peed on the floor. And we put her back in a new pair of undies… and we went for it.

Dora the Explorer undies

“D-D-Dora! D-D-Dora!”

After a panicked call to a friend whose potty-trained three kids and some good advice from her, we decided to go for it. I’m not going to lie. It was a really stressful, cooped-up weekend. But Boo did great. There was a lot of pee on the floor, but also a lot of pee in the potty. And no pee in the bed. (Amaze-balls, people.)

Potty training threw me for a huge loop. I sent frantic e-mails to my friends, who told me to hang in there. I blathered on about it at work. I laid awake worrying she’d wet the bed. And I was in the hot seat most of the time. Boopsie decided that she didn’t want Daddy-o in the bathroom and she wanted my attention every single minute. In short, I went bonkers for a few days. Okay, like six days. We crossed the final frontier when I took her to the Minnesota Children’s Museum Friday night… and she used the potty in a public restroom. BOO-YAH!

Here are some things that helped:

  • Character undies. Boopsie was sort of invested in keeping “Dora” dry. Even so, get like 14 pairs or you’ll be doing laundry every six hours.
  • Random rewards. What worked for us at different times, to incent her to sit on the potty: plastic animals, stickers, Dora the Explorer Band-aids and ice cream.
  • MAKING her sit on the potty. This was harder than it sounds. She was resistant and I was terrified I would give her some intense complex about going potty, thus ruining her life forever. (Yes, I’m serious about this. I really worried that by MAKING her sit on the potty when she didn’t want to she’d end up in diapers and a therapists office for the rest of her life.)

When I reached out to my friends to thank them for the help and advice, I admitted to them that potty training threw my for a loop. One of them pointed out that as a parent, it’s one of the things you have the least  control over. So true. And we all know how well I do (or not) with a lack of control… (Ehrm…yeah.)

We have two more big adventures to contend with some time in the coming months — moving into a big girl bed and getting rid of the pacifier. For now, I’m going to enjoy a glass of wine and then fold some more undies.

 

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Filed under drudgery, firsts, lessons, poop

One Deep Thought and One Question for You

Deep thought:

Parenting my kid is the most sublime and fantastic aspect of my life ever… as long as I’m not trying to get her to do something.

Question:

Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of “Puff the Magic Dragon”? Holy crap, that song is depressing.

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