One of those days…

We started night weaning Avery again last night and it was a LONG night. Not too much crying, but she just couldn’t get herself back to sleep without nursing. It was a cranky start to the day at 3am.

I put Avery down for an early nap, but she couldn’t stay sleeping without me by her side. So she napped for an hour (her usual is 2.5 hours). She woke cranky. She also needed help getting her digestive system to clear out, so I gave her a little grab’n’go packet of pureed prunes and I turned my back to get her the rest of her lunch. When I turned back toward her, I saw brown sludge EVERYWHERE. She had squeezed the packet over her head. It covered her clothes, her hair, the chair, and the floor.

While I was cleaning that up I noticed a puddle under fridge. I traced it to a litre of maple sap that froze solid, broke the mason jar it was in, and then thawed in our stupid fridge (it was likely not the fridge’s fault – Avery likes to push the temperature change buttons that are stupidly placed at toddler height on the outside of the fridge.).

So I started sopping up a litre of sugar water from the fridge and floor while Avery screamed and screamed as I pulled her back from climbing in the sticky, wet mess.

In my haste to rinse out towels and cloths and get back to the growing puddle, I knocked an extra big beer bottle off the counter that I had removed from the fridge to wash off. The bottle hit my ankle bone on its way to the ground. The lid popped off and foamy beer went everywhere. My ankle was throbbing and quickly swelling up.

Avery was still screaming, probably because I was swearing and showing a level of frustration that she has never seen in me before. I continued to try to mop up sap AND beer from all over the kitchen while she screamed and tried to climb up my legs.

I then attempted to place the broken mason jar in the garbage and it broke more, slicing my finger. Now I’m bleeding, my ankle is throbbing, and I’m still trying to rinse cloths and wash the sticky off the floor as Avery tries to walk through it, still screaming.

Finally, I quit trying. I took both of our sticky wet socks off, poured myself the remaining beer from the burst open bottle, put Moana on, and sat on the couch with Avery until she calmed down enough for me to start dealing with the rest of the mess.

At some point I’ll get out the mop and properly clean the floors of the prunes, sap, and beer. Maybe. Maybe we’ll live with sticky floors forever.

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Adventures in Toddler Discipline: Setting Boundaries

Avery has started standing and jumping on the furniture as a way of testing boundaries. We have told her that she needs to sit or lay down when she’s on the couch or the chairs, because she could fall and get hurt from standing and jumping. She wants to see just how far we’ll go to enforce this rule, and she needs to test us every single day in case we’ve changed the rule from the day before.

Avery: stands on couch

Me: please sit on your bum when you’re on the couch.

Avery: smirks, stays standing.

Me: Can you sit down on your own, or do you need me to help you get off the couch?

Avery: still smirking, starts stomping her feet.

Me: You’re showing me that you need help to get down. Lifts her onto the floor.

Avery: kicking and crying. Runs to the next piece of furniture, climbs up, and stands on it.

Me: Sit or I’ll help you down.

Avery: stomps and cries.

Me: lifts her down.

Avery: runs to the next chair, stands on it.

Me: lifts her down.

Avery: screams.

Me: pulls hair out in frustration.

Finally out of furniture to climb on, she gives up and runs off to play with something more appropriate. It is unclear who won.

If you’re interested in how we devise our game plan for dealing with boundary testing behaviour like this, I highly recommend two books: The Soul of Discipline and No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame.

I recommend both of these books, but No Bad Kids is a quicker read with very easy to follow ideas for actually responding to your kid’s behaviour in real time. The Soul of Discipline gets more into theory of misbehaviour and discipline.

No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

The Soul of Discipline: The Simplicity Parenting Approach to Warm, Firm, and Calm Guidance- From Toddlers to Teens

Full disclosure: These are affiliate links, but I have not yet been accepted into Amazon’s Affiliate Program. I need to drive 3 sales in order for my blog to be considered for this program. If you’re interested in either of these books, purchasing through the links provided here will help me to qualify for the affiliate program. Belonging to the Amazon Affiliate Program will allow me to earn a very small commission from Amazon sales made through the affiliate links I provide on my blog.

The flu and death strike against me in tandem

Nobody in my family died from the flu – thank goodness. This post is about the flu that my daughter contracted (as well as every other kid in her daycare, literally). It’s also about the death of my grandmother, and the spread of said flu to everyone in my family as we gathered over our loss.

First, let me say something about my grandmother (because I’m going to get whiney and focused on my own problems soon). She was an amazing woman. She lived to be 95, and was more or less healthy up until the end. She liked to do adventurous things on her birthdays. When she turned 92, she rode on the back of my uncle’s motorcycle to Port Dover for the annual Friday the 13th motorcycle rally. When she turned 94, she did the CN Tower walk (leaning backwards, in a harness, over the edge of the CN Tower, 1168 feet above the ground), and on her 95th birthday she went zip lining at Canada’s longest series of zip lines. My grandmother was the only grandparent I came out to, and she was always incredibly supportive of my sexual orientation and loved my wife. She was also my only grandparent who lived long enough to meet my daughter. She will be missed, but when I think about her now I don’t feel sad – I feel happy for her that she had such an amazing, adventure-filled life, and I feel lucky to have been related to such an amazing woman.

Now on to how the flu attacked my entire family. It’s unknown whether my wife or my daughter caught it first, but Avery’s symptoms only revealed themselves when I was visiting my grieving family on Thursday through Saturday. My parents were hoping I could help sort through my grandmother’s apartment, but Avery became absolutely miserable, tired, lots of snot and a cough, not interested in eating, had diarrhea, and a fever. I stayed alone with her at my mom’s completely un-baby-proofed house (wine glasses, crystal decanters, poisonous plants, a hot fireplace, and an open stairwell all within toddler limits). It was exhausting. My heart always breaks for my baby when she’s sick, and it was exhausting to have to keep saying no to the things she couldn’t get into when the resulting tantrums were equal parts angry and pitifully sick sounding.

I spent one night sitting upright with her to help her breathe. She was utterly miserable. Back home, my wife was just as sick, and had no one to take care of her.

On the day I left my mom’s house, myself, my mom, and my dad were all sick too. My wife was still so sick when I got home that she spent 3 hours holed up in bed while I continued to solo parent a sick toddler while I got progressively sicker. It sucked.

Yesterday we thought she MIGHT be starting to feel better, but she broke out in a full body rash that we feared was the measles. We took her to the doctor today and it turnes out it was a post-viral rash.

This is good news. It means the virus is gone, and she is on the mend and no longer contagious. Tomorrow she is going to daycare and my wife is going to work. I am going to take the morning off and sit on the couch with a pot of tea and fucking relax.

It’s going to be great.

Body shaming and little girls

Disclaimer: I don’t know if a mother’s body shaming has the same effect on sons as it does on daughters, but as always, I’m writing about my experience in this blog, so this post is about body shaming and my own impressionable little girl.

I know with certainty that research has shown negative effects of body shaming on girls. I also know personally the power of hearing your mother complain about her appearance, of watching her look at her reflection with critical, even hate-filled eyes. I’ve written a bit about my history with anorexia and bulimia as a teenager. I’m not blaming my mom – she was mostly blasé about her appearance. But she also complained about gaining weight and she went on diets. Back then I don’t think parents thought much about talking about dieting in front of their kids – it was before the wave of media campaigns for improving body image in girls. But that kind of thinking kind of gets engrained in your own inner voice as you grow up.

In university I got into feminist circles and I learned to love my body – and all bodies. I learned about fat shaming and the myths around fatness. I want my daughter to love herself no matter what body type she ends up with, and just as importantly, I don’t want her picking up prejudices about others based on body shape and size.

Which brings me to the present – swimming lessons with her Mo. My wife isn’t happy with her body right now. My wife also did not belong to the same feminist circles as I did in university. Although I constantly correct her for shaming her own body in front of our daughter, I don’t think she’s worried enough about it. As we get ready for swimming, she looks down at herself in disgust. She mutters (under her breath, but still audibly), “I’m so fat right now.” She talks about needing to lose weight every single day. When I correct her, I make sure to do it immediately and in front of Avery. I try to say things like “we’re all beautiful the way we’re made,” and “we’re kind to ourselves in this family, please don’t be mean to yourself.” I also try to compensate for my wife’s negative impressions by walking around naked and confidently when I get out of the shower, by happily letting my daughter lift up my shirt to point out my belly button, and by using positive affirmations, like “I love my body,” or just, “I like myself.” But I don’t really know what to say to correct the negative kind of thinking. Once Avery hears it, there’s nothing I can say to make her unhear it.

My wife will sometimes back pedal and say “I want to be healthy.” But I’m afraid the damage is done. I’m afraid Avery will just learn to use “being healthy” as an excuse for dieting if she one day starts to hate her body. Ugh, the thought of my daughter hating her body one day makes me so sad. It makes me angry.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 29

I got some kind of flu-ish bug. I woke up at 5am from the stomach cramps, and I was so thankful to have my wife around to help out. She got Avery ready in the morning, took her to daycare, picked her up from daycare, and spent the afternoon working from home as a second set of hands.

When these things happen I’m always keenly aware of how different life would be as a single parent. Hats off to those who work and parent all by themselves. I commend you. Before I met my wife, I actually anticipated that I’d become a single parent by choice. But now that I’ve been a parent for a mere 17 months, I don’t know how you do it.

30 Days of Blogging, Day 26

My wife plays Magic: The Gathering with a group of friends, and we just started playing together at home. Avery has been sleeping soundly through the evenings again since cutting back on nursing, so we’ve been able to actually get involved in something in the evenings besides re-runs of tv shows we don’t care about missing when the cries come across the monitor every half hour.

But Magic is hard. It takes so much brain power. Has anyone else played it?

What kinds of things do you do with your partner after the kid(s) go to bed?

30 Days of Blogging, Day 25

I am so thankful that Avery has a cousin the same age as her. Since her sibling would/will be quite a bit younger, it’s so great to see her forming a relationship with the other kid who will probably be with her for the rest of their lives, as long as the family stays close.

This weekend we visited my sister-in-law for an overnight and the kids, who are 5 months apart, played like it was 1999. The laughter, happy screams, and even tough sharing or hitting moments made my heart full. They are growing up together, learning from each other about how to be in this world.

Avery also has this with daycare, but I know one day we’ll part ways with our daycare provider and the friends she has made there, when school starts.

On another topic, the drive home from our visit with family showed a new, more mature side of Avery. We had a long day full of fun, and left at bedtime. Long car rides at bedtime have historically been disastrous for us – Avery gets overtired and doesn’t want to be stuck in her car seat and screams and screams (once for almost all of a 2 hour car ride). But tonight she really seemed to get it when I said we were going home and would be going to bed as soon as we got there. She was calm. She was tired, rubbing her eyes and yawning, and still didn’t sleep in the car, but she was SO PATIENT. She asked me to sing her songs, she babbled to herself, and she just sat quietly and stared off into the distance for a while. No tears. No whining. I am loving this new level of communication so much. It’s so hard when they’re little babies and can’t understand why you’re making them do something they don’t want to do, and can’t hold their delicate shit together for long. That’s not to say toddlers can hold their shit together WELL, but it sure does get easier and easier as they get older!