Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

Life with Two Kids

There are lots of giggles. Juggling schedules. Adoration. Defiance. And adjustment.

Remember when I was going to be a stay-at-home mom? It lasted all of two weeks before I received my first contract requests, and for the last six weeks I’ve been working on a part-time basis for organizations and businesses. It’s wonderful. I get to use my skills, collaborate with others, bring in a small income and be available for Wes and Maisie.

Figuring out work time vs. feeding schedules, Maisie’s nap and school pick up has been the most challenging part, but we’re all starting to get used to the rhythm. Instead of evening workouts, I bring Maisie with me to morning classes. Whatever is on the agenda for a particular day has a hard stop time at 2 in order to make it to school, help with homework and get started on dinner, and then it’s nearly bedtime. I’ve had to become SUPER PRODUCTIVE during my precious morning and early afternoon hours. But look at this face! It’s worth it.

Wesley still thinks Maisie is the bee’s knees. Now that she’s nearly 4 months old and more responsive, he’s all the more eager to play with her.

“You’re such a sweetheart! I could love you forever and ever and ever!” (We took so many videos this day.)

Maisie practices using her giant hands, grabbing anything she can. She recently discovered she has feet, and it amuses her to kick her little legs. She’s a drool machine, though not teething yet. Her bibs and shirts are nearly always wet, her face and hands get chapped, and she has a stubborn drool rash under her chin that I can’t seem to get rid of. (What else should I try before heading to the pediatrician? Vaseline, Aquafor, Lotramin, coconut oil and neem oil haven’t yet done the trick.)

She fights sleep with everything she’s got. Sometimes it takes 1.5 hours of rocking, nursing and pacifier use to get her finally settled for the night. I still swaddle her, even though she tries to get her arms out. A flailing, loose arm and hand is dangerous – she whacks herself, and we start all over again. She can’t fight the magical swing for long when she’s sleepy, though. And once she’s asleep, she gives us 4-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night.

Everything she can grab goes into her mouth. Or she just look at it with her mouth open wide, drooling. She thinks sneezing is funny, her feet are ticklish, and she studies everything. She’s terrible at making eye contact when there’s so much to look at. However, Maisie reserves her biggest smiles when she has one-on-one time with someone: while changing a diaper or buckling her car seat belt.

When it’s just us or it’s relatively quiet, we hear her talk to us. “Ah ooooo!” “Uh uh uh.” “Hooooo!” And a series of grunts.

Maisie wants to “stand” whenever possible, so I wear her when I can (she prefers outfacing now), and she likes her Johnny Jump Up for about 10 minutes. While I’m working or preoccupied with my hands, she will tolerate the Bumbo seat while I finish up a recipe or wrap Christmas presents.

She isn’t rolling over yet, but she’s starting to move her hips and arch her back. Maisie gets lots of praises for small victories from her little cheering section.

As much as he loves her, Wes has struggled to find his place and position. It could be the change from Kindergarten to First Grade, or perhaps turning 7 flipped a switch. Steven and I have had to discipline Wes in a much stricter way than ever before, and it happened around the time of Maisie’s birth.

Defiance, back-talk, a “know-it-all” correcting attitude…our sweet kid is still sweet, but he has a sharper edge to him these days. Though when disciplined, he crumples with guilt. To find the balance, Steven recently re-enrolled him in Taekwondo (we took a hiatus once Maisie was born). Wes loves it, and he’s been able to channel his energy into a sport that teaches self control, obedience and respect. They also have their own father-son hobbies, which gives Wes a sense of exclusiveness and pride.

Additionally, we created a reward chart that compliments his usually good behavior but makes him more aware of the choices he makes. For example, he has to earn his right to watch a TV show after school, which is harder when docked points for bad behavior. It’s a love-hate relationship with the chart, but he has already come up with more reward options, “Monkey Joe’s! Pokemon cards!”

Steven and I take turns volunteering in his classroom. It’s been enlightening to see how he interacts with peers and teachers. Bias aside, he’s a smart kid who just needs a little direction to be a successful leader (and protective big brother). We’re so proud of him.

During advent, we’re reading stories about refugees and displacement, as Jesus and his family found refuge in Egypt. He seems particularly worried about families who have to be separated for any reason. He’s made a similar comment several times about his love for our immediate family.

“I just love my girls. If something ever happened to you or Maisie, I would be so, so sad and cry my eyes out.”

Being parents to TWO kids takes a lot more creativity and energy than anticipated, but wow, it’s good. Really good. Steven and I tag-team well. And being available for them in their unique needs has been such a fulfilling role for me.

Christmas is an exciting time, and I love spending these weeks of anticipation with my three favorite people.

Posted: December 7th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Meatballs, Lies and Forgiveness

I’m 95% certain my six-year-old lied to me this evening. Honestly, it hurts. Forgiving has come difficult, even though it was a really small and perhaps insignificant lie.

It feels like our relationship developed a little crack, and this saddens me because it reminds me that he’s human, too. We’re all imperfect, I know, but this is a new experience. He’s one of those kids who gets in trouble at school for fidgeting or giggling too much with his friends. When disciplined at school, he offers to tell us – even when it’s hard for him – because he knows we care and won’t further punish him for something he’s already atoned for. It’s usually emotional for him, and it eats him up inside.

“Go away! I don’t deserve nice things!”
“What do you mean?”
“This happened at school, too! I just don’t like myself. I don’t like that Satan is winning. My life is not right. I wish I had a new life. I’m not crying because of video games; it’s because I just want to be good.”

(After this particular situation, we had a long conversation about why God sent Jesus to help us and how we are forgiven for making bad decisions. Big and deep thoughts are more common these days.)

But this, tonight, was different.

I made spaghetti with homemade meatballs for dinner. He likes meatloaf, but for some reason, meatballs aren’t his thing. We still make him eat a little of everything to keep him introduced to more foods than just his standard favorites. Like any 6-year-old, dinner can be tough. Lots of whining and refusal to eat; lots of choking down cold food.

He wanted dessert, but he could only have it if he ate a meatball. You know the drill. I left him to it, and got to working on other things around the house. Taking his time, he nibbled at it until I announced it was nearly bedtime and would have to hurry up if he wanted to eat dessert at all.

Just 10 seconds later, he happily showed me his clean fork, so I pulled out a popsicle from the freezer. And then I saw it – I opened the trash can lid to throw away a wrapper, and a half-eaten meatball was sitting there, mocking me.

“Wesley, do you see that?”
“Yeah, but it’s not mine.”
“Are you sure? I don’t think it’s kind or fair to lie.”
“I’m not lying. It’s not mine.”

Biting your tongue and trying to give your child the benefit of the doubt is hard work. I didn’t do so well; I drilled him a little more and tried to believe it. I thought I could break him to spill the beans, but it didn’t happen, and I guess that’s what makes it all the worse.

“Mama, why do you look so mad?”
“I’m having a hard time believing you. I’m more upset that you might be lying to me than I am about the meatball. We don’t lie to each other in this family.”

He gave me eye contact (while eating his popsicle), but he didn’t get emotional. When we’ve doubted him before, he has become so upset that it was impossible to stay on the fence. Steven and I have tried harder to use his word as truth, and it has given Wesley confidence in more recent situations. I had hoped that the guilt factor might come into play here, but it didn’t this time.

Our bedtime routine was strained on my account; I read books aloud through gritted teeth and didn’t offer a goodnight hug. I realize my behavior could make that small crack larger, so I’m working toward forgiveness. After all, isn’t that what makes relationships stronger? We appreciate those who love us despite our mistakes and failures.

Yes, it’s only a meatball, and I know there will be bigger fish to fry in the future. If I only had an ounce of the grace given to me through Jesus… I pray that we may be merciful parents to these children (who begin to think of us as a safe haven and refuge!).

It still amazes me how much I learn about faith through everyday parenting decisions. And forgiveness is hard.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

Posted: May 14th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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On Loneliness and FOMO

How is it that you can feel so alone when surrounded by people who dearly love you? I don’t know this feeling well, because even when I DO feel disconnected from community, I can still enjoy time alone. I am content enough to entertain myself. Steven loves quiet time, and he socializes best with a small group of people.

 
(Recent photos for good measure. Indiana Pacers did well this season!)

Before Wesley was born, we would happily spend our evenings doing two different things in proximity to each other, hardly saying a word, and it was lovely. It works for us. But this child of ours, he’s right smack in the middle of our personalities.

As I write this, the lyrics to One is the Loneliest Number are popping into my head.

I took a brief online personality test for Wesley, and it claims that he’s an extroverted intuitive perceiver. Steven is skeptical about all the Myers-Briggs stuff, but I eat it up. This makes sense because I love to know about people and hone in on their skills (ENFJ, a “Giver”), and Steven believes it’s all bologna (INTP, a “Thinker”). What can I say? We are truly the ying to each others’ yang!

The test claims he’s too young to have a fully developed personality, so he could be more of a feeler (ENFP, an “Inspirer”), like me, or thinker (ENTP, a “Visionary”), like Steven. It’s so weird because he truly is a blend of the two of us. At any rate, I have to believe it’s a combination of these traits that causes him to bend over in near pain at the thought of being separated by people. This child has a serious case of fear-of-missing-out, or FOMO.

ENFPs and ENTPs are ruled by dominant extroverted intuition – a function that picks up on a seemingly endless slew of possibilities in the user’s external environment. While this is a wonderful skill at the best of times, it’s a stunting one at worst. ENFPs and ENTPs can easily become quickly paralyzed by their own rampant perceptions – wanting to experience everything and consequently following through on nothing.

These types needs to let go of their fear that there is constantly a better idea, situation, opportunity, person or chance out there for them to pursue. When they learn to focus in on what they’ve chosen, ENFPs and ENTPs are capable of incredible feats. But first they have to learn to say goodbye to FOMO.

-Heidi Priebe

I mentioned quiet times spent in the same room. We still do this most evenings, and Wes is so used to it, that he enjoys drawing or playing quietly when we’re both within his eyesight. Pulling him away is near impossible. Forget playing outside by himself (although he will if I’m also outside, a few feet away). Heaven forbid he get a cup of water without one of us assisting him.

Bedtime is the worst time of day for our 6-year-old son. Getting him upstairs is a battle of argument and manipulation, but I realize most kids are in this boat. Once upstairs and resigned, he stops fighting back and (usually) happily gets ready for bed and thoroughly enjoys our nighttime reading tradition. But once we reach the last page, he starts to protest, whine/beg and sometimes cry for me to stay with him until he falls asleep.

“It’s not fair that you and Daddy get to be together all the time.”
“I just want someone to be with me.”
“Why CAN’T you sleep with me?!”
“I hate nighttime. It’s not fair that I have to go to bed now.”
“What are you going to do while I sleep?”

He calls it “loneliness” or “being afraid of the dark.” I don’t discredit those possibilities, but he didn’t start complaining about bedtime or dark until a year or so ago. It’s gotten progressively worse, and based on his complaints, I think instead he’s irritated at being apart from (what he assumes is) the “action.”

It used to frustrate me to no end because it seemed to come out of nowhere. I refused to give in and appease him, but I felt terrible that he felt so scared. Eventually I started to ask him about his fears so we could talk through them, and it helped him relax. I stayed until he was almost asleep. It’s been routine ever since.

Yes, he’s only six, but I do worry about how to help him cope as he enters adolescence, especially with an increasingly online and social existence. We purposely don’t have tablets in our house, and while we do play a lot of video games as a family activity, we limit other screen time as much as possible. However, I don’t think I can blame social media alone for the world’s FOMO problem. Instead, I think it’s up to us to teach and instill gratitude.

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:12-13

There’s actually a lot of science about happiness, and much of it stems on gratefulness. Wes appreciates problem-solving and tackling an issue. He doesn’t always have confidence in the process, but if you can show him or demonstrate evidence, he is less defensive. I like this article about how to become happy:

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
  • Label negative emotions and feelings. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Make decisions. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Give hugs and personal contact.

It seems a daunting task to teach gratitude. Wesley already has a soft spot for loving others, so I think, with time and practice, some of these tips and guidelines (some of which we already incorporate) and these Biblical reminders can assist in adopting gratitude and happiness to combat loneliness and fear.

Wes is probably the happiest sibling-to-be on the face of the planet. Gone are the crying fits, convinced that his lack of sibling must be a punishment from God for his actions. (Sometimes I think it’s these tears that defied our contraception methods!) He carcasses and whispers “I love you, Maisie,” to my growing belly, and he believes/hopes she will be the savior to overcome his loneliness.

Disappointment is inevitable, we all know, but he doesn’t – yet. I pray we can help him learn skills to address deep fears and teach him how to be grateful in all circumstances. We’ve got our work cut out for us!

Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones. Proverbs 15:30

Posted: April 15th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Conversations with Wes: Clammy Foot

Post-bedtime whimpering coming from Wes’ bedroom. Instead of rolling my eyes, I just went with it tonight.

Wes: Moooooooomaaaaa
Me: What is it, sweetie?
Wes: Mama…(unintelligable whining)
Me: I can’t understand you, babe. What’s wrong?
Wes: I…my toe hurts.
Me: Your toe hurts?
Wes: Yeah. (whimpering)
Me: I’m sorry. Is that what’s keeping you awake?
Wes: Uh huh.
Me: Can you show me? If I kiss it, will it feel better?
Wes: Yeah.

Wes lifts his sweaty foot out of the covers and holds it to my nose. There’s clearly nothing wrong with it, but I leaned in and kissed his clammy foot anyway.

Me: There now. You can go back to bed.
Wes: Okay, Mama. I love you.
Me: I love you, too. If it still feels hurt in the morning, we’ll put a bandaid on it in the morning.
Wes: Okay, Mama. You’re my best girl.
Me: Goodnight, my boy. I’ll see you at breakfast.
Wes: Night, night.

We’re going through another disobedient phase, and I admit that I’ve been quickly irritated when Wes hasn’t followed directions or stopped to listen.

But, sometimes he just needs a little more time with me before he nods off to sleep. And if I remember this as I enter his room, instead of being annoyed that he isn’t yet asleep, I’ll usually experience a wonderfully loving moment with my son.

Soon followed by loud snores.

Posted: February 2nd, 2015
Categories: Leah
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But Man, Age 3…

PollyPandaSept14_1Let me make a disclaimer and say that Wes is a good kid and is generally well-liked. But man, age 3…

…Is Tough
Do I really need to explain? I mean, I knew it was coming; Wes was such a slow, easy-going and lazy infant and toddler. He now needs a ton more attention and activity. I feel like Steven and I are counting down and disciplining left and right for stalling, ignoring tactics, repeat behavior, refusals and – my favorite – potty talk. Three-year-old boys absolutely know what’s edgy enough to say and get away with it, and Wes is nearly always walking that fine line.

…Is Repetitive
Oh was that funny? Let’s do it again for a chuckle. And again. Alright. Ok, it’s a stale joke now. Seriously, it’s not funny anymore. Wesley, stop. STOP! Oh did that gross you out? Let’s do it again! Again! Again!

…Is Wonderful
Right now, I’m his best friend. He tells me nearly every day. Forget the fellow sweaty preschoolers, I win the best hug award! This guy has some major sweetness embedded deep within his heart, and I hope it never fades. The way he cares for people is evident, and he believes babies are life’s best miracle – and heck, he’s so right. I love watching Wes discover the world. His utter amazement – mind blown –  when he connects the dots about a concept. We’re also at an age where we are making memories that he recalls months later, and it’s wonderful to “reminisce” about the past.

…Brings Out the Best and Worst of Me
I’ve had to be creative more than ever. Thinking of ways to keep him occupied so he doesn’t get himself into trouble or break something has been a super challenge. We’re more crafty around here, and we do more hands-on activities. But sometimes I’m just plain tired from a long work day and can’t get myself off the couch. I grow irritable of his loud boy noises, repeated phrases/sounds and nonstop movements. His repetitive disobedience and testing. And then Mama Bear gets mad. I roar and stomp and do terrible irritable-mom things and instantly regret it.

I know Age 3 is full of learning and teachable experiences, but, you know, some days are just bad. Some days you completely skip right over those teachable moments and either brew worry or anger.

However, as cliche as it sounds, I’ve found that a new day presents new chances to learn from each other, and thank goodness for those second and third chances to make things right. I can’t be a perfect wife or mom, but we 3 have morning snuggles down to a science – and it heals any wounds from the day before.

…until we’re running late for school and Mama Bear makes an appearance again. 🙂

Posted: October 16th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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On Discipline: It’s doggone tough.

I’ll just put it out there that not everything is sunshine and rainbows within the Shattuck household. I’ve had people tell me that they can’t picture Wes crying or being upset, and while that may make me smile and stand up a little straighter, it’s certainly not reality.

Unlike much of my family of teaching and medical professions, I’m not an early childhood educator, so pretty much everything I encounter as a parent is a brand new learned experience or skill. I don’t know what to expect from 2.5-year-olds. And I don’t understand the “why” aspect, either. I do know that many parents say toddler years are tough. It took us a minute, but we’re certainly there. I feel like we’ve hit a fairly rocky patch of gravel, and we may have a rough journey through the next few weeks/months/years.

I’ve always seen a clever, ornery personality in Wes, and now that he’s very verbal and interactive, it’s beginning to be a little problem. Tonight, I confided in my mom that every other word out of my mouth is “no” or “don’t.” The tone of my voice is nearly always firm, and I have to watch my temper. Sometimes I feel like I have to justify and explain myself to Wes, and it looks apologetic. Discipline is like these giant potholes in the middle of my path that really slow me down – I get exhausted after a full day.

But you know what? Mom hit it home. She reminded me that the job of a parent is not to be a “friend.” It’s to be a parent. There are times when you know that you love your child, and they might not THINK you do and perhaps they may not FEEL like they love you BACK, but a parent needs to stay strong in knowing that they are doing the right thing.

I can see myself struggling during rough, adolescent years – wanting to be liked as a parent, but understanding that it’s not a popularity contest. The “cool” parents are actually the ones who have limits, expectations and discipline established, but I bet they’re very tired indeed.

Three is just around the corner. I better strap myself in and get ready for those potholes. I know it’s all worth it, I really do. But gosh, it’s difficult.

Posted: April 9th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Note to Self: On Discipline

1.47.27I’ve never really been much of a kid person. I do like kids, but I’m usually awkward around them. I rarely babysat, and I was usually the youngest or surrounded by other kids my age growing up, so I didn’t get much experience. No secret that I didn’t want to be a teacher or lead Sunday school at church. But now that I have a kid of my own, this “new mom” thing is changing into mom-of-a-toddler, and I feel like I’m so unorganized in my thoughts on how to raise one. Yes, most of my friends and people we are around have families with 2 or more kids, so I know there are plenty of helpers out there with loads of advice. This doesn’t quite ease my concern of entering the dreaded “Terrible Twos” or worst yet, the “Terrifying Threes,” however.

Wes is usually a great kid. He’s happy when we’re at home, especially in the morning, and can give our undivided attention. He naps well, he sleeps through the night. He’s eating much better (less throwing of food) and even starting to explore utensils. But we’re starting to see glimpses of near-future tantrums, and I’m already sick and tired of his constant whining and tears. He loves to say “no” back to us, and he grins and giggles when I try to steer him away from danger or stop misbehavior.

He’s not quite 18 months old yet, and I believe he’s much too young to discipline by way of time outs or the like. Yet, I have been pouring over books on what-to-do-when’s for some things to keep in my back pocket. And truly, there are quite a few things I can do in the interim.

  1. Determine if he’s in “Changeling Mode”* or getting sick. It might help make me less upset about said behavior.
  2. When the kid is grounded, I am grounded, too. I should stay close when Wes is in time out to make sure he a) doesn’t sneak away and 2) is assured he isn’t abandoned completely. “You will never be effective disciplining your child if you don’t stop what you’re doing and give the discipline your undivided attention.” So, whether I’m outside the door or sitting directly beside him, I need to put aside time to attend him.
  3. Like the above, when tantrums happen, it’s likely because he’s upset or frustrated and loses control, unable to get a grip (maybe like my mood swings when I was pregnant?!). It’s important for him to realize that I’m his source of security and comfort because, frankly, losing control can be scary. I should remove him from the tantrum location to a private area, and ride it out with him. Hold him close (if he wants) and be silent or gently speak. Then we can resume whatever we were doing when he’s settled.
  4. Let him know that I understand and see that he is upset. Most importantly, let him know that it’s okay to feel whatever he does, and normal, but that we can’t act out on our anger or frustration.
  5. Avoid situations and places that he simply can’t handle. Long days, visits and outings just may have to come another time.
  6. Forget “Mommyspeak.” I think talking to him in the third person is just confusing.
  7. I shouldn’t feel guilty for his misbehavior or guilty for denying him something he wants. Why should I feel bad for trying to be a good parent?
  8. ENCOURAGE him! We already do this because it’s truly the only way to get Wes to repeat good behavior. But I want to remind myself that this is also to show him that we respect and admire him.

In several months, I will probably start implementing the 1-2-3 Magic principles. My fear is that I will need to be more firm that I am comfortable with because he is quite good at testing his boundaries. Sweet, innocent Wesley has a firey, ornery spirit, but he does love encouragement and recognition.

Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Ugghhh, I know this is true, but I’m so easily affected by what others feel from my actions, that I will have to really remind myself of this. After all, I’m not the first parent to ever live, right? You all have made it, so surely I can, too.

*Changeling is an affectionate term used to describe a toddler who is always learning something new. They’re not quite children, but they’re certainly not babies and the world is just frustrating to them. The Wonder Weeks refers to these times as phases.

__

Curious to know what books I’m reading? I asked my social media friends, and here’s a list thus far:

1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan (I’m reading the “for Christian Parents” edition)
1, 2, 3… the Toddler Years by Irene Van der Zande
The Girlfriends’ Guide to Toddlers by Vicki Iovine
Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay

Posted: January 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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