Over the past week or so, David's tantrums have gone from pretty intrusive concerning our day, to down right unbearable. He'll pitch from 20 minutes to upwards of an hour - full blown, yelling, screaming, inconsolable. I hesitate to even write this on a public forum for I know the "old school" hard nosed "experts" would quickly recommend discipline.
It's not a discipline problem.
Now, I don't really think I need to point out that I'm not that big on hard core discipline or corporal punishment - whatever works for others - but here, it's just not what we do. I feel consistency is key and early boundaries are necessary. Otherwise, Mary Louise and David are pretty free to play and express - within the set boundaries: no hitting, eating at their little table - NOT on the sofas, pick up after themselves, please and thank you requests and responses...we add more as we see fit and as the kids mature and push the set boundaries.
Tantrums, however, are not (to me anyhow) a time for imposing a strict discipline. The only person that seems to serve is the frustrated parent. From what I've seen (and obviously, this is case specific), trying to discipline during a tantrum is totally futile. Ridiculous even - for the parent typically resorts to yelling and balling their fists, grunting and stomping just like the kid (who, P.S., is still pitching a fit)...umm - not that I've done this like 100 times or anything.
I have to find my happy spot...and I have to write this down to remind myself of what actually works to get my sweet David back. We've been trying to hang on by a thread to our sanity - and it's just not working...
So here are a few problems I've identified:
David's digestion: he still battles with pretty severe constipation. Identified irritants are: anything white potato (French Fries, tater tots, baked potatoes, chips...he doesn't love any of these things or get them regularly - but in a pinch, and as a treat, we've offered, he's eaten, and we've paid for a minimum of 2 days - it typically ends in a heart wrenching suppository only increasing the distance between diapering and potty training as he associates discomfort and suppositories with using the "big potty" now), processed meats (he is allowed 2 slices of bacon after which only whole grains and fruit are offered - and he get said bacon at most, once per week, he's not a big fan of ham or deli meats, but if offered, they are in minimal amounts), cheese - and my word, does this child LOVE cheese. We limit it as much as possible and offer it with fruits and veggies - I also try for hard cheeses like fresh parmesan - that pack alot of flavor in a tiny serving. Apples, bananas, any white starch - basically, the BRAT diet. A few slices of apple with peanut butter, about 1/3 of a banana and no white rice - the fruits are not offered on the same day. White flour - just needs to be avoided whenever possible. Essentially, his diet must be balanced with very very little flexibility to keep his system working properly. Even doing this, and pushing fluids constantly, he still has issues. Issues = very grumpy David. Also, he needs food offerings very often during the day. If I can keep him from getting hungry in the first place, I can at least eliminate one small reason for the fit. The eating, though, depends on the functionality of his gut on any particular day. If it's not working properly, he won't eat properly, which allows hunger to compound his building digestive discomfort. Gah - even I'm tired reading this...
In addition, he seems to be going through another mental growth spurt of sorts. But his mental abilities are growing while his expressive speech is lagging. He's making general improvements in both areas, however, the gap is a pretty constant source of struggle and frustration. With a jump in maturity and reasoning, frustration has increased with verbalizing.
Another contributor may be his sleeping pattern. Mary Louise and David both get pretty tired in the afternoons. We've tried naps lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour - to even a bit longer. Whatever we do throws off their night sleeping which, if sound, would be more important than napping. I wouldn't really mind if they would actually go to bed a bit later. But a 20 minute nap earns us about a 2 hour struggle in the evening routine. So. not. worth. it. Oh - and the grumpies post nap are worse than the tired grumpies. Again - no win.
David has been waking more regularly during the night, however, and when he doesn't wake completely, can be very restless. The other night, I heard him yelling - loudly. I went to check on him and he was talking in his sleep - which is by no means unheard of for him. He'll toss, turn, fuss, grunt, whine and finally settle...maybe. But he has not been sleeping soundly.
Of course David's changes are only compounded with the general feel of our changing household at the moment. We've been organizing and moving things around quite a bit in an effort to streamline (uhem) operations before our new bundle arrives. That and well, I'm flat exhausted much of the time. I need about as many breaks as I can get and as much rest as I can muster in between cooking, cleaning, laundering and rearing which hasn't been much fun for the kiddos.
And finally, they've been having pain associated with cutting molars for weeks if not months now. It's off and on - but it's been going on so long that I sometimes forget it could be a likely culprit.
We have been able to get outside a TON more though so that has been wildly nice as I can get little rests sitting on the patio and watching play time before joining. Also, even though Mary Louise and David don't nap, they do need down time - a 30 minute Curious George or reading a few books does wonders for all of us when the sun beats up the outside mid afternoon. Park time is better as well - we can go on off hours while other children are in school. Odds are, the park won't be too busy and if it is, the kids there are similar in age to Mary Louise and David. They have great fun there and don't need me to hover over them as much as they used to so, at times, I even get to stand back and take pictures and videos!
We (thankfully) had a really good morning today (Saturday). We walked to the local farmers' market and then to the park by the lake. It was still quite early so the park wasn't crowded at all. As Uncle Collin is in helping out once more, he and Brent took the kids around the whole park (even the "big kid" side!) while Lizzie and I sat by the water to rest. Mary Louise went down a really high tube slide ALL BY HERSELF!! She was so excited to tell me about it - such a big girl. David did really well too - with all of the new toys.
I offer choices whenever possible and applicable, offer outlets for creativity daily - even if it's just practicing cutting paper or fabrics with safety scissors (they LOVE their scissors - and thankfully have not turned to cutting hair just yet!) or playing with Play-doh. During David's home speech this week, Mary Louise and I spent an hour putting wall decals around their room - she thought it was great fun! "Momma, my put tickas on da walls?" "yook pretty Momma?" "boo-ti-full!"
Brent spent all day Sunday cleaning out and setting up the shed / work shop the way he's been wanting it. Uncle Collin played outside with Mary Louise and David and I cleaned out linen closet, upstairs bathroom and pantry. These were small projects - but all I could handle after a huge laundry over haul on Friday.
David did really well all morning. But (you knew that was coming) when they came in for another application of sun screen, some got in his eyes and he just couldn't recover (I know it hurts and after the fact, think we may not be using water babies at all anymore as Mary Louise didn't do very well with it either - we usually use California Baby but as I said, I was cleaning and the Water Babies just happened to be at arm's reach...boo.). The only thing I could think of was to rock poor David to sleep. He napped for an hour, did ok in the afternoon, and pushed his bed time back almost 3 hours...at least those 3 hours were fabulously pleasant.
He woke at the same 6am hour this morning and we had a decent day and even got to play outside after a rain storm this afternoon. He ALMOST shared with Mary Louise!!
So, today was better - sans nap. We'll see what works. Admittedly, we've had the same or almost the same routine for quite some time now so it might just be time for a little growing and tweaking. We'll find our groove again...hopefully soon.
34 weeks yesterday!! That means less than a week of Asprin left, and after this morning's progesterone shot, only 2 more to go!! Holy moly! I'm getting nervous! (and excited...but really nervous...and also excited there are only 2 more shots left - those things have become increasingly difficult to take complete with about 48 hours of feeling borderline fluish after having one.) I see the doctor and have another ultrasound on Wednesday then start weekly checks with both the doctor and ultrasound...oh. my. goodness.
I have now passed the point of being "allowed" to travel. Brent and I talked early on and opted out of any non-necessary travel throughout the pregnancy to reduce stress and prevent diet and sleep fluctuations. But to make it to the point at which the doctor is recommending we stay close to home because I might (happily) go into labor soon (as in at least 3 more weeks Sugs!! at LEAST) is so surreal. I am doing things like kick counts and packing hospital bags. Brent and whimsically discuss setting aside time to install the new car seat (umm - yep - 3 car seats), and have washed newborn clothing and put it in it's place. We talked today about setting up the co-sleeper and I've already bought extra parts for my trusty pump just in case...what luxury! What a feeling of excited anticipation!
Mary Louise asks at least daily, "Momma? My see da baby in da tummy? My touch it?" She sweetly cocks her head to the side as she puts her tiny hand next to my belly button and waits for a kick. "Momma? My see da jel-dy on da bel-dy? Peese?!" She loves it...but still maintains that she will, in fact, be a big brother.
Adore them all and am so thankful for their insight into some of life's simplest, but most profound moments...
P.S. In an effort to try to gain interest in the use of the "big potty", Brent got in on the training (or lack there of) this weekend...today, Mary Louise kept going back and forth to the bathroom over and over:
Me: Mary Louise, what are you doing?
ML: My tee tee in da potty Momma! My tee tee a-yot!
Me: Oh wonderful Meesey! Would you like me to take your diaper off so that you can really use the potty?
ML: No Mommy. My al-weady use it...(and she walks back to the bathroom)
Me: curious, I follow. She doesn't notice I'm watching. She walked up to the toilet, stood in front, lifted her dress, got on her tip toes in front of the commode, made a "tss tss" sound, pulled her dress down and turned to exit the bathroom.
ML: (noticing I'm standing there laughing - puts on an impish grin) "see, my tee tee in da potty myself!!"
Close but no cigar kiddo. Really, I'm cool with your tinkling from a stand if that's what it takes, but we'll have to employ a step stool for the attempts to truly be successful.
Thanks Daddy, for you contribution to the potty training effort. There's no where to go but up now right?