Friday, September 30, 2011

Seven Quick Takes - Template Edition

Thanks so much to Jennifer for developing this template and to Ellen for highlighting it. As a result, I am devoting some of my precious coordinated nap time to updating my woefully neglected blog.

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I've been neglecting the blog for a couple of reasons. First, I have been trying to nap during nap time, as Veronica has been having a terrible week, sleep-wise. Most nights this week, she's wanted to nurse and nurse and NURSE and/or she's had periods of wakefulness which last 2-4 hours. She spins and spins while she sleeps, thrashing and flailing, so I imagine that it's some sort of physical development milestone on which she's working. Also - she's just cut or is cutting 4 teeth. But oh! Am I ever pooped.

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The other reason for the neglect? I've been sucked into "The Good Wife". I blew through Seasons 1 and 2 in less than a week. It's so good, you guys. If you're not watching it, do.

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After my last angsty post, I am happy to report that things seem to be improving on the preschool drop-off front. This week was unusual, though. Monday was my day to help out at the school, so I stayed rather than dropping him off. On Wednesday, Dave was the helper; we'd agreed to fill in for friends of ours who are on vacation. I was worried about this morning's drop off, but Teddy was great. Let's hope it continues!

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One downside to a great day in preschool? I think he saves up all his worries and frustrations, then loses his mind once he gets home. It was tantrum city once we got back to the house. He's likely just exhausted, but I am afraid that THREE is arriving a few months early.

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Despite my complaints above, they are such sweet kids. Teddy's diction has improved immensely over the past month, and his sentence structure improves every day. He is narrating almost everything he does, and he's got great comic timing. Veronica just turned 13 months and is on the cusp of walking. She's a riot, too. She LOVES her brother, whom she calls "Tetty" and frequently applauds his exploits; she'll clap any time you ask. She is a fiend for climbing stairs, and has attitude, too. If she doesn't get her way, she'll sure let you know. We are in TROUBLE during her tween/teen years, I fear.

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It was 7 years ago this week that I moved to Ottawa. I know this because I moved here 10 days before our wedding and 3 days before my 27th birthday. Which means that I turn 34 on Sunday (the 2nd) and we celebrate our 7th anniversary on Sunday the 9th. Yep - we got married on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. No big plans, but that's ok. We are going away in just over a month and we'll have a blast then.

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Where are we going? Well, my Dad turns 65 in November, and we're doing a cruise from NYC to the Caribbean on a ship that launched 2 months ago. We can't wait! And for good measure, I'm off to Austin in three weeks for The Blathering. I AM SO EXCITED. I haven't been to Austin since I was 9, nor Texas since I was 11. CANNOT WAIT.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Dark Side of Preschool (and Other Moments of Parenting Doubt)

I'm having a day full of parenting doubt. Don't get me wrong, I know that I'm a parenting work-in-progress. But I've just been hit with minor things relating to both kids that make me feel like a crummy parent.

Like the children of many other bloggers, Teddy started at our local co-op preschool last week. It's just lovely, and we're really excited about going into the classroom with him every 5 weeks. He will be going three days a week, but last week he only attended two days. Unlike the children of the other bloggers, though, we're run into a big hiccough. He has a lot of fun while he's there, the drop-offs are just awful. I am not surprised, but it just sucks. Today, he dragged his feet walking to school; he knew what was coming and was trying to delay it.

The all-out freakouts are unsurprising for several reasons:

1) He's done this before. He was not a fan of leaving my side all last year during my Familia sessions at our church, even though he was familiar with the setting and the kids. He warmed up as the year went on, but he was always reluctant to be left in the playroom. He was like this when Dave dropped him off at the home of his caregiver, too. He'd been going there for 1.5 years, and he would still get upset when Dave dropped him off. In fact, he started doing this well after he'd been there for a year. I imagine that there's a developmental component in all this.

2) He's no daredevil. Teddy is just a cautious kid and it takes him a while to warm up to new things. Yesterday, we were at the home of his friend Claire (and our friends Mark and Tania) and we started the movie "Rio". Teddy is no fan of birds. He tried to tough it out, but he just couldn't watch. Dave and I joke that this guy will not be in the Xgames. His sister, perhaps, but not him.

3) As much as it pains me, I was like this as a child. I'm pretty sure that Dave was, too. And all of our parents. (Full disclosure - writing about this is making me tear up.) For those of you who don't know me in real life, and even those of you who do, it may come as a surprise how much I struggle with trying new things. I have an innate desire to please people and a fear of letting people down, of embarrassing myself, of failing. And so any time I encounter something new or unknown, my very first thought is "I cannot do this." I'm often told that I am everyone's cheerleader. I am very, very good at encouraging people, and it stems from the massive amount of self-encouragement I've had to muster over the years.

Whenever I encounter new things, I convince myself that I can do it based on what I've done in the past. I'll say "Self, you may not have done this exact thing, but you've done x, y, and z - things which are similar and may have been harder". And in order to get to this point, I've had to push outside my comfort zone. And I see Teddy doing something similar. When he encounters something new, he'll try to talk himself down. "Don't worry,", he'll tell himself over and over, "It's ok. Don't worry." It breaks my heart a bit, but in a good way.

I know that he needs opportunities to stretch and grow, so that he, too, can gain self confidence. But it's hard, you guys. It's hard to see my tender-hearted, trusting little guy so upset. I mean - he's not upset for long. There are trucks and cars and slides there. But he's like his parents and grandparents - he feels things very deeply. I don't want him to become hard-hearted, to shut down because of the fear.

And it's causing a visceral reaction for me because it's the first time I'm seeing one of my less-desirable character traits in my children. Well - let me rephrase. It's not a less-desirable trait, per se. I think it makes me more empathetic. But it's a tendency with which I've always struggled and while I know that I can't blunt his struggles and suffering, I also know first hand how difficult it is to deal with this trait. I wish I could have given him all the confidence I've acquired over the years without all the work I've had to do to get it.

I can't do that. And truthfully, I'm not sure that I'd want to. Much of that confidence stems from actually having done the work, having overcome struggles. And it's so much more meaningful as a result. But I thought I'd have more than 2.5 years before I'd have to confront this part of parenthood. I guess not! I think this is a tiny sliver of what Mary felt at the foot of the cross. She'd have taken on all of his suffering, if she could. But suffering is necessary for something better, something stronger, something more beautiful and lasting. I need to keep that in perspective.

The situation with Veronica is less heart-wrenching. She's dropping on the growth charts - from 90th to 75th percentile. I know that it makes sense. We're not big people, and the last time she was weighed she hadn't yet started to move independently. She's constantly on the go now, so it makes sense that she's only gone from 21lbs, 8 oz to 22lbs, 10 oz in 3 months. She's grown 2.5 inches, too. But we went straight from preschool drop off to the doctor's office and it was just something else, you know?

But - it's a gorgeous fall day. After naps, we have a play date with one of Teddy's favourite buddies. And Veronica spent the first 3 minutes of her nap laughing in her sleep. Onward and upward, right?