Friday, March 22, 2013

Practice makes awesome!

Last night went so much better than the night before! We did the same thing - I said good-bye to Katie right after dinner, and she waved and watched my car pull away. No tears! Dada gave her a bath and they played together in her room. (And, if truth be told, he showed her a LOT of Sesame Street videos on his phone.) My seminar was super lame, so I came home half an hour early. When I opened the door, the whole house was dark and quiet. Where are they? I wondered. It was 8:45, and Katie's bedtime is 8:00. I tiptoed into the den to see if they were both asleep on the couch. They weren't. Then I heard Katie's voice coming from her room, saying something about Lambie. I heard Dada sing her lullaby and put her in her crib. I figured she'd woken up crying and that he went in to comfort her. Not so! Turns out he was just putting her down for the first time at 8:45! LOL. I think maybe dads have a slightly more lax sense of time than moms. But no biggie - the main thing is, Katie went to sleep without a single tear! This time she KNEW Mama was coming back. HOORAY!!!! (And the reason I know this is, when I went to get her this morning, she said with delight, "Mama's home!")

So I think we are making incredible strides. I'm so pleased, and relieved. Today I had to go to the doctor to have the "1-hour glucose" test for gestational diabetes. Which means I had to go in, drink a disgusting sweet drink, and come back to have my blood drawn precisely 1 hour later. Since the doctor is only about 10 minutes from our house, I decided to drive back home in between. The first time I left, we did the routine where Katie waves bye-bye as I drive away. When I went back for the blood draw, she said "Bye Mama" without even looking up from her Play-doh. Great strides, I tell ya!

Too bad my seminar was so lame. There were several red flags, right from the beginning. Firstly, the lecturer told us she had copies of her book for sale, right off the bat, practically before she even introduced herself. Secondly, she said that parenting books for specific ages aren't that helpful - that you don't have to re-learn parenting for every stage of your child's life. I couldn't disagree more - some of the most helpful books I've read are age-specific. Thirdly, the lecturer said that she was looking over her lecture notes and she realized that the tips she was going to talk about really apply to ALL children, not just "spirited" ones. Umm, What? Then why did you call the lecture "Raising a Spirited Child," if it  was just going to be a lecture on "Raising Any Old Child?" Grr. That third red flag should have been my signal to get up and leave.

The lecture turned out to have three parts. For the first part, she read a list of traits of Spirited Children, which she totally ripped off from the book "Raising Your Spirited Child." (Although she did give them credit at the bottom.) It was mildly entertaining to see from the nodding heads of other parents, which particular traits drive us the most crazy. The second part was focused on "Ways to Help Your Child," which I found utterly useless. There were nine points on that list, and they were all common-sense, basic parenting tips. Not one of them dealt with the promised "avoiding power struggles" or "improving cooperation." The third part was Q&A, and parents were asking questions about much older children than mine. And despite what the lecturer thinks, advice on what to do about an 8 year old is NOT that helpful to parents of toddlers. Age-specific advice IS important!

So I guess I could have ducked out earlier than I did. But I was determined to take away at least one nugget of information that would be helpful. I had to dig deep, but I came up with two. The first has nothing to do with "spirited" children, but it's something I come up against a lot. I have a hard time not telling people their kids are cute. I know, intellectually, that we're supposed to focus on inner strengths, but doggone it! Babies and toddlers are CUTE. Some of the kids at Katie's school just melt me with their sweet expressions and funny antics. And, out in the world, a fair number of people tell me Katie is cute. And I know I'm supposed to scowl or protest or something, but I just say "thanks" because I happen to agree. But anyway - the lecturer said that when people said her daughter was pretty, she'd just add "She's even prettier on the inside!" And I thought that sounded nicer than scowling. Of course, she didn't have any tips on how to keep my big mouth shut about other people's kids, so I'll just have to try to contain myself. :)

The second nugget was actually related to spirited children. The lecturer said that spirited children tend to be very perceptive, meaning they notice every detail around them to the point of distraction. That definitely sounds like Katie. So, the lecturer said, they might not be simply ignoring you when they're examining a piece of lint on the carpet while you're saying "Let's go, let's get in the car and go to the park!" They might genuinely not "hear" you. In other words, Katie's not deliberately trying to drive me crazy by not responding to my repeated requests to do something. I think I'm taking it personally because I vividly remember ignoring my mom when she'd call me - but I was doing it out of adolescent spite, not distraction. The bottom line: if I want Katie to do something, I'm probably going to have to get down to her level and make eye contact. Which is what I do anyway, but now I'm going to cut out the part where I tell her 10,000 times from across the room first.

Anyway, the lecture may have been a bust, but Dada's success in putting Katie down was so worth it. I am so proud of both of them!

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