Tag Archives: Parenting

Anger revisited

Summer fun - aircon required

I have received another book by John Holt, Teach Your Own. It is a wonderfully refreshing look at children and how they can fit into our lives. He makes many points that I can identify with in how we communicate with children. One in particular were his comments on saying no.

I have been struggling with this. There are times that I have to say no. DS sometimes wants to do things that he can’t or that I would prefer he doesn’t do (like cut his own mango, draw on the floor with wax crayons, or empty the bath onto the bathroom floor cup by cup). I have found that when he is doing something that makes a whole lot of extra work for me, I get really irritated and manage to grit my teeth and keep my voice down while I say No, and Please don’t do that. But boy, am I irritated and having to work hard to control my urge to shout. Sometimes I do shout, and then feel awful. Like when DS put his glass of ‘cold coffee’ (coffee substitute with ice cubes) right on the edge of the table and it fell and spilt all over the floor. I have been repeatedly reminding DS that he needs to put his glass/cup *on* the table, not on the *edge* of the table.

Anyway, in these details, I have been aware of my experience being one where I resent my child for making a mess, and on some level blame him, as if he could have avoided it. I expect him to be able to predict the consequences of his actions with more accuracy than he can. And this attitude is not making for a happy home.

I have been working on reminding myself that he is still learning, and he is not deliberately trying to annoy me. It is my job to support him in his learning, not scare him into behaving how I need him to behave.

So, by moving away from the idea that he is deliberately annoying me, I have decided to see it as a learning opportunity. I can still say no, without shouting or feeling intense anger. He can understand the word no, without it being muttered, forced out through pursed lips or shouted. It is perfectly possible to say no in a supportive way. And it works. (So far)

I have had a rather intense way of ‘testing’ this theory. I have had to cut down on breastfeeding as it is physically unbelievably uncomfortable. I was feeling so guilty, that I would often tell DS in a very firm (but angry as I felt so guilty) way that it was enough now. He would react with crying and being really upset. As soon as I said that num nums are resting now (without feeling guilty, without resenting him for making demands on me that I cannot meet), and was still there to rub his back, snuggle etc he is much more accepting of this change. He doesn’t always like it, and DH is very much involved in supporting DS at the times where he is frustrated and angry and does not accept that the num nums are resting. However, for the most part, a key to us getting through this time, is me staying centered and not ‘loosing it’ inside as I rant in my head about how I just can’t do this anymore.

Having said all of this, I do not think it is necessary to never be angry. And I do not think it is dangerous for my child to see me get angry and then also get over it and life continues. I just do not want it to be every day that my son sees me getting angry or working really hard not to be angry.

I will no doubt post more on this, but anger is  a BIG deal for me. Coming from a home where anger was not expressed, (I have seen my father angry maybe 5-10 times in my life) or it exploded, I have had to find my own way of understanding what it means in my life, as it does not work for me to pretend I am not angry when I am. It just makes it worse.

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Worthy of serious attention

I have recently received the book How Children Learn by John Holt. I am delving into the idea of homeschooling my family, looking at the emotional , financial and educational implications for everyone, me included.

Anyway, I was struck by his mentioning how babies were not considered worthy of attention from the scientific community in the 1960’s. This brought back a clear memory from the weekend (DH told me about it, I was not there).

My husband and son were visiting my FIL after an outing to the beach and DS needed a bath to get all the sand off. Now DS still does not like his hair being washed/brushed and resists strongly. FIL, in his attempt to show DH how it is done put a soapy hand on DS’s head which of course resulted in a protest. FIL assured DH that it is fine for DS to protest, it doesn’t mean anything.

This is precisely where myself and DH meet resistance with FIL on pretty much every parenting topic that can come up. In FIL’s mind until you communicate in full sentences and can give a measured and educated opinion regarding whatever is being discussed, your opinion does not count. Even when you are an adult, and especially if you are a child.

I continue to be baffled by this approach.

I do not feel comfortable ignoring my sons communication just because he is not discussing the issue in a rational adultlike way. If he says “no touch head, no hair” and makes a point of it before each bath, I have decided that is a good enough reason to respect his request. Yes, his hair looks a little manky sometimes, but mostly nobody would guess he has had his hair washed a handful of times in his life. It is not making him sick, or smelly. For whatever reason (I suspect partly sensory, partly control of his body) he finds having his hair washed extremely uncomfortable.

Back to John Holt. As I read the sentence about babies not being worthy of serious attention until time makes them more interesting, I remembered FIL’s comments about DS when he was a baby. And that was just it. Babies are boring for him and only interesting when they speak rationally. Even then (DH being a prime example) you cannot trust them to think in the right way and draw the right conclusions.

Rant off.

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Toddler behavior

At our local organic cafe with his birthday truck

I have been wringing my hands over DS’s sudden fearful behaviour around other children. I have a friend who homeschools her two boys 5 years old (Y) and 2 years old (E) and I noticed that DS has become quite fearful when visiting their home which led me to soul search the wisdom in keeping bringing him into an environment where he is obviously unhappy. He is not used to shouting, loud children and pretty much ended up on my lap most of the time. I really need the time to be with a like minded mother to share thoughts and experiences, making it hard for me to decide where to draw the line.

He also has been shouted at and pulled in the homeschooling group by girls and boys. Again, this has resulted in him only wanting to be on my lap and breastfeeding frequently for comfort.

In both these instances I have deliberated what my role is. I know that I would not force DS to get off me and ‘go and play’ if that is not what he wants to do. If he wants to be with me that is absolutely fine. However, I do have a nagging doubt that he is not learning the skills he needs to handle himself in the world, where people just are nasty to each other, well some people anyway.

As I write that I know it is absurd. Why am I worrying about a 2 year old and his social skills???? He’s not supposed to have any to speak of. He’s just two! He will grab things, he will throw things, he will get angry if he doesn’t get his way. I cannot expect him not to. I guess my role is to guide him and make sure that he and other children in his environment are safe. It’s a matter of how to do that. And I am not sure what level of involvement is required from me. Do I physically restrain him with words, without words? Do I follow him around making sure that he is not hurting another child/being hurt by another child all the time? If so, are we better off not being around other kids and waiting until DS has more control over his impulses/knows how to stand up for himself?

Today DS had a blast with both boys and really enjoyed running up and down a hill of gravel, throwing stones into a pond, playing in the sand pit, making Y laugh with his tricks of throwing objects. It was pretty rough going for me to switch roles from comforter of a timid boy to having to make sure children and animals were not hurt by DS’s flying projectiles. Now DS and Y get on well and interact in a more postive way. It is pretty remarkable to see the difference. To Y’s credit, he handled himself very well when DS threw a stone at him that hit Y on the leg during a game of throwing stones into the pond. Y really wanted to throw the stone back at DS, but stopped, changed his mind and threw it into an open, empty area. He accepted my apology, his mothers explanation that DS does not yet understand that it is not fun to throw stones at people. I was really impressed with his ability to get over such a distressing event.

Sigh, we’ll see what DS’s immediate future holds with socialization. I do not want him to learn to be rough with other kids, but I do want him to learn to stand up for himself if he needs it. Too much presure for a two year old? I have no idea…. I’m making this up as I go.

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I managed to resist until now

On two things.

One. screen time. DS has now seen the screen for about 15 mins two or three times. And he loves it. I put on a DVD (in our computer) I received from my brother.

Also, I counted his words. I am ashamed to say it, but the chatter of word counting I have seen online in parenting forums in the USA finally got to me.

moom – moon

zun- sun

meem – cat

xla-xla – dog (sounds like a clopping horse)

mimi – doll, or car with eyes

vavo – avo

nine – tomato (in Hebrew it is agvaniyah)

chee(se)

nca-da – food (pronounced as is it is Zulu)

bizz – piece

more

down

mummy

daddy

boh – come, in Hebrew

come

mayim – water, in Hebrew

tea

r – a hebrew ‘r’. means light, ‘or’ in Hebrew (this is for a candle, a light bulb or a match)

bye bye

hi

karti – kaki

bee-bee – pee-pee

cham – hot, in Hebrew

num num – breasts (as in breastfeeding)

eye

chin

ear

bum

pupi(k) – bellybutton in Hebrew

knee

nana – banana

na-na – chicken

puh-ta – open or close

car

bimba – his little bike (Hebrew word)

bibi-numnum – magazine (from the Motheirng magazines in my bathroom, full of babies in nappies and breastfeeding)

boo(k)

zeh/et zeh – this in Hebrew

zang – song

ram – a close approximation of his grandfather’s name – and every motorbike he sees, as  ‘ram’ rides a tustus (a moped)

ein – none, in Hebrew

na(d) ne(d) – see saw or swing in Hebrew

He loves to command us, as in “Mummy boh” “Daddy down” and “meem boh”. “down”, which often means, he wants his food on the tray of his highchair for him to feed himself.

And he has become a hitting, throwing, angry little boy. I am not sure if he is upset by me insisting he goes to sleep at regular hours now, or if it is just a co-incidence. But it has been becoming more and more prevalent for him to hit and throw. I am still gathering my thoughts on the issue, as I try to figure out the best approach for him and me.

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My path into a rhythm at home

The 2nd batch

I have been struggling with this, well, since I became a mother. Having grown up in an anthroposophical home and knowing how central rhythm is for growing children, and adults alike – I did not need much convincing that this would indeed be important.

And yet, almost 2 years later, I am still struggling.

DS’s sleep has been all over the place – and I wrote about my poorly managed sleep fiasco recently. I KNOW that if his sleeping and eating times were predictable, much of the angst and frustration could be resolved. On paper/screen it looks so damn easy. You just wake up and the day flows.

Mine does not. I aim for general eating and sleeping times and structure outings to accommodate that. However, in practice it just doesn’t always work. And I end up with a toddler who is overtired and me being strung out.

Apart from now consistently getting into bed by 7:30 in the evening and waking up at 6:30 in the morning, I have made sourdough each Tuesday for the last 3 weeks. I make 3 loves, enough for our family for a week. I like it that it took a week to start the sourdough starter, and I just keep it going for a week each time. Each time the bread has come out tastier and more bread like. This is my  anchor in my weekly rhythm. No matter what happens, we will have fresh bread on Tuesdays. Oh, and clean laundry on Sundays. Sunday has become washing day. I like having a day where I know that I will wash all the laundry – and not just wait for the dirty laundry to be full.

I remember reading in a LLL magazine about the difficulty of transitioning to being at home. One mum advised that it takes 2 years to make that transition. And I think that might be true for me. In a month I will have been home 2 years. And only now do I feel like I am starting to get a handle on the situation.

I know that once I get beyond preparing wholesome food, I need to get it right with regards to serving said wholesome food at a regular time, and not just when it is ready – usually an hour later than DS needs in order to nap/sleep on time.

I’m getting there. 🙂

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Update

020716

DS at my SIL's wedding

I have been having a rough time with sleep, as I wrote about earlier. It’s getting much better. Last night we went through the steps of supper (table clear of clutter and a candle for a more serene mood), bath, pajama’s, bed time story in bed, DS switching the light off and snuggling down to breastfeed and in 15 minutes he was fast asleep. I was extatic.

I have also been reading up far too much about vaccines and the immune system. It is not making me happy. I know that vaccines are not going to be part of our preventative health options in our family. I however doubt that every problem in modern societies can be atrributed to vaccines.  And I am getting tired of investing so much time and energy in seeing just how wrong most of the scientific community are when it comes to vaccines. I know enough to know that I want to support our innate immune system as best I can, and not freak out when DS gets sick. I know enough to keep our commensal bacteria happy through diet and lifestyle and avoiding drugs, heavy metals, chemical cleaners, etc. I also know enough to make sure my next birth is at home and that it stays at home.

Anyway, I have also been feeling the need to grow my mind a bit. I have stagnated and it does not feel good. I need to have something going on in my head other than health and childcare. So, I found free courses available through MIT – no certificate or registration, but at least I can expand my mind somewhat – and register should the bug bite.

On the issue of what to study, I have been thinking of getting into something like TCM. Through my reading up on health, I find this approach and understanding of health and disease far more comprehensive than what my ped/GP has to offer. However, I have also thought of doing my masters in OT with a Senosry Integration spin. I think my challenge is to find something that I can study and then apply to real life. I love gathering knowledge, but then get cold feet about applying it – all sorts of self esteem issues there. I seem to really believe that I can’t apply what I am learning, unless it is being a mother. I seem to be applying all that I learn there without any conflict or insecurity…. well kind of. I know I need a strong rhythm in our home, based on mealtimes and rest times, play times etc. And it eludes me. I just kind of whoosh from one thing to another – other than the sleep, it’s all approximate.

I am thinking of trying to use the anthroposphical idea of a grain a day/colour a day. I have not read enough about it to know if I agree or not about all that goes with planetary influences, etc. I do hope it will give me the frameowork I need to have more of a varied diet – ensuring I don’t get stuck on oat porridge, pita with eggs and salad as our staples. The more I read about diet and food, the more I think have a varied whole foods diet is the key…… anyway, I got lazy and ordered the Little Acorn Leaning winter childcare menu…. I’ll see if it helps me get myself more organised.

As I write it is pouring rain outside. Winter has arrived, and with it the need for rubber boots, indoor shoes and warm drinks. I always love the change of season.

Oh, and the pic is just ‘cos I love it. 🙂

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Parenthood and conforming

I can’t remember where I read about the study, Parenthood Makes Moms More Liberal, Dads More Conservative, but I was reminded of it yesterday when out with DS and DH in Tel Aviv.

Another family with a little boy were taking an interest in the cloth diapers and wooden toys. DH struck up a converstation with the mum while I ate my brunch and the father of the little boy chatted with his friends. The mother confided that she doesn’t want to put her son into a kindy and her husband does.

And so me and DH chatted about how mums often don’t like the kindy option and dads often do. And why. Why mothers are more likely to not conform on such issues and why fathers are more likely to conform. (Where we live it is the norm for children to be in a kindy by one year of age, often earlier. The reasons cited are improved overall development in language and social skills)

DH shared that he feels more of a tendency to conform on issues like health care and education since he became a father. And I know that my tendency to not conforming has dramatically increased since becoming a mother. I am definitly more interested in what is right for me and my family and not really interested in what ‘the majority’ do, unless of course it fits for us.

When looking at issues to do with child welfare, it is mothers who are making the most noise when it comes to making a choice on the vaccine issue, to searching out the best care for their children and to deciding how best to nourish their children. Fathers *are* there too. My DH is finding his personal way of relating to the changes being made in our home. But I think it is largely mothers who are prepared to initiate the challenge to the consensus when it comes to the health and well being of their children. This is very broadly speaking.

In my circle, including myself and my DH, the fathers are much more inclined to convince the mother to agree to putting the child into daycare/kindy. Often with the very best intentions. Some mama’s question some of the reasoning and wonder if starting day care at such a tender age can really be in the childs best interest. Ie I am prepared to challenge the conventional wisdom of putting lots of little children into group daycare with 6 children to every carer. I am also prepared to challenge the conventional wisdom of injecting my baby with mulitple vaccines. I had to become a mother to go the extra mile when it comes to challenging these social epxectations. And for now our choices are working for us – despite being very unusual.

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