Skillz, easy come, easy go

When I first got pregnant this go 'round and started feeling so sick, Zoe's behavior took a nose dive. I immediately attributed it to her having a tortured internal conflict over being a big sister. She clearly was reacting on some deep emotional level to her new reality, right? Right?

I guess it's possible that she was reacting to this new information in some way. But now that I'm starting to feel quite a bit better (Appetite! Energy! Sex drive! All Some systems go!) I've come to realize that she was reacting almost solely to me and how I've been as a mother lately. It's a sad truth that my parenting was completely devoid of creativity and humor for a few months there.

She's been in a much better place these last few weeks. Fewer tantrums, easier transitions, more reasonable (for a toddler). I didn't think too much about why until tonight when I felt the light bulb come on over my head when we were all hanging out after dinner. Zoe started getting pissy and telling CG that she didn't want him in the living room. "NO. Just Mommy and my babies. It's my BABIES' room." I sighed and started to tell her, in my recently humorless, matter-of-fact way, that this was our FAMILY room and the whole family was welcome and that Daddy wasn't going anywhere blah blah HUMORLESS, UNCREATIVE blah. When her fussing grew louder, I realized that I used to handle these things better, with ease.... What did I used to do anyway? Back when I had energy??...... I whispered excitedly: "Hey Zoe, Do you think your babies would fit in that laundry basket there? Isn't that a snug little room? Maybe they'd like some blankets in their special room..." And IT TOTALLY WORKED. JUST LIKE IT USED TO.

Creative distraction. The bedrock of good parenting in my book (at this age anyway. Do you think it works with teenagers?? "Hey honey! Is that pot you're smoking? What's over there? Do you hear a TRUCK going by? Do you think it's a BIG TRUCK or a leeeetle teeeeny, tiny one??"). Unfortunately, I found that my ability to think creatively, to distract Zoe easily, COMPLETELY left me when I got pregnant.

Along with my sense of humor and my ability to be silly. I realized a few weeks ago that Zoe and I used to spend lots of time laughing. And that I hadn't heard her really, REALLY laugh in a while. (I'll pause while you let the ABJECT SADNESS of that statement sink in. Tragic, isn't it? A toddler who doesn't laugh? You have to work at that.) And silliness goes a REALLY long way to ease transitions for us around here. Tooth brushing doesn't need to be the miserable 5 minutes of TORTURE it was for a month or so there. Apparently, all I have to do is sing silly songs, use the toothbrush to "knock" on the door of her closed mouth and ask in a silly voice to "please come in". I also remembered that if I need to hurry her up and I start having an animated conversation with an imaginary kid named Bob who just might get there first, she suddenly moves like the wind. I'd forgotten all about those things. And we both were more miserable for it.

Now that I seem to have located and dusted off my old skills of creative distraction and silliness, I am struggling with the current and more long lasting loss of my other most favorite parenting tool-- "the pick-up-and-move" maneuver. As my belly gets bigger and bigger and my poor old arthritic back goes all funky with relaxin, I can't just haul her 30 lb self around like I used to, with ease, on an almost hourly basis. Tantrumming in the middle of a store/sidewalk/street? Pick up and move her! Misbehaving in significant ways and ignoring warnings? Pick up and move her! Refusing (or dawdling) to transition to nap/potty/bath/clothing change? Pick up and move her! It works for so many things. My discipline was often based on it but so was our play. I'd "fly" her around the house and "crash" her into one of the beds. I'd swing her around in my soft laundry basket while we sang songs. When I tried that last one, the other day, I had to hobble around the house for the rest of the day while the hitch in my giddyup worked itself out. Zoe's going to have to get used to a less mobile mother and I'm going to need to find new techniques to fit this new stage of our lives.

I'm just so much less fond of the "grab by the wrist and drag" maneuver than the elegant, take charge "pick and move" maneuver, you know?


Kathi McCracken Dente said...

I hear ya! I often forget to just have fun and be creative when Mira gets obstinate (and I haven't been feeling ill for months). I struggle with this and remind myself to work on it daily. And she wants to be carried everywhere and I just can't do it anymore. I feel a bit sad about it since I am realizing she isn't my tiny baby anymore. But I also just need her to walk. It seems the only place she wants to walk is the grocery store (when I want her in the cart!). So glad to hear you are feeling better!

Marie Green said...

"Parenting from a chair" is what we call this affliction around here, and you are so right- it RARELY is more effective. I'm glad you are feeling better!

My Buddy Mimi said...

I love "parenting from a chair." I'm definitely keeping that one.

Swistle said...

OH I KNOW! I often forget this, and then start thinking, "WHY is EVERYTHING such a STRUGGLE!??" And then Paul, who is a MASTER at creative distraction, comes along and totally fixes it in two seconds, and I think, "Oh yeah."

miyoko said...

yep, phoebe has realized i can no longer really run now that my belly is gigantic. So post offices, the bank, stores, home have all become playgrounds of running in circles while ignoring mama, just to make me waddle after her yelling "come back here!" like a horrible out of control lunatic mom.

madly trying to come up with a solution for this one....

Astarte said...

I'm glad you're getting your giddyap back, even if you did promptly sprain it! I know it's easy to get into that rut of yelling and being grumpy with each other, and from there it's a self-supporting problem. Don't be hard on yourself. I'm glad you're all back to laughing!!

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