Friday, September 29, 2006

It's almost the end of another solo week.. It's been ok. i made Raelin cry the first morning and have felt pretty crappy about that and so adjusted my temprement so we've made it through the rest of the week more or less on an even keel. sure, there have been struggles, but for the most part, we're still on good terms. As I have mentioned to many people, being a parent is much better than any personal therapy, if you're willing to pay attention to it.


i don't know. 3 is hard. have i said that already? could just be that parenting is hard, and to be honest, when you have a baby, it isn't this kind of parenting. Its' loveing and taking care of parenting... not teaching, discipline, and negotiation parenting. When Raelin was a baby, I didn't have a *clue* about the future. I knew toddlers scared me, but i felt so confident in what i was doing with my baby that *surely* I was going to be equally as patient and loving and creative with my older child.

Ha!! I have to snicker when i'm on my mommy boards and the mom of a 5 month old gives advice to a desperate mama of a toddler or preschooler. Um, thanks for the thought, but _you dont' have a clue_. I dont' care if you were a preschool teacher or a daycare provider or raised your sister. When you are the parent and it is your child, it is a different ball of wax, my friend. If i ever go back to teaching,wow, will i be a different teacher. I feel badly now, thinking back to some of the approaches i took with my students and parents. So naive. So stupid.

This is not to say that said mother or father of baby will not give some sound advice. But i often find that their advice is a bit on the judgemental side (particularly if the mother in need admits to not behaving as she wishes to... (cough- like me!). On the outside, it seems so easy. But on the inside...

We more or less practice what those in the attachment parenting arena call, Gentle Discipline. Theres' no punishment or intentional consequences, including Time Outs, which are completely ineffective. The idea is that you guide your child through challenges, you work with them to get all needs met. It does not mean that your child is allowed to do whatever they want, or that you are permissive as a parent.

I know many people in my life may think that we allow Raelin to do many things that they think are not ok, or should be tempered or handled differently. We have a looser reign than some, but not as loose as others, in my opinion. I"m not interested in raising an automaton. I'm interested in raising a confident, whole, thinking child. i always go back to that when i'm losing my shit over the fact that i've asked her 5 times to do xy and z and then i invent some game to get her to comply. I stew to myself..."why is it so damn hard to not pour water on the floor?" or stop screaming...or put on underwear... or pick up the cat with 2 hands rather than around the neck.

My validation for parenting and disciplining the way we do is that Raelin doesn't do anything out of fear. She doesn't follow directions or not because of what may or may not happen after- yelling, time out, spanking etc... Yes, we yell when we are mad or frustrated or tired. Mostly me. And i am working hard on weeding this out of my behavior options. But I don't think she changes her behavior due to me occasionally yelling. She does what we ask or not depending on her own mood and what her own needs are in that moment- is she feeling tired and cranky herself? is this a boundary she hasn't tested yet? does she need attention? I actually like that Raelin challenges us and "disobeys" because it means that she is comfortable and trusts us. Being "in trouble" doesnt really happen. The "trouble" is that whatever toy she may be throwing around after we have asked her several times to stop, gets put away for a bit. We may leave a store if she is having a hard time staying close and being respectful of other people and property. We withold treats unless good food it eaten. But we do not isolate her to "think about" what she did (yeah, like that would happen), or any other traditional discipline technique. I suppose the only consistent consequence is that she knows when we are unhappy with her behavior, and disappointing or making someone you love mad never feels good. That goes both ways, and that's enough.

Things continue to change and evolve as she gets older, pushes more buttons and boundaries, comes more into her own power as a little person, and therefore needs to challenge ours. It is our responsibility as parents not to curb her spirit and power, but to curb our own appropriately in response. This is where the better than therapy part comes in.

With children- well, i'll speak for myself- with Raelin, how i behave with her is everything. When i identify what my own hang-up is about her behavior, see how i am attached to a particular outcome, etc... i get some perspective and change what I'm doing. Usually, she changes too. When i ignore my part in the issues, I start taking out my victimhood on her, and that's just not a cool thing to do to a 3 year old. Unlike having an issue with anothe adult, i can't just leave and walk away. She depends on me. That raises the stakes considerably. And being who I am, behaving poorly with awareness is not ok. It's tolerable until i work out whatever i need to, and then something has to change.

Every once in awhile when i'm feeling stuck in a rut, i need to go through all this. Remind myself why we parent the way we do and tease out to the bones what i'm doing here as a parent. and blogs are a good place to ramble. so, if you made it this far through my babble... cheers.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

School Days, dear old golden Rule Days...

Well, we've made it through 2 weeks of school...3 days of crying, dramatic separations, and 3 days of tearless agreeable separations. not so bad. (our school weeks are only 3 days...) I'm not sure that "tackling hysterical preschooler" was in Miss Toki's job description, but she does well at holding on and keeping her grasp, even when being thrown the "limp noodle" manuever. Meanwhile, the parent (me) walks purposefully toward the parking lot, not looking back (thereby imparting some vision of confidence to wilting child) while other parents who have already done the drop and are gabbing the parking lot nod and beckon with empathy, as they see my horror stricken face as my child's wail fills what suddenly seems to be a silent campus. A few minutes of listening and hovering behind the nearest minivan and I realize that the crying has not only stopped, but my child has willingly (perhaps with still quivering lip) joined the rest of the class on the morning hike.

Four and a half blissful hours later, I return to school to pick Raelin up and she is still in one piece, bearing a brilliantly colored paper, and has more or less forgiven me for leaving her earlier. One morning I got the running hug, but only once. Otherwise, in true three-nager fashion, she often feigns happiness at my return and bypassing any greeting demands, "where's daddy?"

see what 9 months of pregnancy, 18 hours of labor and 3 years of intermitten sleep get you?

no, just kidding. She doesn't always instantly ask for daddy, but i've gotten used to her often aloof reunions. She certainly isn't into taling about her day, either, another classic three-nager behavior. Our drive home conversations go a bit like this:

"So, Raelin, did you have fun today?"
"No, Raelin didn't have any fun."
"Not at all?"
"Did you play?"
"Yes, but I didn't have any fun."
"Oh, so you stood against the wall by yourself then."
"I see... and did you eat lunch?"
"what did you eat?"
"Rice and apple and cheese."
"And was it good?"
"No, Raelin didn't like any of it..."
"Hmmmm... ok then..."
"I'm not going to have fun tomorrow, either."
"Good to hear that..."


Can't wait 'till she's really 13.
If I didn't know her as well as i do, i might be alarmed. I might have been more alarmed about her drama in the morning, but i knew she'd be fine, and, she is. I also know she' having a *great* time at school, despite her best efforts to disguise it, possibly in hopes that we won't send her, for whatever reason. Or, she's just hormonal and moody. Maybe just moody. Either way, I get the tidbits from the teacher and assistant who told me the other night at the parent meeting that Raelin asks her to tie a scarf around her like a Moby (one of the baby carriers several other moms and i have) and she tucks one of the stuffed babies in it and wears it around the classroom proclaiming it as her "Liam."

Awwwww... how sweet is that?

So she's fine. The school is great- warm, nurturing, nice small class (only 7 kids) and about as safe and comforting as you can get in a preschool.

And of course, we can't forget what mommmy gets: 5 hours, 3 days a week, of FREE TIME!! Liam is still young enough that i can consider it free time. And this week was awesome. Perfect Indian Summer weather. On Monday my friend and i hiked a local cliff trail, more or less uphill from the parking lot. With babies on backs, we huffed up and were rewarded wtih stunning views of lakes, ocean, islands, hills and the first brushings of fall foliage. It ain't the Sierra, but I'll take it! Getting out and being active has been my goal for myself in these early school weeks while the weather is still great and it's not full-on hunting season. I have a good friend who's in on it with me so hopefully we'll find ways to keep our bodies moving through the winter, cuz being 30 and not active- it sucks! sure, i lug around a 20+ pound baby all day so my arms are kickin' but that's about it, and me's startin' to feel a little worse for wear. Time to start yogi-ing around again.

and tomorrow we're off to the Common Ground Fair which is pretty much the bomb event of the year, in my opinion. I live for this fair. and it's almost midnight, so i need to catch some z's so i can truely enjoy it. Review will be forthcoming.

oh yeah...anyone wanna buy a house?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Just catching up...

Ok, that Peak Oil post lingered for way too long as my last post. Suffice to say that we are over our freak out, and while we are still definitely keeping PO in the forefront of our thoughts, it's not dominating them anymore, which is a nice feeling. Kinda sucks to wake up in the night thinking about how your life is going to change in the midst of global chaos.

So, moving on...

Survived (just barely) my first week-plus without Kevin. Yup, home alone with the kiddos. There were some great times... taking a really nice walk with Raelin and Liam at one of the local parks, testing the cushion-like quality of various patches of moss, wandering down random trails, watching a totally crazy looking caterpillar with huge fuzzy antennae and equally large and fuzzy scale type things that went up and down its back. I had a night off when Raelin stayed at my mom's, and then my dad and stepmom visited, which was a nice diversion. But by Monday, i was more or less falling apart and skipped the family Labor Day cookout for time to sleep and rest with Liam. I love Raelin to death, but she takes it out of me.

have no fear, though, a remedy is in sight: SCHOOL! thats' right! School starts on Monday and I am chomping at the bit. It sounds terrible, that i am counting the minutes (well, not literally....) but i think it's going to be great for all of us. I definitely need the break and time to accomplish some things and i can't wait to get moving- I'm committing to hiking at least 2 of the 3 mornings she's in school. Liam is still backpack-able (though barely, the chub), so I'm just going to strap him on and explore some of the hills i've been looking at longingly since we moved here. And I know that Raelin needs the time with other kids, time away from her baby bro when she and her little people are the focus and there are stimulating, enriching activities just for her, even if she has to share things, which is not on her agenda these days. But hey- for 3 mornings, its' Miss Toki's job to deal with that- not mine!!
And really, we need the break from each other. It's going to be good. Its a Waldorf school, so i dont' have to worry about her eating crappy snacks or playing with yappy toys or coloring worksheets. Nope, just good, natural, hippy-seal-approved imaginative play and sweet stories.

You'd think things might be slowing down a bit, what with summer gone by and Kevin's folks resettling in Cali and Liam no longer a dreamy eyed newborn. But no. House goes on the market next weekend.


We have a week and a day or two to declutter and clean and paint and declutter and then declutter some more. Sigh.

We're gluttons for punishment, really. I mean, isnt' a new baby enough? Nope, we went and had to find ourselves a homestead. Gosh darnit, now them thar Callahan's really gone off'n 'er rocker! B'for ya know it, we'll be all hillbillies 'n shit....