Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What to Expect: The Real Edition (What no one told you about poop, 3am cheese snacks, and pretending to be Elmo while wiping your preschooler's butt)

Someone needs to write a book on the lesser milestones. You know, those moments, behaviors, and situations that probably happen during every child's lifetime, but somehow surprise the heck out of a lot of parents?

Everyone knows what to do when a child falls and scrapes his knee. Apply kisses, a gentle rinse to remove any dirt particles and then the preferred ointment, which probably isn't neosporin around here. Top it off with a bandaid if requested. It's advice you easily find in parenting books, on parenting websites, and in popular parenting magazines.

But, what do you do when your 3 year old imagines various injuries all over her body and asks for a bandaid for each one? And specific character bandaids that have magical healing properties? Is your child a hypochondriac? Traumatized? No. It's normal. So are a lot of other things not often discussed...

Yes. Your boobs deflate some time after birth, usually around 3 weeks. They weren't going to be painfully engorged forever, although they might change back and forth for varying reasons. Your milk supply isn't dropping and your baby isn't starving.

Yes. It's normal for your baby to struggle when trying to reach for a toy or accomplish a new milestone. Wait patiently before solving it for him. Let him figure it out on his own. Swoop in only if it's clearly not working out and he's despairing.

The war over baby gadgets? You know, the baby bumbo, the walking wings, the little bouncy jumper things? Guess what. Unless you're a horribly neglectful and completely unobservant parent, you're not going to stunt your child. But, I'll let you in on a secret. They are a massive waste of money. When babies are grunting to get to the next milestone, when they want you to sit them up and hold them steady for seemingly hours (oh, the withdrawal from texting), when they want you to hold their hands and walk with them...that milsetone is just around the corner. Save some cash, spend some time with your baby, and like millions of parents before you, one day you'll be walking upright again, wishing for a rewind button.

Is your 8 month old starting to cry when you leave the room? Refusing to sleep normally? Staying up all night or waking up every hour? Normal. The same goes for refusing to take naps alone and even crying when placed into the carseat. CIO sucks enough already, don't enforce it during a normally choppy time. It's a time of anxiety, so show her security and trust.

And also during that time period...yes. Feedings can get sparse. Your baby isn't weaning. Teething pain and brain development along with a maturing gut lead the way for new foods and forgotten boobs. Until about 13 months. So keep them ready.

Yes. Toddlers hit you. Claw at your nose. Bop your head with their heads. Kick you in the nuts, according to some dads. Even young ones. You haven't spawned Satan's offspring. Just acknowledge the frustration, try to stave off any stealth attacks, and get through the stage. Buy a cup if necessary.

Peas and carrots can't touch. It happens. So does the vegetarian stage believe it or not, after the intense hatred for vegetables.

Oh, your baby eats cod liver oil happily? Ground, unflavored liver? Get ready for that to end. It doesn't matter how hardcore paleo or WAPF you go. All people have preferences, most especially from about 18 months to 40 months.

Have a boy? He will grab his penis. No, your son isn't a pervert. Nothing is wrong. He doesn't need to be circumcised. He's not hurting himself. He will poke it. Pull it. Roll it. Stuff things inside it. Marker on it. Maybe even walk around and touch things with it. If you had something hanging off you, wouldn't you do the same? (And let's not forget the little girls who suction cup squeeze toys to their labia or try to look in the mirror.) The natural curiosity and innocence is something to embrace, not shame or punish.

Picking boogers and eating them is normal. Apparently it can help the gut, too. Bottoms up!

It's normal to be a pig one day, a dog the next. Just roll with it, even in the mud. This includes all manner of crossdressing. Boys love glitter polish and princess dresses as much as girls.

You might have pushed them out, given free access to boobs 24/7, and spent countless sleepless nights over them. But daddy stages are normal. It doesn't mean your kid hates you.

And on that note. Boob rejection, it happens. Take a deep breath, nothing is wrong with you. Your baby loves you. If it isn't a serious issue such as a tongue tie or pregnancy, it's probably something like a cat hair on the roof of her mouth.

When she turns to you and says you are the worst mommy on earth and she hates you? That's practice for the teen years. Expect a good amount of door slamming, kicking, throwing toys with movie-quality emphasis, and screaming. These are big emotions. Show her you care and model different ways to be honest.

Your preschooler throws his pencil on the ground and cries that he can't draw a perfect "A." He's got a bad case of elementary perfectionism. Help him wiggle it out with a dance and hug.

Mom, he's copying me! No, Mom! SHE is copying me! Stop it! You stop it! You-you stop it! *WAILING* Did primitive tribes experience the copying game? What about the poking game? The "I'll lie on the ground here and scream while you slightly touch my head with your foot obliviously because it didn't occur to me to move one inch to the right" game? I imagine a tribal family on a scavenging trip in the forest. "MAMI. Are we there yet? OW! He touched me!"

You are the gentlest, most respectful parent on the earth. You do everything the parenting books say. Your child will do everything anyways. Bite, kick, scream, hit, steal toys, throw sand, jump off the slide, kick off shoes, lick the dog, dump out bubbles..and, hey, we haven't even left early childhood yet.

Pace yourself.

When your child grabs his poop and throws it during a diaper change, it's normal. When you find her quietly dumping water onto the carpet and flooding your room, it's normal. When they crunch up all their granola bars and spread them over the couch to make sand, it's normal. When she asks ten thousand questions a day, it's normal. When they make farting noises and pretend their penises can shoot fire, it's normal. Welcome to the craziest time of complete normalcy in your life. Relax, you're going to be here for awhile. We didn't discuss the teen years. Just saying.

Here's my 7.5 month old, who worked so hard at walking that
he even smashed his poor nose right before this.
And my 3 year old, clutching his penis in public.
Seems like the perfect photo for this post.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, you are so right. After 4 kids I pretty much assume everything is normal. And a walking 7.5 month old? Whoa. That might be exceptional. But normal. Aren't kids fun?

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