Bye Bye Baby

My cheeks are pink with embarrassment to even admit this. Jack’s almost 2.5 years old and he was still using a pacifier. Only to sleep, but still. He says sentences. Knows the difference between a crocodile and alligator. And still wants the plastic sucker to snooze.

Anyone with a not-so-good sleeper can understand why we’ve waited. In babyhood, Jack fussed every hour at night. We finally cried it out at seven months, but he’d still wake up once or twice a night. Even now, our three-month-old sleeps longer and better than Jack. So if a bed full of books, spiders, snakes and frogs and a mouth with a pacifier keeps him sleeping, then I’m in. I’d be dozing at my desk otherwise.

Babies don’t need pacifiers passed six months old. Ever since Jack could talk he’s called the his “baby” because we always said, “you don’t need that, pacifiers are for babies.” 

Since his first birthday we’ve exhausted the typical excuses of why it wasn’t the appropriate time to cut it out.

“The baby is coming, he doesn’t need any more change.”
“He’s just getting over a cold.”
“He’s been scared of the dark.”
“Daddy’s going on a business trip.”
“He’s going to preschool.”
“He’s got an ear infection.”

Another fun fact of parenthood I’ve picked up is that there’s never a good time to brake habits.

And, we’re always breaking habits.

So, this week we decided it was time. The Binkie Fairy was coming. I pulled out a little box and told Jack the magical story of how the fairy will come to take his “babies,” leave presents and take the pacifier to other babies that need them.

“I don’t want presents,” his lip drops in a pout.

I should have known it wouldn’t be this simple. Jack’s not simple. Everything is very complex. Justin and I exchanged unsure looks. What now?

“Well you’re a big boy and big boys don’t need pacifiers. Mommy and Daddy are very proud of you for giving them away," I say.
“No, me want baby. No give away,” Jack almost starts crying.
Then it came out before I could stop it, “then Santa Claus will never come again.”

And that was that. Pacifiers in the box by the door. Ready for the fairy. I’m not proud of using Santa Claus against him, but I needed something dramatic.

That night Jack milked it for two hours until he finally fell asleep with me in our bed. Only a small sniffle the next night, but sleeping within minutes. No mention of babies. So I’m happy to finally say Jack no longer uses pacifiers. And I’m no longer making excuses. 


The Coloring on the Wall

I remember pre-babies when I’d watch Super Nanny, gasping how my kids would never color on the walls. Well, that’s No. 512 on my list of “What I Won’t Do As a Parent,” which was written before I actually was a parent.

Fast-forward to my life with a two-year-old, who is crazed for coloring, and three-month old, who requires diaper changes and lots of naps. So I leave the room for five minutes to lie Ella down – maybe even just two – And Jack has scribbled circles under the bay window sill.

I gasp. But, before losing my calm, I remember the crayons are “washable.” One brilliant person finally realized crayons, markers and all their cousins should be washable. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of un-washables in the world, which my Mom discovered the tough way. Her widescreen TV is now fitted with one of Jack’s straight-line masterpieces. Right across the middle.

Lucky for her I enjoy researching. And solving such issues. Well it appears WD40 can remove crayon from TVs, computer screens and walls. Now I’d like to meet the parent that uncovered that trick.


Saga of Sick

Things started unraveling two weeks ago. Just as I caught my breath in life.  It was Thursday, my last day of the work week, and I returned home to my Mom holding the baby. Standing in our bay window. Cursing through her cell phone at my Dad.

“Hi Mommy!” Jack hugs my leg. Our two dogs squirming and shrieking at my feet.

“Your Dad’s in the hospital,” my Mom sighs heavily. She hands me little Ella. A beautiful smile at the instant connection with my eyes.

My Mom and Dad are married. He lives in Cheboygan. She lives in Highland. Both retired. Happily married. The cabin up north was his dream. I joke her life without dirty shoes and his fuzzy dog was hers. But, hey it works.

A week prior, my Dad brushed off tummy pains and chills. Blamed it on two friends with stomach flu symptoms. He cross-country skied for three hours. Shoveled his driveway. Ate pizza. Then, seven days later, decided to visit the doctor.

His appendix had burst. Infected his colon. Immediately into surgery.

That’s my Dad. One-of-a-kind silly man who shrugs off a lot of things. “Papa’s an idiot,” as Jack puts it.

That night Justin was flying in from a three-day work conference. My Mom had stayed with me one night. Took Jack the next. And was headed home after 72 uninterrupted hours with my borderline insane two-year-old. She’d cooked two meals. Watched both my kids. Cleaned up my house. A saint. Now she was packing a bag and driving four hours to my Dad.

At 3 a.m., I was up nursing Ella and texted my Mom, who still hadn’t slept. “We’re in a room. He’s sleeping. Going to be here for at least a week.”

Fast-forward through the weekend and Monday Jack’s little cold turned ugly. Slight fever. Rough cough. Up all night wheezing. The doctor diagnosed RSV, an upper-respiratory infection, which I’d never heard of until becoming a parent. There should be a dictionary dedicated to the illnesses kids can get!

So with my Mom on hiatus and a sick toddler, I called off work Tuesday. My Mother-in-Law swooped in Wednesday to watch Jack – who was still too sick for preschool -while I worked from home and watched Ella. Justin heads up north to visit his accounts, an overnight trip. Wednesday afternoon, Ella’s coughing. Slight fever. Second doctor trip in two days and “She’s going to get worse, but should be able to work it out.”

Thursday Ella’s cough thickens. Jack’s much better, but still clingy. I called off work again. Justin came home early to help. That night, at 2 a.m. I was up to nurse Ella and found Justin puking in the bathroom. He was up since midnight. Chills. Sick stomach.

Friday morning Justin’s better, but not much. Ella’s worse. Fever climbing. Very sleepy. And I’m basically forcing-feeding her. I can’t put her down. Is this what it’s like to have a colically baby??

Third time to the pediatrics we went. Luckily, her fever was on pause, but any higher and we were headed to the ER. Then good news came. My Dad was released from the hospital. I could barely digest it though buggers and popsicles.

On Sunday, Ella’s fever broke and she was her smiley self again. Still a slight cough, but in the morning followed by a large upchuck of phlegm. Yay for slimy mucus!

Again I settled into breathing normally on Tuesday and Justin calls. His stomach still hurts. His doctor said he has an inflamed appendix from a stomach bug. If it’s not better by Friday – or gets worse – head to the ER. I’m not kidding. Are unhappy appendixes contagious?

In the middle of chaos, we finally had a date night. On cheesy Valentine’s Day. I got drunk on one glass of wine. Nursed my headache while nursing Ella that night.

Wednesday Jack was back in preschool. Finally. Went off without a tear. No freak out? Just going to play trains? Our world is spinning crazy and the wildest of us all was actually under control. I pinched myself.

Thursday continued with a chunk of Ella’s phlegm and another non-freak out preschool drop off. Even gave me a kiss. “Love you!” Jack hugs my neck. No joke, I felt his forehead to make sure he didn’t have a fever. Nope. Feels fine.

Here we are today. Thursday afternoon. I’m busy at work. Jack’s busy in daycare. “Workin’ for worms,” he says (We told him we all have to work to pay for big toys and gummy worms). Mom's busy at home with Ella and our mountian of laundry. And Justin’s busy at the hospital.

Yep. Hospital.

His tummy pain got worse. Now I’m waiting to see if one more appendix will be leaving another important man in my life.

And the saga continues… Where did I put my special sippy cup?


“No, me do it!”

A bazillion times a day, my determined two-year-old squeals at me, “No! Me do it! Me do it!” Usually followed by him aggressively shoving away my hand. Hurriedly reaching for an object. Or flailing his arms in a panic. His world. Is. Ending.

I let out the dogs, forgetting that’s Jack’s task and he dramatically throws himself to the floor. Tantruming for fifteen minutes.  Is this just my severely independent son? Or do all toddlers go through the “I can do everything myself” stage?

Whatever the answer, Jack’s philosophy that he can do everything resembles a teenager who knows everything. So how do I tell a bull-headed toddler that he literally can’t turn on the stove, open the pickle jar or get the mail?

I don’t.

What I’ve realized is that the more you tell Jack he can’t, the more he wants to do. Instead, I let him try. When he realizes he can’t squeeze the toothpaste out, he looks up. “It’s too hard,” he begrudgingly notes. “Need help.” Dissatisfaction in his tone.

And when he wants to unload the groceries? Why not? So he carries one bag of bread. Then the crackers. Then one cheese. Drops the juice. Then finds the popsicles and asks for one. He’s helping. And sure proud. It's colored all over his face.

The tricky part comes when his legs are in the air, back on the floor and I’m cleaning a particularly gooey mess from his bottom. “Me wipe it! Me wipe it!” Big sigh here. Instead of letting him get poo hands I respond, “How about I finish what I’m doing, then you can wipe it when you stand up and throw it in the toilet!” Notice the explanation point. Seems anytime I talk with enthusiasm it does the trick.

So, a few things I’ve learned when coping with the I’m-very-independent stage:

1. If it’s possible, let them try.
2. When they let you help, get in and get out. Minimal assistance needed here.
3. Give them their own chores. For example, Jack now helps Dad feed the dogs, puts the bowls away and lets them outside in the morning and evenings.
4. Always let them help, even if it takes all day.
5. Get creative. If they can’t do it themselves, think of something they can and challenge them to it.
6. Distract. When I’m about to breastfeed Ella, which he thinks he can do (seriously, lifts up his shirt and says, “No, me feed Ella”), I’ll ask him to get some books and read to us. Or we’ll read together. Totally forgets he thought he could lactate.
7. Realize they may actually be able to do it. It’s hard, but sometimes they may surprise you.
8. And finally, praise. Nothing shouts your love more than hugs and kisses following a independent, completed task.

Jack cutting, decorating and baking Christmas cookies with Nonnie S.

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