Monthly Archives: October 2012

What’s So Bad About A Binky?

My positive attitude has nearly run out. I’ve managed to keep believing this would work, but each time we have a good night it’s followed by a crap one.

I am nearing the end of the Sleep Lady Shuffle and Jack has yet to sleep through the night. When I say sleep through the night I mean sleep from bed time to wake up time. There was only one night, night number 5, that I count as successful. He woke up just as I was going to bed at 10:50pm and fell asleep again by 11:33pm. He didn’t wake up again until 8am. That is the only night this has happened. He wakes up at least four times a night, one night he woke up as many as eight times. I have tried hard to stay positive, which as a generally non-positive person is really hard for me. I have given him stickers, wet myself with happiness when he has had small success, showered him with praises and followed the rules of the shuffle fairly well. The problem is I don’t think it’s helping.

I know it takes time, I know each kid is different. I know kids are only human and have good days and bad days. The books says that kids get ritualized easily, but Jack does not seem to be getting ritualized. The book talks a lot about sleep crutches, being sung, rocked, walked, patted to sleep. I wonder if the Shuffle has given him a new crutch, needing me to come calm him and shush him every time he wakes, because Jack didn’t have any of those other issues. We had a bedtime routine, he had a regular bed time and nap time. He was sleeping well at night. The only thing he had to have at bed time was his binky. Now that it’s gone I’m wondering what the heck was so bad about it?

I know, teeth growing in all crooked, but he didn’t even have it all night long, it would fall out of his mouth. He didn’t get it at any other time of day, only when he was sleeping. What’s so frustrating is that he used to be such a great kid! He’s not the devil incarnate or anything now, he’s just so tired. I’m not saying he was a perfect angel before, he is a three year old after all. All I’m saying is he used to be more well rested and because of that he was easier to deal with. He had fewer tantrums and could calm down quicker when he started to loose his temper.
Now he’s so overtired that he freaks out over the smallest thing. He has a harder time listening to me and a harder time following instructions. I know he understands what I tell him, but he just can’t calm down enough to do what he’s told. The binky helped him sleep which made him more able to focus, listen and learn. So I ask again what’s so bad about a binky?

When his doctor said get rid of the binky, I just assumed that she knew best. But does she really? She’s an excellent doctor to be sure, but she sees Jack once a year for a maximum of 20 minutes. Her knowledge of Jack doesn’t go beyond his behavior in the exam room and what I talk to her about. Now that I really think about it, I wonder if his doctor should be followed blindly on this issue. I believe that was my first mistake, assuming that the  doctor knew what was best for my child. We’re told on a regular basis we know our kids best, but when our doctor says jump we’re supposed to just do it without thought? Without taking a look at our lifestyle and what would benefit our kids?

A toddler’s life is full of change, potty training, new beds, new friends, and sometimes preschool. Our life has also been full of moving and vacations away from mom. But he’s never had this reaction to change before. He embraced potty training almost from the beginning. I think he thought it was a game and the fact that he got candy was an added bonus. He was excited about his new bed, and even picked it out. Sure it took a couple days for him to get used to sleeping in it, but it wasn’t too hard.

But the binky has been a different story completely. I think that taking the binky away so abruptly was a mistake. I probably should have talked about getting rid of the binky for longer than a week. But I think the biggest issue is that he simply wasn’t ready to give it up. With potty training and with his big boy bed he was excited and eager. Saying goodbye to binky was always tinged with insecurity. But since I believed he had to get rid of it I forced it and basically handed myself over a months worth of sleepless nights.

Do I regret using the binky to begin with? Yes, a little only because it’s causing such heartache for Jack now. Do I wish I had started sleep training early, without a binky? Of course, because I’d more likely be getting sleep now. But we can’t turn back time. We can only learn from the past, so if I ever have another kid I’ll know what I want to avoid. As it stands I’m still not sleeping well and neither is Jack.

So now I’m not sure what to do. Should I keep going with the Shuffle even after it’s done, even though we’ve only had marginal success with it? Should I give his binky back and continue with the Shuffle? Then, later, follow the books suggestions for getting rid of the binky? Should I bring the binky back but with a strict set of usage rules?

Something has to happen soon because I’m terribly tired and so is the kid. When I’m tired I get irritable and grouchy. The small amounts of patience I have dissolve into feelings of rage that I suppress until I’m about to explode. Something needs to change right now and if that involves giving the binky back would that be so awful?

The Sleep Lady Shuffle

Last week I wrote about my struggles with Jack’s sleep since we got rid of the binky. In response a friend of mine brought me a book called Good Night, Sleep Tight. She told me how it had worked for her kids in two weeks, so I thought I’d give it a try.

So far it’s not too bad.  The first and third nights were the worst, followed by two really great nights when he slept through the night with out calling for me. Last night he went to bed well, but woke up four times. The book says that by night 13 they should be going to bed easily and not calling out. I’m really hoping it will work because Freddie the Frog has proven to be a disappointment.

In theory Freddie would be great, but in reality not so much. He’s good for shedding a little extra light if Jack feels he needs it, but his music is too loud. I have it on the softest setting and I can still hear it in the living room. The other problem with the music is that if Jack can’t calm down enough before bed he’ll sit there and play with the music to keep himself awake. This is especially bad if I miss his “sleep window” and he gets his dreaded second wind.

I’ve been working really hard to not miss his “sleep window” though. I missed it on the third night and he was awake in his bed until past 10pm. At 9:45pm I told him I couldn’t sit there anymore since he wasn’t going to sleep. I said I was going to brush my teeth and change into my pajamas then I’d come check on him. I did that, and he was still awake, so I told him I was going to the living room to watch a show and I’d check on him again before I went to bed. I guess that night it was just me sitting there keeping him awake, because once I left he turned off his frog and went to sleep.

I think what it really comes down to is being consistent. It doesn’t really matter what method you go with as long as you stick with it. I’m convinced that kids can sense weakness and they do everything they can to exploit it to get what they want. That was my biggest problem, was being consistent. I think I just wasn’t sure what to do. When he was a baby I did the cry it out method and it worked in about a week. It worked because I stuck with it. I had a method with rules and a goal.

This time it was a different situation. When I did the cry it out method before my neighbors were so loud and rude I didn’t care if a screaming baby woke them up at 2am. But now I have a nice neighbor who works early in the morning and all day. I felt like I couldn’t do the cry it out method again. The other puzzling thing was that Jack was such a good sleeper before I was a little surprised by his behavior. I thought it would be about a week or two to adjust to having no binky.

After reading the Sleep Lady’s book and looking at our lifestyle, I can sort of understand his issues with sleep. There has been lots of busyness, transition and general hubub this summer (well this year). I like to be active, I love to visit friends and I loved that Jack was so easy to put down at other folks houses. But now I just have to face that he’s got some sleep issues we need to fix before he can get good at sleeping in a strange place again. So I’ve committed myself to two weeks of being home in the evenings in time for our bedtime routine. In fact tonight is the first night we’ll be going out after nap time.

We have dinner plans with the very friend who loaned me the Sleep Lady book. We’ll see how Jack does tonight when we get home. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Referendum 74

Oh boy folks. It’s election season. My least favorite time, I don’t like politics. I don’t get involved. I find the phone banking and petitions and bullying and scare tactics tiresome. But this year there is an extremely important referendum at stake. R 74 is about marriage equality.

I try not to let things get to me, but seriously folks, this is important. This bill is not about changing the very definition of what you think marriage is. That’s what great about the US, you’re allowed to believe whatever you want. If you believe marriage only happens between a man and woman, fine you’re allowed to believe that. Thing is American’s boast about freedom and equality. If you’re legally not allowed to marry the person you love how is that equal? Even if the state says that marriage is two adults consenting to spend the rest of their lives together instead of one man and one woman, who cares? You don’t have to believe that or teach that to your children.

People get very worried about what their children will learn in school. Honestly, you are the parent. You raise your child the way you want. When I went to school I took sex education where I learned about STD’s and prevention. They talked about abstinence and they talked about birth control, pills, diaphrams, condoms etc. I didn’t run home with a jumbo box of condoms and start having sex with every guy I saw. Because my parents took the time to educate me themselves. They told me what they believed and asked me to make a choice. They did not rely on the public school system to raise me for them.

So people are concerned that this new marriage law will be taught in schools. I went to public school, and I don’t recall there ever being a time when we were taught about marriage. How would this even come up? Heterosexuality isn’t taught at school, so why would homosexuality start being taught? This makes no sense at all.

Opponents of R 74 also suggest that the best environment for a child to be raised in is with both of their biological parents. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that not all heterosexual marriages have been perfect.  So it’s a weak argument for opponents of R 74 to suggest a child would be raised better by their biological parents. Look at the show 16 and Pregnant. Just because you can have a baby doesn’t mean you should. Additionally just because you physically can’t have a baby with someone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Marriage is not all about having babies. In fact I know several couples who got married simply because they loved each other, but weren’t sure or were even absolutely positive they didn’t want to have kids. Should those couples be denied the right to marriage simply because they weren’t going to have children?  What about people who get divorced after having children? What about a parent who takes their child away from the other parent due to abuse? What about death in the family? There is always an ideal situation, but I think the ideal situation is confused with this argument. A child can grow up happy, and well in a same sex partnership. The ideal environment for a child is a loving one, which sometimes might not include both the biological mother and father.

The  last thing I want to cover is Church’s and religious organizations.  Many people assume that church’s and other religious organizations will be forced to abandon their beliefs and perform ceremony’s for same sex couples. It says point blank in the actual Referendum that this will not happen. “This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.” Again here’s the beauty of living in America, the church and the state are separate. So even if R 74 passes church’s still reserve the right to say no to a couple who asks to be married there.

I have two people in my life who I consider close, dear friends. They happen to be gay. If they meet someone and decide they want to spend the rest of their lives with that person I want to be able to go to their wedding. If my son grows up and finds that he’s a homosexual I want him to have the right to marry the person he loves. That’s what referendum 74 is about. It’s about love. It’s about spending your life with the one person who makes you happiest. We simply can’t deny that right to same sex couples any longer. For love, please approve R 74.

Battle of the Binky

There was a time when my son would go to bed with very little struggle. We had our routine down to an art. Putting on Pj’s, brushing teeth, reading stories, singing a song, then into bed to go to sleep. The worst it ever got was sometimes he’d want me to sing his lullaby again once he was in bed. He would sleep well, until about 7:30 or 8am when he would wake up and read or play quietly in his room. Not only did he do bedtime well at home, but it was so easy to take him places. He could go to sleep almost anywhere. Until the day I took him to his 3 year check up and the doctor told me to get rid of his binky.

My arch nemesis, how I loathe you!

I knew it would be hard. Kiddo loves his binky very, very much. I knew there would be a time of adjustment. I just didn’t realize it would take such a long time. I decided to postpone taking the binky away because I was going out of the country for a week and thought it would make the time away even harder for Jack. So when I returned from Mexico I told Jack we’d be saying goodbye to his binky. We made a special box, decorated with paints and stickers. We kissed binky goodbye and I hid it away in the closet with his other baby things. That night I was prepared for crying, what I wasn’t prepared for was the negotiating. That kid managed to keep me in his room a full hour and a half after bedtime. Finally I walked away thinking things would be fine now he was asleep.

That night I woke at least three times to a crying 3 year old. I thought about the cry it out method. So I went in to soothe him for 15 minutes. 15 minutes turned into an hour, an hour to an hour and a half. I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing to soothe him, besides me singing myself hoarse or rubbing his back.

I left him crying in his bed for the third time. I lay in my own bed wondering what the hell I should do. I have a neighbor that works everyday, early in the morning, I wondered if she could hear Jack. I told myself it would be similar to the first time we “cried it out.” It would take about a week for Jack to adjust to the new routine.

Over a month later I’m still clinging to that idea. Just a few more days I tell myself, then it will be back to peaceful slumber all night long. Every night I wonder how much longer this could possibly go on. Then there will be a random night where bedtime goes smoothly and only takes about 20 minutes. He’ll sleep through the night, and wake the next morning in a great mood. I think, Yes! He’s done it, he’s adjusted, I get to sleep like a normal person again. But then my positive attitude is repaid the next night with the most craptastic bedtime yet.

I thought maybe his lamp and sound machine were keeping him awake. So this weekend we went out and got a Slumber Buddy.

Help me Freddie the Frog, you’re my only hope.

So far he seems to like it. I’m not sure how much it’s actually helping though. I think what I need to do now it just leave the kiddo alone. I feel like a terrible mother, but I don’t know what else to do, but just not go in his room when he starts to cry. I read an article that said a lot of children need to re-learn how to soothe themselves at this age. So unless he’s had a nightmare and needs comforting don’t go in. My problem is I don’t know the difference between crying because he can’t get back to sleep and crying because he’s had a scary dream. If I ask if he had a bad dream of course he says he has. But I don’t know if it’s true. He’ll say anything to keep me in that room. Last night I listened to what he was saying, first he was saying he wanted me, then he said he needed water, then he said his belly hurt, then he said it was scary, then he said he wanted a song, then a story, then he said he wanted to sleep in my bed. Finally he ran out of steam and fell asleep.

What’s more is that putting him to bed at someone else’s house is such an ordeal. It takes a long time and I’ll just have to wake him up when it’s time to leave. A lot of the time now I’ll just let him stay up and then put him to bed when we get home. But that makes bedtime even worse when we get home because he’s so over tired. The battle is totally different when he’s overtired. There’s no negotiating just rubbing his eyebrow until he’s asleep, then creeping out of the room.

I’m at the end of my rope. I’m pulling out my hair, I don’t know what else to do. I do know that I need to get sleep. We just started a reward chart yesterday, complete with stickers and bitchin’ rewards, like a new toy, or a trip to gramma’s house. The night before I bribed him to sleep with promises of pancakes and SpongeBob Squarepants. (I kept both promises by the way.) Any helpful suggestions? Seriously I’m open to anything short of drugging him or giving him whiskey.

Cut Off

It’s a good thing I don’t have one of these cause I would probably turn into the kind of person I rant about.

This summer my sister and her hubby moved out to the forest. For one reason or another they haven’t had a chance to get cable or internet hooked up at their house. Since I don’t have a smartphone with a ridiculously expensive data plan I’m pretty much cut off (aside from phone calls or texting) when I go visit them. Some tend to feel annoyed or downright panicky when they’re cut off like that, but I find that I really enjoy it.

The first time I went out to their new place was for their housewarming party back in May. Since they live an hour and a half away from the city a lot of folks decided to stay the night. It was fun actually chatting with people in a quiet setting. It was easy to have a conversation, and relax with friends. I felt like I was actually connecting with people in a way I haven’t in quite awhile.

I think that’s what’s missing most from life these days. Actually being around other people and focusing on them. Having real conversations about things that are happening in our lives, instead of the latest funny meme on [insert random social site here].

Things like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and blogs (yes even blogs) make it seem like we’re connecting with people all the time, but are we really? We text, but we don’t have vocal conversations. We “Like” things but we never tell people how much we like them. What kills me now is that when you’re with someone in person the likelihood of them being distracted by their phone the whole time is so much higher than it used to be.

Maybe this is the old foggie in me coming out but I hate when I’m hanging out with someone and they have their phone out the whole time. We’ll be having a conversation and they’ll check their phone a million times. If you’re checking it to keep track of time fine, I do that too. But when they’re checking their email, texts and social sites the whole time they are with me, it makes me feel like they’re just waiting for the next best thing to come along. It’s as if hanging out with me is so wicked boring, they can’t wait to move on to the next thing.

I admit I’ve been guilty of checking my phone repeatedly while hanging out with a friend. I usually keep my phone close at hand so I can reply to a text quickly, or so I can check the time. The difference is that I’m a single mom. If I get to go out solo my kid is usually with a sitter. So if the babysitter has an issue I want them to be able to get a hold of me really easily. I’ll also check the time incessantly because I don’t wear a watch and as a general rule I like to be considerate of my babysitters time.

The thing that irritates me most is when you’re with a group of people and half of them are checking Facebook, or checking in on Foursquare, or texting each other across the table. What the hell happened to speaking to each other across the table? You’re with ten people you claim to be friends with so why not put the phone away and act like it?

What do you guys think? Have we forgotten how to have conversations in person? Have we forgotten how to just be with each other? Have we forgotten how to be alone with our thoughts?