A Rotten Dog that Bites Doesn’t Like Kids?

I was reading through some blog posts when I found a post about a friend’s rotten dog.  She determined that her friend has a rotten dog because it bit… and based on two biting incidents (I don’t know the details of the first), she seems to have come to the conclusion that the dog has decided that it doesn’t like children.

Rotten Dog Hates Children? (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

Can’t you just see the murderous intent in his eyes?

I’m no stranger to a rotten dog.  Winston the Wonder Chihuahua is a terrible little dog, but oh, how I love him.  And Norton loves him.  And really, he loves Norton.  However, he’s also nipped Norton.  I’ve said that each and every time it was not the dog’s fault.  It was not Norton’s fault.  It was my fault for not separating them fast enough.  And I have very passionate viewsabout the decision to bring a loving family pet into your home: it’s for a lifetime.  Sure, sometimes a pet can be successfully rehomed, but there are times when a loving family pet is so devoted to a family member that rehoming is not an option.  If you’ve ever seen a dog pine for its master, then you know it’s a sad, sad thing. [Read more…]

Fearless Toddler Gives Mom a Fright!

Eudora.  She’s sweet.  She’s snuggly.  She’s cuddly and charming.  She’s also a completely and utterly fearless toddler.

For a while now, Eudora has been tearing around the house, climbing and playing.  She’s so very adept at climbing that it has left her totally fearless about getting up or down.  The first time she caused me a mini-stroke was when she decided to climb out of my bed.  My bed is so high that I use an ottoman to help me step into bed.  Eudora decided that she wanted to get down, so she crawled over to the side of the bed, turned around so her feet were dangling over the edge, and slid herself off.  I caught her before she hit the floor.

Fearless Toddler Gives Mom a Fright (Cloth Diaper Addicts)The most consistent display of that irrepressible fearless toddler quality is on the changing table.  She, like most toddlers, hates the diaper change.  It requires staying still and cooperating.  It restricts movement.  In her mind, it just plain sucks.  That means that she takes the most reasonable course of action for a fearless toddler: she tries to slide down, feet first.  Unfortunately, Eudora absolutely does not look when she tries to climb down.  She just slides and expects to land safely.  I’ve always managed to wrestle her back on the table.

The worst, though, was at the park: we decided to take advantage of the long weekend and burn off some of Norton’s obnoxious energy by taking the kids to one of our local parks.  Eudora loves the swings, and it’s the one place that Norton can actually push her and have it be okay.  There are also slides and climbing structures that both kids enjoy.

I didn’t expect Eudora to enjoy the slide.  When Norton was her age, we took him to that same park and he cried when we went down the slide together.  Eudora was already showing her fearless toddler behavior by going down alone and squealing “Whee!” as she slid.  That was surprising… and pretty neat.  It became less cool to watch when she decided to try to climb the large, arching ladder that went to the top platform.  Norton won’t even climb it.  He prefers to stick to the safer rock wall.

Time and time again, Eudora ran to that blue ladder to climb.  I pulled her off repeatedly… and finally decided to just let her go.  She kept going back to it, and I would be right there.  She went.  Every time my fearless toddler pulled herself up on that ladder, I died a little.  I wanted to be a helicopter mom and hover, but bring her to safety before she climbed too much.  I finally contented myself with being extremely close and able to grab her if she got into trouble.  Anything else wasn’t going to stop her.

So she climbed.  And she kept climbing, slowly but surely, clutching her little pink monkey as she went.  When she was pulling herself up to the third rung, she slipped.  I rushed over and grabbed her as she dangled from that rail by her little hands.  I saw a flash of fear in her eyes when I got her down, and she managed to get her little lip bleeding a bit.

In the end, though, she was okay.  That little flash of fear didn’t stay with her, though.  She was still determined to climb any obstacle and wouldn’t let anything stand in her way.

Do you have a fearless toddler?  How do you keep them from getting too badly injured?

Biting Toddler Gets Sharp!

I’ve had a headbutting toddler.  I’ve had a hitting toddler.  I’ve never had a biting toddler.  At least, not until now.

Eudora, as sweet and precious as she is, has clearly become a biter.  It kind of shocked me.

For the first biting toddler incident, we were over at a friend’s house.  Eudora and little Sonia were sitting on a blanket together eating berries… and Sonia complained.  Nikki looked surprised and said, “I think Eudora bit her?”  Neither of us were actually sure… but I couldn’t imagine Eudora actually biting someone.

Biting Toddler Gets Sharp! (Cloth Diaper Addicts)I figured out pretty quickly that it was entirely possible that Eudora had bitten Sonia.  Actually, it was pretty probable.  When I was changing her, she got annoyed and bit my arm.  I was not a happy camper.  I’m raising a baby girl, not a baby piranha.  I yelled ouch, and she didn’t let go.  I had tooth marks on my arm.  Since then, we’ve had other incidents where Eudora tried to bite me, and they were always out of frustration.

There was only one time that she bit when I thought it was kind of justified: she bit Norton after he hit her.  I had to pry her little teeth off of his arm… and then I had two wailing children on the couch.  (Okay, so I wasn’t thrilled that she bit him… but considering how much he beats her up, I can’t blame her for retaliating.)

Since then, I’ve had some success with getting her to stop biting.  But it’s minimal, and it’s only when she tries to bite me: I can tell when she’s trying to bite on the changing table.  If I tell her “no bite,” she stops.  The only downside is that I’ve told her “no bite” when she’s tried to plant random kisses on me.  I hate missing out on crazy baby girl kisses because I don’t want to get bitten.

Have you ever dealt with a biting toddler in your family?  How did you handle it?

Child Empathy Warms My Heart

There are times when my son can surprise me.  I’d always thought that maybe I was doing something wrong since I didn’t understand how to teach child empathy.  On one hand, I recognize that toddler behavior requires a certain amount of being self-absorbed… but on the other hand, I knew that child empathy skills would be invaluable when dealing with peers.  I just didn’t get how to pass this skill set on.

Child Empathy

Sometimes, this little face can make the day seem so much brighter.

I started out the day on a rough note: Eudora was screeching into the baby monitor.  It was 6:15 am.  She stopped, but I couldn’t get back to sleep.  Then there were computer issues and a whole host of other things driving me crazy, including kids with runny noses, screaming Eudora, barking dogs, and my phone pinging like crazy.  The final straw was when I couldn’t find my keys.

I sat down in the hallway and buried my face in my hands.  I was just done.  I couldn’t handle anything else.  Too many things were going wrong at once and I had zero help since my husband was off to work.  I just wanted to cry.  Even my sort of break (also known as “preschool”) was going down the tubes.

Norton saw me and wandered down the hall to where I was essentially hiding.  He patted me on the head and said, “What’s wrong, Mommy?  It’ll be okay.”  That little bit of child empathy was what I needed.  When I looked up at him, he gave me a hug and some kisses… then some more cuddles.  Those cuddles were precisely what I needed.  It was just a little bit of calm, quiet affection.

It didn’t resolve everything that had been bothering me.  It didn’t make the morning magically straighten out.  But what that bit of child empathy did do was that, for just a couple of minutes, I felt better.

Has your child ever surprised you with a bit of unexpected empathy?

Toddler Jealousy – Now What?

Toddler Jealousy - Now What?

This is a rare moment of peaceful interaction.

I knew that we’d have some changes in life as Eudora became more mobile. We’d have to get used to having a tiny person who puts things in her mouth. One thing that I did not anticipate was an unbelievable increase in toddler jealousy.

Norton has always had issues with his baby sister. Granted, the birth and homecoming wasn’t exactly what we’d had in mind.  Our plans for a VBAC didn’t work out.  The husband was so sick with a stomach flu that he couldn’t come get us. My mother-in-law had to pick us up.  I was also starting to come down with that same stomach flu.  In short, Norton ended up spending five days at his grandparents’ house.  It was the longest that he’d ever been away from us.  Then he finds that little baby sleeping in his old room and riding in his old car seat.  Toddler jealousy was pretty rough for that first little while.

For a couple of months, we kind of reached a sort of uneasy truce.  Norton had stopped napping altogether.  Eudora was still taking two naps a day.  We usually had our Mommy and Norton time while Eudora took a nap.  Then all at once, Eudora started crawling and dropped a nap.

That was was the end of the truce.  Norton was no longer able to just ignore her.  Oh, he’d try, but Eudora would commit the intolerable acts of touching his toys and petting his puppies.  That was what caused the resurgence of toddler jealousy.  At first, it was manageable.  He’d snatch a toy from her.  Maybe he’d push her if she touched something of his.  It was always dealt with swiftly.

The more mobile Eudora got, the worse the toddler jealousy issues got.  Now I can’t turn my back for a second.  Even going from the living room into the kitchen to get a bottle is enough time for toddler jealousy to rear its ugly head.  He’ll push her or hit her.  Eudora is no angel, either.  She will pre-emptively scream like he’s killing her because he brushes up against her or even looks at her.

I’m completely at my wit’s end.  I can’t get anything done.  My house is in shambles.  I have to try to minimize bathroom breaks even.  And him telling her “no no” when she does anything (including climb on me or play with her own toys) is getting beyond old.  Sending him to his room for timeouts has no effect.

Have you ever had to manage toddler jealousy?

Toddler Thumbsucking, Parenting, and Being Careful What You Wish For

I have known for quite some time that I have to be careful what I wish for, because I just might get it.  I frequently get what I wish for.  It just doesn’t work out quite as I’d intended.  A few days ago, I’d posted about our toddler thumbsucking issues.  I thought that I’d do anything to get Norton to stop the toddler thumbsucking, short of amputation.

I thought wrong.

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Toddler Adventures in the Great Outdoors

He’s lost his fear of dirt as he rolls in the sandbox. (Taken with my iPhone)

I love our backyard. Sure, there are things about it that aren’t what I’d have intended. I’d love a backyard without a mini ski hill. I’d love to have a green thumb and be able to plant a garden. I don’t have those things, but what I do have is a little place for toddler adventures. Those toddler adventures are generally just Norton and his trusty sidekick T’akaya the Brilliant Border Collie. I’m generally watching from inside.

Our backyard has a little swing and slide and a sandbox, but other than that, it’s pretty much open space. I can’t help but be amazed at how things have changed with my little boy. At the beginning of the summer, when he’d fall down, I’d have to go pick him up. He hated touching dirt so much that he wouldn’t even get himself up when he fell because it meant putting his hands on the ground. If he should, by some unfortunate twist of cruel fate, get anything on his hands, he’d run to me and wipe his hands on my pants. He couldn’t even stand to wipe the dirt off on his own pants.

Now? He’s much more independent. He runs all over the backyard. He plays fetch with T’akaya. He chases T’akaya and she chases him back. Sometimes one will knock the other down and kisses ensue. There’s fun with sticks. He’ll swing on his Little Tikes swing or go down the slide. And he gets dirty… really, really dirty. Sometimes he comes in so grimy from playing in the sandbox and falling down that he often gets a bath afterwards. A lot of days, he doesn’t even get to leave the landing at the back door before I take his clothes off and spray them down with Tide Release stain treater. I hold his wrists when he goes up the stairs so that I don’t have to touch him and he doesn’t touch my walls. He’s starting to live up to that phrase “Boys are noise with dirt on it.”

While it means that my washing machine gets a workout and we actually have to keep a stash of play clothes for him to wreck, I don’t mind. It’s normal toddler behavior. It also means that my little boy is growing up and exploring the world around him.

Have your children ever made complete turnarounds like that? What was their big change?

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The Confusing Nature of Puppy and Toddler Behavior

I will never, ever understand toddler behavior… and I will especially never understand combining toddler behavior with that of a dog.  You see, I know that Norton loves T’akaya.  And I know that she plainly adores Norton.  If she didn’t, she probably would have eaten him by now.

Yesterday, I got annoyed with Norton, and so did T’akaya.  He was taking away her lobster toy.  He was jumping off of the arm of the loveseat and right on top of T’akaya.  Of course, T’akaya was getting quite annoyed with this.  She growled at him.  I couldn’t blame her for growling; he clearly needed to be warned by her that this was not okay.  After all, it’s not like I haven’t done my own bit to let him know that there are some forms of toddler behavior that aren’t acceptable, and hurting puppies is definitely one of them.  Mind you, it’s not like it actually did any good.  He still grabbed her tail and yanked as hard as he could.

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Shining Moments of Toddler Affection

For the first two years of Norton’s life, I didn’t get much of his attention.  I was like… furniture.  You know, like that couch in the living room that’s always there.  All of the really awesome things, like the snuggles of toddler affection and the enthusiasm for the return of a parent, were resolved for Daddy.  I actually didn’t get toddler affection until after Eudora was born.

Once Eudora came along, suddenly Mommy was a desirable thing to have.  It’s like he realized that he’d have to actually share my attention.  Mommy’s time was no longer limitless and all his.  Once he got over being angry with me for bringing home a new baby and being gone for so long (and leaving him at his grandmother’s for so long since the husband and I were both sick with the stomach flu when we brought Eudora home), he decided that he liked me.

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Keeping Toddler Trust

There are times when my little boy amazes me.  Okay, at least once a day, I look in awe at this amazing little guy and am filled with love.  Occasionally I almost get teary over it.  Today, though, I had this wonderfully profound moment based on thoughts of toddler trust.

I have days when I think I’m failing at being a mom and I beat myself up.  I have days when I realize that I’m doing the best that I can at being a mom, and I’m the best mom for my children because I’m theirs.  And then there’s this other kind of validation that I get from toddler behavior, and it’s just magical.

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