Getting your Child to Sleep – You are NOT alone

OMG – I LOVE this story!

I am – almost – at the point I could sit outside the door, and not quite at the having to wait through the ‘sounding out’ phase (although we read FIVE books, one of them a chapter book chapter each night now).

I have, however, been through the wishing to just die, please let this child go to sleep episode over and over an over again since 2007. But there is light at the end of the tunnel – I am now sitting beside the bed, with my i-phone (in the dark), reminding her to calm down and go to sleep until she finally passes out.  Funny how that ‘forever’ can be as little as 15 and as much as 45 minutes long…

Also funny how this story does not make me depressed (there is way more yet to come), but rather relieved that others have this problem too.

Learning things the hard way #1

Ok, I call this # one – not becausee it is the first tmie WSPs (World’s Smartest PreSchooler) has learned something the hard way, but because it is the first full post I’ve made about an episode (I think).

Day Care teaches many tings, and WSPs has been spouting many phrases learned from peers (and teachers) without having a good grasp of what they really mean.  One recent phrase has been, “Mommy, I busted my lip.”  Usually this is accompanied by tears and drama at a relatively low level.  And it has been met with both hugs, and “Is it bleeding? No? Then you haven’t really busted your lip,” followed by a basic explanatin of ‘busted lip’ means you actually split the skin and it bled. 

This is met, of course, with mild pouting and disgust – mom is so unsympathietic to drama. Sometimes I even get rolled eyes or a sharp sound indicating that I am NOT in favor and should be quiet now.

Yeah, you can see where this post is going – TONIGHT we learned what and ACTUAL split lip was.  REAL screams of pain and outrage, real tears, blood, and a sore and swollen lip.  And I couldn’t help myself, I did actually say, “Now you know what a busted lip is,”…um…several times.  That’s right, I essentially said I told you so to a 3.5 yr old. Repeatedly.

And felt somewhat smug about it too.

The bleeding stopped very quickly, and the tears stopped almost immediately after that (and a bunch of cuddles). There was some affronted complaint that “it still hurts” up until bedtime and a lot of playing with the swollen and puffy lip. (“Sweetie, if it hurts, stop playing with it.”)

And of course WHERE did this take place? And WHY?

At the Grocery store, in the affluent part of town. Because we were letting her run around  in the store and get tired out before bed. I’m sure her screams could be heard in all corners of the store. Sigh.

So not only am I a bad parent for rubbing in the I told you so, I am also a bad parent for letting her act inappropriately in public and get hurt in the first place.

Interestingly, I’m not actually feeling all that bad about it.  For one thing, she has a better grip on a phrase/concept, and may use this episode to slow herself down when running.  For another thing, she’s sleeping soundly tonight (whoot!).

And some things you have to learn about parenting the hard way….several times…before they really sink in/you change your behavior.

There is Safety in Moms…

Interesting advice from a letter in the NY Times (in reactions to yet another tragic child killing story):


 July 15, 2011   To the Editor:  Safety Lesson for Children

 Re “Boy’s Killing Causes Parents in the City to Ponder Their Worst Nightmare”  (, news article, July 14):

 As your article points out, generations of parents have taught children, if lost, to “look for someone in uniform.” But it can be hard to find a police officer on patrol, and to a little kid, a person in a uniform can be just about anything, and as we’ve seen on repeated and awful occasions, not necessarily someone intent on protecting a child.

 It is time for a new message. What parents need to teach little kids is that if they are lost or confused, they should reach out to a mom. A mom is most likely to pass a child on to safety.

 It is a simple but urgent lesson.

 SARAH CRICHTON, Brooklyn, July 15, 2011

Interesting that WST (now really a WSPs), when lost, tends to automatically go up to someone else who has a child…or a grandmotherly old lady…

Yeah, I’ve been quiet a while  – and I note I have 4 draft posts in the queue…plus another dozen running around in my head.  Still kinda too busy living motherhood to stop and comment on it much, but I’d like to do better…

Merry Christmas to Us – the Parents

So I dropped WST at daycare today – all dressed up for her Christmas party, with cookies she helped decorate and select for her classmates, the appropriate toys/gifts for the party, and a striped santa hat.

As I was peeling her out of her coat (and lovely crocheted sweater, that NEVER stays on for more than 30 minutes), the head of the daycare stopped to tell me:

“WST has the best manners of any child here – she is just so polite.”

I said thank you, and noted that we rolled high on the “desire to please” genetic code, and wrestled my child to class, told the teacher a half dozen things, signed her in, and got in my car with that realeived sigh I always give when I have released my parental responsibility for the day and can now worry about other things.

Then I thought about that. Really thought about it.  The previous day had been an odd one – weather making daycare open late with low staff, so the Daycare head had to fill in and likely had several hours direct exposure to WST during the day.  And she was so impressed she went out of her way to tell me.  They have over 50 kids (OK some of them babies), and she was impressed with MY child’s manners.

Wow.  Just wow.

The more I thought about it, the more choked up I got. I was actually weeping when I pulled into the parking garage for work.  What a wonderful Christmas present for us, her parents.  Confirmation that we are doing something right. That we are GOOD parents.

That sigh I give every day after I drop her off? That’s the sigh of  “Can stop being responsible/in charge/perfect now.”  Every moment of every day that I am with her is always, in some part, about “doing it right.” Every action, statement, activity, and slothful moment in front of the TV is judged and compared to what *I think* I should be doing to give her a happy childhood, and support her growth into a neat adult person.  And I know the dads do that too – they worry, “Are we doing this right?” “Could we be doing this better?” “Was that a mistake?” “Are we spoiling her?”

So it is really a great thing to get a spontaneous confirmation like that.  What a wonderful gift to give a parent.

So thank you again. Thank you so very much.
That means the world to me/us.

Pass it on.
Tell a parent what they are doing right this holiday season.
Make their day.

Teach a mom – reach a kid!

Today’s post is prompted by an article sent by my boss from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH):   Improving mothers’ literacy skills may be best way to boost children’s achievement

Now I *read* – like obsessively. I’ve been accused of being a book/reading addict. I’m the kind of person who has to have something to read for the few minutes I am on the toilet.

I read while WST was in the womb, I read while I was in labor (good drugs), I read in recovery, and I read during those first few crazy months after she was born. (Me healing from a cesarean, her not sleeping, neither of us very good at the breastfeeding thing, etc.)  I figured out how to read while pumping, while she napped/slept on me, and even now, while she attempts to play with and around me.

I read to her when she was days old, and every single day she has been alive – except when I have been away, in which case her dads read to her.  Books are her friends, she hugs them, is excited when she gets a new one, cries when we have to give library books back, and begs for more at bedtime reading (although this may have ulterior motivations).

CLEARLY I have had an impact on her preparation for schooling.  At 3 she is conversing like a 4 or 5 year old, solving and examining problems far beyond typical for her age, can name most of the alphabet, and can recite the spelling of ther name (and recognize it in print).  Now given, we rolled high on the genetic dice for brains.  But also obviously, environment is important.

[Visualize soap box here.]

K-12 schools fail some folks.  One-size-fits-all systems will always fail in a society of unique individuals.  Instead of pouring more and more $ into these flawed systems, perhaps we should PLAN on that % of failure and set aside funds to TEACH ADULTS WHO NEED IT.

Breaking the cycle of  low literacy  is ciritcal to improving the cycle of poverty.  Moms who read are less likely to get pregnant again, more likely to give their kids proper pre-natal care, infant and child nutrition, cognitive stimulus, and discipline.  They are also more employable and likely to be employed.  And, as this study shows, their kids will do better in school, be more employable, and ALSO raise kids who are too.

[Patent “bleeding heart cause” plug]

You can help. 
See if you can do any one of the following in the next year (and the year after that, etc.):

  • Speak out about literacy issues in general.
  • Donate time or money to your local adult literacy program.
  • Volunteer to teach or tutor someone who is learning to read (or do math, or learn computer skills).
  • Vote for candiates who support LIFELONG learning initiatives.
  • Volunteer to read to kids at any local daycare or school.
  • Support any “books for families/kids” program you can. [Imagination Library as an example]
  • Donate books to daycares or schools, community centers, battered women’s shelters, etc.
  • Read to YOUR kids, and encourage them to read to anyone who will it still long enough.

I admit, I work in the field of  Adult Literacy for a living.  But really, all my bias aside, is this not everyone’s issue?

Hey, guess what?! I’m smarter!

So Uncle Lamont sent me this link:  New Moms Experience Mid-brain Growth

Here’s the gist of the article:

“Exploratory research published by the American Psychological Association found that the brains of new mothers bulked up in areas linked to motivation and behavior, and that mothers who gushed the most about their babies showed the greatest growth in key parts of the mid-brain.”

And here are a few other interesting excerpts:

In adults, gray matter volume doesn’t ordinarily change over a few months without significant learning, brain injury or illness, or major environmental change.

The areas affected support maternal motivation (hypothalamus), reward and emotion processing (substantia nigra and amygdala), sensory integration (parietal lobe), and reasoning and judgment (prefrontal cortex).

Women most thrilled by their babies underwent the greatest brain remodeling.”

Since I think WST is the way coolest thing I’ve got going right now, this means I should be bulking up brain matter at high rates!  How about you?

My Child Has a Good Life

In Africa, malaria kills one child every 30 seconds. More

My child complains that she has to take a bath to wash off the “bug juice” (mosquito repellent) after she plays outside.  She exclaims loudly at each bug bite, requesting ‘medicine’ and a Dora bandaid for each one.

Worldwide, more than 125 million children under five years of age live in households without access to safe drinking water.  More

My 3 year old* child just learned how to get her own water from the spout on the front of the fridge.  Water that has been treated, and then locally filtered to remove impurities that might affect taste. When she has drunk enough from her glass, she stands on tiptoe to pour out the rest as she is “done with it.” 

Globally, more than 280 million children under five live in households without UN acceptable sanitation – many having to share a village cesspit with other households.  More

My child has learned that she can delay going to bed or other unwanted tasks by sitting on the potty and saying “I’m waiting to poop!”  She just recently learned that it was POSSIBLE to pee in the woods when we are too far from a potty to keep an accident from happening. (She now, of course,  wants to do it again.)

1 in 10 households in the US  report being unable to afford nutricious meals for their children or report being unable to afford enough food to keep their children from going hungry. Some report their children going without food for a whole day.

My child is offered twice as much food as she will likely eat at each meal, and sometimes must be coaxed into eating what her mother thinks is ‘enough’ calories for a meal. She rarely has to wait more than 24 hours if we are out of something (nutricious) she wants to eat.

1 in 25 children in the US has no parent to live with (that’s 2.9 million kids). (cite)

Once she is home from daycare/school, my child is rarely ever without one of three parents, and can CHOOSE which one puts her to bed at night, which one(s) play with her after dinner, which one gives her a bath, and in what order each of them kisses her goodnight. At school, she has a teacher/child ratio of 1:10 or less. Oh yea, she gets to go to safe, education-based daycare five days a week.

Tonight, when I put my child to bed, there will be something like 300,000 homeless persons in the US without a bed (on the “street” or in other places not meant for human habitation).  Roughly 6300 of these homeless persons will be considered “unaccompanied youth.”  More

My child sleeps in her own room, in her own bed, with between 12-20 “stuffed friends,” 5 pillows, 2-4 blankets, warm pajamas (generally with socks), two night lights, a sippy cup of safe water, and 3 parents nearby. Her house is warm, dry, safe, and reasonably clean. She can go to the bathroom within 20 steps of her bed, indoors, in sanitary conditions. She lives in a comparatively safe neighborhood, where we are not afraid to have her out at night and are only chagrined when we forget to lock the doors at night.

My child has a GOOD life.  A VERY good life.  She is wonderfully fortunate. And very loved.

Perhaps, then, I should scale back on the level of child-related worry I seem to carry around with me every moment of every day? You think?

*2 years, 50 weeks, 6 days and counting.