Posted in Uncategorized

What is the plan, Stan?

“Mummy, are you dropping me off?”

“Yeah, I am”

“Are you picking me up or is daddy picking me up?”

“I am”

“Where are we going today?”

At the end of a long day at work? Going home, I hope! I tell her we are going home. She thinks about it for a moment.

Can we go to Coles?

Grocery shopping? With you? At the end of the day? Why doesn’t that sound so appealing?

What do you want to buy?

Umm… Milk, yoghurt, strawberries…

Sometimes her list is so accurate it freaks me out. If I want to go shopping, say for clothes at Target or DJs, I usually don’t feel so tired. In fact, she is a great help when it comes to deciding what to buy. We end up eating out, which means no cooking and tidying up. She loves eating out. Everybody wins.

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If I tell her that daddy would pick her up after daycare, there is a follow up question. Of course!

Where are you going today? Do you have a party? Are you going to a movie with your friends?

Once that is answered and filed away, we move on to more important things.

What do you have for my dinner?

Do you mean snacks? What I have packed for when I pick you up?

Yeah, what do you have for my snacks?

I mumble something about a fruit, biscuit, peanut butter sandwich or Vegemite toast. Most days it’s alright. She just wants to know what it is. She doesn’t fuss. Once in a while, she would like to know if she has other options. I may let her choose between a fruit or a biscuit. I might ask her to eat both. I might have to tell her to eat whatever I’ve packed and wait to get home for whatever she demanded. It depends. When she doesn’t have any choices, she accepts it gracefully.

Yes, I do like bananas“, she’ll say, if I had a banana.

I am wracked with guilt when she asks me the question on a day I’ve forgotten to bring something. Those days exist. I tell her I’m going to get her fruit and ask her if she has a preference. Sadly, I don’t always manage to keep that promise but she is okay. More guilt for mummy!

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credit: image from Reader’s Digest

It is amazing how much conversation we fit into the walk from the train station to the childcare center. Amidst the noise of traffic, I strain my ears to listen to her questions and answer it as best as I can, without yelling and informing all the world about my plans for the day. If we waited at traffic lights, we have more time, and therefore more questions.

What day is it today?

Monday.

She sings, “Sunday, Monday, Tueday, Wennday, Thurday, Friday, Satuuurday… 7 days are in a week…

It only takes the briefest of moments before the next question comes hurtling down.

Is it my Show-and-Tell day todaysoccer tee

No.

Is it my soccer today? Or is it dance?

Today is soccer.

Is it my soccer day and dance day?

No, just soccer. Dance is on Thursdays.

Alright. I don’t want my friends calling me R. I’m Elsa today. Queen Elsa of Arendelle. 

Okay. Why don’t you tell them your Elsa? If you don’t tell them, they won’t know.

Little do I know that they do know. She has trained everyday at the daycare to call her Elsa. As soon as we enter, her friends come by and say, “Good morning, Elsa“. Her teachers are wary:

“Good morning! Am I speaking to R or Elsa today?”

“Good morning! Who are you, today?”

She has a big smile on her face, as she shyly says, “Elsa. Queen Elsa of Arendelle

Oh! I must be Anna then“, says one of her teachers. If she is lucky, she’s right. It could be one of the boys or the other girls.

Queen Elsa.jpg
Thanks, Google
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Posted in Random

Another girl bites the bullet… my first love is my daddy, she says

Daddy daughter loveMama, can I get married when I grow bigger?

Yeah, sure. If you find someone, when you’re old enough, you can. 

Can I marry my daddy?

Umm, no. I don’t think so?

But I wanna!

Why do you want to marry your dad? He’s already your daddy.  

I love him. I want to marry him when I’m bigger.

Hmm. What about me, then? What will I do?

I’ll marry you too. I’ll marry my daddy and my mummy!

Obviously, she got my question wrong there. I meant to ask what I should do if she married my husband. Apparently, I wasn’t clear enough.

After a moment’s thought, she decided that she only really wanted to marry dad and not mum. She felt obliged to offer to marry me, in order to not hurt my feelings.

Mummy! I’ll marry my daddy when I’m bigger and I’ll marry you when I’m smaller. Deal?

Of course! She is never going to “grow smaller”, so that’s a win-win for everyone.

Daddy, I’m going to marry mummy when I am smaller. Bye Daddy. Have a nice day!

We jumped off the train and headed to the daycare. There was no more talk of marriage, as we discussed the plan for the rest of the day. Yeah, that’s right. We plan ahead and she needs to know the schedule beforehand. That’s another story!

Posted in Fail, Parenting

A little poo goes a long way

I come from a generation of people who watched FRIENDS and reruns of FRIENDS growing up. Monica Geller was a significant character in the sitcom. Among other things, Monica is a stickler for rules. This is what I remembered the other day when my little girl told me she pooped in her pants because her teacher did not tell her to go to the toilet.

Backing up a little bit, here is how it played out.

When I went to pick her up that evening, she was crying. I gathered her in my arms and asked her what was bothering her.

Catalina“, she said.

What about Catalina?

I don’t know

I probed further but to no avail. All she would say was the name. I tried with leading questions – did she say something or do something – but all I got was “I don’t know“.

One of the other teachers went to find Miss Catalina, the new Spanish teacher at her school. Miss Catalina asked me if I needed anything, then informed me that I had to pick up R’s soiled clothes from the shelf in the children’s toilet. To my question whether R had wee’d in her dress, she answered that she had pooped.

A bulb lit up at the back of my head as soon as she said that. If I had to bet, I’d say that it was Miss Catalina who changed R when she soiled her clothes. R was worried that Miss C would be complaining to me about the incident.

Recently, R has discovered that her teachers give me an update on her time at the daycare. She knows that she cannot lie to me about her afternoon naps because her teachers will tell me if she has not slept. If I know what activities she has done during the day, I don’t mention it and let her tell me so she doesn’t feel like her parents are hovering with invisible cameras around her. It is a better view too, without a doubt, picturing her day the way she tells it. For things like food, sleep and toilet, she knows I know and I am quite happy to leave it at that.

That afternoon, she knew she had messed up when she did a number two in her clothes. As soon as she saw me, she suspected that Miss Catalina would tell on her and I would know all about it. She knew it was wrong. I cannot say if she thought I would scold her for it but she certainly wasn’t expecting praise. I gently rebuked her, making sure she knew I was not going to punish her for it. I told her that she was a big girl and should be going to the toilet when she has the urge. She seemed quite distressed so I left it at that.

Why did you not go to the toilet?“, I asked her later, when we had settled that I was not mad at her for the mishap.

Because it was not my turn. My teacher did not say I could go“, she replied.

She is so used to the teachers lining her up with her friends at certain times of the day, for toilet, that when she had an urge outside those times, she did not think she could go. She held on till she could no longer hold it and made a mess.

It is so ridiculously funny but concerning at the same time. I explained to her that she did not have to wait for her teachers to tell her to go to the toilet. In fact, she did not even have to wait for her turn when they were lined up, if she had the urge. She merely had to tell her teacher that she needed to go and head to the toilet. They would understand. I think she got it. She was quiet but she nodded.

It was an accident, mama“, she said to me later that night. The incident had made her self-conscious. It had been preying on her mind all along, confusing her. She knew it was wrong and she knew I was not shouting at her for it. At the same time, I did warn her and it was as if she was not sure that we were okay. She had to make sure I did not think she was a bad kid.

I know, baby. It’s alright. Next time you want to go, you tell your teachers and go. You don’t have to wait for them to tell you. You can tell them when you need to go and just go“, I reiterated.

Next morning, I repeated the story to her teachers so they would not think she was defying them if she had to run off to the toilet ‘out of turn’. She was quiet all along and her face was expressionless. She did not even wave goodbye at me when I was leaving. I wished I could tell what was in her mind. I had tried to joke about the incident with her teachers but I wonder if she thought I was mocking her. The child can be quiet surprisingly aware and complex in her mind, at times.

I’m not sure if I dealt with it the right way or not. I can tell it left an impression on her but what exactly that impression is, I cannot tell. A small corner of my brain worries but I know I had to be stern about her using the toilet. A little part of me wonders if I should have let it be.

How gentle do you need to be, to be a good parent? What is the right way to deal with a tricky situation like this? Am I overthinking the situation? How will this have an impact on her, in the long term? Will it?

Posted in Reverse-parenting, Wins

Role Reversals: How Bad Is It?

Me: I’m a bit stressed today

R: But why?

Things at work

Hmm

What should I do?

I think you should be patient

You think so?

Yeah! And you should get some sleep. When you wake up you’ll be better.

A recent article I read spoke of parents who treat their children as friends and how much of a disservice they were doing, by not letting the kids be kids. By that standard, I must be a toxic parent! In my defense, it is not me pouring my troubles before my child but she wants to know. When I lie down next to her at night and say, “Tell me about your day… what did you do at the daycare“, she asks me to tell her about my day at the office. Sometimes.

The first time she asked me to tell her about my work, I asked her what she wanted to know. She wanted names of people I work with. Then she wanted to know who I liked working with and who the “bad people” were. She was interested in why they were bad. She asked me what I did at work all day. Did I sit at the computer like Peppa Pig’s mum?

Today, I told her I was stressed. Ok, she didn’t ask me and it was not at bed time but I told her just after dinner. I could not think of much else to talk about. I was too wired up. Often I find that I get a more appropriate response from her than her dad, in these situations. I guess it has something to do with how simple her life is compared to the five-million-thoughts-a-minute running through an adult brain. She hears the problem and gives me the obvious solution. Why did I not see that? The truth is, I did but I didn’t. I saw it but I looked past it because I was too busy stressing or wallowing or maybe I’d already moved on to the next issue coming at me.

Toxic or not, it is amazing to see the world through a little toddler’s eyes. I am not expecting her to grow up quickly or be my best friend but why shouldn’t I get down and embrace the simplicity of her view? Some times we just need to hear from someone else what we already know. Why couldn’t that someone be my child? It makes her feel empowered, because she helped mum with something. Between hearing the statement and admiring my child’s ability to address my issue while simultaneously making sure her Lego tower doesn’t topple, I’ve already calmed down quite a bit. The stress is sliding off me real quick because I am now overwhelmed with pride at how beautifully she grasped the concept of stress and de-stress. If she can tell me this, maybe… hopefully… she will remember it when she is distressed.

I’ve seen her get frustrated in the mornings when she can’t get her clothes on or after dinner when her narrow Lego tower keeps falling over. She has come a long way from screaming and crying, to trying again once she has gotten the poison out of her system. The screaming now is not a ear-splitting where-are-my-parents yell but instead a long grunt of exasperation to expel the negative feelings. I can see her self-regulating her emotions and boy, am I a proud parent!

By the time she went to bed, I was ready to cross some chores off my list. I was ready to channel my highly strung nerves into something more creative. I certainly do not feel like a toxic parent. I do not believe my daughter went to bed thinking about my stress or patting herself on the back for helping me relax. I doubt she made as big a deal of it in her mind as some of these parenting articles claim. As far as I could see, she went to bed, as always, arguing with her dad about how many stories he had to tell her, which version of Rapunzel’s tale she wanted to hear and whether mum would join her in bed after she has gone to sleep.

Do experts overthink these situations? Are they right, whoever they are that make up these studies? Should parents take what they read with a pinch of salt?

Posted in Parenting, Talents, Uncategorized

Mummy’s Me Time Involves Googling Hairstyles, Braids and Princesses Before Work

As I left home as an adult, I cut my hair short. There was no mum to care for my hair and I decided it was far too much work to try to style it. It’s my turn to be mum now and R loves long hair. Not only does she love it but she expects me to be able to do all the hairstyles her favourite characters sport. Ouch!

For a long time, she wanted the Elsa hair. I got away by braiding her hair for a bit and then I bought a blonder braid extension to add to her braid. It was best $5 I’ve spent. To this day, she doesn’t quite know that it isn’t the actual Elsa hair style as in the movie but just a regular braid. One morning, I was in a bit of a hurry and had to request one of her daycare teachers to braid her hair. It was a different to how I normally do it and it stayed in place for longer than my regular braid. Since then I’ve been doing a couple of versions of the French braid, with this blonde extension. She absolutely loves it.

braid blonde
$5 at H&M, complete value for money

For the last couple of weekends, it’s been all about the Rapunzel hair. I’ve had to sacrifice a scarf in the process, so she can have long hair that will “circle” at her feet. I haven’t let her wear it to the daycare. Luckily for me, there wasn’t much of a style involved with there. Rapunzel mostly lets it hang loose. I doubt that Mother Gothel cared much to Google braids and styles for her ward anyway. It must really hurt your arms to tie all that hair up every day. A couple of times R has mentioned Rapunzel’s braid with the flowers, when she’s at the village, but so far I’ve gotten away without having to do that. In preparation for the day when I might not be able to get out, I sought help from the world wide web.

I found an Elsa braid tutorial on Pinterest (more here). It looked complicated for a daily school braid. I pinned it for later and only got to it this morning. I had to look at the youtube video to learn how to do it. I might not be able to do it exactly like the video but I reckon I can pull off a fishtail braid easily enough. That should work for the next Rapunzel flower braid request. Anyway, one thing led to another (as it would) and before I knew it, the morning was gone. I woke up at 5:30AM to get some time for myself… and spent the hour and half looking up how to do a variety of easy and stylish braids. I also managed to find a website of princess hairstyles, which I imagine will serve me well for the next Halloween or some other special day.

Somehow, over the last 3 years, ‘me time’ has become all about researching on things that will satisfy her needs. Preparing myself for requests that might come my way when she is awake seems to be all I do while she is sleeping. On the rare day that I get to commute by myself on the train, I find that I don’t have a book to read and I’m too excited to sit still, so I eventually end up Googling some place I could take her on the weekend or Pinning activities for the quiet times. It is like this cartoon I saw on one parenting forum, once.

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As soon as I’m done with her stuff and get started on mine, she is up. That is my cue that it’s time to start running against the clock. Another morning of trying to get her to daycare before morning tea and myself to work with enough time to grab a coffee before dashing into the first of many meetings. It’s only Tuesday.

Posted in Fail

A Break From Being Her Hero

Overheard from the bathroom:

I’m doing a wee, dada

Are you?

Yeah. Sssssshhhhh

Don’t just make a wee-like noise, R. Do a wee!“, I yelled from the bedroom.

Is she coming?

Who?

Mama! Is she coming here?

Dada grabs the opportunity when he sees one. “Yeah, if you don’t wee, she will come here.

Five minutes later, when she came out of the bathroom to dump her clothes in the laundry hamper, she saw me and said,

Mama, I tried.

Huh?“, I was far away in my thoughts.

I tried to do a wee.

She was going to bed without peeing. She wanted me to know that she had tried and it wasn’t her fault.

After a day of parenting fails, I did not particularly care to be the bad parent. It was enough. Normally, I would know that I am her hero and she is trying to impress me but today was not one of those days. Today was one of THOSE days!

She moved up a level in swimming today. No doubt I’m proud of her but, for the second time out of three, she has received her certificate on the day I wasn’t with her. I was expecting her to move up but not for another week at least. It had to happen today, when I had a late start and decided to stay home. Not the best way to begin my day. Parenting Fail #1.

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I used the spare time in the morning editing and collating pictures from her weekend visit to the Ekka, for her Show-and-Tell at daycare. Unsurprisingly and unexpectedly, the activity spilled into the afternoon and R got zero attention from me during the time. She had not missed that either. It was obvious when she woke up from her afternoon nap and would not let me have the last five minutes I needed to copy the images onto a drive to take to the store for printing. I figured it would be worth it in the end except… the lady at the store handed me the receipt with a ‘PAID’ stamp on it and asked me to come back tomorrow since it would take an hour, which was past their closing time. Parenting Fail #2.

I promised her that if she took a short nap, I would take her to the park in the evening. By then, I had already promised on behalf of her dad that she would be going to the park where we had her last birthday party, after swimming, and reneged (in my defense, it was lunchtime). I was determined that we would go to the park in the evening. Two hours into the nap, I knew I had to wake her up but I held out, frantically finishing up the photobook for Show-and-Tell. When we finally left the house and arrived at the park, it was too crowded. We would end up waiting for a turn at the swing all evening and I still had to take the pictures to the store for printing, so we made a last minute decision to go to the Shopping Centre instead. I knew fully well there was no coming back to the park after that but I let her believe it might be possible. I think she knew it would be dark by then too. Parenting Fail #3.

I resolved to let her have a go, or two, on the rides at the Shopping Centre. So, while daddy dearest stood in line at the grocery store, I took her to the Peppa Pig ride (which was now Wiggles). I had coins. She asked. I inserted my coins in the machine. It spat it out. Another little girl and her mum were with me, trying to get the damned thing to work. It refused to accept our coins. It was turned off. Of all the time I’ve been to the Shopping Centre, I’ve never seen one of those rides turned off. Today, it was. At least 20 minutes before closing time too. Parenting Fail #4.

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She made her special coffee this morning and brought it to me in bed

I apologised profusely for the park fiasco and all R said was,

It was dada’s fault, mama. It was not your fault. He took a long time at the grocer’s and made us late.

For the second time today, while I was trying to find ways to feel less guilty about my parenting fiascoes, she trumped me with her generosity. Earlier in the day, while I was yelling at her for not doing something right, she interrupted me.

Mama…

I am not finished speaking, R. Please listen to what I’m saying

Mama, I love you. I just wanted to say that!

Umm… okay. There was no way I could continue my rant after that.

By bedtime, I was tired of the epic fails and tired of the guilt tying me down. She called out her goodnight from the room. Unlike other days, I just called back from the living room. No hugs, no kisses. Parenting Fail #5.

On the bright side, the day is over. Almost. We did manage to do a playdough activity together. She decorated her Little Pony while I fed her dinner. Still, I’m glad the day is over. Bring on Monday morning!

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Posted in Family Tradition, Parenting, Wins

I Got It From My Daddy

“Mummy, I don’t like you. Go away!”

“Do you want me to go away? Will you stay with daddy by yourself?”

Thinks for a moment.

“I like you to sleep with me”

“Huh?”

“I like to cuddle with you and sleep. I don’t like you when I wake up”

So she needs me for her naps and bedtime but she prefers dad for play.

“Why is that?”

“Dada lets me stay in the bath longer”

That was a couple of days ago. I’ve heard this a few times this week. Last night, I was out at drinks with my work mates. R’s dad picked her up and took her to Hanaichi for a meal of chicken and rice. While eating, she apparently said,

“Daddy, mummy doesn’t bring me here. I like you. I don’t like mummy”

I’m beginning to understand what people mean when they say you’re doing something right when your teenager kids hate you. I hadn’t quite been able to relate to that until now. The threenager in this household is teaching me things I was not expecting to learn for at least another ten years. Yet, here we are.

On the bright side, she stopped one of the neighbours on the stairs when they got home and told her,

“My dada doesn’t know how to do Anna hair (i.e. two braids). My mummy can do it”

Aha! Drum rolls! Trumpets! Louder!

If she were doing our performance appraisals and handing out roles, it would go like this:

Mummy takes care of my needs and does it well. She can be my mummy. She can braid my hair, buy me twirly dresses, feed me vegetables and make me sleep.

Daddy lets me do fun things and buys me chicken & rice. He lets me stay longer in the bath, he sings and plays music with me, he lets me watch TV. He can be my best friend.

I’ve said in the past that I wanted to be the fun parent but ended up being the one that disciplines the kid. The consolation prize is knowing that I am, at least, doing it right. Daddy can be the fun parent and entertain her while mummy goes out gallivanting with friends. It even sounds like the perfect arrangement to me now. The Universe has a way of dealing out the right cards for everyone.

So, while they listen to the same song for the 363rd time and eat breakfast, I get to drink coffee in bed and do my blog. Perfect arrangement? Can’t complain.

This week’s favourite songs:

(Dad) Marble Sounds: Leave the light on

(R) Despicable Me: I’m having a bad bad day

Before that, we listened to endless repeats of

(Dad) Psy: Where did you get your body from

(R) Frozen: Let it go

It looks like we may be in for a change next week because I hear this happening in the kitchen right now, just after a new song finished playing

“I didn’t like this song. Did you?”

“Why, daddy?”