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Just TALK to me: Frustrations in Toddler Communication

As much as I love my Bean and as proud as I am of her, there are days that feel too hard.  I’m sure most parents feel that way. We’ve had a few of these recently, probably in part because she’s been off from school for the holidays, and our routine is out of whack.

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Photography by Sasha Georgeson

These days, one of my biggest challenges with the Bean (besides my lack of sleep) is communication.  She’s going to be four years old in March, and while she’s come a long way (baby), figuring out what she wants is still often a guessing game.  Yesterday morning, she woke up way too early and was wailing about something.  Now, most kids her age can say, “Mommy, I want to get up and play”, or “I’m hungry. I want some cereal for breakfast”.  But this morning, all I got was a cranky, “Naaahh”. Sometimes this means, “I’m hungry, I want a snack”; sometimes it means, “I’m uncomfortable – something’s wrong”; yesterday morning I think it meant, “if you make me go back to bed I’m going to make sure you’re as miserable as I am”.

All babies start out being unable to clearly communicate what they want.  Their parents learn to interpret their cries and it starts to get easier, and at the same time, those babies learn to talk.  By one year old, the average child can string together a few words and start to control their world through language. They figure out that “more milk” gets them what they want faster than just saying “more” on it’s own.

The Bean took a little longer than most to get those first words, although sign language really helped.  Learning the signs for her basic needs, and being able to teach them to her, was a huge relief.  “Milk”, “food”, “play”, “all done” and “more” were indispensable tools in our arsenal, and we learned a bunch of other signs that were part of her world and helped her to talk, but were not necessarily included in the “needs” category.

However, as her wants and needs get more complex, it’s getting harder and harder to interpret them with the few words she uses regularly.  Her vocabulary is growing a lot more quickly these days, and when the Bean is calm, she can actually put together five-word sentences: “I want more milk please” (Sounds like “Ah wah moh mih eee”).   Unfortunately, as soon as the Bean is upset, when she needs to be able to communicate most clearly, she forgets that she has any words at all.

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Photography by Sasha Georgeson

According to Dr. Harvey Karp (author of the “The Happiest Baby-” and “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” books), toddlers become “cave kids” when their emotional state gets too elevated.  Their brains go into a mode that doesn’t allow any sort of reason to leak through.  It seems, though, that the Bean’s emotional state still gets heightened immediately, when most kids her age are getting to the point where they can control their emotions a little better.  For example, the second a show she’s watching is over, she’s screaming, “Moe, moe, moe” over and over again as if it were the end of the world.  As with all toddlers, we’re working on the concept of patience.  In this particular situation, the context is so specific that I know exactly what she wants, and often, even if I say, “No, we’re all done watching TV” , she repeats “Ah duh” and is happy to be led to another activity.  But all too often, I have no context to her crying and it takes a while to figure it out.

I think this time in the Bean’s life is particularly difficult for communication because she has many of the needs and wants of kids her age.  She also gets frustrated very quickly, which is totally normal and appropriate for her developmental age, if not her chronological age.  But her disadvantage is that she doesn’t have the vocabulary to go with those more complex needs and her heightened emotional state.  Her frustration gets exacerbated because it takes me longer to understand her, and then we cycle into a downward spiral of louder crying from the Bean and increased anxiety on my part, and nothing getting accomplished until I finally stumble on the thing she wants.  AHHHHH!

I need to keep reminding myself that all my friends with preschoolers went through this with their kids when they were still toddlers, it’s just that we’re doing it later and it will last longer.  Even though the Bean is a preschooler, she’s also still a toddler, and that’s just the way it is for us.  It is sometimes comforting to tell myself that God gave the Bean to us because we are the best parents for her needs.  I believe that I am becoming a stronger person and a better mother as I learn from each situation we come across.  I’m realizing more and more that I also can’t do this without God and my husband.  If I were a single mother, I think I might go over the edge.  And I can’t even imagine what adding another baby to the situation would do to us, when the Bean still needs so much help, so that’s definitely off the table.

Thankfully, there are plenty of days when things go very well and the Bean is a happy-go-lucky kid with a positive attitude.  Even the difficult days aren’t all bad – we always figure things out eventually and move on.  Some days include tears in my eyes or frustrated pillow-punching, but most don’t.  Some days I feel supported and encouraged by friends and family, and some days I feel like I’m the only one in the world dealing with these things, even though I know I’m not.  It helps to write about it;  it helps to read about it; it helps to discuss particular issues with her teachers and therapists; and it definitely helps to get together with other moms and discuss everything from how long it’s been since we’ve had a bubble bath to discipline strategies for our toddlers.

I am supremely grateful for all the support and encouragement I receive from my friends, family, and acquaintances.  And to tell the truth, the Bean herself is the best reward  and encouragement for all my hard work.  She is usually a happy, cuddly, funny little girl who makes me feel like I’m the most important person in the world.

Leaps and Bounds

image011 (1)My Bean is growing in every way all of a sudden.  She has moved up a size in clothes, which is super exciting for me because I was getting tired of dressing her in her 12 month stuff.  For those not familiar with the Bean, she’s tiny – 3 3/4 years old and now wearing 18 – 24 month clothes.  What mom doesn’t love new clothes, even if they’re for her child and not for herself?

Walking is the Bean’s favourite hobby.  She toddles around everywhere, dancing if there is music and running (sort of) if she’s super excited.  She sure keeps me hopping when we’re in public – her curiosity knows no bounds, so she’s off the second I put her down. A whole new world has opened up to her and it is so much fun to help her explore and discover new things.

She keeps herself busy while I’m working in the kitchen by removing plastic containers from the cupboard and distributing them around the house.  She loves to “help” me wash dishes, standing on a chair at the second sink with her own bowl of sudsy water.  While it makes a huge puddle on the floor, and she keeps stealing the clean dishes from the rack and putting them back in my dishwater, it can be tremendous fun.  I still eventually get the dishes done.

Laundry is a similarly fascinating chore.  Bean likes to push the buttons on the washer and dryer, so after we load them, she closes the door and gets them started.  She recently started taking clean clothes out of the laundry basket and putting them away in her drawer. As long as I’m one step ahead of her, she manages to put the right things away in the right places and I don’t have to reorganize when she’s done.

023The challenge of communicating with the Bean is starting to get a little easier.  She attempts to copy everything we say, and it’s been a blast finally being able to teach her new words and have her respond.  With Christmas coming up in a few days, we were thrilled that she has learned to recognize and sort of say “Santa”.  We’re still working on “Baby Jesus”.  She had a Santa cupcake at her Christmas party, and since she associates cupcakes with birthdays, she wanted to blow out a candle.  I used that opportunity to remind her that it is Baby Jesus’ birthday, and we sang and pretended to blow out a birthday candle.  So cute.  However, the fact is that Santa is a much more compelling symbol for a toddler – bright colours, concrete concepts, and presents…the importance of the birth of Jesus is a little too abstract for her yet.

My favourite part of parenthood these days is playing with the Bean.  She has a great imagination and loves to make jokes and laugh.  Her jokes usually involve some sort of slap-stick comedy, and she giggles uncontrollably at her own antics.  She loves to be tickled and startled, asking for “moh” (more) over and over again.  At the playground, she enjoys climbing the structure and sliding with me down the big-kid slide.  When we get to the bottom, she pretends to be a chicken as she waddles back to the stairs again, flapping her wings and clucking, “buh, buh, buh”.

128Preschool continues to be an awesome experience for the Bean.  Her teacher is on maternity leave, but they’ve had a string of wonderful substitutes in the meantime, and the teacher’s assistants are a stable presence for the kids in their teacher’s absence.  Bean is apparently the “angel” of the class – the sweetest and least disruptive.  Of course she is – she’s her mother’s daughter!  But seriously, I feel very fortunate that her diagnosis doesn’t come with an expectation of major behavioral challenges.  She certainly gets frustrated and can be persistent about having things her way, but unlike some of the other kids in her class, she doesn’t tend to lash out physically or flop down on the ground in protest.  At her most aggressive, she’s just really loud and squirmy.  I get more resistance from her at home than they do at school, I think, but that’s pretty normal for most kids.

014Mostly, these days, she feels like a delightful 2-year-old.  It seems appropriate to me that her mental age seems to fit her physical age, even if they don’t correspond with her chronological age exactly.  She’s starting to get interested in dolls and playing dress-up.  If they didn’t make her also do other activities, she would be a permanent fixture in the play kitchen at school.  At home she loves to build with and knock down blocks, pull stickers off their sheets and stick them everywhere, have tea parties with Elmo, and get dirty in her sandbox.  When I’m digging around in the garden, she joins me, although a lot of soil still goes in her mouth.

Our biggest challenge with the Bean continues to be her sleep habits.  Currently, she mostly sleeps with us in our bed.  She won’t settle and fall asleep at night time without one of us lying beside her.  If we do put her in her own bed, she wakes up an hour later and we have to do it again.  She still takes naps but if she sleeps for more than an hour in the afternoon, she’s up until 9 or 10 pm, which means that my Sweetie and I don’t get much of an evening together.  We’re working on some strategies to get her sleeping consistently in her own bed.  She is too persistent at this point for the Cry-It-Out method, and frankly, I’m too soft-hearted to be able to stand it.  I think part of it is that she’s just a very physically affectionate child.  She needs the reassurance and comfort of a snuggle – I say there are worse things in this world than that, for sure.

Potty training is in the concept stage right now.  She’s starting to make it known when she needs a diaper change.  We’re working on recognizing when she’s actually going so we can start to preempt it and get her to the toilet.  But she doesn’t like sitting on the potty or on her little toilet seat, so we’re trying to get her used to that first.  As with most things in the Bean’s life, it will take a lot more time than it does for most other kids.  That’s just the way it is for us.  And in the meantime we’re helping to keep Pampers and Tide in business.

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I predict that the coming year will be one of even bigger leaps and more impressive bounds.  Our Bean will be turning 4 in March – it’s surreal to think about.  I feel like I’m finally coming into my own as a mother.  The extended infant stage was not my ideal situation…as much as I love babies, having one for 3 years while all the other kids are changing rapidly was a little disheartening and quite difficult for me.  As always, though, when I look for the silver lining it’s there.  Most mothers mourn the speedy passing of the infant stage.  I got to coddle and snuggle and baby my little one a whole lot longer than most moms before she became a wriggly wild thing.  Every milestone reached tastes that much sweeter because of the struggle it took to get there.  I don’t take anything about the Bean for granted.  I marvel at how far she’s come in the last year and I feel grateful for all the help we have along the way.

What a blessed life we live!

Maybe Not My Proudest Parenting Moment

Today I stumbled across a section of the Family Matters blog site that focuses Raising a Child with Special Needs.   I read the most recent post and found myself in tears.  After a break to collect myself, I went back to the blog to explore further, and found myself in tears again and hugging the Bean close.  Okay, something is going on with me today.  Obviously I have some unresolved pain around the Bean’s Journey so I decided to explore it…in public on the blog of course.

In general, I’ve tried to remain positive on this blog:  I acknowledge challenges but try to put a positive spin on them.  And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that; there is something to be said for maintaining a positive attitude.  But it would be dishonest to pretend that I always deal with those challenges in a constructive way.

One of the Bean’s persistent “bad” habits is pinching.  She finds the most sensitive bits of skin on my body, such as the tender skin at the back of my upper arm, on my throat, or on my breasts, and squeezes them hard in her considerable pincer grasp.  She’s not doing it to be mean or spiteful.  It’s something she does to comfort herself when she’s upset, or to show her affection, or to get my attention when I’m focused elsewhere.  It almost seems totally unconscious.

I hear that this type of pinching is not the exclusive domain of Special Needs kids – my friend’s 3-year-old once pinched her regularly, and her 1-year-old currently tortures her with pinches.  But with the Bean, the habit is not going away as she gets older.  I tell her that Mommy doesn’t like her pinching and ask her to stop, but that doesn’t work at all.  Sometimes I make a joke about it and tickle her to distract her, but that only works temporarily.  I pull myself away, or tap her hand to remind her that pinching is not okay, but she only goes back to it.

These emotions portrayed by Jane Lynch show exactly how I feel when the Bean overwhelms me. (photo by Howard Schatz)

Yesterday, I was trying to make dinner and the Bean was being needy and clingy.  I had been trying to keep her entertained while doing dinner prep and nothing was keeping her attention for more than a couple of minutes, not even the all-engrossing television.  I got frustrated and snapped at her for the constant whining, feeling totally overwhelmed.  My Sweetie came home and took her off my hands for a few minutes (thank goodness!) but then left to dress down and get ready for dinner.

The Bean continued to complain, and I finally gave in and carried her on my hip while I stirred the food on the stove.  As usual, she started to pinch and I used my well-worn ineffective tactics to no avail (definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting different results?).   Annoyed, but not yet angry, I very calmly decided to teach her a lesson.  She obviously did not understand what I was telling her about the pinches hurting Mommy.  So I evenly said to her, “This is what your pinches feel like”, and I pinched a small portion of her tender skin between my thumb and forefinger.

She looked at me in shock for a second before her lower lip puckered out and she started to cry – a good honest cry – no whining anymore.  My Sweetie came into the kitchen to see what else needed to be brought out to the table and I gave him the Bean, explaining what I had done.  I felt a little bad for making her cry, but only a little.  This girl pinches me A LOT!  He comforted her, we had dinner, and then I put a very tired Bean to bed.

Looking back, I’m not sure how I feel about that moment.  Was it wrong of me to pinch my little girl?  I didn’t do it out of anger, but as a genuine attempt to help her understand what she was doing to me.  Still, was there a less violent way for me to teach that lesson?

I’d love any suggestions from my wonderful readers!

A Bean Update

I feel like I’m not doing a very thorough job of keeping record of the Bean’s life so far.  She’s been growing in leaps and bounds lately and I can barely keep up.  So, in the interest of just getting it down so I don’t forget, here is a list.

Language

  1. She recently started using a 4 word sentence: “I wah moh ee” (I want more please).  When I try to coach her to say I want _____ please (like park or outside or down), she always says “moh” with utmost pride at being able to fill in the blank.
  2. She sings a lot, and more and more often I can recognize the tune.
  3. She can approximate most of the letters of the alphabet, and one of her favourite games is to sort through a pile of wooden letter magnets and guess what letter each is.
  4. She tries to count when she puts things in her bowl or when we’re reading books.  Usually, she starts with “nye” (nine) unless prompted to say “wuh” (one)
  5. She sometimes gets frustrated and just starts screaming and crying when she wants something.  When that happens, she’s almost always hungry or tired. It feels good to have figured that out.
  6. She understands so much of what we say to her.  I think once her mouth figures out how to do the talking, she will astound us with what she knows.

Her first big “boo boo”.

Physical Development

  1. She can climb to the top of the play structure at the elementary school by herself.   At preschool, she can climb to the top of their smaller structure and slide down the slide on her own.
  2. She can navigate almost any surface with her walker, and she’s starting to experiment with balancing on her own and taking a couple tiny fast steps with no help. She’ll start Physical Therapy again next week, so I expect this will start to explode for her.
  3. She recently fell down and scraped her face up pretty badly.  It was swollen for the first 24 hours, and the scabs looked terrible for a few days, but she was a champ and healed up really quickly.  Right after I cleaned up her fresh wound, tears still streaming down her face, she wanted to get back into her walker and go see the pigs we were  headed toward at the farm we were visiting.
  4. She loves to bop to music and she’s starting to do this standing up as well.  She’s been dancing sitting down for a while already.

General Development

  1. She’s doing a lot more independent play.   She loves to play with her doll house in the kitchen while I make dinner.
  2. She wants to help with the laundry, dishes and food prep.  She stands on a kitchen chair at the sink and plays in a bowl of cold water that I’ve placed in the second sink for her.  But her hands and the clean dishes often end up back in the hot soapy water, which means a lot of extra rinsing for me.  It’s still fun to be able to do dishes with her instead of fighting for some time on my own to do them.
  3. The Bean loved having her hair blow dried.

    We got her hair cut for the first time recently.  She did great in the hairdresser’s chair and wanted “moe” when the hairdresser blow dried her hair.

Sleeping

  1. We’re finally starting to get some sleep at night.  She resists going to bed, so I often have to take her for a walk or a drive in the car to get her to sleep.  We’ve also been giving her melatonin some nights if it seems like she’s going to be wired for sound all evening.  She wakes up in the middle of the night (the time varies greatly) at which point we just pull her into bed with us.  Then she sleeps until at least 7am, which means her parents also get to sleep.  It’s been wonderful to get more than 5 hours of sleep on a consistent basis, and while it’s not ideal to have her in our bed, it’s working for us right now.
  2. She often falls asleep in the bus on her way home from school, although lately that’s happening less often.  Recently, I started trying to have her down for her nap between 1:30 and 2pm, and only let her sleep about an hour.  This seems to be helping with the going to bed end of things.

School

  1. The Bean LOVES school!  She has so much fun playing with the other kids and doing all the activities.  I currently drop her off at school in the morning, and then she takes the bus home.  They have 5-point harnesses built into some of the bus seats, and she really enjoys taking the bus like a big girl.
  2. We signed up for summer school, and a good friend of ours is going to be one of her teacher’s assistants for a couple weeks in the summer semester.  The Bean is going to be so surprised on Monday when she sees her there.

Social

  1. She is starting to get excited to see her favourite friends.  It’s cute to see all the kids get excited to see her when she gets to school or daycare.  A couple of her classmates regularly give her a hug when she gets to school.  She’s starting to let them hug her – at first she resisted a little.
  2. We’ve been getting together with a couple of friends weekly.  The Bean is learning to share her toys and ask nicely when she wants something her friend is playing with.  This is a process, and we’re just at the beginning.

Three is a really fun age.  It’s fun to see how the Bean is keeping up with her peers, and also interesting to see where she still needs to catch up.  Right now, she feels like a 18-24 month old in many areas.  And yet she also feels like a baby a lot of the time.  We haven’t started potty training yet, and she still needs help with a lot of things, but she is so independent about other things.  She hates it when I try to help her with something that she wants to figure out for herself.  Our life is an exaggerated example of how every child develops on their own schedule, regardless of the average.  And it’s “awedome” (awesome).

Musings of a Mother

In the midst of the Bean’s evaluations and meetings regarding preschool, I noticed something that gave me pause. The administrators and therapists who were helping us through the evaluation process were handling me and the Bean’s “disability” with kid gloves.  They were cautious about suggesting that the Special Needs school might be the best fit, and were very diplomatic about mentioning their findings during their evaluations.  “Why”, I wondered, “would they need to be so careful?  It’s not like we don’t know that the Bean has global developmental delays.”  Then it hit me!

the Bean and her walker

The Bean loves her walker. She asks to "wah" every time she sees it.

There is still a stigma in our society about people with special needs.  I pride myself in being accepting of others regardless of differences, and even I’ve been guilty of making snap judgements about and feeling pity for people who need extra help from a device or human assistant.  I’ve tried to be very matter-of-fact about the Bean’s needs and limitations, but when we first got her walker, I resisted bringing it out in public because I didn’t want people to stare.  If she’s just walking holding both my hands, people can assume she’s a year old and just learning to walk.  But if she’s got a walker, it’s obvious that “something is wrong with her”.

I have felt the same way when people ask how old she is.  I am sometimes tempted to tell them she is 12 months old.  After all, that’s how big she is – wearing 12 – 18 month clothes. But I’m a little too honest for that, and I don’t want to deny who and what she is.  When I respond that she just turned three, people are pretty quick to add things up and realize that she’s got special needs.  Sometimes I explain; often I just say “she’s pretty small for her age”.

The thing is, in a lot of ways, she’s right on track for her age.  She’s high in the social development ratings, and understands a whole lot more than she demonstrates in standardized testing.  Sure, she’s miles behind the other “typical” kids her age when it comes to preschool tasks.  But she’s come an incredibly long way, especially in the last 6 months.  I’m so incredibly proud of her.

As the Bean gets older and starts to understand more, I worry a little about how to address these things with her.  Now that we take her walker with us everywhere we go, kids at the park DO ask why she needs it.  I tell them that she has trouble walking by herself, and needs to use the walker to get around.  I figure honesty is the best policy.  Most young kids want to try it out.  Older kids look thoughtful when I respond to their questions.

The most interesting reaction I’ve found is the difference between men and women.  If we’re in public…say walking down a sidewalk in the city while we wait for Daddy to get done at work…men glance at the Bean and look away quickly; I’m not sure what runs through their heads – perhaps they wouldn’t even have noticed us except for the walker.  Women give us genuine smiles that reach their eyes; they see how cute she is with her tiny walker, and understand that she’s just a kid learning to walk.  There may be some sympathy for our struggle, or some thoughts of “I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that” in their heads, but I don’t feel like they avoid us. Of course, this trend is not universal.  I’ve had men comment on the Bean’s determination getting up a hill, and I’ve had women glance and move on.

I think it’s different when it’s an adult who is struggling down the street.  We expect that kids are going to need some help, but we feel sorry for adults who aren’t as self-sufficient as we are.  There are people and organizations out there who are doing a great job of helping adults with special needs to integrate into society and be as self-sufficient as is possible given their limitations.  We may or may not need their services when the Bean gets older – who knows.

In the meantime, I’m just so grateful that special needs services are so readily available in our area.  With budget cuts and economic hardship looming over everyone these days, I only hope that these services continue to be available to those who need them.  I would never have known how to help the Bean reach toward her potential without the help of her therapists in her first three years.  After two weeks of preschool, I’m already seeing a leap forward in her communication skills, gross motor skills and even fine motor skills.  Without the assistance of her teachers and the example of her classmates at school, she wouldn’t be making these big strides.

I am so excited to see how things progress for the Bean in the next few years.  She’s a determined, hard-working, happy little girl, and I know she will continue to surprise us with her accomplishments.  I was recently asked about my goals for the Bean for the next three to five years.  Before having a child with special needs, I would have replied with goals around getting good grades at school, reading at or beyond her age level, and learning to play an instrument…all things I was doing from age 6 – 8.  But now, my goals for the Bean are to be able to walk without the walker (see note below), to be able to play with her friends without assistance, and to be able to communicate in small sentences.  It’s  not that my expectations have been lowered…I think I’ve just figured out what is most important.  Sure, it’s good to do well in school and become educated in music and culture.  But I think it’s even more important to be active, to be a good friend and to communicate effectively with those around you.

(Note about the goal of walking without the walker:  If the prognosis was that the Bean would always need a walker, this probably would not be a goal for her; but all indications point toward eventually being strong enough to walk unassisted.  If she needed a walker for the rest of her life, we’d make peace with that and move on). 

Back to the cautious and diplomatic handling by the evaluators and administrators in the school system.  When I realized what was going on, I was frank with them.  “I try to be very realistic about the Bean’s abilities and needs.  I want her to go to the special needs preschool so that she can get as much assistance as possible. I don’t have an ego around what school she goes to or how much help she needs”, I declared.  They were visibly relieved to hear it. “Not all parents are as open-minded”, I was informed.  “We just want to give her the best chance at success.”  Thank goodness!   Me too!

Wow, where have I been?

Okay, so this is the point at which I usually beat myself up for falling behind on my blogging.  I think I predicted that this would happen at the beginning, because I know myself quite well.  BUT, I’m back and raring to go, and I’ve decided to treat myself like I would treat others and be really forgiving.

The Bean at preschool

My big girl on her first day of preschool.

We recently had a BIG change in our lives: The Bean started preschool! She turned 3-years-old two weeks ago and so was at the end of her eligibility for the Early Intervention program coordinated through our local Regional Center.  She, instead, became eligible for the Individualized Education Program coordinated through the school districts. In the US, kids with special needs are legally entitled to government-funded schooling and as much assistance as they need can be afforded by the budget to meet their needs.  What services you get can also depend on how much noise the parents make, so I’ve been told by friends and therapists to fight for whatever I think the Bean needs.

Over the past few months she has been undergoing progress tests and evaluations, both with her existing therapists and with new ones that work for the school system.  The reports were studied and recommendations were made for which class and which services the Bean would participate in.  We met with a group of people to discuss and agree on the preliminary plan, and it was decided that the Bean would be best served by the special needs school run by the County instead of the default option, which would have been the integrated preschool in our school district.

So, on Monday, March 26, I walked my baby big girl into her new classroom, kissed her goodbye and managed to refrain from giggling like a maniac as I skipped walked serenely down the hallway back to my car.

I’ve heard stories of parents who cry when they drop their kids off at school for the first time.  “She’s growing up too fast”; “I’m going to miss my baby”; “I’m getting old!”.  Not me.  As much as I adore my Bean, I’ve been joined at the hip to my little girl for three years straight, and I have been dying for some “me” time.  And it’s not even just time to sit and do things I love, like writing and getting my nails done.  I’ve been wishing for time to get my house clean, update the budget, do some weeding, groom the dog, refinish the dresser I bought at a garage sale 6 months ago…the list goes on.

Now, I’m sure some children have a lot of trouble with separation anxiety when they start preschool, and so their parents are suitably traumatized by the experience.  But my Bean is pretty cool about that.  We’ve been making sure to give her experience with other caregivers since she was tiny – my parents took care of her for an entire weekend when she was just 10 weeks old.   A few months ago we enrolled her at a daycare for a day each week: to give both of us some time to adjust to the impending preschool schedule, but also to give me a break…I was breaking down.  From the first day, the Bean was (with a few exceptions) thrilled to be there and happy to see me again when I picked her up.  It’s been the same at preschool so far.

So now I have a little more time to do the things I want and need to do.  My Sweetie is happy to see things actually getting done around the house, I’m happy to be able to hear myself think for a few hours in a row, and the Bean is happy that I am able to give her my undivided attention after her nap.  Everybody wins!

Freedom, oh Freedom!

(courtesy of englishwithjo.com)

I just dropped the Bean off at Daycare for the very first time and then took a very deep breath.  She watched me leave without any anxiety, and I knew this was going to be awesome.

I was a little concerned about bringing her to daycare this morning because she was extremely cranky and had been coughing in the night.  Nothing I could do would console her.  However, when Daddy got a hold of her, she calmed right down, so I decided the problem had to be me.  I woke up feeling pretty crappy this morning, myself.  The Bean had me up twice, and then when I pulled her into bed with us at 4:30 I didn’t sleep very soundly for the next hour and a half.  I’m pretty sure I’m PMSing, and I suspect that the Bean can sense when I’m hormonal and reflects it back to me.  So, for my own sanity, and for hers, off we went to daycare.

My plan is this:

  1. Finish this blog post (15 minutes)
  2. Clean the kitchen (45 minutes)
  3. Sweep the floors (45 minutes)
  4. Shower (10 minutes)
  5. Go get a mani/pedi as a reward for all my hard work.

The Bean will be so tired from her morning of hardcore playing that she’ll fall asleep in the stroller on the way home, and then I can nap too.   That’s the plan, anyway.  I have a feeling I’m going to LOVE Mondays.