Posts tagged children

Another one for the trophy cupboard

Those (Crap) Mother of the Year awards just keep coming, and I am pretty sure I got myself another nomination yesterday.

Actually, this time it wasn’t really my fault, but it still wasn’t fun.

I worked at the office yesterday and hugo went to daycare (Hunter went to preschool – leigh did pick up). When I went to collect Hugo, the day carer had a christmas gift for him, and one for hunter, and one for Leigh and me. So I had to carry all that plus my handbag and hugo’s bag back to the car.

I had it all slung over one arm and was holding hugo with my other hand, but he kept wiggling free and running off. I ended up grasping him pretty hard around the wrist and managed to get him to the car in one piece.

Dumped all the packages on the roadside, wrestled him into the carseat, clicked him in and shut the door.

Went to open the front passenger door to put all the packages in and discovered the car was locked.

I’m not sure how that happened – either Hugo intentionally pressed the remote button and locked the doors after I had opened his to put him in, or I bumped it by accident.

At any rate, he was in the car, the windows were up and the car was locked.

I fished around in my bag for the keys and didn’t find them. And then I spotted them on the floor of the car in front of Hugo’s feet.

It was hot yesterday, and our car is like an oven even on a cool day. And here I was outside, looking at hugo inside.

Thankfully my bag was on the outside, so I called NRMA roadside assistance and they listed it as an emergency job. But it was 4pm and traffic was pretty heavy so I knew it would be a while before even someone closeby would be arriving.

To start with Hugo was happy enough (I’d given him his christmas present to hold on the way home and he was delighted to open it while I stood and watched).

Within a few minutes, though, he was getting very sweaty and cranky. I called leigh then and asked her to start making her way from home with the spare key, knowing that the NRMA guy would probably beat her, but I was getting a bit panicky. There was a big chunk of concrete on the footpath next to the car and it would have gone through the window if leigh or the NRMA hadn’t arrived soon.

Another few minutes ticked by and Hugo was really crying, red faced, dripping with sweat. I was standing outside in the breeze and was really feeling the heat so it must have been much worse in the car.

The NRMA guy turned up about 15 minutes after I called, so Hugo would have been in the car less than 20 minutes all up, but it felt like such a long time. The car was unlocked within about 45 seconds of the guy’s arrival – he actually ran between his car and mine, and was obviously a little stressed. He said he’d been caught in the traffic on the other side of Merrylands.

I opened the doors and turned on the a/c, and Hugo gulped down some water, and 10 seconds later he was fine. He actually seemed pretty entertained by the whole drama.

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Preschool update

So preschool drop off went more or less okay yesterday and today. Which is to say that on both days I stayed until Hunter had found some kids to play with and an activity to engage in. If she doesn’t see someone she knows or receive an invitation into a group, it’s a mess. So, on the surface it went okay but I know it was mostly luck.

She’s always been like that, but the behaviour of the past few weeks really has been very extreme and it’s come on very suddenly so I think it’s about more than her preschool anxiety. Several people have suggested possible reasons (thanks for the input) but really I am still baffled.

She’s had no change in diet or routine or anything like that. We have had a lot of visitors lately, but that’s not unusual for us so I don’t think it’s that. 

Her favourite teacher did leave preschool some weeks back. I know lightbulbs are going off above all your heads, but I really don’t think that’s it – or at least not all of it. The behaviour issue didn’t really coincide with Donna’s departure, and Hunter doesn’t seem to be thinking about her much any more. If I mention her name, she’s happy to talk about her, but otherwise she doesn’t seem too fazed. Plus, for the moment, her behaviour’s worse at home than at preschool.

I’ve talked to the preschool director several times and she doesn’t have any ideas either. I trust the director and don’t think that anything untoward has happened at preschool that we don’t know about.

So we’re still in the dark. She had another absolute melt down last night when it was time for bed, which started with her refusing to get changed and ended with pinching, hitting, scratching and screaming. In between, we tried everything we could think of to get her to calm down and do the right thing. We tried talking to her about making choices. We tried telling her there would be consequences (she threw these right back us….If you do X then I will just immediately do Y).

As of now, we’re just focusing on trying to be low key, heading things off at the pass when we can and being as consistent and reasonable as it’s possible to be when your kid’s behaving like an utter psycho.

And I want to add, too, that in between she’s her beautiful, thoughtful, delightful self – she’s still my girl so I had to throw that in. She’s a handful – more – but I still adore her, and I guess that’s why it is so gut wrenching.

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Preschool problems

We’re starting to have some serious behaviour issues again with Hunter, and we’re really quite perplexed. She’s always been high-strung, has always struggled with transitions and has always needed structure and routine. But for the past six months – more, maybe – she’d really been doing so well and was much more even-keeled and better able to control her emotions.

But the past couple of weeks it all seems to be coming unglued. It started with some serious attitude. She’d flat out refuse to do what she was asked, laugh off any sugestions of disciplinary responses, goad us, etc. Then we started seeing some real tantrums.

A few nights back she came into our room at about 11.30. She was wandering in and out and I told her she needed to lie down and go to sleep (there’s a mattress in our room for her, just while she’s sharing with Hugo during the renos, so she can come in without disturbing him. It had been working fine up till this point).

She told us in no uncertain terms that she was not going to lie down and was not going to go to sleep. No amount of suggestion, discussion, instruction or, eventually, yelling, made any difference. She screamed and screamed and screamed. Scratched at my hand, kicked the bed. We told her she’d lose a privilege and she didn’t even care. Told her she’d be sent to sleep in the loungeroom, and she said she wouldn’t go and if we made her she’d just come straight back in and keep screaming. There was malice in her tone and we were really at a loss. I seriously didn’t know what to do – it was very clear that we had absolutely no power to affect her behaviour at all. There was a solid half hour of carry on before she eventually settled down, when she chose to.

We’ve been having mini versions of this at bed time at least a few nights a week lately, too, and there was another night time tantrum a couple of nights ago.

On top of this, she’s been saying lately that she does not want to go to preschool. She is getting very obstinate in the mornings, not wanting to get dressed or pack her bags. She cries when I tell her it’s a preschool day. Today she told me she prefers red lights to green because the car trip to preschool takes longer. I’ve asked her what the problem is and she always says it’s because she doesn’t like rest time, but I think that’s just how she’s chosen to respond.

The past couple of weeks, drop off has been getting harder and harder and this morning it all went totally to shit.

She did not want me to leave until her friend phoebe arrived. I don’t want her to view phoebe’s arrival as the solution to her drop off worries because pheobe doesn’t go every day Hunter goes, and sometimes she wants to play with other kids anyway. So I have been working on helping her get involved with activities with the other kids (she’s VERY reluctant to do this – she really lacks the confidence to approach other children). Usually I can help her find someone to play with and she’s okay, though she’s often borderline teary before that point.

But today, she absolutely did not want me to leave before phoebe arrived. And I needed to leave because there was someone due to arrive at our house at 9am.

I told her I needed to go and that she’d be okay, and the director took her hand and tried to lead her away. She clung to me, screaming and crying, and I had to literally prise her hands off of me. It was awful and what I really wanted to do was just bring her home.

I could hear her screaming as I was leaving, “I don’t WANT YOU. I WANT MUMMY!!” She was so full of anger. I can’t even explain the volume and emotion of her meltdown. It was not what you picture when you think about a kid crying at drop off. It was so much more dramatic than that.

I know she was okay shortly after I left – because phoebe arrived. As soon as she got there, hunter stopped short and ran off to play. But what the hell is going to happen tomorrow when phoebe is not there?

I have such mixed emotions about all of this. When she’s screaming and telling me she hates me and kicking I just want to tear my hair out. And then I feel so worried about her. And I wonder what I am doing so wrong.

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A crappy start to the day

Literally.

Hugo’s been showing some interest in the potty over the past couple of months, but hasn’t had much opportunity to use it as it’s been too cold most of the time to leave him nappy-less. One the couple of occasions we’ve been able to do it, he’s managed to use the potty, including last night.

So this morning, it was quite warm in the loungeroom between the spring morning and the heater. I took off his nappy and went about getting ready for the day. Hunter was in the loungeroom getting her shoes and socks on and I went to my room to get dressed.

When I came back out, I found Hugo, standing on one of our dining chairs in a great steaming pile of poop. It was over both feet. Up both legs. Mashed into the upholstery of the chair. In blobs on the floor. And on the dining table – which means he picked some of it up, and which leads me to wonder whether he ate any, though I can’t bring myself to dwell on that prospect for long.

I stood there just looking at it for a few moments, wondering where to even begin the clean up operation. I ended up getting Hugo cleaned up first then sent him and Hunter to Hunter’s room while I dealt with the rest of the mess. I’m pretty good at wiping poopy kids’ bums without batting an eyelid, but using wads of toilet paper to pick up globs of still-warm, squishy crap is surprisingly gag inducing.

After I cleared it up as best I could, I took the chair out to the laundry to get the cover off (thank goodness for removable covers!). Unfortunately the covers are secured with vast amounts of the world’s grippiest velcro, and the only way to remove it was to get pretty much face level with the poop goop and wrestle it off. Luckily I’d got to it before anything leached its way through to the cushion underneath. Small mercies, right?

It’s soaking in the washing machine now and I am off to do some work. The plus side is that the day is almost certain to get better.

ETA Forgot to note that it got worse before it got better. Sign on the door at preschool advising parents of several cases of headlice. I’m itchy just thinking about it.

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Drive by post

It’s been a good while since I updated, mainly because I keep postponing as I actually do have things I want to say, but can never find the time to get my thoughts down.

I’ve now realised that I’m not going to get time any day soon to put together a real post, so this will have to do. Here are the highlights, helpful hints and random thoughts in point form:

- Hunter’s sick with pukerpooperitis

- The Dyson is good for sucking up vomit after you’ve sopped up the wet bits

- Hugo is deranged. Entertained himself for hours last night by getting a run up and throwing himself into our laps from increasing distances, laughing maniacally and starting again. He’s also rough, rough, rough. Anyone have tips on discouraging a psychotic toddler from scratching, biting and hair pulling with disturbing and unrelenting vigour?

- The building has not begun. The builder has not called. I haven’t called him either, but will, soon.

- Interest rates have dropped! This is the first time leigh and I have ever experienced a rate drop as mortgage holders. And our bank dropped rates by MORE than the official cut (barely). We think it will mean $60-$70 a month less on our mortgage payments. When they were going up, I never really thought about the money. Now they’ve gone down I keep thinking of ways to spend that ‘extra’ cash.

- I want to say something thoughtful about Mem Fox’s comments on childcare being akin to child abuse but I don’t have time to write anything cohesive. Basically, though, I’m disappointed that mothers continue to be held up to blame for society’s issues around appropriate care for young children. Does it suck that we as a society put babies into full time care when they’re only a few weeks old? Sure. Is it bad for those babies? Maybe. Does lambasting mothers who are already ridden with guilt help? Nope. The problem is systemic and the solution has to be, too. “Don’t have babies if you can’t take the time to care for them” is a stupid, ill-considered piece of advice. Am I particularly touchy about this because I myself am a guilt-ridden mother about to put her boy in childcare one day a week? Absolutely.

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Update from the pediatrician

We finally saw the pediatrician yesterday, after the appointment was rescheduled twice. The doc has rooms in Westmead (very close to us) and in Burwood (not that close to us) and usually we go to Westmead (duh). But this time we couldn’t get a Westmead appointment for weeks so I decided we’d drive in to Burwood.

The appointment was at 3.40 yesterday, so I started loading the kids in the car at about 2.50. We were halfway there and making good time when the receptionist rang to say the doctor was running late and we might like to hold off a while. Alas, she didn’t realise we were coming from Parramatta way and were already en route, so we kept going.

Hugo fell asleep just before we arrived so we sat in the car and let him snooze for about 20 minutes (the receptionist had said the doc was 20 minutes late).

It turns out the doc was actually running very, very late. We got to the office about 4 and waited until after 5. The kids were good to start with but got more and more manic as time went on. Hugo was entertaining himself by running as fast as he could then throwing himself to the floor, laughing like a madman. Other kids in the office were starting to join the game and it was bedlam with flying, laughing kids and yelling parents and the phone going and it was a million degrees and the door to the office kept getting stuck – it was fun.

Anyway, we finally got in about 90 minutes after our appointment time, just in time to ensure I’d get peak hour traffic on the way home with two exhausted and hungry kids.

The pediatrician is happy for us to go ahead a trial Hunter with prawns. He wants us to just rub her skin (on her hand) first and check for a reaction. If there is one, the trial ends. If there isn’t, we wait till the next day and rub it on her lips. If there’s still no reaction, she’s to eat a small amount on the third day.

We all expect it to be fine since the skin prick test was negative, but we also all know that the test is just a guide that doesn’t guarantee anything, so the pediatrician prefers to proceed with caution – and so do I.

He also had a look at Hunter’s little head and concluded that it is perfectly fine. Again, what we expected, but it’s always nice to have confirmation. Actually, his exact words were, “that’s a good head” :)

So, we thought we were leaving with the all-clear, till he decided to have a listen to Hunter’s chest after I talked with him about an ongoing dry cough she has. He said she had a slight flow murmur and he wants her to have an ECG to rule out any heart problems. He said he was “98 per cent sure” it was an innocent murmur, so I am keeping my freaking out under control, but “Hunter”, “hospital” and “heart clinic” in the same sentence was a bit of a shock.

He’s sending a letter with the referral to the clinic. He doesn’t feel like it’s urgent but wants us to arrange it within the next few months. That’s a good sign, right?

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How shy is too shy?

Hunter’s very comfortable and outgoing at home with us, but in other situations she’s very reserved. I know that’s her personality, and that’s totally fine, but as a complete social incompetent myself, I do want to be sure she’s socially adept enough to be happy in life.

The people who know her best probably don’t consider her shy, because when she’s in familiar surrounds, she’s completely outgoing. She’ll put on shows and sing songs and boss us all around. She’s also great with adults generally, even if they’re relatively new to her acquaintance, and she’s good with younger kids and with older kids. But with her peers, not so much.

I believe it’s about safety and fear of rejection. Adults don’t say, “I don’t want to play with you” and neither do little kids who are happy to follow her instructions. Older kids are leaders to her and she knows they thinks she’s cute, so they’re no threat either.

But with a group of children her own age, she struggles a bit.

It’s not like other kids don’t like her, or vice versa, it’s just that outside a structured setting she doesn’t really know how to interact with kids her own age. She doesn’t generally feel comfortable joining in with a group at preschool – she’d rather hang back and do her own thing until one of the other kids either joins her, or invites her into some other activity.

I’m exactly the same, and leigh’s like that to an extent, too, so we feel like we don’t really have the tools to show her how to be more confident and less worried about rejection.

She’s happy enough at preschool but I want to make sure we’re using this time to teach her the skills she’ll need when she gets to school and has less shepherding from staff. And I guess I am a bit hypersensitive, too, because I’m such a social dufus myself.

I had a chat with her preschool teacher this morning and she agreed that Hunter does like to be around the teachers, talking with them, showing them things, etc. She thinks it’s partly that Hunter is a very mature kid (she really is) and partly that she is more reserved than average.

Her preschool teacher doesn’t think it’s a particular problem, and neither do I, really, but she’s going to think about some strategies to help Hunter with those social skills so she can feel comfortable within her own circle of friends.

I don’t think she’ll ever be the life of the party, that’s just not her nature, but I really want her to feel like it’s okay to say “can I play with you?” or “do you want to help me with this puzzle?” if that’s what she really wants to say.

We’ve talked about maybe inviting over one of her preschool friends to play some time. Unfortunately the one kid she keeps suggesting is from a very strict Muslim family. I have no issue with that and I’m quite happy for Hunter to be friends with this girl, but I can’t imagine asking her mother (in her hijab) if she and her daughter would like to come over to our two-mum household for a catch up.

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