Disney on ice

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We took the kids to see “Disney on ice” on Thursday afternoon. I was nervous at first, wondering if Alex would manage to sit through a two hour ice-skating show, and even worse, wondering how I was going to manage a potentially restless, grumpy baby on my lap for the whole show (who had missed her afternoon nap). Gary went to brave the refreshments queue, and returned with Disney mugs of slush (which cost a small fortune) and a box of (very overpriced) popcorn, and then we were ready for the show.

And what an awesome show it was! It started off with Mickey and Minnie riding around in a very cute little car, which broke down, and of course needed a tow-truck. Cue Mater, Lightning McQueen and the gang from Radiator Springs zooming around on the ice. Alex was so excited to see his favourite cars in the flesh! Even Caris screeched with delight as the cars did their rounds. They were really well done, complete with facial expressions and moving lips!

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The rest of the first act saw appearances from Ariel (set in an under water paradise) and the singing red lobster whose name I forget, as well as Tinkerbell, the fairy princess and a menagerie of woodland fairies.

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After a fifteen minute interval, the toys from Toy Story came out in full force, and did a great job of re-enacting Toy Story 3.

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Alex thoroughly enjoyed the show, and managed to stay riveted for most of it. The fairy and mermaid scenes went over his head a little, having never seen the corresponding films, but he still seemed to love it. What was most amazing, was Caris’ reaction to it all She loved it! She was clapping her hands and smiling, and screeching with delight when she saw the fairy princess and other characters. She ate handfuls of popcorn, as if she does so every day, and was quite fascinated by the icy drinks in the Disney cups. And what was even more amazing was how she stayed content on my lap for most of the show, barring the last ten minutes where she was (quite understandably) a little restless.

We went into Northgate mall for a quick supper (and to avoid the 5PM traffic) and then made our way home. Caris was fast asleep before we even left the parking lot.

Pretty cool way to spend a Thursday afternoon!

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The Joys of Parenting. Not

Alex has a nasty bug brewing in his tonsils, and has literally been man-down since Saturday afternoon. (Unless you count the half an hour or so windows after the Neurofen Syrup has been imbibed, and he is bouncing off the walls for a little bit. What DO they put into that stuff?) It is heart-breaking watching him in this very poor state, and I have been having flash-backs of our time in December / January when he was so sick that I didn’t know what to do. His temperature has been yo-yo-ing between 38 and 40 degrees the whole time.

On late Sunday afternoon, we ventured out to the Linksfield Hospital, to see if someone could help my ailing boy, and help us get his constantly rising temperature down, but the whole trip was a disaster. The Casualty section was very busy, and completely disorganised. We waited for over half an hour, before we had even done the paper-work, and it was freezing in the waiting room. Poor Alex was sitting on my lap shaking, with his lips turning blue (despite having about 4 layers of clothing on) and his temperature rising even more. With no prospect of being seen imminently, we decided to leave. When we got home, I raided the medicine box to see if we had anything other than Calpol, Empaped or Voltaren suppositories, because clearly none of these were helping to sink the 40 degree temperature. I found a bottle of Neurofen Syrup that was still sealed, and thankfully had not expired. 5ml and half an hour later: temperature gone. A few SMS’s were fired off to one of my friends who is a GP, and an agreement reached to take him into her rooms first thing in the morning. I already knew he had tonsilitis, as he had that something-crawled-into-his-mouth-and-died smell on his breath.

Neurofen has about a 4 hour window of effectiveness it seems, as by 10 PM we were back to a 40 degree temp, this time accompanied by vomiting. Queue Empaped suppositories, as those at least stay in. (Despite the fact that having a suppository administered is probably number one on Alex’s list of stuff he hates. Poor little guy.)

So, bright and early on Monday morning, we were in the doctor’s office, Alex once again sitting on my lap like a hot potato and shivering because he was so cold. Temp reading: 39. The doctor confirmed tonsilitis and sent us packing with a script for antibiotics and more Neurofen to keep the temperature at bay. While filling the script, I asked the pharmacist to give me a dose of the Neurofen syrup to try and get a handle on the temp before we got home. As soon as he swallowed the gloopy liquid, it came straight back out again. Along with the only bit of liquid that had passed his lips since Saturday, which happened to be blue energade. I had to choice but to catch his blue vomit in my hands. Yuck. Not exactly a feel-good parenting moment.

He spent the rest of the day, and all of Tuesday pretty much like this:

(wash, rinse, repeat)

Thankfully, this morning, for the first time since Saturday he woke up without a temperature, and he even had enough energy to give me crap a challenge getting him dressed. So it seems he is on the mend. *crosses fingers*

Caris, however, woke up with the snottiest nose I have seen in a long time. Oh, the joys of parenting.

Motherhood Has Completely Ruined TV

I don’t think I had ever cried during a TV show before I became a mom. Ok, maybe one time. I was watching Lassie on TV one sunday afternoon during my teenage years (clearly there was nothing much on TV in the late 80s!) and I sobbed a little because Lassie (predictably) was lost. But that’s acceptable, as I like dogs, and don’t like the thought of them being lost. And rampant teenage hormones are in fact responsible for lots of sobbing about random stuff.

Even now, I refuse to watch Jock of the Bushveld, as the outcome is less than favourable for poor old Jock. Ok, I will also admit to shedding a few tears during that (very bad) movie about the huskies that were tied down outside during a very severe snow storm in the Arctic somewhere. But I digress… Even hardened cynics find the thought of cute doggies and kitties being harmed unpleasant. But general TV, about the daily lives of humans, well, that always left me unfazed. Hell, I don’t even watch much TV, barring a few medical drama’s and the cooking channel. And Cake Boss, obviously.

Until I spawned these two little humans it seems.

Now I can’t get through an episode of Grey’s Anatomy without a lump in my throat, or a tear in my eye. Especially if the patient happens to be a child. Or a pregnant woman. Or a mom with young children. Just the other night, I was watching Private Practice, and one of the characters is admitted for a (supposedly) inoperable, imminently fatal, brain tumour. But that is just par-for-the-course in a medical drama. The problem is, she has a son, whom she has not even told that she is sick, and may in fact die from this condition. And I there I am, sobbing, imagining Alex crying his eyes out at the thought of me being gone. Forever. And that Caris wouldn’t even remember me. (Or the time when one of the characters in Grey’s son goes missing from day-care, only for a moment, and said character has a near panic attack. I think my heart would literally stop if one of my children went missing.)

Getting back to the episode of Private Practice, it made me think “what if my babies had to grow up without me?” And then I tell myself, “Get a grip, it’s only a TV program! It’s fiction!” But the reality is, that the thought of something happening to me while my children are still young, and still need me, is unnerving to say the least. The thought of them relying on someone else, confiding in someone else, maybe calling someone else mommy makes my blood run cold. And by the same token, something happening to one of my babies, ever, would irreparably break my heart.

Having children has definitely made me more emotionally vulnerable, more cautious. Gary mocks me that I “drive like Miss Daisy” since having had Alex. And it’s true, I do drive more cautiously, knowing that if something were to happen to me, those two little people I love so much would be devastated. And I definitely find TV programs (and books and movies…) portraying (even slightly) sad stories about moms/babies/children more heart-wrenching. But it has also made me a better person. More compassionate and empathetic, more willing to love unconditionally. And if something did happen to me, I can only hope that the person who would maybe become the mother-figure in my babies’ lives, will love them unconditionally, and as much as I do.

Maybe I should limit my TV watching to more Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen and The F-word. (And C-Beebies, of course.)

Bloom

Love me. Love me. I’m not what you expected, but oh, please love me.

I ordered Kelle Hampton’s book as soon as it was available for pre-order on kalahari. I love her blog, she writes beautifully and her photos are amazing. I had tears streaming down my face for the first chapter, and had quite a few more teary moments throughout the remaining chapters.

Kelle writes about the experience of finding out that her baby has down-syndrome on the day she is born. She is shocked and devastated, and this book explores her feelings and emotions, as she comes to accept the diagnosis. She envisions her new-born baby looking up at her and saying “Love me, love me. I am not what you expected, but oh, please love me”… Throughout this process, it is clear how much she loves this baby, but at the same time, she needs to mourn the loss of the “normal” baby she was expecting. Her raw, emotional account is both heart-breaking and uplifting. The book took my breath away, and made my heart break for this incredibly strong woman. As a mom, I can only imagine the range of emotions that she must have experienced: loss, fear, disappointment. But at the same time, the over powering surge of love that one feels for a new-born, that instinctual need to protect and care for them, no matter what.

It made me think back to my appointment with a foetal specialist when I was 12 weeks pregnant with Caris. Being over 35, and cognisant of the higher risks associated with a pregnancy in one’s late thirties, I wanted to be sure that the baby growing inside me was perfect. (And Gary had already suffered the loss of a baby due to a birth defect, an experience that no-one should have to repeat in one lifetime.) So my gynae suggested I see a specialist to confirm that all was okay, and do an amnio if need be. I remember lying on the examination table with the cold ultrasound probe pressed against my belly, and thinking “Please God, let my baby be ok, please let it be perfect.” Thankfully she was. I am still not sure what I would have done if there had been something wrong. In Kelle’s case, she did not know that her baby had Downs until the moment she held her for the first time. (And she was perfect in her own way.)  Is it better to know if there is something wrong with the baby, so that you can prepare for what lies ahead? I have always been pro-choice, but surely the decision to perhaps terminate a pregnancy must be one of the hardest decisions a mother should ever have to make? Is it better to know, so that you can prepare yourself for the potentially difficult path that lies ahead? Or is it better to deal with it at the time? These are all very sobering questions.

The book is sad, yes; but it is ultimately a celebration of life, love and family. It is beautifully written and is adorned with stunning photographic images. Well worth reading (and have a box of tissues close by.)

Please stop the whining, seriously now!!

Since my last post on this subject, the whining and tantrums have hit an all time high. Or should that be an all time low? All I know for sure, is that the constant whining and daily tantrums from my first-born are rapidly driving me to the nut-house. I have tried the calm-voice-approach. I have tried shouting-like-a-mad-woman. I have tried ignoring. I have tried smothering-with-love. I have sent him to the naughty thinking corner. I have tried distracting him with other activities. I have given him a firm talking to. I have given him the odd tap on the bottom. I have told him to speak in his normal / nice voice, told him that I am not listening when he speaks in his whiny voice. I have walked away from him and told him that he can only come and find me when he has stopped whining / crying.  I have asked him why he is upset / what is bothering him etc. etc. etc.

But still the whining continues.

And the latest addition: (not so) delightful screaming / hysterical crying at the top of his lungs if he doesn’t get his own way.

Case number one: The other morning, he wanted to wear shoes to school that are too small for him (mental note: next time the shoes are too small, dispose of them immediately!) So I explained that the shoes are too small, and that he should rather wear more comfortable ones, and then he would be able run and play without his shoes hurting him. Well, you would have sworn I had just offered to cut one of his legs off based on the crying fit that ensued. Eventually I put him in the car, crying hysterically (sans shoes), drove to school with the radio blaring and Alex still sobbing. About five minutes away from the school, I managed to drag it out of him that the reason he wanted to wear those specific shoes, was because they have lights in. OH MY GOD! So, I made a deal with him to get him some more shoes with lights in. As luck would have it, nobody has those shoes in stock in his size anymore, so he has worn shoes that are too small for him to school every day for the last week, because I cannot bear a repeat performance every morning.

Case number two: We stop at the Woolies garage to get bread and milk. He asks me if he can please have a chocolate gold coin (they had some extra-large ones on display for father’s day), so I said ok and bought him one. While he was carrying it, he dropped it, and of course the chocolate inside the gold casing broke in half. Later, back in the car, he asks me to open the coin, which I do. He then notices that it is broken in half, and melts down into hysterical crying. So I tell him it will still taste the same, that it would break anyway when he bites it, etc, and all that does is make him cry more. WTF!!! The sobbing continued for a good while after we got home, where Promise finally managed to calm him down by dragging taking him outside to kick a ball.

And I have many more examples just like these. Just this morning, in fact, another crying fit ensued because he wanted to wear his slippers to school, and refused to put on a jersey. It was eight degrees outside when we left the house. And as much as I get the statement “don’t sweat the small stuff” I could not in good conscience let my child freeze all day because he is freaking out about wearing a jacket.

One minute he will be playing nicely with his sister, and the next he will freak out because she has picked up a toy that he hasn’t played with in ages, and grab it out of her hand, making her cry. Which makes me angry, so I reprimand him, which starts the hysterical crying.

I am feeling like a pretty bad mother at this point, the whining is one thing, but the hysterical crying every time he doesn’t get his own way is so exhausting. I have had discussions with other moms of three-going-on-four year olds, and they recite similar stories, but I can’t help but wonder if this is all normal. Am I so bad at this parenting thing? For the most part, he is a happy well-adjusted child. He speaks very well for his age, so the tantrums are not necessarily based on an inability to communicate. His teacher says that he is happy at school and never has tantrums or upsets during the school-day. And that he is in fact a model-pupil. (I had to resist the urge to say “are you sure you are talking about MY  Alex??”) So to add to my delight, it is always me that he throws his hissy-fits with, no-one else. I am aware that this behaviour is age-appropriate, but all the suggested methods of dealing with this stage just don’t work. I realise that this revolting behaviour is an attempt to get more attention, but it is not like he doesn’t get any, in fact, I go out of my way to make sure I spend alone time with him since his sister was born.

So I did a bit of googling on the subject, as one does, and came up with the following advice on how to handle tantrums, that really made me laugh out loud. (I don’t remember the website as I cut and pasted it in an email to myself)

If tantrums persist even with the use of timeout, ask yourself if there are other stresses in the home. Issues of illness, marital violence or discord, alcohol or drug abuse in caregivers all can affect parenting and child behaviour. You may also want to check your child’s hearing. Many children at this age have had a number of recurring ear infections (otitis media). With each re-occurrence of an ear infection, fluid remains in the ear and diminishes hearing capacity. They will grow out of it, but in the meantime, your child may actually be hard of hearing and as a result, language delayed. Therefore even though a little older, they may not hear you or understand your verbal commands. This is something you should check out with your pediatrician.

If all the above fails, fear not, but do ask for help. Call a local parenting center, a counsellor or social worker or even your family doctor. Odds are something is going on that probably because you are so close to the problem, you do not see. If ever you feel like spanking your child, then give yourself a break to stop yourself. Have a cup of herbal tea, warm milk, a hot bath, or go for a walk. Do anything that works to give you a little distance and a chance to collect your thoughts. Just be sure your child is appropriately supervised while you grab a moment alone. Sometimes this “parental pause” is just the ticket to regain composure and re-enter more effectively.

Lastly, you can’t offer too much praise, love and affection to a child. Give generously throughout the day!

Ok, so last time I checked, there weren’t any issues of  illness, marital violence or discord, alcohol or drug abuse in caregivers. And he seems happy at school, so I am assuming there is no problem there. So we can rule that one out. And I think if I were to phone our family doctor, he would laugh at me, and say “Get a grip. Welcome to having a three-year old”.

As for checking his hearing, if he can hear me whisper “would you like an ice-cream” and answer me with a resounding “YES”, I have to assume there is nothing wrong his hearing, but rather listening to me is where the issue seems to lie. I have even considered scheduling a session with a play-therapist to see if there is an underlying problem.

The whole tone of this article smacks of something straight out of an episode of Barney. Self-righteous and syrupy sweet. But it did make me laugh. Especially the closing lines “If ever you feel like spanking your child, then give yourself a break to stop yourself. Have a cup of herbal tea, warm milk, a hot bath, or go for a walk. Do anything that works to give you a little distance and a chance to collect your thoughts. Just be sure your child is appropriately supervised while you grab a moment alone. Sometimes this “parental pause” is just the ticket to regain composure and reenter more effectively.” Hardly do-able during “suicide hour” when it’s just me and the kids and we are having yet another battle because he won’t eat his supper. Do dogs count as appropriate supervision so that I can have an adult time-out? Only kidding.

I give myself daily pep-talks that this is just a phase, and that it will be over before I know it, but man, it is exhausting. I try to see the funny side of all the erratic behaviour. I am sure that I will look back at these times with fondness when he is older and not wanting my attention at all. (Ok, maybe not fondness exactly.) In the mean time I will continue to develop my sense of humour. And maybe today I will buy some good quality ear-plugs!