making decisions...for your kids

As if making decisions for yourself isn't hard enough, becoming a parent and making decisions about and for your children is sometimes the worst. Is it not?

I mean, there are some things that are easy:
The decision is always "to bed" if the other option is allowing them to stay up late. Right? [I'm kind of kidding]

And then there are others that depend on your personality:
Should I let her poop in the bathtub or should I just catch it in my hand to save myself the trouble of having the drain the water and scrub the tub? I prefer to catch it. My sister prefers to scrub the tub. [And now the only comments I get on this post are going to be about this.]

And then there are those monumental decisions-- or at least they seem monumental at the time:
Do we sleep train? Do we co-sleep? Do we do pacifiers? Do we start preschool at three or wait until four? Do we spank? Do we make them get a job when they are in high school?

And sometimes the decisions you never thought you would make, are the ones you make.
Here is an example:

A solid month and a half ago Brent and I decided it was high time to take Blythe's pacifier ["paci"] away for good. She only got it in her bed and in the car, but we figured it was time. So one morning I told Blythe it was time to throw them away and she could get a bike. And she did. Just like that.

Well sort of "just like that" except for the 3-4 days of crying and asking for it. It wasn't too bad. She still slept through the night and we survived. And then we were done. They were gone. The end.

Except. Not.

You see, my wonderful sleeper stopped napping. She still slept a solid 12 hours at night, and the beauty of that is not lost on me, but this soon to be threenager still needs her nap. I could tell. Several people suggested that maybe she was just done with naps. But she wasn't. She just couldn't fall asleep. I tried everything I could think of: I laid with her [that was a joke!], I put her in her pajamas for nap, I switched locations, I didn't switch anything and kept everything consistent, I switched times, I played music, I gave her a stuffed animal, I gave her a "napping pillow",  I made a reward chart, I offered her every bribe under the sun, I busted out the favorite "blow up bed" that my mom has, and even on the days she had a touch of a cold and I gave her Dimetapp, and even on the days she played in the snow all morning... NOTHING!!

I was about to lose my mind. You see, stay at home parents know that your attitude is in direct correlation, even if it shouldn't be, with how long and how well your children nap. It's true. If you see a very, very frazzled woman at the store with her kid at two in the afternoon it is most likely because that child is not napping and she had to get out of the house before she threw him out the window. [I know that sounds dramatic, but can I get an amen?]

One night I was sitting in the living room with my mom and Brent, and Blythe was crawling around with my dad [literally crawling around. I think they were squirrels? Or something?], and I was sharing my exasperation and said, "I have tried everything!" And Brent said, "You haven't tried everything." I gave him a look that was a cross between "Don't you dare say I'm not trying my hardest" and "Do you have a magic pill and how much will it cost us?".

"You haven't given her her paci back."

He said it so nonchalantly. I glanced over at my mom, expecting her to laugh a little and say, "You've already taken them away. You're past that. Don't look back." But instead she shrugged her shoulders and said, "That's true."

I waited a few more days, resigned to the fact that I had already made the decision and the pacis were gone. Done-zo. But I cracked.

A week ago I informed Blythe I had "found one" and she could have it if she wanted it. She said, "No. I want a bike." Well crap.

"You can still get a bike if you only use your paci for nap time,  and when it is dark outside and you go to bed, then you don't use a paci. If you can do that, you can still get a bike."

Okay! I laid her down. Gave her the paci. Out like a light. Every day. Without fail. And at night? She hasn't asked for her paci once.

I felt like I had "lost" for awhile. But then I realized, I'm just making the best decisions I can. And she needs a nap. And right now, she apparently needs a paci to have a nap. So be it.

In the future there will be bigger decisions that I have to make for her. But I hope I remember that sometimes, I can change my mind and try something else, or try something again. It isn't "losing" to admit that your initial decision isn't working. And "sticking to your guns" proves nothing. Actually, in this case, sticking to my guns was sending me to the loony bin and Blythe to an emotional disaster.

When I was teaching I learned that one thing that spoke volumes to my students and garnered their trust more than anything was when I admitted a mistake. When I changed a policy because I had been wrong about it. Sometimes my decisions were right, and my students didn't like them, but they were right and good and I had to say, "Tough cookies." And you know what? They could deal with the tough cookies far more then they knew I was willing to always look at my decisions again and see if they were still right, still working, still effective.

And in the end, making decisions shouldn't be as crippling as we let it be because ultimately we aren't even in control anyway. Making decisions for my children has been yet another lesson in letting-go-of-fear-and-perfection-and-control-and-chilling-the-heck-out-because-God-is-right-here-with-me-and-always-with-my-children-too.

And I still can't believe I gave her her paci back. And I still can't believe that I regard that as one of the best decisions I've made in a long time. Parenting is a trip!

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Hannah said...

1. This made me laugh.
2. Well crap.
3. I have been that frazzled mom at the store in the middle of the afternoon with my child so as to save us both from well, you know. So yes, you get an amen.
4. I am glad Blythe is taking her naps again for you, even if it meant giving her paci back to her -having naps when they are needed is the most important. It is not fun when the kid doesn't nap. I'm sorry you had to go through such a rough time with no naps!
5. You are doing a great job as a mama!! Your girls are blessed to have you to look up to and spend their days with.

anna said...

My Jack is 20 months old...I think?!? Ha! And I'm not taking his paci from him for night/nap time until...oh...13? No really. I kinda don't care. I mean, what's the harm? Mostly you don't want people judging you thinking, "why does that three year old have a paci still?!?" but if it's done in the secret of your home for sleeping purposes...nobody will ever know our dirty little secret. ;) Meanwhile...you WON'T be that frazzled mom in the grocery store. ha! Win baby win!

anna said...

Oh, and you forgot to mention the pooping in the tub option, "you yank your child out of the tub and make your husband go fishing for poo". yeah, that one is me for sure!