In a Pickle: How Not to Pick a Fight With a Toddler

_1070968

 

And then he hit me.

In the midst of moving and bureaucracy and holiday madness, I had been carrying Cy around until my arms were about to drop off. I sat down for half a second and he started crying, wanting to be picked up and carried some more.

“No Cy, Mama wants to sit for a minute. Can you go play? How about those rocks? Want to play with those rocks.”

More crying.

“No Cy.” The crying only made me want to dig in my heels. He’s not wrong for wanting more connection when I’ve been so busy and distracted, even if it means I’m also more tired and less patient. And he’s not wrong for being frustrated that I’m not connecting with him as much as usual. However, I didn’t want him to learn that crying would get him what he wanted when I’d already said no.

He got so angry he hit me. Twice. In the face.

“NO, Cy. You do NOT hit Mama. I don’t care how angry you get, you do not hit Mama.” I turned my back on him and walked a few feet away. He cried harder and followed me. I told him to stop it; crying wasn’t going to help.

And then I realized he needed an out. He was in a pickle. He knew he had done wrong but I had not shown him what to do instead. He didn’t know how to do right and he didn’t know how to say sorry.

I was in a pickle too. I didn’t know how to teach him to say “I’m sorry.” So I said to him, “If you stop crying, I will pick you up.” He cried fiercely, but I repeated myself and, bit by bit, he stopped the tide of tears. When he was close enough to having stopped crying, I picked him up, all the while realizing how ridiculous the whole thing was as I was now doing what he wanted in the first place. We could have just skipped the whole drama.

But then again, if we had skipped the whole drama, I might not have learned that if you’re going to tell a child no, you need to have a back up plan. You need to give him an alternative. And if he does wrong, you have to find a way to show him how to make it right.

Thing I Love About Cy Today: He has been remarkably patient and well-mannered considering the crazy upheaval going on his life tonight. I love him AND I really appreciate him right now.

Through Another’s Eyes I See

_1050417We’ve lived in this house for four years, and for four years, I’ve waged battles in this kitchen, trying to make it a space I love to look at and be in. This kitchen, with its red walls and odd nooks and tendency to attract mold, has at times convinced me it’s a livable space and other times driven me mad with desire to tear it down and build anew.

_1050412I’ve added plants, installed pretty fabrics to hide the sordid details, and tried my best to make things look like they belong where they are, rather than sticking out like so many odd thumbs.

The motorcycle helmets are still there though.

But after four years my battle is done. We’re moving to a new home, in a much better location in the city, where I will have a new battle with a new rental kitchen! (more on that one later – that deserves its own story).

And then a friend comes to visit. Just as I’m giving up on this kitchen, she mentions she would like to do a tour of my kitchen for a major home & garden website (more on that in a few months) because it has such pretty morning light. She takes a photo from an angle I’ve never considered before, and suddenly I see my kitchen differently.

I'm totally ripping off the photo she took and copying the angle. Sorry L!

I’m totally ripping off the photo she took and copying the angle. Sorry L!

I see it through her eyes and, finally, suddenly, just before I’m about to move away, I learn to appreciate my kitchen.

Little by Little

Sticky Pants

_1070926

Cy has started trying to feed himself. He’s slow and careful about it, meticulously getting food on his spoon and bringing it up to his mouth.

There it is...

There it is…

But his new favorite thing is to try to feed me too. I’m usually sitting with him in my lap, so inevitably, the yogurt, the milk, the rice…whatever it is, ends up in my lap and on the floor while my OCD neat-freak side cringes and shudders.

I know it’s super sweet that he wants to feed me, and really it’s no big deal to toss pants in the laundry, and that I have a choice to encourage him in his sweetness and to meet him on his level and engage with him where he is.

...someone inserting himself in the shot.

…someone inserting himself in the shot.

I know I should conclude this by saying something about how the sweetness matters more than sticky pants, because pants can always be washed, but sweetness can be lost.

And it does matter. It does.

And there it goes.

And there it goes.

But I still can’t help bemoaning the sticky pants.

I tell him what a wonderful boy he is, and I mean it. And secretly I sigh as I take a tissue and blot ineffectively at my pants.



Flying Solo

I’ve been parenting solo this week as T is on a business trip back in the U.S.
The first day T was gone, I told Cy, “Papa went on an airplane.” I don’t think he believed me.
Then when we were doing our bedtime routine, Cy turned to where T normally sits on the bed, wanting to give the goodnight moon book to his papa, who normally reads the story, but he got confused when T wasn’t there, and he didn’t know where to go.
I said, “Papa went on an airplane. A big bye-bye. But mama can read your story. Can mama read your story?”
He chucked the book back in the crib (where it’s kept) and lay down to sleep.
No papa, no goodnight story, I guess.
::
::
::
December 4 is the last day to get my book on sale, for $1.99!!
Make it a gift to yourself, or a loved one this holiday season!
Get The Yellow Suitcase: A Novel on Amazon today!
::
Little by Little

Seen this week….

IMG_0122

The intrepid tomato  explorer…

He loves trucking through his grandmother’s garden. He especially loves pulling out her flowers.

::

::

::

From my book, “The Yellow Suitcase”

For THREE DAYS ONLY (December 2, 3, & 4) my book goes on sale for $1.99! That’s 60% savings for you, so if you’ve been on the fence about giving it a shot, or would like to get it as a gift for someone else for the holidays, there’s no better time to buy!

Get The Yellow Suitcase: A Novel here.

The Yellow Suitcase by Jade Keller

A Novel by Jade Keller



Wishbone

ginger pumpkin pieThanksgiving has come to a close, the lamb eaten, the pie demolished. Even the dishes have all been put away.

_1070898 _1070907 _1070908 _1070911

We eat lamb here because turkey isn’t easy to find in Thailand, but really we could get it if we want, but we don’t because we’re fans of lamb. In four years away from home, I haven’t once missed turkey.

Except this time I remembered there’s something I do miss: the wishbone tradition. Every year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, my dad would carve up the turkey and he would offer to break the wishbone with me. Whoever got the longer part of the forked bone would get their wish. I always loved this tradition, and as I got older I also got smarter about surreptitiously sneaking a look at which side of the bone was longer because I was a sore loser. (And I kept on doing it even when I was old enough to tell my dad wasn’t blind to my trick but let me do it anyway.)

I miss that tradition. So this year I’m going to extend that tradition and pretend I got the long end of the wishbone to say that my one wish is for all of you to have an inspired year next year. I hope 2015 is a year in which you get to grow, unfold, stretch, expand, see more of yourself than you knew was there before, and I hope it’s among the best of things ever.

And I just want to say I’m so grateful to you, my readers. You’ve supported and encouraged me so much the past few years. It’s because of you I had the courage to put out my book this year, and it has been one of my bucket list things. I know I haven’t been up to my usual standard about getting around to responding to comments and commenting on other blogs. I promise I do read them all (and think responses in my head), but I still haven’t managed to balance this life with parenthood–it’s something I’m working on, and hope to be better about in 2015. This community has been a wellspring of support and inspiration, and for that, I thank you, and wish I might return the favor.

Happy Holidays!

 

Friends to Inspire You

Do you have friends that ever inspire you to grow as a person, whether creatively, or as a moral character, or in some other dimension?

I have several such friends (I like to keep inspiring people around me) – and two of them recently came to visit.

_1070835Dave and Leela are such a fun and generous couple. They’re so expressive and are just bursting with artistic energy.

_1070836

They make me want to go out and do, and to try, to experiment, and to unfold more and more of myself where I didn’t even realize I was keeping in bud. And they do it simply by being just who they are.

_1070837

There’s kind of a trend I’ve noticed, where people jokingly confess how inadequate they feel when they see someone else doing something awesome. When I see someone doing something awesome, it just make me want to go out and do something awesome too.

_1070839

Do you have people in your life who make you want to do awesome things? They’re good people to share tea and scones with. If you have them, keep them around.

Little by Little



The Hunt for a Nanny – Part I

_1070702I didn’t know where to begin interviewing a nanny, having never hired help to take care of Cy before, but here one was sitting on my porch. She had come recommended, but was slow to move, slow to insert herself – she seemed shy and had little to say for herself unprompted and few questions beyond when she was to show up for work and how much we would pay. I understand shy. I can give a little grace around shy. So I just started talking about us: what we’re hoping for, what Cy is like, what we could be flexible about, and hoped more useful clues would reveal themselves with time.

The conversation wasn’t much to go on, so I told her she could shadow me with Cy for a day and do a trial week, and we’d see from there.

So the next day she showed up, and over the course of our time together, we began to break the ice. Cy can be a handful, so, knowing she has a 6-year-old son, I asked if he was easy to take care of. She said he just watches TV and when anyone tries to talk to him, he doesn’t respond.

Hmmm, I thought. I too can plunk Cy in front of a TV and I don’t have to pay 300 baht a day to do it. But I resolved to keep an open mind. And though she was slow to really get in there with Cy and try to interact with him, she was supremely helpful and took initiative with other needs around the house, so I really did want to give her a chance.

Then she asked me if I planned to have more kids. I said we hadn’t decided yet.

“Do you plan to have more children?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “They’re too much work!”

Well that’s an honest answer.

After the trial week, I called to let her know we were still interviewing other people. She hung up on me. So the hunt continues…

Little by Little



Momma Chat: There and Back Again

_1070738
I might be doing a number on the trust I’ve built up between me and Cy because now as he enters toddlerhood, I’m having a hard time not laughing at his frustrations. When he cannot get his toy car to balance just so on top of the stack of four toy cars beneath it, when he cannot get a large plastic box to fit inside a small cup, or when he cannot lift the object that happens to be three times his size, I struggle to keep a straight face as I calmly acknowledge, “Yes baby, I know, that can be so annoying.”

Yesterday he got so mad that he had to bend down to pick up his toy car that he yelled and bent down to swipe it away.

….

_1070736

 

We’ve been having a great time on mama & Cy adventures traveling around lately. Bangkok was such a refreshing change of scenery for both of us (though parts of it–like riding the BTS (sky train)–might have been a bit overstimulating for Cy, so it’s good it was a short trip), that we came back with renewed energy and enjoyment in our every day.

I was always so surprised to find how helpful everyone was, upon seeing a mama alone with a baby. Everywhere we went, people gave us their seats, plied Cy with treats and goodies and friendly faces, and offered their help.

We went to this cafe, with this amazing window:
_1070712I had heard it was open from 6 am to midnight and served breakfast all day, so I went to get us some breakfast to bring back to share with Toby at the hotel. It was a 10 minute BTS ride, plus a 20-minute walk in the Thai heat, so by the time we arrived, I was sweating and Cy was grumpy. I hoped to pick up pastries, but it turns out the breakfast they serve is continental and all the good stuff on their menu is for lunch and dinner. After a bit of confusing back and forth, I settled on some Thai larb burgers, but the staff, knowing I had been looking for pastries, found a few for us and tossed them in for free.

Amazing generous things like that, all the time.

Then we went to Doi Mon Jam, a scenic mountain area in northern Thailand, with views like this:

doimonjamand it was full of sight-seers and tourists…and everybody was coming up and trying to take pictures of Cy.

Now, normally, when people want to take a picture of Cy or hold him, they do this polite thing called “asking permission.” Not so here. People would sneak up on Cy while he was busy climbing rocks or poking at flowers, and without even asking me, they would swoop in and grab him and hold him up to their face while they yelled at their friends to “quick, quick, take a picture!” with Cy squirming and squawking to be let go or given to me.

WHO DOES THAT?

And not just a handful of weird tourists. I’m talking almost everybody there. It’s like children aren’t actual human beings but rather novel public commodities that anyone can just help themselves to. Not to mention it’s a bit nerve wracking for a mom to just stand there as random strangers literally snatch your child from right in front of you.

It’s so funny; the world of cultural differences from right within a single country.

_1070775

Anyway, one other benefit of living here is how cheap it is to get hired help, and Toby and I have hit a wall where we really need to carve out a few hours a week to ourselves (some time for us as individuals, and some time for us a couple) because we really haven’t been doing that. And we’re running ourselves ragged. We really need help.

So we’ve caved and started looking for a part-time nanny to help out for a few hours a few days a week. I interviewed one today and discovered I have no idea how to interview nannies. (What do you even ask? Um…are all the kids in your care still alive? Check, ok good to go!)

We’ve made Cy the priority up until this point, and we’ve tried to keep up with the other things that are important to us, but bit by bit they’ve slipped away and we need to remedy that. There are priorities besides Cy (and a basic functioning household), and though I’m sure it will always be a balancing act, we need to make sure we make our priorities our priorities too._1070776

Thing I Love About Cy: When we go outside to play, he has developed a habit of reaching down to touch the pavement and say, “Haw?” to check to see if the ground is hot and therefore he needs shoes. And when he really gets his groove on, he shakes his head back and forth to the beat of his inner drum.

 

Related Posts with Thumbnails