Thursday, January 22, 2015

She's Baaaaacck!

So for any of you wondering, yes Sonya came back safe and sound last Friday afternoon.  She had a fantastic time and talked ALL DAY LONG about her adventures at OSS.  They did so many things, from hikes, to rock wall climbing, archery to astronomy.  She did get to bunk in a cabin with all of her best friends and surprisingly nobody fought.  Well, at least none that she told me about.  She definitely missed us as we we missed her.  Although, to be honest it wasn't to hard the first day or two.  She is gone so much these day with extracurricular activities, that it wasn't until the day to day of breakfast or dinner or bedtime, that I started to really noticed her absence.  Then it started to get hard.  

My little girls said they missed her too.  I will admit, having one less to take care of was a bit nice since there was less fighting, but only a little less.  No worries-there was still fighting that occurred with those two.  I swear they are going to be in their 90s, in a home, bickering and making up until the day they die.  

Anyway, it was a good experience for all of us.  Lana and Georgia realized they liked having their big sister around and she missed them.  They were all actually really nice to each other for about the first two hours she was home.  I think two hours was the limit.  The novelty of missing someone wears off quickly.  

The important part about all of this is the fact that she did get to go away and be on her own.  Out of my three girls, Sonya has always been the one who has clung to us the most.  She is the kid who cried EVERY DAY for TWO MONTHS when I dropped her off at preschool.  Since she was five years old she has worried about growing up and moving away from home.  I assured her then that she won't feel like that forever, but I don't think she believed me.  So when this trip finally came up she and I were both a bit nervous.  She did it though and she realized what a great time she can have on her own.  She learned that she can take care of herself,  and that there are other people even more messy than she is.  

I feel so incredibly lucky that my kids go to a school where a program like this is possible.  For those of you out there who don't have something like this at your school, I encourage you to find a sleep away camp this summer for kids about this age.  It doesn't have to be for more than a few nights, but just those few nights can boost a kids confidence about themselves and their place in this world.  In a time where we are afraid to let our kids ride their bikes four streets over by themselves, and we tend to "helicopter parent" over everything they do, it's important that we give them this freedom.  It's important for them and for us as parents.  Yes, you might think that 10 is to young, and it is to be completely on their own, which these kids weren't.  They had camp counselors and teachers there.  Don't worry, they were still watched, just not by their parents.  Well unless you count the pictures we could see on Facebook.  However, they are all so used to that because it's their reality.  I loved being able to see Sonya having a great time.  It made me feel better to know she was happy, even if I didn't have any contact with her for four days.  

So yeah-I know I'm up here on my soapbox, but I just see so many parents these days who don't let their kids out of their sight.  Even at ten.  This is going to lead to a generation of kids who don't know how to do anything on their own.  If you are one of these parents, think about loosening the apron strings even if you don't want to completely cut them yet.  Let them ride that bike four streets over.  Send them away for a few days.  Let them discover who they are on their own.   If you don't, you will have nobody to blame but yourself when you have your 32 year old "baby" still sitting on your couch watching cartoons every Saturday morning.  

Thanks to Bret Harte for helping me loosen my own apron strings.  In three and four years I get to do it all again!

Monday, January 12, 2015

She's Leaving Home

This morning Andy and I waved goodbye to our ten year old daughter for the next 5 days.  Well, 4 ½ really.  Yup, she is gone all this week.  Her elementary school does this field trip every year for the 5th graders.  It's called Outdoor Science School or OSS.  They drive two hours away and stay at a campsite in the mountains.  It's near Big Bear for those of you familiar with Southern California.  Then they do all kinds of fun science related things.  It's supposed to be a blast. I've known about this trip since she was in kindergarten.  But again, it was a "someday" she will go.  Those somedays are coming quicker and quicker.  

I held it together for her this morning, even though I thought I was going to lose it a couple times.  It actually helped that her bus took a bit longer to get going because of a problem they were having closing the emergency door, after the bus driver showed them how to open in case there was an emergency.  The other buses had already gone and we must have waved goodbye to the students on her bus at least five times before it finally left, so it was a bit comical.  That made it a bit less sad for me, and for her I'm sure.  She was definitely excited to go on this trip, but there were tears at bedtime last night.  I remember going away from home when I was her age for almost two weeks.  On an airplane!  And I wasn't really with anyone I knew!  Yeah, I don't know what my parents were thinking, but I survived.  

We had talked about the story of me going away many times over the past few months when she became nervous about leaving.  I think it helped her to hear that what she was feeling was totally normal.  I hear from parents who have already gone through this that the kids come back completely changed.  A bit more mature and independent.  I'm also hoping that it takes away some of the attitude she likes to cop with us.  Although, I'm not holding my breath on that one.  Can't say I will miss that, but I know I will miss her like crazy.  It's going to be weird having only two to deal with for a few days.  Sure Sonya has gone over to friend's to spend the night, but never for this long.  On the plus side, I plan on making every meal she complains about and the little two are excited because some of them are their favorites.  That along with doing an overhaul of her room should make this a little more bearable for me anyway.  Andy is better than I am, and just kept saying "It's really only three days! It's fine!" Yeah, we'll see who is more sad tomorrow.  I tend to get my emotions out of the way at the beginning of something.  You know how men are though. He'll break eventually.  

So here I am at yet another milestone with one of my kids.  Leaving home for a few days.  I know this is just a taste of things to come later on down the road, but I'm sure she will have a great time and yes I will eventually stop weeping and be fine.   Now excuse me while I go refill my Xanax prescription.  

Saying goodbye to her sisters

With her besties, Lilianna and Charlotte

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Kicking The Habit

When I first started this blog I talked about the blankies each one of my girls had.  Sonya and Georgia both used their blankies along with sucking their thumb as their way to relax.  Lana skipped the middle man and just sucked on her blankie, which yes, is just as gross as you imagine.  I will be honest, they all still have their blankies, but they are not dragged all over the place every day as they once were.  They are only for bedtime as just a security.  Really,  I never really cared much that they had them. I had a Dumbo stuffed animal from the time I was 5 that I slept with while sucking my thumb.  He came to college with me.  What I cared more about was the bad habit of sucking on their thumbs/blankies that went along with their lovies.

The thumb/blankie sucking was something I was always concerned about.  However, when you have a nine month old and she can comfort herself in the middle of the night by sucking on her thumb, giving you an extra 20 minutes of sleep, you're not really thinking about the fact that some day you will have to break her of that habit.  Someday is soooo far away when you have a 9 month old.  You're just thinking, "Thank God that thumb is attached to her body so I don't have to leave this bed and help her find it."  Then when they get older  you start to realize that perhaps this may be a problem at some point.  Especially when you start to think about the fact that the habit may lead to braces.  If you don't know-braces are a small fortune.  With three kids in them, it's more of a middle size fortune. A family trip to Hawaii-TWICE- fortune, if you will.  

I consulted with the girls' pediatrician and dentist about each of their habits.  They both told me the best thing to do was to leave it alone.  So far the damage was not severe in any of them, especially because they still have baby teeth. They assured me that most kids by 6 or 7 will stop on their own.  This made sense to me,  since I myself was a thumb sucker.  I did indeed kick the habit all on my own.  I remember it clearly.  It was right before I started second grade and I thought to myself that I was to old to be sucking my thumb, so I slept on my hand for a week.  I remember how hard it was to fall asleep that first night, but I did it and I knew they would be able to as well, when they were ready.

I was not wrong.  Sonya stopped when she was around 6 ½-7.  I can't remember exactly when it was, but she came to me and told me she wanted to stop sucking her thumb.  My sister had just weened her daughter off of her thumb sucking habit and had used something called Mavala Stop.  It is the typical paint the thumbnail and make it taste bad technique.  Sonya knew this and wanted to try it to help remind her.  So I ordered it and the day it arrived we used it.  It took her all of one night to stop.  Sure, that first night she had a bit of trouble sleeping but by night two it was easier, and night three not even a thought.  I breathed a sigh of relief at how easy it was!  What are the chances they would all be this simple?  Then I remembered that nothing was really simple with my adorable second born child.  

So Lana.  I was petrified about trying to get Lana to stop sucking her blankie.  I mean painting a nail is one thing, but what do you do with a kid who puts a blankie in her mouth?  I couldn't paint the whole blankie with that stuff.  Believe me, I considered it.  The only solution was to just take away blankie.  This was something I was not willing to do until I absolutely had to.  So for a year and a half we talked on and off about how she was going to stop using her blankie.  I thought that maybe if I painted the finger nails  she sucked on under the blankie, that might work.  Her blankie has thinned out so much over the years, surely she would be able to taste some of the bitterness on her nails and stop putting them, along with her blank, in her mouth.  Over this past summer one night we tried it.  She couldn't taste it at all and continued the habit.  Back to the drawing board.

I'll be honest, I kept putting it off and ignoring it.  The only time she even used it was when she went to sleep at night.  So really it was only in her mouth 10 minutes tops each day.  I mean that's fine right?  She could go to college like that?  Who cares?! 

Part of the reason I was hesitating on cutting her off was because blankie was a security for me.  It's well documented on here that Lana is queen of the temper tantrums.  She can destroy half a days time in our house with just one or two of her tantrums.  They have certainly gotten better over the years, but she still has them when she doesn't get her way, is tired, hungry or just generally cranky.  She is just a very fiery girl.  Always has been from the time she came into this world.  So her blankie would be her way to calm down more quickly when she was in the middle of a tantrum.  It was like handing a smoker a cigarette and a lighter.  Within a few minutes of sucking on her blankie, the tantrum would subside and she would become normal again.  How the hell was I going to get through tantrums if I didn't have blankie to rely on?  So yes,  I was a bit lazy and didn't want to go through the withdrawal myself.  If you'd ever seen a Lana tantrum you would totally be on my side with this one.  You would have found a college that encouraged students to bring childhood blankies they sucked on.

I didn't force her to stop, not yet.  I figured once she hit 8 in March we really had to figure something out.  I mean 7 is pushing it to still have a sucking habit, but 8...8 is just to old for that kind of thing.  I would mention to her from time to time that we needed to think about getting rid of it. Of course that statement was always met with some kind of whine or whimper.  We tried to come up with ways that would still allow her to have her blankie, but no longer suck on it.  Unfortunately there weren't really any options.  I finally told her that when she was ready, maybe I could lay with her until she fell asleep without sucking on blankie.  I also said we could put it somewhere nearby like the end of the bed or under her pillow, that way it would still be around, but she wouldn't really be using it.  I thought this was a way to provide a bit of comfort to her and baby step out of the habit.  She thought that sounded like a good idea.  Better than the other one I had-which was to put it in a plastic baggie to keep her from sucking on it.  This was hard for me, dammit!

For a couple weeks she would say something about maybe me laying with her at night.  Then she would decide not that night.    I could tell she was getting used to the idea and trying to talk herself into it, so I didn't push it.  Then she came to me one evening and told me she was ready.  She wanted me to lay with her until she fell asleep so she could give up her blankie.  I would have been more willing and excited if she wouldn't have picked the Monday BEFORE THANKSGIVING!  Like I don't have enough shit to do already that week!  So much cooking and preparing!  Who has time to lay with their 7 year old for an hour while she tries to fall asleep without her vice?  There was that part of me that hesitated and almost told her we would wait for the weekend-after Thanksgiving was over and I didn't have as much to do at night.  Then I thought-"don't be so stupid! If SHE wants to do this now,  you do this NOW!" So I did.  Because who has time for that shit? A mom does.  We will always make the time.

That night I layed with her for about 45 minutes.  A couple of times she told me she was having a hard time and really wanted to suck on her blankie.  I told her I completely understood, but that she was doing great.  Eventually she fell asleep. The next night Andy layed with her, but she feel asleep quicker. It took maybe 25 minutes.  By the third night she told us, 

"I'm fine.  I don't need you  to sleep with me anymore.  I don't need to suck on blankie."

And she didn't.  She was done.

Two nights.  Just like her sister, two nights.  I never pushed her or forced her and I let her come to me to tell me when she was ready. The same thing we did with Sonya. I honestly believe this is the best way to break kids of their thumb/blankie sucking habit.  The younger they are, the harder it is to break them of their habit, because they don't understand the need to break them of their habit.  At 7, they get it.  They know it's something they can't do forever.  Not to mention, most of their friends aren't sucking on their thumbs.  Going to sleepovers might start to get a bit embarrassing if they are still in the habit at night.  That is most likely what pushed me into stopping when I was 7.  Plus it helps that we gave her the incentive of going to her favorite place for breakfast if she made it a week without out.   

I also believe that if you wait until they are a bit older, they don't find something to replace the sucking habit, like with nail chewing.  Although Georgia already seems to be doing that as well, so she may be getting a full manicure with the Mavala Stop.  

Lana still has her blankie under her pillow, but she doesn't suck on it anymore.  As far as the tantrums...well so far it is taking a bit longer to calm her down. At least the tantrums themselves aren't as frequent at they were a couple years ago.  Plus, Santa brought a standing punching bag for her to take her aggression out on. So instead of sucking on blankie she can just beat the shit out of that.  Thanks Santa!

Now that I've been through this twice, I am thankful for how much easier it was than I originally thought it would be.  Of course, I suppose I shouldn't speak to soon.  I still have one more to go.  Georgia has already been talking about trying to stop ever since Lana did.  Then we get to night time and she decides she's not quite ready.  I figured I would give her until the summer and then we would try to push her a little more.  Unlike Lana, I'm not as concerned about her stopping because she doesn't need her thumb for tantrums.  She strictly sucks her thumb to go to sleep at night.  No, I'm more saddened about her stopping, because it really is the last bit of babyness that I will have to let go of.  Don't worry!  I will help her to stop soon.  I won't make this about me and my sadness of my kids growing up.  However, I think that so far my methods for this part of parenting have been proven successful twice and I plan on getting a perfect score here, so I'm not rushing her.  Well, at least not until it's time to send her off to college.