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I’m Tired of Apologizing For This

It always happens, at the end of a family get together, a play date, or a class, when the time comes to leave we ask our children to say goodbye to people. It’s respectful to kindly thank someone for their hospitality, time, or friendship, and either share a hug, high five, or at the very least, a smile. But for my child, it is a stressful situation that makes him really uncomfortable. So I’ve stopped forcing him to say goodbye to people and now I want to stop apologizing for it.

photo by Annie Wiegers Photography
photo by Annie Wiegers Photography

My oldest, Crumb, is the sweetest little guy. Seriously, I could go on and on, so indulge me for a minute. Crumb is 4.5 years old and a friend to everyone. That’s literally what one of his preschool teachers said to Mr. Cookie and myself; Crumb knows what activities and toys he likes to play with, but everyone is always welcome to join him. When I see Crumb playing with his little brother or one of his cousins, I often see him letting them start the game, play with the toy first, or get the color they desire. Crumb is intelligent, empathetic, curious, and has a relatively easy time with school and transitions. But Crumb is also very shy and sensitive. He doesn’t like being the center of attention, ever. For example, we couldn’t sing happy birthday to him for a few years, and he always gets very nervous when it comes to preschool performances or parades (and sometimes refuses to participate), and relating back to the point of this post, Crumb is terrible at saying goodbye to people.

I know I don’t have to defend my child, or make a huge disclaimer, but I’ve had enough uncomfortable situations to know that sometimes people expect them of me. We can be having a wonderful time but at the mention of goodbye or us leaving, my son is suddenly looking at the ground or hiding behind me. Gentle coaxing doesn’t help, and instead forces him to say, “I don’t want to do that.” I know most parents get it, and often agree with me that I shouldn’t force my son to do something that causes him anxiety, but when his little friends or cousins ask for a hug, I know that they don’t understand why Crumb is refusing. Naturally the other parent feels bad for their confused child who is being ignored, and then I feel bad for everyone involved so I start making excuses and apologizing and it becomes a frustrating moment.

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New Year, New Mission

One of the things I am noticing more about myself as I get older, is that I want to stand up for the things I truly believe in. In my case, I would consider myself a feminist, and as a parent, this plays out in some strange ways occasionally. My sisters were here over the holidays visiting, and one of them mentioned to me how incredibly girly LeLe is. This is mostly surprising because I am decidedly not girly, and neither are my sisters, nor our mother. But LeLe, man is she ever girly! I’m talking dresses, makeup, jewelry, etc. This girl refuses to wear jeans because they are “too boring.” For me, it’s like learning a new language. I have to roll with it, and learn as I go because this is who LeLe is, and who am I to stifle that?

One of the areas I see as conflicting with my feminist views is LeLe’s overall desire to be married when she grows up. For her, marriage only means that she will marry a man, they will have kids, they will live in a big house, etc. It kills me a little inside because although I love being married, I don’t see it as an end goal. Rather, it is a decision that can be made when you find the right person, and especially so if the right person does not expect anything out of you other than to be yourself. I worry that LeLe will change herself to adapt to the needs of another person. I wonder sometimes if I am the only parent who worries about this? She has also said more than once that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, which I have corrected her on multiple times. I often am curious as to where she is getting her information from, because in our household, we are extremely open and yes, quite liberal.

Another area that has me up in arms is that LeLe has decided that she wants to be a nurse. I love this idea, I honestly do. She is an extremely caring individual, so this profession would fit her perfectly. But when I asked her why she wants to be a nurse and not a doctor, she told me that only boys can be doctors. I was so dumbfounded that I couldn’t respond quickly and I feel like I missed an opportunity to change some of her views. Later on, we discussed that males and females can be whatever they want to be, and it isn’t dependent on their gender, but I am fairly certain that she still holds that belief in her head. She’s 4 (almost 5) and I know that this is normal for her age, and I also know that me pushing her into thinking like me is completely wrong. I want her to make her own decisions and opinions based on how she chooses to navigate the world. In my mind, as a true feminist, I have no place to force her to view her world the same way I view mine.

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Family Movie Review: Into the Spider-Verse

Seeing animated movies as a family is one of our favorite pastimes. Mr. Snowflake and I have always liked cartoons, and saw many together on dates before Snowy was born. We’ve been taking Snowy to the theater for G and PG animated movies since she was about 3, so for almost two years now. The first one we took her to was Moana, just before she turned 3. She does a really good job of sitting through them, though she always needs a bathroom break or two, and she sometimes has off days (we had to leave Incredibles 2 early because she was just too wiggly). But for the most part, she really enjoys them too, and of course the popcorn and pop we all share helps too. There is a cheap theater near where we live with $3 matinees.

The most recent movie we saw together as a family is Into the Spider-Verse, from Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, the first feature length animated Spider-Man movie.

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This was an excellent movie to see as a family with an almost-5-year-old. Though she found some of the fight scenes scary and cuddled up in my lap, she still really liked it, so if your child can handle superhero-type animated violence and that level of “scary parts,” it makes a great family movie choice.

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Cosleeping at Age 7

Olive and I have been cosleeping since we moved into our house 4 months ago, and pretty much off and on the past 3 years. When we lived in New York, she slept well in her own room since she was born until the age of 4. But kids develop more fears as they get older, and especially after watching a scary-to-her Harry Potter movie recently, she’s too scared to sleep alone in her room.

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Since I solo parent most of the time, it’s just been easier to let Olive sleep with me. My kids are 7 and 9, and we’re still having bedtime battles! But I really, really, really don’t want to sleep with Olive any longer. She moves 360 degrees in her sleep, thrashing, kicking, and waking me up throughout the night. I don’t sleep well as it is, and often have trouble going back to sleep when she wakes me up. Two of our dogs sleep with us as well, so there really is no space for me. The new year is the perfect time to implement change!

My plan is to stay in Olive’s room until she falls asleep, at least for the first week or so to develop new habits. Once she’s asleep, she’s usually fine throughout the night. Her room is already super cozy, and she has a night light too. She is just particularly clingy to me because we’ve spent so much time together the past three years, much more than we ever would if we were living in the US. Last night I had to change beds because she had a little cold and was thrashing about even more than usual, and she woke up and followed me into the other room shortly afterwards.

My mom coslept with my brother and I until I was around Olive’s age because co-sleeping is the norm in Asian culture. Kids there naturally seem to transition to sleeping on their own though. I’ve never really been a fan of cosleeping for me, and as an introvert that solo parents, I really need some downtime each day! So I hope this cosleeping weaning works because I am ready to have my bed back!

Do you cosleep with your kids and want to stop like me? Or what worked on getting your kids to sleep in their own beds?

Link Roundup – December 28, 2018

I’m currently in Manila refilling prescriptions, but will be spending my third New Years in a row in El Nido. Hope you have a fantastic New Year wherever you are in the world!

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Here are some interesting parenting links from around the web this week!

H E A L T H

FDA Issues Warning on Teething Necklaces After Death of Toddler via The Bump

E D U C A T I O N

More than 4 million children endured lockdowns last school year, a groundbreaking Washington Post analysis found. The experience left many traumatized. via Washington Post

Good Ideas Are Like Shooting Stars: A Chat with Author-Illustrator Jan Brett via Brightly

When School Choice Means School’s Choice: Parents of students who are “harder to educate” may have a hard time getting schools to reply to their emails about how to apply. via The Atlantic

U.S. Grip on the Market for Higher Education Is Slipping via Wall Street Journal

Literacy at the Laundromat: A new program in Chicago transforms a chore into a chance to learn. via US News

Back Off: It Doesn’t Matter What College Your Kids Attend – Attending an elite college provides no long-term advantage to most students. via Psychology Today

The Best Children’s Books Of 2018, According To Librarians via Huffpost

Twelve Books for Feminist Boys and Girls via New York Times

The 20 Best Kids Comics of 2018 via Paste Magazine

LAUSD parents, if teachers strike in January, will your child attend school? via LA Times

P A R E N T I N G 

How to Give Up Yelling and Overcome Your Anger, Mama via Motherly

Why Most Parents Really Do Have a Favorite Child via Psychology Today

How Do You Teach Kids To Be Honest? via NPR

The Way American Parents Think About Chores Is Bizarre via The Atlantic

Paying kids for doing chores could teach them to be entitled rather than helpful, says a professor who studies wealth inequality via Business Insider

10 Vital Life Lessons to Teach Your Kids Before They Turn 10 via Psychology Today

Want to raise successful kids? Nurture your child’s *emotional* intelligence via Motherly

This 70-Year Study of Over 70,000 Kids Reveals How to Raise Happy and Successful Children via Fatherly

How Fortnite Triggered an Unwinnable War Between Parents and Their Boys via Wall Street Journal

How I Treat My Chronic Illness Conditions

I have a laundry list of chronic illness conditions, which I regularly write about here as a voice for chronic illness parents. Since I wrote the post about my conditions, I have found out I likely have another, gastroparesis, which is a partial stomach paralysis/delayed stomach emptying that impacts my digestion, causing a lot of pain, nausea, and vomiting.

With all of my conditions in mind, I thought it might be helpful to write a post on what I do in the daily management of my chronic illnesses. This tends to change day to day, as different illnesses flare up at different times, but it helps to have these multiple strategies in my toolbox to handle what my body throws at me. I also sometimes add new strategies, to try and see if they will help, and cull out the things that aren’t helping. It’s a constant learning curve!

My disclaimer on this post is that chronic illnesses are so diverse, especially when you have a bunch of them all stacked on top of each other. What helps me with condition x might hurt you with the same condition. Many of these strategies were implemented with coordination of my medical team, and none of this should be taken as medical advice: it’s just a snapshot into what works for me.

Medication: My medical team has tried a number of medications, most of it which didn’t work particularly well. I am still on a few medications which are helpful: a sleep medication, a nerve medication which helps with pain, and medications for nausea and vomiting. I also take antacids and Benadryl as needed.

OTC Treatments: I use Biofreeze sometimes on sore joints. I also use a Coal Tar shampoo for my psoriasis.

Braces and mobility aids: I have a drawer full of fabric braces that I use when necessary to stabilize unstable/painful hypermobile joints. I also have a wheelchair that I use as necessary. I don’t tend to use it in my day to day life, since my conditions don’t yet require that, but I do on long family trips, like to the zoo. If I ever take Snowy to the zoo by myself and therefore can’t bring my wheelchair, we will take it much easier and probably only go to one or two sections of the zoo.

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Ace at Age Four

Ace turned four in October. Four seems to be this magical age where three-year-old tantrums are subsiding, he is absolutely curious about everything, and he can do so much more on his own. Ace has opinions and questions about everything, and he is never afraid to let us know how he is feeling.

Ace is, by far, the friendliest child I have ever met. He certainly did not get this trait from me, as I am shy and reserved. Parenting this four-year-old has forced me to come out of my shell a bit, and I find myself talking to random people quite often, since Ace likes to have a conversation with anyone he sees. When we walk down the hall at school drop off, Ace will compliment teachers that I haven’t even met, telling them he likes their new hair cuts or the shoes they are wearing. He walks up to kids at the playground, asks their names, and tells them he brought toys to share. I just love his friendly innocence and I worry about how he will react when he gets his first real rejection.

My four-year-old is definitely a lefty, which has made it difficult for me to teach him how to use scissors. Luckily, he recently picked up that skill at preschool as well as writing his first “word” – LOL, which he was very excited to show me. Ace really, really loves school, and wishes that he could go everyday. He loves all of his classmates, and talks about them constantly, even the ones who “aren’t always nice.”

At four, Ace is sleeping very well. He goes to bed around 7:30pm and wakes around 6:30am, running into my room to snuggle in my bed until the sun comes up. He rarely wakes during the night, although he will occasionally talk in his sleep, and he still rolls around wildly all night long! We have his bed as a “Montessori style” floor bed, and I worry that once he has some height he will fall off! When do kids stop rolling out of bed?! I thought for sure he would be past that by now!

Our biggest struggle at age four is eating. Ace eats next to nothing. His favorite food groups are “crunchy” and “sugar,” likely due to the sensory issues that he has. We did a year of feeding therapy when he was a toddler, and we are about to start another round of feeding therapy, as well as OT for sensory help and PT for some gait issues that he has. I am so hopeful that feeding therapy will help diversify his tastes! The only fruits and vegetables he will eat right now are watermelon, bananas, and corn on the cob. He does get a variety of other veggies and fruits in juices that we make fresh daily, but I would really be overjoyed if I could get him to eat a blueberry!

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