Monday, January 30, 2012

Toilet Training Tribulations

I know boys take longer than girls.
I know that you shouldn't start too early or too late or it backfires.
I know it takes patience and perseverance.
But I'm sick of trying to get Toby to use the toilet. Almost as sick as I am of changing diapers.

I probably started introducing the idea of the toilet about a  year ago. He has his own toilet seat. He sits and plays with toys. He never did anything, but at least he would merrily sit up there for a while.
I didn't push it because I still felt he was too young to 'get' it.
A few months later there was a poop-in-the-tub incident, after which I scooped him up and onto the toilet, which collected the rest of it. I made a big happy deal about him sitting on the toilet and using it properly, and he seemed pleased with himself, but the idea didn't stick.
Periodically through the summer and fall I would catch him in the act of beginning to fill his diaper and excitedly exclaim it was time to use the toilet. He'd let me pick him up and bring him to the bathroom, but them more often that not he would just sit on the toilet for half an hour and do nothing.
At this point maybe I should have been more consistent? Made him sit up there several times a day, instead of the odd time when I'd catch him about to go? Not let him just fill his diaper when I was too tired to get out of bed in the morning?
I still didn't want to push him too hard because I was trying to cut back on the ridiculous amount of nursing he was still doing and didn't want too many traumas at once.
I started putting swirly star stickers on a calendar when he used the toilet. It had worked with the teeth brushing. It seemed to work for a while. Twice a week we had a good toilet experience.
But then a few times I'd ask him if he needed to use the bathroom and he'd sullenly say no, and then proceed to fill his diaper.
I'd bribe him with the AMAZING, INCREDIBLE star stickers, and the wind-up toys I had reserved for toilet-time.
He told me he didn't want a sticker, and proceeded to fill his diaper.
I'd get annoyed. I'd sigh. I stopped talking and playing with him when I changed his diapers so that diaper changing wasn't 'fun' anymore.
Nothing mattered.
I'd rant (maybe to myself more than him) that I hated how much garbage we were making and I hated buying diapers and should have used cloth, but really have no patience or desire to clean up after cloth diapers. I's go on about how we wouldn't have to deal with things like diaper rashes anymore because it would be so much cleaner and more fun to sit on the toilet than have this gooey mushy diaper on.
He told me he wanted diaper rashes and stormed away.
I tried the no-nonsense, pick-you-up-when-you're-about-to-poop-and-off-to-the-bathroom-we-go! But that resulted in fits of hysteric screaming and I didn't want the toilet to be about force.

Ok, so he's not ready. I left it. I left everything I had tired and didn't say anything, tried not to scold or roll my eyes.
Nothing changed.
My latest strategy is to make him carry his own dirty diapers to the garbage. If we're in our room, he doesn't have far to go. If we're downstairs, he has to march it all the way upstairs.
The first few times it worked great. He loves helping. A couple times he suggested I do it, and I calmly said that no, I'm done cleaning up the poopy diapers, and if you want to use a diaper then you get to clean it up. If you don't want to do this job anymore you can use the toilet and I will gladly sit with you and help you in there.
It worked in the sense that he diligently marched all his diapers up to the big garbage. However he has only once sat on a toilet in the last two months. And that was only because I fished him out of the bathtub before we had another mess to contend with.
But now.... now he's caught on. And he's fighting back. He screams that I take his diaper away, as soon as I'm done changing him. I shrug and walk away. He screams and runs after me, demanding I clean it up. I try reasoning and bartering with him. I offer to help by bringing the garbage out from the bedroom, but he still needs to please clean it up.
Everyday now we have a blood curdling argument.
I hate it so much, but I feel like I shouldn't give in. I've given in every other time and it's gotten us nowhere. This time I keep saying I"m determined to hold my ground, but is that the right thing to do? Am I really making a negative argument about the diapers, or am I still turning the whole toilet training thing into a fiasco?
Is it worth fighting to tears every day?
Do I just stop and let it go and hope he trains himself by the time he's 5?
Is he going to be one of those kids who never quite gets it and wets the bed for years to come?
Kids who go to school don't still breastfeed and wear diapers right?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Definition of Amazing

I'm the type of person/mother that constantly has a camera glued to their right hand (I was going to say glued to their face, but that reference seems a bit archaic now), so naturally Toby has had his curiosity piqued as to what that 'thing' is that Mom is so protective of. About a year ago he took great delight in being allowed to push the arrow buttons to see all the photos I've taken. About half a year ago he started to ask to hold the camera and take a picture. I let him take a few blurry pictures of garden dirt before declaring that the 'batteries needed to sleep for a bit so let's tuck the camera back in the bag.'
Now he's taken to sitting on the couch while I'm busy in the kitchen and take my camera out of the bag and turn it over and over trying to figure out how to turn it on.
I've been wanting to get him a kid's camera for a while now, but I never know how 'worth it' those things are. How much is toy and how much is decent camera?
Luckily this pondering coincided with my sister getting a new point-and-shoot camera to replace her 'ancient' one (featuring BOTH Digital screen AND Viewfinder, so as not to force you into technology's advancement too quickly!!). She said that if I could put up with the batteries only lasting for half-an-hour, Toby could use it.
I'd had it sitting on my counter in a pile of stuff for almost a month, and today as Toby crawled up on the couch and started riffling through my purse to find my camera for the first time in ages, I pulled out this old one of Shannon's.

I turned it on and the first thing that Toby did was press the shutter. Click, close up picture of the couch cushion. I directed him to hold the camera up and look at what he was taking a picture of and only press the shutter when he really wanted to take a picture, not just because you want to every 3 seconds.

"Mom I see a ladybug!!" Click.
(Can you find it?)

After 6 pictures of the ladybug and one of a squirrel on the bird feeder, he ventured off into the living room with a gigantic grin on his face.

Click, the rug.
Click, The ceiling.
Click, blurry close-up of a pillow.

"Hold on Toby, hold on. It's great you're enthusiastic, but really try to 'think' about what you want a picture of. Look at the screen and watch what you're doing.
He scanned the room.
"Like the STAIRS!" Click.


Next I lined up some of his cars, thinking that this would be a good 'focus' for picture taking.

I sat on the couch, still not really awake, and let him wander around taking random pictures of house plants and flies.
Some stuff wasn't even too bad.


 Fly swatter.

Parental unit.


30 pictures have gone by now, so I tried to direct his focus again.

"Toby, really try to pick just one thing, and then take a picture of it, instead of just pointing the camera at everything. Try and think "This looks amazing" before you go to take a picture."

He stopped and scanned the room again.
"This looks amazing" He whispered.
Click, top of the chair.

I know that teaching the art of photography to a three year old is maybe far-fetched, but I want him to have a sense of WHY we take photos. Before digital cameras I never would have just given a role of film to a toddler to 'waste'. I feel that while digital photography allows us a 'do-over' period, it still shouldn't be 'wasted' or the point of photography is lost.

But as I propped my head on my hand and watched as Toby searched the room for anything he hadn't photographed yet, I realized what I had just said to him.
Take pictures of 'amazing' things.
He's three. He hasn't had time the be jaded by REAL amazing things.
The fact that he can operate a camera is amazing enough to him. And when I look back through his photos, when was the last time I looked at my Rosemary like that?? When was the last time I thought a fly swatter was worth photographing?
Yes they're all out of focus and blurry, but is that really HIS fault or just the fact that the camera doesn't know how to focus on what he wants?
When you look past the technicalities, I do think he's taking pictures of things that fascinate him.
A tunnel of rosemary, the texture of the rug, a 'burst' of flower stems,
a circular tree root,

bottles in the window, 

plates in the window, 

the colour of books.

And at the end of it all, there are about 6 good pictures from the 52 that he took. Isn't that the same with all great photographers?
The point of the exercise was to learn to LOOK at what you're SEEING, not to take an award winning photo.
And I think Toby and I both learned a bit today.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rules of Engagement

As I've most likely mentioned, Toby is very clingy.
I hesitate to call him anti-social because he does play well and get along with other people, but it takes a LONG time, and a certain type of person for him to warm up to.
My mom assures me I was the same. At family events I played in another room. I never strayed more than 3 feet from her knees while shopping. And yet I loved school and was very happy once I got in the routine.

I would have hoped, or thought, that after three years he would just learn to relax around other people and just know that I was not going to leave him, instead of hyperventilating and leeching himself to my neck.

And with people we visit regularly he is actually becoming quite bold and 'normal' around.
Except there it still the once in a while where I want to visit people we haven't seen in a while and he wants nothing to do with it.
I feel like I need to hand out a ridiculous  set of rules to everyone before we even enter:
1. Do not say hello to Toby. And if you do, Please don't do it two inches from his face.
2. He is not 'playing' shy, he is genuinely insecure and does not know who you are.
3. Give him an hour before you try to engage him.
4. Keep all pets, especially dogs, back a 6 foot radius.
5. The longer you try to get him to smile, the less he is going to like you.

And likewise, I wish I could shove a stack of logic into Toby's head:
1. If you say hi to people who greet you, they are more likely to then walk away instead of spending the next 5 minutes trying to make you smile.
2. It is fine to want me to hold you for the first little while, but when I put you down because my arms hurt it does not mean I am walking away or leaving, and thus does not warrant a panic attack.
3. Dogs and cats sniff to say hello. Just say hello back and they will leave.
4. If someone asks you something you could at least TRY to nod or shake your head in response instead of wiping nasal mucus on my new sweater over and over.

I can empathize with Toby because I remember what its like to be an awkwardly shy kid.
But at the same time I am so sick of telling people not to talk to him because I feel like I"m pushing people away or being rude.
I laugh and smile and roll my eyes and try to keep moving through the room, but it doesn't always work.
I try really hard not to loose my cool because I know Toby senses it, but sometimes he just seems to get so irrational and frantic that I can't help but be angry.
Plus I'm currently sick and have a locked jaw and a swollen wisdom tooth and can barely focus on driving, let alone a frantic toddler.
I want to find more social things to do with Toby, but I don't want to enroll in a program only to have him have a panic attack everytime we go.
I always say that the summer is easier to do stuff because people are around and the weather is good, but then it's the winter when you NEED something to do.
I can just picture him starting school with a ton of enthusiasm, and then freeze at the door and have a melt down.
Although it's still two years away, and when I think about how far he's come in the last two years, maybe there's some hope...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Garden project

Happy New Years Everyone.
One year ago this week I started blogging!!

Alright, here's my question..
Would anyone be interested in buying veggies from Toby and I this summer on a pick-your-own basis?
I don't have the energy or the time to go to market every Saturday, but we love what we do and often have more than we need.
If there is enough interest we will be ordering extra seeds, so I'd like to know before we order in a few weeks if it's worth it to get a larger variety of things and more of them than we would normally get.
Typically we would have peas/snow peas, beans, salad mix/lettuce, radishes, zucchini, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, beets and peppers.... Thinking about some other kinds of veggies too, but not sure yet...Was thinking about having a variety of herbs for picking as well... maybe pumpkins in the fall but not sure if we have the room yet.
Lettuce and herbs would be sold by weight, and others would be sold by the bunch or 'each'.

Let me know what you guys think!

If there's interest I'll set up a facebook 'group' to keep everyone updated.