Friday, July 18, 2008

Don't know why this didn't come up before. My guess was that bloggerbots saw the title and barred it. So I've re-named it. Enjoy.

Patrick’s development daily astounds me. I know that doesn’t make him or me unique or any more special than any other mother/baby combo in the world, but hey, isn’t it just so nice.

But Patrick has picked up on a few of my less decent habits.

For example, loud burps.

When Mr T and I first started going out, one of our cute-to-us but eww-weird-to-other-people things was rating each other’s burps for length, volume, pitch variation, and overall quality. [Also when one person burped, the other had to put their thumb on their forehead or the burper got to whack them on the head. Just don’t ask. It made sense at the time]. We’re also a household of vegetarians with reflux, so gas emissions are not uncommon. The loud belching continues unabated whilst we are at home (we are far more decorous in public, of course), but now we have realised Patrick is copying us. If he burps, he tries to reproduce the sound voluntarily. If he farts, he giggles.

Then there’s the belly button “Hellooo”. Let me explain- at about 9 months Paddy developed pretty fearsome separation anxiety, bad enough that if I had to go to the loo, I had to take him with me. To stop him from getting upset because I wasn’t physically holding him whilst I completed my eh-hem- ablutions- I would pinch the skin – hell, who am I kidding- the flab around my belly button and made it say “Helloooo!” pretending it was a mouth. Now whenever Patrick sees a belly button- ours or his- he says “Helloooo! Hellooo!”. If you ask him where his ear is, he grabs his ear. If you ask him where his eyes are, he points. If you ask him where his nose is he points. If you ask him where his Hellooo is, he’ll point to his midsection. It’s cute but also disturbing when you have to explain to a stranger why when they say Hello to him he points at his tummy.

Finally, there’s a great passage in Bill Bryson’s book about traveling in Europe where he describes sitting on a train in (I think it’s) Austria and he’s just dying to remove a piece of dried up snot in his nostril that feels like there’s a cornflake wedged in there. I hate that feeling, and am, I am ashamed to admit, a nose-picker. I’d never, ever do it in public. I don’t even do it in front of MrT, but I will admit I have done it whilst breastfeeding Patrick. So now, of course, he thinks that the fact that his finger and his nostrils are the same diameter is not co-incidental. And it’s all my fault.

Now the problem is, what to do about it. That and the other bad habits he is developing all by his little self, like pulling things off desks and turning on the oven. Before I reached this stage in parenting I knew the answer was simple. Strong and consistent parenting. Say no, and mean it. Don’t let them get away with it. What they don’t tell you, though, is that a 16 month old trying to imitate a burp with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his dial is just plain cute, and it takes all of my muscle tone to not smile back at him. I Must Be Strong.

Then there’s the really bad stuff. Like biting. And whacking mummy with whatever comes to hand- normally a toy, but occasionally something heftier, like a wooden spoon or a book. When Patrick is over-tired and silly- the normal state of affairs if I have a late day at work and it’s taken me ‘til 7.30pm to get him fed and bathed- then when I am trying to dress him for bed, he lunges forward and bites me on the shoulder. My normal reference for all things baby is Robin Barker- but here I find I can’t follow her advice- to ignore the behaviour, not respond to it and walk away. I mean, I would have to be superhuman not to squeak when his chompers are well into the firm roundness of my deltoids (ok, the soft flab of my upper arm), and I can’t walk away from a baby who is half-dressed on a cold winter’s evening. On bad nights, this goes on and on and on. I tell him “NO!” in my firmest voice, but after the bruising starts, it’s hard not to cry. The response he gets from me just amplifies him until I’m stretched well to the limits of tolerance, and will admit, on two separate occasions, I’ve had enough to put me in tears and respond- horribly- with a whack on his bottom. This leaves me feeling like a child abuser, and Patrick in tears- he’s way too young to associate his behaviour with the whack. All he knows is that mummy’s in tears and she caused him fear.

This is obviously NOT the answer.

But what can I do? Like I said, I can’t just leave him undressed on cold days, and he’s already overtired- walking away won’t get him to bed any sooner. UPDATE I have managed to at least reduce my available teeth target by dancing on the spot. It makes him giggle, and I’m a harder target. He still tries, but it’s harder for him. It also has the side effect of stopping me from getting too upset with him. Hopping up and down has the same effect.


Blogger E, M, and the Little Man said...

Eesh..sounds hard. If Teo bites or hits me, I respond with a firm "No, HURT Mom" and I try to walk away if I can. He usually gets upset, screams for a bit, and then comes over to beg forgiveness.

If Teo gets hurt by falling, or walking into something, I always say (while I'm comforting him) something like "Bad wall, hurt Teo." So I'm trying to get him to associate when he gets hurt to when he's hurting me or Maria.

Maybe you could crank the heat for a few nights and when he does it, walk away, turn your back and ignore him for a while. He wants your attention the most.

Most of toddler discipline I use comes from "The Happ.iest Toddler on the Bl.ock" book. Dr. Karp explains things that make sense to me, and things he says in the book run through my head when I'm really frustrated with Teo - such as "He's not doing this to irritate you" and "He's still learning to socialize."

Anyway...don't know if this helps. Good luck.

Your stories about the gas and the burps and the belly buttons are hilarious. :)

21/7/08 17:03  
Blogger E, M, and the Little Man said...

Thanks for the link to that other blog with the story of the fairies and dolls. Maria and I were in tears laughing. She's a great writer.

Also, yeah, I should have known that gibberish is really jargon. I did take Language Development in college.

23/7/08 10:42  

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