Actually, I'm dreading kindergarten registration because at our school it involves more paperwork to place a child in kindergarten than it did to birth them in the first place. I had an organ removed and there was less paperwork than signing my child up for public school. I had to write my phone number 10 times when I registered Justin for kindergarten (I counted).
So with the last days of pre-school motherhood dwindling, I decided it was time to share my parting thoughts on babies, potty training and tantrum handling. Soon I'll be like those poor women who used to approach me in my younger days of motherhood with awww how old is your baby? Mine are 12 and 15 now, sniff. What I didn't realize until recently is that they went home and did the No More Diapers happy dance.
While I'm still a mother of a pre-schooler and allowed to have opinions, here is my advice:
- Breastfeed. I know some people who insist that their children get the best of everything but they denied them the best nutrition during their most critical months of life. (Even formula companies acknowledge this.) Plus, free breastmilk is always the right amount and the right temperature--and boobs wash up easily in the shower. Unfortunately, there will always be people like Anita Kelley-Powers of Fairborn who wrote into the Dayton Daily News this week to compare public breastfeeding to public urination. To Anita Kelley-Powers I say, no one wants to watch you chew with your mouth open but YOU get to eat in public.
- Remember that expert advice about babies is often based on risk factors and not if you screw this up your baby will die immediately. Since this blog has become all about confessions lately I have another one: I let my babies sleep on their stomachs. And according to a New York Times article I just Googled titled aptly, A Quiet Revolt Against the Rules on SIDS, I'm not alone.
The dirty little truth is that babies prefer to sleep on their stomachs. I was astonished to visit a friend and discover her back-sleeping baby couldn't stand to be on her stomach for even a moment. How was she going to learn to crawl or take cute little hand-on-chin photos at the mall, I wondered.
Oh, and the freaky flat heads. From the NYT: Not only do many infants sleep better on their stomachs, they are much less likely to develop plagiocephaly, a deformation of the skull that leaves infants with flattened heads. Dr. Jeffrey H. Wisoff, an associate professor of neurosurgery and pediatrics at New York University Medical Center, said that since the Back to Sleep campaign began, the head condition had "become an epidemic."
- Potty training sucks. My grandmother is over 80 and her youngest baby is nearly 60 but mention potty training and she gets a look like she just hung up her last cloth diaper yesterday--the pain is still fresh. To me, the most frustrating thing about potty training is you have no idea what actually works. Is it the sticker chart, the begging, the songs, the tears of frustration, the potty Elmo (it was a gift so we thought, what the heck), the brand new Bob the Builder underpants? It just seems like one day they wake up (dry) and decide This is the Day I Shall Stop Soiling Myself. Part of me always wondered if that day was going to come whether I did anything or not to encourage it.
Remember that pull-ups are both the friend and the enemy of potty training. They help prevent messes but really become the enabler of lazy toddlers who don't want to bother with the potty and their fathers who don't either.
- Tantrums are preventable. Kids are crazy smart and believe that any publicity (attention) is good publicity.If tantrum becomes an effective way to get what they want, then I don't blame them for using it over and over as a tactic. Give them a quiet place to finish their flailing where no one is paying any attention to them. Act like you never even heard/don't remember their demands. I promise they will try something else.
I'll conclude my final advice on pre-schoolers with another quote from the New York Times:
The role of the professional is to say 'these are the recommendations and this is why.' The role of the parent is to think critically and apply those recommendations in a way that makes their life manageable.
I'm off to do my No More Diapers happy dance now.