Tag Archives: Child

Tug-of-War

The_Tug_of_War_-_JM_StaniforthMe:  I think arguing is like tug-of-war.  One person pulls one way and the other pulls the other way, and you try not to get pulled across the line.  But what if someone just drops the rope?  Then you are not tugging anymore and you don’t get pulled across the line, either.  It just ends.

Husband:  Yeah, but if you let go, the other person falls down.

Me:  You just have to be the one to let go first.

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First Aid Kit for Travel with Kids

Bon Voyage!

Bon Voyage!

Child throwing up in-flight?  Been there.  Fever at the hotel?  Done that.  Can’t find diapers?  That, too!  I’ve been lucky to travel a lot with my kids.  There are some first aid items I have learned to always have with me.  These go in my carry-on if we go by plane.  It’s not always easy to find a pharmacy when you need it, and even harder to find what you want in a foreign country.  Be sure you are aware of TSA limits for liquids on airplanes.  Here’s what I include, in no particular order, plus three bonus tips at the end:

Nasal Spray: This is high on the list, because you can’t clear your ears for landing if your head is stuffed up.  For this reason, I also carry…

Benadryl: If it’s in tablet form, it does not have to take up space in your TSA quart bag limit for liquids. Or, you can buy the single-dose packs to stay within the size limit for liquids. I do NOT recommend using Benadryl to make your child sleepy for the flight.  I’ve heard it sometimes has the opposite effect, or in our case, can lead to projectile vomiting all over Daddy’s shirt.

Cheerios: Babies and small children don’t know how to clear their ears. Start dispensing 30 minutes before landing, so your child will start swallowing and clearing his/her ears before it gets bad.  Warm milk is also helpful because of the heat, swallowing, and sense of security.

Children’s Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil): Of course, these are not sold in airplane-size bottles.  I use a smaller bottle and put a label on very, very securely in permanent ink. Include dosage info on the label.  I bring one little bottle of each, because I like to alternate them.  Let me emphasize that it is a BAD idea to put one medication in the bottle of a different medication.  I confess, I’ve done it, and it is in my picture, but you can be smarter than I am.

Anti-itch gel: We like the Benadryl gel best, but it has to be transferred to a smaller bottle to meet the TSA limits.

Triple-antibiotic cream: To kill germs on cuts and scrapes

Chapstick: Airplane air is dry, so we use this often.

Bandaids: Not only for cuts and scrapes, but also if lots of walking gives you sore spots on your feet.

Powdered Pedialyte packs: Easy to carry, and don’t have to be put with your TSA allotment of liquids.

Handi-wipes

Shout (or other brand) stain remover wipes

Tweezers

Nail file

Nail clippers

Small pack of facial tissues: No mother should ever be without these, especially during travel. Restrooms, especially in foreign places, don’t always have toilet paper.

Plastic bags: Bring several for disposing of trash, separating soiled clothes and dirty shoes from other luggage, bagging a lunch on the go, or throwing up in.

Vapor rub pad: The kind you put on your chest to clear a stuffy head.

Oral thermometer

Disposable diapers, wipes and rash cream: You run out at the least convenient time.  Plus, they’re not always easy to find overseas.  I spent a couple hours searching for disposable diapers in Munich.  They were not in the huge department store that had a large supermarket in the basement.  I had to go to a pharmacy and wait in line to get them from a pharmacist.  Luckily, I knew the language and knew my way around the city.  For travel anywhere outside the U.S., just bring the entire amount needed for the trip.  Then use the extra luggage space for souvenirs on the way home.  Be sure your carry-on contains twice as many diapers as you think you need for the flight, or delays will be a nightmare.

Empty travel-size spray bottle: For ironing clothes, sort of.  Simply fill the bottle with water and mist clothes.  Wrinkles will fall out.

Skin lotion

For myself: Feminine protection, just in case, and so I have the kind I like

Bonus vomit tip: Ground coffee masks the smell after you clean up. We learned this from a flight attendant who put ground coffee on my daughter’s seat after she threw up.  Worked like magic.

Bonus foreign bathroom tip: Have small change in the local currency.  Many foreign bathrooms, even at gas stations, charge around $0.50.  I even encountered a bathroom in Turkey that charged for toilet paper by the square.

Bonus medication tip: Bring your prescription for any prescription meds, as these may be controlled substances. Even some over-the-counter drugs may be controlled at your destination, so do a little research.

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Fear is Different From Respect

Photo By D Sharon Pruitt [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Whom do you respect and admire?  What do you respect about that person?  Courage? Wisdom? Mental, physical or emotional strength? Kindness? Or, do you respect that person for their power to scare and humiliate you?

Shine from Yahoo ran an article about a 13-year old girl whose parents made her stand for 90 minutes at a roadside with a sign that said, “I’m a Self-entitled teenager w/NO Respect for authority. I’m also super smart, yet I have 3 ‘D”s because I DON’T CARE!”

This might be a kick in the pants to scare her into bringing up her grades.  But in the long run, is this the kind of tactic that will bring out the best in her?  Do decent people humiliate each other?

Who are the best supervisors and coaches?  Back in my previous life as a career woman, I had a great boss.  She had high expectations, and I did not want to let her down.  I wanted to do well in that job.  Why?  Because she set a fine example.  She had a strong work ethic, was knowledgeable about her field, was a great team-builder, and encouraged me.  These are the things that make a great boss.  As I develop my parenting skills, I look to her example.  I want my kids to feel encouraged to do their best.

This boss never, ever did anything to humiliate me, even when I really screwed up.  I don’t do my best when I am scared.  I suppose I’d run my fastest if I were chased by a wild animal.  Other than that, does fear bring out the best in any of us?  Maybe it does for some people of a certain temperament, but I doubt it is common.  And even if humiliation was effective, is it the right way for a person to teach another person, whether adult or child?  Would this husband and wife treat each other this way?

I do not think that scaring and humiliating our children into submission brings out the best in them.

I admit there have been times when my children have acted disrespectfully toward me.  But it was not because I didn’t scare or humiliate them enough.  It was because I got flustered, lost my temper, and had mommy-tantrums.  I was being weak, and they could see that I was not in control.  That is how I lost their respect.  As I learn to keep my temper, speak calmly and firmly, and encourage them to do their best, I can see that I gain their respect.

Many people commented with praise for the parents who wrote the embarrassing sign.  I think it is a good thing that the parents wanted to correct their daughter’s behavior.  But I am amazed that so many people think that this is a great method.  I think it was a desperate, thoughtless, maybe even sadistic measure, and not a long-term solution.  I think it is sad that the girl’s behavior stemmed from the tragic death of her uncle, and that her parents responded by hurting her.  What a slap in the face to say the girl doesn’t care.  Obviously she does care, or her uncle’s death wouldn’t have had such a strong effect on her.  And why make a public display of a private matter?  I hope that these parents will empathize with her grief and help her work through it in a constructive way.  I hope that they strengthen their relationship with their daughter and develop true respect.

Because fear is different from respect.

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How Dads Matter

Gerald R. Ford and Son (Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US Gov't)

Gerald R. Ford and Son (Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US Gov’t)

A pet peeve of mine is hearing people suggest that fathers are not important.  Or that fathers are the bumbling idiots you see on tv sitcoms.

Here is a video about the importance of dads.  Feminism is nice for equal rights and all, but let’s not forget that mothers are mothers and fathers are fathers.  The video is 15 minutes, but worth watching.  If that’s too long (or not), check out the two articles below from Psychology Today:

Here’s an article about the difference between a father being there and not being there.

Don’t skip this one even though it’s last.  Here are some really powerful statistics that will make you want to go hug your husband and thank your dad.

Thanks, Dad.

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Happiness: The Greatest is Love

Happiness

Happiness

When I saw The Daily Post‘s weekly writing challenge, this picture came to my mind and I couldn’t wait to write about it.  The challenge is to present a photo that shows true happiness.

I believe happiness is deeper than a sparkle in your eye.  It is not joy or fun or peace.  It is a mixture of joy, peace, contentment, satisfaction, and love.  And the greatest of these is love.

This picture of my children is that mixture.  The joy of a sunny day.  The peace of nature.  The contentment of free time.  The satisfaction of wandering off to explore.  The love of family and best friend.

You don’t even need to see the expressions on their faces to know.

This is Happiness.

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Mommy and Me Road Rage

How do I get there?  Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US Government

How do I get there? Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-US Government

I was driving near an urban mall just a few days before Christmas. Traffic was crawling at about one block per half hour. My Pre-K son started making unhappy noises.  I don’t mean crying, I mean random noises, like “AAAAH” and “OOOOH” to relieve boredom or frustration.  I failed to identify the sentiment as bored or frustrated, though.  I interpreted it as uncooperative and annoying.

To escape traffic, I chose a longer route.  No escape.  Now I was on the longer route, traveling at one block per half hour.  My son kept making noise.  Annoyed, I kept asking him to be quiet.  Both of us kept raising our voices, trying to win.  Eventually, I was screaming myself hoarse, hoping that eventually, he would give up or get scared or gain a solemn respect for me.  But instead, he matched me decibel for decibel.  If decibels were drinks, we both would have been under the table.  Oh, and also, I had a pounding headache.

Over the years, we went through many variations on this theme.  Son pulls daughter’s hair while mom screams for him to stop.  Or, father drives, son kicks mom’s seat, mom grabs son’s foot, daughter is crying.

Car troubles are definitely worse when the child’s tantrum triggers a mom-tantrum.  For kids, a tantrum can be a last-ditch effort to control a situation when they don’t know what else to do.  This is the same for moms.  At least for me.  It’s when I’m at my wits’ end that I yell and threaten.  It’s when I feel stuck or overwhelmed and can’t think of anything else to do.

It took years for us to get to the point of consistently good drives (I’m a slow learner).  I used to look for the magic phrase to say, or the magic time-out technique.  Now, I’ve recognized that my demeanor is more important than my technique.  Of course, recognizing is only the first step.  Practicing takes longer.  Years later, my kids still make unhappy noises.  I still yell sometimes.  I even found an effective technique, but it only works when I am calm.  Actually, the technique helps me stay calm, because I have a plan.

The technique is this.  I won’t drive angry.  If I feel like I’m getting angry, I pull over.  Then, I sit quietly while the kids fuss or whatever.  Eventually, one will ask, “Can we go now?”  My answer is that we can go when they have been still and quiet for two minutes.  Early on, it could take up to an hour to achieve two minutes in a row of quiet.  My point is to let them learn to quiet themselves.  If son is hurting daughter, I will let daughter sit up front with me while we wait for calm in our parking space.  After the quiet time, we move on.  We talk about what caused the disagreement, and what each party could have done to de-escalate it.  Sometimes we talk as we drive on, or if it has been a particularly difficult time, we talk before we drive on.  The waits have gotten shorter and less frequent.

We even managed a drive from Ohio to Texas.  The kids started arguing before we got through Ohio.  I told them, “No arguing until we get to Arkansas.  Then, you are allowed to have a great big blowout.  But not before then.”  I guess this seemed weird enough to surprise them into behaving — all the way to Arkansas!  We were actually in Arkansas when they started arguing again.  “It’s ok to argue now,” I told them.  “You waited until Arkansas, and now you can have a big fight.”  They paused. “But do you want to fight?” I asked.  Amazingly, they stopped right then and there.  We made it all the way to Texas with no fighting.  Holy sigh of relief, Batman!

The big lesson for me is that when I am more calm, the kids are more calm.  When I am overwhelmed, they are overwhelmed.  The better I learn to handle my own tantrums, the better the kids handle theirs.  Drive on, mom!

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Nice Things About Motherhood

I Love You, Mom

I’m going to take a break from analyzing and agonizing and appreciate how things are now.  This is in memory of Jane, who liked to say, “What a wonderful now.”

Ten nice things about my motherhood experience:

1.  My children are exuberant, interesting, and compassionate.

2. I’ve gotten a much better understanding of my parents and in-laws, now that I am a parent myself.

3. I’ve had to learn to be less serious and play more.

4. The kids talked me into getting a cat, and I really like our cat.

5. I can see tangible results from all the soul-searching and personal change I went through.

6. I think my children generally trust me and can talk to me about sensitive subjects.

7. I got to find out what a wonderful father my husband is.

8. I’m learning a lot of things I hadn’t learned before, like patience and relationship-building and raising tadpoles.

9. I love sitting on the couch, snuggling with the kids.

10. Things finally are more how I hoped they would be, and less how I feared they would be.

These are just the first ten that popped into my head, and not a complete list.  What is nice about motherhood for you?

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