Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sleep, who needs sleep?

Apologies for not having posted for a little while, I've been tired. The mouse has been exhausting Lord Vader and I. The thing is she is yet to master the whole concept of sleeping through. Of course, I don't blame her, I blame Lord Vader and I. You see whilst we have always put her in her own cot for her night time sleep, she usually wakes around 1-1:30 in the morning for a feed. I don't think she actually needs the feed any more and its more of a comfort thing but regardless she wakes. This means one of us has to get out of bed and stumble to fetch her and bring her back to bed. Inevitably I, ill equipped for the task, fall asleep quite quickly after such an event, and Lord Vader is way to comfy and snug to dream of moving to return the mouse to her cot, therefore she snuggles in with us. 

There is something wonderful about cuddling a baby in your own bed. Something blissfully peaceful as if all is right with the world, until of course she kicks you in the face....... or fights your cuddle to escape, or crawls on your head, or tries to dive off the bed, or just cries because she's tired and doesn't want to sleep. All these things, tend to make a peaceful sleep impossible. 

It reminds me of a story read by Noni Hazlehurst:

Last week the mouse slept in her own bed through to 4am. She almost made it to 'sleeping through'. A couple more hours and she would have nailed it. I'll cop waking at 6am. You see the other two kids were good sleepers, the boy in particular still is, so we have always been able to sleep through to at least 7, until now. 

It got me thinking, "I really enjoyed that whole sleeping uninterrupted thing." so I decided to do something about it.

This week we've started to not feed her at 1 am and just get her back to sleep in her own bed. So when she wakes one of us (usually me) will go to her, rewrap her, and rock her to sleep. Thankfully its usually only 15 minutes and then she is fast asleep. The first two days she also woke at 4am and couldn't be rocked back to sleep after 40 minutes of trying so, fed up, I've dumped her on Lord Vader and then collapsed into a snoring heap. But at least she's learning to get to 4am.

Last night was, I'm hoping, a revelation. The mouse slept through to 5am; a new record! I didn't even hear her this time, and Lord Vader went to get her. I'm not sure if it was out of sympathy (very doubtful), or whether the lure of the spare bedroom, being so much closer to the cutest ones bedroom than our room, was irresistible to the exhausted wife. But she never made it back to our room, so I slept very peacefully. I'm very grateful to her, trust me.

It'll be interesting to see if this actually works, and if it does, how long it will take. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The word no is such a wonderfully simply word. Easy to say, and we've been conditioned to understand its meaning via sound and tone. That of course is true if you have had a few years of experience with it, and some, like Lord Vader, who is sensible, practical and absolutely brilliant at keeping me (and the kids) grounded in reality, are excellent exponents of the word.

However, when you're a baby the word 'no' is often something to giggle at, as are most other words. It's said   that 'no' is the first word after their own name that a baby learns. It's probably true too. Afterall babies are inquisitive beasties, always exploring their surrounds and invariable getting themselves into things which you would prefer them not to get into.

The mouse has a couple of favourite things to get into and she is fast learning what the word 'no' means. Firstly there is the bottom drawer in the kitchen. No not the stereotypical drawer or cupboard full of pots and pans that can be lifted and dropped (although we do have a bottom drawer exactly like that, but the mouse has shown very little interest in it), she much prefers the one with an assortment of stuff in it. Mostly paper based stuff, but stuff nevertheless. The yellow pages is her favourite. She opens the drawer and then 'reads' it. 'Reads' each page, individually, after being removing it from the book. Once that is done with (and the yellow pages really has no need for a cover and index pages anyway) there is the take away menu folder; lots of fun pulling menus out and tasting them. Then the box of resealable plastic bags; what a lark! But finally the little tube like cannister of unused dog poo bags. Blue bags in a little round plastic thing. Brilliant because you can get you're fingers right in and then pull the bags out. Fantastic fun!

The second thing to 'get into', really more touch and fiddle with are the boy's guitars which are on stands in the living room (to remind us to remind the boy to practice). The cutest one loves to pluck the strings and pull the music stand down (I suspect to get at the very interesting sheet music, I'm sure she thinks it would be tasty).

The net result of this, other than soggy torn paper and bags thrown about the place, is that the little one is learning the word 'no'. At first I tried the firm 'no'. She giggled at me, enjoying the attention she was getting, and tore another page out of the yellow pages just to demonstrate how clever she was.

Then the playful 'no', the one where you speak in a friendly tone and drag out the 'o' sound. That brought on a smile and a few more bags on the ground.

But finally I settled on the 'a tad angry, bit of a growl, a bit loud, and short and sharp' 'no'. Excellent result with that one. She stopped, she looked at me, the bottom lip quivered, and then she bawled. A nice loud scream accompanied by real tears. Ok, at this point you may think me a monster for making her cry, but I'm not. I don't enjoy it (mostly) because I hate to see her upset, it pulls the heart strings. But, in a way it gives me a sense of satisfaction. Firstly because she actually stopped what she was doing, the thing I didn't want her to do, and secondly, because she is beginning to understand what not only the word 'no' means, but that she shouldn't do whatever it was she is doing. And that my friends, is great. Comprehension, understanding are all part of learning and I love watching her develop.

The trick is to be consistent. When she does something I don't want her to I can't molly coddle her with a weak pathetic 'no'. I have to use it the mean way, the effective way, and I have to be repetitive. Plus I have a great excuse for a soothing cuddle after.

Of course, we could use childproof locks and fences or playpens but we didn't do it for the other kids,  and they turned out ok, so why start now, or we could move stuff, but where would the mouse's lesson be then. At least this way the mouse is going to learn something.

Bugger! She's in the drawer again....'NO!'

Friday, August 3, 2012

What? It's not about me?

The cutest one has just clocked over 10 months on this wonderful planet. Time has flown by and we've watched our little girl grow from a tiny little baby to being a 'bugger-crawling-I-can-do-this-walking-thing-as-long-as-I-hold-onto-the-couch', cheeky little mouse. She's pulling things off the couch or the coffee table, and the boy is finally starting to learn that lego and action figures can't be within arms reach of the little tyke because when they are retrieved they are covered in saliva.

Last week was a week of firsts for the mouse. She cut her first tooth, she stood unsupported for the first time and she had her first surgery. By the way, everything is fine thus far. She doesn't care about her finger in the slightest, although she just loves playing the game 'pull-the-sock-off-my-bandage-just-to-shit-Dad'. Come to think of it, she's an independent little thing. Not headstrong so much, but a willing explorer, curious about everything and happy to wander around the house looking for ways to cause mischief. Not unlike myself really.

About a month or so ago, with head hung low and fair few mumblings and grumblings, I skulked to the local library after Lord Vader had informed me that it had weekly nursery rhyme sessions for little ones. She of course suggested, in the only way a Sith Lord knows, that I take the cutest one because she would enjoy it and it was important for her to interact with other little ones.

I suppose I've kept the cutest one all to myself really. Perhaps it was the novelty of being a fulltime parent, perhaps its because I'm rather shy and really hate being out of my comfort zone, for example meeting new people, at a library, who know how to sing, who know nursery rhymes, who know what they're doing and won't feel like complete gits when partaking in the singing of the nursery rhymes. Or perhaps its a little of column a and a little of column b.

So selfish me had to go somewhere I didn't want to go, to be with people I didn't want to be with, all for the cutest one's development. Sigh.

I hated it. I felt like a fish out of water, probably because I was. I tried to do all the right things, you know, like sing the real words, and dance, yes dance, and smile and make small talk. But it churned me up inside. I felt so intimidated by these bright, bubbly women who happily and without a self concious bone in their bodies would gaily sing and dance and manage not to look at me in a condescending way as I failed repeatedly to do anything right. I can't sing. I'm dreadful, an out of tune bear with a sore throat and no lozenge to salvage even that. As for dancing, I couldn't even manage the hokey-pokey. I'm pretty sure Lord Vader wore steel caps in her shoes on our wedding day, and that was only for a nondescript slow dance!

The cutest one, of course, enjoyed it. I'm not sure if it was the singing and dancing and other children to watch, or whether she enjoyed watching me suffer.

Needless to say, I didn't go back; not until last week that is. Last week I sucked it up. It really was high time for the mouse to get to play with and see other little ones in action. I've sheltered her selfishly for too long. Lord Vader didn't even pressure me this time.

So with trudging steps I shuffled to the other local library (we're lucky to live smack bang between two libraries). We got there early, it was still Story Time for the pre-schoolers, so we sat quietly at the back and listened to a few stories. At the end of Story Time the librarian who had been reading approached and asked if I was going to attend the nursery rhymes session. I mumbled that I was, and she breathed a sigh of relief "Thanks! Last week no one showed up!". This sounded promising.

I like small groups, they are a little more personalised (I was going to say intimate but you all would have gotten the wrong idea) and way less intimidating.  One other mum showed up, and she was as nervous as me. The librarian metaphorically held our hands through the ordeal, leading the songs, and dances, happily reassuring us. The cutest one loved it. I... coped.

This week we went back and I was much more comfortable, even though four mum's and little ones showed up, I was comfortable because I had an idea of what I was doing (even though I can't sing or dance), and of course the mouse loved it.

The next big step for me is to contact a parents' group. Pretty sure there is a Dad's group around somewhere nearby, but maybe I'll keep building my comfort levels first before tackling that.