Friday, April 18, 2008

Ari's Amazing Day Yesterday

Ari is learning things so fast lately that we are hard pressed to keep up.  I am not good at pulling out my video camera so instead, I am going to start blogging some of her cuter or more amazing moments so that her family can read them and she can read about it when she is older.  :)

Yesterday, was full of such moments so I will just make it a bullet point type of list.  Hehe...

1.  My Mom (a.k.a. Safta, which is grandma in Hebrew) recently bought Ari some underwear.  It isn't because she is potty trained, but more for her to enjoy and also to help keep droopy diapers held up better without wearing a onesie.  Ari loves them!  So I'm changing her yesterday and she wants me to put her underwear on her and I do.  Afterwards, she stands up and says, "underwear.  present. thank you Safta!"  (She actually said someone else's name, because my mom's friend had gotten her presents from the same place and given it to her on the same day as my mom and she mistook who gave the underwear to her.)  She got the presents like 4 or 5 days ago.  I was impressed she remembered they were a present and even more moved by her still thanking the person who gave it to her.  :)

2.  So, as a joke 2 days ago, while we are sitting at a restaurant next door to a starbuck's, my mom's friend points to the starbuck coffee sign and says to Ari, "What does this say?"  This is the perfect trigger for my little speller and so of course I have to now spell the words and then repeat them to her.  S-t-a-r-b-u-c-k-s Starbucks!  C-o-f-f-e-e Coffee!  Yesterday, we ate at a place that was across a wide parking lot from a Starbucks  and this same friend jokingly points across the parking lot asking Ari again, what does that say?  I tell her, look at the green letters honey.  She looks over and finds the green letters and sure enough says without faltering, "Coffee, Starkbucks Coffee."  LOL  We're starting her vices early!

3.  Also at this same lunch yesterday, as we are all eating and playing with Ari, with no prompting from anyone, Ari starts to say something that we are all scrambling to understand.  I ask her to repeat herself and struggle again.  One more time, honey.  Ari: "Uno, dos, tres, quatro,..."  Apparently, she has learned to count in Spanish from watching Dora.  Thanks Dora!

4.  As we are leaving lunch she starts saying Big 5, Little 5.  I figure she is seeing some sign that has a big 5 on it and a little 5 on it.  I look around and find that what she is really doing is reading from the store sign.  "Big 5 Sporting Goods"  She was reading Big 5 and then supplying the little 5 since so many of her books work in opposites.  Hehe...

5.  Lastly, we went to a park in the afternoon and a little girl about her age came up to her and said "Hi."  Ari replied, "Hi!  What's your name?"  That had me in stitches.  She gets it from one of her Signing Time DVDs that is all about meeting new friends.  

Man, they pick up so much!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sweet Dreams

This is going to be the big elephant in the room with me whenever I am in a room talking about sleep with other moms.  I tend to keep my own council unless I see someone else who is showing signs of seeing this issue in the same way I do.  That said... I have VERY strong opinions about children and sleep.  Strong like... want to tour around convincing people to my way of thinking.  It's such a touchy subject, though, isn't it?  Most of us want to do what is best for our children, but there is soooo much bad information out there and as sleep deprived mommies and daddies, if someone offers us a way to a good night's sleep and tells us it is good and healthy, we are likely to take them up on it.  So... what is this really all about?  It is about what I like to call the Cry-It-Out (CIO) myth.

Let's tackle self-soothing first because it is the big one that you are told is so important about doing CIO.  My pediatrician doesn't really advocate one way or another and I have no idea because I didn't care to know, what he did with his own children.  When I asked him about self-soothing, he said that self-soothing isn't something that is only acquired by leaving a child to cry at night.  It is a day and night thing.  If your child gets into a difficult or frustrating situation and can figure out how to take themselves from frustrated/angry back to calm and even happy, then you have a self-soother.  There are children who truly have no self-soothing techniques and they will completely lose it and have no way back from a bad situation without a parent intervening.  So... doing CIO because you want to teach your child to self-soothe is not necessary nor necessarily productive (see later comments).

Next, let's talk about actually getting sleep.  That's always an important part of why people choose it.   The truth is though that I have never met a parent who used CIO who hasn't over and over again time and again had sleep issues come up.  Children are just not made for sleeping well every single night (not that most adults are either).  They get sick a lot, which keeps them up, they have milestones that get their little minds working so hard that they can't sleep, they have belly aches that they can't convey to us, they wake up from a bad dream and can't convey that either, they need a lot of love and needing comfort and loving isn't something we turn off when we go to sleep.  Haven't you woken up from some bad dream and wanted to cuddle into your spouse for their comfort and warmth?  Now... we have all sorts of advanced thought processes that allow as to mentally say, "my spouse is sleeping peacefully and I don't want to wake him because he has a big day tomorrow, so I will just work it out on my own and go back to sleep.  I'll get my hugs in the morning."  Children can't reason like we do.  So this brings up a few points I would like to separate out. 

When you do CIO, what really happens?  Does you baby learn to happily just go to sleep on their own or do they learn that when they cry, no one is going to address them and their needs so they give up.  There is, after-all, an inherent intelligence to all of us that says when you try to run through a wall, that eventually, you will have hit your head enough that you will figure out nothing is going to change the fact that you can't run through the wall.  So... eventually, a baby will wear themselves out enough and come to the realization enough that they will stop crying and go to sleep.  The problem arises from what I said in the previous paragraph.  When your child gets sick, you can not let them just cry themselves back to sleep because something could very well be wrong.  So... you are now very attentive for a few days.  After they are better, you want to go back to your previous sleep behavior, but your child is now used to getting your attention and you essentially have to start all over again with CIO.  

It has been proven that while all of the things that have happened to us are not in recall memory, they are memories.  This leads to another problem for you as the parent when using CIO.  Who do you think is going to have a better sleep association?  The child who remembers sleep as a traumatic, lonely, separation anxiety full time or the one who has happily been lead to sleep with comforting and nurturing techniques?  Which child then is easier to get to sleep as a toddler?  The one with a positive happy association to sleep or the one who has a negative association to sleep?  Essentially, what I am saying, is that you are shooting yourself in the foot.  Yes, you will get more sleep when they are babies, SOME OF THE TIME, but you will be fighting to get them to want to go to sleep or to go to sleep without too much fuss, for a long time to come.

Let's talk about nightmares and nurturing now.  I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point our society decided that anything that can't speak, is not as worthy of affection and respect.  If you were to ask most parents, what would happen if your 4 year old came to you in the middle of the night and said they had a bad dream and they were scared, they would say something along the lines of they would invite the child to sleep with them, they would go sleep in the child's room, they would help the child look around the room for monsters and show them everything was alright, they would use some sort of imaginary play to vanquish the monsters, and they would definitely hug and kiss their child letting them know they are safe.  Somehow, because our older child can tell us what is bothering them, we are more willing to extend ourselves overnight while our babies and young toddlers, who don't have any way to communicate except crying, are left to deal with any fearful emotions on their own.  Even if an older child came in and said, "Mommy I'm lonely and sad," we would address them in some nurturing, compassionate way and yet, again, our little ones are left crying for a hug alone.

I'm sure I have more to say on the matter and might post again, but here is my last two thoughts on the matter.

Someone once said, though I don't know who, that "a society can be best judged by how it takes care of it's youngest and oldest members of its society."  Essentially, how we handle the most vulnerable around us.  Many people use CIO and many stick the elderly in homes and barely visit.  I wonder how we will be judged?

The last thing is a bit of a story for you to follow.
You have just been in a horrible car accident.  You cannot move anything except your neck up, though unfortunately, your vocal chords were severed as well.  Your loving family, including your husband, are taking good care of you and supporting you.  Your husband feeds you, he gives you something to drink, he takes care of cleaning you and all of your toiletry needs.  After taking care of all of these things all day, he has now brought you up to bed.  He talked to you as he tucked you in.  Told you how much he loves you and said goodnight.  Now... your husband has rigged a string dangling near your face that is connected to a bell downstairs.  If you turn your head, you can bite it and pull and he can hear that you need him.  You are laying in bed trying to sleep and something is wrong... Maybe you started to fall asleep but had a nightmare, maybe you just can't get to sleep no matter how hard you try and you are laying there lonely, maybe even though you did eat, you are hungry again, or thirsty again, maybe your just feeling sad, etc.  Who knows?  So... you turn your head and you give the strong some tugs.  No one comes.  You give more tugs.  You start getting upset as still no one comes.  You tug even harder and more frequently and tears start to fall from your eyes.  You are pulling and pulling but no one is coming!  Eventually, you have worn yourself out, your eyes are droopy from all of your salty tears, and you fall asleep.  This is you experiencing CIO.  

I wish I didn't have to put it so bluntly or it wasn't so harsh, but it is what it is.  And this is what it is.  

I want to say again, that I don't judge most moms that use CIO (most because I can't deal with the idea of actually turning off the monitor and not knowing if your baby needs you or not, I'm more talking about those doing CIO the ferber method or others where it is a progressive and then ultimately left alone thing but you are still listening to know if something is truly wrong like croup developing overnight).  I feel they are just told by pediatricians and books that CIO is good for their baby because they will learn to self-soothe and be good sleepers and that is why I call it a myth.  A doctor can tell you that clinically speaking, your child can sleep through the night at 6 month, but just because something is clinically okay, doesn't mean that it is what is right.  It doesn't take into account that as parents we are here to nurture our little ones day AND night.  When I talk to the older generation, they all say they don't remember sleeping much for about 2 to 2 1/2 years and then their kids (with no training) started to sleep through the night.  They didn't feel entitled to sleep the way many of us do.  It was just a part of being a parent.  

Ari has never been allowed to CIO.  There are times that she has cried from one thing or another in my arms as I comforted her, but she has never been allowed to lay in her room by herself and cry.  She is now almost 28months old and loves to go to sleep.  We have to fight over sleep maybe once or twice a month because she had too long a nap, too late in the day, and she isn't ready to sleep when we feel it is as late as we are comfortable with her going to sleep.  Again, it's very rare.  There are actually times where she will initiate her sleep routine.  We will be watching her bedtime show and we think she still looks kind of awake so we play another short show and she will grab her frog friend in the middle of the show, ask for her pacifier, and say "goodnight mommy" because daddy mostly puts her to sleep.  She gets a certain amount of books, maybe a song or story with the lights off, and we lay her down completely awake, say we love her and goodnight, and she goes right to sleep on her own.  There are no short cuts to this.  Ari slept well from 6 weeks to 6 months using "The Happiest Baby on the Block" techniques.  After that, I have had about 1 1/2 years of on and off bad sleep but still easy going to bed and naps.  Just lately, she has started, on her own, sleeping through the night.  

If this doesn't convince you, then I hope it at least gets you thinking.

There will be more lighthearted posts in the future, but for now this was a big thought I had to get off my chest.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Addendum to Terrific Twos

So... my Mom lives just up the street from us and on some mornings, she will take Ari for an hour or so to let me take care of the house or what-have-you. My husband will walk her up there, they say their goodbyes, and he comes back to get his laptop and goes off to work. I should also mention that usually my daughter will just say and want "a hug and a kiss." Lately, though, she has been really into spelling things. She asks us to spell all sorts of random things and we feel like we are a walking spelling bee.

So... my husband comes back today and tells me how it went.

Ari: Spell erough. 
Hubby: Erough?" 
Ari: NO! Spell erough!
Hubby: Enough?
Ari, now pouting: Spell Erough!
Hubby: I'm sorry honey I don't understand.
After about 5 minutes as Ari is getting more and more upset by his total lack of understand...
Hubby: I love?
Ari: YES!
Hubby: I-L-O-V-E, I love.
Ari: Spell you!

It brought tears to my eyes! They can be so amazing and sweet!