Tuesday, February 11, 2014

She walked into Publix a baby, and came out a big guwl

 

It's no secret, the Bitty Princess (who we refer to as Queen Bee around our house, and the above picture explains why perfectly) has struggled with bottle addiction for the past two years.  We've tried on numerous occasions to break her habit, but the 3am fits always seemed to win out, causing me to cave, and hand her not one, but TWO "babas" in hopes of getting her back to sleep as quickly as possible, without waking anyone else in the house.  
 
 

 
I had become an enabler.  Wanting so badly just to sleep through the night, clouded judgment and life in survival mode kept me from putting an end to her problem.   
 
 
She demanded her apple juice straight, followed by a milk chaser. 
 
 
Finally, after a rough night of dealing with Queen Bee's all night antics (read: SHE WOKE ME UP SEVEN TIMES FOR HER BABAS. SEVEN.  AS IN, MORE TIMES THAN SHE DID WHEN SHE WAS THREE DAYS OLD.  SORRY, I'M SHOUTING AT YOU.  BUT I'M SO SERIOUS. SEVEN TIMES.  I COUNTED. AND NEARLY LOCKED HER IN THE CAR.) she and I had a come to Jesus moment the next morning.  We discussed how big of a girl she was and that most two year olds don't have bottles anymore.  She agreed to help pack them all up, so around the house we went, looking in all her usual hiding spots. 

 
Given our history, I knew the only option was to get them OUT of the house, and I knew exactly where to take them.  I told the Queen Bee we were taking her beloved Babas to a place they could live happily, a place I could live happily too.  My home away from home.  My safe place.  PUBLIX.

 

On the way there, I turned around to find her like this.  Part of my heart ached.  These had been her best friends and comforters for so long.  Her only pacifiers. Was I weaning her too quickly? (Don't laugh.  Her Highness sucked her thumb until she was 4 1/2... Thunder took a bottle until he was 3, Lightning and Hail fought over passies until they were almost 4 and 3, and Flash Flood still sucks his thumb at 4. I'm not a huge fan of taking away the ONE thing that calms them quickly and makes car trips peaceful.) Would she end up in therapy one day because I was too hasty in this decision?  She is my BABY after all.  Is giving her what her heart truly desires the worst thing in the world?  I quickly snapped out of it when I caught my reflection in the rearview mirror and saw Tommy Lee Jones' worthy bags under my eyes. 
 

We reached our haven, and she squealed, "PUH-LIX!!" I prepped her once more... "Remember, we're going to take all your babas into Publix and LEAVE them here.  So little babies who need them can have them when they come grocery shopping.  Got it? And you get to pick out a new cup! Because you're a BIG GIRL.  You don't need a baba! Those are for babies." "Otay! I gib dem my babas." Was all she said.  She insisted on walking in by herself, refusing to be carried.  My baby was already slipping away. Taking a deep breath, I headed in behind her.

 
I can't say enough about how much I love my Publix.  We were greeted immediately by our favorite bagger, Justin, who helped talk up our big girl's big move.  She marched on over to the cup aisle and chose her new cups. 


After picking up a few other things,  (in other words, a couple hundred dollars in groceries. We keep Publix electricity turned on, I'm certain.) we headed to the checkout.  Queen Bee proudly walked her bag of babas over to the check-out clerk as I explained what we were doing.  Sweet lady grinned ear and bragged on the Bitty Princess for her willingness to share with all the babies who come shopping there. 
 
The Bitty Princess took all the bottles out, one at a time and told her what color each was.. "Dis one PINK!... Dis one YEW-OH!" As usual, the sweet Publix employee went above and beyond my expectations.  She patiently listened to the Bitty Princess, even though a line was beginning to form.  She looked up and smiled at the customers waiting behind me and said, "This is going to take just another minute." The Bitty Princess finally finished and told them all bye. 

"Bye-bye babas.  Mmmwaaah." She said, blowing a kiss as she took them away.  She then hugged the college aged girl bagging our groceries, who said to me, "Awww, I'm tearing up! I can't believe you're not!" I made a joke about not sleeping for over ten years, and looking forward to hopefully finally getting some sleep, but I had a huge lump in my throat. 
 
The Bitty Princess handled it like a champ.  Her lip quivered as we left the store, but she quit the moment I reminded her about her new cups. "Otay. I a big guwl!" That first night she only had one complete melt down, where she wailed, "GO BACK TO PUH-LIX AND GIT MY BABAS!" but that was it.  Since then, she's done great.  As usual with taking away their lovies, I think the anticipation was harder than actually doing it.  Harder on me than her, that's for sure. 
And then, the next night, something ah-mazing happened...For the first time in over ten years, NO ONE WOKE ME UP ALL NIGHT LONG.  SORRY I'M SCREAMING AT YOU AGAIN, BUT DO YOU KNOW HOW  THAT FEELS AFTER A DECADE OF BEING HELD HOSTAGE TO YOUR CHILDREN'S HORRIBLE SLEEP HABITS? AMAZING, I TELL YOU! 
 
Unfortunately, old habits die hard...
 
 
I suggested we put either the apple juice or the milk back in the fridge.  It didn't go over well.  Queen Bee can only handle so many changes at one time.  As long as she keeps sleeping through the night, she can have what she wants in those cups during the day. 
 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Comparison is to joy, like Pinterest is to simplicity.

Yesterday, a friend shared When Elite Parents Dominate Volunteers, Children Lose (great article, worth the read) and it struck a chord with me. 

Fortunately, I have never experienced the nauseating displeasure of being on a committee with the type of parents Dr. Monroe describes.  Granted, I've never served on a planning committee in person, (because something about dragging all my little people with me to those meetings sounds like punishment to me, and all the others in the room) but have always been happy to serve through emails and sending items in my kids' backpacks on party day.  While I've never been asked to send in a mousse cake for a Valentine's Day party, I have seen sign up sheets that included items young children cannot possibly appreciate, rich or poor.  And while I have never had another mom make such rude and obvious comments to my face, I have had plenty of passive-aggressive comments made in the form of a back-handed compliment...  "I wish I could be more like you, and just not CARE about what my kids bring in for the party/wear in public/which extracurricular activities they participate in." The thing is, I DO CARE about what I feel is most important on their journey to becoming successful, KIND and respectful adults, who the rest of the world has to live with. But you're right, I couldn't care less if they are the only ones in their class to pass out a store-bought Valentine with NO candy attached (GASP!), if they are the only kids wearing Garanimals instead of Gap, (I'm usually just happy they all are indeed wearing clothes) and I seriously doubt making the rule of only one extracurricular activity per season, and it being an activity that he selected for himself, is going to mean he won't go to college (if he even chooses to go).

Let me ask you something... How fun and exciting was it as a kid to know on Valentine's Day, we were going to pass out our own cute paper valentines, the ones WE selected at the store, the ones WE chose that showed our own personalities and interests that year, the ones WE wrote our classmates' names on, then got to "deliver" into the shoe boxes WE decorated OURSELVES, with paper doilies and heart stickers. And to go along with the excitement of our sweet and silly valentines was usually a small cup of red Kool-aide and a plain, yet delicious, (usually baked from a box mix by a classmate's mom) cupcake, or maybe something just as simple as an Oreo cookie. And if you were really lucky, Ruffles potato chips and dip were served as well.  That was it.  No catered nugget trays, no homemade cinnamon rolls, no Pinterest-inspired desserts covered in fondant icing that took 12 hours to bake, decorate and set over night, all while it took the children all of six seconds to inhale or toss in the trash can, because let's face it, fondant doesn't taste good, no matter how cute it looks.  Children (at least the ones I've had the honor of loving) don't really care about the custom designed valentines that took their mothers three hours to assemble.  I'm not bashing those of you who do it.  I'm just gently trying to tell you, those adorable Valentines you slaved over still end up in the trash a few days after Valentine's Day, right next to the Transformer and Strawberry Shortcake ones.
 
Our generation of parents has gone overboard with the elaborate themed class parties, customized goodie bags, and spreads we are serving.  I have seen sign up sheets that include as much as 8-10 food and drink items.  My children have come home with as many as 12 goodie bags from other children, filled with small toys and candy. I've done my own personal study on this subject, and made sure to always ask my children and their friends later what their favorite thing about the party was that day.  Never, not once, did any of them respond anything about the food, decorations, or gift bags that were given.  Always, they commented on the fun story the teacher read, game they got to play, or neat music played during the party.  I have even made it a point to ask them directly about how yummy those foods must have been and pointed out how cool a certain Valentine looked, and almost always gotten a shrug and a nod.  My point is... It's not the STUFF we're giving our children that matters.  It's the EXPERIENCES in which we should be more intentional and focus on making great.  

We have got to relax as parents. We are creating a whole generation of children who have much too high expectations, and not enough insight into the real world in which they will be forced to live once they move out from under our helicopter propellers.  It shouldn't be about what item you send in for the class party. Or how your children are dressed. Or even if they're already taking French horn lessons, tae kwon do, and ballet at the age of four. 

Pinterest has killed the art of simplicity. (And before all my Pinteresty people unfriend me, hear me out..) I see so many women pin things such as  photography ideas, crafts, healthy meals, desserts, even room d├ęcor, and while I think all of this can be fun and harmless, it's also another avenue in which Satan can open a door and begin to work in our hearts.  Often, we as women look at the beautifully edited portraits of what appears to be a perfect family, and we wonder why and how the others do it all... Why won't my kids be still and smile during a photo shoot... How can I make my child's baby book that crafty... Why can't I get my kids to eat raw kale... How can she afford to decorate her house like that...
I don't believe Pinterest itself is the problem.  It's what it can create with in us that is the problem.  And it's those feelings of inadequacy and the need to compete and "one up" each other that is harming the generation of children we are raising.  Instead of stressing over the perfect class party, how about volunteering to find a fun book that relates to the holiday instead, and read it to the class that day, or an easy game that would include the whole class, which would help to entertain the kids and allow the teacher a quick break as well.

We need to think more about the experience being provided and the time spent WITH the children, not just the time spent ON them.  Children are like a sponge.  They learn so much more by what they witness in their own lives, than they do by what we tell them.  Our kids need to witness our acts of love, to see us with their own innocent eyes, serving in the community, and it can start with something as simple as loving on ALL the children in the class, especially those whose parents couldn't attend the party.  More than our children need beautifully crafted sweets and custom goodie bags, they need to be loved and engaged. 

Love is simple.