Parental Flailing

It’s almost 9 p.m. on a school night, and my kids are jumping up and down on their beds. We started the bedtime routine at least an hour and a half ago. Hubby has a sinus infection, and I’m just…. done.

Neither of our kids is toilet trained. Mealtimes are haphazard. Bedtime is a free-for-all.

You’d think that completing a residency in pediatrics, passing those boards, and practicing medicine would help me to better manage these basic child-rearing areas….

Apparently not.

Oh, we’ve had stretches where we thought we had gained control over each of these domains. I’ve written about these, triumphant, full of advice for those still struggling. I was such a fool….

This summer, I had spent several beautiful days inside, toilet-training Babyboy, who was then a little over four years old. I was solo, but I was armed with a book written specifically for autistic kids. It worked! He was perfectly toilet-trained… for about two months. We went on errands, to other people’s houses, even traveled on the ferry, and he was game to use every strange restroom, no problem.

Then we had the first day of school, and sickness entered the household. It seemed that one, the other, or both kids were out sick for all of September and October. Babyboy had a few accidents, but we shrugged it off. He was really, really sick for awhile there: fevers, vomiting, barely sleeping, and then, a very prolonged cough. We were focused on healing; never mind a mess here and there.

But he regressed rapidly, losing all of his toilet habits within a few days. To be fair to the school and to Nana, we put him back in pull-ups. When he was well again, I tried re-training him. It was a Saturday… I remember giving up after the seventh soiled underpants. He just completely rejected the concept. He started to get angry when we asked him if he needed to go potty. We decided to give it some more time, to avoid making it a battle. We’d try again over Christmas vacation….

And here we are. We’ve spent the entire weekend inside, focusing on potty-training. It was the first weekend Hubby was able to be here to help. We decided to train them both. We psyched the kids up. Potty prizes were: tickets worth computer time on ABC, or a small chocolate treat. Both kids seemed excited to try, and proud when they went. We watched hours of Curious George and Frozen. But success was spotty…..We ended this intensive 48 hours with two huge poopie messes requiring hospital-grade wash downs.

Then there’s mealtimes… We’re happy if any protein is ingested, bonus if there’s a plant as well. Case in point, Babygirl snacked on pea puffs and grapes for dinner, while watching Frozen. Babyboy sat with us, and devoured: a scrambled egg with cheese, three Wasa crackers, a blueberry yogurt, and two bowls of fruit salad. He was very well-behaved, totally focused on his food (he must be growing!).

We do not usually sit together for dinner, unless the kids want to. Dinner is precious time for Hubby and I, where we actually get to talk to each other. In person. Yeah, the kids will be sitting on the couch watching Curious George and munching corn chips, but if they weren’t, Hubby and I would seriously never have a face-to-face conversation. I’ve heard about families that institute sit-down dinnertime from a very young age, and I admire that. I do not have the energy for that. I like to think that Hubby and I are modeling a healthy marriage for them: We cheerfully prepare a meal together; we sit facing each other, eating and chatting; we laugh. Hopefully, they notice.

Then, there’s bedtime.

There was a few weeks’ stretch about two years ago where I was master of the bedtime. I read a book, and implemented a drastic cry-it-out intervention. It worked! After a matter of days, I was able to tuck first one, then the other in their cribs, and they soothed themselves to sleep.

Then, there was sickness. And travel. And rebellion. Worse: Babygirl’s vomiting. We were never able to replicate that initial training… Babyboy wouldn’t stay put, and Babygirl cried, SCREAMED, until she projectile vomited, consistently. We had to throw away her bedroom rug. We just couldn’t deal with another set of vomit bedclothes. Bedtime turned into: read-a-gazillion-books-until-they-pass-out-on-your-bed-and-then-carry-them-to-their-own-beds.

Tonight, they wouldn’t calm down. They know they’re going back to school tomorrow. They’ve had a fair amount of chocolate today, their potty-training prizes. Daddy is sick, and Mommy’s just done. They know they’re running the show!

So I gave up, and came downstairs to start a blog post….

Meantime, Babygirl passed out on our bed, and Daddy’s reading to Babyboy, who will fall asleep soon.

We’ll send them to school tomorrow in big-kid underpants, with plenty of extra sets of clothes, and pull-ups if needed. We’ll soldier on… Mealtimes will continue to be whatever, but the kids are growing fine. Intellectually, they’re doing very well. Are a lack of well-balanced meals worth fretting over? We’re lucky that they naturally enjoy alot of healthy foods (endless fruit and yogurt). And bedtime… Honestly, when Hubby is on the road, I know I can push our bed against the wall, pad with pillows, do the read-’til-they-pass-out routine, and let them sleep there all night. Easy enough. No struggle.

There’s times when I worry over our parental flailings, and other times when I marvel at our accomplishments. The truth is probably in between somewhere.

We do okay.

8 thoughts on “Parental Flailing”

  • You’re doing great. I think balanced meals are highly overrated. Balanced *diets* are different from balanced *meals*. We fed our daughter separately until she was in kindergarten, because she went to bed so early that it made more sense to feed her and then divide and conquer: one parent puts kid to bed, other parent makes grown-up dinner, both parents get to sit down together afterwards. You do lots of great stuff with your kids.

    • Your bedtime routine sounds perfect! I just wish our kids went to sleep early enough. This is a project we’re taking on starting this week….

      • One of the weird things about sleep is that sometimes it’s easier to get them to go to sleep earlier. There’s a window early in the evening when they first get tired, and if we miss it then they get progressively more wound up as the night goes on. It’s tough on those of us who work outside the home since we get less time with the kids, but it’s better for them.

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