In writing this newsletter, I sometimes ask you to relate your experiences — on child care policies, for example — or your current parenting frustrations. When I do, I am always struck both by how much people have to tell and also by how consistent so many of the themes are. Parenting — especially early parenting, and especially pandemic parenting — is such a shared experience, a shared struggle.
And yet we often feel alone. This is probably more true in the past two years, but parenting has always had its isolating moments.
So: I wanted to make a bit of space in the newsletter to bring this out. Starting today, there will be a short newsletter on Tuesday afternoons, created by you. In each one, I’ll include thoughts from three (or so) readers. The prompts are: big recent parenting wins and current parenting struggles. You can put these in text, or photos, or drawings, or song (if we can figure that one out!). There’s a form here if you want to contribute.
I also hope these wins and struggles will prompt advice, validation, or even just commiseration. There are many things in parenting where (yes, I can admit this!) data isn’t going to give us all the answers. Sometimes, hearing what worked for other people is just what we need. Or hearing we are not alone. So please share your thoughts in the comments. Let’s keep the conversation going.
Dog beds and PAW Patrol
Our daughter, Annie, got sick a few weeks ago. She had one of those stomach bugs that destroys every bit of fabric in every bedroom — except Ellie’s bed. Ellie is the dog. One night around 2 a.m. (it’s always 2 a.m. with the puking, right?), with vomit everywhere, my husband made our daughter a cozy sleeping space in the dog bed on the floor of our bedroom. (Ellie, of course, sleeps in bed with us.) It was a great, temporary solution — except that Annie loved it. She refused to sleep or nap anywhere else for weeks. This week, we finally got her back in her own bed in her own room. The dog is especially happy about this.
My daughter is 3.5 (“I’m gonna be 4 soon,” she loves telling strangers at Target), and if you’ve experienced life with a toddler, you likely know — as I’m learning every day in this stage — that the threenager moods can change on a dime. The whining and the tantrums are brutal right now. And as much as I try the whole Big Little Feelings–encouraged ways to deal mid-tantrum, it takes a toll on everyone involved, especially when the meltdown is screen-time-related. (As in, we said we would watch one episode of PAW Patrol and then we would turn it off, and now that Ryder and co. saved the day, it’s time to turn it off! Chaos ensues.)
Boundaries and Never
My son (4) was recently pushed down by a kid (5) we see weekly, and I am proud of how he handled it. Week 1: The push. Week 2: The kid approaches my son, and my son says, “You can’t play with me if you’re going to push me down.” Ummmm, hello, BOUNDARY. Week 3: The kid says to my son, “I know you think I’m a bad guy.” My son says, “I think you’re a cool guy. You were just having a hard time.” Week 4: The kids are back playing together. Watching my son communicate, refuse to hit the kid back, and repair with empathy warmed my heart.
My son has recently discovered the word “NEVER.” “I’m NEVER going to learn this. I NEVER get anything right. I can NEVER do it.” If he doesn’t get something right the first time, all hell breaks loose, and the NEVERs fly everywhere. I’m working to help him build some frustration tolerance. It’s ROUGH.