Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 0 - Shutting Off.

The Problem:
My Wild Thing is 3 years and 6 months. I'm so frustrated!! He's finally at the age where we can do things together, but we can't do anything be cause he's so wild. He's talking very well, and can even hold a great conversation while we are walking, he's a freakin' sponge, but he won't sit still! A typical 5 min around my Wild Thing-- He frog hops from the front door to the back door, does a summer salt, climbs on the couch, jumps off, lays down on the floor and rolls over a couple times, comes over to me and begs for food. He cries for whatever reason, either he didn't get the food, he didn't get the flavor he wanted, he didn't get to get it himself or he changed his mind, he puts himself in timeout, he runs over to give me a hug and a kiss to apologize... and the cycle starts over. You'd think I was talking about a dog here! The kid is absolutely wild!! We'll have a day or a couple days, sometimes even a week that seems like we're getting some kind of control and then we get parental whip lash and we're right back where we started. We're good parents, I know that, we love them and care for them and try to do the best of our ability. But I'll admit, I totally screwed up. I'm doing things that I said that I would never do. I'm sure that all parents feel this way at some point in time... I read all of the books, I had all of the good intentions, I had a game plan lined up, I just didn't expect that I would get so lazy about it.

Intro to The Wild Thing:
It's hard to pin point exactly where the problem started. The day that we brought Wild Thing home, he was perfect. He slept great, he nursed great, he was always happy and smiling. At 30 days old he started sleeping through the night, a full 12 hours! We had the perfect baby. Okay, okay... we had our moments, he would scream bloody murder until we put him in this vibrating chair for the first 6 months, and when he teethed, he was inconsolable. He wasn't completely perfect. -- When he started crawling, I set boundaries, when he touched something he wasn't supposed to, I reprimanded him and he didn't touch it again. The only thing that I baby proofed was this Orchid that sat on the edge of the table, he kept pulling it off and spilling dirt everywhere. When he started walking, it wasn't a big deal either. He walked so slow that we didn't have to worry about him venturing too far and he was totally cool with the laws of gravity. He rarely cried when he fell and he'd walk around with a black eye and a smile afterwards. At 1 and a half, his personality started to show through, a happy kid that loves being around people and he became more curious and energetic. Our only concern was that he wasn't developing fast enough. He developed right on schedule for everything, maybe even a day late. He wasn't doing anything special and didn't seem to stand out. For the longest time, I thought that he'd never talk until I found him hiding in his play room practicing words. That's when I realized that he was, in fact, very special. He is a perfectionist, and he likes to practice in private before a big reveal. -- Looking back on the terrible twos, it's kind of laughable. We thought it was rough because it was the first time that we really had to keep an eye on him. His motor skills had advanced enough that he could get anything that caught his eye, which happened to be everything.

Where things may have gone awry:
We had been following "the plan": we had a perfect daily routine, he had never watched TV, never eaten anything sugary, and he ate a completely well rounded diet of organic fruits, vegetables and meat. At 2 1/2, we got pregnant again. We felt like it was the perfect age gap. This is probably where it all started: Being pregnant is exhausting, even more so when you have a 2 year old running around. My in-laws had been sending us the Disney classics for when the kids get older and I had read that letting a 2 year old watch TV can be okay as long as there aren't any commercials and frequent interruptions. (The idea is that the brain goes through what's called Neural Pruning. Each time a child develops a new skill, he/she makes a synaptic connection in the brain. Since the brain is an efficient energy saver, when you continue to use this skill, the synaptic connection stays, when you don't, it get's pruned out. So, watching small flashes of information on a kids TV show with commercials for example, will condition the child to have a short attention span.) It started with a movie here and there so that I could have a break and then it became more frequent. Someone said that Sesame Street helped their kid talk, so we watched and episode and he was hooked. The schedule slowly started falling apart and all of the sweets that I was craving during the pregnancy quickly ended up in the hands of my wild thing.

What's so seriously wrong here:
So, here we are-- back story complete. 10 months after Twinkle Toes arrived: my Wild Thing wakes up in the morning, watches PBS with breakfast. He learns so much from the shows, that I've actually encouraged it. He watches Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, Super Why and Dinosaur Train. That's 2 hours in the morning-- I get to feed everyone breakfast and get myself ready for the day. -- After that it's a whirl wind. I can't even tell you what happens... toys cover the floor, there's crying, screaming, everyone is hungry and perpetually moving and eventually I just shut down. I sit down at the computer, and as much as I hate the idea of sitting on Facebook, I'll pull it up and stare at it just to I can pull myself out of the chaos. I remember my mom saying something that I never understood until recently: "I CAN'T EVEN HEAR MYSELF THINK!!!!!!". Twinkle Toes goes down for nap #2 and I can't put the Wild Thing down or he'll wake her up so I plug in a movie and beg him, please sit still! During this time, I clean the chaos, make lunches, and mumble angrily that this is boloney, I'm supposed to be working from home and pursuing my passion while raising the kids and I haven't produced squat for over a year. -- Chaos erupts one more time before Mr. Wonderful comes home and I see it in his eyes, he thinks I've done nothing all day. I swear to him that I cleaned and he should have seen the place a 2:30, it was perfect! He's such a sweetheart and he believes me, even on the days that I'm full of it. He jumps right in there to take over so that I can go to yoga. Man, this yoga thing is the cat's meow! I'm losing it, but I would have already lost it if I didn't have my daily practice. Of course by the time I get home, Twinkle Toes is in bed and the Wild Thing is plugged into another movie and up way past his bed time. Let's do the math: 2 hours of TV in the morning + 1.5 hours of a disney classic in the afternoon (x2 if it's a REALLY bad day) + 1.5 hours of another disney classic before bed = 5 - 6.5 hours a day in front of the tube. In retrospect that is a staggering amount of TV, especially from a perspective of parents that never wanted to let their kids watch TV. We're doing it all right with Twinkle Toes, she doesn't watch TV and her schedule is right on, it's the Wild Thing that is getting the short end of the stick. We've already eliminated any sweets and reintroduced a well balance diet... but no change. The obvious problem is the TV and lack of routine.

The Solution:
My experience has showed me that the short road always ends up being the long road. You can't cover a big problem with a little bandage. We need a complete overhall! I decided this this morning. I'm taking away the TV. I've removed all of the movies and put a sign on the TV that says : TV BAN! NO MORE TV BABYSITTER!!. The routine will be reinstated and we'll just have to stagger nap times. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so I've decided to commit to 30 days of change. It's going to be rough, but we're just going to have to push through it. I thought it would be cool to blog a record of the next 30 days, so I'm going to try to do that.

Day 0:
Wild Thing watched 2 hours of TV this morning. Afterwards I tried to sit down with him to work with his letters. I think it's all good that his learning style is private but the rest of the world is not going to cater to him and he needs to learn to sit still. That's when I decided to do this experiment. I told him that he wasn't going to watch TV anymore. He was very emotional about it, he apologized, promised to sit still, threw a temper-tantrum and woke up his sister. I'm trying to stay as calm and cool about it as possible. When he woke up Twinkle Toes, I simply put him in his room and told him that it was nap time. He's been up there almost an hour, crying on and off. I think it's going to be a couple days before we see any kind of real results.

I'll plug back in tomorrow.

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