Battles Lost, Won, and Ongoing

Destruction of Books (board and pages)

We have a LOT of books just for Louisette. About a hundred paper books, and thirty board books (most of them secondhand, hence the sheer bulk). She loves playing with them, and rarely actively destroys them – yet. So this battle hasn’t truly joined yet, and may never occur. If I notice her tearing a book apart, I’ll generally say, “No tearing. Gentle.” and put it on a high shelf. Pop-up books are doomed from birth, though.

Score: Parents: 1 Books: 1

TV/Computer

CJ and his dad both have ADD (now called ADHD whether there’s a hyperactive component or not – which, mercifully, there isn’t in this case) and some research suggests that cutting out TV altogether for at least the first two years may help limit its effects. So we decided, with a healthy amount of caveats (including the all-encompassing, “Well, we’ll just see how it goes”) to try to never watch TV or use the computer when Louisette was in the room. We made exceptions for holidays, for when I was babysitting other children, and for those few seconds as I set a show to tape – but we did it. At least, we did it for TV. Perhaps even more remarkably, CJ almost never uses his iphone when Louisette is around (this is a man who will play on his phone while watching TV – welcome to ADHD). This means a lot to me in terms of modelling polite human-to-human behaviour – something her generation will need a lot of help with.

But we slid slowly and surely into “Meh” on the computer front. We don’t play videos when she’s in the room, but everything else is fair game – even when it’s me alone with her (emailing, checking I have at least one not-too-blurry pic for the day, etc). She limits this to a certain extent by simply not liking it – I’ll do emails and look at photos, but I won’t write novels or browse the net if she’s with me (unless CJ is playing with her).

Overall, we’ve done pretty well.

Score: Parents 1, Meh 1.

Hats

I’ll generally put a hat on her as we go outside (and one for me too, for role modelling). She’ll generally take off her hat and play with it.

Score: Parents 0, Louisette 1.

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Socks/shoes

As soon as the weather got above really cold we let her go barefoot. It was conveniently timed for just after she started actively removing her socks every three seconds.

In late November she began showing signs of walking soon, so we girded our loins and went to buy shoes – only to find they’re not recommended for several months yet.

Score: Pretty much even…so far.

Food/mess vs independence

Feeding Louisette has been pretty miserable from day one (no, that’s not quite true – it was day four that things really turned sour). Breastfeeding problems & machines, breastfeeding in public and while travelling, wind (much screaming), reflux (much screaming), teething (screaming), hatred of sitting still and especially being buckled in (screaming), longing for full eating independence (screaming).

Louisette neatly solved the dilemma of, “Should I keep breastfeeding when I desperately hate it?” by refusing to breastfeed at all from three months of age (this is a fight I won’t waste myself over nearly so much next time).

We started her on solids pretty early, and I was SO excited about things getting better feeding-wise. They got so much worse, and stayed that way for months. But nowadays they’re pretty good. Mostly. I walk the line between Louisette’s growing independence/screaming about her lack of independence and the desire to keep her semi-chewed food out of my hair, clothes, ears, furniture, and rental property. At the moment her breakfast and lunch have a spoon-fed section (for messy things such as stewed fruit and yogurt, or meat) and then a larger self-fed section (toast, grated cheese and vegetables, crackers), and I shake out her drop cloth up to three times a day (we have no yard and no grass so at some point one of our neighbours will politely ask me to stop depositing cheese etc into the communal carpark each day. Or possibly they’re glad about the increased bird life). She has a water bottle on a low table that she drinks from often, and generally goes through two or three outfits a day. She also hates bibs, and pulls them off (we start with two – one cloth one plastic – at each meal).

For most younguns, spoon feeding is neater. This (and much screaming) is what happened at lunch a few days ago, when I attempted to spoon feed her from a packet rather than letting her (mostly) self-feed (she started with two bibs, as per usual):

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Score: Hard to say. Things are getting better on both sides, but I still dread all her meals, and both of us get desperately frustrated sometimes. Sidebar: It is hot enough inside that grated cheese will melt and stick to any surface (cloth, plastic, wood, metal, etc).

Snatching

This is a battle that has to start early and never stop. Louisette often interacts with other very young kids, and I intervene every single time I see either party snatch from the other. This gets very repetitive very fast, but that’s just the way it is. She has already shown signs of improvement, however, so that’s good.

Parents: Almost 1. Louisette: Approximately 0

Respect to cats (and dogs)

Again, this battle has to start early and never stop. She got her first cat scratch the other day (very very minor, and washed with antiseptic), which I was hoping wouldn’t happen for another six months or so, but neither party was actually injured and I think they both learned something. Louisette is pretty darn good with the cats. Ana will approach her (nervously, but she IS a cat after all) for a pat.

Parents: 1. Louisette: .5 Cats: .5

Please and thank you/ta

I keep forgetting to say ta instead of thank you. I can’t remember if I say please.

Parents: 0 Manners: Non-existent.

Safety – electrical cords, heights, water

Despite her determination, I still don’t let Louisette play with electrical cords. Ever. She never goes to any place anywhere without going to the cords at least once (the ones in our living room, kitchen, and her room are all gaffa taped and/or hidden, which is a mercy).

She can get down off the couch safely 99 out of 100 times, and no longer tries to go headfirst off furniture. I’m working on teaching her how to get down off higher things (such as her change table) because she’ll soon be climbing onto them. She climbed onto a couch for the first time yesterday.

After MUCH effort, she will now put her full face underwater and blow bubbles. She loves the water, and if she ever manages to fall into a body of water she won’t necessarily panic herself to death.

Parents: 3 Baby:0

Dirty face/clothes

She’s pretty much always 90% clean or more. Her mum has inclinations towards OCD. So. . . yay?

Parents: 1 Baby: 0

Respectable hair/long hair

I really wanted to grow her hair long as fast as possible, so tried so so hard to train her hair to go sideways (rather than directly over her face). Once she started pulling out her own hair clips and ties, it got harder. At last I realised this was a stupid battle and once her hair was heavy enough it’d all work fine. So I cut a fringe.

Parents: 0 Rationality: 1

Sleep

We tried a bit of controlled crying (that’s when you let the child cry a little while before going in to comfort them, so they eventually learn to sleep without you there) when she was very young. It was, in my opinion, far too young. From 2-4ish months she settled only with us holding her hand (and with a dummy etc, although she did and does have the ability to fall asleep almost anywhere). From 4-11 months we needed to be in the room, within sight. Then she started really getting into playing, “Fetch my dummy and/or I’ll scream at you” so in the Christmas holidays we did controlled crying again, and (except for a few times when she got her leg trapped between the bars) it went very smoothly, and is now about 90% reliable. We just say, “Good night Lizzie, sleep tight” and walk out. It still takes her up to an hour to actually sleep, but she does it by herself. Amazing! In my opinion, we timed the controlled crying perfectly the second time. She was old enough to not get upset, but young enough that she couldn’t climb out of the cot and lose all chance of settling.

Parents: 1 Baby: 0

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There are plenty of battles still to come, but that’s plenty for now. The main thing is that we’ve all survived so far.

Parents: Infinity. Baby: Infinity.

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