POTTY TRAINING 101…


I’ve always been of the notion that when your child is ready to be potty trained, he or she will let you know. They, themselves, will get tired of lugging that bum apparatus around, they’ll see mum and dad using the toilet and will want to do it themselves. I also wanted Liam to be developmentally ready, to understand the concept of using the bog, which I think makes the transition from diaper to toilet easier.. when you know WHY and WHEN and HOW, compared to being dragged kicking and screaming whether you need to go or not. I must be honest and admit that when Hannah was born and the price of diapers doubled in our house, I reallllly wanted Liam to “go potty” as soon as possible so as to alleviate the financial strain two babies can cause! With that said, we waited until his second birthday to introduce him to the Royal Throne.

Liam’s school had already started the process and I proudly packed his tiny underpants into his school bag, as requested. Unfortunately, they came back wet in a plastic bag everyday – I can only assume this meant he was not the leader in the Pee Parade. I made a pact with the teachers, that I would reinforce this lesson by letting him use the toilet at home. I was slightly confused to start with; I’m a girl – girls sit, boys stand, right? But Liam’s peeing tool didn’t even reach the top of the toilet bowl if he was standing? Ok, what about a little stool! This made him about the right height but his tackle couldn’t stretch over the rim of the toilet bowl (I get the feeling Liam is going to kill me for this entry when he is older).

So sitting it was! He found the whole experience most amusing, I’d run the tap to encourage his bladder, he’d giggle like I was enduring this exercise for his entertainment only. After a few weeks, he was urinating like a professional. So much so, that he was bored with it and really just forced a wee because he could see the joy I derived from him making a tinkle in the toilet, I’d clap and cheer and high five – once he’d washed his hands of course. I wanted to take pictures but my husband put his foot down. So we had the weeing down pat, now for the harder element of potty training – excuse the pun.

He still prefers to go in his nappy. Preferably around the corner, or behind the couch where no one can disturb him. Occasionally he’ll even go into the bathroom to be alone, but he won’t get on the toilet to perform the necessary – go figure. So you can imagine my shock when two nights ago, he declared that he wanted to poop in the “toywit.”At first I thought this was a diversion; it was bed time, we had just prayed, read and were tucking in. His usual pre-bedtime diversions include demanding another drink, wanting to say good night to ALL his plastic animals, enquiring where every family member was i.e. Liam: where’s daddy? Me: daddy’s having a bath. Liam: ohhhh oookkkkkk. Liam: Where’s Little Lamb? Me: Little Lamb is sleeping. Liam: ohhhh oooookkkkk. Liam: where’s ‘Leka (Zoleka). Me: SLEEPINGGG. Liam: where’s Toto? Me: OH NO ITS TIME FOR BED NOW. So when he said that he wanted to go to the toilet I was taken aback. Anyway, I went with it. He took his seat and I waited, there was some grunting, some face pulling and then RESULT. Of course I was thrilled, called Dad, shed a tear, etc. After the pandemonium, I was ready to help him off the loo, but he was not ready. So we waited and waited, I took a seat on the floor, he just kept the conversation up, ignoring my enquiry as to how far he was, asking me what colour the bathroom mat was, what colour the face cloth was, what colour my eyes were. And when I yawned, he wanted to know if I was tired. NO, I like sitting on the bathroom floor waiting for you to finish your poo. When he had run out of conversation, a rare but beautiful thing, he pronounced that he was done. We then had to stand and inspect his offering at the bottom of the toilet bowl and when he was satisfied, he flushed with much aplomb. I was ready to haul him off to bed, but we had to ceremonially wash hands, and only then was he happy to trot back to bed.

As I kissed him goodnight, he held both my cheeks in his hands, our faces almost touching and said “Liam a good boy.” Melting moment!

Ok so we aren’t there yet – he still wears diapers, and between his dedicated teachers and myself, we let him “go potty” whenever he wants to, and we coax him into going even when he doesn’t. And I wait patiently for the day when he announces that this diaper thing is for babies and he declares his bottom a diaper free zone. And unlike most parents who would pool that extra money created from not buying diapers, towards education (yes diapers are THAT expensive) – I will buy chocolate.

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Barney is a Dinosaur


We all have our addictions, our obsessions, the one (or two) thing(s) we can’t do without. For me, it is undoubtedly chocolate – in any shape, flavour or texture. I’ll take it in a drink (chococino), I’ll take it in a sandwich (nutella) or I’ll take it straight up on the rocks (a fat slab of Lindt). I think my husband is addicted to footy, as in football/soccer/diski. He spends more time watching the sport, reading about footballers and their WAGS and surfing the net for footy related articles, than he does on anything else. I’m happy for him to engulf himself in this obsession but I had to put my foot down when he wanted to paint Liam’s room red and slap Arsenal duvet covers, curtains and memorabilia all over the place. Now that Liam is older, I can see that this would have ended badly, considering that Liam’s  favourite colour is purple, which leads me to the point of this entry.. 

Liam’s addiction is one I am sure many parents can relate to – he is big, he is bouncy, he is purple and green, it’s the one and only singing, talking, dancing dinosaur Barney (feel like I could break into a Barney song right about now). This dinosaur has been hypnotising and mesmerising kids for years, I have yet to find a family with young children who haven’t gone through the Barney phase. At first I thought it was cute – all the sing-along songs that evoke warm and fuzzy feelings in even the toughest kid (and adult), the good moral lesson in each episode and the “Barney Says” titbit at the end of every scene which basically instructs kids to be nice to everyone and everyone will love you and you won’t get bullied (what lies). Liam was hooked from the first time he watched Barney and I was thrilled because I had tried everything to get him to sit in front of the tv for just 20 minutes so that I could have some down time, at last Liam had found someone who could talk more than he could. In time, he could sing along to every rhyme, he knew all the words before they were even spoken, he’d laugh before the punch line – and it didn’t get boring or grow old for him, he was besotted. 

Then Barney started infringing on other areas of my life…Granny bought Liam a Barney teddy. Barney was now a part of the family and not just a tv character. He would come everywhere with us, we had to get a plastic Barney so he could get in the bath with Liam. A good  friend of mine was kind enough to give Liam a talking Barney.. OMW.. that was like the highlight of Liam’s day, week, LIFE! I’ll catch him having long conversations with Barney. Barney gets hungry and I have to feed him, Barney needs to brush his teeth and occasionally needs to suck a dummy. I have to talk to Barney on the phone if I call home, he even gets shot-gun in the car. It’s like having another child in the house. We eventually put a tv in Liam’s room so that he and Barney could be roommates, without involving the rest of the family in their romance. I would go to sleep and wake up the next day with Barney tunes ringing in my subconscious, I think Hannah knew Barney before she was even born, because Barney apparently, is able to transcend even the walls of the womb. She is just as addicted to Barney as her older brother. 

Let’s not forget about his entourage, his posse – BJ, Baby Bop and newest member Riff. I mean are those midgets or short kids in those costumes? They sounds like aliens and who are they supposed to be? Barney’s children? His friends? Forgive me for saying but I find that whole dinosaur dynamic rather weird? 

And the pièce de résistance – the famous I Love You song. I beg your pardon, but did they not just steal the tune of This Old Man, He Plays One, He Plays Knick-Knack on My Drum? I sure hope that, That Old Man is getting royalties for EVERY SINGLE TIME Barney belts out that blasted song. 

My addiction doesn’t, in any way, encroach on other people’s lives, in fact I prefer to enjoy my chocolate alone and far away from everybody else. My kids’ Barney addiction, however, has affected the family, I’ve even seen my husband attempting to do the “Baby Bop Hop.” Not a pretty sight either. How then does one move on from the Barney addiction, I can’t see how Liam will wake up one day and decide that Barney is wack and Ben-10 is cool – I mean he is serious about his Barney! In the mean time, we treat Barney like our third child, we say bless you when Liam tells us he sneezed, we buckle him up in the car and we make space for him at the dinner table. The opening song alludes to Barney being from your imagination, well sometimes I wish he would just stay there and leave my family alone! 

BACK TO REALITY..


So I promised an “after” entry and here it is… 

I returned home on Friday afternoon, exhausted from all the activities, the late nights and the general mayhem that ensues on work conference; nevertheless I had to keep it together for my babies. I was disappointed that Liam didn’t seem that impressed to see me. I had imagined one of those slow motion running hugs with soft music playing in the background, me – dropping my bags and running towards him, he – dropping his favourite toy to dash into my arms. But no.  He was more upset that I had left him for so long, that I hadn’t called, that I hadn’t explained well enough that when I said three days, I meant three days ( he didn’t say all of that, but I could read it in his sad eyes and grumpy expression). We had agreed I would keep verbal contact to zero, because it upset him too much, so I had to be satisfied with updates from Granny and Daddy, who sounded pretty perked up for two people who had been stuck in the house with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum for three days. 

But my baby girl was absolutely delighted to see me, which eased the pain of my sleep deprivation. I could tell by the belly shaking, the crawling around in circles in her cot (almost like a dog chasing her own tail) the squeals of delight, the hand clapping, the laying on her back and wiggling her fat stumpy legs in the air, and the general glow of euphoria – that she had MISSED ME. Like REALLY missed me! And it felt AWESOME! 

Everything looked pretty normal at home, and it seems they functioned quite well without me; I scoured the kids for bruises and found none. I opened the fridge expecting to find it bare, and it was fully stocked. I lifted up the toilet seat expecting to find some hidden grime – nothing. Wow, I really should do this getting-away thing more often. 

Then reality set in! There were bottles to be washed, bums to be changed, mouths to feed, two babies vying for my attention – oh and a husband! I wished I was back at Sun City – family free! However, as I got on with my motherly duties, juggling three things at once, stifling yawn after yawn, peeling one baby off my leg and the other off my waist, I realised that there was no other place I’d rather be, than right there with my family.

While the Mummy’s Away…


I won’t lie, I’m scared. Maybe not scared, I’m a bit anxious. Even anxious may be too strong a word… ok I’m slightly nervous. I’m going away on a work related conference for two nights, three days, 72 hours, approximately 4320 minutes and a whole lot of seconds – that’s a long time to be away from my babies, my husband and my bed. So this is the “before” entry, and when I get back from my trip, I’ll conclude with an “after” entry. It’s not the first time I have been away from Liam or my husband – Liam has been to Durban to spend time with his grandparents, and I was away from my hubby when I went home to spend time with my parents, whilst on maternity leave. It is however, the first time I’ll leave little Hannah and it will be the first time that I am apart from all three of them simultaneously! 

I’ve tried to be as rational as possible about my upcoming departure , I’ve made only a few lists and timetables for the caregivers to follow in my absence. I’ve secretly keyed in all the emergency numbers into my hubby’s phone, I’ve laid out clothes and marked them per day for the kids, with extra “going out clothes” in case an excursion pops up. I’ve cooked and frozen a variety of foods for baby girl – as her palette as become especially pernickety, and she won’t eat just anything. I’ve had long talks with Liam about Mummy going away for a little while, he thinks it’s quite a joke – wait until you have to face Daddy in the middle of the night, son! I’ve prepped Zoleka to be on standby in case Dad needs an extra pair of hands. And last but not least, I have brought in extra reinforcements – GRANNY. Rational right? 

I must admit that I feel more comfortable knowing that Granny will be there. Even if it means, all the rules will be broken – they’ll eat way too many sweets, they’ll stay up past bed time, they’ll creep into bed with Gran, they’ll be allowed to jump on the bed and stay in the bath until their fingers and toes turn prune-y, they’ll forget to brush teeth (gums in Hannah’s case) and they’ll harass Granny to the point where she won’t be able to pee without a nosy parker staring up at her – it’s ok, because they’ll be happy and well taken care of and Granny will get a big chocolate for her trouble. 

I am going to try and enjoy this time away – lavish sleeping in a big bed ALL BY MYSELF, sleeping for longer than 4 hours at a time, being able to eat a meal HOT and at a normal pace. Oh! Lay in a bath until MY skin turns prune-y, go to the toilet, close the door and know I won’t have my entire family banging down the door to ask me where the tv remote is (I don’t even have time to watch tv, how would I know?) or have Liam show me a booger that he just pulled out of his nose, or have Hannah crawl right up to me to be picked up WHILE I sit on the John. The more I think about it, the more I can’t wait to pack my bags! Watch this space to see how it all panned out!

MAMA LOVE


With so many people close to me announcing their pregnancies, or giving birth soon, or planning a second or third child, I thought I’d dedicate this blog entry to all the mums. I really don’t want it to be a soppy piece – I mean with kids, we have enough to cry about on a daily basis (tears of joy/ anger/ hopelessness/ exhaustion – us mothers cry for it all!), so I’m going to try and keep it light hearted as I give a shout out to God’s perfect creation – the Mama Bear. 

Sometimes I wonder how I can mother two little people; I feel like a kid myself most days. I still wear my hair in pig tails, I still complain when I have to get out of bed in the mornings and I still prefer to eat chocolate for breakfast – pretty much like a kid right? And here I am, responsible for the lives of these two human beings, who look up to me with those big round eyes for .. well.. for EVERYTHING.

When I was a new mother, trying to wrap my head around this whole parenting thing, I decided to run to the only place I knew would make it all better – my own mother’s lap. Ok, I’m too big for her lap, but she still knows how to make it all better. I share a wonderful relationship with my mum. She is warm and cuddly and gives the best advice (ONLY when asked), she doesn’t complain, she doesn’t shout, she’s stopped giving hidings so that’s a plus too. When I’m stressed out or going through a particularly difficult patch, she has this ability to make me feel like it’s not so bad. She is an amazing granny, with the patience of a great school teacher, she can whip something out of nothing, she can bake tarts and banana loaves AND she makes a fabulous cup of tea. I want to be to my kids, the mother my mum was and is to me. 

I still find it overwhelming – if I don’t feed them, they won’t eat. If I don’t bath and put them to bed, they’d run around dirty, like zoo animals, until they passed out from exhaustion. If I don’t nurture their emotional and mental development, it could adversely impact the type of adults they become. The ramifications of the way I raise these bambinos is FRIGHTENING, to say the least! There goes the light heartedness, now I have you quaking in your boots! BUT all is not lost mums!

The wonderful thing about being a mother is that natural instinct that kicks in the moment you know you’re going to be a mama. I thank God for oxytocin everyday, the self produced hormone that basically gives you no option but to love and protect your children – even when they spit at you or give you a slap in public. The love that a mother has for a child, is unlike any other. Its unexplainable, its unconditional, and its unending – no matter how big and ugly you become, your mama will always love you, isn’t that amazing! AND what’s even more amazing is that its reciprocated unconditionally – no matter how angry I make my children (sometimes just for fun), no matter how many times I jam their fingers in the door (sometimes by mistake), no matter how many times I threaten to leave, I’m still the one they call out for when they get hurt, when they need a cuddle, when they just want someone to LISTEN without saying a word in response. 

It’s a long hard journey raising children. It’s bittersweet with so many poignant moments – too many to document. From the moment their little hearts start beating, until they stop and even beyond depending on how your life pans out, your children will change the way you think and feel about things that didn’t matter before. They will give you a new and different and often fresh perspective on issues you had made your mind up on already. They will teach you things you didn’t know and often in growing children, they grow you too. 

The day I became a mother was a pretty ordinary Monday morning, there was nothing spectacular about the day, the season, nor the hour. There were no shooting stars or fireworks and my baby came into the world just as millions before him had, and millions after him would. However the day I became a mother, was the day my life really began. Yes I had lived and loved, I had cried and laughed, but nothing could have prepared me for the adoration, the adulation, the absolute and resolute devotion I felt for the pink wrinkled blob they placed on my chest. I was forever changed – for the better – I was to be called Mum. 

EATING OUT..


I love eating out. I love the experience of deliberating over the menu, conferring with your company to make sure you all order something different so as to enjoy a taste-fest; enjoying the banter between courses, basking in the rare opportunity to criticise or complement someone else’s cooking.  I take pleasure in sharing a meal with someone I like, without competition from the TV, or the ringing phone or the neighbours barking dog. FAST FORWARD to two babies later. 

We avoid restaurants like the plague. We turn down invitations hastily, we avoid food courts at the shopping malls in case we are hijacked by an instant desire to eat, we look the other way when we see a family with older children seemingly enjoying meal time at a once loved restaurant. To put this into context for you.. trying to have a meal with two small babies in an unfamiliar setting can be likened to sawing your arm off without anaesthetic – messy and painful. It wasn’t always like this, when Liam was about 15 or 16 months old, and Hannah was still a newborn who spent the better part of a 24 hour day asleep, it was still manageable. Liam would still throw food around, spill at least two drinks per meal and break the restaurant issued crayons into a gazillion pieces, but at least there were still two pairs of hands to contain and curb his enthusiasm. The problem really started when Hannah became more of a human and less of a corpse who just laid there all day. 

Liam would demand to be taken to the play area (we had long since resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d only frequent restaurants where “people with a taste for life” went) and being the over protective parent that I am, I would insist that either Dad or I would have to accompany him. This left the other parent with Hannah, who would behave as if the baby chair was electrified; she preferred to sit on the table, and cause mass destruction with the cutlery, condiments and anything else in sight. We’d order our drinks and inevitably Liam or Hannah or both would knock at least one down. Liam would pull his nose up at whatever was ordered for him and point his stubby little finger at something else on that blasted kiddies menu. I’d have an internal dilemma – order it to shut him up, or show him who was boss by force feeding him. Neither option was safe, as they’d both end in a tantrum and I’d look like a loser parent. Hannah would dive into everyone’s meal with gusto, regurgitating whatever she had tried, for Mum and Dad to also taste. She’d almost sit in your plate in an effort to try everything on it. Dad and I would wolf down our food at record speed, signalling to the enquiring waiter that no, we had everything under control, there wasn’t anything to be concerned about, and could we have the bill like NOW. We’d leave the restaurant with indigestion, dishevelled, with screaming toddler and filthy gurgling infant in toe, vowing NEVER to do this again. FAST FORWARD to last weekend. 

My sister and family visited this weekend and with much trepidation, we decided to eat out. Firstly, I had to ensure that my children were not too tired, not too hungry and slightly medicated (them and me), to pave the way for a semi normal eating out experience. We had avoided restaurants up until this point, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at the ease with which I let Liam go to the play area without adult supervision, must have been the medication? Hannah wasn’t too thrilled to be in her hot seat but settled once the food arrived, and was happy to pick at her own plate, while we enjoyed our meal. Liam gave his meal a thumbs up without any bargaining, pleading or bribery.  The husband and I could eat simultaneously, while the kids busied themselves with their own food – a record first! We even had dessert! I am proud to say we survived an entire meal in a public place without much ado. 

Another milestone ticked off. I experienced yet another parental heart-tug as I realised that my babies were growing, and for 0.0002 seconds I felt almost sad that my baby days were slowly coming to an end – that feeling was however swift and fleeting. I look forward to reverting to my long leisurely eating out extravaganzas, I look forward to eating at a restaurant that doesn’t have a kiddies menu or doesn’t cater for little people under one metre tall. I look forward to leaving the kids at the movies while Dad and I gaze into each other’s eyes over a focaccia sprinkled with garlic and herbs and drizzled with olive oil.. hmmm.. but for now, I’ll enjoy these small victories, one step at a time!