Saturday, June 26, 2010

You can dress them up, but you can't take them out.

Ben believes in "family time". He is big on going out on adventures and taking the kid and bonding or whatever. Every weekend, rather than stay at home and sleep (my preferred way to spend a Sunday) Ben wants to go out somewhere to some park or event or kid-friendly venue to "have some fun" together. But it's never actually any fun.

The idea of this is not entirely familiar to me. My parents learned really early that when you take a small child out to do something, it is hardly ever actually for their enjoyment and almost always for yours. So they stopped taking me to Chuck E Cheese and started just letting me tag along when they went to cookouts and bar hopping. And I didn't know the difference. I thought it was awesome that everyone would give me quarters for the video games and let me raise hell inside the house while the adults got drunk in the backyard. To me, that was family time.

Ben on the other hand had a mother who took him places. Fun places. Ben went to Disney World. And to gigantic amusement parks and to Hawaii. Ben has all these great memories that he wants Lila to have. And to a point, I think it's nice and all. But here's the thing...

Lila is just about 3. First off, I don't think she is going to remember whether we went to the zoo or sat in the backyard and threw rocks at squirrels. She will most likely only remember the way we traumatized her when we made her sit on the potty at the restaurant and the auto-flush went off and (literally) scared the piss out of her.

But even more importantly, going anywhere with this kid requires a lot of planning and a lot of patience. We have to go early enough so that she isn't grumpy and tired but late enough so that she can have a decent breakfast. We have to bring things to amuse her but not the same things we brought last time. We have to make sure we are going somewhere close enough that if she has another "potty" incident, we can get home in time to not have her pooping in her pants. And the truth is, it's stressful.

And what do we usually seem to get for all the stress of making this wonderful outing for our 3-year old? A screaming miserable brat. Any time we plan to take her somewhere that is specifically a kid place, she is a total asshole the entire time. I hate carnivals. But Ben insisted that we take her. And what did she do? She cried because she was tired. She cried because they only had Sprite and not orange soda. She cried because she needed to be a full 4 inches taller to ride on one of the rides and then screamed because she was terrified on one of the kiddie rides.

Even when we do things that are supposed to be "fun for the whole family" it isn't any fun. We went to the beach last weekend. Previous to Lila, the beach was one of my favorite things to do. Its hot and sunny and I can people watch and read and just relax. But there is absolutely NOTHING relaxing about going to the beach with a 3 year old. Besides the 2 trips from the car we had to make because we needed to bring enough toys, food, and drinks to keep her content for a few hours, I barely got to sit down because she likes to run in the sand. Ben took her in the water and the entire time I had to watch because I quite frankly don't trust that he wouldn't let her out of his site just long enough for her to be a subject of a "human chain" (which, by the way I cannot believe they still do. I have NEVER heard a story about the human chain kicking someone under the water). Between the crying to go into the water, the crying because the water is too cold, the crying because the sand castle wouldn't stand up and the crying because we tried to help her with her sand castle, I wanted to walk straight into the water with rocks in my pockets and just keep on going...

Ben says he wants to have nice memories with her. He says he wants her to have these nice memories and to have a better childhood than I did. And although I highly doubt I will be taking Lila to any bars in the near future (it was a different time then), I still don't see the point of taking the kid out anywhere if she is going to be just as miserable as she is at home bored.

I hope this changes as she gets older because I am ready to just quit the fucking family outings in favor of "family chore day" and "family watch TV day" every weekend.


Sometimes I hate my kid. There I said it. She's a brat.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I try...I really do.

Lila will be 3 this summer. She's a smart kid. She knows her ABCs and can count past 20. She knows her shapes, colors and opposites. She can navigate around the web by herself if I leave her alone. The one thing she has no idea about is how to behave.

So a couple of months ago I began my quest to find a good preschool for her. Just a couple of days a week, but somewhere where she can play with other kids and maybe learn to sit still for 20 minutes at a time. Now, I don't live in some big city that has prestigious schools with waiting lists from birth or anything. Syracuse, NY has a sufficient number of "head start" type programs and private schools that offer programs for 3 year olds.

I had sort of resigned myself to this one around the corner that is in a building adjacent to a baptist church. I saw the kids outside playing and it would be super convenient in that it is LITERALLY at the other diagonal corner of our block. I got the info and talked to the teacher. It seemed okay. No garbage lying serial killer types lurking in the bathroom. I was ready to enroll her.

Then I got wind of another preschool program nearby at the catholic school across the street from the baptist church. I thought they just did K-6 but apparently had started up one program for 4 year olds and one for 3 year olds. Now, I am not really subscribed to any religious affiliation. But as a kid I went to Catholic school myself so I figured I would make an appointment to take the tour.

What happened was unexpected. I LOVED THIS SCHOOL. The kids were extremely friendly and polite and the teachers just exuded this confidence and ease about the way they handled one misbehaving boy. Since this was part of a larger school, the preschool kids sometimes teamed up with the older kids for "mentoring" and games. They participate in all the school events from concerts to plays to book drives. It was everything I could possibly want in a preschool for Lila.

Until I got the information about the cost. The least expensive program (2 half days a week) would cost me $3,000 for the year. That's $300 a month, or about $37 per day. This seemed a little steep considering that the other school charged about a fourth of that. But it was SOOOO much better!

Ben and I looked at other schools but none impressed us as much. None had the atmosphere or quality that this one had. We were hopeful that this would be an incredibly valuable experience for Lila. We put the registration off and hoped that financially we would have a better idea of where we stood before the summer. Unfortunately we do...and there is no way we can afford to send Lila to the awesome school. Because I am a black and white kind of girl, my thinking is that if I can't give Lila the best, we will just skip preschool this year and hope next year is better. But then I get slapped with my own guilty conscience...Am I depriving Lila of valuable learning experiences by not sending her to school? Not because I want to have one of those genius kids, but because she would LOVE it?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why doesn't she sleep?

Lila is almost 3. In the early days, the fact that she had colic or reflux or was just a baby was a good enough reason for me to get up 2 or 3 times a night and go to her room. After that subsided and she was about a year or so old, she was still using a bottle to fall asleep and she would wake me up 2 or 3 times a night to get me to find her (empty) bottle for her and stick it back in her mouth. At 2 1/2, I decided I didnt want to do it anymore so we concocted an elaborately detailed story about the "ba-ba fairy" who comes to big kids and takes their bottles and gives them to new babies in need. "Ba-ba fairy" would leave some awesome big-kid present when she came.

It worked out perfectly. The same weekend we bought Lila her toddler bed, my mom wanted to keep her overnight so the next morning when she came home we told her all her bottles were gone but we had a surprise in her room for her. She was thrilled with her big-girl bed and her princess sheet and comforter set. The first few nights she cried a little and I attempted to help by lying in (her tiny) bed with her. I told her that since she is a big girl now, when she wakes up at night, she can just get up and come into our room if she needs to.

That was almost 6 months ago. To date, Lila has yet to get out of bed and come to us. In fact, she still wakes up 2 or 3 times most nights and just cries and cries halfway between sleep and awake. She cries "mommmmmmmyyyyyy" and although I try to ignore her (and about once a week this works and she falls back to sleep) I often resort to calling to her. "Lila, come on into bed with us," I say in my groggy 3am voice. But she just cries harder until one of us gets up and goes to her. She doesn't even WANT to sleep in our bed. And she never needs anything. It isnt that she fell out of bed or lost her blanket or even wants her back rubbed. She just needs us to come in. I usually go in, lay on her floor, and tell her to go back to sleep. This is apparently enough for her. And after 15 minutes or so, I get up and go back to bed.

But this has serious side effects on my sanity. It has been almost three years since I have had a good nights sleep. Because even when Lila has a couple of weeks straight of sleeping through the night (it happens randomly and then just stops) I am still awake several times a night just out of habit.

I live on the second floor of a two-family house. Just underneath Lila's room sleeps a 1 year old baby. If she cries, he wakes up and everyone is pissed. Likewise, they dont let their kid cry at night after a few incidents where Lila woke up and I was a total bitch the next morning. Letting her scream for 3 hours isn't really an option.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I thought it would suck less....WRONG.

Lila is almost 3. I have had it with the whining. Somewhere, somehow, Lila got the idea that any time she is even remotely displeased with anything all she has to do is whine continually and magic will happen and she will have whatever it is. (Actually, she got this idea from spending too much time at Grandma's but that's another blog).

Lila's whining voice is exactly the same sound as nails on a chalkboard....into an amplifier...with feedback screeching in the background. Plus, she managed to inherit my loud Italian projecting voice and uses that along with her remarkable whiny pitch to make me insane. At not quite 3 years old, she has absolutely no ability to be reasoned with and has a temper like a rattlesnake. She can be perfectly happy one minute and writhing on the ground like a mental patient the next. And it seems there is NOTHING I can do about this.

I have tried telling her "Mommy can't understand you when you use that whining voice." I have tried time outs (which she seems to think is kind of fun because she has to try to sit still for an unspecified amount of time). Often, I have to put her in her bed and shut the door and tell her she can come out when she's done being a brat. Usually after about 10 minutes she walks out all smiles and says "I'm done crying mommy." But it never lasts for more than a few minutes.

Sometimes she talks to me like I talk to her saying "COME...IN...HERE...NOOOOOW
...MOMMY!!!!! And I get to feel guilty because she learned to talk to people like that from me.

I have no idea what to do with this whiny brat that my kid has become. She is stubborn, as I know kids her age are supposed to be. But I feel like I spend so much time yelling at her and forcing her to "calm down" that I can't enjoy her. I am afraid she thinks I don't love her.

Wasn't it supposed to get easier when they started to become little "people"?