Monday, January 6, 2014

The Progress Report

To say my son is a thorn in his teacher's side might be an understatement.  I can't be certain until she admits it, but it certainly seems that way.  Let me be honest, I wouldn't blame her for feeling that way.  He's a difficult personality and he's a boy.  A boy at the age where most boys tend to really start pushing boundaries and seeing what the people left in charge are made of.

His first progress report was pretty much what I expected considering the kids had only been in school for about 5-6 weeks and it was a huge transition for many of them. Despite being in daycare since he was 6 weeks old, it's been quite the transition for Austin too.  He's coming into his own, discovering "who" he's going to be, and watching people closely.  

He spends a majority of his days parked on yellow [a sign of mediocre behavior].  This tends to happen later in the day, usually after lunch, as a result of his inability/unwillingness to pay attention to the task at hand.  Again, not surprising news but still concerning to some degree. 

At his 1st parent-teacher conference in the public school setting, his teacher advised me that he is Mr. Popularity in class.  Everyone wants to sit near him.  She said he can be very charming and he has a great sense of humor, but then she basically went on to say he's a pain in her ass. The latter wasn't surprising.  I love Austin, but he has a tendency to be difficult and argumentative at times.  I have no idea where he gets that from [and by "no idea" I mean he definitely gets it from me].  I was surprised to hear that he is so popular though. That possibility never crossed my mind.  Since kids are so brutally honest and sometimes cruel, I automatically assumed he'd get picked on for being so short.  I spent so much time trying to make sure he knows people come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes, I forgot to stress the importance of pay attention and "getting your smarts" as we call it at home.  We'll just add that to my increasingly large list of parenting fails. 

I'm hoping that as he builds up confidence in his academics, he will learn that he doesn't have to use classroom antics as a way to get attention from his peers.  As crazy as this may sound, I think he's using humor as a defense mechanism because he is not at the "head of the class" academically.  Humor is his niche.  It's his "in."  It's the reason that, on 4 separate occasions since September, another parent from the class has told me "My son/daughter talks about Austin all the time.  He/She always says Austin is his/her best friend."  

Two things happen whenever I hear those words... 
I immediately apologize [because I just never know what sort of trouble my son has sucked their poor innocent child into] and I always scramble to figure our who the hell their child is because my son never comes home declaring one of his classmates is his bestie.  
Talk about uncomfortable.  *sigh*

Maybe this is all part of growing up & maturing.  A year ago Austin was the type of kid who could easily get sucked into following a crowd.  I often joked with his Pre-K teachers that he'd never be the type of kid to say "Hey, let's go rob the 7-11." but he'd definitely be the type of kid that might join a group of kids who decided to do it simply because he had nothing better to do at the time.  His classroom antics and increasing popularity are giving him a sense of leadership.  

His teacher did say "I could definitely see him becoming a lawyer."  Those words are hard to process when your child is 6 years old... is it a compliment to his intellectual ability and thought processes or is an insult of sorts being disguised as a compliment?  I guess time will tell.

In the meantime, I will continue to stress that being Mr. Popularity means all eyes are on him to set a good example.  If he wants to be a leader, he needs to set the bar higher by being a wonderful example himself.  That gets bears in the jar and a full jar of bears gets popcorn for the class.  Don't ask.   [lol]

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Pacifier

Austin never took to using a pacifier.  It's funny really because I bought at least 10 of them before he was born.  I needed one of every kind and then a few fancy ones with his name on them... or so I thought.  Did you know that not all babies use pacifiers? Neither did I.  No one warned me.  And we'll just add that to the never ending list of things people with kids neglected to "warn" me about.  Notice I didn't refer to these people as "friends" because no friend of mine would omit the critical details that I was lacking.

Needless to say, getting Austin off the pacifier [aka the binky] was probably the easiest thing I've ever had to do in terms of parenting.  And then there was Jayden...

Jayden LOVED LOVED LOVED his binky.  I can't really stress enough how much he loved the damn thing.  Since he was born prematurely, the NICU encouraged binky usage to help him develop his sucking reflex.  He was so tiny and that big round Avent pacifier was so big - he looked ridiculous and adorable all at the same time. Eventually he graduated from Avent to Mam pacifiers simply because I liked those ones. They came in lots of cute options for boys and they have a glow-in-the-dark line which I found particularly useful at night. 

As time went on, I attributed Jayden's wonderful sleep habits to that miraculous little binky. Austin never slept. EVER.  He's 6 years old and he still has a really difficult time sleeping through the night.  Jayden has always been very easy to put to bed and, unlike Austin, he's always slept in his crib.  I vowed never to co-sleep again after it took me the better part of 5 years to get Austin out of my bed.  Jayden's been sleeping through the night since he was about 16 months old.  He's the type of kid who likes a solid 12 hours of sleep... with a binky in his mouth and one in each hand.  Crazy, I know.  I'd like to think that unlike the other two males in our house, Jayden was thinking ahead.  "Hey, just in case this binky falls out of my mouth in the middle of the night, if I have one in each hand everything will be ok." He rarely ever woke us up in the middle of the night and if he did it was always because all 3 binkies went missing. Sometimes they would fall out of the crib and because they glow-in-dark, they would torment him from the floor. Fortunately they were always easy to find and no one had to burn their corneas at 3am by turning on the light to look for them. Those people at Mam are onto something very special ~ my sincere thanks to those creative geniuses.

When Jayden was about 18 months old, Dr. Steve [our wonderful Pediatrician] told me that as long as Jayden retired his pacifiers by the age of 2, everything would be ok.  I'm not the type of girl who likes to procrastinate so I tried to break him of his addiction early on.  That did not go well.  As he neared 20 months old, I decided to take a new approach and only let him have them at bedtime. Yes, all 3 of them. EVERY NIGHT.

My husband, who likes to selectively "forget" the rules around here, would occasionally let Jayden have his binky during daylight hours.  And sometimes if he was cranky, I would give in and let him have it too. Eventually he was talking to us with the thing in his mouth.  If he found one under the couch, he'd pop two in his mouth at the same time.  His addiction was getting worse instead of better so I channeled my inner Jeff VanVonderen and came up with a plan.

At 21 1/2 months, I decided we all needed to quit cold turkey.  It was an intervention of sorts.  I dumped the supply in the trash.  I checked the car, the diaper bags, the pockets of our coats... every last binky went in the garbage.  Part of me felt a little sad.  

That night, I prepared myself for a rough evening.  When bedtime approached, I told Jayden what I had told him so many times before... "Binkies are for babies and you're a big boy.  No more binky."  He repeated what I said, grabbed his sippy cup full of water and headed off to his room.  I picked him up, kissed him goodnight, and put him in his crib.  He didn't make a peep.

The next morning, I showered him with compliments.  "Mommy is so proud of you!"  And he told me very matter-of-factly that "Binkies for babies."  Suddenly, I felt foolish for not doing this sooner.  Would I ever learn?  That's rhetorical so don't answer. 

And just like that Jayden's binky addiction ended in time for his upcoming 2nd birthday.  :)

One can only hope potty training will be this easy...