You bring this little baby home and now you have to figure them out and little do you know you wake up and they’re 2. This was said to me so many times when I came home from the hospital with Simon. I thought it would take forever before he’s able to hold his own bottle or let alone feed himself. I then quickly learned when raising Simon, I have a non-dependant child. He’s never depended on me for anything – which at times put fear into what kind of toddler I was going to have.
Putting Simon into childcare was not an easy decision for me, but I knew socially he needed to be around other children. He needed to figure out how to socialize and even develop some type of conflict resolution. I am a hard believer that children groups and playdates are crucial for this age when they are trying to develop and grow socially. I grew up as a twin and I never knew what it was like having to go out and make friends. If kids didn’t like me or Alesha, we didn’t care. We always had each other. So with this lack of that life-experience I knew going into parenthood I wanted Simon to develop a sense of willingness to socialize at a early age.
Let me tell you a bit about Simon.
I learned Simon is very much like my husband. Give me one or two people to play with – I’m good. Give me a group where I’m overwhelmed – I will withdraw. I learned this about Simon when he was very young. When we would be at a gathering and there were 100 people wanting to hold him, he would become overwhelmed and become ornery. If the same 2 or 3 people held him he was great. Little did I know back then that it would follow through to his older years and probably will for most of his adolescence years.
Simon is also an independent kid that likes to play by himself. He loves to create stories and scenarios where he can execute his imagination to the extent. He could play with his trains for hours – as long as he was uninterrupted. He loves to re-create stories he hears about Thomas and his friends while putting his own twist on it. Watching this never gets old.
On the flip side, Simon is not a kid you can just take things away from or tell him “no” and leave it as is. He’s a kid that needs to be explained to fact-wise on why he can’t do it. For example – he lost it the other day because I wouldn’t let him jump in a puddle with his runners on. I explained to him that if he goes into the puddle, his shoes and socks will get wet and he can’t play outside without shoes on and we would have to go home. He needs to know the outcome of a situation if you’re going to say no. He needs to know what the consequences are if he chooses not to listen.
“You know your child..”
One thing I feared with raising a toddler is how are we going to execute discipline into our parenting. How are we going to know what works and what doesn’t? The phrase “you know your child” was something I actually feared. What if I didn’t know my child well enough to know what works and what doesn’t? What if I’m that parent in the grocery store trying to calm my screaming kid down and nothing is working? (Trust me, that was a real fear of mine!) One thing I learned about Simon is he communicates his feelings. You know when he’s frustrated and I lucked out with a child who communicates verbally. He will 9/10 times tell you why he’s upset. This leads to a discussion about how we are going to fix (or sometimes not fix) the situation.
Simon is still a typical toddler. He loves to test limits and get himself in to mischief. While having discussions about his feelings are important, discipline is still something we execute in our home. Simon knows (and he knew very early on) that if he intentionally hits – he sits. Doing some research (along with us knowing Simon’s tolerance), we decided to do time out for the amount of minutes Simon is in age. For example – the other day he smacked Andrew on the face because he wouldn’t let him do something ( I can’t remember the exact details). He sat for 2 minutes. Needless to say, those seemed like 2 years to Simon. But once we were done, he knows he needs to take 2 deep breaths (this parenting hack was adopted from my sister’s parenting with her oldest. I encourage this hack for all you parents! Works wonders!) and he needs to apologize. Forcing him to apologize isn’t only encouraging empathy, it’s owning what he did was wrong and acknowledging that it was inappropriate. We remind him we love him and why he did what he did was wrong and move on with our day.
Now that all being said, I completely expect my next child to be the complete opposite and I fully expect myself to go through the same fears and challenges. I am nowhere near being the perfect parent. We do our best not to reward bad behaviours but there’s the times where you look back and realize there’s more that could’ve been done. I feel this is a real struggle that most parents either choose or don’t choose to admit. Do we know what kind of ‘middle aged’ or ‘teenagers’ we are going to raise? no. We’d like to think so but that’s far from any expectation. We all want cookie-cutter well behaved and respectful kids right? The best thing we can do is pave that road for them and hope they choose to follow down it. The rest is up to God and the direction their life decision take them.
xo | andrea