The Miseducation of Xavier

As an educator I am ashamed to say that I am guilty of letting the tablet teach and babysit my son. I know all the studies that say too much screen time is bad for them, but its so easy, and he enjoys it; so its one less thing I have to fight about. He watches cartoons on Netflix and Hulu as well as playing games on ABC mouse, but mostly he watches YouTube kids. I don’t understand his fascination with it but, it keeps help quiet, and some of its educational….right.

Next month is his 3rd birthday, and I have sworn to kicking it into high gear to make sure he is prepared for Pre-K and ultimately Kindergarten. At this point he can recognize most letters, numbers 1-10 and a few beyond, basic colors, and shapes. He also can understand simple Spanish commands and know some basic phrases and numbers. This is on account of his teacher at the home daycare he attends being Hispanic. She speaks to the kids in Spanish, they sing songs, and do activities to learn Spanish. I would like to keep him there long enough get a good start on being fluent and continuing him in a duel immersion program when he starts school. As a teacher I know I have to do more with him than just what he learns at daycare and later school. I can’t be a hypocrite, I have to be the parent I wish my students had.

Don’t get me wrong, it not like I haven’t done ANYTHING with him. Since he was a newborn I’ve read to him every single night. I know that is a big factor in him developing fluency and literacy skills. We used to do puzzles and flash cards all the time. As he has become more active and sometimes his behavior down right unbearable, I’ve settled for just keeping him subdued. He has a table that he uses in the living room for eating mostly, but it flips up and he can draw on it. Sometimes I give him one of his coloring pages and some crayons and he’ll color.

I have to do right by my son and offer him the same opportunity for advancement that I had. My mom is a teacher too, and she was a BEAST at making sure we had the tools we needed to succeed. She taught me to read by the time I was in Pre-K. Now being that she is an elementary school teacher, she has more skill at teaching reading than me, but I know I can do better. My goal is to create interactive games for him to play, so he can learn as well as get some of his seemingly never ending energy out. I’ve seen a bunch on Pinterest, now its time to stop pinning and start doing. My goal is to spend 30 minutes-1 hour with him each day on some kind of educational activity outside of our normal reading.

It is my responsibility to set the foundation for his education. I already feel guilty for the slacking I’ve been doing lately, hopefully its not to late to make up for lost time.

Mommy & Son Dates

My son and I go on dates more often than me and my husband. Its typically a weekend thing, either Saturday or Sunday. I try to make time for him because I know during the week I am very busy, and I sometimes have a short temper . I fuss every morning trying to get out the door to get him to daycare and then myself to work on time. The evenings are not much better.  Its kind of my way of saying, “I’m sorry for being so crazy all week, please don’t hate me.”

Our usual dates consist of getting something to eat. His favorite is McDonald’s, mine and Chipotle, so we alternate. We get free chocolate at Godiva. I get a truffle of the month for free, and/or they usually have some samples available. We might walk around the mall and window shop, and then we go to the indoor play area. There are two in our mall. One is for y20160828_142119ounger babies and toddlers, the other is for bigger kids. At our last visit I discovered he is almost at the height limit for the “little kids” play area. Sometimes we make a stop to the toys store and he gets to pick something out, and we walk to the gourmet popcorn shop nearby and eat samples. We might get daddy some snickers or bacon cheddar popcorn since he didn’t get to have all the fun.  When to weather warms up we will go to an outdoor regular park. And my idea is once he shows that he is consistently pooping in the potty and making it through the night dry, I might dish out some monies and take him to the science museum right up the road from us as a reward. When he gets older I imagine we will go to the movies and other activities that can’t happen right now while he is a rambunctious toddler.

I try to make this time, because I want him to know that I care even though I can be tough. I remember when I first returned to work after having him and my husband was a stay a home dad, he acted like he didn’t know who I was everyday. My husband started to encourage these outings. He said that he cherished the time that he spent with his mom going shopping and running errands. I only hope that I can create some worthwhile memories and he doesn’t just see me as some drill Sargent, dominating mother. He and his daddy are best buds. They play all the time. Sometimes I question whether he likes me. But, I know he loves AND likes me because of the way he treats me. He plays hard to get, but at the end of the day if he get hurt or feels bad he comes to get some loving from mommy.  I will continue to think of ways to create memories with my very first baby.

What are some ideas from parents out there they do with their kids for fun?

Potty Training: Phase 2

My son Xavier is daytime and #1 potty trained. I’ve highlighted my process with this in My 5 Steps for Potty Trainingpoop Progress. We had some progress with those steps, but he didn’t really get it down until he stayed with my mother for a week over the summer. “Grandma Jeanie’s Boot Camp” is something that started after my niece and nephew were miraculously potty trained after a week with her. From what she told me she does everything as I did, but for some reason it just works for her. After that there were no more pull ups on long rides, and I don’t really have to ask him to go to the bathroom. If he needs it, he just goes. But now we are entering Phase 2, which is tackling the night time, nap, and the big #2!

For some reason at daycare he only has the occasional accident during nap time, she does not use pull ups. But at home he always wakes up wet. I limit his drinking an hour before and make him potty multiple times, but he still wakes up drenched. Night time wasn’t even a question; I was not ready to night time train him. With nap and night time training will come #2 training, because that’s the only time he poops. He waits until I put a pull up on him and deliberately poops before he falls asleep so he can get changed. I read a story, lay him down, say prayers, and turn off the light. In about 30 seconds he gets up and turns the light back on. He then proceeds to take every book off his bookshelf and several toys out. In about 5 minutes he’ll peep around the hallway and whisper “I pooped”. This was strategic, he is a bright child. He knows he does not want the poop on him in his sleep, so he does it before hand to be changed. I tried putting him on the potty right before bed, but he still refused to poop in it. You would think I’d have enough of this and decide right then and there to take the pull ups away, but I was not ready for all of that.

Fate would decide when the time came. Right after Christmas break we had a snow storm. Of course anyone from the North jokes about how everything shuts down in the south due to a little snow. We got 5-8 inches, which is a big deal for North Carolina. I could not get out of my apartment complex for 3 days. I didn’t realize we were running low on pull ups; we only had 3 left. If I wasn’t able to get out that day I would have enough because he uses 2 for nap and night time due to his scheduled poops.  During nap time I used the expected 2, and then….I found a way out of that parking lot because I was not ready to clean pee and poop out of his bed.

I bought a small bag of pull ups because, I was not sure I wanted to commit to the jumbo box. I regretted it immediately.  You see, my son is very large for his age. He will be 3 in March and is current 3 and 1/2 feet tall, and 40 pounds. Most people mistake him for 3,4, and sometimes 5. So the 4t-5t pull ups were on their last leg. He was often peeing out of them. I didn’t not want to pay the astronomical price for the “Under Jams” for big kids, so I decided this was it. After he finished this small pack we were going to finish potty training. I should’ve just stuck to my guns and started while we were snowed in, but I’m stubborn.

We are still working with this, but have had some success. He has his lunch and last beverage 2 hours before nap time, and 3 hours for bed time. After that I make him potty as many times as possible. He sits on the potty 10-15 watching poop in the potty videos before he lays down. He doesn’t poop in his underwear before nap time, but he does at night. He is showing remorse for it now. He doesn’t come and get us, but instead he cries in his room, waddling around. I’ve also started to put his character underwear on at night. If he poops or pees I tell him he made whatever character sad, because he pee’d or pooped on them. We have started to spank and give him a stern talking to when he does this, because he is capable of coming and telling us that he has to poop. I do feel bad about this a little, because I understand that for kids #2 is hard to do. There seems to be some kind of mental block that won’t allow him to let go and just do it in the potty. But, its ridiculous for him to just have been on the potty and plan to do it before falling asleep. It would be another story if it was done, accidentally while asleep. After he has his pooping out of the way if we wake him up during the night to pee he can have a dry night.

This is what I’m working with. If anybody has some pointers or suggestions, I’m all ears. I know this won’t happen overnight, but if it could that would be great. This is not a fun process for anybody involved. All of the extra washing clothes, and  I not built for cleaning this grown man poop out of underwear.

Update: This just in, I had to stop writing this because, my son woke up crying and said he had to poop. I sat him on the potty and he did just that! We of course erupted in excitement and sang the “poo poo in the potty” song. Hopefully this is the start of him finally getting it down.

My 5 Steps for Potty Training Progress

In Questions about potty training I was just starting trying to get some answers for the best way to approach potty training my 2 year old son. I have tried some things that didn’t quite work out and now am doing some new things. Notice in the title of this blog I said “progress” not “success”. We have been on this potty training road for 4 months with little to show, but I’ve made some changes to our approach and we have seen improvement in the past couple of weeks.

1. Rewards

The first thing we added was a reward system, in which he got a sticker for every time he uses the potty, asks to sit on the potty, and stays dry. The sticker itself is a reward, but for every 10 stickers he gets he can choose a small toy from a prize box. We he fills the entire chart he can choose from reward cards the include: ice cream/frozen trip, McDonald’s trip, park, using mommy/daddy’s phone, computer, tablet, or game system, a bigger $5-10 toy, or going to the pool. Potty Time was a section on a bigger behavior chart, but we decided to separate it and make the rate in which he got prizes different because he was getting overwhelmingly more stickers for potty related tasks versus the others. Some have warned against using a reward system, but it has been working for us. And there are rewards for some things in life so why not introduce working hard to earn things early on.

2. Cold-Turkey

I tried going turkey as in him wearing nothing on his bottom and it resulted in pees and poops all over the house. Then I started using pull ups. It was a big mistake to use them, at least for as long as I did. So we are going “semi” cold-turkey. For now he is wearing underwear while he is at home. When we are going out it public or daycare he wears pull ups. If we are going to a friend or family members house he will wear underwear and I bring the potty cover and a few changes of underwear and clothes. He will do this until the end of the month, then I’m letting his daycare teacher know he will not be wearing pull ups any more. We will keep them for night time a little longer, I’m not ready for those struggles yet. But this aspect was all me being prepared to deal with the inconvenience. I am ready to attack this thing head on now.

3. Characters

The thriftster in me was buying the generic hanes or fruit of the loom patterned underwear, but I saw much better results when I bought the more expensive underwear with characters he loves like Paw Patrol, Minons, Spongebob, Batman, and Ninja Turtles. But they cost SOOOO much, I still struggle with it at the register. There are sales now for back to school and he is in a boys 4 now so I’ll rack up while I can. The first day I put on a pair of character underwear he stayed dry. This hasn’t been the case everyday, but he has more dry day with them. So for now I will sacrifice a few dollars to save tons in diaper cost.

4. Timing

He is able to tell me he has to potty, but I cannot rely on that alone. There are 4 main times I automatically set him on the potty; before sleeping, after sleeping, returning home from daycare or going out, and after eating and/or drinking. At those times I sit him there for no more than 15 minutes. If he goes I will sit him down every 20 minutes or if he asks, if not I try again in 10 minutes. If he has an accident I sit him down every 10 minutes.

5. Talking

I feel like I am constantly repeating “If you have to pee pee go in the potty”, then it gets condensed to “pee pee in the potty”, and then its just “pee pee potty”. Every 5 minutes I’m asking and/or telling him “do you have to pee?” or “tell me if to have to pee.” I just want to engrave the concept that he needs to use the potty, not his underwear, or the floor. For some reason if I ask him where he is supposed to pee he will never respond and say “potty”, but if I ask him in a yes or no question like “are you supposed to pee in the potty?” he will say “yes”. I’m not sure if that has something to do with his cognitive development or if there’s some disconnect and its the reason he doesn’t fully get it. He seems to do better after he’s had an accident and his daddy talks to him in a very stern voice and tells him he’s disappointed and that he needs to try harder. Usually after that he stays dry. Either way we will continue to have these conversations until it finally clicks.

So these are some of the changes we have made within the past couple weeks to see progress and this horrible process. Why can’t humans be like cats and just know what to do? Things like night time training, and standing up to pee are on the back burner for right now. I’m not even too stressed about number 2’s since he doesn’t do those as often. We just need to get the main peeing under control then we will focus on the rest. Has anyone else had these experiences? What worked or didn’t work for you while potty training?

Questions about potty training

ID-100164054

 

I have a few things to say about this process called “Potty Training”. I feel like I’m supposed to be the one giving wisdom and advice, but with this I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING! We’ve been introducing it since our son was 21 months and 5 months later he’s kinda sorta showing some signs that it’s starting to catch on. I’ll start with questions, then move on to my own thoughts.

  1. How do these people supposedly do this in 3 days?

I started like this. It was a 3 day weekend, Martin Luther King Day to be exact. I thought we’d be “free at last” from buying and changing diapers. After reading about it on Pinterest we let him walk around commando for the weekend. The only thing we got were puddles and piles all over the apartment, so we decided to do pull-ups. It did make for some adorable pictures that I’ll be using as blackmail later in life.

2. Is using pull-ups counterproductive?

No matter how many times we say, “If you have to pee or poop tell us, so you can go on the potty.” The little star on the from of the pull up ends up blurred. I’ve read that putting them in diapers or pull-ups doesn’t work because if they have something to use, they will. It makes sense, but the pull-ups must work for somebody or else they would still be on the shelves.

3. Did we start too early?

When we started potty training, he was showing some of those signs that the list say, mean he’s ready. While visiting my parents during Christmas break he even brought me his diaper bag when he pooped. I thought that MUST mean he’s ready to learn, but we’re 5 months into this and although he’s making some progress it seems its happening way too slow. Is it happening slow because we’re forcing him into something he’s not ready for?

4. How to respond to or get rid of the extra opinions?

I’m talking about the old school women looking at me funny when my  2 year old that’s the size of a 3-4 year old is still being laid on a changing table. I myself think it looks weird. But I can’t help it because that’s how I was raised. All I hear is how I was walking by 9 months and potty trained before 2. So 2 seemed to be the cut off. Now I’m learning from other “modern” moms that every child learns at their own pace and he’ll do it when he’s ready. Who’s right? Am I missing my son up for life my rushing him too early? or Am I ruining him by not giving him the extra push and firm hand I was given as a child?  I can hear my mom, aunts, and grandma now “That boy is too big for them diapers.” “You need to just put some underwear on his butt.”

5. How should I use incentives?

I’ve tried a couple of things, although not consistently (this is probably my problem). I’ve kind of set up a tier of rewards. He gets a sticker for pee pee and a small toy for pooping. I used to do M&Ms, but I didn’t want to get into the habit of food as rewards. Plus he got really upset when I only gave him a couple at a time. One thing that I always do is say “YAY! You Pee Pee’d in the potty!” And continued the celebration by singing the “Pee Pee in the potty” song, which every mom seems to know. As with most things with kids consistency is key so this is something I have to work on.

6. What do I do about travelling?

This is also where I think we fall apart. It just seems like such a burden carry the potty everywhere and he won’t go near the regular toilet. So when we leave for errands or go out of town potty training kind of takes a back burner. I’ve just got to get that breastfeeding mindset back again and get used to the inconveniences for the sake of my son. Sure I hated either having to find somewhere to pump or stopping to nurse, but it was necessary. So is this if any of the training is going to stick.

My Thoughts:

I have had some success with the training. When we started it only took him a couple days to actually “go” in the potty. What we’re working on is getting the point that he will tell us he has to go. I’d say within the past month he has started to tell us he has to pee, sometimes he actually does and others he doesn’t. But, I’ve let him know that if he says “pee, pee” he’s sitting on the potty so he better say it when he means it. He’s only pooped in the potty twice, and I’m pretty sure it was by accident. He’s gotten up while I was cooking and went in his room to go number 2 so its safe to say that he doesn’t want to do it in the potty. He will, however, tell us he has to poop after he’s done it. Now its just getting him to say it before and get it in the freaking pot! I worry that I’m doing things wrong. As with all the child milestones I want to make sure he’s on track and really my competitive side wants him to be ahead of the curve. I did the same for walking and I’m working on his talking. Once again, this is how I was raised. My mom taught me to read before I was in school. I learned most things quickly and excelled, so it’s only natural to want the same for my son. What I am learning is that I have to take my own experiences, knowledge, and my sons individual traits and come up with what’s best for him. Hopefully some determination and reinforcement of expectations will get him in the right direction.  If you’ve been through this please let me know your thoughts. If your going through it right now share your story as well.