Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Marko, the big brother

People keep asking me how Marko is adjusting to being a big brother.  And I am terrified of jinxing myself by saying anything.  But I have to admit -- he's actually doing great.  As in, better than before.

Don't get me wrong, there was a bit of adjustment.  He shrieked a lot the first week I was on my own with both of them, when I wouldn't leap up and get what he wanted right away.  But then, I wasn't on my feet yet, so there were a couple different things he was dealing with.  He didn't seem to take it personally as being about the baby; he was just mad he wasn't getting what he wanted right away.

But by the next week, he had adjusted to that, and has been pretty good about waiting.  And I think it's done him good not to be the center of attention.  He's entertaining himself better, and he likes having the "Michael diaper change show" to watch many (MANY) times a day.  He sometimes walks over and talks about the baby: "He's having a little nurse.  He wants some mama milk" or "You're holding Michael.  You're holding Mickey.  You're holding Michaleen.  You're holding the baby."  We point at all Michael's different body parts and notice that Marko has the same ones.

I guess I've been playing with him less, but maybe talking to him more, because I'm so often stuck on the couch nursing.  And he seems to be adjusting very well to that.

Sometimes he throws mega fits, and I'm not always able to do much about them.  But I seem to have stumbled accidentally on the perfect approach.  If I just stand there and say, "Gee, I'm sorry you feel that way" and then go on with what I was doing before ... he almost always quickly recovers.  I have had to start isolating him sometimes for misbehavior, which I don't like on principle.  I don't do it as punishment per se.  I just say, "We don't want to deal with that, so you may do it in your room or not at all."  So if he doesn't stop (particularly, screeching or spitting, his two favorite annoying behaviors) I say, "Time to go screech in your room!"  And I encourage him to screech as much as he wants in there, while I leave and shut the door.  He sometimes gets upset about this, but not always.  Sometimes he just stands in there screeching.  When I don't hear any screeching, I let him out.  It's not a huge deal, but it does deter him from being gratuitously annoying.  [Edited to add: this backfired in a big way with the spitting.  He loved the game of being taken back to his room a million times.  The more I lost my temper, the more he laughed.  So I am back to trying, unsuccessfully, to ignore it.]

One major advantage of having two kids, though, is in me rather than him.  I take his meltdowns so much less personally.  I noticed this the other day, when he'd had a cranky day.  Instead of telling John, "I had a horrible day," I said, "Marko had a horrible day."  I realized that I hadn't.  I'd gotten stuff done as usual ... Marko just spent a lot of the day crying.  He hadn't wanted much comfort from me, so I didn't waste my time, as I usually do, trying to argue him out of his bad mood or offer him a million distractions.  He certainly wasn't any grouchier than he is when I do all those things.  He may have been less grouchy for being left to his own devices a bit more.  And I didn't feel like a failure as a mother, because after all, I kept one kid happy!

For the present, I've given up on potty-training.  Yes, after a full year of being out of diapers at least part-time.  I was willing to keep at it as long as I had patience for it -- and guess what, I no longer do.  He was peeing on everything, just for kicks or attention or something.  So I put him back in diapers.  That's its own nuisance, because I don't always have a free hand to change him, and changing someone with one hand who doesn't want to be changed is not exactly easy.  But there have been surprising benefits.  One, I don't have to hover over him worrying what he might pee on.  And two, he doesn't like going in a diaper.  Sometimes -- perhaps most of the time -- he does anyway.  But sometimes he asks for a change before going, and then will sit on the potty for a bit.  One day, he had only one wet diaper all day!  Another day he came up to me and said urgently, "Take off your [my] diaper, Mama!  You don't want to poop in your pants!"  And he went in the potty -- where we had had great trouble getting him to poop before.

Other days, like today, haven't been so smooth.  He will demand a diaper change when the diaper is dry, then refuse to sit on the potty OR hold still to get a new diaper on.  He's hoping he can run around naked and pee on the floor.  So it requires some creative distracting and restraining to get that new diaper on.  Need it be said pull-ups are not an option here?  Anything he can get on and off by himself, he will take off.  He's mainly been living in a pair of overalls that snaps at the bottom so I can unsnap, change, and resnap without taking his pants all the way off.

Ironically, Marko is wearing a diaper right now, and Michael is not.  I've started some efforts toward elimination communication and finding it WAY easier than potty training a toddler.  WAY.  Of course, I have gotten peed on some in this approach as well.  But I hardly even care these days.

At the moment, Marko is napping, which I hope doesn't ruin bedtime completely (though it probably will).  He's been doing it more lately, for some reason.  And he's waking at night every night.  I could do without that.  But otherwise, I am actually finding having two kids might possibly be easier than having one.

I only hope it stays that way.

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