• mefn

Red: Just a vent about step-parenting

This is intended purely as a vent, because I obviously don't want to vent at the children or their Mum. It's also not intended to cast criticism on anybody else who does the things I don't like here. These are just not the decisions I'd make and it sometimes feels difficult living with that.

We have my step-children at the weekends and for half the holidays. I really look forward to their arrival on Friday nights, but the need to vent comes from the disappointment I often feel instead of the joy I expect when they do arrive.
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Vent over. Thank you. 

Expectations and procedures re kids' possessions

My 4yo son, as he often is, was barefoot today at childcare pickup. Unlike every other time this has happened, the staff then couldn't locate his shoes. They did try pretty hard, but eventually they gave up and said "sorry, we'll hopefully find them tomorrow!"

So I carried him home on my back for six hilly blocks while pushing a baby pram with one hand, a feat of which I am only very barely capable. (I am not averse to being barefoot in public in all circumstances, but our walk home passes a couple of pubs, a few people who drink in the streets, and about 15 houses worth of garbage bins. Broken glass is not a theoretical concern.)

Do you think it's reasonable to complain about this? I realise it would be super helpful for them (and me!) if he was capable of keeping track of his hat, shoes and bag. But… he isn't. Cognitively, it just doesn't happen and it won't for a while. (I seem to recall I struggled with this in high school. Well, not with shoes, but with stuff, generally.) So it seems like they should have some kind of backup plan for this, like a loaner pair of sandals or something.

As a practical matter, we will probably stash some old shoes in his daycare bag and hope he doesn't snare them for dressups. But it's one of those times when I don't actually know what normal is and would like to before I complain.

Also, from last time: thanks for the advice about my son's toilet training regression. It actually resolved itself a day or two after that. I think that's one of the few times I've posted here and in doing so got the problem to disappear! It lasted maybe two weeks all up.

Update: my husband did speak with the director about this. What seems to have happened is that my son either put his shoes in the bucket that children playing in the sandpit are supposed to use, or thought he did. Then he or another child threw them over the fence into a neighbour's yard, where they were found this morning. (I have no especial reason to think he was the culprit, but also no especial reason to think he wasn't. On the balance, he usually can't resist telling us things like that, so I'd guess not.)

My husband had trouble getting across that we weren't so much worried about one specific set of shoes as that this might happen a second time and that we need to have some assurance that he will leave the building in enough clothing to get home safely each day. So I am not clear whether anything will be changed to prevent clothes continuing to go over the fence.

Eldest just won't defend himself from banshee youngster attacks

I love my boys dearly.

They are good together mostly...only as long as the youngster (2.5yo) is not frustrated / provoked by the eldest (nearly 5).
In that case the youngster can grab the eldest's face rather viciously, resulting in scratch marks. (now the youngster's nails are filed so thoroughly, his nails are starting to disappear....to avoid school questioning us about it).

Yet how many do I have to tell the oldest to get away from the youngster when the banshee attacks happen? He just stands there and screams. You'd think run-and-flight would be a bit more inborn reflex than that. I doubt I'll be able to get the youngster to express frustration in different way beyond hitting and pinching at this age, except for me to swoop in and separate them? (works 90% of time, but other 10% can happen too fast...). Obviously potential situations can be minimised in the first place. Now they are both older and civilised, it's more low level squabbles these days, but it's not to say odd vicious attacks aren't happening...

So, if older is hurt, at least hurt can teach the eldest a lesson in order to learn to get away, but it doesn't seem to....

How do I get the eldest to manage it better?

Sibling violence

Two kids: KJ, aged four; FM, aged just short of two.

A lot of the time the girls like each other. Then, there's the rest of the time.

FM has decided that the most hilarious thing in the universe is to pull KJ's hair. Especially when KJ has sat down on the plastic potty, as that makes her a captive audience/target for this. Sometimes the hairpulling is escalation off small-child shovefights, but most often it is, as far as I can tell, entirely unprovoked. KJ also gets really wound up sometimes at the "Will you stop touching me" level, for contact that is not violent, but is still a failure to respect a "No".

On the other side of this, KJ's response to everything about this (from the 'you touched my arm' to the 'you pulled me hair') is to start screeching, sobbing, and basically freaking out entirely.

The other day, when one of these incidents happened, artan_eter took FM upstairs and held her away from everyone in a dark room for a few minutes, as if it were naptime, and that at least briefly convinced her that this is not funny. It did not last; today has been a grand production in the hair-pulling festivities and the screeching of "I DON'T WANT YOU" and bursting into melodramatic tears.

Augh. Help?

The child who hates new clothes

Cross-posted on DW.

My son is 3¾. And ever since he's been able to reliably express opinions about this kind of thing (so, maybe two years or more now), he has always hated new clothes and shoes (as in, ones he doesn't recognise, not ones that have had no one wear them). He resists being dressed in them strongly. Shopping is a nightmare with him escaping from shoe stores on his hands and knees screaming at the top of his lungs. Today after some talking and some wrestling he wore new pants to daycare, and funnily enough today was the first time in about three months he wet his pants at daycare. "Now I'm in my pants!" he said happily when I picked him up wearing his spare pants. (This could be a coincidence, I don't really know, but I have suspicions.)

Since he grows, refusal to wear new clothes is a problem!

He doesn't seem to be afraid of new stuff in general. For example, after a parent briefing about how he would be moved to the preschool class at daycare gradually and gently over the course of a month or more, he was allowed to spend a morning hour in the preschool class. Then he flat-out refused to leave and that day, he became the youngest preschooler by about six months. Likewise, he enjoys travel fine.

It could be sensory, maybe. He has some weak signs of aversions: eg, he also hates hates hates wearing sunscreen, and he is a picky eater. But I don't think he's outside the normal range for a child his age. And to the extent that he can explain, it's all about liking familiar clothing, not about it being physically uncomfortable.

Things I'm not willing to try:
  • Not having him try things on. Well, for shirts we don't have him try them on. But he's slender and a lot of pants fall off him, and I have somewhat messed up feet from poorly fitted shoes, so I am also unwilling to just buy shoes that are approximately right.
  • Having him go naked. Well, not out of the house. This isn't an argument I want to have with his daycare, and a pale-skinned kid in Australia needs to be covered up in the sun.

Things that have worked, sometimes:
  • Buying clothes that are especially attractive to him. He loved his bunny-and-tiger Threadless t-shirt straight away, for example. He generally accepts Thomas merchandise on the second or third try. But this is an expensive and exceedingly time-consuming way of acquiring clothing.

Things that haven't worked:
  • Anything about getting bigger, stronger, older, etc. He doesn't actually believe he will, half the time. (He says he is going to grow little, stop talking, and live with the baby I'm currently pregnant with and they will be twins. Cute, but not useful to get him to agree to wear new bigger clothes.)

Your thoughts? Anything about getting him to wear sunscreen would be good too. (See above re Australian kid out of doors. It's not negotiable.)

Responses to Bedsharing study

I'm sure some of you have seen the reporting of the BMJ study ("5 times higher risk of SIDS if you share a bed" is how BBC Breakfast led on it.)

Here is a link to the study (may need to subscribe for full access) http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f3296

UNICEF's response http://www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/News-and-Research/News/UNICEF-UK-Baby-Friendly-Initiative-statement-on-new-bed-sharing-research/ - they are urging caution and are not changing their advice based on it.

ISIS's response http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/isis.online/statements/Carpenteretal2013ISIScommentary1.2.pdf

(and for reference, ISIS main page http://www.isisonline.org.uk/)

crossposted to breastfeeding and attachedparents
Tori in a hat

Four-year-old with Issues - now what??

Argh. Let me explain. No is too much, let me sum up:

Last year, due to our local public school's epic unconcern for my older daughter's personal safety let alone her education (she was being targeted by a very persistent and aggressive bully and the school just would NOT deal with the situation properly at all), we looked into alternatives for the girls for the next year, and settled on a small and friendly Catholic school. (Yes, I know, this probably seems weird, seeing as how we're not Catholic, but my extended family is, and seriously, if Alex could've custom-designed a school for herself, this would have been it.)

This year, Alex is in 2nd grade and thriving like nothing I've ever seen. She's maintained high-honors grades throughout the year, she has friends, she is responsible and happy and working hard.

And then...there's her little sister. Tori is in Pre-K, one of the youngest kids in the class because of a late birthday, and she's having some trouble adjusting. (I think some of this is related to the epic failure of a family-based day care we had her in last year; short version is that the provider kind of ignored her a lot of the time except to freak out about potty training accidents. I still feel bad, but so much else was going on at the time that dealing properly with this was a ball that really got dropped.)

After a two-week stay with my parents at the end of last summer, my mother made the observation that Tori's speech didn't seem as clear as expected and that sometimes it seems like she can't hear. Between that observation and the difficulties that Tori seemed to be having "listening and following directions", we decided it was time to have an evaluation done, with these results:

- The hearing test was somewhat inconclusive, because she wasn't playing the "game" properly (put the block in the bin when you hear the tone) but she was perfectly repeating words that were whispered to her from out of sight.

- Her expressive use of language is within normal limits, but she has unusual patterns of vocal substitutions and thus is hard to understand. Her receptive language is also not where it would be typically expected to be.

- She is significantly less cooperative with her teachers than most (not all) of her peers.

- Her general refusal to follow directions and attempts to be silly landed her with a full-scale IQ score of 83 from the evaluators, which everyone who knows her has pretty much said, "Hahahahaha NO I don't think so..." about that. (In particular, she would not cooperate with the copy-the-blocks test. She also, when asked about fingers and thumbs, sat on her hands and declared, "I don't HAVE any hands! I don't HAVE any fingers!")

There is a vague theory that she may have an auditory processing problem, though she is too young for formal diagnosis, and the acoustics in her classroom are horrible. And for what it's worth, I was diagnosed as an adult with ADHD, and one of the things that really makes it hard for me to deal with the world is certain forms of annoying/distracting noise.

As if all of this wasn't weird and confusing enough, her behavior has deteriorated to the point that she has been aggressive with her Pre-K teachers, which is of course a problem. She does not give the aftercare teachers this sort of trouble. She has also developed a serious phobia of the wind, which she talks about all the time. (I feel like that one's my fault, since I'm a social work student doing an internship in a disaster recovery coalition.)

Wits' end, I am at it. She likes school, when she's not having aggressive meltdowns, and the teachers love her though they acknowledge this is a serious problem. And we as parents like this school, and it is quite seriously the best thing that ever happened to her big sister (which in some ways makes ALL of this worse), and I really don't want to have to send her back to the public school here. (And no, homeschooling is not a good option for us at this particular point in time for a very long list of reasons.) I know she can get CSE services for the speech issues even at the Catholic school but I don't want her to escalate behavior-wise to the point that she has to go somewhere else, because there is no good somewhere-else for her to be. And ARGH.

...advice, help, kind thoughts?

Books for girls about puberty

R turned 9 recently, and I think she's just getting tiny breast buds. Time for The Talk!

Although I can answer questions fine I'm not good at bringing up a subject, so I would love recommendations for books on puberty, particularly periods, for a high-level reading 9 year old.  Not too  patronising and "we all love to shop and boys are fabby" though.  (I've seen at least one like that).

I don't get periods, so she hasn't really seen all the monthly palaver around that either :(  (Mirena ftw)