the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Conversations with Max

Conversation #1
Me: Man, my throat hurts.
Max: Medicine!

Conversation #2
After smelling poop, I turned to Max and said: Did you poop?
Max: (mischievous grin; points to chair he's sitting in) Chair poop.
Me: Come on, let's go get changed. You pooped.
Max: Chair poop! No change!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Struggle for Independence

Today I had an epiphany. One that frees me from some of the guilt I feel when I get annoyed with my in-laws. I finally put my finger on the quality in them that drives me so crazy. They encourage dependence instead of independence. They do as much as they can to ensure that we rely on them in some way. Some might label that 'generosity.' But I think that this is more about control. They want to do everything for us instead of letting us figure things out for ourselves. They do things, presumably to help us out, before we even have a chance to think about it. I don't even think they realize that they're doing things backwards. Their child is an adult with a child of his own, but they still want to do everything for him. Which is a nice idea, I guess. But it goes totally against the notion that your job as a parent is to foster independence and raise a child who can take care of himself.

In an ideal world, our parents would let us know that they're there for us if we need them. They would offer support in whatever way they thought appropriate but let us decide if we needed help. They would not step in and take over as much as possible when they don't actually live in the same town.

I feel like I am in a constant struggle for control over my own life and my child. They're already planning a future trip to Disney World so that my father in law can have the same experience there with Max that he had with Chad when he was little. They don't stop to think that by doing things like that, they're robbing us of the chance to have those experiences.

I don't even know where I'm going with this. Maybe nowhere. I just know that there are a zillion little things that are adding up to my wanting to avoid the hell out of my in-laws, and I don't want to feel that way. I am aware of the fact that I can be incredibly controlling, but I stand by the idea that when it comes to my kid I should be in control. Even if that means that I do things a little differently than someone else thinks I should. Even if that means that my mother in law doesn't get to buy a complete wardrobe for Max (between Christmas and his birthday, she bought him ten complete outfits, all the same size) and decide what he's going to wear for every holiday. She's already bought him two sets of Christmas pajamas for next year. I think she's annoyed that I didn't consult her before I bought his Christmas pajamas this year. And he only needs one set of Christmas pajamas. Geez. I hate wastefulness. So she knows that if she buys something I can't return easily, he'll end up wearing it. Like the Halloween costume that she brought over. In September. Did I tell you about that? I was not happy about it. I did plan on buying him one. Then she beat me to the punch. Didn't say one word about it. Just showed up with it one day.

Talking does me no good. I get a smile and nod and "I don't want to do anything to upset you" and more of the same. When Max wakes up at night and doesn't want to go back to sleep when she babysits (because she always spends the night, you know), she always volunteers to stay up with him when we're trying to get him to go back to sleep. Stay up with him meaning stay up and play, of course. Which is so not ok. And is what happened Friday night. When we got home, Max was in the guest room with MIL. I heard him wake up at 3:15, and I heard them go in Max's room. I also heard something about wet pajamas, so I figured she'd change him and go back to bed. At 3:40 I could still hear them in Max's room, talking and playing. Very loudly. At 3:40 a.m. It does not take 25 minutes to change a diaper and wet pajamas. And it should not involve lots of loud talking and giggling. 3:30 in the morning is a time for whispers and shushing and calming and encouraging sleep. I went in and asked what they were still doing up. I was told she was changing him. I'm sure I grumbled a lot. It was the middle of the freaking night, and no attempt was being made to get the baby back to sleep. When I came in the room, Max latched onto me, and I sat in the rocking chair with him (over his many protests and shouts of OUT!) until he got sleepy again. There was lots of shh-ing and very little talking. Because guess what? When you talk and play with a toddler in the middle of the night he will never go back to sleep.

Boy did that ever get off track. Sorry. The point: my in-laws want us to depend on them for as many things as possible. I am incredibly independent and hate to ask people for help. We're like oil and water. And I'm going crazy.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Chair

I successfully procured a chair for Max yesterday, and I even decorated it!
The finished product:

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Color Me Annoyed

You're probably sick of hearing me bitch and moan about my in-laws, but really it's been quite a while, so here we go again. I may have failed to mention here that we finally have a local hockey team again, which means season tickets for Chad and me (well, half a season anyway), which means leaving Max with baby sitters (i.e., grandparents) on a fairly regular basis. Most of the time my mother-in-law comes down and spends the night (even though I'd rather she go home, but she has this thing about driving in Mobile at night, so she stays, and I guess it is kind of late when we get home, but I digress). Sometimes my father-in-law comes with her (and when he does, they go home afterward). Other times my mom and sister baby sit (then they go home). When I do ask my mom to come over instead of my MIL, MIL acts like it is a personal affront to her. She seems to think that she is the only person who should ever baby sit for us. But with the way things are going, I'm on the verge of revoking her baby sitting privileges all together. Even if that means giving up the free baby sitting and having to pay someone. Seriously, she's making me crazy (nothing new there, I guess).

The first couple of times MIL baby sat this hockey season, things were ok. For the most part, she did what I asked her to. And then some switch flipped in her mind, and she decided that she would just do whatever she wanted to, completely ignoring me. And I can pinpoint when this happened. Max goes to bed (in his bed, by himself) at 7:30. He's been waking up and refusing to go back to sleep in his bed sometime after 10:30 pretty much every night, so he sleeps with Chad and me after that. Well, a few weeks ago after we got home from a game, Max woke up, and Chad and I weren't ready for bed yet. We didn't want to bring him in our room with the lights on, fearing he'd never settle down. So we took him in the guest room and let him sleep with Chad's mom that night. And the three times she's baby sat since then, she hasn't put Max in his bed at all. She holds him until he falls asleep and lays down with him in the guest bed, completely bypassing the crib and ruining any chance that he will ever sleep in his bed all night by himself ever again. Grr. Or else Max tells her no when she tells him it's time for bed, and she lets him have his way. That's not something you can do with an almost two year old and expect bedtimes to go smoothly for his parents after that.

When she baby sat this past weekend, I went over everything (dinner, no bath that night, all the rashy places that needed ointment, etc) with her. I also write everything down (at her request) every time she comes over. I specifically told her that she needed to put Max in his bed, even if he put up a fuss about it. He usually settles down within five minutes. I also went into great detail about what we do when he protests at bedtime, still keeping him in his bed. This was also written down. Then she went to Chad and asked him if it was ok if Max slept in the guest bed with her anyway! Grr. Chad told her no, by the way. He told her exactly what I had told her - put Max in the crib, and if he wakes up after a few hours and won't lay back down, then let him sleep with you. But guess what she did anyway. That's right! She went to bed with him instead of putting him the crib. So guess what happens the next day. Max expects us to go to bed when it's his bedtime. But - surprise! - we aren't ready to go to sleep at 7:30. So bedtime is a big ordeal, and Max stages a huge protest. Which is what always happens when MIL lets the toddler be the boss (and this before she even attempts to put him in the bed; as soon as he says no he doesn't want to go night night, she gives in). We've talked to her about this repeatedly. But she nods, says ok, and does whatever she wants regardless.

Something else she does that makes me crazy is refusing to put anything but baby powder on Max's bottom. Even if he has diaper rash. We put Desitin on him every night because it's the best thing we've found for protecting little bottoms from a whole night's worth of pee. When we don't use Desitin, Max's bottom is red and rashy when he wakes up. When we do use it, he's fine, and there's still a layer of cream that has to be wiped off. Which is what we want, because it means that the pee isn't irritating Max's butt. I don't know why that's such a hard thing for MIL to understand. Is she squeamish about rubbing cream on a baby butt?

Chad and I are going to an NHL game in Atlanta on Saturday (we're driving back that night), so Chad asked his mom to be here early that morning so we can leave by 10 a.m. Same deal as usual, she just needs to get here a little earlier. Then she had the bright idea to let Max stay at her not at all toddler proof house (when every time he stays somewhere other than home, Max doesn't sleep well for at least a week). Which would mean we would have to pack up all the necessary paraphernalia for an overnight stay, leave our house that much earlier, and drive all the way back over to pick him up the next day. Then deal with the consequences of a night at Grandma and Grandpa's (i.e., a week of sleepless, cranky nights). No thank you. We told her we would prefer if she would come over here, but she just wouldn't let it go. She kept telling Max to ask us to let him stay at Grandma's and just kept pushing the idea. After the 8th time she mentioned it (and after having told her no seven times) I finally just ignored her. If my mom didn't have to go home (she has three inside dogs, so someone has to let them out), I'd ask her to come stay instead.

Then there's the matter of buying huge and unnecessary things that we don't have room for. I put a child-size wooden chair on Max's Christmas list, and MIL asked me back in October or November if we would rather have a table and chairs for Max. I told her no. We just need a chair or two for him to use at the coffee table or the little table that is already in his room so he can sit there and color and have snacks and stuff. We don't have any place to put a table. Then on Thanksgiving, she saw a Black Friday deal on a table and chair set from Walmart. She asked me if I'd seen it (yes) and if I wanted her to get it (no, we don't have room for a table, he just needs a chair). But she bought it anyway. It's still at her house. We didn't have room for it in the car when we were there on Christmas, and really we don't have any place to put it at home anyway. Plus, it's kind of flimsy and not at all what I had in mind. So Max still needs a chair to use at the coffee table. He's been dumping out his toy bin, flipping it over, and sitting on that. Or pushing his riding toy over and sitting on that. I'm going out to Toys R Us today to get him a smock (my brother got him markers for Christmas, and Max loves them, but he keeps drawing on his clothes). I'm going to look and see what they have there, and if I can't find anything, I'll probably stop at Michael's or Hobby Lobby and get one of those little unfinished wood chairs. I might even get some paint and stencils and personalize it for him.