Nora is coughing. It has been almost five whole months since we endured our last around the clock albuterol treatments, vomit-inducing coughing fits, and never-ending trips to the doctor. I even made the mistake of saying out loud to Nora last night that we were going to stop doing her mask (the pulmicort we’ve been on since November) this week as she winds down her time at daycare and enters her “healthy” time of year.
And today she is coughing.
She coughs and I hear pneumonia.
She coughs and I take a mental note of where her barf bowl is.
She coughs and I hold the mask a little tighter to her face.
She coughs and I wonder how long it will be until we are at the doctor’s office again,filling more prescriptions, hoping it doesn’t last and last like it always does.
She coughs and either Ken or I or both of us say, “Oh, Nora.”
She coughs and it is me who feels a little stabbing pain in my heart.
Ken and I love Friday Night Lights. Instead of watching the disappointing shows on the few channels we get, we are re-watching the first season at the same time we are watching the new season religiously.
The show is exceptionally well written – and living in Texas and working at a high school I can certainly see the truth in some of the seemingly exaggerated stereotypes. The best part of the show, however, is the dynamic of the Taylor family relationships, father-daughter, mother-daughter, and husband-wife.
Last night I teared up as Tammie Taylor had “the talk” with her daughter Julie. I jokingly looked over at Ken and said we should save it and maybe, in a million years from now, we can just sit Nora down in front of the TV and press play.
Nora’s a talking machine now, pretty much repeating and holding in her tiny brain any and all words she happens by. She withholds her words, locking them away like the treasures they are, when she is commanded to speak or perform, when tricks and tales are solicited from her by parents and grandparents and friends.
Sometimes the combination of words and light flashing in her dark eyes kills me. It makes me want to hold her and hug her and freeze her in the toddler moment that causes her words to be so amazingly innocent and true. The lilt of her voice, the sound of her giggle and the expression of her personality in the silliest and simplest ways makes me appreciate language in a new way each day. What would we be without words?
She says “Otay,” all drawn out and exaggerated. Ken says it reminds him of the exaggerated hello’s on Seinfeld, a word so adorable that it could be easily mocked.
She says she does or does not want to hug people, a clear gauge of her shyness. Usually it is just her being coy, jumping eventually at the chance to hug whoever it is who will shower attention on her.
She declares things are “Your turn,” quickly and loudly announcing the “your”, followed by the drawn out sing-song “turn.” Everything is a game.
She says yogoke instead of yogurt. And now Ken and I do too; she may never get it right and that would be “otay.”
She tells me she loves things and when she says love I hear LOVE, a true understanding of the word.
She shakes her head in the affirmative when she makes a declaration of like or dislike or expresses her desired next task. “I want to paint.” Simple notion with simple head bobs. She is sure of herself.
I teach rhetoric, causing me to see and analyze language differently from most. I’m not sure if everyone would see the tactics and tools of a budding orator in Nora’s first attempts at persuasive speech. But I see them. And they make me infinitely happy.
Ken told my parents the other night that we need a discipline book. They looked at him with a bit of shock registering on their faces. Discipline? For their sweet and perfect grandchild, Nora? Yes, we said. Sometimes lately we have felt at a loss as to what to do with our strong-willed daughter who is, as I type, trying to manipulate her father into more books and more songs and more escapes from the bedroom to delay bedtime just one more time. Yes, our toddler needs some discipline.
A teacher should have this down, you may think. Don’t I discipline all day? No. I don’t. I am not so good at discipline in my classroom either – my theory is just to keep the minds and hands busy so there is no time or need for goofing around. It works well most of the time. And when it doesn’t work I feel like I need discipline lessons for the classroom too.
My parents eventually witnessed some of the small defiances that are making Ken and I feel inadequate in the toddler discipline field. Just as with a class of teenagers, really, there are just times when you really need your child to listen. And sometimes she isn’t cooperating.
So we went to the tried-and-true time-out method. We picked a chair for time-out and started to put her there to sit quietly after she has refused to stop hitting or kicking or throwing things. She sits there pretty well – sometimes asking to get down before we’ve released her, sometimes crying, sometimes just looking at us with the I’m-so-going-to-manipulate-you smile.
Time out has either become a giant success or a giant failure, I’m honestly not sure. Now, when Nora hits or kicks or throws and we tell her firmly to stop, she says, “I need a time out,” or “I want a time out.” She walks to the chair and sits there until we tell her to move.
Does she do this because she knows that she has done something wrong? Or does she do this because it’s pretty fun to sit in the time out chair and get attention when it’s all over? I don’t know. And I guess it doesn’t really matter if it’s working to make her stop the behavior.
But we do still need a book.
What good toddler discipline books have helped you?
Playing with the new pool again tonight, Nora hobbled over, mouth crunched and crooked, eyes concerned and confused, “Mom, I have a rock in my mouth.” I had her open up, thinking that some of the gravel that had made its way into her plastic ocean had also made its way somehow into her mouth. I warily put my finger in to feel around since I couldn’t see anything. And I felt a rock too.
“It’s just your new tooth, Nora,” I said, feeling relief and joy and pain all at once as I stared at her two bulging bottom two-year-molars that have taken more than their sweet time entering her poor little mouth.
“Oh,” she said. “I don’t like these new teeth.”
I can’t blame her. When I looked at the “rocks” bugling from beneath her swollen gum tissue I wanted to yell out in pain for her. And there are FOUR of them. Four teeth larger than any other in her mouth, seemingly double the size of her one year molars. No wonder she’s been a bit of a pain lately. She’s in pain.
On Sunday night she woke up like a newborn, almost every two hours like clockwork until I broke down and brought her in our bed sometime in the early morning. On Monday night Ken suggested we give her some motrin. You see, I never think of medicine. I put off taking medicine of any kind for as long as I can. I’m not sure why I do this, but I always have, letting headaches bring me to tears and allergies ruin my days before I consider popping a pill to fix it. Ken, he takes cold medicine at the first sniffle and advil at the first muscle twinge. So it took him finally realizing that if he had these teething pains, he would want medicine before we remembered Nora might want it too.
Tuesday morning I worshiped the motrin gods as Nora slept without incidence. Why hadn’t I thought of that earlier?
I hate teething. It has been hard since tooth number one. I’m not sure if Nora’s extra sensitive or if teething just stinks for all babies, but when these four boulders finally make their final break, maybe I’ll throw us all a party.
I have ten days of school left. Ten days until my temporary stint as stay at home mom begins. Like last year, I feel the same anxieties already building, the same fears about changing routines, surviving the usual battle for naps every day, keeping my patience with one child instead of 167. Along with these anxieties comes excitement about our summer adventures – trips to the pool, swimming lessons, adventures to the park and countless searches for unsuspecting roly poly families living in our yard.
My preparation for the summer began today with an after school trip to Academy to get Nora a pool. Instead of the tiny pink plastic one we bought last year for our tiny pink daughter, this year Nora picked out a blue one, complete with fish and a slide. We begin swimming lessons in a week and Nora’s first words when she heard that were, “I don’t want to go in the big pool.” She apparently can’t recall the pure joy she felt last year when in the water, the way she ran into Oyster Pond neck deep without even looking back at the shore. I wanted to remind her of her love of the pool before we set foot into the Y for lessons. And, I think I also wanted to remind myself that the moments I worry about surviving this summer will pale in comparison to the ones that truly make me wish summer would never end.
Sierra on Strollerderby writes today about getting your child to do what you would like them to do by complimenting their behavior, not by directing them to avoid certain behaviors. I should know this as a teacher. It is much more effective to tell students they are smart and capable than to tell them not to slack off or how bad their handwriting is.
Tonight is yet another teething night causing not only Nora bedtime pain (she’s fine until we try to start winding down, when all the tried and true relax-now techniques are failing lately), but bedtime pain for me as well. I can hear her right now negotiating her way through the books, songs, bed routine with Ken. She began the whole routine with a horrifying screaming exercise (egged on by her dad who is probably now regretting that decision).
According to the strollerderby post, instead of walking into the room with her water tonight and saying, “stop screaming,” I should have said, “You’re a very quiet child.” Somehow I don’t think that would have worked either.