Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Run Them Like Dogs"

I was very pregnant with my twin boys, when Dave, my neighbour at the time, offered some unsolicited yet very astute advice.

We had run into him unexpectedly at our local neighbourhood bakery on a cold January afternoon.When hearing that my babies-to-be would be identical twin boys, this wise man, a father of two boys himself, imparted the following advice in getting through the rearing of these children: "Feed them lots of meat and run them like dogs."
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To this day I laugh at this advice, not only because of the wittiness of the statement, because of the absolute truth behind it as well (and Dave, if you're reading, I impart your wise words on many occasions to other parents about to leap into the wild world of little boys).

"Frogs and snails and puppy dogs tails. That's what little boys are made of."

Or so the saying goes.

I would venture to expand upon this nursery rhyme hypothesis by adding that, in equal parts, they are duly comprised of mega-amounts of energy, testosterone and adrenaline as well. All of these items compete on a regular basis for priority, resulting in two combustible,constantly-mobile and fearless little guys.

My identical twin boys melt my heart with their smiles. They also try my patience with their antics. I would be lying to say that they are not a handful.

Having had two girls (albeit many years apart), I thought I had this parenting thing down pat when I learned of the impending addition of twins to my family. "How hard could it be?," I thought to myself. I mean, really, I was a veteran at this point; I thought I knew what I was dealing with. "The routine surely can't be that much more different with boys as with girls, can it?," I thought to myself.

Was I ever wrong.

On any given day, I am running, literally running, after these little powerhouses who charm everyone who comes across their paths, while stopping for no one.

Climbing, shouting, laughing - all with the vim, vigor and energy of entities that are surely at least two times their size. Ripping books to shreds, all while standing on chairs, or tables, or anything that comes in their path and might have the misfortune of stopping them from getting where they want to go. They are (little) men on a mission.

They continue to surprise and charm me while simultaneously exhausting me.

Being the parent of boys is nothing that I expected and everything that I continue to learn from.

Which brings me to the point of my post today, and the questions of the week:

Are boys and girls inherently different?

How has your experience in with raising boys and/or girls affected your answer to the above question?

What is your best advice for raising very active boys?

I look forward to your comments and feedback!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Perchance to Dream

Perchance? Fat chance. Sleep is not happening in my household.

The fantasy of a good night's sleep is a distant memory as I consider keeping my eyelids open with toothpicks. Yea, it's that bad.

On a recent work night, I had the honour of being woken up at 1:24am, 3:27am, 4:17am and 5:20am respectively. The last occurrence was the one where I threw in the proverbial towel, made myself a huge pot of coffee and jumped in a steaming shower with hopes that all of these remedies would stave off the impending sleep that was bound to get the better of me. Forty winks is not an option Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. But I digress.
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The journey through young childhood, specifically baby-dom which continues into toddlerhood are some of the most trying times of a parents' life. In addition to the change to one's lifestyle - the inability to be spontaneous, the addition of a huge responsibility and the financial pressure that accompanies progeny, there is the agonizing reality of living in a sleep-deprived trance for what seems to be an indeterminable sentence. Birth a pair of twins and you have the honour of doubling the fun!

What incited this brutal waking regime? An evolutionary imperative, otherwise known as "teething." To be more specific, emerging back molars on toddlers are a nightmare!

But this post isn't really about the teeth, is it? It's really about coping with very little sleep and trying to function in a world that, during these times, seems to be passing you by.

Which brings me to the point of this post. So many of my fellow moms have told me that hands down, the sleep issue is the one that is the most difficult to deal with, the most divisive in terms of their relationships with their spouses, and the one that causes the most damage, not only physiologically, but emotionally as well. Think about the times where you have not slept enough. We can all recount instances of being overly-emotional, sometimes weepy, irritable, angry and otherwise, just due to the sheer lack of zzzz's. Add children and a full-time job to the mix and you might go off the deep end. Okay, maybe not quite, but it is definitely hard.

Which brings me to my question this week:

How has the lack of sleep related to parenting affected you? 

How do you cope/function on a less-than-ideal amount of sleep?

Looking forward to your comments

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parenting 101: Bribery, Negotiation and (sometimes) Threats

They don't tell you the truth. It's a carefully kept secret that those in the parenting club keep under wraps until you too are bestowed the title of "mom" or "dad."

Shrouded in mystery, this key to success and relative calm as a parent is rarely shared with those who have not yet crossed over into the world where chaos is the norm, and calm (or relative quiet) is the perennial but not always achievable goal.
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The holy grail of parenting - that which allows those of us who are in the trenches to experience some semblance of peace, is a simple formula of activity which I guarantee will buy you the calm that you more than likely desire. This key to parenting success, I can assure you, is commonly used with great effect by those in the know.

So what is the secret, the one that will free you from the never-ending fear that you are doing it wrong and ruining someone's life forever?

It is what I call "The BNT Strategy:" Bribery, Negotiation and (sometimes) Threats. These are working pinnacles of most parents' tools of the trade, whether they admit it or not. 

With my tongue firmly planted in cheek I shall state that there is an old saying about many truths often being found in jest. So while I reveal to the world my apparent lack of qualified parenting skills to those who may fail to see the humour in this post (or those who are probably just better at getting their kids to do what they should do, when they should do it), I do so with the humble hope that:
  1. There are others out there who have on more than one occasion said to their children that they would not get "x" if they didn't do "y;" and;
  2. Some of you reading will realize that you are not the only one who has bribed your children with treats and TV in order to get some well-needed down time, even if it was just a few minutes;
  3. You or someone you know has had a serious, heart-to-heart give-and-take negotiation session that involved one party whose age group was in the double-digits and the other whose age was under 10.
We would all agree that most experts would balk at the thought of the terms "bribery" and "threats" being used in the same sentence as "children" or "parenting" for that matter. That said, I think it's safe to say that these tactics are used more commonly than not, due to the fact that parents are exasperated, irritable and just plain exhausted. I might clarify here for the sake of complete transparency that I use the word "threat" in the most simplistic and general of terms. By no means is this post advocating the delivery of harm (real or perceived) to children. 

On that note, my thought is that these three methods of exacting peace amongst the family ranks is more common than not. I'd love to hear your thoughts:

Do you ever use bribery, negotiation or threats in order to get your children to behave?

If you don't have children, how do you feel about parents who use these tactics on their kids?

I'm curious to hear your views.