A little self-help reading

The book in which I’m groping around for a lifeline, above, is titled Your Three Year Old: FRIEND OR ENEMY (okay, emphasis mine; it’s not like they go all caps on it). This helpful volume was mercifully lent to us by our preschool director, who is mellow, kind, wise, clear, compassionate. Basically Glenda the Good Witch, only with a Code Pink t-shirt.

It was validating, if sobering, to look at the expression on her face when she heard that I was both (a) primary caregiver to the three year old (friend/enemy) and baby bro, and (b) knee-deep in menopause. For a moment I thought I saw a flicker there, like “Call Child Protective Services? Don’t call Child Protective Services? Call Child Protective Services?” Instead she went and lent me her favorite menopause workbook.

11 Responses to A little self-help reading

  1. Chicory March 12, 2008 at #

    I like the gnome.

    How is the Friend or Enemy book? And, actually, looking closely at the picture, it does indeed seem as if they’ve gone all caps on the title, letting the weary parent know that they have been there, they understand. I think I might need to read the book myself soon.

  2. amazonmidwife March 12, 2008 at #

    ( Longtime lurker)
    Had to laugh when I read your entry. Our preschool director recommended that same book to me when our second child, ‘the Boy’ came through their program. I wasn’t dealing with menopause, but he was (and still is) quite the challenge to us all. One example: the school used a list to help the kids take turn with toys; the Boy tore the list into shreds and ate quite a bit of it to show his disdain for waiting his turn.
    It has gotten better, but there are still days when I think, “why did I want intelligent, independent children who think outside the box? Maybe my mother was right; I turned out okay.” And I am only peri-menopausal. Methinks you should reward yourself with chocolate when you’ve handled a difficult moment (or series of moments) well.

    And thanks for the entry on ‘strong’ language. I used it to frame a discussion with the boy, who is currently fascinated with profanity. Since then, his swearword of choice is “BEEP” delivered with all the invective and emotion necessary.

  3. Vikki March 12, 2008 at #

    My trained eye sees Maria Montessori in that stack! I read the Absorbent Mind but mine was past that phase when I read it. That said, our kids go to a Montessori and I have completely drunk the Kool-aid.

    I read Unconditional Parenting after reading about it here but, I’m sorry to say, it made me feel like such a horrible parent that I nearly had a nervous breakdown. So, I haven’t picked that one up in awhile.

    My daughter turned 3 last week and I would appreciate any tips you might have for me.

  4. LesbianDad March 12, 2008 at #

    Chicory, sister, GNOMES RULE, especially GNOMES PLAYING ACCORDIONS. I always say, Where there’s an acccordion, there’s fun.

    I wish I could give more than a cursory report on the book (written by Louise Bates Ames and Frances L. Ilg). But alas, the care and feeding of the little critters interrupts a lot of the time I might have fantasized having to actually read the book in its entirety. What I have read, I appreciate, insofar as it sketches out general emotional, behavioral, and physical developmental trends that occur around this age, with a minimum of proscriptiveness and absolutism (e.g., “The descriptions we give in this book merely portray the way that children of these ages often behave…But if your child behaves otherwise, don’t worry. Not every child goes through all the standard stages, and even those who do, have their own individual timetables.” and so on.)

    While there isn’t really such a thing as a fail-safe manual to our kids (both they and we are constantly having to revise it as we go along; I’m still revising my own for myself), this book serves that function in a broad, backdroppy kind of way. It helps me separate out what things are freak occurances in my own child (she will stutter for the rest of her life! yegods, get a speech therapist STAT!) and which are totally ordinary (oh. I get it. this is what three year olds simply DO. wheew.). All’s I can say is STRAP YOURSELF IN FOR FUN FUN FUN WITH YOUR SASSA!, all caps.

    And amazonmidwife, welcome to the chat room! Holy crap, tore the list into shreds and ate quite a bit of it! Thank you thank you for sharing that rich visual. What a spunky little critter! Let’s hear it for “intelligent, independent children who think outside the box!” And then let’s ducik!

    Over and over again, I cast my thoughts to the future and re-imagine what her torturously obstinate behavior might could evolve into, when she’s older: a valliant, self-possessed, inventive confidence. That stuff, I’m gonna be happy for.

  5. LesbianDad March 12, 2008 at #

    O dear: nervous breakdown, not good. The beloved recently re-skimmed/read it, and reminded me that Kohn is a bit of an absolutist. Sanctimonious, mebbe? Not sure if she’d go that far. I wholeheartedly believe in cultivating intrinsic motivation and a person’s natural (yes! I believe it’s innate) love for things like learning, respecting people, living in harmony with the family. And yet we are CONSTANTLY (it’s an all-caps day) challenged when it comes to figuring out exactly how to manage to elicit this on a daily basis. I just keep regarding it all as a very long, long time horizon. We are not getting the short-term behavioral bennies here. In the long term (we hope), our kids will do what they do — you know, be respectful, kind, model citizens who floss, etc. — because they know they feel motivated toward that stuff from inside. Not because they have grown accustomed to obeying authority (which will rapidly shift from us to their peer groups, and YOW do I want self-possessed thinkers then). It’s all a lot more complicated than that, of course, but still, that’s the goal.

    Blah blah blah, again, ask me in another year and we’ll probably have her in a military-themed preschool academy, practicing how to say “Yes, SIR!” and shine her ruler and fold her bobby socks just so, with a perfect crease, just below the knee. Or ELSE! No LUNCH!

    Mmmm. Zeca just turned three, eh? DUCK AND COVER! No. Kidding. You got through three with Miguel, no?

  6. lulazoid March 12, 2008 at #

    After our PTA meeting with the munchkin’s kindergarten teacher, I frankly just threw my hands in the air and said ‘whatever!’. Lack of concentration and focus: yes. Requires attention: yes. Cannot perform a test without being isolated in the corner with the teacher sitting in front of her to block her view of the other kids: yes. Goes to bathroom when class is summoned to pick up toys: yes. Drama queen: yes.

    3-year olds: they’re in a niche of their own.

    I had three in my house today (playdate): a Waldorf school child, a standard education child, and a more alternative funky kind of school child (ours). They all got along famously and I can’t remember any *major* meltdowns. Each child came with its own quirks. What I have learned from today though, is that they all function in the same way. They all joined in the muffin-making effort, they all joined in my censored finger puppet theatre version of the knight and the maiden, attacked by a giant snake, and at the end of the day they all said that they wanted to do it again.

    I’m exhausted now, but if you’re not interested in reading the book, organise a playdate. Works like a charm and beats the book by a mile as far as practice goes.

  7. hahnathome March 13, 2008 at #

    Menopause and teenagers is interesting. One of my sons remarked on his blog that both his parental units get mad about “very little, except when they do.”

    I got that. It’s like living in a land of camels, with lots of little straws balanced delicately on their backs, just waiting for a quick dive in applicable hormones to break something.

    Fortunately, the 3-year-old dilemma passes swiftly and in my experience, for girls, becomes much easier for a long time (until about age 9). Hoping for a quick shift into those easier times. You will need your energy later and hopefully by then, you’ll be looking at menopause in your rear view mirror.

  8. giddings March 13, 2008 at #

    Love the self portrait too! Absolutely lovely.

    I agree with hahnathome in the sentiments of ‘this too shall pass’ I distinctly remember the weeks around Eight’s fourth birthday. She Jekyll-and-Hydeed us–and yes, that is now a verb! Unfortunately, our Dr. Jekyll has again become an absentee owner, replaced with Mr. Hyde a bit early (eight as opposed to nine). Two oft-repeated phrase in our household: “please don’t talk to us like that” and “she MUST be exhausted”.

  9. Karrie March 14, 2008 at #

    Whenever I am confronted with something new, I cope by searching out as many books as I can on the subject. As a child-psychologist-in-training (if I can get the damn dissertation written), I have lots of big expensive books on child development laying about. Guess what? None of them helped me when my son was born 4 months ago! I needed to know things that the books just couldn’t tell me – what’s a newborn really like…what’s it mean to be a mom…what are other people doing to survive being up all night? This blog, and several others, were my lifeline. (So I guess what I’m saying is thanks!) By the time my little guy turns three, I can just pop on here and read up on how *you* survived. 🙂

  10. Blue Ox March 14, 2008 at #

    Melissa and I were wearily edging into late-night, post-fight readings of “Raising a Spirited Child” – until I saw that it was written by the founder of Focus on the Family. I just couldn’t bring myself to read another page.

    What I have gleaned is that apparently, there’s this thing called patience, that some parents are able to employ in their dealings with their 3-year-olds. Maybe I’ll get there before Rocky turns 4. That gives me about a month . . .

  11. Chumpy March 14, 2008 at #

    Hello from Walton’s Mountain where there is lots of goodnighting, then all lights going off, and silence until morning. What a first: two consecutive nights of uninterrupted sleep!!!
    How can you possibly stay awake long enough to read a single book let alone that huuu..ge pile. Less ‘self help reading’! In your blog, there is ample demonstration of much more than the required skills for parenting.
    I would echo luzaloids activism. Playdates with 2 (similar ages with monkey) and his friends are still hit and miss. By the time 3 year old territorialism has mixed with 3 year old boisterousness and 3 year old short attention span, the house is a mess and the volume way too loud. We tend to go for neutral ground, usually within walking distance. Current favourites the local trampoline centre and soft play. 2 loves both and there are usually other parents we know doing the same thing.
    Now, did I mention the Waltonesque dark quietness that has been pervading our house at night time??*delighted sigh*

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