Oct 21 2014
As the mother of a 2.5-year-old, I’m no stranger to tantrums. Like many children his age, my son has the ability to go from calm and content to unsettled and outraged within a matter of seconds. Sometimes all it takes is a simple “no” to set him off; other times, he’ll start throwing a fit in response to tripping, falling down, or dropping one of his toys accidentally.
For the past few months I’ve tried responding to his tantrums both by reprimanding him for acting out and soothingly trying to talk him down, but neither tactic has worked particularly well. So recently, I’ve been trying something new: responding to tantrums with silliness.
When my son starts getting out of hand, I’ll respond by dancing around like a lunatic, making funny faces, or taking his toys or books and trying to balance them on my head (yes, I know that last one is particularly weird, but it’s funny–to him–and it helps snap him out of his screaming spirals). Combating those inevitable tantrums with silly behavior has been my most effective tactic to date. Acting nutty somehow disarms him in a way that talking soothingly does not. Or, maybe it just serves as a better distraction. No matter the logic behind it, I’m on board as long as it continues to work. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 15 2014
I remember a day back when my older daughter was 2.5. We’d had a perfectly lovely morning at the library–story time, one of her favorite activities–and we were headed home for lunch. We walked down the stairs outside the library and all of a sudden, without provocation, she sat down on the grassy area and refused to get back up. I asked, I told, I begged, and then finally, in frustration, I walked away towards the parking lot and threatened to leave her there.
It was definitely not my finest mothering moment. When I told my mother the story later that day, she said, “The toddler years are the first adolescence.”
I didn’t really get it at the time. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 4 2014
The instant my husband walks in the door, giggles fill the room from our 20-month-old daughter.
It is the most beautiful sound a mother could hear. It is also the most jealousy-inducing sound a comedian could hear.
As a mother and a comedian (momedian?), I often find myself feeling this strange mix of emotions. I want my daughter to laugh, but I want to be the reason she’s laughing. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 23 2014
I love those afternoons when I arrive at camp pick-up after a long day of work and my children come running, faces smiling, eager to jump into my arms and share their accomplishments of the day.
Yesterday was not one of those days. Instead, when I arrived at camp for pick-up I found both 5-year-old twins crying.
The older twin is hardly a mystery. He struggles on some days, particularly after a late night, because he no longer gets a mid-day nap. He is also a very picky eater and admittedly not fond of camp food, though I serve a variation of the menu (chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, or hot dogs) every night at dinner and he rarely complains. These factors, combined with the summer heat and too little water throughout the day, make for a cranky little boy. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 3 2014
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Balak. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
Oh, the terrible two’s. It’s almost like Sylvie sees things I can’t see.
One moment it’s all sweetness as Sylvie carefully spreads a blanket over my shoulders, stroking my hair with her small fingers and singing: “Go to sleep, little baby.”
The next moment, during a diaper change, she’s truly distraught: “I want that diaper!” (Pull down clean diaper from pile). “No, that one!” (Take down second diaper.) “No, I want that one!” (Pointing to first diaper). Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 20 2014
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This week we read Parashat Korah. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
This week’s torah portion, Korah, really resonated with me. Basically, Korah, a Levite, was tired, hungry, and generally pissed about wandering through the dessert. He gathered together a few buddies (who were presumably also hungry and in desperate need of a shower) and they threw a collective tantrum at Moses–something along the lines of “Who died and made you God?!?”
Moses responded by falling on his face. Traditional commentators praise him for this, noting that rather than reacting by yelling something back (possibly along the lines of “God did, you giant douche! And he’s not even dead! So suck it!”), he took the time to reflect and collect himself. I love that idea, although I also like to think that Moses was feeling the same way I often do when the girls are whining at the end of a long day, when I barely have the energy to stand, much less engage with the latest round of whatever they’re all worked up about. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 6 2014
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat B’ha’alotkha. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
I recently read something I loved in a book about Buddhism and parenting:
Impermanence, the fact that all things change, can be a mother’s best friend. Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 28 2014
Dearest Sugar Bee,
It was your birthday yesterday and I fell in love with you again. We were out in the desert with friends and you were your beautiful, lively self, enjoying your family and friends and soaking in the sunshine. We spent a lot of time holding hands and swinging in a hammock and talking about life. I gave you your “7″ charm to wear around your neck this year. It’s the charm that I wore when I was 7 and Grandma wore and Aunt Lenore too. The charm that Grammy brought into our lives. Lucky seven. We are indeed lucky.
Flashback a week and we are fighting about homework. Again. You are giving me that look. Slack jawed, tongue forward, eyes rolled, wobbling your head like a car ornament. And I want to kill you. I feel my chest tighten and I want to shriek that I can’t stand you. That I don’t understand why you treat me the way you do. Why only me? I try to diffuse your frustration and anger which I have gotten pretty good at after this much practice. My encouragement falls on deaf ears. You are too far gone. I excuse myself from homework and give myself a time out in my bedroom and hold my head in my hands until my anger dissipates. When you calm down too you knock on my door and we hug. You give me the picture you drew of us together. I smile and thank you and add it to the pile. We continue to work; you finish your homework and peace is restored to our home. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 9 2014
There have been a few times so far in my life where I have taken my kids on an outing and everything works out perfectly: the birds chirp and the sun shines, I’ve miraculously packed enough snacks, and the kids behave like mensches. Perhaps most importantly, there are eyewitnesses to note my kids’ wonderful behavior and shoot me admiring looks for this Gisele-like scene of perfect parenting.
Listen, we all need a little external feedback sometimes for emotional validation. Even if you’re Gisele.
These rare occasions have falsely instilled a belief that most outings will go as smoothly, despite considerable evidence to the contrary (baby poop explosions and the realization that I forgot the wipes at home, temper tantrums in aisle six, etc.). So with a confidently optimistic attitude, I blithely set off for IKEA on New Year’s Day with two slightly hungry children who were antsy to get out of the house. I had never been to IKEA before, but people love it and the catalog makes it seem like a fun place. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 2 2013
This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This past Shabbat we read Parashat Miketz. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.
Last week’s Torah portion, Miketz, is full of large-scale drama: fortunes rising and falling, pilgrimages for survival, power struggles, and internal journeys of the heart.
Pharoah dreams of extremes: seven fat cows, seven emaciated cows. Joseph, called to interpret these dreams, rises from his prison cell to a position at Pharaoh’s side. The earth goes through seven years of plenty, then seven years of famine. Joseph’s brothers journey across a great desert to beg Pharoah’s assistant for grain, not realizing that Pharoah’s assistant is actually Joseph. Now in power, Joseph plays a game of cat-and-mouse with them, withholding his identity, alternating between public sternness and private weeping.
Yep, this is the stuff of great family drama. Will Joseph reveal himself to his brothers? How far will he go to punish his siblings’ past cruelty? How can siblings do this to each other?
Meanwhile, at my house, a different drama is playing out. I call it toddler drama. Read the rest of this entry →