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Aug 28 2014

Is Your Toddler Obsessed with What’s Fair? So Was Moses

By at 8:34 am

toddler-angry

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Shoftim. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

My kids, like yours, most likely, are obsessed with what’s fair. Sure, this is a classic toddler hang-up: Nothing is fair, but everything is fair game for a tantrum. And when you have twins, the fairness stakes rise exponentially. Beware the tiny fairness police.

The thing is, it’s very, very hard to predict what will elicit an “its not fair” from the peanut gallery. My husband and I try to anticipate–purchasing dual copies of the most coveted items, spending one-on-one time with each child as often as humanly possible, being generally far more patient and attentive than either of us have the bandwidth to be, and yet, we’re repeatedly surprised by how our kids can find unfairness in the most unlikely places. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 27 2014

Am I Pushing My Toddler Too Hard?

By at 8:45 pm

potty-training

So we’ve officially failed at potty training, or at least the first round of it. After spending well over a month trying to coax my toddler onto the potty, bribing him with candy, and even going as far as letting him watch me do my own business for motivation, I’ve decided to table the toilet training for the time being.

In reality, I probably should’ve given up after the first week. My son, from the get-go, was more than simply not interested in going to the potty, he was actually frightened to use it. My mother insisted that he just wasn’t ready. His teachers at daycare confirmed this, as their attempts to help our efforts were met with resistance.

And yet I pushed. I pushed him for over a month, at 2.5 years old, when all around me, fellow parents with children six months older than mine reassured me that they’d yet to start potty training because their children, too, just weren’t ready. I pushed because I thought he could do it, and because I wanted him to do it. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 15 2014

If You Think Toddlers Are Bad, Just Wait For the Teens

By at 9:46 am

Two-adolescence

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 8 2014

Teaching My Kids to Be a Better Version of Myself

By at 11:19 am

Girl-messy-hair

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Va’et’hanan. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

After her bath tonight, my kid wanted to comb her own hair. Knotty, wet, matted baby hair doesn’t want to be combed by a 3-year-old and yet, I sat on my hands and let her pull at her hair with the brush. I bit my tongue as she struggled with her part; I winced when she left big bumps and knots at the back. I didn’t help.

Post-bath routine takes forever these days, and not just because my kids want to comb their own wet hair. They want to brush their own teeth, apply their own lotion, pick out their own pajamas, and put those pajamas on alone. They put them on backwards, then they switch them around, they try again, they fall on the floor, they lose focus, they squeeze toothpaste on the floor, they pee on the potty, they sometimes miss the potty, they pull toilet paper from the roll laughing hysterically as any sense of order collapses, they run like tiny maniacs around in circles until they fall in a pile of matted hair and Q-tips.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 23 2014

Are My Kids’ Tantrums All My Fault?

By at 10:09 am

Ice-pops

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 9 2014

Thanks to the Random Stranger Who Was Kind to My Kid

By at 11:17 am

Toddler boy eating french fries

I live in New Jersey and work in New York, where–let’s face it–people aren’t always friendly and nice. Sure, there are exceptions, but at this point I’ve grown rather cynical when it comes to relying on the decency of strangers. It especially irks me when people are jerks to my kid.

Case in point: I recently had to stop at the supermarket with my toddler on a very rainy day. Though the 90-second walk through the parking lot normally isn’t a big deal, it happened to start pouring rain the second we got there, and I was eager to keep my son as dry as possible, knowing that the arctic blast of the store’s AC system is often unbearable even when you’re not entering soaked. So there I was, walking briskly from my car to the store holding my (not-at-all lightweight) toddler when not one, not two, but three separate drivers decided to cut me off, forcing me to stand in the rain even longer. In dry weather, that sort of behavior is simply discourteous. In pouring rain, it’s downright mean, and more so to my toddler than to me.

Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing I’ve grown accustomed to over the years. But last weekend I had an experience that restored my faith in humanity, just a little bit. My husband, toddler, and I had gone out hiking, and though we almost always eat dinner at home, we decided we were tired and would rather stop at a local restaurant instead. We walked in around 5:30 p.m., expecting to be seated right away, and were surprised when we were told that the wait would be 20-30 minutes. We knew our son was hungry, but at that point it would’ve taken us longer to drive home and get dinner going, so we decided to bide our time in the cramped waiting area. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 3 2014

The Secret to Dealing with Your Toddler’s Infuriating Tantrums

By at 10:08 am

The secret to dealing with your toddler's tantrums

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 24 2014

Our Ever-Growing Bedtime Routine Needs to Stop, But I’m Not Ready

By at 10:50 am

sleepless-toddler

A few weeks after my son was born, I made up a lullaby that I’d sing before putting him to bed. Back then, getting my son into his crib was a simple matter of swapping his diaper for a new one and belting out a two-minute song before calling it a night (yep, we were very fortunate). But somehow, over the past two years our bedtime routine has evolved from a quick pajama change and lullaby into a 45-minute extravaganza complete with stories, videos, and many, many songs. And it just seems to be growing by the day.

Here’s how things will typically go down: First, my son will run around his room like a maniac as I attempt to grab hold of him and lift him onto his changing table. From there, he’ll wiggle and squirm as I desperately work to get his pajamas on. After he’s clothed, we’ll head to the bathroom to brush his teeth, which often takes longer than necessary thanks to my son’s desire to touch absolutely everything on the counter before finally opening wide.

But once his pajamas are on and his teeth are brushed, the real fun begins. It starts with a story from a collection of books we store crib-side. Ever since he was about 1.5, we started giving our son the privilege of selecting his bedtime story himself. What this now means is that he’ll pick up every book on the pile before choosing one–and then once we settle into our rocking chair to read it, he’ll invariably bolt off my lap, insisting that he made the wrong book choice. If I don’t let him switch, a fit will most likely ensue, so I usually allow him one book swap before putting my foot down. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 20 2014

Take a Deep Breath And Don’t Throw Your Kids in a Canyon

By at 10:04 am

grand-canyon

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 17 2014

In Favor of Letting Toddlers Run Wild At Temple

By at 3:33 pm

Torah-ark

This past Shabbat, my wife, son and I visited another shul. For the record, we went to this shul not because we were unhappy with our current one, but because there was a guest speaking and friends had invited us to join them. It was during Kedusha that our 2.5-year-old son began to do what he does best: explore.

Amit loves the Torah service, he loves the regal aspect of the Torah being passed around the room and giving it a kiss and delighting in the traditions that keep us going. You may see where this is going. Amit took finding the Torah into his own hands. He promptly walked on the bimah (podium) and made a beeline for the ark. He pulled back the curtain just enough so he could see the Torah scroll and then stood on his toes to touch and kiss.

As parents divided by the mechitzah (the divider between the men’s and women’s sections of an Orthodox synagogue) and stuck in our tracks as we stood for Kedusha, my wife stood at the front waiting for a moment to get his attention. I, his father, stood near the back and was torn by emotions. Should I move throughout the shul anticipating disaster? Or should I just let my son do what he does best and then handle it if something goes awry? I’ll admit, though I’m not a nervous person, I did schvitz a little; it was a new shul and there weren’t many other children in the sanctuary. I moved closer when I could, and did a double take–Amit was the only child in the sanctuary! He was doing what he should: exploring shul and finding the beauty in Judaism. Read the rest of this entry →

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