The latest trend in the Douglas household is the use of “adult words” or inappropriately used potty phrases. Any of you that have the pleasure of knowing my other half are certainly not surprised by this thought or any other atypical phrasing that comes out of everyday conversations when you’d least expect it.
It turns out that what we both believed was a genius way to handle profanity with toddlers may actually be backfiring. In other words (pun intended!) the continued use of certain four letter words that are essential in everyday life when raising toddlers, while lessened from prior years, still fly out of our mouths more than they probably should. For a while I was monitoring such things a lot better (with much effort), but ultimately age three pummeled me with such force that such things re-emerged with a hurricane force (does that depict it well enough?!). With the girls hearing such explicits, we constantly reminded them the words are only for adults, hence the that’s an adult word, you can’t say that word conversations we’ve maintained the past few months, which much success and minimal toddler repeats.
Previous to this genius, albeit backfiring, plan, the girls would drop the “f bomb” occasionally at age two (mostly Harper) and we couldn’t help but hide our chuckles. The correct usage of it taught us not only were they listening and paying attention to their parents, but that they are picking up verbiage and sentence structure incredibly well. This clearly covers more than bad words! One can’t help but appreciate using it as an adjective and then later as a verb, correctly, from the mouth of an unknowing tot.
Yes, we nipped that as quickly as we could…but I can still chuckle at the thought of Harper yelling mom, open thef$&king door! at me a time or two. That one definitely came from the “slam-the-door/gate-on-everyone’s-face-as-much-as-you-can-to-drive-the-adults-INSANE” phase. Gives me a stress headache just thinking about it.
The girls threw an unapproved rule book change at me when they started retorting any bad words from my mouth with that’s a daddy word, not a mommy word. You can’t say that, only daddy. I’m not sure what super level sneakiness Craig did to pull that sh$t off, but it’s now a rule. Writing that I even hear in my mind…mom you can’t say that. Just taking away ALL my fun. Craig doesn’t seem to have an issue with this change.
Well, I’m here to tell you that the instructional “we can say it but you can’t” concept was going amazing until recently. I believe this change resulted from two things: 1) the implementation of constant tattling, and 2) the recognition that saying it provokes a response from either a parent or a sibling or both!
A 3-year-old is basically a walking, talking middle finger.
The cycle typically goes something like this:
Emerie: you’re a freakin’ poopoo. (to anyone in general or no one at all!)
Oh did I not mention the potty mouth words such as poopoo and peepee are apparently harder to break than the profanities? Yes, THAT, and any adult that remotely uses those out of the proper context in the ear range of my toddlers is going to hear more profanities heading their way from my mouth!! Anyway…
Harper: no, you’re a poopoo!!
And the argument goes back and forth until number three chimes in.
Reagan: Mom! Dad! Emerie said f$&king poopoo! MOM! Emerie said f$&king!! She said poopoo!! Moooom!
And repeat this about ten million times. Also include the times that Emerie did not, in fact, say those words, and yet here comes the tattletale, repeating them herself until you provide a response.
This wouldn’t be such an issue if ages were spanned out or we were just talking about one disruptive toddler. The girls have this magnetic super power that feeds off each other, in pretty much everything good or bad, and once it loads up, stopping it is practically impossible. One outlier from this occurred in the past few days, when Harper had a great attitude all weekend, listened at dance class and was most obedient on our last outdoor excursion, not feeding off the grumpy, push-mom-to-the-limits sisters’ attitudes. One can dream it will improve with age.
I sincerely hope the use of such wording is more centered at home then out at school, but I know the sister jabs and name calling of poo and pee reach far out into our activities and down times, with minimal success at shutting it down thus far. We’ve disciplined, given rewards for good behavior, flaunted rewards when one obeys and the others don’t, had continuous conversations about when it’s okay so talk about poop, and continue to stress the adult word concept, which is understood but not entirely accepted now.
And so, here I am, writing this fantastic blog on the woes of parenthood and my clan of three year olds and their potty mouths.
The second half of summer kept us very busy, between the impending allergies and ear infections and all the outdoor adventures to be had! I’ve put the “pen to paper” less than I wanted to document some of the excitement, but managed to remember a few things that might bring a chuckle or two. As we round into fall and the impending winter, getting outside as much as possible is on the high priority list, among other things like dance, bike riding and lots and lots of Frozen II and Beauty and the Beast.
The girls are using their new found abilities to make our lives more interesting, especially as they figure out how to do more things independently. Every other moment of the day seems to produce requests (demands) for adult assistance, help open something, turn the music up, turn down the music, find a snack, retrieve a stolen toy, and on and on. One often turns around to find someone digging in the refrigerator, or helping themselves to that candy on the counter by way of a dining room chair, or trying to “help” you complete a chore like emptying the dishwasher or getting silverware out for dinner. Many days the girls will insist on buckling into their car seat and refuse help, even after major dawdling and getting sidetracked or distracted by every little thing. Reagan definitely has the buckling down; it is clear she will continue to excel at these types of skills as she grows and show her sisters how to do them. The other day she zipped up her coat on her own and now demonstrates the new skill to her sisters. In fact, we often find her assisting Harper and Emerie when they ask for help and it’s incredibly sweet. Then there’s Emerie, who climbed into the driver’s seat after pickup one day, sat down and instructed me to sit in her car seat because, well, I drive us home. We had quite the epic argument when I told her to get into the back.
This month’s major discovery involved the recognition that television personality Alexa can and will listen to their requests and start a show for them. After discovery a new movie download on Amazon Video by unsupervised remote clicking, parental controls and pin numbers are now connected to anything credit card related. There are definitely some digital perks that can go the opposite direction when it comes to kiddos and you never think about them until they happen.
New activities these days relate to riding scooters and balance bikes, checking out the new-to-us kid sized four-wheelers, coloring as much as possible and becoming professional blanket fort builders. In very rare form, one evening we even had a fifteen minute break from the usual toddler wars for all three to create a blanket fort under one of the doll strollers, with pillows and stuffed animals and many giggles arising from the blankets. All three playing together, in close proximity, ends in tears and/or fighting 99% of the time; that fifteen minutes, completely inspired by them with unassisted construction, was truly a cute sister moment.
While Craig and I continue to track down kid-sized four wheelers (two down, one to go!), I will admit the girls are still hesitant to drive them, all opting to allow Kaden to chauffeur or ride on Daddy’s wheeler. We hope by next summer they will be ready to tackle the solo art of driving and steering…you know…for a four year old.
We took an impromptu four-wheel trip one afternoon to Eklutna, a beautiful spot about 45 minutes from our house, that I used to camp at or fly into as a kid. For one of our first “let’s just go for it” activities with the girls, it went great! We loaded up for a good nap on the way, with everyone ready to hit the short trail to the lake after a post-nap snack. The whole afternoon went surprisingly smoothly and it felt wonderful to do something normal and unplanned as a family, getting out and about in the gorgeous fall weather. Other less motor driven adventures, such as berry picking and wood exploration, also top the list of great and inexpensive activities and result in delicious blueberry pies and tired toddlers.
Neighborhood balance bike adventures are another popular household past time; the exciting part equals that some treks go wonderful and others result in full meltdowns in the middle of the street. Harper is by far the rock star on this activity; it’s hard to keep caught up on a walk. By next summer I believe she will be riding a real bike, without training wheels, since she already speeds down the road and holds her legs up to balance. Emerie is much more resistant to riding the bikes but generally joins in on the fun, and Reagan can almost keep up with Harper if she really tries, but appears a little more timid than her daredevil, speedy sister.
Goofy attitudes emerge on a daily basis and I try to capture as many of the entertaining moments as I can, since they seem to vanish from my short term memory so quickly (I blame mom brain). Each drive home carom daycare brings a sample of entertainment and I never guess what topics might emerge. Sometimes they want to dye daddy’s hair yellow, or they need to find daddy some necklaces, or provide strict instructions such as mom, no dancing in the car. You can only dance at 11 o’clock. Mom! No singing either, singing is only in 20 minutes. Always very specific instructions, discussed between the three of them, albeit not always well thought out.
Lately Emerie sings a song with the days of the week, which is super cute right? Well she has something against Thursday and fully disagrees that it should be included in her melodies. You will hear her humming to herself and break out with Sunday, Monday, Tuuuesday, Wednesday, Friiiiiday! Any correction is met with Mom I not like Thursday.
The latest, randomly complicated request involves Mom, I want the fever! The fever Mom! Now most folks won’t understand this odd request, especially during pandemic days when NO ONE wants a fever in the house- calm down folks…they are referring to their latest love of all things Ana, Elsa, Olaf and Kristof related, and the short film called Frozen Fever. Fun fact…it isn’t really a short film if played on repeat. The little part of our toddlers’ hearts that fell in love with Wreck It Ralph and Tangled is now replaced with a love for both Frozen movies and “the one with the beast” or “I want to watch Bell,” i.e. Beauty and the Beast. They adore all the Frozen songs, which are played continuously in the car, and have a major fascination with the Beast, who is not nice but learns to be nice– hiding under blankets when he is scary but reminding each other he learns to be nice by the end.
Any guesses what they want to be for Halloween this year?! I bet you can guess.
Other miscellaneous household updates- Emerie’s latest eye check went great. We preemptively took her a bit earlier than scheduled after complaints her bad eye was bothering her. The doc says it appears to be an allergy related irritation and she hasn’t complained much more as the weather turns colder. Now that my little isn’t so little, she’s able to do vision tests by identifying pictures across the room (instead of letters like adults) and she is great at it. While waiting for Dr. Winkle to come in, I asked her about one image she wouldn’t answer, thinking she didn’t know what an old phone from the 50s was. She looked me right in the eye and said it’s a phone. When I responded with how do you know, she said because everybody calls it that, Mom!
As we start the second half of age three, the girls all have different quirks that are quite evident. Harper is the doll enthusiast, loves to carry them around, tuck them in and change their clothes, and is by far the girliest of the three. She loves wearing “pretty dresses,” tutus, necklaces, crowns and pretty bows in her hair and wants to be a princess. Some days she proclaims her dress is SO BEAUTIFUL; how can you disagree with that?! Black continues to be her favorite color, although pink is a close second. She’s silly and likes to do things like slam her doll’s head against the metal gate, then grabs her with a awww poor baby, let’s snuggle. Her need for speed continues on everything; running, biking, informing you to drive the car faster, all of it.
Emerie continues to be the builder and loves to make block and train track creations. She also really likes to destroy them and watch them crumble (like Stitch does in Lilo and Stitch!). She enjoys wearing roller skates and is definitely the flexible gymnast and tumbler. She becomes increasingly opinionated everyday and lets her voice be known, especially on things like eye patch choice in the morning, when to wear her glasses, or when she should go to sleep. Her latest obsession is water play, which was perfectly fine over the summer when outside- now we often find her playing with cups in the bathroom and using the floor as her canvas. She belts out several of the Frozen songs with all her heart, and while not on pitch, it is definitely one of her cutest moments. She also loves to sing Patty Cake and knows the whole thing.
Reagan is still our artsy-fartsy one. She now colors within the lines and traces shapes on her own. Having her home most of last week showed her enthusiasm with markers and paint and she did a great job staying entertained while we put in work hours. She is so very proud of her masterpieces and most often wants Papa Lon, Tyler or Papa Cliff to see them. If I don’t bring all the coloring sheets home from school each day, she demands we go get them before we load up. Her second love is playing with kinetic sand and play dough, and you can’t forget about dancing! She also eats any type of muffin, although I believe zucchini mini muffins are her absolute favorite.
Bedtime at this age is proving to be one of the most difficult times each day, with drama playing out each night on cue and equals just as grumpy early risers. The lack of nap time is also causing very overtired littles, who do not want to go to bed, and we are back to the go to bed in their room, end up in ours sleep routine. Not sure how long this will last but I could use a nap.
Harper and Reagan still share height and weight, both coming in at 41.5″ tall and about 35 pounds. Emerie maintains her 31 pounds and is only an inch behind, at 40.5″. That means everyone is in the 99 percentile for height, to no one’s surprise!
Pray the second half of age three is smoother than the first half…although I won’t believe it unless it happens.
Now it’s anyone’s guess what part of the girls’ DNA contains a skill in dancing, but right now we are definitely on a I want to be a ballerina life train. With that in mind, we’ve been eyeing dance classes around town, trying to figure out where to go amidst the current COVID chaos and finally landed on a three-year-old ballet and jazz dancing class by our house that occurs once a week.
To no one’s surprise, I already purchased matching pink, purple and teal sequin leotards off Amazon that fit just right, with a plan to purchase ballet slippers and tap shoes once we went to class (super cute ones here!). The girls begged for ballet slippers for a couple of weeks and randomly start dancing around the house or demanded for the fancy tutus so they can embody said ballerinas. Apparently crowns are an important part of the outfit too, according to them.
Class the first week went well overall, with one of the three teachers noting afterwards they did great for their first hour long class, especially with three of them to distract one another. The shy newbies resisted venturing into the gym full of fun, gymnastic equipment for about five minutes and then curiosity won the fight. In no time all three were climbing on the bars, swinging on the rings and walking across the balance beam excitedly.
After a few minutes of open gym time, all the little dancers gathered on the hardwood floor, with teachers showing them dance moves and other fun coordinated steps, moving with hoola hoops, running to music and using bean bags to assist the effort.
Overall I’d say Reagan participated the very most the first week, only coming over to me once and going right back when I told her she’d get a treat for staying with the group. Emerie rejected her glasses immediately, which we didn’t push, and definitely enjoyed the free time more than the structured. Harper was a bit in the middle, enjoying some of the dance moves and swinging on the bars. There is much anticipation regarding tap shoes, since we didn’t have them yet and she really wanted to march with the other glittery tots.
Week two was much improved. After a cold, a windy park visit and three very grumpy, continually bickering toddlers for the morning, everyone joined in on their second dance class without any adult intervention…for an entire hour! We tried to stay out of sight and keep them from that distraction and it worked quite well. A few times over the hour one would wander off and sit on the fun padding along the wall or hang from the bars, sometimes convincing a sister to join; after some convincing by a teacher, they all rejoined on their own!
The tap portion of the class was definitely a huge hit, especially with the little, black tap shoes! Lots of big smiles and running across the dance floor resulted in much happy discussion on the way home.
The ballet shoes were finally ready for purchase at the start of the third week of class (since it’s very hard to get three pairs in the same size from a small, family business and they ordered more for us!). The girls all sat quietly while one of the kind employees helped me put them on. This week I hauled everyone solo- it started off fine; fine as I’m no one ran off from the car or threw a fit in the waiting room, and proceeded to go downhill from there.
It went as out as smooth as I expected on the first week. All three rotated running off to the mats, not listening and needing to come sit in the waiting room to calm down, and then back to running off and climbing on mats they weren’t supposed to. The teachers were very patient chasing them (one, then two, then three). If I only had one kid to get complaint, making them sit in the sidelines and watch is doable because I can keep them still. Trying to keep three kids? Not so doable. Sorry of my life. If every week goes like this one, dance class will be very short-lived memory in their lives.
I’ll end on a sweeter note, that the girls claim they LOVE dance class and ask when they get to go throughout the week. They love their dance leotards and tap shoes and seem to really enjoy the balance beam. If we can get them to listen better, I’m sure more and more dance moves will emerge in our living room as we move into more indoor activities for the winter.
While the past two months have certainly had their ups and downs in the Douglas household, I would be remiss if I said I wasn’t feeling a bit of a funk when really…we have so much to be thankful for when so many other, truly terrible things are happening across the world. I try to rise myself out of the grumpy feelings that occasionally (or often really) creep into my mind when battling the crying, whining, fighting and pure mental and physical exhaustion associated with our raising our current three-nagers. As an American and and Alaskan, it is important to keep in mind that freedom is not something everyone around the world gets and shouldn’t be taken for granted. I then remember other things that remind me how lucky we really are to grow up and raise our families here.
My girls don’t have to wonder where their next meal will come from, with growling bellies and malnutrition around them.
They have a roof over their heads, with heat in the winter and a warm place to sleep, when many aren’t afforded this luxury.
We can step outside our front door and not feel fear; fear that danger lurks right around the corner, like in many other places.
They have so many opportunities to learn, to go to school, and to socialize with our community.
They have access to great healthcare and don’t have to fear that a basic illness can turn life threatening without access to medicine.
Watching the documentaries and interviews for the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks on our country provided a strong reminder that we need to raise our kiddos to be good, respectful of others, and loving individuals in a world that can be cruel and scary.
It is a good reminder that while evil exists all across the world, showing its face that day more publicly than many others in our lives, we have to be diligent and work toward raising the next generation to not only remember these acts, but to triumph over them by doing selfless and loving gestures, big and small.
I will get off my soapbox now- my point in all this is- I’m still trying to figure out how to teach my littles the importance of major events without scaring them. Obviously we aren’t to the age yet of serious discussions like the World Trade towers and major loss of life, so for now my main goal is to teach them basic humanity and kindness, toward their sisters (working on this one), toward their parents and teachers, and to others.
It starts small and even at this age! The other day all three demanded that Craig stop at the coffee shop on the way to preschool drop off so they could bring their teacher a hot chocolate. This was kindness inspired completely by them! When Harper or Emerie are hurt and crying, Reagan will deliver her own toy to her sister (sometimes); this is compassion. When sitting quietly with Emerie, she will look up with those baby blues and say she loves you; this is love. When building a fort out of blankets, Harper will make it bigger and invite her sisters to join; this is sharing. All these attitudes and gestures need to be shared by all of us, big and small, to make this world a happier place.
All traits must be taught and re-taught and encouraged over and over and over again until they become part of my little humans. We’ve had a number of days this summer with crying dots, fighting and arguing, and much less kindness than aggression.
For now I recognize it is baby steps…and we will get there, and that the adults in their lives play a huge part in that. Actions speak louder than words, meaning I need to be kind, compassionate, and loving to inspire them to pursue those attitudes. Some days are better than others for me, as any parent will attest to, and I know I can do better.
As usual, I am the parent that drags the feet on another change in the household, whether that relates to changing up bottle feeds, sleep training, or venturing off schedule (in my defense, I’m getting better). The latest shift in the Douglas household, which we are now a couple weeks into, is transitioning to toddler beds from cribs.
We hastily purchased toddler beds about fifteen months ago, right after the girls turned two, because they were climbing out on Nanny Chris during nap time or when they didn’t want to be left “alone” (alone with two siblings apparently) in their beds. We managed to nip this impending transition for over a year, and quite successfully I might add. The only caveat? It meant that bedtime routine included one parent chilling in the nursery chair until all parties drifted off to sleep. Some days this occurred in moments; other days it meant an hour or more arguing with one, two, or three tiny tots that refused to settle and sleep and trying to keep the unsettled souls from waking already asleep sisters.
While I fully recognize digging ourselves the hole of one parent needing to be very close by during the beginning of sleep times is not the optimal method, it resulted in over a year of really great naps and decent evening routines. I personally enjoy sitting in their room with my iPad many nights; once everyone settles it becomes relaxing and enjoyable, listening to the littles dream and talk in their sleep and getting some quiet time to myself. This method did not keep them in bed overnight, unfortunately, but we had a good six month burst of them complying so we could catch up on sleep (several years worth!). Allergy season in July appears to have ruined this beautiful trend and we’ve continue to slide backwards since then.
Since overnight sleep was already getting back to the normal LACK of sleep for the adults, we figured we might as well make the transition and just go for it. As summer rounds out and the “summer snow” cottonwood isn’t as widespread, everyone’s runny noses, ear infections and intense dry coughing fits eased up, but the battle of overnight sleep continued.
The girls helped Craig assemble the new beds on a sunny afternoon, running around the garage and making blankets with the boxes and protective packaging. After a driving nap to entice them to sleep, I managed to get the disassembled cribs down to the garage and the new beds upstairs and made by the time they returned, usually starting around midnight and off and on until morning.
That first night the girls excitedly checked out their beds and sat on them, commenting on pretty sheets and cuddly stuffed animals. Everyone picked out a book and sat under their blanket, flipping through and noting pictures on the pages. Then, much to my surprise, everyone went straight to sleep. It wasn’t a battle, with a ton of whining, crying, demands for water and to go potty again, they weren’t climbing out of beds and free-for-alling it around the room; they went to sleep!! Shocking, right? While the melatonin may deserve the majority of credit here, I also believe a few more months of maturity brought the benefit. All three slept the entire night through, which felt a-ma-zing, but also abruptly ended about ninety minutes earlier than normal routine the next morning.
I will also note that is the only night everyone slept in their bed all night since then, and it’s gone downhill from there…
Harper handled the transition the best by far; in fact, she immediately laid down in her bed and went to sleep, the first night and most after! I expected keeping her in the bed to be more difficult since she is more like me and doesn’t respond as easily to change, but she really took it well and enjoys choosing a book and reading it to herself. The past few weeks only resulted in a few abrupt midnight interruptions here and there and overall she’s our star bedtime routiner.
Reagan, on the other hand, never wants to sleep and has sung that tune for quite a while now, strongly resisting every night and fighting with every breath. She goes as far as throwing super tantrums and flat out screaming until we swap parents out, which seems to help. It doesn’t matter which adult is there; switching is the only way to first of all, not lose your sanity and emotional awareness and two, actually convince her to close her eyes. There are definitely many frustrating nights. Once asleep in her bed, since we refuse to cave to her demand of sleeping in daddy’s bed or her usual I don’t want to go to sleep, she snoozes about half the night and then hastily demands us to come get her. At least those demands originate from her bedside and not running across the house!
Overall Emerie adjusted to some well behaved bedtimes and some meltdown bedtimes and not much in between. Ever since Craig spent a few nights in Juneau last month for work, she is both feet into Team Daddy, reminding me on the regular that she wants dad at bedtime, cried for daddy after nap at school, and loves only daddy (her words, not mine!). Thanks, kiddo. While I’m not taking it too personally that she’s riding the dad train full time right now, it definitely makes bedtime less smooth when under no circumstance can I solve whatever thing she believes needs resolution prior to closing those sleepy, little eyes. Since this transition, she excelled greatly at not needing her overnight pull up. In fact, the last few days I’ve completely forgotten about putting one on and no accidents occurred. Good job, Em!
So yes, I wouldn’t say we’ve found the toddler bed groove yet, but at least we made it through the first few weeks, already gave up binkies last spring, and don’t even have to blockade (or empty) the bedroom to convince said toddlers to settle and snooze. I believe the girls know they can walk out of the room freely, although they don’t and I’m not pushing that, since the door is still cracked open at night and the gate isn’t shut, just propped closed so the animals don’t disrupt them. Through all the fits and arguing, everyone still eventually settles in their own room and I’m taking that as a win in itself. I’m excited for the day the animals begin to sleep with them without causing problems, assuming primarily the dog on their rug, and when they will get up to use the bathroom solo AND return to their beds.
All this new excitement essentially obliterated our nap time and we are rolling with the punches. Nearly three and a half isn’t too terrible for giving up naps, right? Since the first year of life they were non-existent, it was only fair we had least made it past age three! Weekends most toddler beds are usually spent with an encouraged driving nap if the day proves it’s essential (which sometimes work and sometimes doesn’t), but otherwise we are done with that phase and not pushing an afternoon snooze, which becomes quite the fight and not worth the added stress. One would think this would improve the ease of bedtime and cause more droopy eyelids, but that isn’t the case for the most part. Every once in a while they will request to go to bed if they are tired enough though!
I’m optimistic bedtime might improve and at some point in their lives, they must go to sleep without us so nearby, but not this week! And at some point in their lives…they will sleep through the whole night….right?!