Today started off pretty badly. The Roberts’, (that’s us by the way) had a 4.45am start. For the past week or so the boys have been getting over nasty colds, which at night has left them coughing. I swear, as soon as you tell someone that your baby’s sleeping through the night, 9 times out of 10 something goes wrong. Lesson learnt. Never be a “smug mum” because it will come back and haunt you when you’re next getting up at the butt crack of dawn!
My children have never been ones to “lie in” though. Typically they can be awake from anywhere between 5.30-6.30am. Nothing can prepare you for the early wakings kids bring you. I think I underestimated how knackered I’d actually feel after such little sleep. So today, when I was woken at 4.45am and spent the best part of the next hour trying to resettle both Oscar and Alfie intermittently, the day didn’t start off too well. Around 5.45am I gave up and took them downstairs, not before (I’ll admit this may have been a little childish) stomping around our bedroom for Chris to hear me, huffing and puffing, “For god’s sake. 4.45am… I’ve been up since FOUR FORTYFIVE.”
Chris – breathing heavily, either pretending to have heard nothing OR actually asleep. Either way, both in my eyes, equally irritating.
The 4.45am start did indeed set the precedence for the whole day. A catalogue of events that I won’t bore you with, but the overview is that it involved 2 toddlers, a kitchen cupboard, various pots of spices, virgin olive oil, vinegar, 2 toddlers fully clothed covered head to toe in said spices, oil and vinegar… Spices in the eye, crying, spices in the mouth, MORE crying… And a beaker full of water to wash it down.
I’d left them for moments. I mean literally a few minutes. Lesson number 2 learnt. Never be one of those “smug mums” that says… “I’m just going to teach my children NOT to go into kitchen cupboards so there’s no need to put child safety locks on them”. NEVER be that “smug mum” again because you’ll find yourself hot footing it to the nearest Robert Dyas to do just that!
So yeah, trying to scoop the boys up off the floor, whilst trying myself not to slip on the oily gloopy mess, wasn’t my finest hour as a parent. The rest of the day involved two hyperactive (tired) children, a mummy who didn’t have the energy to calm them down, disturbed nap times due to builders next door, Oscar’s portage session enjoyed immensely by Oscar but with Alfie trying desperately to partake in each and every toy the therapist brought out (cue tears and tantrums from Alfie, as to why he couldn’t possibly join in too). It will conclude, with me going to bed far too late again I’m sure, resulting in another early start and me cursing myself for watching “I’m a celebrity” (I know, dreadful tv choice) all the way through, when I could have been catching some extra Zzzzzz. I will never learn.
Anyway, my point this week was totally about a little phase Oscar’s been going through. You may wonder why I mention the events of today but when you read about this phase, you may realise why none of the above helped. I say a phase as I’m praying it’s just that but it’s, at times, becoming a bit of a habit.
You see Alfie has started walking. He’s been walking for about a month now and since then, I’ve noticed a big change in Oscar. Suddenly he seems to be taking a lot more notice of his little brother. Before, in his eyes, Alfie was pretty boring. He just used to sit there or crawl around. Now that he’s almost eye level, well, he’s a lot more intriguing, isn’t he? I think in Oscar’s mind, he now sees Alfie as a walking target. I liken Oscar and Alfie to a cat and mouse. Scurrying around everywhere, busy doing what they do, but every once in a while, when Oscar sees his target, he pounces. And by pounces, I mean pushes him to the floor. He’ll walk up to him, place the palm of his hand, square in the middle of Alfie’s forehead and bam, he’s down. It’s been going on now off and on for a month. It would be funny, if it wasn’t a regular thing but today in particular, Oscar hasn’t stopped. If Alfie cries when he does it, Oz thinks it’s hilarious. And he’s worked out that although Alfie’s walking, he’s not the sturdiest on his feet yet and if you push him, he wobbles and that’s funny too. He went through a bit of this sort of thing when Alfie first sat up. He’d push him over then. Falling from waist height and on carpet wasn’t so bad. Being pushed over from standing may be grating on Alfie just a little.
So I’m struggling. I obviously need him to stop but whatever approach I take, it doesn’t seem to be having the desired effect. I tell him and sign “no” and he ignores me. I tell him and sign “stop” and he just gives me a high 5. I’ve tried ignoring him and turning all my attention to Alfie, I’ve tried telling him and signing that he makes me “sad” when he pushes Alfie over and he just looks at me perplexed. I’ve tried taking away his favourite toys and although he might cry for a minute or so, he quickly forgets, busies himself with something else, until he spots Alfie again and makes a beeline for his little friend, the mouse. I have told him time and time again to use “gentle hands” and this works for a while, but then 10 minutes later he’s forgotten.
I know he knows I’m cross, as he cries. I also know he fully understands he’s not meant to do it and am pretty sure it’s for a reaction… Or to get my attention.
So here’s the thing. How do I handle this? I know the above might sound like I’m not being consistent in my parenting methods but I’ve tried a lot of these theories out over time and still don’t seem to be working. I make him sign “sorry” but as yet it’s just hand over hand as he doesn’t seem to want to offer it without my prompting. I would try the naughty step but I’m not altogether convinced he would understand the concept yet. Maybe he would.
What I do know is that the pushing is not out of malice. It appears to be a game. I can tell the difference between a push because it’s funny to Oscar, to a push because he wants to sit where someone else is sitting or play with the toy kitchen that someone else is playing with. When this all started a few weeks ago I was worried Oscar would push other children over. I’d notice at our local playgroup for example or when we were out at friends houses, that he’d be doing it. I realised quite quickly it was never his peers though, it was always younger children. I’m guessing with children his own age or height he didn’t feel the need to do it.
I think it’s easy for parents of a child with DS to make excuses. I really don’t want to be that person. While I know it’s going to take Oscar that little bit longer to grasp certain concepts, I also think I’d be doing him a disservice to say that he can’t understand. He can. It’s just finding ways to get my point across. Over the last month I’ve spoken to both professionals and other mummies. The general consensus is that he’s a 2.5 (almost) year old little boy and regardless of the DS, that’s the sort of things little boys do. I guess I could sit here and speculate about why he’s doing it. Frustrations in communication? Jealously? Attention? Who knows? It’s a phase and it’ll pass… And if it doesn’t, in a few months Alfie will be stronger and Oscar will have met his match.
To me this parenting malarkey is a work in progress. I’ll figure it out one day. In the meantime if anyone has any advice on how to deal with a nearly 2.5 year old, then feel free to share.
* Please note I’m asking for advice here, this doesn’t come under the unwanted advice that I blogged about a few months ago ;0)