Have you noticed that I haven’t done The Sam Update for a while? I thought I might change it from monthly to quarterly, but I just realized that I should have done it on Dec. 2. I guess that’s the end of that tradition. It makes me sad, but now that Sammy is 3, a regular update doesn’t seem to capture her development as well as the more subject-specific updates I’ve been doing like those for potty training and how we use rewards. Besides, I’ll never be able to do a monthly update for 2 children, and I’m hoping that will be the situation soon enough.
Speaking of which, I’m finally back to normal, physically, and we can start trying again. We’ve had luck in December twice in the past. It’s a good month for us.
A few updates on Sammy: she went 4 days without an accident last week, and on one of those days she skipped her nap so there was no mid-day diaper for her to rely on. Yesterday she had 2 accidents, but she also had 2 successes. I know there will be more setbacks, but at least for now, I have some relief.
Adam and I are so proud of our girl because she is really learning to control her emotions and use nice words and questions instead of throwing tantrums. She went through that angry period a couple of months ago, and even after she improved, we’ve had to remind her dozens of times a day to “use a question, not a demand,” and to say “I can’t understand you when you scream; try talking in a normal voice,” and “Can you ask me nicely?” But it seems that we’re getting through. When she screams, whines, or demands, we try really hard not to get angry or react emotionally, and we also try not to take the easy, range-of-the-moment solution and just give her what she wants. This takes huge effort and focus, but once we really knuckled down on ourselves and gave her a few weeks of consistency, she started responding. I’ve seen her change from yelling to talking in mid-sentence. Sometimes she’ll demand something and I’ll just look at her and she’ll use a polite question instead. A friend of mine made me realize how self-aware Sammy is for her age when I told her about something Sammy does that I didn’t know was unusual: When Sammy gets really upset, she likes to be alone. So, now, when she really loses it, she’ll say, I’M GOING AWAY NOW. I GO TO MY ROOM AND CLOSE THE DOOR AND FEEL BETTER. THEN I COME BACK AND TALK NICELY AND HAVE HUGS AND KISSES. And she’ll do exactly that. My friend thought that was amazing self-awareness for a 3-year-old, and I suppose it is.
Our newest challenge with Sammy is a sleep issue. She has decided to pull out all the stops to get us to come to her in the middle of the night. First, it was that she wanted the hallway light on. She would open her door (but not come out, since her Teach Me Time Clock was not green) and demand that the hallway light be turned on. Once we convinced her that we were not going to turn it on, she decided that she just had to check on the hallway light a hundred times a night. So she’d wake up and open her door and say, HALLWAY LIGHT OFF, and then close the door. Over…and over…and over. So then we had to convince her that she was keeping us awake and she needed to keep the door closed. She could turn on her light and play with her toys or read books if she was not sleepy, but she had to be quiet. So she gave up on the hallway light and now she just opens her door and screams, I WANT MY MOMMY! I WANT MOMMY TO COME IN MY ROOM AND MAKE ME FEEL BETTER.
There’s nothing particularly confusing about this. We just need to stay consistent and not go in her room. (Simple to say, but torture to do.) If she opens the door and yells out, we tell her that if she can’t keep it closed, we’ll have to lock it. (We reversed the handle on her door a long time ago to make sure she didn’t accidentally lock herself in, so now the lock is on the outside.) Locking her door is not a threat meant to punish her. We always explain that we will do it to help both her and us sleep. She certainly does not like the idea, though, and one warning has been enough so far. Sometimes before bed, I’ll ask her if she wants me to lock the door so that she is not tempted to open it. She always says NO, but it’s my way of showing her that it is something meant to help her, not punish her. I’m sure we’ll have to do it someday, because she’s testing every limit lately. But in the meantime, we’re a very tired family.