I’ve been a mother for almost 2 years now, and my gray hair is coming in faster than ever as my daughter enters the terrible twos stage. (Or is she just a diva and I’m just in denial?)
But nothing, nothing is tougher to deal with than a sick child, no matter how old your son or daughter is. It sucks, especially when it gets to that point when you’re like, “oh sh*t,” that fever, that cough, that pain, you name it, won’t go away and you don’t know what the hell to do.
When our little girl’s temperature started climbing over 103 at 4 am last Sunday, and she was crying hysterically, curling up in a little ball holding her tummy, we knew we couldn’t make the owies go away on our own. This led to an epic day at the children’s hospital waiting room and then urgent care clinic — from 5 am to 5 pm — that we don’t want to relive, ever.
There’s a happy healing ending to this — she finally beat the fever due to an infection that is now being treated with a 10-day course of antibiotics — but her father and I learned a lot from our day there.
First off, we hope you’ll never have to rush your child to the hospital, but if you do, here’s our Parent Survival Guide for those occasions. You see…you’re going to hope (or think) that you’ll be gone for just a few hours, but it’s not always the case.
Your “In Case of Emergency” Essentials
Pack a few toys and books. There usually are some at most doctor’s offices and hospitals, but familiar ones should bring your child some comfort and make it seem like a fun outing instead of a dreaded doctor visit.
Bring your phone charger or power pack. Chances are, you’re going to do a lot of waiting around: Waiting to see the nurse, then a room, then a doctor, then a nurse again and on. We spent 4 ½ hours just to get a room. Yikes. So you’ll need to keep that kid of yours (and yourself) entertained and alert.
Pack some snacks for all of you. See above. You’re gonna get hungry. The cafeteria may/may not be open when you’re there, and there may/may not be a vending machine. You just don’t know, so pack your child’s favorite snacks in your bag, and don’t forget yourself, either. If not for the apples, graham crackers and breakfast bars we brought with us we would’ve passed out.
Stay hydrated. Or not only will you look sh*tty, you’ll feel sh*tty, too, if you don’t drink fluids. So bring some water or juice.
Bring 3 changes of happy clothes for your kid. I usually have a backup set of clothes in the car for her, but thankfully I packed more than that since I was just in a rush I threw a ton of stuff in my bag. Food, rejected medicine, juice spills, throw up…yeah, that all ended up on her or her dad, but we had clothes to change her into. And not just any clothes, we chose the cheeriest of items to keep her spirits up: animal print anything does the trick.
Bring a blanket or one of those blow-up head cushions. Those hospital chairs and couches aren’t for sleeping, but it’s worth trying.
Think happy thoughts and try not to fight. Super important! When you’re exhausted and your child is miserable, it’s hard to stay positive and cope, but you have to. My husband and I certainly had our breaking points during our 12-hours escapade, but if we got snippy at each other it just made things worse.
Have a Happy Thoughts playlist handy. Music soothes, as you know. If you don’t have your own mix to calm that sick kid or your nerves, check out Rockabye’s playlists.
Remember the hospital staff is on a 12-hour shift, too, or longer. So remember the tip above. Honestly, the doctor we saw that day sucked…at first. He scared our daughter more than he comforted her because he came into our room in a bad mood and she totally picked up on it and cried her head off. But he warmed up hour after hour — maybe he realized we weren’t going away anytime soon (or he heard us talking smack) — and came in with bubbles and stickers as peace offerings.
Bring cash. To bribe the staff for better treatment. No, just kidding, or am I? My cousin actually kept a stash of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts in his hospital room drawer that he’d share with the staff and it did win him some favors. In our case, cash was good to have for vending machines and the parking lot exit gate, which didn’t take credit cards.
I let my child watch TV. And play on my iPad. And watch YouTube on my monitor. And video chat on all these screens…often.
But she doesn’t watch anything on my phone…because it’s old and it sucks. Even she knows it. She uses Papa’s fancy phone instead.
I let my child watch TV and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to say it. Are you judging me? I won’t judge you if don’t allow for any screen time, because I’m sure you have your reasons. I know there’s a ton of studies saying why to limit kids’ – especially toddlers’ and babies’ — screen time. I’ve read them, but…
How much screen time do you think is too much?
My husband and I certainly made some significant changes in our lives when our daughter was born, but cutting our TV time wasn’t one of them.
Here’s why I let my child watch TV:
I love television. It’s that simple. I grew up watching TV in my household, as did my husband. While we certainly avoid watching anything too graphic or violent while our toddler is in the room — frankly, I can barely stomach anything too sad (the news) or gruesome (True Blood) since becoming a mother — we haven’t given up watching basketball games, family dramas (now we really get them!), cheesy singing competitions (especially ones in other countries) or quirky sitcoms.
We like seeing our lives play out on the big screen. I love seeing all our photos and videos blown up on our large TV and so does our daughter. She loves reliving moments with me and identifying people she knows and recalling what we did. The technology that allows us to send anything from our small screens to our big screen TV instantly never ceases to amaze me, and I appreciate and use it.
We have a nice TV. Seriously, it’s a 3D plasma flat-screen TV my husband won in a random drawing at a party. It’s honestly the most expensive thing in our home…and it’s not even that expensive. But it certainly makes watching TV more enjoyable than when we just had a small 24-inch old-school box of a TV.
I don’t think TV hurt me. If anything, I mostly have fond memories of watching TV growing up including watching women’s wrestling at my grandmother’s house/daycare while plucking the gray hairs from my Aunt Mary’s head. It was her ritual with all my cousins. She’d laugh through each bout like it was a comedy. Then there were the poorly dubbed shows — Pippi Longstocking and kung fu marathons — that were our comedies. Real culture, right? The one memory I would like to erase is watching Carrie when I was in grade school. I couldn’t sleep for weeks!
If we didn’t have TV, I wouldn’t be able to find a babysitter. See my first reason. My parents and sisters love TV, too.
So, I let my child watch TV. And draw on our walls. And read books while on the potty. And have fruit ice pops. And play outside…often.
My daughter enjoys all these things, especially her TV time for now. And maybe she will end up spending more time reading (real) books than reading screens, but, until then, she’s allowed to get her one-episode helping of her favorite kid’s show or numerous replays of her latest music video of choice if that’s what makes our happy home go round.
Whereas siblings inevitably come with rivalry, cousins are more uncomplicated. Older, younger, same age — it doesn’t matter, a cousin is around while the adults eat, drink, argue, bake, work, laugh or sleep. They’re the best counterparts for play because you don’t see them every day and they are different in an interesting way, not an annoying one like someone in your actual house.
It’s that little bit of distance that makes the difference.
My two girls are lucky to have lots of cousins — most of whom are a solid 20 years older than them and endlessly doting. From these older cousins, they receive so much love and encouragement — plus, they get to be treated like adults by adults, which they really like —going to rock shows or learning how to order from a restaurant menu. And they get to be in charge of the games, since the grown-ups are cool following the leads of the little ones — they’ll have dance parties, make monster masks or just play with pots and pans for hours if that what my kids want to do. Their adult cousins are generous, glamorous and endless fun.
Then my girls have my sister’s kids, boys who are just five years older, and that’s great too. Because the girls idolize these kid cousins, thinking everything they do from football to karate to rainbow loom bracelets, is the greatest thing ever. They emulate the boys constantly, fist bumping and wearing their hand-me-down clothes (for two days my daughter has refused to remove a pair of my nephew’s old socks). When we get the family together, the four cousins run and play like a pack of wolves and even the baby tells me to stay away.
Recently, we got the good news that there will soon be a new baby in the family (not from us!) and I can’t wait to see how my kids will embrace their first younger cousin. They’ll get a chance to be the big kids for once — to be helpful and dazzling, loving and fun. I hope they give this little one all the amazing gifts they’ve been given from their cousins — and the beautiful connections continue.
Do you have a great cousin connection story?
Share with us below!
And here’s a little musician trivia for you. The Beach Boys included a cousin connection: Mike Love is the cousin of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have those guys in your family?
Last Friday night my two gals were doing what they like: getting all dolled up to have a dance party in the living room. The outfit choices are mind-blowing: undergarments on the outside of your clothes; tutus as headbands; fairy wings, karate belts and various animal hats (wolf, penguin, duck). Plus, they need “noisy shoes,” which means high heel ones from my closet. Oh, my poor, sad shoe collection…it used to be my awesome ‘80s geometric print Miu Mius went to say, the soft opening of a hip new restaurant or a film premiere. Now they get bashed about by tiny little legs who think they need “more sparkle,” and, if they are lucky, wind up discarded somewhere under the couch when they prove too difficult to wear during the Hokey Pokey.
So as I’m watching all the preening go down, the three-year-old comes over proud as a peacock of her insane ensemble, and gives me the once-over. Then she flashes me a look — straight out of Mean Girls and says, “Mama, you don’t look dressed for a dance party.” Ouch. I suppose this would sting even more if the party weren’t happening in my living room — a circumstance that I regard my slippers, jeans and T-shirt totally appropriate for.
I don’t know how it happened, but my little ones have a strong sense of fashion dos-and-don’ts. Even the toddler isn’t afraid to tell me my wardrobe choices aren’t up to snuff and she can’t even really talk yet.
The other day as I went to put on an old hoodie, she hobbled across my bedroom (she was, of course, wearing her sister’s sparkly shoes, two sizes too big for her) and handed me a different sweater. Then she stamped her sassy feet in protest when I didn’t take her advice.
Even my husband’s outfits must pass through the rigors of the two-foot-tall fashion police. “You don’t look like you are going on a date,” my older daughter said to him as she “helped” him get ready the other night. “You look like you are staying home.”
I was born on February 14, which means what most people call Valentine’s Day I call my birthday. And, frankly, I think it’s much better that way. Holiday birthday’s can be rough (ask First-Time Mommy about having one the day after Christmas) but not mine. Because who really likes Valentine’s Day anyway?
Sure, kids do – after all, there’s candy involved – but for adults it’s awful. First, if you aren’t in a romantic relationship, you are reminded of how horrible that allegedly is all day long. Second, if do have a sweetie of some sort, you are pressured into doing something to show your beloved how much you adore them, by, say, taking them to a ridiculously crowded restaurant that is charging double for the same old serving of salmon. Or you can send flowers, which are also exponentially more expensive on this “special” day than they were just the day before.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lover not a fighter, and I’ll welcome any day that encourages people to be kind and affectionate. But does it have to also be so darn cliché, with all the red roses, sparkling wines and lovey dovey restaurant dinners? Give me a break.
For some of us, romance looks more like, well, True Romance than Love, Actually, and I, for one, would much prefer some Chinese takeout with my man than all the blood-orange sorbet those prix-fix places are selling.
Which is why I love having my birthday on Valentine’s Day. Because the birthday triumphs every time and I get to pick something fun (bowling, karaoke, dancing!) over something supposedly romantic. And really, what could be more romantic than 50 of your drunken friends singing Journey songs really badly or throwing gutter balls all night?
There’s nothing Hallmark’s got to compete with that.
So the pressure is off this Valentine’s Day: Do something stupid and fun instead of sophisticated and starry-eyed. Happy my birthday to you.
If you’re feeling like singing along to Journey right now, here you go! For the whole rockin’ lullaby collection, check out our Lullaby Renditions of Journey.
You know when people chitchat about raising children and say, “It’s not like it’s rocket science!” Well, I’ve got news…
I’ve decided that what I do, as a parent, on a daily/hourly/minute-by-minute basis on any day of the last eight years is, in the simplest of terms, launching a life; two of them actually. I am a rocket launcher and my kids are the rockets. Vrooooooom! And, yes, that would make me a rocket scientist.
My boys are 8 and 6, so NASA will not be calling me for tips anytime soon. These are multi-stage rockets, each with their own propellants – and there will be shrapnel, folks. This is a big deal; I’ve got to get this right. And I’m just getting to the good stuff: the teenage years, when all hell breaks loose and we see if I passed basic training, or aeronautics labs, whatever!
What I can tell you is this: I am putting in my time, loading up the kiddy trough, picking up the mail and every other toy and microscopic rubber band (cursed Rainbow Loom) that ever graced this fine planet, so this sh*t better work! I need a successful Mars landing folks.
Let’s talk 8-year-olds. I think we just dropped the first engine. Things they are a changing. I’ve heard young boys go through two puberties: the big one (say no more, gong show); and a mini-pre-puberty, happens around age 8-9. I’ll give you a hint: testosterone party.
For moms out there with wee-ones, who look into the eyes of their babes and see nothing but sugar, sugar and more sugar, I’m here to tell you: good-bye sweetness, hello smart-ass.
It’s a little heart breaking. They don’t need you as much, yet they’re as demanding as ever. In order to keep their interest in you, as a parent, and whatever you might have to teach them (ha-hem, lots), you have to immerse yourself in all things meaningful to your child. This means hours of Minecraft, soccer, Nerf guns, cars, sparring techniques, fossils, you name it. For me? Boy stuff. Boys, boys, boys!
Do you have any idea how hard it is for a former Barbie-loving, pukey-pink-bedroom-owning Wonder Woman wannabe? (I even had Linda Carter’s 8-track – she caterwauled more than she sang, but I wore out the label, staring at her picture). Will I ever be able to share these things with my boys? Not likely. I have committed to life as a rocket launcher. It doesn’t get more boyish than that. Thank, God, I had brothers; I know how to wrestle and I think farts are funny.
Which brings me to my point: what about my rocket, the one launched a few decades back? Where is it? Floating in space? Lost in the void? What happens to the grand dreams of parents when we become parents? The world no longer cycles the moon for us? Our once critical rockets lost in a large Magellanic Cloud . . . time to explore.
STAY TUNED FOR PART II. Traversing the identity-cloud…
Are you a rocket scientist, a rocket launcher or a rocket? Whoever you or your little ones might be, we think you all would appreciate a little “Rocket Man” from Lullaby Renditions of Elton John.
I’ve got to admit, while I of course loved my baby, Little D, as a baby, I can’t get enough of this toddler phase. She ventures into the world with so much wonder! And not only can she walk that world on her own, she can talkabout it . . . and I can actually understand her.
With every day that passes it’s something remarkable and new that she’s teaching us as fast as we’re (hopefully) teaching her. That especially applies to understanding how things work in the world or, rather, can work.
That’s what Toddler D reminds us every chance she gets: to think about possibilities versus limits. So I always try to give her freedom and space to show me how I can experience objects and my surrounding in general in a new way, and that’s what led to our sticker attack-tivity.
All you need:
tons of stickers!
child (baby, toddler, any age, really)
time to let things happen
optional: partner in crime/audience
All you need to do:
Step 1: Give the stickers to your child.
Step 2: Sit back and watch what happens.
Step 3: Don’t stop your child until he/she lets you know theattack-tivity is done.
Step 4: Celebrate his/her work!
Rockabye Baby Sticker Attack-tivity!
What happens when you leave a child with more stickers than she can count? THIS:
It started out innocently enough.
And in no time, sticker madness ensued.
Ta-da, Toddler D’s sticker constellation! But she wasn’t done yet…
She made her papa her canvas, too.
A really awesome canvas.
“Papa, stickers!” she squealed.
Then she decided the stickers needed to return to where they came from.
And the sticker attack-tivity started anew. No End.
Let us know how your Sticker Attack-tivity goes! We’d love to hear from you. And if we do, maybe you’ll be getting a roll of Rockabye Baby stickers for your child to decorate your home – or a loved one!
My three-and-a-half-year-old has suddenly developed nighttime fears – not of monsters, ghosts or bad guys but of shapes and shadows. She wakes up in the middle of the night terrified, her eyes big as saucers and is so scared she can’t speak. She doesn’t have to awaken me because I’m already awake, my maternal spidey senses zoned in on the fact something is wrong. Also, she still sleeps in our bed. It’s not like my spidey senses have to be that good.
She doesn’t grab on to me for comfort or say a word, she just lies there, stiff as a board. But I can feel the fright on her, heavy as our wool blanket. I tell her I’m there, that’s she safe, that everything is all right. I ask what’s bothering her, if she needs to go to the bathroom or to get a drink. If she’s too hot, too cold, too wired to sleep. Finally, she’ll whisper, “it’s scary,” and I’ll realize she’s staring down the ceiling fan (“It has eyes!” she told me one night) or a shadow on the wall. Or some nights, she’s just staring into space, alarmed by nothing but an empty void.
She acts so freaked out it usually scares me, too – though, of course, I don’t let her know that. I spook easily – always have. I’ve never been able to handle horror movies, true crime novels or even the cheesiest of ghost stories. (I’m still recovering from Twin Peaks, which I watched two decades ago – at least once a day I have to will myself not to think about Bob crouched behind Palmer’s couch.)
So I’m proud that I can play it cool with my kid’s fears – reassuring her in the midst of her panic and casually chatting about how we all feel afraid sometimes. I figured out this works better than telling her she has nothing to fear, which not only disregards her feelings, but it is also a boldface lie. Because let’s be real, there’s some stuff out in the world we really should be afraid of. Thankfully, the ceiling fan over my bed is not one of those things (it’s securely bolted to the ceiling, I checked).
Developmentally, it’s totally normal at her age for her imagination to run wild – day or night. Those shadows on the wall could be anything, and no doubt they are occasionally scary stuff. Or just the darkness itself spooks her. That’s okay, too. Darkness is real and part of life – I can’t stop the sun from going down every day. But I can hang out in the dark with her until she’s comfortable with it.
I’ve entered a new phase of parenthood, or, rather, my daughter has entered a new phase in her development: talking.
Granted, she’s been babbling for a while. I believe her first comprehensible phrase when she was around 5 or 6 months was, “No, Cricket!” imitating what me and her daddy say when our cat is being naughty. And she’s been stringing words together here and there ever since:
“I don’t want it!”
“Mama, where are you?”
And now, at 19 months, her speech is developing at such a fast rate that she repeats everything she hears, which means we have to really watch what we say.
Then, a few weeks ago, she spoke the words that I think every parent lives for.
And they made me melt. Did she understand what she was saying? Probably not. But I’m going to hold on to that “wuv” for the rest of my life.
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and that you’re keeping warm where you are!
Living in Southern California, sometimes you forget the rest of the country (and half of the world) is experiencing chilly weather during the last two months of the year. The day after Thanksgiving, while on a hike, my three-year-old declared it was so hot she needed to swim, so we left the park and went straight to the beach.
If you’re holed-up somewhere right now, wearing mittens and a scarf inside and sitting directly over a heating vent you might want to stop reading – it’s okay to be a heat hater in the deadest, dead of winter. You can frost me out.
But lately it’s been cold here, too – I’m talking low-50s cold, which in L.A. inspires all sorts of panic. (Last week a friend even found frost on her windshield!) So it’s finally time to put away the swimsuits and force my kids to start wearing shoes, which, unless they are my shoes (the three-year-old rocks high-heeled ankle boots far better than me), they hate.
But worse than shoes, worse even than socks, are sweaters. If you are a three-year-old and a toddler used to being barefoot and wearing sundresses or maybe, at the most, a T-shirt and jeans, apparently nothing is more soul sucking than being asked to cover yourself with a sweater, which, according to my eldest, “doesn’t feel good on my skin.”
“You know what feels worse?” I tell her, “a cold.”
“Please wear your sweater,” I beg every morning before taking her to preschool, the rare sight of my visible breath validating my cause. Nevertheless, by pick-up time, there she is shoeless, sleeveless, usually, also pantless; along with the sweater, she’s lost her leggings, and stands before me wearing only a sundress. Many of her classmates have similarly shed their layers, though we parents are all basically in parkas.
I’ve tried reason, coercion and even threats to get her to wear more clothes in the cold weather but none of it works. Either she doesn’t feel cold or her heavier clothes are just so uncomfortable to her that she’d rather shiver.
Either way, it’s a bummer. First, I really don’t want my kids to be cold – and secondly, kids look so cute all bundled up in a bunch of puffy layers. The only thing cuter than a naked little toddler running about is a toddler wearing a sweater, scarf and some snow boots. But that won’t be my kid-not either of them. Instead, my sun lovers are counting the days till summer.
Feeling overpowered by baby’s cries? If your little angel would rather rock the casbah than go straight to bed, let Rockabye Baby’s gentle versions of The Clash’s hits carry them off to dreamland. Sleep is calling.