The perpetually happy child myth

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, our daycare center was closed, leaving me and Joe juggling Lily while trying to squeeze in our work responsibilities. So one morning, I took her to Jungle Java – essentially an indoor park with a cafe – when it opened at 8:30 a.m. We had the place to ourselves, which was blissful, for about 45 minutes, and Lily could climb and go down the slide to her heart’s content.

But then an onslaught – perhaps a large playgroup or a birthday party – of young kids and parents invaded, and Lily suddenly found herself physically overrun and stressed. I started to lead her away from the equipment for a few minutes, so she’d get out of the overwhelming crowd, and I offered a few food options; but she became more hysterical rather than less. (As Joe and I say in these moments, “Lily has left the building.”)

She wouldn’t let me hold her, arching her back away from me, and food and toys were of zero interest. So I laid her out on the carpeted floor of one corner and let her scream while I sat on a nearby couch. I tucked my legs underneath my body and cupped my chin in my hand and watched my daughter cry and writhe inconsolably on the floor. I felt, as I always do in this situation, like Nero playing his violin as Rome burned. But really, what else is there to do in these moments? Continue reading

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Aw – the first fib! So adorable.

So this came up more quickly than I expected. We caught Lily, a 20 month old, in her first conscious fib today.

Lily has lately, when asked “Are you poopy?” provided an accurate response. (We were shocked to learn that she’s enthusiastically started trying to use the potty at daycare, though Joe and I were thinking this was a year or more away.)

She did this today, too, answering with a “yes.” But when we said, “Well, we should change your diaper, then,” she said, “No!” “But aren’t you poopy?”

She paused briefly, then said, “No.” Right, kid. You’re cute, but you’re not getting away with that lie.

She tried it again later in the day, and Joe said, “We are in trouble with this one. She’s already trying to pull a fast one on us.”

Indeed. And all that stuff about children being innocents? I’m beginning to wonder.

Bedtime rebellion

So we’ve been spoiled and blessed up to this point with a little girl who, at about 8:15 p.m. every night, rubbed her eyes as you read her a couple of books, then, when asked by Joe whether she was ready to go up to bed, would say, “Yes,” and happily climb up into his arms.

Good times.

The last couple of nights, however, we’ve dealt with a lot of resistance at bedtime. Screaming to the point of gagging, mucous covering her entire face (and roping downward ickily), sitting up, refusing to take a pacifier (and the comfort it provides in moments of fear or panic for her), and calling for “Mommy” until, giving up, calling for “Daddy.”

Ugh. Last night, because of Joe’s work-related travel, I had to put Lily to bed, which isn’t the norm. And as anyone who’s been around really little kids knows, any departure from routine is a huge blow. So I held her hand until she was asleep, even though Joe generally sings a couple of songs and leaves, even if she’s awake. Up until this point, she’s fallen asleep on her own, sometimes pushing the button on the white noise machine/aquarium fastened to the crib until she drifts off.

Tonight, because she was screaming and fighting bedtime again, I offered to let Joe off the hook and let her hold my hand again. “She’ll come to expect and demand this every night,” Joe said, and while I knew in my gut this was true, I said, “I won’t do it every night. Just tonight.” Famous last words in parenting. Continue reading

When a negative is a great, big positive

Sorry to keep those of you who have been tuned in to my saga waiting, but thankfully, the news is good: my tests for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation – which indicates a greatly increased risk for breast cancer – were negative.

Not that you’d get that this was good news from the tenor of my appointment. I was led back to an exam room at U-M’s Cancer Center pretty immediately, and as I nervously pulled my scarf and coat off, the counselor said, “Well, I have what I think is good news for you.”

Instantly, I felt the cautious beginnings of relief, thinking, “There’s no way you could make this statement if the results were positive.” But then, I remembered articles I’d read about genetic testing in the past, wherein, in one case, a woman’s results were inconclusive, revealing a mutation that doctors couldn’t identify or define. But before I could think this through – this wouldn’t really be described as “good news,” would it? – the counselor told me that my results were negative, and that my BRCA1 and BRCA1 chromosomes were fine and functioning normally.

HOORAY!!!  Um … right?  Like, time to break out the really good wine, yes?

Not based on the downbeat, muted atmosphere of the appointment. Everything was couched in, “This is good news, but we’ll still want to watch you carefully, make sure you have a doctor giving you a breast exam every six months, etc., etc.” Right. Got it. That was pretty much the plan anyway. But hey – I was just thinking. Could I celebrate and mentally kick up my heels for, like, thirty seconds? Continue reading

My genetic test results are in – and I don’t know what they indicate. Yet.

It’s true. The University of Michigan Hospital – being the gigantic institution that it is – simply TELLS you when you have an appointment, so I’ve received notification that I’m to come in on Thursday to learn what my genetic test results indicate.

Though the day I provided the necessary blood sample was a bit sobering, the test has largely been out of my mind in the interim – a good thing, since worrying would influence the outcome not at all. Yet what I’ve found surprising is my readiness, my outright eagerness, to tell people that I’ve had the test and am awaiting the results. I’m not sure why this behavior has kicked in. Maybe I feel like the more times I talk about it, the more I’m absorbing the reality, and thus preparing myself mentally for either possible outcome.

In a way, I feel like whichever answer I get, I’ll reflexively think, “I knew it!” As in, “I knew the family history was too dominant for me to escape this,” or else, “I knew I was kvetching needlessly.” Inevitably, either response will be emotionally dishonest, since I have never found myself to have great (or any) powers of intuition. Continue reading