Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Big Ol' Bald Spot

Ethan is definitely not an easy toddler. He was a breeze as a baby, but we're paying for it tenfold now that he's in the thick of his terrible twos. Here's his latest behavior: pulling out his own hair. He started this when we were on our trip to Washington, D.C., and would mainly pull out his hair during a tantrum. It makes sense - his schedule was off, he was away from his daddy for the first time, and he heard "no" way more than he wanted to during our flights. I only saw him do it a few times during our vacation, but it's really picked up now that we're back.

As soon as I noticed that his hair was thinning out, I called the pediatrician. She was not at all concerned, and let me know that it's very normal. I asked if there was anything I should be on the lookout for - warning signs that would let me know to bring him in to be checked out. She said that unless I see damage to his scalp (from scratching or picking) that there's no need to bring him in. It's a phase, and he'll grow out of it.

The hardest thing about this (other than looking at a GIANT patch of emptiness where his beautiful hair used to be) - he only pulls when he's in his crib. Where he quietly babbles. Or sleeps. But never screams. So what do I make of that? The behavior has now become a way for him to self-soothe. It's like sucking his thumb. He probably doesn't even realize that he's doing it. And since I can't catch him doing it, I can't address it. I've started documenting the damage on my camera phone, so that I can objectively compare over time to determine whether or not the spot is getting bigger. Today was photo #1.

Here's the bald spot:

Here's what we've tried:
- More calming routines at bedtime (bathing, rocking, singing, etc.)
- Tiring him out before we put him down so that he falls asleep quickly instead of crying or playing in his crib
- Keeping his schedule ├╝ber-consistent (As opposed to our super INconsistent vacation schedule)
- Talking to him about his bald spot ("Owie! No pull - be gentle. *help Ethan softly pat his head* That's right, gentle. No pull, be gentle.")

Here's what we've got left to try:
- Shave his head

That's about it. I really can't think of anything else I can do that will be effective. I need to break the habit, and without being able to give him a replacement behavior for the hair pulling, I'm out of luck. Unless I take away his hair. No hair = no pulling. He'll be forced to kick his habit, cold turkey. By the time his hair grows back to pulling length, he should be over it. Hopefully.

With family visiting soon for Ryan's upcoming grad school graduation, we're holding off a bit longer before we pull out the clippers. That leaves enough time for all of you to share your brilliant ideas for how to solve this little problem of ours. Or to leave a supportive comment, encouraging me that all will be well.

Fix this, please - I'm dying over here!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Think the UN is Hiring?

Dear United Nations,

I realize that I neither hold a degree in linguistics, nor am I fluent in any other language than my native English. However, I believe that real-life experience should not be underestimated, and that I possess the necessary skills and constitution to join your team of translators. What, may you ask, is the impetus for my inquiry into open positions? Well, sir or madam, the inspiration struck yesterday when I was at the park with my toddler. You see, facilitating a play date is a lot like being responsible for conveying the messages of important heads of state. The same sort of language barriers that are seen from country to country are also evident from age group to age group. Though they were speaking the same dialect only a few years prior, children in the 7 to 10 year old age range simply do not understand the language of toddlers. That's where I come in. With my playground interventions, I bring people together. I clear up misunderstandings. I prevent attacks. I spread goodwill. How much more qualified could one person who doesn't speak any language other than English be?

To strengthen my appeal, I submit for your review a few excerpts from my Toddler Translator. It began as an Ethan to English dictionary, but it's proven so helpful that I've decided to release it worldwide. Some of my favorite entries are listed below:

Etymology: from English "help"
1 : to request assistance or support ("Bup, peas." - See entry "peas" for further translation.)
Etymology: from English "up"
2 : to request to be lifted or carried ("Bup, peas." - Very similar to above definition, and therefore quite confusing.)

Etymology: from English "follow"
1 : to request that a person drops what he or she is doing and accompany the toddler to wherever he wants to go ("Maho me!") This is usually paired with an outstretched hand that the toddler expects the requestee to take.
*See, I'm even skilled at nonverbal communication! Hire me!!!*

Etymology: from English "food" or "snack," derived from first learning how to request a favorite fruit, then extending said request to cover all foods
1 : to indicate that one is hungry, or at least that one wants to eat ("Nana?")

Etymology: from English "banana"
1 : a specific snack request of a sweet and soft yellow fruit ("Nanana? Nanana!")
*Note how the request with a question inflection quickly turns to a shouted demand. It's best not to delay provision of a banana, unless you want to see what the combination of a hungry AND angry toddler looks like. It's not pretty.*

Etymology: from English "please"
1 : a term of politeness that increases the likelihood of request being fulfilled ("Bup, peas." - See entry "bup" for further translation.)
*Clarification - "peas" never actually refers to the vegetable, as my child refuses to eat fresh veggies.*

While still in development, my patent- and copyright-pending Toddler Translator will in its finished form be quite extensive. I hold complete confidence in its destiny to be the "it" reference book for parents to be (after "What to Expect When You're Expecting," of course). I thank you for your time and consideration, as well as your out of the box thinking when looking to hire your next translator. I look forward to speaking with you further about how I could be an invaluable asset to the United Nations translation team.


Sarah Notch, Ph.T. (Psychologist of Toddlers)

PS - I also posses skills in the area of behavior management. May I suggest assigning a time out to leaders who break UN agreements? Just a thought.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jelly Bean Boy

Can a season bring on a sense of nostalgia, year after year? Spring always feels so special for me. Perhaps it's the rebirth - green buds on trees, the sound of birds singing, and the crisp smell in the air. It marks the end of dull, dreary, frigid winter, and begins the countdown to summer vacations. When I was a kid, my mom would teach us the names of all of the flowers and trees that were blooming. My sister and I would get all dolled up in our Easter dresses and take pictures amongst the daffodils. We'd pick out patterns and spend all spring sewing bags for our summer adventures - canvas sacks that would hold swimsuits and juice boxes and treasures we'd find in the backyard. Now that Ethan is a toddler, I find myself doing a lot of the same things my mom did with me when I was little. Though I've not yet given him a needle and yarn, we've started doing art projects. I'm reading him some of my favorite childhood books. We're starting our own traditions, heavily influenced by things that I remember and adore from my younger years.

In that spirit, we held our first Easter Egg Hunt this year. Not only was it his first Easter Egg Hunt, it was also the first time he experienced the sweet sugary taste of jelly beans. As you'll see from all of the chewing in the video, he enjoyed searching for his yummy treats!

With summer right around the corner, I'm already planning adventures for us to have. I have no choice about growing older, but having a kid means I never have to grow up!