Featured post

Welcome

20140805_183309

Every woman has her own story to tell about becoming and being a mom.  Despite the commonalities, no two journeys are alike.  As a career-driven woman, I didn’t even start to think about getting pregnant until I was about 37 years old.  I never paused to think that I could be waiting “too long,” getting “too old,” or subjecting myself or my future child to risks that may not have existed at the age of 27.  I never considered the fact that having a child “late in life” could raise all sorts of concerns about my own longevity, estate planning or the fact that I’ll be in my sixties when my child graduates from college!  Yikes!  It never occurred to me that I may not be able to conceive or that the financial stability I wanted to create before I had a family could be lost in an economic recession of mammoth proportions unseen since the Great Depression.  I suppose if I had ever thought of any of these things, I may have made different choices or I may have been paralyzed with fear, who knows?

What I do know is that, at 42, I became a mom for the first time and it has been the single most joyful (and sometimes terrifying) experience of my life, unparalleled with anything I could ever have imagined.  Through news of my infertility to my decision to have a C-section to learning how to breast feed, I have evolved as a mother to our beautiful son, Julian.  Every moment and every step in this journey has unfolded as a beautiful adventure.  In writing this blog, my aim is to offer practical tips, solidarity, humor, and inspiration to women and couples who are starting a family after the age of 40.  In doing so, I often provide links to resources, providers and products that I have used and have found helpful.  I am not endorsing these people or products and do not receive anything from them for recommending them.

This blog chronicles my experiences becoming and being a mom for the first time at 42.  Thanks for visiting and good luck to you!

Best,

Marlene

Advertisements

Recipe for Progressive Discipline

For the last four weeks, Julian and I have been taking a Parent-Child class. The class is offered at a local nursery school that I toured back in September when I started looking at pre-nursery school programs for Julian. This happens to be a “Waldorf-based” program, which is a gentle, non-academic program that introduces toddlers to the world around them through creative play and cooperative activities. In our class, toddlers bake bread together (with parental guidance, of course) and then sit down together at a long table to eat the bread they have baked, drink tea, and engage with one another. It’s a truly fascinating experience, but it’s not actually the one I wanted to share with you in this blog post.

We have been learning so many things in our class, but one of the most practical has been how to discipline effectively. Believe me, we have tried time outs when Julian, now 19 months old, has the occasional fit or does something we consider unacceptable, like swat at our cat. We’ve followed the time-out script – we take Julian to a place where he can sit quietly for 1 minute, we explain why what he did was “wrong,” and we explain what we would like him to do instead, then we let him sit there for the remainder of the minute. Where Julian is concerned, our discipline seems to fall on deaf ears. It’s not a matter of whether he understands what we’re saying, because he does. Used in other contexts, he most certainly understands the words and gestures we are using. It’s just that this method of discipline just doesn’t resonate with him – not yet, anyway.

Instead, we have been following the recipe for “progressive discipline” that I learned in our Parent-Child class. I like this method, because it gets our point across effectively in a way that feels compassionate and productive without being pushovers. Here’s the recipe for progressive discipline:

Step One:            When your little one throws a fit, does something inappropriate, or does something that’s considered “wrong” within your family culture, TAKE A DEEP BREATH and don’t react for a few seconds. Give your child the opportunity to pick up on your rhythm and energy level. If you allow yourself to have a knee-jerk reaction – like screaming, admonishing, crying, shaming or blaming – your child is likely to react to your anger (by crying, running away, screaming having a tantrum, etc.) rather than curtailing his undesirable behavior or trying to understand what he did wrong. Do this before you move on to ANY of the following steps, it really helps!

Step Two:

Scenario 1:          If your aim is to distract your child from something that he wants or does NOT want to do (like play with a particular toy, leave a particular place, put his clothes on, etc.), ask him to help you with a small task (like putting the laundry in the washing machine or putting toys away), reading a book, building with blocks or identifying things around him.

Scenario 2:          If your child is throwing a tantrum or screaming because he’s unable to figure out how to do something, model for your child how to problem solve. For instance, if he’s unable to fit a shape in a puzzle, show him how to fit the right shape in the right hole by trying different shapes until you get the right one. If he’s unable to get his arm in his shirt, walk him through the process, explaining each step as you go, and so on. Model problem solving so that he not only understands the process of problem solving but the fact that it IS a process and that it requires calmness, patience, and perseverance.

Scenario 3:          If your child is doing something you consider inappropriate or “wrong,” model what you would like your child to do instead. For example, if your little one is batting your family pet, show him how to stroke your pet’s fur gently. If he’s throwing his toys instead of placing them nicely in his toy box, show him how to put things away quietly and calmly. Model what you’d like your child to do rather than lecturing him. Lecturing will probably freeze and overwhelm your child rather than encouraging him to take the action you want him to take.

In each of these scenarios, remember that children are hard-wired to imitate us, so it all comes down to modeling what we would like them to do rather than lecturing them on what we DON’T want them to do.

Step Three:        If your little one is still behaving badly, it’s time for “consequential discipline,” which can take the form of a time out or temporary revocation of certain privileges (like playing with a certain toy, playing with a specific friend, or going to a particular activity). But please remember that “consequential discipline” only stands to work if you are specific and follow through. If you’re not prepared to follow through, then skip this step for now, because failure to follow through will only cause your little one to keep pushing boundaries, knowing your proverbial bark is worse than your bite. If you ARE ready for “consequential discipline,” you must warn your child that specific behavior is unacceptable, then you must tell him what you would like him to do within a specific time period (say 10 seconds) and then tell him the specific consequence of not doing it (say, losing doll privileges for an hour or missing a playdate with a friend that afternoon). The consequence must be immediate and poignant.

As I said when I started this post, time outs haven’t worked for us so far (nor have we really needed them). I’ve found that the most effective way to discipline Julian is to do my best to understand the REASON he’s misbehaving. Is it physical pain or is it frustration, lack of ability or sheer willfulness? Once I recognize that, I can more easily change my behavior to model the kind of behavior I’d like my son to display. What’s the old adage: “Do as I say, not as I do?” Well, I think we all know that’s a recipe for disaster. I think it’s better to try a little tenderness.

Best, Marlene

Our Final Pre-Nursery School Decision

You may remember that I started touring pre-nursery schools back in September. I was super-prepared for the undertaking. I made a comprehensive list of questions that I thought were important to ask, I toured the schools, I talked to other parents, I spoke with our education consultant, and I even talked to teachers and former teachers from those schools! I quickly eliminated all but two. That was back in October and, since that time, I haven’t been able to make a final decision about which school to choose for Julian. I loved different aspects of each of the two schools, but neither of them truly felt like the right fit for one reason or another. I talked about these reasons in my blog post, “Our Pre-Nursery School Decision Deadlock,” on October 20, 2015 (http://1sttimemomat42.com/?p=531 ) so I won’t rehash them here.

Believing I had identified the best options for Julian, I’ve continue to labor over this decision since October. One day I decided on one school. The next I decided on the other. The day after that, I decided not to send him to school at two at all and wait until he was three, which is certainly an alternative that some of my friends have chosen. I was all over the place. Then I decided to look at a pre-nursery school I had heard of in Southampton, which is about 35-40 minutes from our house. I had discounted this school because of the distance from home, but I figured I should give it a chance since I didn’t feel good about enrolling Julian in either of the other two schools. And I’m so glad I did!

What I found at this school was a warm, nurturing environment that fosters learning through structured play and through theme-based teaching. Is the school perfect? By no means. In fact, it’s one of the least impressive facilities I’ve seen. Unlike the other two schools we were considering, this school does not have a lot of outdoor space, animals or much of a garden, its class sizes are a bit larger than the other two schools, and their music program leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t have the so-called “bells and whistles” that some of the other schools had, but at the risk of sounding corny, it has HEART!

What the school lacks in impressive facilities, it seems to make up for in providing a rich, stimulating, and caring environment. Even though the class sizes are slightly larger (by two children) than the other schools I visited, the teachers provide individualized attention to each student every day to ensure that each student is meeting age-appropriate developmental milestones. The school balances outdoor and community-centered activities with indoor and structured classroom activities. They also encourage parents to be as active or as inactive as they want, regularly welcoming parents into the classroom to observe, to serve as a volunteer, to read a story, to play music or to do an art project. I know what you’re thinking and while it’s comforting for me to know that I can visit Julian in school, I also respect the fact that the main reason we are enrolling Julian in school at the age of two is so that he gains independence, so I will be exercising this option sparingly, I promise!

Another thing I love about this school is the fact that it’s still being run by its founder and that she actively teaches one of the classes. I spent more than an hour with her and found her to be engaged, engaging, knowledgeable, professional, kind, observant, and, most importantly, caring. I felt she addressed all of my questions honestly, even when the answers were less than ideal. I was able to speak candidly with her about our goals for Julian’s education and social development while Julian explored the school’s playroom. He obviously felt relaxed there and, by the end of our meeting, I felt I could partner with the founder and the school to provide Julian with the kind of early education we’ve been seeking in a space that continues the kind of environment my husband and I have worked hard to create for Julian at home.

By the time I had left my meeting, I was feeling good about sending Julian to this school. That feeling got better and better as the week went on and I happened to meet a father and son at Julian’s dentist’s office. The boy was nine years old and was respectful, kind, bright, articulate, outgoing, well-composed, responsible, and gentle when playing with Julian. He was everything I would want Julian to be at that age, so I asked him and his dad where he had gone to nursery school. Of course, it was the school I had just toured! They were both effusive about the school and assured me that I “couldn’t go wrong” by sending Julian there. I think they’re absolutely right, so I’m happy to say our long and agonizing search for a nursery school is finally over . . . although my daily 1-hour-plus commute has just begun!

Here’s to your finding the right nursery school for your little one. If you would like a list of questions to ask during school tours, please read my blog post, the “ABC’s of Finding the Right Nursery School” (http://1sttimemomat42.com/?p=510 ).

Best, Marlene

Why It’s Important to Dress Your Child Warmly

Hi friends! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to post earlier this week. I’ve been down with the flu, which showed up just as Julian was getting over a nasty stomach virus. Health wise, it’s been a pretty unpleasant January, but, thankfully, we’re both doing much better.

I wanted to write today about the importance of dressing your child warmly, not because I think either of us got sick due to inadequate outerwear (because I think we’ve both been dressed adequately), but because I recently learned a few things that I found surprising and I thought I’d share them with you, especially since we’re in the middle of winter.

As children, I think most of us have had the experience of being overdressed or underdressed by our parents. My mom, for one, overdressed me so much that I could barely move. It used to take me five minutes just to get undressed when I came in from the cold. I used to tell her she was overdressing me. I would complain that I was uncomfortable and overheated, but her instincts were that I didn’t know my own body and that she was protecting me from the elements, so she’d wrap another scarf around my neck and a second pair of gloves on my hands until I looked like I’d burst!

Well, it turns out my mom was right. According to an article by Dr. Susan R. Johnson, MD, FAAP, called “The Importance of Warmth,” most children aren’t tuned in to their body temperature until they’re about seven years old. That’s the reason a young child playing in the snow without a hat or gloves may not realize she’s cold until she’s on the verge of hypothermia. At that age, children are usually so excited and stimulated by what they’re doing that they are unable to sense the coldness of their bodies. So, parents cannot rely on their children to tell them they’re too hot or too cold. To make matters worse, parents can’t even rely on their own sense of touch to determine whether their child is warm enough, because, according to Dr. Johnson, a young child will almost always feel warm to the touch due to her accelerated metabolic rate.

So, what’s a parent to do, then? The best practice is to dress your child as you would yourself. If it’s the kind of balmy Fall day when you’d wear a turtleneck sweater and a down vest, then that’s how you should dress yourself as well as you child. If it’s a snowy winter day when you’d wear two or three thin layers, a coat, a hat, and gloves, then that’s what you should both wear that day. Using yourself as the example is a great way to ensure your child is adequately dressed. It’s also a terrific way to get your child excited about wearing her clothes, because she will want to imitate you. If your child is constantly removing her hat, for example, ask yourself whether you yourself wear a hat. Your child’s refusal to wear her hat might not be defiance as much as desire to be like you – hatless!

Back to the importance of dressing your child warmly. I’ve always known that being cold make us less productive and gives us less energy to fight off illnesses, but I didn’t know that a young child who’s cold must use what Dr. Johnson calls “growth energy” to try and stay warm, which robs the child’s body of the energy she actually needs to grow and develop. This pertains to every part of her body, right down to her organs and her brain! That’s right. A child who’s using her “growth energy” to stay warm is actually developing at a slower rate than a child who’s adequately dressed and who isn’t using her energy to stay warm. I thought that was pretty surprising.

Julian bundled up

By the way, my mom was right about the fact that most children aren’t in tune with their body temperature until seven, but I was right too. She WAS overdressing me and I did spend most of my childhood winters overheating, which caused me to sweat and, ironically, to get colds frequently. The point I’m making is that, even though we can’t rely on what our kids are telling us (or not telling us!), we shouldn’t ignore them either. As with most things, I suppose the best policy is to take all relevant information into consideration and then wash it all down with some common sense.

Here’s to staying warm (and healthy) this winter.

Best, Marlene

Say it Isn’t So!

Happy new year friends! I hope you all had a peaceful, happy and uneventful holiday and that we can all look forward to a healthy, joyous, peaceful, prosperous, and abundant 2016.

On the subject of abundance, I’m thrilled to share with you the abundance of words and phrases Julian has been spouting since Christmas. Long gone are the days when he mouthed his first word, “mama,” with the most dulcet voice I’ve ever heard. Long gone are the days (about 3 months ago) when he astonished us with basic words like “more,” “milk” and “eat.” Shortly before Christmas arrived – and just as Julian turned 18 months old – as if by magic, his vocabulary started to explode.

Over the holiday season, Julian started to name every major part of the body, different animals, all types of foods, things in the kitchen, household appliances, and so much more. Here’s a list of some of the words he’s been saying (and probably a good example of the kinds of words you can expect your little one to utter at around 18 months!), much to our total awe and astonishment:

  • more
  • milk
  • peas
  • eat
  • food
  • apple
  • “nana” (for banana)
  • pear
  • “straw” (for strawberry)
  • “blue” (for blueberry)
  • Corn
  • “brocc” (for broccoli)
  • “mi” (for mix)
  • bowl
  • car
  • cat
  • dog
  • “lie” (for lion)
  • cow
  • pig
  • “hor” (for horse)
  • “fi” (for fish)
  • foot
  • head
  • hair
  • nose
  • eye
  • brow
  • ear
  • toe
  • teeth
  • shoe
  • pant
  • sock
  • coat
  • hat
  • “mitt” (for mittens)
  • bath
  • potty
  • uh-oh
  • bye-bye
  • “cray” (for crayon)
  • book
  • read
  • “mu-mee” (which apparently means music)
  • “chaw” (for chalk)
  • “fre” (for friend)
  • and, of course, “mama” and “daddy.”

While my in-laws were here for Christmas, Julian started to say “bubbie” and “zayzay.” And, since they left, Julian’s been perfecting his first poly-syllabic word, “library.” This language thing really is pretty amazing.

What’s MOST amazing is that he said his first rudimentary sentence last week. As we placed our cat’s food bowl on the floor, Julian said: “cat eat.” Naturally, we delighted in hearing this first phrase and the others that followed, like “I see,” “daddy potty,” “eat food,” and “cat poo.” My husband remarked that “he actually understands us now. We can speak to him and get a response. It’s incredible.” “Yup. It really is,” I said. “He’s retained and understood so many words. We’re now seeing the result of all those months of him listening and absorbing what we say. It’s totally fucking amazing.”

Just yesterday, our delight turned to shock when Julian unwittingly uttered his first expletive. As I changed his diaper, he blurted the words “eat me” and giggled. “Did you say ‘eat me’?,” I asked. As clear as day he repeated: “eat me” and giggled again. “Where did you learn that word? That’s not one of the phrases daddy or I say,” I queried. “Bubbie!,” he said. How funny is that? Well, given some of the creative expletives and phrases that daddy and I DO say, I can only imagine what his next sentence will be! We’re going to be in deep shit.

Best, Marlene

Breast Lumps in Nursing Mothers

Hi friends! I’m sorry I wasn’t able to post anything last week. Aside from making all the preparations for our Judeo-Christian Christmas celebration, I was so mentally preoccupied, I just couldn’t clear my mind long enough to write anything. You see, I found a lump in my right breast two days before Christmas. Not wanting to upset my family at Christmastime, I kept it to myself until everyone had left and my husband and I were alone again. That’s when I broke down and told him. “I think all the blood just left my body,” he said, as he turned pale. “I know, me too. I’m scared. I lost my mom to breast cancer and I don’t want Julian to grow up without me,” I said as tears streamed down my face.

Now, before I go on, I want to tell you that the story has a happy ending. We went to my OB/GYN yesterday and she sent me for a breast sonogram yesterday afternoon. I had the results in an agonizing 15 minutes and everything is fine. The “lump” I found is actually an inflamed nodule that’s common in nursing mothers and it’s totally benign! As soon as my sonographer uttered those words to me, I squeaked a tearful “thank you so much,” hugged her, and made a mad dash for my car, where my husband was anxiously waiting with Julian. I held Julian tighter than I’ve ever held him before and thanked God for the good news. I thanked God that my 18-month old son wasn’t going to grow up without his mother.

The last week has been a drama-filled experience. It was an experience that, at once, brought me back to the days of my mother’s diagnosis with breast cancer and gripped me with despondency about the possibility of Julian growing up without me. But it’s also an experience that taught me a lot about myself and my breasts! What did I learn about myself? Well, that my son is the most important thing in my life and that I want to be healthy, happy, and productive as many years as possible so that I don’t miss a thing. I want to be here every step of the way to guide and nurture him, hear his beautiful little voice, hold his little hand, stand by him as he becomes a man, support him when he fails, celebrate with him when he succeeds, and all the rest. After the scare I had, someone could have told me I had nothing in the bank, I’d never become a successful writer, and I’d never travel the world and I would have said “I’m okay with that, because I’ll live to see my son grow up.”

What did I learn about my breasts? A lot. First and foremost, I learned that it’s common for lactating mothers to develop all kinds of lumps and bumps while they’re pregnant or nursing. Some of the most common benign lumps and bumps are:

  • Mastitis or plugged milk ducts
  • Adenoma
  • Thrush
  • Milk-filled cysts called galactoceles
  • Inflamed nodules.

I also learned that a “lump” that is mobile and feels round or oval, smooth, and rubbery is likely to be one of the above. A “lump” that’s solid or hard, irregular in shape, and fixed is likely to be something more concerning. Other warning signs are breast pain, your baby’s refusal to nurse from the breast with a lump in it, redness or swelling of the breast and/or development of patchy skin near the lump.

Regardless of what you think you feel, if you find a lump, you should see your OB/GYN right away. She will perform a breast exam and probably send you for a sonogram, which is safe and doesn’t require you to stop nursing. (Ironically, stopping breastfeeding abruptly to have a mammogram or X-ray can cause some of these very conditions!) If your sonogram indicates mastitis, adenoma, thrush, galactoceles or inflames nodules, she may prescribe antibiotics, aspirate the cyst with a needle, tell you to apply hot compresses or take other steps that are minimally or non-invasive. If your sonogram indicates something more concerning, your OB/GYN will likely send you for a needle biopsy.

I’m not qualified to delve into the details of each possible condition or treatments of each possible condition. The purpose of this post is to give you some peace of mind if you’re a nursing mom who’s found a breast “lump.” While breastfeeding doesn’t shield you from breast cancer, it’s much more likely that your breast “lump” is a common, benign condition caused by the very act of breastfeeding. For more information about conditions that may cause breast lumps (and how to deal with them), please visit La Leche League’s website at http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvdecjan03p136.html or Breastfeeding Basics at https://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/breast-infections-and-plugged-ducts .

Wishing you a healthy and peaceful 2016!

Best, Marlene

Santaphobia

By this time in the holiday season, I was sure I would have had some beautiful pictures of Julian with Santa. After all, last year (and despite some pretty unsavory and unconvincing Santas we encountered, including of course the inebriated Santa who grabbed my ass!), we managed to get some lovely heirloom pictures of Julian sitting on Santa’s knee. There was no crying. There was no screaming. There was no fuss whatsoever, even though Julian was already exhibiting clear signs of separation anxiety with just about everyone else. Last year, the jolly man in the red velvet suit didn’t phase Julian one bit.

This year, things are different. On the one hand, Julian no longer displays separation anxiety. I’m happy to report that he now allows others to hold him – friends, family, and even educators and librarians he sees every week! Now I can leave the room and Julian remains engrossed in his play until I return a few minutes later. This is true even when we’re at the library, the museum or at a friend or family member’s house. On the other hand, this year Julian seems absolutely terrified of Santa. We’ve made no less than five attempts on different days in different places with different Santas, but Julian has vehemently refused even to go NEAR Santa, let alone sit on his lap. Instead, he’s clung, screeched, kicked, sobbed, and yelled “no, no!” as our turn came to sit with Santa. This year, the jolly man in the red velvet suit may as well have had horns and spit fire, because that’s certainly the way Julian has acted every time he’s seen Old Saint Nick.

Now I know fear of Santa Clause isn’t something new. Heck, I was terrified of him when I was little. Of course, in my defense, that may have had something to do with the fact that the Santa who came through my window on Christmas Eve was sweaty and smelled like whiskey and moth balls. But it also may have had something to do with his sheer magnitude and the fluffy white beard that obscured most of his face. I don’t know which it was, but I certainly was afraid of him – an unfortunate reality I will never, ever live down, as demonstrated by the ribbing I got just today from my cousin. Sigh.

Since Julian is a second-generation “Santaphobe,” I got curious about what might be causing his fear and what I can do to help him overcome it. My family saw fit to tell me I “had nothing to be afraid of” and forced me to sit on Santa’s lap when all I wanted to do was run to my room. They meant well, but that approach didn’t work and it’s probably the reason I was afraid of Santa until I was about eight! So, what techniques can you try if your little one is a “Santaphobe” (or is afraid of anything else, for that matter)?  Well, below are some tips from the child development book, What to Expect the Second Year (http://www.amazon.com/What-Expect-Second-Year-Publishing/dp/0761152776 ), and a useful article I found on www.parents.com called “Seven Ways to Overcome the Fear of Santa” (http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/fear/overcome-fear-of-santa-claus/ )

Apparently, the fear of Santa, clowns, dogs, vacuum cleaners, toilets, bath tubs, the dark, and doctors are all common fears that may arise in the second year of life simply because your little one is growing up. Heidi Murkoff, the author of What to Expect the Second Year, writes:

“Your toddler knows more and thinks more than she did as a baby, giving her more mind material for countless frightening scenarios. She’s able to grasp cause and effect, but without the experience to sort out the reasonable from the unreasonable, she thinks up consequences that might seem absurd to an adult. . . . Also contributing to fears are a growing imagination. . . .”

Ways to help your child overcome her fears?:

  • Realize that her fears are real even if they seem ridiculous to you. Instead of trivializing her fear by saying things like “there’s nothing to be afraid of” (which is something I bet most of us have said), validate her feelings and empathize with a story about something you might have been afraid of as a child.
  • Don’t force your toddler face her fears, at least not yet. Instead of forcing your little one to sit on Santa’s lap, for instance, implement a fear-reducing program that combines sensitive support with gradual exposure to Santa. For example, if your toddler is afraid of Santa, start exposing her to Santa by pointing out other children who are having fun sitting on Santa’s lap or by visiting Santa on several occasions to give her a chance to get comfortable. If your child is afraid of dogs, you may want to bring her to an animal shelter to visit with a special dog or two with input from a trained animal technician. Doing this may not only help her overcome her fear of dogs, she may learn how to care for a dog, she may bond with a dog, and she may even become a life-long dog-lover.
  • Allow your toddler to lean on you for support and assurance.
  • Don’t anticipate your child’s fears. Even if your toddler’s Santaphobia was at an all-time peak last year, while standing on line to see Santa this year, don’t anticipate that she’s afraid of Santa by saying things like: “Stay calm” or “Don’t be afraid.” That may only revive a fear your child no longer has or reinforce a fear she’s been working to overcome.
  • Talk to Santa before your toddler visits with him. Tell Santa that your little one is working to overcome her fear of Santa and share some personal information about your toddler that may help to soothe her fears if she DOES sit on his lap (such as your toddler has a new puppy, made a new friend or started a new activity).

I hope these pointers will make your visit with Santa this year a fun experience. As for me, well, I wish I had known what not to do before I took Julian to see Santa, because I basically did and said everything I wasn’t supposed to do or say. I’ve probably created a long-term “Santaphobe,” but at least I’ll know what to do the first time we go to the circus!

Best,

Marlene

Highchair Heave-Ho!

As soon as Julian started eating in a highchair, I started wondering when I should transition him out of it. I only wondered because I wanted to be prepared. I asked our pediatrician, who told me most kids transition out “by the age of two.” Then I consulted one of my favorite books, What to Expect the Second Year (http://www.amazon.com/What-Expect-Second-Year-Publishing/dp/0761152776 ), which said most children start to transition out of their highchair “sometime in the middle of the second year.” OK, so that narrowed it down to somewhere between about 17 and 24 months. That left a pretty wide window.

I don’t know why I was particularly worried about this issue when there are a million other things to worry about. More substantive things like Julian’s cognitive development, his fine motor skill development, his socialization. The list goes on. But I wondered about transitioning Julian out of his highchair, because I was worried I would stifle his independence if I kept him in it for too long. I was worried that I would miss the signs that he was ready to transition.

Well, it turns out I was worried for no reason, because about a week ago, Julian made it painfully clear that he was ready to transition out of his highchair and I couldn’t have missed the signs for anything. I couldn’t have missed the signs if Julian and I had been in different time zones! Julian’s refusal to sit in his highchair came about a week before his 18-month birthday in the form of back arching, whining, kicking, screaming, and lots of huffy “no, nos!” At one point, he even pushed the highchair down the hall. I guess he figured if we couldn’t see it, we wouldn’t try to put him in it, which, sadly for him, was not the case.   Admittedly, we did try to squeeze him in the highchair once or twice despite his adamant refusals, but when he cried and rejected all food we offered him while he was imprisoned in the highchair, we knew it was time.

So, one night last week, we let him climb into one of our dining room chairs (actually, it’s a bench), propped him up with pillows, and pushed the chair snuggly against the dining room table. Surrounded by mis-matching, multi-color, multi-textile pillows that we had taken from our sofa and our bed, Julian looked more like a pasha than an 18-month old. I half-expected him to ask us to peel him a grape! Instead, he happily reached into his bowl and fed himself blueberries and slices of clementines.  It was the first meal he ate sitting like a big boy at the table. No highchair, no harness, tray, just Julian . . . and about 15 pillows.

Julian eating at table

Like the feeding strikes he went on earlier this year before we realized we needed to let him choose what he ate and when he ate it (within reason), his rejection of his highchair and his decision to sit on a chair and eat at the table are other ways Julian has started to exert his independence. Some other ways include helping me load and unload the washing machine and the dishwasher, scattering his toys and books throughout the house, taking the mixing bowls and Tupperware out of the bottom cupboards, choosing which “me-mu” (that’s “music”, by the way) he wants to listen to, pouring water into the cat’s fountain (even to the point of overflowing), and setting the alarm clock to go off at 2 am (and us not realizing it until the damned thing rouses me out of a sound sleep!). While there are days when I wish Julian was still Pod-bound (and I bet you can guess which days those are!), most days I’m absolutely awed by his amazing growth and, indeed, by his growing independence.

Best, Marlene