Kiddie Music? They Prefer Bowie.

guitarThere is no such thing as “kiddie music” in our house. There is only one music, and it’s called MUSIC.

Twice, I took my kids to those free kiddie music “concerts”, where musicians perform kid songs and the kids dance up front. All three cried. Both times.

I guess they prefer David Bowie. Lou Reed. Rolling Stones. Black Keys. Neil Young. Black Sabbath. Led Zeppelin. Loudly. With dance parties and miniature guitars.

The normally extroverted Twin B clung to me with shaky arms as he watched the other kids sing along to “Wheels on the Bus.” My oldest, who has his own toy guitar, could barely stand to look at the guitarist singing about cats. He had a look of disdain on his face, before sobbing that he wanted to go home.

There is no such thing as “kid music” in our house.

Sure, I sing the kid classics to them myself every day, but there is no way in heck you will hear it coming out of my speakers. Momma can sing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” but the subwoofer can’t. Won’t.

Montessori schools maintain that you should always teach the children with real objects, like real tools and dishes, only smaller. There should be no baby-fying of everything. Adults in the Montessori world are expected to use proper terminology as well. Objects and vocabulary should not be dumbed down for children.

I take the Montessori thinking and apply it to our music as well: I am not dumbing down music for them. They get classical (from my husband) and rock (from both of us), because that is what we enjoy. (Oh, and plenty of church hymns on Sundays to round us all out. We love Jesus *and* we love rock n’ roll.) There is not a separate world for them. I was raised in this way, only much much louder. My dad didn’t turn it down for my bedtime, and I loved going to sleep with 110 decibel Led Zeppelin.

If you and your kids enjoy kid songs, then more power to ya. All I’m saying is, if you don’t like to hear kid music in the car, then don’t play it. They’ll be fine. Although they might not like free kid concerts.

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My favorite rock n’ roll from two-year-old twins:

“Hot tramp, I wuv you so!”

“Another one bites the bust!”

And, the best ever is their version of “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways:

“I’m your ch- ch-ch- ch- DAIRY FARM!”

Fireball of Change: Twins Breach Cribs

Four weeks and three days ago, my twins showed each other how to bite their binkies in half.

Result: Storing the nipple in their cheeks for hours; near-death experiences

Four weeks and two days ago, I broke my twins of their binkies.

Result: Crying for only one hour; sleeping through the night; asking casually for binkies once in a while.

Four weeks and one day ago, my twins breached their cribs.

Result: Massive hysteria; pummeling brother; WWF moves of leaping brother’s crib and trapping and maiming brother

Four weeks exactly ago, we turned their cribs into toddler beds.

Result: No more trapping of weaker twin; mass hysteria; hyena-like antics of spinning in circles; shrieking while literally bouncing off the walls; beating each other over the head with toys and shelves; crazy twin keeping sleepy twin awake at all costs; momma sleeping with both eyes open; no more napping

Oh my gosh.

Life as I knew it ended a month ago. As a “triplet” mom, I have a stranglehold on my kids’ schedules. Like most every mom, I only survive the day because I know I have nap time to recharge – mentally and physically. However, my job is a little more physically demanding than moms of singletons. As a result, I usually collapse in a heap as soon as I throw everyone in their bed/cribs and am too tired to even lift the remote. How would I fare if my twins quit napping?!

With the twins’ trick of turning the binky into a perfectly-esophagus-shaped choking nightmare, a fireball of change was unleashed on my head.

Only now, after our resolution, can I even begin to write about this ridiculous endeavor. For four weeks and three days, I was held hostage by this fireball of change. I was sleep-deprived and sanity-deprived. (Oh, yeah, so were the kids, but let’s be honest: I am talking about myself today.) I didn’t sleep at night and I didn’t recharge at naptime.

Pool noodle = no more thumps in the night

Pool noodle = no more thumps in the night

After sleeping with my eyes open for a while, the twins finally started sleeping through the night again. It took a lot of sleep re-training, a lot of pitch-blackness, and also a couple of pool noodles. Yep.

We removed all night lights. I think the darkness scares them enough to keep them in their beds at night. Remember that, folks: night lights are NOT your friends. Living in the dark dark woods without street lights, or even any moonlight, is your friend. (Also, don’t try this in June.)

And as for the pool noodles? Well, if you can’t afford the bed rails to keep your twins from falling out of bed at night, learn from the Master: take a saw to a one dollar pool noodle, and shove them under the sheets. (Just don’t let your kids see you changing the sheets, lest they think bedtime equates with beach fun.) They haven’t rolled out since.

Once they mastered sleeping at night, momma wasn’t quite so sleep-deprived, but I was still majorly sanity-deprived. They just could not calm down enough to sleep at nap. The freedom was too intoxicating. Who cares if they don’t sleep at naptime, you might ask? Can’t they just have “quiet time”? Well, let me explain a few things:

  • They were happily sleeping a solid 2.5 hours each until the day they bit their binkies apart, so it was obvious that they still need nap. My oldest son quit napping long before he turned two and he was just fine, but I kept putting him in his room for quiet time. This ain’t my first rodeo.
  • My Hurricane Boy, Twin B, does not know the meaning of “quiet time”. Even after our major childproofing, he broke the blinds, he removed wooden shelves from the wall-anchored bookcase and used them as weapons, and he broke a childproofing lock on his dresser drawer and then broke the drawer off the hinges. He is my tiniest boy, the one from the NICU, and he acts like the Hulk (only without the anger).
  • My twins were taking turns torturing each other. The wails of pain kept me running up the stairs constantly. I would find a new bite mark, a book (or wooden shelf) to the forehead, or a sad boy sobbing, “Brother no hit! Night night all done!!!” It was horrible, and it never got better.
  • My twins were keeping each other awake, but would sleep well* if separated.

*By “sleeping well”, I mean that both twins would nap just fine for anyone but me – including Daddy, mother-in-law, and even my friend Chrysta from church. (Bless that woman: she came over a few times just to pat the Hulk on the back and lie down on the carpet next to him, so I could have a break.)

Never, and I mean never, would the Hulk sleep for me in his own bed.

How do you think this makes a momma feel?

I used everything I had. I stepped back and dug deep into my poor swiss-cheese-holed brain to access my education training, my developmental psychology training, and even my church teachings. I prayed. I sobbed. I felt like a failure. I greeted my poor husband at the door with Crazy Eyes and Crazy Hair. Nothing worked on that Twin B.

It was like newborn days all over again. I had no control, chaos reigned, and I had no.idea.what.I.was.doing.

Kids were cranky and sleep-deprived. But momma was more cranky and sleep-deprived. I couldn’t write or blog, because naptime was gone and my early mornings were NOT spent getting up with my husband at 4:30 AM. My brain became an anxiety-ridden tangled web, where nothing went in or came out. My ideas got log-jammed. My wires got crossed. Writing helps me organize my thoughts. Without it, I was a wreck.

This weekend, we decided enough was enough. It is clear that I can’t fix this problem. I can’t make Twin B sleep without his crib, even though everyone else can. My mailman probably can. My dog probably can. I just can’t. He feeds off my anxiety that seeps out of my pores like fuel. My husband has the magic touch for both me and Twin B. Bless my husband: he never blamed me or shamed me about my inability to handle that kid. (He teased me a little bit…) We figured four weeks was enough time to know that Twin B was not going to adapt to this level of freedom – at least not in a way that I needed.

Twin B got Plan B.

He got exiled.

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We completely emptied out the guest room (which was formerly the nursery). We made a couple trips to Lowe’s and Babies R’ Us. We didn’t childproof that room: we Twin-B-proofed that room. We simply took everything out, locked it down, and left a mattress on the floor. Mr. Okayest helped him get used to his new nap room, and that’s that. The twins are separated for nap. They still sleep together at night.

This is totally a first-world problem. Woe is me! I have an extra room on hand in which to put my kid! I have noise machines to drown out the other kids! I have each child in his own room! I live in the woods, where it’s so dark! I am relaxing with a blog! I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous to any mother from any other country, or any other socio-economic status, or any other time period in history. Shut up, Okayest Mom, and be glad you’re not all sharing one little mat on the floor in one little room. I know.

And yet…

Now I can breathe. I can rest. I can relax. I can write. The world is back to normal…. At least until the next fireball of change comes.

 

***

 

PS, Yes, I am totally aware that if I had abided by the Montessori method of putting my newborns on a mattress on the floor from the start, instead of in crib jail, that this whole fireball of change would have been prevented. I made my bed, and then I had to lie in it. Only I didn’t get to lie or lay or anything… oh, you know what I mean….

 

Childproofing is Stupid and Overrated… for Moms of Singletons. Twin Moms Need Hot Lava Moats.

I got desperate while cooking one day. PS, This did not work.

I got desperate while cooking one day. PS, This did not work.

Childproofing is stupid and overrated for moms of singletons. Childproofing is necessary and underrated for moms of twins (or triplets in my case, as my niece lives here too). Some children need it; some children don’t. Twin moms, however, are in another category altogether.

We have considered hot lava and sharp rocks to keep my twins (triplets) in line.

My oldest son barely needed childproofing. We might have added a few outlet covers here and there, but, whatever. In order to be approved for adoption, we had to put child locks on our cabinets and prove that we had childproofed the house to our social worker. Do you realize that this means that we childproofed our home BEFORE he arrived? Eighteen months before he arrived! What is this, New York City? We are not the kind of family that childproofs before a baby starts crawling – much less before a baby arrives – much less 18 months before he arrives. The irony of the adoption home study is somewhat cruel and ridiculous.

Needless to say, as soon as we were approved, those cabinet locks came down. After placement, we figured that we would re-childproof when he started to crawl. We soon realized that, while our son was a whole lot of work, he was just not a climber, or a sneak, or a runner, or a hider. He was never far from my hip, either. He was content to play with the pots and pans while I cooked, and didn’t need to take dinner prep a step further by pulling a chair over to climb on the counter to reach the knives. He was content to read his own books, and didn’t need to take story time a step further by scaling the bookshelf and tearing my novel pages from bindings. He was content to play with his toy tools, and didn’t need to take home repair a step further by sticking real screwdrivers into outlets. He had his challenges, but he was obedient. I knew I was lucky.

Children should be free to explore their environment! Children should be a part of their own homes! Children will never learn safety skills if they live in a bubble! Children should not be gated off like dogs!

Enter twins. Other twin moms warned me: twins will work together to undo child locks. Twins will always have an audience to impress, and will do naughty things from a very young age to make the other giggle. They were right. At the age of 16 months, one of my twins is the ringleader of all three of my children, and I knew that would be his role when he was still in the womb.

Enter triplets. When my niece, who is not much older than the twins, moved in with us, I suddenly felt like I had triplets.

I cannot look three (four) directions at once. I cannot move three (four) directions at once. Not all the children are old enough to understand or obey. Childproofing became an absolute necessity.

We started out normal enough. Outlet covers, cabinet locks, and we’re good to go, right? Wrong. Anything that is plugged in will be yanked out, and then overturned for the sheer testosterone-y pleasure of it. We had to get those covers that cover the entire outlet and whatever is plugged into it. Later, we just had to get rid of anything that plugs into the wall. The cabinet locks can be undone by the most vigorous twin, and now he can open drawers too. He can pull cutting boards off the countertop onto his head. He comes running for splattering oil and the open door of a 450 degree oven. We gave up and just gated off the whole kitchen. Sadly, that involved drilling into our cabinets. Sigh. No worries, though, because now I will cook long, luxurious meals just so I can have an excuse to stand in there alone.

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A gated-off kitchen makes a happy momma, and that makes happy kids.

We have a brick fireplace hearth that spans the length of the entire living room, and the right angle of the brick is just at the right height to cause brain damage to whatever neck would land on it wonkily. So we got that “edge-proofing” cushion stuff, which is held on by double-sided tape. That tape was not enough to stop my kids. It came off immediately. Then we tried taping on pool noodles cut in half, and, when that didn’t work, we bought some sort of adhesive pipe cushion for plumbers. No use. Then we just let them hit their heads for a while, until wintertime came and we needed to turn on the fireplace. Now the whole thing is gated off by a long fence. Same story with the TV/music room: we tried to make it work, gave up, fenced it off. My square footage is shrinking.

Please note the use of plywood, bungee cords, a heavy ottoman, and a changing table to keep that fence in place.

Please note the use of plywood, bungee cords, a heavy ottoman, and a changing table to keep that fence in place.

The kids started climbing on the kitchen table, so we decided to stop using it. Now we eat in the formal dining room that has been gated off… but first we took the rug out. We can’t have four kids under four eating on a rug three times a day. Now we can actually set the table and clear the table without my El Diablo twin pulling a bowl of hot Iranian green chilies onto his face.

The dog crate that fits a 100 pound dog… end tables… record album collection… diaper pails…vent covers: there is no end to the things they try to conquer. (I’ve already retrieved bread, duplos, blocks, and sippy cups from inside the vents.)

Maybe because they are boys, they just want to mount, climb, stand on, or smash every single part of this house. (And, yes, they have plenty of toys, but they prefer the house itself as a toy.) They are like goats who are always trying to stand on the highest tree stump.

endtable probsFor example, when they started to climb on top of the end table, we took the glass top off so they wouldn’t shatter it. Then they just started to stand inside the open top of the table. Then they started to stand inside it together and practically fist-fight inside the end table. Then we just removed the whole table. Who am I to think I can have “triplets” AND end tables? Silly me!

We are constantly removing furniture and adding baby gates and fences. Subtract, add, subtract, add: that’s what childproofing is all about. We have a guest room full of end tables.

We had to lock the toy closet, too, because they would dump the bins. I worked at a Montessori school, so I know that bins are bad – they are just an excuse to dump. Ideally, we wouldn’t have bins of toys. But this isn’t a Montessori school, dang it! My oldest was wonderfully trained to pick one toy, use it, clean it up, put it away, and pick a second. Somehow that is not translating to the “triplets”. What is worse is that now my oldest has even lost his ability to play with one toy at a time, because he is caught up in the chaos! Now we have child-locked even the toy closet, and we adults choose one or two bins to take out for them to play with that day.

I hate hurdling over baby gates to get to the fridge. I hate opening the plastic fence when I want to watch TV at night. But, no matter how much I hate this stuff, I feel the worst for my oldest son. He never did anything to deserve this level of lockdown (not even as a baby!). Before all this childproofing nonsense, I had taught him how to get his own (pre-poured) milk from the fridge, get his own snack from the pantry, make his own sandwich (kind of), get his own books, and get his own underwear and clothes if he needed a change. Now, the kitchen is gated. The upstairs – and, thus, his bedroom – is gated. Even his books with “paper pages” (i.e., not board books) are behind the dang baby fence! And he can only see half the TV when he watches it, because all the media is behind a big fence too. He has lost a lot of his hard-won independence, but he doesn’t complain. Well, if by “complain”, I mean “tantrums”, then yes, he does complain sometimes.

We have considered alternatives. Instead of gating off most of the house, why aren’t we gating them IN? Why don’t we put the baby fence in a circle and trap them inside? Well, that would be a good solution if we wanted to hear even more loud screaming. Also, with twins, one pushed the whole playpen around, while dragging the other twin down behind him inside the fence.

Other alternatives  we’ve considered include hot lava moats, electric fences, and sharp rocks on top of the couch, like anti-pigeon spikes.

My ponytail looks like this at the end of the day. I usually say something to my husband like, "Honey, I will try not to look so crazy tomorrow."

My ponytail looks like this at the end of the day. I usually say something to my husband like, “Honey, I will try not to look so crazy tomorrow.”