Monday, May 23, 2011


Thought I would report the broad range of advice/reactions I have received after venting numerous times about Elliot and the biting. I did ask for tips, wanting to see what all you veteran parents would suggest.

- Bite him back. Give him a taste of his own medicine.
- Stay calm and consistent (sounds good to me...).
- Pre-empt the trips to the park or with other kids with a reminder of "When we're at the park, remember, you can't bite." Which hasn't been the issue, but you get the gist.
- This is very normal, you have to tame the animal instinct. He's protecting his territory.
- This is definitely not normal. You should be concerned.
- He's a toddler, he doesn't know.
- He's not in daycare, huh?
- This too shall pass. Sit tight and don't fret so much.
- You're over reacting, stop rehashing it.

All this tells me one thing: There's no golden answer. Well, and another- no two kids are just alike. It's funny how the people who never had a biter react so very differently than the people whose kids were biters.

Anyway, we had a great visit with Nancy and Leroi on Sunday. Elliot found out quickly that Leroi likes his goldfish crackers and readily fed them to him, then asked for his bowl to be refilled. It was quite cute. Leroi is the most gentle dog I've ever seen. Toddler fingers right in his mouth, offering a cracker, and only the tongue searches for the food...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Taming the Beast.

Midnight, Saturday. Checking in with my therapist [blog]. I need to vent in order to sleep.

I am really worried about Elliot biting. Many people have told me that this is normal, toddlers are frustrated because they can't communicate yet, the teeth hurt, yada yada. Well, it's not getting better and whatever we do does not seem to work. What makes me really fret is the fact that when Elliot seems upset or mad, his intuition is to hurt someone else. This I cannot seem to accept or deal with well.

Elliot mainly seems to bite me, but Thursday he bit Renee. I assume I am normally the target because I reprimand him more than anyone else and this makes him mad. Sometimes, though, it does seem he is being super-lovey and it turns into an overwhelming sense of emotions that he does not know how to express. But lately, it has really been more when he is mad. Today, he bit another child more than once.

Midday today, we had a birthday party for our neighbor's daughter. Their son, Riley, is 8 months older than Elliot (so, 2 1/2). He came over to play this morning while they got ready for the party. Poor Riley-- he really got the brunt of Elliot's bad habits and the repercussions during a grumpy morning. They don't get to play together very often but they certainly know each other. Of course, Elliot didn't share well-- that's expected. What I didn't expect was how fast he would turn to biting to protect his things. I fully didn't expect this and he did it before I could even realize what was going on. When shoving Riley's hand away didn't work, he so quickly bent down to bite his hand. Later, Elliot was hugging, or so I thought, and it turned intense and into an aggressive bite of Riley's sweatshirt. I think there was another attempt too. When I would prompt Elliot to go back and hug Riley as an apology, little Riley would back away.

Riley was so good here and played so well. There were fun moments, thankfully, when they would chase each other down the hallway, laughing, but the playtime pretty much ended when Elliot gave Riley a nice shove in the kitchen and they both went down. Really?!

We have been talking a lot already lately about Elliot's aggressiveness with grabbing and being territorial. Renee and us were discussing how we could get him to more group settings, organized play times, whatever. Most of these settings, however, still have us with him and we take him to the park almost everyday where there are other kids. And he did ok at the party today where there were about 6 other kids there around his age. (He did seem to find his space and play parallel, but that, again, is normal for this age.) It seems he's fine with older kids and even somewhat ok with a group of kids around his age. It's the one-on-one with kids his size that seems to be threatening.

When I mentioned this situation to Riley's grandmother today, she said, "Well, your house is Elliot's territory." We don't often have just one or two kids over to play. Or, if we do, it's for the 30 min before bedtime when we're playing poker or something.

Today really upset me and I can't seem to let it go. Pat is telling to stop rehashing it, but he wasn't here to see the beast. It was definitely the most aggression and angst I've seen from him. And repeatedly. My sadness also comes from Riley's experience-- he got to play a bit, be the brunt of Elliot's biting and shoving, and then sit there and wait while I reprimanded Elliot and Elliot cried. Fun times, eh?

I at first thought that we need to find a place to drop him off, with a group of kids and one caretaker or something, where he would have to learn to deal with others better and maybe get clocked back a few times. But, as I mentioned, the strange places with groups don't seem to be a big problem in themselves. I really think there is something to the notion that this is Elliot's space at home and it's rarely invaded by one individual that is of similar stature. Maybe that's a real threat to him.

So, how do we battle this? Invite individual kids over for playdates, knowing they will get bit and hoping they will help us tame the beast? Hold tight and cross our fingers? Sigh. Is this one of those phases (like rocking hard in the high chair?) that will pass as well? That's the hard part-- sticking with your plans of how to deal with it to stay consistent when it does not seem to be working... or changing it up to try to find something that works. I have trouble staying calm during these situations because I am appalled. So Elliot elicits a reaction from me for sure, but at the same time, I don't think it's really appropriate to just stay calm and say this is wrong and move on. It's a pretty big deal to bite someone.

Renee has been great. After talking with her about this, she read some articles for some tips. She confirmed the whole idea of trying not to give a big reaction, but I just can't seem to let go of the idea that he needs to know that I am appalled by this. I don't know what to do.

This whole thing of "Oh, he doesn't know..." doesn't fly with me. He knows and that's what worries me the most. He knows it hurts and that is exactly why he is using his teeth.

God or whomever, grant me patience and wisdom. We all need it in this household. And thus we enter the Twilight Zone of the Terrible Twos.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Day at the Office.

Cleveland Marathon, Kind Of.

Pat had been planning to run the Cleveland Marathon for a while now... On Thursday, he realized that he had never registered, after we had planned a 3-day weekend to go in! Regardless, we had a going-away party for Jessica, a friend moving to Montana for grad school, and to see family who we had not seen since Christmas. Pat found an injured friend and took his bib number for the half marathon, and ended up running his best time ever! Of course. And after having not run for 2 weeks...

We ran into some of Pat's neighbors from growing up who we keep up with on facebook (the Pavelich's). They had this little car in the garage for their grandchildren that was quite the hit. Then, the next day, we were saying bye to everyone, Elliot crawls in the front seat of our car, locks the door, and pretends to drive, while pushing every button and pulling every lever. Thank goodness the keys were in our pockets.

After getting in at midnight Friday and Elliot not sleeping AT ALL in the car (sigh, is that all over?!), Saturday morning Grandpa Papczun and I took Elliot to the park to play. He had a grand time, down every slide multiple times, and held Grandpa's hand for the walk home.

Then, we were on to Jessica's party (no camera, grrr), sans nap, and he had a blast on overload. Next was dinner with Uncle Bill, Aunt Jen, and Kyle, Timmy, and Kate until 10:30pm. The overstimulation was the perfect solution to no sleep and he went non-stop. He loves those kids, almost jumping out of my arms when they arrived!

Sunday was catching Avery with Dave and Jen for a quicky playtime at the house. We miss them in Chicago! Right as we had to part ways, the kids were warming up to each other. I had to dig out this old photo from when they were 5 months old to compare a similar shot that we all remembered. Crazy!

Then, lunch with Aunt Maryann (again no camera, grrr) before hitting the road. Busy but awesome weekend. Little melt-down-ish today at the restaurant, but what else can be expected for go-go-go?

Grandpa had spent 3 hours in the attic digging out all the toys that Pat played with as a kid. They were such the hit!! It was crazy how well the kids played with them. We were all amazed at how well they held up, metal and all, and how sharp those corners were!! Funny. Anyone else remember the car garage with the elevator for the cars?

Lots to update on new words, quirks, etc... but these have been massive updates so that will have to come later.

San Antonio and Little Cousin Klara!

Pat sister, Katie, and brother-in-law, Brian, had their first baby! Klara Rose George. We got to see her at 1 month old in San Antonio. It was a great trip-- we had been shopping for flights here and there and when a decent price popped up, we grabbed it. We completely didn't realize how nice of a get-away it would be with the weather-- high 70s/low 80s, sunny, breezy... It was lovely catching up with them, too. Brian had spent 7+ months deployed to Afghanistan (he's Air Force, civil engineering) so we hadn't seen him in forever.

Elliot at first swiped at Klara like he treats our cats (and scratched her poor little head), but after reprimanding and him realizing that everyone else treats this being with much care, he softened and became pretty affectionate with her. We had to limit him to touching her toes, though. With one finger. For a few days after we returned to Chicago, he'd wander around the house, saying, "bay-bah" for baby, looking for little Klara.

Our trip overlapped with Pat's other sister, Heidi, who came in from Wyoming. We caught her for one evening and then we had to leave the next morning.

At the Alamo.

I thoroughly enjoyed the infant snuggling. Pat had lots of naps with Klara, too, on the hammock on the back porch.

The ladies. And Elliot.

This is Elliot learning to smile for the camera. We were cracking up at this one.

Elliot loves to put things around his neck and to put on other people's shoes. Uncle Brian got him into the big boots, but they were way too heavy for Elliot to walk in. He still thought it was great.

New dad!

The flights were very exciting. The first was at bedtime, and Elliot did not sleep (bedtime was 11pm that night). He loves airplanes in the sky, so we had been explaining to him that he was going to ride in one. Watching them taxi was great entertainment. Then, the tray tables were up and down probably 30x... the next stint of entertainment. The flight back was right at nap time... and you guessed it, no nap!

Just a random shot from a while ago of Elliot enjoying his sidewalk chalk. He wouldn't give up the helmet this day-- we took an entire walk in the stroller wearing it... Just in case or something?