Monday, July 10, 2017

Energy and TV

Anna has a ton of energy and no idea how to manage it.  I've known for a while that she's an energetic child, but the complexities of this really hit me this past weekend.  Until she was two, the rule was pretty much no TV.  Then it became that screen time only happened on weekends.  That's still the rule, but we'll bend the rule for mid-week sitters on if one of us is sick and just needs couch / bed time.  The problem is that weekend TV was starting to mean a week's worth of TV crammed into 2 days- hours and hours of TV.  By the end of the day, Anna was tired but she still had pent up energy.  She'd release this energy by screaming, fighting, and being kind of awful in general. 

So, this week, we changed the rule a bit.  We allowed some screen time as we were running errands in the car, and we watched some TV for about an hour on Saturday morning, but otherwise we were outside doing things or inside being creative in the playroom.  The change in Anna was amazing.  Anna was getting the attention and the stimulation she so desperately needed, and she was really fun to be around.  At the end of the day, she still protested that she wasn't tired, but she got ready for bed anyway.  There weren't tears or screams or fighting.  

A big change for us was church.  Anna tends to not enjoy church because it means that she has to be still and quiet for an hour.  That's hard for any 3 year old.  This weekend, though, we cut the TV and played with her before our showers.  Then we took her and all the dogs for a walk.  Lastly, I told her if she was really good during church I'd let her watch her favorite show on the way to lunch and I reminded her of this a few times.  She was absolutely perfect.  She sat quietly and colored the whole time, she participated in the few parts of the Mass she's familiar with (Our Father and Sign of Peace), and she easily listened to directions during the Mass.  At the end, she clearly remembered what we'd promised, because she said, "IT'S OVER!!!  I can watch my show?"

I know it's just one weekend, and it may have just been a fluke, but the difference was amazing.  Meals went smoother, she was eager to try new things, there were fewer tears over everything.  Honestly, the biggest difference was that we did something other than TV time.

In the future, I need to remember this.  I need to remember that TV may mean some time when I can sit.  Where I can distract my child long enough for me to get a break.  However, it also means that I'll want the break more because every other interaction with my daughter will be fighting against her energy and her demands.  Instead of turning to TV when I'm lost as to what to do with her, maybe I'll take her for a walk.  Maybe I'll take her to the pool.  Maybe I'll grab the crayons and a coloring book and color with her.  Whatever I do, by keeping the TV off, I'll keep my daughter and my family happier.  That's definitely something worth remembering!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

10 Years

Cody turns 10 today.

I'm not quite sure what to write.  Words don't come easy to me, and I cannot begin to stress to importance of this dog in my life.  For someone who has never owned a dog or who has never been effected by a dog, you can never understand, and I can't explain it.

Cody came into my life right after college.  In most respects I was happy.  I was back home, I was newly married, and finances were decent.  I didn't have too many commitments (part-time job, volunteering, etc), but I really wanted a dog.  Hans and I lived with Dad at the time (hence the decent financial situation), and he was completely against a dog.  So, I proceeded to beg.  I researched breeds and breeders, I consistently cleaned the entire house, I did extra work for him, all with the hopes that he'd see this and consent to a dog.  Well, I have a pretty awesome dad, because my plan worked.  Two weeks before my birthday, Dad told me he'd consent to me getting a dog IF I got a doodle (he thought they were cool).  I'd figured that would be the case, so I'd been researching, and there was only 1 breeder in the area who had a dog available before Christmas.  Since my birthday is in October, I wasn't willing to wait that long.

I called the breeder immediately and told her I'd be there in 2 days, when both Hans and I could take the day off work.  The second I saw Cody, I dropped to my knees so he'd come to me, and I fell in love.  He was clearly nervous, but he let me hold him and he snuggled.  It wasn't until the next day when, after a few treats and little sleep the night before he crawled into my lap and fell asleep.  That started the most amazing relationship.

Cody has completely shaped my life.  Since the second I got him, everything I've done has been with him in mind.  The ease with which I trained him encouraged me to pursue training as a career.  Caring for him and playing with him eased anxiety in a variety of situations.  I became more social, more comfortable around others (particularly kids).  He helps to keep me educated on health issues because I want to know more about what's going on with him.  One of the reasons I started running was to give him more exercise!

Cody has been with me through so much.  He's seen me through long days at the kennel.  After our first week open, he slept for 36 hours straight!  When I was first pregnant with Anna, one of the things that made me wonder if I was pregnant was how he acted around me.  He was super-protective and would constantly lay across my mid-section.  So, yes, I'm certain he knew I was expecting before I did.  He was there for me when Anna was first born.  There were a few occasions when I couldn't get Anna to stop crying, so I'd hand her to Hans, take Cody to the bathroom where I could have a moment of uninterrupted silence, and I'd just hold Cody, calming myself down.  He was there for me when Mom got sick.  He let me cry, he didn't ask for anything when I was too tired or too stressed to walk him, and he accepted her dogs as new and welcome members of the family.  When she eventually passed, he came with me as I went hiking, trying to escape my situation, and he stayed in bed with me when I was too grief-stricken to function properly.

Cody has always been my easy dog.  Sure, he's not perfect, but he's my easy dog.  I've loved every moment I've had with him.  He's the best dog for career days at elementary schools because he's friendly, he's fluffy, and he does tricks.  He comes with me to shows.  He's fun to groom.  Saying I love this dog isn't enough.  I'm not sure there are words to express all that he's meant in my life.

So, today, Cody is 10 years old.  He's past middle age.  He's a senior citizen.  I know he won't be in my life forever.  One of the great tragedies of life is that dogs don't live as long as humans.  But he will forever shape my life.  My wonderful, beautiful Cody.