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The prairie dog

Bun Bun has finally selected a comfort object. It’s a black-tailed prairie dog. (Stuffed. [I mean, it’s a stuffed animal, not a taxidermied actual prairie dog or a live prairie dog, both of which would be unacceptable.]) My mother got it for Bunlet while we were in New Mexico, so naturally Bun Bun prefers it to any of the many stuffed animals people have actually gotten for HER. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, and I love seeing her walking around clutching a stuffed animal to her chest just as much as I imagined I would. Plus it’s great to have something I can give her when she’s upset that helps her calm down, and where’s your prairie dog? is a great way of distracting her, and, needless to say, the way she pronounces prairie dog is pretty afuckingdorable.


Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a lot more solo childcare than usual lately–Mr. Bunny’s been gone a lot. It’s been fine part of the time and horrible part of the time and somewhere in between part of the time. I was having a bad moment last night. Bun Bun was being fragile, which was making me mad, despite the fact that getting mad was not going to help AT ALL, what she needed was cuddling, but I was just so tired of the sensation of someone clinging to my legs, and the sound of whining and shrieking, and I wanted to fold the damn laundry that was strewn all over the bed. I was on the point of putting her in her room and closing the door on her.

This is not something I’ve ever done before. However, this is totally something I expect to do in the future. I happen to believe separating child and parent is a valid way of resetting both parties, and am not interested in your opinion that it’s abusive. But I’m not quite ready to go there yet, maybe because I’m not sure she’s ready for it to be a productive strategy, or maybe because when I do it, I don’t want to be angry, I want to be a bit more deliberate about it, which has probably never happened in the history of the world… Anyway, I was on the point of doing it, which I suspect would have resulted in her sobbing for who knows how long, and me feeling like a total monster, and probably being a worse parent for the remainder of the day because I’d be all guilty and frustrated. But she’d dropped her prairie dog. And I was NOT going to lock her away without her prairie dog. And in the time it took me to pick it up, I changed my mind. Instead, we cuddled on the bed, and then she let me fold the laundry while she sat there. Clutching her prairie dog.

Thank you, prairie dog.

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. May I offer a piece of unsolicited advice based on our tragic lovey situation, i.e. they stopped manufacturing it? Go buy another one, or make your mother do it. Maybe two. RIGHTNOW!!!! Otherwise, one day you will leave the damn prairie dog at the bookstore and get home and it will be naptime and there will be WOE and SCREAMING and TRAGEDY. Not that I’ve ever done that or anything.

    Also, adorable prairie-dog-clutching Bun Bun!

    January 3, 2013
  2. SRB #

    Okay… that comfort object is pretty cute. And specific! I like it. 🙂

    I have to walk away sometimes too, even if just for a few minutes. If comforting/talking/validating isn’t working, I switch to IGNORE until at least I can get my shit together. Failing that, when I feel a rage-boil a-coming, I’ve put HGB in his crib with some toys, shut his door and then shut mine until I cool down. So, in my expert opinion, totally legit. Because mama don’t got no prairie dog. 😉

    January 3, 2013
    • Definitely making “Mama don’t got no prairie dog” t-shirts. Though mine may be this margarita…

      January 4, 2013
  3. George has a little beanie toy, a husky, given by the realtor who showed us the house we moved into last year. He has thirty or so other stuffed toys, but it was the realtor’s daughter’s beanie dog that has been in bed with him every time since Sept. 2011. He hasn’t slept without it once since then. I managed to buy another from someone (and this one stays at the crèche, for naps) and I know a lady whose teenage daughter has one that I could borrow if need be. Because of course they are not manufactered anymore.
    Now he sleeps with an entire menagerie: two teddies, one cow, one horse, two mice, Stitch and a donkey. When he wakes up and wants to come sleep with me and Stevie, and I see him with his arms full of stuffed toys, I just can’t say no. It is not often, and this contributes to me not being able to resist this idyllic image of a toddler in his jammies, sleepy head resting on the armful of toys.
    When I am frustrated and feel like locking up all screaming children and cats somewhere and chugging down all my husband’s whiskey collection, instead I go growl in the mirror. It calms me faster. Try it. Go growl, not scream, you might frighten the children, but a deep throat ARRRGH in the mirror does wonders. And clench your fists, maybe even stand on the balls of your feet, relaxing after doing all this relaxes the neck muscles as well. And you get to keep on racing towards the evening routine.

    January 3, 2013
    • It’s like a yoga pose–GROWLING MAMA. I’m doing it.

      January 3, 2013
  4. ummm, what Jenny says. Asap. Do nothing else until you have about 4 stashed in a closet, then you can rotate for cleaning, etc, so they all smell and look roughly the same.

    Walking away is totally 100% ok. it’s better for everyone. We have a gate on his door and sometimes he is just behind that but door is open, which makes him feel like he is still with me but gives me some space to walk to other places in the apartment.

    Love prairie dog photo!

    January 3, 2013
  5. Excellent choice. The word prairie seems impossibly romantic to me: and a dog that’s not a dog, that lives on the prairie in a burrow, is charm personified. Animalified, if you will. They were my favourites in the zoo when I was a child myself. Bun bun is obviously a genius.

    Also, thank you for your openness on child-rearing, bunny. The people who go on about their fantastic-ness in this area are beyond useless. Don’t you think? I want to really know what it’s like – it’s good to give it consideration. I imagine I’ll be pro cool-down moments, for instance. Works a charm with the husband.

    January 3, 2013
  6. Great post.

    I have been there w the mighty Toddlerina in her Days of Reign. Awful, but it was a last resort and it worked.

    January 3, 2013
  7. Oh, yay for the prairie dog!

    LG never had a comfort object. Just a pacifier that she used for WAY too long.

    January 4, 2013
  8. I love prairie dogs! And am glad that you clarified that you had not provided your child with a taxidermied or live prarie dog to play with. It sounds like it would be awfully nice for you to have BunBun able to comfort herself in a way that does not involve clinging to you. So yay for prairie dog!
    I second the above suggestions to have a few back-up ones. We have multiple BabyFreds at our house and Tadpole has recently started chewing on their little plastic hands, which means we may need to either cut off their hands (which would be a little macabre) so he doesn’t choke on them or hunt down a few more on eBay.
    I totally agree that it is okay to take a few minutes away from your kid when you’re overwhelmed. It’s infinitely preferable to throwing said kid out the window and there are times when those seem the only available options.

    January 4, 2013
  9. P.S. Who thinks walking away from your screaming child is abusive???? No, don’t answer that, I probably know.

    It’s always interesting to me to read about how your relationship with your children evolves, because my older kid is almost 4 already (so we’ve already been there) and Tatoe is only a little younger than Bun Bun.

    January 4, 2013
  10. While I was pregnant with Monkey I knitted him a town crier hedgehog. It is totally adorable and would solve all the ‘no longer manufactured’ problems, except possibly in wool colour or something.

    Except of course Monkey couldn’t care less about the hedgehog. He also doesn’t care about the two (matching) Cuskis I bought and wore around in my shirt for a week.

    I fully expect that one day he will develop an attachment to some completely random thing – possibly one of the toys that currently belongs to our dogs, because what could be better?

    I can just imagine how cute Bun Bun must look with that snuggly prairie dog cuddled up in her arms!

    January 4, 2013
  11. Separation by door can really be exactly what is needed in certain situations. We have started “time-outs” in our house. WOW, look at me, such a big time parent now aren’t I? Jack is like the happiest kid ever 97% of the time, then he will like switch over and be smacking me. It is the strangest thing. I know it comes out of communication frustration. Me picking him up and relocating him when he is begging for a sharp object off the counter, or gummy bears, or something of the like. But putting him on a chair in his room and close the door for 30 seconds is like night and day amazing for resetting myself and taking a breather to think of how to deal with the situation.

    Before I would just say “hey, no hitting momma!”. Then he would pouty lip and reach for a hug and then I would give him one. Mid-embrace I would realize I just reinforced that behavior. Shit! So now time-out break, where he can sob and sit in a chair without seeing me for a few seconds and I can take a breather has been wonderful. I agree it is difficult to get to the correct mindset when it is happening. You know that you can’t be angry when setting them in their room….but that is only achievable like 60% of the time. The rest of the time I am pissed. Ahhh parenting. Raising humans is hard yo.

    YAY for the prairie dog!

    January 4, 2013
  12. Andie #

    Hurrah for the praire dog that saved the day! I simply can’t understand how separating yourself from your child to calm every one down would be considered abusive. I find that notion ridiculous.

    The picture of Bun Bun is adorable 🙂

    January 5, 2013
  13. Awww the prairie dog is so cute! (as is Bun Bun). Once again I cant really comment as I have no practical experience (but hey, i’ll comment anyway cause I’m an annoying know it all) but I think you should give yourself a lot more credit. There cant be one right way to bring up humans, and only you as the mommy to your child is in the best position to decide what is best. End result was that Bun Bun and you were happy, AND THE WASHING GOT FOLDED!!! I’d call that an outstanding success!!! But I agree with the other commenters, separation to give calmness to the situation cant be a bad thing – i agree though it could be hard on the heart strings when you hear the screaming from behind the closed door, but trust yourself – your’re a great mum (mom)

    January 5, 2013
  14. Oh Bun Bun. What a cutie she is.
    So glad she has found a transitional object (please forgive me my old school influences). That’s a wonderful prairie dog she’s got there (and so much less pedestrian than a bear).

    Thank you for sharing the real life parenting moments you are having with your kids, Bunny. I love how beautifully imperfect and loving and real they are in your descriptions. And I’m glad you are not selling me on a rainbows-and-unicorns version of motherhood. But what you describe, despite how hard it all sounds at times, is what I’ve been dreaming of for years.

    January 5, 2013
  15. Love this post. I love her prairie dog.

    I wish Ari could hang on to something long enough to get comfort from it AND we haven’t been home in going on 4 weeks (Groundhog day Christmas) so maybe he has forgotten what his things look like.

    January 7, 2013
  16. Prairie dog will make it all better! Don’t you wish that worked for adults too? Like others have said, not that I have any experience with this, but I think you’re doing great. And I really appreciate your parenting posts — it’s rare to read something so informed and so honest, without a hint of hipster detachment.

    January 8, 2013
  17. So cute.

    We’ve been lucky that Gwen has a few — the rag bunny she’s had almost since birth, then the lemur she got for her birthday from Grandma, and the three baby dolls she got for Christmas. It is the cutest thing to hold one out to her and see her arms reach for it and grab it for a great big hug.

    I’ve discovered something in the last month or so (it started while we were traveling in Dec., and naps were disrupted), which is that sometimes when Gwen is really overtired and crying and distraught and I just.can’, putting her in her crib has the result that she’ll cry for a bit, calm down and then, rather than going to sleep as I often wish she would, she’ll start talking happily and I’ll know that it’s not in fact naptime (though I wish it were), and when I go in and fetch her again, she’s happy and ready to go through until the next sleep cycle. It means that we can (often) recover from a missed nap, and I never would’ve discovered this if I hadn’t once or twice put her in her room to cry because I simply couldn’t handle it any more. We’re both much happier because of the discovery.

    January 10, 2013

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