Bad Habits

Monkey has developed some bad habits, at a couple different levels.

First off, there is the chewing habit. She constantly has her fingers in her mouth, biting her nails. She chews on her hair, which I find extremely disgusting. She even bites the edges of blankets or her clothes.

Often when I tell her to stop, she whines, “I’m hungry.” After I ask her to use her normal voice (i.e. not whine, an all-too-common habit for her age set), I tell her if she is hungry, then she can have something to eat. I am very loosey goosey when it comes to snack and meal times. Because I have so many healthy snacks around, and because my kids love things like yogurt and fruit and string cheese, if they are hungry, I let them have a snack. I’m not a “clean your plate” type of parent, although they have to have a little bit of dinner. If they get enough variety throughout the day, I’m cool.

I was a thumb-sucker as a kid, so I know the comfort that comes from an oral habit like that. But I was never a nail-biter, and I’m not sure how to reinforce breaking that habit. When I see her chewing on her hair, I tell her I’m going to have Mr. M (our stylist and emergency babysitter) cut it short.

I am seriously thinking of doing that. I have to talk to DearDR about it — I wear my hair short, and he always said if we had girls, he wanted them to have long hair. I think that’s fine until they start deciding on styles for themselves. I cut all my hair off in 8th grade. But the hair-chewing thing is so disgusting, and really snarls up Monkey’s hair, making night-time brushing a nightmare on the nights I don’t bathe her.

Besides, she would look super cute with a chin-length bob.

I don’t know what to do about her chewing on her clothes or blankets. I mean, she stuffs her sheets in her mouth while I’m reading to them; she gnaws on the ends of her long sleeves. Drives me bonkers! I’m not sure how to get her to stop that, either. Something like a time out seems too harsh a discipline.

Plus, she would be in time out all the time.

The more troubling bad habit — and it may not be a bad habit per se, maybe it’s just a phase that we have to survive: the instantaneous bursting into tears and crying out of, “You’re so mean to me!” whenever she is told no or instructed to do something she doesn’t want to do (clean up her toys, go upstairs for bath time, eat some of her dinner before she gets a treat — you name it). Her voice goes up a gajillion octaves to reach the perfect pitch for getting on my last nerve. You’d think I was threatening her by telling her she had to bed down with the daddy longlegs under the porch. I just want her to pick up her toys.

She’s just become so contradictory about every little thing. She’s only 4 years old! Neither one of us is going to survive until she becomes a teen at the rate we’re going.

Last night, she was singing happily along with the lullabies. Bun requested a third lullaby after I gave hugs and kisses. I told her Monkey would sing to her.

“I’m not singing,” Monkey pouted.
“Okay, Bun, I guess you’re going to have to sing to yourself,” I said.
Bun enthusiastically started singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”.
“No singing!” cried Monkey. “It’s not time to sing!”
I told her to settle down; Bun was allowed to sing if she wanted to. Her face on her pillow was like a little black cloud.

It’s another one of those frustrations I feel as a WOTHM. I get only a couple of hours on the weekdays to be with my girls. And so much of it is spent pushing back when they are pushing boundaries. It’s a drag.

However, it’s what we do as parents, no?

It’s funny, because she wasn’t an overly oral baby (Bun put everything in her mouth for two years, but Monkey seemed shut of the habit by the time she was a year old or so). If you have ideas to break Monkey’s chewing habit, I would be grateful for suggestions.


I am feeling cranky.

It’s not that it’s the Christmas season. I generally like the Christmas season.

It’s true that I’m feeling all kinds of crankiness and stress over all the things I have to do that I don’t know how I will find the time to do. Between my work hours, the children, and my husband’s work hours — oh, and my love of a full night (between 7 and 8 hours) of sleep — and all I want to get done… sigh. I just don’t know what to do. Plus a small health issue (not the one below); plus the tedious busy-ness at work; plus unusual side drama…. yadda, yadda, yadda.

The real issue on my plate lately is this: I am addicted to cigarettes. And I cannot seem to find my way into wanting to quit, let alone quitting.

And this, clearly, is a problem.

Because cigarette smoking is bad. Unhealthy. Smelly. Inconvenient, now that winter is here and most places are non-smoking. Embarrassing, even. I mean who wants to stand out in the cold indulging in a bad habit?

I do not smoke in my house. I do not smoke around my children at all. I do not smoke at all, as a matter of fact, until I am “done for the day”. Meaning, I have no more chores, no more laundry to fold, no more kitchen cleaning. I finish up for the night, grab a book, grab a smoke, bundle up (embarrassing), and go outside for my lone cigarette of the day. And about 20 to 30 minutes later, I go to bed.

I have quit many times before. Three pregnancies aside, I can count about five other times I have stopped smoking for months or years. I kept telling myself that I would quit again this winter. Because it’s idiotic to go outside in the cold to smoke. And since Allegheny County technically has gone non-smoking, it’s not as if I can wander to the nearest bar or restaurant to indulge. (Which would be challenging in any case — I’d have to find a babysitter and all.)

Since the weather has changed, I have gone a few days here and there without a smoke. I think I even made it to about 10 days at one point since, say, October. I smoked one night over Thanksgiving weekend (we met some friends at a non-smoking bar). Two cigarettes.

And when I don’t smoke, or I don’t have cigarettes in the house, I stress about it. I miss it. I crave it.

I keep telling myself not to buy that next pack. But then I do. And about 20 days later, they are all gone. And I go a few days without smoking. And tell myself not to buy that next pack. And then I do.

Anyone else ever in this situation? What did you do? What do you do? It’s obviously as much as a habit as an addiction. It’s like checking something off my to-do list. Kids in bed, check. Laundry, check. Dishwasher running, check. Nicotine fix, check. Half hour of reading, check. Wash face, brush teeth, bed.

I actually feel good about writing this post. I feel like it’s a positive step in freeing myself from this addiction. Isn’t that the first step, admitting you have a problem?

Hi, my name is Red Pen Mama, and I am a smoke-a-holic.