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Must Read ’ Category
Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
I am sitting here holding back tears. My intention this morning was to write a blog asking you guys for the best toy recommendations. I found myself bored while playing with Emmett yesterday. I got to thinking, maybe like me, he’s sick of all his toys too.
But no, that’s not why my heart aches…
I’m tired of the hippo that has the pieces you put in to match colors and shapes. I’m sick of the music table that cranks out tunes in Spanish and English. I’m sick of the 500 building blocks–and in particular the whining that ensues–when Fia builds and Emmett knocks down.
Poor me. Poor us…
“Emmett, stop!” she screams, then shoves him. He starts crying. I threaten a time out for her. I hold him. This scenario is repeated throughout my day.
Oh, how very sad right? But fear not. My heart isn’t aching because of my difficult life…
I’m even sick of the 103 books we have. Because as great as books are for kids, come on. Let’s face it. Every few months they get into a few favorites. But at the rate we are getting books (me included–I love to buy them), they will never get through even a fraction of them.
And don’t even get me started on all the stuffed animals. Especially because you can’t donate them due to sanitary reasons. We probably have at least 150.
So back to my boredom yesterday. My thought was, hmmm…maybe I’ll ask my readers what their favorite toys are/were for their babies at 14 months old. Particularly boys. Then I can go get more crap. Yes crap. To help entertain me and my kid.
Nope, this still isn’t why my heart aches…even though I can understand all of your sympathy…
How quickly I forgot about my utter annoyance at Christmas by all the toys people sent us. On Christmas Eve, I counted 27 presents under our tree. Only 4 of those were for Phil and me. Instead of feeling blessed, I felt gross. Family members love to send our babies gifts. I get it. But honestly, we don’t need them. They clutter up our space and instead of our kids learning to enjoy a few precious toys, they get bored and inundated with too many. It’s the classic consumerism of America. It begins at birth. And seems to never end…I ended up giving a bunch of stuff to a toy drive.
As a side note: I also found myself resentful. Since they bought so much, we had very little to get for Fia or Emmett ourselves. We got them each one thing. As parents, we know how much fun it is to watch them open gifts. But it would be more fun if the majority of gifts were from us. Plus, then there would probably be six toys. In total. I felt a bit robbed by everyone else who took the liberty of buying them so many toys.
But back to my heart ache…
So there I sat yesterday, the indulgent, gross American, bored, as I pulled out toys from one of our 8 brimming baskets. And by the way, the toys at the bottom of those baskets never see the light of day. Again, I use the word gross.
I sat down at my computer to crank out this blog when I got an email from my brother. It was a link to a site. It was crushing. I can’t pull the pictures from the site because of copyright. So I just ask all of you to take a moment and click on this link. It hurt my soul. It slapped me in the face. Hard. Pull it up now, then come back to finish reading my blog. I will wait………
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: Africa, American, baby gifts, birthday gifts, birthday party, Christmas gifts, consumerism, gabriele galimberti, italian photographer, poor, poverty, toddler gifts, toys
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
I got a lot of great insight from you guys in regards to my ballet class disaster (and a comment from Nancy who called the blog “absurd.” Ouch. I disagree, but she also made some good points so I won’t totally rant on her).
I’m happy to report that we went to the new class and it was oh-so-much better. Fia still didn’t want to let go of my hand, so in my ratty converse and yoga pants, I got to plie and spin with a bunch of little girls while their parents looked on–bored. We even brought Olivia the pig, since I told her it was an “Olivia approved class.” Yes, maybe I am taking this all a bit too far.
At the disaster class I wrote about how she stuck out like a sore thumb in her purple tutu. I said this time I was going to get her an outfit that was more in line with the others. She is wearing it above. It is adorable, and yes, more typical of a ballet outfit.
Nancy’s comment said: “Jill, you admitted to projecting your feelings on to your daughter. She feels bad because her outfit is a different color? She feels bad about herself when you leave? I do not think she felt any of that; she is too young for that much self-examination. And as soon as you get home you order her the perfect dance outfit? I have gone on enough. I guess you get my points.”
But then Julie made me feel a little better when she said: “There is nothing wrong with getting her daughter a new pretty outfit with a splash of originality. The reality is that from a VERY early age children who express originality are separated from the group and they CAN most certainly understand this is happening.”
I think I agree with you both. Part of it is my projecting. But I don’t think it hurts for a semi-shy kid to initially fit in a little more while she finds her groove. Of course I had to laugh when we got to this new class. Half the girls were in pale pink. The other half? In aqua blue and bright orange tutu’s. Maybe I just need to stick to my hip hood for classes since the disaster class was in a less hip area of the city.
About half way through Fia wanted to leave, but I told her we had to stay until the end. She continued to whine, but I just stayed the course.
“Fia, we don’t quit. We will leave when it’s over,” as I glanced at the clock, appalled to realize we still had 27 more minutes.
When it did finally end though, I praised her for staying through the whole class. For the next two days she talked about how much she loved it and how, “Mama, we stayed until the very end too!” I think I’ve decided if the class is good and the teacher doesn’t suck then we at least need to see it through to the end.
The great thing about this class is you don’t have to make a commitment. You can just drop in. So we’ll try it a few more times and if she isn’t into it, or too young, then we’ll stop.
But before I sign off, I want to pose another question that Julie brought up. She said:
“…While 3 is a bit young to worry about being a quitter for life, I do think it is absolutely right to question the decision to make sure you aren’t simply removing all challenges from your child’s life. Because even at 3 a child can learn that complaining means they don’t have to do something. (I also don’t believe kids should get participation “awards” but that is a totally different subject).”
But on that subject, I’m curious: After each swim lesson, Fia goes in the office and picks out a treat. After gymnastics she gets stamps from the coach if she participated and listened well. This week we hit the bookstore first and I got her a coloring book. I told her she couldn’t draw until after she participated in swimming and gymnastics (they are back-to-back on Monday).
In gymnastics she initially didn’t want to jump. I had the coach tell her she had to if she wanted to use her new coloring book. She suddenly became the most active participant there. And in such good spirits to boot! She was waving at me from afar, giddy and laughing with the other kids, etc. So is what I’m doing considered a “participation award?” And if so, is that a bad thing? I certainly don’t want a kid who only does things with an expectation at the end.
So continuing this debate on how far to push your child: What is too much? Are things like stamps, stickers, treats and coloring books considered a reward? Bribery? At 3, how much does that matter?
I await your comments. Even Nancy’s. Just don’t call my questions–or this blog–absurd.
Fia and Olivia: Proud, post-class!
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: ballet class, ballet slippers, gymnastics, participation reward, plie, pushing your toddler, swimming, toddler, toddler participation, tutu
Monday, March 4th, 2013
I’ve decided my favorite game to play with Fia is “sleep.” This is when she tells me to lie down, close my eyes, and, well, sleep. Yes, a fascinating game. She proceeds to put blankets and stuffed animals all over me. As long as Emmett is truly sleeping in his crib, I can get away with this game. Even, dare I say, doze off a bit?
But her other favorite game is recreating the scene of the crime–Hers.
Every night when we put her to bed and begin to walk out, before we ever reach the door, she stands up in protest. She’s like the white version of Hush Puppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild. I know what to say before I even turn around.
“Fia, lie back down.”
“No!” she says and stomps her foot on the mattress.
“Fia, I said lie down.” (This time I’m always a little more stern.)
She stomps the same foot again. On the third try I say,
“Fia, lie down or else I’m shutting the door all the way!” (Something that, when done on occasion, makes her wail as if she were losing a limb.)
Boom. Hit the dirt. She is down in a flash.
So is it weird that when we play she loves to imitate this whole scene in reverse? As in, I am Fia, she is Mama. (Follow that?)
She does it all over the house. Or at the beach. Or in the yard. We’ll be hanging out and suddenly she’ll shout, “Mama, lie down!!!” It’s my instant alert that it’s Game-On time. I stomp my foot. “Lie down!” she yells at me (far louder and intense than we ever do, by the way). And so it begins…
By the time we reach the end of the first go around, in which I hit the ground/grass/sand with a fury, lest the invisible door be closed, she is howling with laughter. “Again mama! Let’s do it again! I’m going to be you again!” she shouts with glee (as if there were any other choice).
It’s especially funny when she does it right before bedtime. We’ll be settling in her bed to read and up she goes.
“Let’s play the stomp foot game.”
Seven minutes later when I really put her down the stomping begins in earnest. She doesn’t seem to “get” the irony that we just went through this. It’s hard to keep a straight face.
I wrote awhile back at how I observed her putting dolls in time out and wondered if that was normal. Maybe this is just the second level of that type of exploration. I mean you play tea party, so why not play punishment-party? (Punishment being the threat of closing her door.)
The best part of the real going-to-bed routine is that after the protesting, when I’m standing with my hand on the doorknob, indicating that I have the power to shut it, she lies down and says, ”But mama, just one more kiss and hug.” Even though I’ve given her 17 already, I always get pulled back in. Sometimes for a triple encore on top of a triple encore. Phil shakes his head when I finally emerge a half hour later. He knows I can’t resist her. I shrug my shoulders and say, “Yep. Love fest party.” Then I pour my wine and settle into my 21 minutes of relaxing before I go to bed myself. With no protest.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: bedtime, crib, getting toddler to sleep, mattress, playing sleep game, playtime, sleep training, time out game
Friday, March 1st, 2013
Fia’s obsessed with Olivia–the quirky bossy red pig who refers to her little brother as her “little bother.” It’s a great show, with great books. Olivia is adventurous. She wants to be a great artist. She loves her artist’s easel. Naturally, Fia loves hers too. Ever since Olivia came into our lives, Fia has been a painting machine. I love to watch her splatter it about with such concentration you’d think she was Degas, but with the outcome more like Pollock.
Olivia also loves to do ballet. You know where this is going. Fia, of course, also wants to take ballet. She’s been twirling around the house. We have loads of unique tutus in her closet too, collecting dust (one has a funny story behind it if you care to read). I found a place that has the “Angelina Ballerina” classes. They seemed to really know their stuff. Since it’s based on the character from the PBS show–a mouse–it’s supposed to incorporate a lot of “fun” into the class. The age is 3-4.5. Perfect. We signed up for a trial class. The days leading up to it, Fia twirled even more aggressively around the house (taking a few brutal falls along the way). We talked about which tutu she would wear. She kept saying, “Mom, I’m so excited!” I had high hopes that she wouldn’t get shy and clam up at the class, like she does from time to time with new things.
We dressed her in the outfit.
We did her hair.
It was awful.
First of all, every other girl was dressed in pale pink. Second, the teacher sucked. I guess the regular teacher got stuck in traffic so two classes were combined. This woman made them sit on the floor for the first 10 minutes for “role call.” Then she still couldn’t remember their 8 names. Except Fia. She remembered hers because Fia didn’t want to participate and was ultimately put in the corner. This woman lacked any sort of warmth. It was like she was training them for the Russian ballet.
One little girl halfway through shook her head “no” as she ran across the room to her mom, tears streaming down her face. At least she has on pale pink, I thought, cursing myself for not having a “normal” outfit for my girl. I looked over at Fia, her colorful tutu surrounding her as she sat quietly in the corner, totally out of place (this is probably me projecting her emotion on her outfit more than anything). She had this sad look as she watched all the other girls who seemed far more confident, dance around and even plie (plea-aye). It was heart wrenching.
Finally, after I realized she wasn’t going to come out of the corner (the teacher did give the option in a very stern way, but Fia didn’t react. Just looked right through her in that ethereal way of hers), I said forget it. I motioned for her. I picked her up. She looked like she was holding back tears. I know how excited she was about the class, and how disappointed she was– mostly in herself.
“Mama, I didn’t like that class,” she said, her lip trembling.
“I know honey. I didn’t either.”
I didn’t want her to get in her mind that all ballet is bad though. She is a girl who has definite hang ups. Suddenly at gymnastics, she refuses to do the hoola hoops. This, after almost 2 years of enjoying them. Now she sits and refuses. The swimming thing has been an equal challenge, though just last week she started to “get it” so I’m glad I held out. Phil is worried that she will be a quitter. He says his mom always let him quit at things he wasn’t good at or didn’t like. He wished she would have pushed him more. My friend C, on the other hand, has a dad who made her do sports she hated, like soccer. He pushed her too far and she resented it greatly.
So where do you find the balance as a parent? Any insight here? Of course I want to protect her from having a bad experience, but then I also know that’s life and she needs to adapt. And participate.
I told her we were going to find a different ballet class.
“One that Olivia goes to?”
“Yes,” I said. “In fact, maybe we can even take your Olivia doll with us and show her how great it is.”
I went online and ordered pink ballet shoes, pale pink tights and a lavender leotard. I don’t want her to be a total conformist (thus the lavender) but maybe fitting in look-wise will help give her a confidence boost. We can always use our funky tutus down the road.
This Wednesday afternoon we’re going. A friend of ours takes her daughter and described the class as somewhat chaotic and totally disorganized. It sounds absolutely perfect and right up our alley. Olivia’s too.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: Angelina Ballerina, artist, ballet class, ballet slippers, Olivia, pig, plie, swimming class, toddler ballet, toddler swimming, tutu, tutus, twirling
Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, believes that children do see skin color and that it’s up to parents to teach them it doesn’t matter.
I don’t generally get worked up over things I read on Facebook but earlier this month a friend posted something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.
My friend was with her girls at the playground. A little girl with blonde hair approached her and asked if she was the girls’ mom or their babysitter. When my friend told the little girl that she was their mother the little girl said: “Well they look different than you. You know, their skin is darker and yours is like mine.”
My friend looks similar to me. She’s a taller-than-average white girl with shoulder-length brown hair and fair skin. Her daughters are both blessed with beautiful dark brown hair and skin that’s a creamy shade of caramel. What I would give for skin like that. Those lucky little ladies got it from their father whose family comes from Ecuador (though he’s pretty light himself).
One of the cool things about my friend is that she doesn’t have thin skin, fair though it may be. But something about her encounter with the little girl left her feeling sad. After explaining the scenario on Facebook she wrote: “I can only say that for various reasons, I don’t think that what happened this afternoon was a clear cut case of either curiosity or prejudice.”
Most of the people who commented on my friend’s post saw the exchange as a “teachable moment.” But one woman had this to say:
“[Y]ou taught that little bigot about life. What difference does skin color make…. Most young children do not see skin color unless some adult brought it to there [sic] attention.”
I wasn’t at the playground that day so I can’t speak to the girl’s tone or demeanor but to call a little girl a bigot? Wow. That’s harsh. And to say that children do not see skin color is simply wrong. They just don’t form judgments about people based on skin color. They can’t, because they have no framework in which to do so.
That’s where parents come in. It’s up to us to teach our children that color is, quite literally, only skin deep. It’s up to us to teach them that people come in all colors, shapes and sizes but that skin color and physical characteristics do not define a person. It’s up to us to teach our children that while every person is unique, we are all equal.
Children learn and form assumptions about the world based on what they observe. They just haven’t developed a brain-to-mouth filter that keeps them from asking blunt questions.
In the case of the little girl at the playground, it seems to me that she did the best thing she could have done. She noticed a difference in skin color between my friend and her daughters and asked about it. She made a blunt comment about the difference but her comment, at least as I read it, was free of judgment.
What do you think?
Categories: Cynthia's Guest Blog, Mom Situations, Must Read | Tags: assumption, black, curiosity, dark, different, equal, fair, feeling, judgment, light, mom, mother, playground, prejudice, sad, skin, skin color, skin deep, teach, white