Posts Tagged ‘ toddler ’

Do You Believe In “Participation Awards” For Your Child?

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!

 

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Would You Trade Romance for Glue on Valentine’s Day?

Friday, February 15th, 2013

This Valentine’s Day Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2½-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, says goodbye to roses, chocolate and romance and shares how the holiday has taken on a new meaning since having a child.

Do couples with small children still celebrate Valentine’s Day? I mean with roses, chocolate, and romance? Because we sure don’t. I can’t tell you the last time my husband I spent a truly romantic occasion together. But that doesn’t mean love isn’t the heart of the holiday.

This Valentine’s was all about our daughter’s love for glue. Man does she love glue. If something breaks she pipes up with “we can glue it!” And the more glue the better. Why use a dollop when you could use great gooey globs of it? We go through bottles and bottles of glue at our house. It’s the stuff that holds our family together.

Yet somehow this fact escaped me when I planned some Valentine’s Day crafts for me and my daughter to make together. Four. I planned four glueless crafts and she wanted no part of any of them. Somewhat reluctantly, I scrapped the plan and broke out the glue. Did she ever go to town.

This Valentine’s Day won’t go down in the annals of romance and our craft won’t be an instant hit on Pinterest. But that’s okay. It was filled with love. Okay, so it was her love for glue more than anything else but still. I loved every minute of our time together and loved watching her glue with glee. My husband loved the floppy heart craft and basked in her delight when she presented him with it.

I wouldn’t trade any part of it for all the roses and chocolate in the world. I only wish I could bottle the love and let my daughter squirt it all over the world.

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Teaching Toddler to Blow Nose. Any Ideas?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Why aren’t children born knowing how to blow their nose? I know babies sneeze to clear their noses, but once past that stage, it takes years to get them to blow. And who out there has a baby who likes those bulb things?  When I use the bulb on my kids, they get so pissed, they cry harder, thus making more snot. So really in the mucus arena, I’m still just coming out even. Or in the negative.

A friend of mine said her mom gave her a tip on teaching her three year old to blow. Didn’t work with her. Figured I’d give it a try. Didn’t work with me either. In fact, I almost caught Fia on fire. The trick was this: have your child try and blow out a candle through their nose. Tell them to close their mouth. Fia kept opening her mouth and getting so close I got paranoid her eyelashes–or worse–would singe. So there went that idea.

In the meantime the snot just continues to get sniffed back up the nostrils. Swallowing that much snot certainly can’t be good for you either.

There has got to be a way. Any ideas out there? Did god/mother nature just forget about having this as an instinct when the human race evolved? I’m a bit baffled as to why this is learned behavior.

And if there isn’t a way, at what age can I expect my child to know how to do this?

Until then, I remain buried in a snot faucet…

Nose blowing picture via Shutterstock
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Dear Fia, You Are Three…

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

 

Dear Fia,

I want to share the first half of this Winnie-the-Pooh poem by  A.A. Milne:

When I was One, I had just begun.

When I was Two, I was nearly new.

When I was Three, I was hardly me….

They say three years old is one of the most magical years of childhood. I can believe it. You are gushing with creativity, curiosity and imagination. You are forming into a little person. Yet, the world is still so big. You know your space in it, but you don’t know how vast that space is. You know you’re loved, but not how much. You know you’re safe, but not from what. It is magical for me too. I want bottles with each year of your life in it. Someday when I’m old and gray I can open up your three-year-old bottle and breathe you back into me.

It is hard to fathom three years have passed since that snowy day at Columbia Presbyterian. In some ways it seems like you’ve been with me forever. In other ways, it’s like you are this gift that I’ve only just begun to know. Both are delightful scenarios because while the feeling in my heart is timeless, I get to keep on loving you for years and years to come.

I said to you the other day, “You’re my sunshine.” You looked right back at me, shook your head and said ever-so-earnestly, “No Mama. I’m your daughter.”

You charm me (and maybe manipulate??) in a way no one else can. When I put you in your crib for a nap or bedtime, hug you many times, and walk away, you always stand up and say, “Mama, hug!” as if I hadn’t yet. But I always have more hugs for you. “Hold you tight,” you say, squeezing me as hard as you can. Then, “One nice kiss.” You kiss my cheek. Lately, in keeping me there with more manipulation, you say, “I love you soooooo much.” And hug me even tighter. I don’t want to let go either. Like I said, I need a bottle…

When I finally get you to lie down, the tickling begins.

“Tickle my forehead.”

We started the “tickling” about 6 months ago. Now it seems to expand weekly to every body part. Last night it went like this:

“Tickle my back.” (shirt raised, butt in air). Okay, done.

“Tickle my stomach” (roll over, lift shirt up). I had a slight hangnail.

“Mama, your nail is sharp.”

“I know, so no more tickling. Night night.”

“No Mama, go cut your nail,” you order, pointing to the clippers and emery board on the dresser. Huh? How did you…? Oh, never mind. Just do what she says. I do. Tickling resumes.

“Tickle my knees.”

“Really Fia?”

“Yes Mama,” you reply, as if this wasn’t becoming a tad ridiculous. You pull up your pajama pants and I tickle each knee.

“Okay honey, goodnight.”

“No Mama, what about my elbows?”

Seriously?

But even if I’m exhausted, I never tire of this routine. That’s because someday, when you are a teenager, (with a STRICT curfew), I will yearn for these days. Another mom who has a 16- and 18-year-old told me, “As exhausted as you are now getting them to sleep and waking up at 6 a.m., it’s a lot better than waiting up for them to come home. Trust me.” I do.

The mere thought of it breaks my heart. So when I’m really desperate for you to go to sleep, I channel my new mantra: How lucky I am to have this and not be staring at the clock, hoping you are okay.

At three, you also delight in letting us know if we forgot something. The other day you and I went on our thrice-weekly grocery run.

“I need to get baby food.”

“Oh-O-o-kkay!” you say, brimming with enthusiasm. “I-I-I will pick it out.”

We shopped for all sorts of things. We pay and are in the parking lot when you start giggling and announce with glee, “Mama, you forgot the baby food! Silly Mama!”

You were right. And strategic in making sure we already left before you called me on it. “Logical Consequences,” as my father would say. We head back in, and you continue to repeat “Silly Mama!”

The old adage, “Would you rather be right or happy” may apply to you someday. But for now, you are both right and happy.

Woe to the person who shuts your door all the way. (Which by the way, began when your favorite TV show made you afraid of the dark.) One time I had it almost shut and the air conditioning blew it the rest of the way. From the wailing I heard, I thought your crib had collapsed. I ran in and found you sobbing. “Mama, you aren’t supposed to shut the door!” Tears were streaming down your little face and once again I was reminded what my love for you does. It takes me to my knees. Not because you will be scarred for life from this, but just seeing you so genuinely upset (and feeling betrayed) tugs so deeply at my heartstrings. To anyone else this scenario may sound absurdly dramatic, but feelings aren’t facts. However, they are real.

Since then, I have paid the price. Not a day goes by without this:

“Mama, you need to leave the door open this much, not this much. This much,” you say, as if you’re explaining and demonstrating with your little hands for the first time. Sometimes you insist on getting out of your crib and showing me, just to make sure I really am not an ape.

“Fia, I know honey.”

“But Mama, you left it open.”

“Fia, that was months ago.”

“Mama forgot! Silly Mama.” And we’re back to the glee in being right. Nothing will slip past you, my girl.

You are so articulate. It doesn’t hurt that you have a screenwriter for a father. But still, you understand the meanings of big words. After Wayne–our transexual cat–freaks out batting around a tennis ball, you’ll shout, “Wayne is cantankerous! And feisty!” (Apparently the cat takes after his mom). When Emmett hurls himself into a wall you’ll yell, “Mama! Emmett is being rambunctious!”

I keep saying it can’t get better than this. But apparently it does. Right now you are three and you walk with me. But what I hope for most of all is this, from Winnie-the-Pooh:

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

 

 

 

 

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A Horrible Tragedy and Our Grief For the Family

Friday, October 26th, 2012

No. No. No.

Stop reading!

It can’t have happened.

Eyes partially shut, trying to skim the story without really digesting it.

Compartmentalize. Don’t think about it.

But then, you look at your kids–in my case–Fia hugging Emmett. Your heart crushes to its core.

Super Why is on television. It’s daddy’s birthday and we’re letting him sleep in. It is, by all accounts, a normal morning. Except it’s not. Something awful—unthinkable–has happened.

Two kids are stabbed to death in their Upper West Side apartment bathtub. A 2-year old and 6-year old. The mom is out with her 3-year old. She comes home to a dark home. Something is amiss. She opens the bathroom door and sees something no one, absolutely no one, should ever witness. Her two children. Dead. Her nanny is also there with a stab wound to her neck. She is alive and suspected of committing this atrocity. The mother goes into a psychotic state. The father gets off an airplane in New York. The police meet him and deliver the awful news. They take him to the hospital where he joins his wife. Their life is forever changed. For the worst.

Terrible things happen all the time. A plane crashes and it’s front-page news. This too, is front-page news. But as awful as all tragedies seem, this one hits a different chord. It is so personal. We are moms and dads. It is we who make the decision to have someone help us with our kids. We entrust these people with the most precious thing in our life. And 99.99 percent of the time they are a gift. A story like this so rarely happens. But when it does, it is a nightmare beyond comprehension.

There are no words to comfort, no justification to make us feel better for this family. And no God who can say this was meant to be.

I have a nanny. She loves my kids like they were her own. I know her whole family. We did a background check on her before we hired her. It was flawless. When I told her about this story, she started to weep. “How do you ever know someone, truly?” she said to me through tears. “You know me, you trust me with your kids, but how do you know you really know me?” I understood exactly what she meant. Sometimes as hard as you try to do the best for your children, your efforts fall short–and tragic.

I don’t want to put myself in the shoes of this mom or dad. It’s too painful. But I can only imagine if the allegations prove true, and the nanny did this, not only will this mother be haunted by the loss of her children, but also by what she maybe had missed. The clues, the signs. And sometimes there simply aren’t any. Sometimes people just aren’t who they seem. My heart just aches for her, the dad, the surviving child–how will they go on?

When Fia was a newborn, I, like many moms, was paranoid to leave her with anyone. A friend of mine said, “At some point, you just have to trust.” She was right. But stories like this leave you reeling. Questioning.

I can’t live my life in fear. But today’s nightmare is a stark reminder that it is only by the Grace of God, Go I. And all of us, for that matter.

 

Darkness picture courtesy of Shutterstock

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