Woolla the sleepy polar bear

Woolla is a stuffed polar bear who lives at grandma’s house. Woolla is also a puppet. You can put your hand in Woolla’s body and use your fingers to move her head and mouth.

Woolla is very soft and fluffy. She is a lovely stuffed toy that another grandchild left behind for her younger cousins.

One day Woolla decided she wanted to have a sleepover at 4 year old Sonja’s house. But Sonja has trouble sleeping through the night, so Woolla was afraid to come over and sleep with Sonja. Woolla did not want to be left all alone in Sonja’s bed, or worse, be taken for a trip to mommy’s bed in the middle of the night. Woolla would go back to Grandma’s house if she had to endure a night of wakeful wanderings.

One day, Sonja decided to have Woolla come and sleep over at her house, in her bed. She said she will not abandon Woolla, and asked if Woolla was allowed to come for mommy-snuggles in the morning with Sonja. Mommy agreed that Woolla-and-Sonja snuggles in the morning would be absolutely delicious, as long as no one was disrupting anyone’s sleep during the night, least of all Woolla’s.

It has been four days, and Woolla and Sonja are still happily having sleepovers in their own bed. And sometimes, it’s mommy that has to go and wake up the sleepyheads, without any snuggles at all.

Perhaps Woolla has become a permanent resident of Sonja’s bed?

Time will tell.

All mommy can say at the moment is that parenting has become slightly less challenging when sleep deprivation is not a factor in the equation.

Explaining inappropriate play to preschoolers

“Lets go play bad guys! Let’s chase the bad guys and shoot them!”

This is the kind of game my 6 year old is invited to play at the school playground.

Asking around, answers as to why these boys play violent games like this vary:

  • It’s a boy thing
  • We used to do the same when we were kids
  • My parents played Cowboy and Indians in the same fashion
  • Too much tv
  • Too many video games

I don’t know what the right answer is for everyone, but I do know this: Continue reading

Empathy in young children

Well I think he’s got some. Or maybe empathy is the wrong term. Maybe it’s something all together different. The point is, he is AWARE that other people have feelings. And although I’ve noticed this before, obviously, for some reason, this particular recent event sticks to my brain more than any other time.

We’ve all heard of toddlers, our own or someone else, who, when Mommy is sick, she runs off to find a favorite stuffed toy or smelly blanket to ‘make you feel AAWW better soon’. It starts early, this emotion toward someone they love, and that’s a good thing.

What happened with my 5 year old was just the cutest thing. It involves a girl, and Valentine’s day, but not at all in the way one might expect.

Sure, some parents have told me that their son’s know girls in class who seem to like them, or who use terminology like “I’m your girlfriend” or “we are going to get married”. It’s cute when kids in Kindergarten talk this way (and I’m extremely glad that Benjamin never said such a thing, all the same).

But there is one girl in his class who is several things to Ben. She’s a bit of a tomboy, partly because she has an older brother, and partly because her best friends were twin boys (who have since moved away). With many of the other boys having changed school, this girl attached herself to Benjamin, not in a romantic way, but in a playful way. She’s one of few girls who isn’t all about princesses and girly-girly stuff (although she does have some of that too).

With Valentine’s day recently celebrated at school, and cards shared with everyone in class, I encourage my kids make their own, like I usually do.

All the cards they made were the same. But Benjamin’s pile had one card that stood out:

The one on the bottom has two hearts.

I said ‘you put two hearts on one card, did you do this on purpose?’ and he said ‘yes, it’s for Lorelai’.

Well isn’t that cute.

But it’s not the cute part I am trying to make a point about.

On Valentine’s day, when I picked him up at lunch, I asked him how the card exchange went. He surprised me completely when he said this:

Everyone got their card. The teacher got hers first. But I told Lorelai very quietly that she was the only one who got two hearts on her card.

I said ‘really, why did you say it quietly?’

And he said:

I didn’t want to make the other children feel bad.

What a cute boy.

Can children manipulate their parents?

I do not agree with this statement:

Children are manipulative.

Ok, let’s define ‘children’. In my current state, children mean preschoolers or younger.

I do not believe that their (my children’s) actions should be labeled as manipulative.

Sure, it may APPEAR that way sometimes, when they push our every button. But it’s not manipulation. Not the kind of manipulation you witness by watching TV shows like, oh, I don’t know, Gossip Girl. Or Y&R.

* * *

Last night there was an incident with one of the kids that left both DH and I exhausted. We almost gave in. Almost caved, to the child’s demands, requests, pleads.

There was the most heartbreaking sobbing, crying, pleading, demanding, freaking out.

But we stayed firm.

And the turn of events was actually quite dramatic, leaving me to realize after everyone was finally quiet and sleeping, that I, that WE, did the right thing by not caving.

Which does not mean that caving to a child’s demands is bad parenting. Because it happens to the best of us.

It’s part of parenting, in my book.

Go ahead, judge me all you want. I’m STILL a good parent when I give in or cave to them. I am the best parent my kids can have. We both are.

But last night proved something. Something important.  And opened the door to more enlightening conversations with those two little rascals.

There is more social awareness. There is talk of hunger, REAL hunger, not perceived hunger that can be satisfied by ignoring a parent’s rule.

Today I feel empowered. Empowered to bring, and keep those kids, on the right track.

Bring it on!

(hope I didn’t jinx it now)

When a child makes a mess while eating

When a child makes a mess while eating a meal at the table, I can appreciate that it may be accidental. After all, small children are still learning how to behave, how to eat properly, and how to pay attention. What they need to get there are clear instructions on what is expected, and demonstrations on how to execute the instructions.

When a child makes a mess while eating a meal at the table, and it is due to fooling around, our expectations are as follows:

  1. Child must stop the fooling around.
  2. When the meal is complete, the child must clean up the mess.

There appears to be enough mess made accidentally when not fooling around that extra mess due to fooling around will become their responsibility effective now. Why should I not hold them accountable?

Why not indeed.

source: canadiantire.ca

Our 5 year old is a mess-prone kid. Part of it is that he is quite clumsy, and part of it is because we have been too slack with enforcing the expectations at the table. When he starts fooling around, mostly to entertain his toddler sister, the mess on the table, on his clothes, on and underneath his chair is a great source of irritation for me.

So how do I enforce his accountability?

Well, that is a work-in-progress. It requires a tremendous amount of restraint on my part. Restraint in terms of keeping myself from turning into a nag, and from getting angry enough to simply clean up the mess myself.

[Note to self: It is pointless to repeat a request, command or rule. How many times is enough? Stop repeating yourself.]

As mentioned above, the first step is to make the child stop the fooling around. I don’t know any magic formula on how to accomplish this, other than counting on the second step, where I insist on the child cleaning up the mess himself.

When this happens, it often sounds something like this:

Me: Please take your plates and bring them to the kitchen. Then come back with the little broom and sweep up the crumbs under your chair.

Ben: But I don’t like cleaning!

Me: You should have thought of that when you made the mess while fooling around.

Ben: I’m not going to clean it.

Me: You will be served your next meal after you clean up under your chair.

Ben: I DON’T LIKE CLEANING!

Me: Neither do I! Why should I clean up the mess you make when you fool around? You know what I expect of you.

I think he got the message. He didn’t test me for long, and must have felt that I was serious. The trick for me however is to stay consistent with this expectation.

For the record, both kids, even the 2 year old, have to pick up clothes, towels and shoes they leave lying around the house, and they have to help put their toys away prior to night time.

Cleaning up and tidying is not a foreign concept to them.

I don’t expect things to get easier as they get older, so why not establish some of these habits now? THAT is my objective, anyway.

Teaching manners to small children

Seriously. I have to make a whole different effort to teach my toddler how to talk. Or ask for things. Because clearly, she thinks that volume is the way to go.

We enforce manners in this house. Both kids know what we expect from them when they want something:

Kid: I want a chocolate chip cookie.
Me: How do you ask for something?
Kid: May I have a chocolate chip cookie please?
Me: Yes, that is how you ask for a cookie.

With the toddler, volume trumps whenever the mood strikes her:

Sonja: I want a chocolate chip cookie.
Me: How do you ask for something?
Sonja: I WANT A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOOOOOKKKKIIIEEE!
Me: That is not how you ask for things.
Sonja: I WANT COOOOKKKIIIEEE NOOOOWWWW!!

Everything is a crisis with this girl. This is very annoying. Continue reading

Toy dumping

Question (to no one in general but all parents of boys in particular):

Is dumping toys on a big pile in the middle of a heavily foot-trafficked area in the house a boy thing?

And when I say toys I actually mean toys first, then baskets, small furniture such as chairs, bedding and pillows, and any other conceivable thing they find that they can pick up and carry?

And by baskets, I actually mean the contents of the basket which are dumped on top of the existing pile of stuff.

And by contents I actually mean tiny parts that are hard to re-collect and put back into the basket, such as toy cars, baby toys, tiny books, hair clips and other odds and ends that collect over the years in baskets.

And when I say other conceivable things I mean articles of clothing, shoes, sun hats, umbrellas, even diapers.

And when I say pick up and carry I actually mean dump. And throw.

So. What is that?

I thought it was only my kid that did that.

It appears that other boys similar in age as mine (5) are doing it. Witnessed by me personally at a neighbour’s house just the other day.

Weird.

Spring-time transition

There is so much transition in my life at the moment I can’t find it in my fingertips to form a concrete thought into a blog post.

All I know is that transition is hard and time-consuming. Why? Oh, let me count the ways:

  • Spring is sort of here and then it’s winter again. Which means I have the entire wardrobe of all family members occupying all the livable space around here. Which means my house is cluttered. More so than normal, I mean.
  • The preschooler’s homework is starting to take up more time than I want to  dedicate at the moment.*
  • The toddler is transitioning into a preschooler and not napping regularly anymore which would be ok if she wasn’t so damn miserable when she’s clearly in dire need of at least a rest time.
  • We’re talking about moving again. Snippets of conversation about future plans, about at least an attempt to find some common ground, is usually interspersed by loud kid-noises. Doesn’t make for a very constructive life-planning session.
  • Transitioning into getting older and learning how to live with it. Mir talks about some of the aspects that are preoccupying me as well in some of her blog posts, and then there’s the…
  • …whole dilemma of cheese. Which I currently consume with glasses of white wine which make me feel happy and summer-y and care-free but really it just shrinks my skinny jeans to a smaller size. Or something…

Transition = blah

* I started and have not completed a post on homework. I currently lack propulsion to complete it.

Birthday party loot bags

So the almost 5 year old will get his very first organized birthday party. He is beyond excited!

We’re waiting for some RSVPs to finalize some numbers, and at present it looks like it’s going to be a rather intimate gathering. Which is ok. I’ve witnessed a similar sports-themed birthday party before where the kids were spending quite a bit of time lining up to take turns at certain events…in our case, if there are fewer children, there maybe be MORE running and LESS standing in line. Which I’m sure the kids won’t mind!

The big preoccupation for me has been what to do for loot bags. I have a similar view point as this person, so I racked my brain trying to think of something non-dollar-store related that I could provide in the loot bags that will (hopefully) please both the kids and the parents. I mean, who needs more crap in their home? Not me, that’s who. So why should I give crap to others?

Since we’re doing a sports-related theme, I thought we could remain within that theme and provide something useful and fun. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that Old Navy has these fun water bottles, with spouts, on sale for as little as $5 each! The grey ones were even more of a bargain, at $2.99 each.

How cool are these? With the Winter Olympics in Canada just having finished, these bottles seem more than just a little appropriate.

So I’ll stick these in the loot bags, and add some lollipops or something. Maybe a dinky car for the boys, and some hair thingies for the girls. We’ll see.

And the saga party planning continues…

Full-day Kindergarten in Ontario

*quotes taken from The Guardian newspaper on Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I seem to be one of very few people bothered by this. It rubs me the wrong way. It makes me realize  that parents of small children really have very little choice, since all the emphasis is to warehouse the kids rather than support the parents and let THEM make the choice as to what may be best for their kids.

Here are some quotes from the Minister of Education Kathleen Wynne that are keeping me up at night:

  • …a regular school day program led by a teacher and early childhood educator working on a new play-based program tailored to help four- and five-year-olds learn and grow.

Program? Children at that age need a program from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed?

  • …it is imperative to get all children no matter their background, into the classroom as early as possible.

Why do they have to do their learning in a classroom at age four and five?

  • …the kids who are going to be the employers and the employees…etc and so we need to give them the best start possible.

So the kids NEED to be in a classroom in order to get the best start possible? The stay-at-home parent is offering her kids a disadvantage by keeping them home?

Here is what Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten says (who has preschooler twins, if I’m not mistaken):

  • A full day of learning means a full day of guidance and instruction from those who know how kids learn best.

So a certified teacher, possibly one that has no children of his or her own, is better equipped to teach a four and five year old how to learn 8 hours per day in a structured environment than a stay-at-home parent who is going to be spending his or her day tuning in to daytime TV while the kids watch Nickelodeon on a TV in their play- or bedroom.

Both of these women then spend some time talking about how the “integrated curriculum” of “extended day programs” before and after school will only benefit those children more.

While this is going on, we get a nice little note from the federal government telling us that hey, by the way, we owe them $500 of money they have given us in the form of a Child Tax credit. They made a mistake based on their calculations and we should send them a check immediately or face a penalty.

While Javadad heads out to work, I stay at home and make do with just enough money to manage, and instead of support from our government who is already taxing us up the yingyang, we get penalized.

What happened to childhood?

The message is clear:

Get a job Javamom and put your kids in full-day Kindergarten with extended learning opportunities before and afterwards so that I give them the best start to become a contributing member of society.