It’s Not All Mary Poppins

The world’s his oyster

… and he has one at his house.

“Let’s get your socks on, Nissa.”
“I have socks at my house!”

Understand that the tone here is not competitive or edgy. Noah is just informing us … of the wonderfulness that is his home.

“Who would like to play playdough?”
“I have playdough at my house!”

“One orange for each of you.”
“I have oranges at my house!”

“Shall we go for a ride on the toboggan?”
“I have a toboggan at my house!”

Emma, sixteen, swooshes Noah up onto her hip and plants a kiss on his head. “Noah, I think your house must be a grocery store, a toy store, and an amusment park, all wrapped up together.”

“Yes. I got that at my house, too!”

January 14, 2010 Posted by | my kids, Noah, the cuteness! | | 2 Comments

Back this aft!

“We are going bod-a-keen?”

“Yes, we are, lovie. Let’s get your snowpants on.”

“YAAAAAY!”

We’ll be back in a bit. Serious bod-a-keen-ing awaits.

(Guesses welcome.) 🙂

January 11, 2010 Posted by | Canada, Noah, outings | , , , , | 16 Comments

It’s not the ‘what’ but the ‘how’

Sometimes, in my job, the trick is to look beyond the facts under my nose to the larger picture. Seeing the forest for the trees, as it were. Nowhere is that more obvious than in conflict.

Because toddlers and conflict? People have done studies to track the number of conflicts a toddler has in a day. Staggering. And also inevitable. The thing we’re after is not conflict avoidance (no, no it’s not), but conflict management. Not me managing them, either, but them managing their own selves. Stop snorting. We’re in the business of raising adults, remember? It’s a long-range project, with long-term goals…

My old mantra: “You may be angry, but you may not [insert anti-social behaviour here],” which I start when they’re about 15 months old, and which, applied unceasingly over the years, reaps enormous benefits when they’re 15 years old. Trust me on this.

Whereas once I might have tried to explain how they didn’t need to be having this particular conflict, maybe even that it was a silly thing … waste of air. And not in the best interest of the larger picture, which is to teach them how to manage their anger and to manage their behaviour in conflict.

I’m sure there are things I get annoyed about that wouldn’t bother you at all. I’m quite sure that if you tried to tell me why I didn’t need to be annoyed, I would probably only get annoyed…

So. We don’t often get into the substance of the conflict. But we do worry a lot about the style.

Noah and Nissa are squabbling over toys. This is routine. Nissa is a strong-willed little thing and Noah much milder, but even mild-mannered Noah can be pushed only so far. Today he’s decided to stand his ground.

“No, no, no! It’s mine!”

Nissa’s response is instantaneous — a long, loud howl. She is not saddened, she is OUTRAGED. She wants the toy he is playing with, and she wants it now! How DARE he thwart her will???

The howling is all the more aggravating because this girl has been talking in sentences since she was 16 months old. Sentences of three and four words. Now she’s up to… um… lots of words. Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lo…

Let’s just say that, for little Ms. Articulate, the issue here is not an inability to express herself verbally.

“Nissa. Use your words.”

“AAAAAAA…”

It takes four and a half minutes on the quiet stair, during which time Noah gets to play with BOTH toys — both toys directly in her line of vision — (what? twist the knife? me???), but she does finally concede to speak rather than shriek.

“I can has a toy, Noah, please?”

“Sure!” (Told you he’s a mellow little dude.) “You can have this one.”

“No. I want DAT one.” (And Nissa’s not. She’s made one concession already, dammit, she’s not making another!)

Noah looks at the toys in his hands.

“Okay. Here you go.”

She snatches it. I take it from her and give it back to Noah. “Take it gently, Nissa, and say thank you.”

We try again. A civilized transition is accomplished. Each tot settles in to play, Nissa with her blue plastic wrench with a yellow screw mechanism… and Noah with… his blue plastic wrench with a yellow screw mechanism.

Yes. Yes, I know.

Big picture, big picture, big picture…

January 5, 2010 Posted by | aggression, manners, Nissa, Noah, parenting | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Beauty is in the eye…

“Here, Noah. This is for YOU.” Emily, still in the throes of holiday spirit, pushes a lushly-wrapped parcel into his tummy.

“Oh, THANK you!” Noah clutches his bundle of shiny red and gold and ribbon and bows, all held together with copious strips of metallic green tape. “Is beautiful, Emily!”

“Yes, it is! And now you open it!”

And so he does. The struggle with the tape and the ribbons and the bows and the paper goes on for quite a while, Emily and Noah both engrossed in the task, heads together.

“I will hold this and you can pull that,” Emily directs.
“Yes, and then you can tear on dat.”
“I will.”

Eventually, there on the table before them is a glittering, shimmering pile of glossy paper, glittering tape and, in the midst of it all, several lengths of curling ribbon.

“Oh! It’s beautiful! Thank you!”

Spontaneous toddler hugs are just the cutest damned things…

At the end of the day, Noah races to his mother, his hands cupped against his tummy, his arms cradling his bundle of shimmering, shining, love-in-crumpled-paper.

“Look, mommy! Lookit what Emily gaved me!”

Mommy peers into the midst of the colours and shininess. “Oh, that’s so nice! Isn’t Emily such a good friend! What did she give you?”

Noah looks into his arms and peers into the sparkling debris. “She gave me… it’s… she, um…” He pauses and looks up, confusion replacing delight. His mother’s kind and entirely reasonable question has framed the perception of his gift in a way entirely unrelated to his own experience of it. His voice, when he speaks, registers utter surprise.

“It’s… nothing!”

“Nothing?” Mommy is surprised, too.

“Nothing.” Noah is still puzzled. Then his face clears. Mommy’s question is Mommy’s question, but he knows what he knows. “It’s a nothing, and it’s beautiful!

Beautiful.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Emily, holidays, Noah | 4 Comments

What you hear…

Free Clip Art Picture of a Sparkling Christmas Tree. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.com
…is not necessarily what he said.

“I got a Kwissmass twee!” Noah looks up at Emma, his blue eyes wide and sincere. (Noah is king of Sweetly Sincere.)

“You’ve got a Kwissmass twee?” Emma echoes. Noah frowns.

“No. I got a Kuh-WWWWWWIssmass tuh-WWWWWWWee.”

“Oooooh.” Emma has too much fun with this. She’s going to make a kick-ass mother some day. (Or maybe that’s not a good adjective, in the context?) “You’ve got a Chrrrrrristmas trrrrrree.”

“Dat’s wite.”

December 18, 2009 Posted by | Christmas, my kids, Noah | , , | 8 Comments

I was wrong

Ha! Not very often you see me say that. At least, not about toddlers. You might even want to write it on your calendars. In other areas of my life, I’m much more self-deprecating… but you guys don’t see those bits. Here on the blog, I am a bastion of self-confidence. (Bet you just want to smack me some days, huh?)

But when it came to Noah and the potty, I was wrong. I was dubious that he was ready to train. His parents were ready, no doubt, cute little over-achievers that they are.

(They ARE! The cutest damned pair you’d ever want to see. She’s slim as a willow twig and has these enormous gray eyes, and a confident yet soft-spoken demeanor. He matches her body type in a masculine way, and he’s got the greatest grin, which generally accompanies the most engagiing laugh. And together? They’re adorable. I love this couple to bits. Every time I see them I fight the urge to squeeze their cheeks and coo “You’re just so cuuuute!” Much as I do to their son, except with him I don’t fight it. Seems I am now of an age now where I’m beginning to get maternal about the parents, at least the younger ones…)

But anyway. They said Noah was ready. I was dubious. He may have been ready physically, but I didn’t think he was there mentally at all. I’d seen no signs of that whatsoever. No talking about his functions, nor even any particular awareness of it happening, no complaining when he was wet or soiled — though if you asked him if he had a poo in the diaper, he generally knew — no response when I brought out the potty. Oddly enough, there’d been a glimmer of readiness some months prior, but since then, nothing. Nothing. So me, I thought the impetus was entirely theirs. This was mom and dad’s idea, mom and dad’s energy was driving this thing.

And when that’s the case? It can go bad in a big way. Power struggles that go on for months. Constant accidents. Children who hide in closets to have their poo. Crying, screaming, tantrums, stomping of feet and tearing of hair. Sometimes the child does that, too.

But not with Noah.

Now, I still may have been right that the energy for this project originated with mom and dad, not Noah, but they lucked out. Not only is Noah a smart little guy, but he’s also gentle and cooperative. He was a bit bemused at first, but he never got contrary, never dug in his wee heels. And he TOTALLY bought into the whole Smarties schtick!

So, no Big Bad Ugly.

He just… learned to use the potty. In two weeks. (Which is how long it takes, if they’re ready. Maybe three.)

He still needs a diaper for sleeping, but during the day he’s clean and dry, with very few accidents (two in a month) — and no more Smarties, even.

So, there you have it. Once in a while, Mary calls it wrong.

But not very damned often.

🙂

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Noah, parents, potty tales | , , | 6 Comments

All pooped out

smartiesLittle Noah is totally potty trained, and the thing that tipped the scales for us was not the infamous pee-bottle, but Smarties.

Yup. Good old chocolate-y motivator in a candy-coated package. Noah was told he would get one for a pee, and two for a poo. Suddenly, using the potty was very, very interesting!!

After a week of success, Noah was told that he would only get Smarties for poops. No more Smarties for pees.

He took it well, really. Because really, this would cut his Smartie intake by about 90%. A toddler with the will to pee can drink a LOT of water, and make many, many, many pees in day. But poo? Well, there’s only so much a body can poo.

Or so you’d think.

“I haffa poo, Mary!”
“Away you go to the potty, then.”

And yes, there in the bowl is a decent little arc.

“Good man!”
“I get Smarties now?”
“Yes, you do.”
“Not when a pee?”
“No, no Smarties for a pee. Just for poo.”
“Tank you.”

“Mary, I got to poo!”
“You do? You already did one this morning, but if you have to go, away you go.”

There is substantially more wait time and effort for this one, but, after a minute or so, there in the potty lies another reeking rainbow. Smaller than the last one of only an hour before, but definitely a poo. Wonder what he had for dinner last night?

“Mary, I got to poo!”
“Again? Are you sure?”
“Uh-huh. I got to poo.”
“All right, little man. Do your best.”

He sits. And he waits. And he sits. His face is an intensity of concentration, stern and fixed. He waits some more…

“Mary! I did a poo!”
THIS I have to see.

And there, in the bowl… a smidge, a dot, an iota of shit.

He has managed to squeeze out, by sheerest force of toddler will, the requisite excrement.

Smarties are one helluva motivator, I tell you.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Noah, potty tales | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Why?

Friday, Noah was a normal two-year-old.

Today…

“I hear a airplane. Where is it going?”
“I don’t know, sweetie.”
“Why?”

“Nissa has a poo?”
“Yes, she does.”
“Why?”

“Lunchtime!”
“Why?”

“We’re going to go to the 7-Eleven for Smarties for you, hon.”
“Why?”
“For when you do a poo. You know that.”
Why?

“Naptime!”
“Why?”

“Give me that, my dear. It’s too small for the baby.”
Why?
“She will put it in her mouth.”
“Why?”
“That’s just what babies do.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know. You used to put everthing in your mouth, too.”
“Why?”
“Beats me. Why did you do that?”

Blink.
Blink.
Blink.

I think the phrase he’s searching for is “damned if I know”. Lacking that, he’s struck dumb. For the moment. But only for the moment, for it is clear that Noah has entered the Why Stage.

It’s not so bad: At least he listens to the answers.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Noah, the things they say! | , | 6 Comments

Quirks and the learning curve

Melissa and Doug pattern blocksNoah tackles the pattern blocks, but quickly becomes frustrated. He understands the basic idea — make a picture using the shapes — but lacks the fine motor control to place the shapes on the unfortunately slick wooden card.

We work together.

It’s interesting to note what kids can and can’t do. Some of this is their stage of life, some of it is quirky to the child. Mostly it’s a mixture of both.

I point to the diagram on the card. “I need a yellow diamond. Can you find me a yellow diamond?”

Yes, he can. Easily. Even though there are also white diamonds in the box, but I know he’s sorting by colour, not shape.

“Find me a green triangle, please.”

He immediately hands me a green triangle. (This is simple because, apart from the diamonds there is only one shape per colour. All the triangles are green. Only the triangles are green. )

“Now I need a green shape.”

I get a green shape. It’s a triangle, as it must be. “Thank you for the green triangle, Noah.”

“Now I need a triangle. Can you find me a triangle?”

Nope. Suddenly, there are no triangles in the box. Hee.

So he knows his colours, but not his shapes. Pretty straightforward. It gets quirkier than that, though.

“Look at the card. We are going to need one, two, three blue squares.” I point to the blue squares, one at a time. “Pass me a blue square, please.”

I get the first blue square.

“Thank you for that blue square.” I place it on the blue square on the card. “Now I need one of these.” I point to the next blue square on the card. “Can you find me one like this, please?”

Nope. Can’t do it. He hands me shapes at random, first a white diamond and then a purple trapezoid, and finally a red hexagon.

“This shape,” pointing to the card, “is blue. It is square. I will need a –” and he plonks the blue square onto the floor beside the card.

He knows blue. He doesn’t know square. More interesting, he cannot yet see a picture of a blue square and find the corresponding square blue tile from the box.

Interesting, I tell you. Isn’t that interesting?

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Noah, quirks and quirkiness | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Riches untold

864729_lucky_numbers_1“Here’s some apples for Nissa.” A small heap of apple bits pours onto the table in front of the girl.

“And some apples for Noah.”

“One, two, free, sebben, TEN!” He’s at that endearing stage where he knows that numbers and actual quantity are somehow connected, but just exactly how is still pretty fuzzy.

As Noah ‘counts’ his apples, his pointer finger waves vaguely over the heap. There is no one-to-one correspondence in this boy’s life just yet, either. “Free, two, five, sebben, TEN!!”

First the rote counting, then the one-to-one. Everything in its season.

Noah continues counting, because really, there are a lot of small apple pieces in front of him. He understands that much.

“One, two, free, sebben, free, sebben, TEN!!!”

But somehow, he’s not encompassing the masses of apple bits, and he knows it. “Free, sebben, TEN!!”

Nissa’s been taking in his dilemma, silently. (Rather astonishing for the river of verbiage that is Nissa.)

Noah tries again. “One, two, one, two, one, free, sebben, sebben, sebben, TEN!!!”

Nissa sits up and throws her arms wide. SHE has the solution.

“T’OUZAN!”

Startled at first, Noah’s face brightens. “Touzan?”

“TOUZAN!!!”

Noah beams at Nissa, at his pile of apples, and declaims along with Nissa. “Touzan!!!”

“Touzan!” Now THAT’S a number!

September 29, 2009 Posted by | Developmental stuff, food, Nissa, Noah | , , , , , , | 5 Comments