It’s Not All Mary Poppins

The games we play

… are not quite the games as they are normally played.

Daniel is big into Ring around a Rosy these day, or, as he prefers to term it, “Hush-a! Hush-a! Hush-a!” With that as his rallying cry, he gathers the others around him. If I’m part of the group, holding hands in the circle, the game looks reasonably standard. I perform a number of Very Useful Functions in games of Ring Around A Rosy, including (but not limited to):

1. Singing the song. (There are more to the lyrics than “Hush-a!”, much to Daniel’s surprise.)
2. Keeping the circle as a circle. (“Hold Rory’s hand, Poppy. Hold on. Don’t let go. Atta girl.”)
3. Keeping the circle moving in a circular motion.
4. Keeping everyone upright until we “All Fall DOOOOOOOWWWWN!”
5. Encouraging everyone to get up, hold hands again, and start over.

If I’m not part of the game, but am only singing the song… Why do I sing? Well, I’ve found it useful to, you know, remind them of why they’re standing in a circle holding hands. If I don’t sing, they tend to forget, and a number of things happen.

1. Poppy forgets, drops hands and wanders off.
2. Jazz forgets and gets offended that someone is HOLDING HER HAND!!! “Why are you holding my hand? It’s MY hand! I can’t move my hand!!!” She tries wildly and angrily to get them to LET GO!!! (Huh. Writing this, I realize I should put her next to Poppy. Seems to me they have complimentary interests.)
3. Rory doesn’t forget, but gets upset that the others are NOT PLAYING RIGHT.
4. Daniel continues to hold hands in a grip like a vice, beams at all and sundry, and continues with the mantra. “Hush-a! Hush-a!”
5. Grace drops hands and stands still, watching the bedlam around her with wide eyes.

It devolves into chaos, is what I’m saying. Of course it does. Five toddlers? A structured, cooperative game? No adult assistance? Could you expect anything different??

So. Even if I’m not actively playing with them, I sing along. Which keeps it relatively game-like, and less bedlam-ish.

Because Ring Around a Rosy, as anyone with toddlers can tell you, is a WILDLY EXCITING GAME!!! It is not the singing, though that is fun. It is not the holding hands (which is a bit of a pain and a nuisance, frankly, to most toddlers). It is not the moving in a circle (challenging, but fun). No! It is the SUSPENSE!

Ring Around a Rosy, people, is a game of TENSION and SUSPENSE.

You gather round, you form a blob circle, you hold hands with your friends, you start to sing and shuffle around and around, “Hush-a! Hush-a!” (Not yet, Daniel.) and all the while you do this, you know what’s coming. “Hush-a! Hush-a!” (Not yet, Daniel.) You know what’s coming… that moment of peak excitement… you know it’s coming, “Hush-a! Hush-a!” (Not yet, Daniel.) and you can hardly wait!!! As you gather, hold hands, shuffle and sing, the suspense is intense, and builds to near-unbearable level of excitement as you approach that defining moment…

“Hush-a! Hush-a! We ALL! FALL! DOOOOWWWNNN!!!!!

Oh.
My.
Go–ooodness.

It just does not GET any more exciting.

Toddlers, as we well know, are not big into “deferred gratification”. If something is good, they WANT IT NOW. All of it. Right away.

So, without an adult propping this game up and moving it along to its climax, you get a seething mass of toddlers. Some might be holding hands, some might be shuffling in a sort of circle, some might be singing bits of the song, but they are ALL FALLING DOWN ALL THE TIME.

Let’s all hold han– FALL DOWN!!! — make a circ — FALL DOWN!!! — sing the “Ring arou — FALL DOWN!!!!” — Hush-a! Hus– FAAAAAAAALLLLLL DOWWWWWNNNNN!!!

It would be more efficient just to line them up and shove them over, I swear.

Efficient, perhaps, but far less fun.

FALL DOWN!!!

gigglegigglegigglegigglegigglegigglegigglegigglegigglegigglegigglegiggle
gigglegigglegigglegigglegigglegigglegiggle

🙂

November 3, 2011 Posted by | Developmental stuff | , , , , , | 13 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

Nissa Prevails (Get used to it, Noah)

hands1“Han! Han! Han!” Nissa chases the meandering Noah, her arm outstretched. “Han!”

He stops and turns toward her.

“Han! Han! Han!”

His normally somber face breaks into a smile as he holds his hand out. They clutch hands, absolutely delighted with their small selves. Communication! This whole ‘words’ thing, it actually works!

They trundle around, linked awkwardly at the hands, pleased as punch. Then Nissa has another idea.

“Han! Han! Han! Han!”

Noah pauses, uncertain. Aren’t they already holding hands?

“Han! Han! Han!” (What Nissa lacks in vocabulary, she makes up for in FOCUS.)

“Han!”

She reaches forward and grabs at his other hand. Toddler-style, his first impulse is to pull his hand away.

“Han! Han! HAN! HAN!”

But Nissa persists. This is the way of Nissa.

hands2“Han! Han!” She makes a second lunge and grasps his other hand.

Nissa prevails. I suspect this is the way of the future around here.

Now they stand facing each other. Noah is smiling again, albeit a little uncertainly. He’d get with the program if he knew exactly what it was. He glances down at Nissa’s little face, with its sparkling eyes and ever-present drop of drool on the centre of her lower lip. Which lip, as is usually the case, is curved into a smile.

Then she drops her glance to her feet, and, still holding hands, starts to run furiously on the spot, her purple slippers pounding the floor.

Noah is still a bit bemused. WHAT is this girl doing? But, being a amenable frame of mind, he starts to stomp his own small feet, too. And wow! This is FUN!

“Dan! Dan! Dan! Dan!”

Nissa. I knew I’d love this kid.

July 28, 2009 Posted by | Nissa, Noah, the cuteness! | , , , , | 5 Comments