Posts Tagged ‘toddlers’

I remember when we moved back to NJ. The kids were little when we attended a new parents night. The elementary school principal spoke about all the wonderful things her school had to offer; while we parents were encouraged to think about outcomes. What did we hope their school would help instill in its students? She made a list on a blackboard; it was a long list. Parents were calling out things to put on the list – creativity, cooperation, academic achievement. This was a school, mind you, where awards for Being Quiet were displayed proudly on one wall. I called out, “What about compassion?”


The Love Bug and the Bride are visiting us this week, and I just happened to read an article about teaching kindness.

It’s amazing the subjects that deserve research, how does one raise a successful child? How to raise a happy child! Finally it’s occurred to someone that children need to be taught NOT to always think of themselves first. I’ve noticed with the Bug, who will turn 2 next month, that altruism is there just waiting to be nourished. She noticed my wrapped hand and kissed it immediately. She shares her food willingly. She pets Ms Bean gently.

But I always thought you teach kindness by modeling it yourself. It’s not something you need a worksheet for, it doesn’t need to be drilled into your child. Today I offered the Bride a small gift of time to work out at our sports club. I played with the Bug, while Mama and baby-to-be raised their heart rates a bit. Since it was raining when we arrived, we didn’t swim, but we joined in with a group of children who were at day care and tennis camp. Suddenly a toddler ran into a wall, cutting his eyebrow.

The Bride arrived just in the nick of time, she got to work examining the boy, cleaning his superficial laceration and reassuring his mama that it didn’t need sutures. The Bug saw some of this medical operation, and I’m sure she registered this in her brain. We are the kind of people who help people.

Random acts of kindness might sound good in a curriculum, but I think it’s something we learn before Kindergarten, at our parents knees. Maybe if more of us practiced this concept, we’d be less inclined to wage war, or shoot down planes for instance. Maybe it’s as simple as that?

Bug rock climber

Bug rock climber

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Note to new moms everywhere. Keep a journal! Because chances are, especially if you have a girl, there will come a time when your adult daughter will ask you exactly how you handled each developmental stage of your baby’s life. When Google doesn’t work, and her friends’ suggestions won’t do the trick, you will be called upon to offer up your advice.

So you must be prepared! And that’s when you’d better have a good memory.

Take naps for instance. My constant refrain was, “The Bride napped right up into Kindergarten, she loved her nap. The Rocker gave his up at two!”

All of that is true. Only I don’t recall how I knew it or accomplished any of it. It was over 30 years ago after all. There’s a picture of my girl all blonde curls spread out sleeping on her bed with her pink acrylic blanket and Barbie doll, so I do have evidence. And before my feminist friends complain, the Bride, we found out at the age of two, was allergic to mites. So all cotton or wool blankets, stuffed animals, rugs and curtains were removed from her bedroom. Sounds harsh I know, but I didn’t want to label her an “allergic” child or give her pills all the time.

Plastic Barbie was her only bedtime comfort.

And now I don’t feel so bad. A friend has just blogged about her solution to naptime troubles. She has an ingenious solution which involves a vintage plastic lunchbox that her mom saved for her grandson. http://www.babykerf.com/the-lunchbox-surprise/

How to get the toddler into his/her crib without the benefit of a bottle? How to get the toddler to stay in said crib and not try climbing out? How to get the toddler to stay in bed once they have left the crib behind? How to get the toddler toilet trained? And the list goes on and on and everyone has their two cents to say; and if you’re not the type of grandma to keep everything baby-related, or if you have a spouse who thought it was his duty to recycle all your children’s toys while you were away, or if your brain has just forgotten the day to day tasks of childrearing and only held onto the highlights, then you are out of luck.

This past weekend the Bride and Groom visited Walter Place in Holly Springs, MS. The Love Bug had a chance to play with her adorable toddler cousins Antonia (Tony) and Franchesca (Frankie). Thanks to my sister-in-law, and my beautiful niece Lucia for their hospitality. And thanks for adding their toddler wisdom to all those tricky questions. One day maybe the girls will dress up in hoop skirts for a Pilgrimage of their own.

from left: Frankie, Tony, Lucia, Bug

from left: Frankie, Tony, Lucia, Bug

And Bob and I are pleased to announce that this coming Thanksgiving, we will be giving the Bride and Groom hints about changing baby boy diapers! Talk about tricky!


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“Would you eat them here or there? Would you eat them anywhere?” You may recognize the voice of Dr Seuss. His Cat is a master manipulator. You may think you don’t like green eggs and ham, but gosh darn it, you’re gonna like them eventually.

It’s a great book for a toddler, especially the Love Bug. She likes to tell me where to sit, “Nana, sit here!” She likes to tell me where to go, like when I told her that Mama would be home, she looked me right in the eyes and said “Nana go bye bye!” I told her my plan was to stick around for awhile and she smiled as if to say that would be just fine.

Transitions can be hard at every stage in life. Who knew that crossing the threshold of a door – from the world of the wind and the sun outside with popsicles on the porch and school crossing guards who wave “Hello,” to the world inside with high chairs you have to sit in and diapers that for some reason must be changed all the time. My Bug, like Jane Goodall in her new children’s book,”Me Jane,” loves to be outside!

So coaxing her to come in is a major challenge. In fact I’d forgotten this simple fact about toddlers – everything is a negotiation! Then I remembered that the Bride loved a good argument at this age too. I was convinced she was going to study law, that’s how good she was. I found myself saying my daughter’s name instead of the Bug’s, over and over again because her level of sophistication is equal to her mothers.

So last night I thought ahead. After dinner I sat the Bug down and said we needed to talk. I told her I would keep my promise and we would have popsicles on the porch, but then I expected her to be a BIG GIRL when it was time to come in and “Not Cry.” She said “Not cry.” And I said, “OK, big girl, do you want a strawberry or a grape popsicle?” And she said, “Strawberry.”

It worked!

Today was the best day ever. We spent the whole morning at the Nashville Zoo and topped it off with a wild animal carousel ride. She eagerly hopped on the painted kangaroo with me and we waved at Mama who is thankfully home and was waving to us miraculously every time we rode around in a circle.  And now that I’ve got this toddler transition thing down, from getting her into the car without a fuss to getting her out of the tub at night, I’ll be heading home. My husband tells me he’s missing me. But leaving her, will be the hardest transition of all.


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Yesterday my in-Laws drove off into the Northern sunset. They followed us home after the Richmond wedding for some Blue Ridge bonding, barbeque, and leaf peeping. Not only was I happy that these two amazing octogenarians were able to climb onto the wing and into the tiny 4-seater Piper Arrow, I was shocked to find out that Great Grandma Ada had successfully used her new iPad to take pictures of the Shenandoah Valley! 1383893_245892032233078_2040041987_n

Because A) My old iPad doesn’t even have a camera; and 2) I’m still learning how to use iPhoto.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty tech-saavy for my age group. This past year a new store opened up in town that is not exactly an Apple store, but it’s the closest thing to one. PeachMac http://peachmac.com offered the citizens of Charlottesville a very special deal; one-on-one training for a year on anything Apple for $99. Doesn’t matter where you bought your device, and did I mention that’s once a week classes…let’s see, that adds up to about a dollar a session.

Now this makes alot of sense from a marketing perspective since we went to this store to buy Ada’s iPad. And I just happened to be in the middle of my iPhoto lesson when the store started buzzing. Seems they were all watching the live stream of some mothership Apple news event in California and the word was “Mavericks is free!”

Named after a wicked surf break in Cali, I was told that this is a new operating system and I’m not sure if my one year old Apple MacBook Pro can even handle it, but I was determined to appear delighted along with everyone else. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/oct/21/apple-mac-os-x-mavericks-whats-in-a-name

And while Apple is trying to stay tops in the tablet computing game, knocking a little weight off their iPad Air, and lowering prices and oh btw, assembling their new cell phones in America instead of Japan, the Bride sent me a Love Bug crack text pic of her delight in finding an orange leaf. With Ada nearing 90, and our grand baby just celebrating her first year of life, who doesn’t love Facetime in the morning and Fall?  photo

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This is a letter the Love Bug dictated to me for her parents, who are returning from the Outer Banks today.

Dear Mama and Dada,

OK, first. Life is good here with Nana and PapaBob. I point to things and they get them for me, all the time! Not just sometimes. And we do a lot of walking, I mean a LOT of walking around. And I don’t have to hold hands all the time anymore, get it? Ya!

Mornings from now on will have to start with dog kisses. This Ms Bean dog, she puts her head through the bars in my crib and she kisses me every morning. So even if I wake up with a poopy diaper, the day has a great start. And if I’m really really hungry, they let me have some Puffs in the living room. Get it?

I have learned many new skills. Like how to open and close windows with a crank and crawl in and out of a rocking chair with the dog’s toy and my toy monkey too! It gets crowded but we manage, Nana keeps me from falling out. We also pick flowers on the deck. And we play Mozart and dance in the morning after Sesame Street.

I like to get outdoors in the afternoon. A little fresh air never hurt anybody, that’s what PapaBob says. We watch bees buzz, and clouds and planes fly by, and we like to go see the horses next door. Nana says her friend has alpacas, and I don’t know what they are but I can’t wait to see them.

There will be Mac and Cheese for dinner every night, what’s not to like? And Nana said not to tell, but I DO like chicken mac nuggets. Especially if we dip them in yogurt! And here are some other new foods on my list: Irish oatmeal; white nectarines; hot dogs; cookies. Don’t judge me.

I still like baths the way you do them, although they can never be long enough, right? Just keep the water warm and wait till my fingertips turn into raisins. But try not to nibble on them please. Nana is always nibbling on me, on my ears and my toes. You’d think she just couldn’t get enough of me.

Kisses,  Your Love Bug who misses you boodles!

photo copy


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Walk with me down this little essay about technology and its effects on children. I just read an Atlantic article titled “The Touch-Screen Generation,” by Hanna Rosin. The subtitle was “What’s this technology doing to our toddlers’ brains?”


Like any good journalist, she tries not to take a side, good or bad, she presents us with the facts, the research. And just as I saw the Love Bug reaching for my iPhone, that magical thing where pictures pop up and familiar voices captivate mommy’s attention, I understood immediately how tablets like iPads, with their instant interactivity, would delight a child.

In the five years between my children’s birth, a lot happened. The Rocker was sitting on his father’s knee at the computer, he had computers in school, he was designing web pages for his buddies in middle school. For his older sister the Bride, life was different. In fact, she was the only toddler in her preschool who didn’t know who Big Bird was; our Windsor Mountain TV could only catch one Albany channel, at night, sometimes. We read Good Night Moon, we sang songs. Like “Little House on the Prairie,” it was a simple life, and one I would dream of years later. It’s where I first started writing for a newspaper…you remember those.

Still, my children didn’t grow up with a touch screen.

“Norman Rockwell never painted Boy Swiping Finger on Screen, and our own vision of a perfect childhood has never adjusted to accommodate that now-common tableau…To date, no body of research has definitively proved that the iPad will make your preschooler smarter …or rust her neural circuity – the device has been out for only 3 years.”

What’s the right answer? We (meaning people age 4 and above) are called “digital immigrants,” still learning to navigate the touch-screen universe. Rosin admits to having a 4 year old who feels digitally deprived. After all, you’re out for a nice dinner, toddler in hand, and instead of toting coloring books and small animals for some creative play at the table, how much easier would it be to mollify a cranky child with a movie or game App? The Love Bug is a digital native, she watches mom carefully summoning music from the great iPad, her dad reading research papers. It won’t be long now before her long fingers will demand the latest “Talking Baby Hippo” or “Toca Tea Party.” Yes, even 18 month olds can follow patterns and pay attention to a logical sequence in an interactive media format!

I came away from the article with this little nugget – however the parents use their tablet, children will naturally follow. It’s called “modeling” and it’s not really a new concept. Some allow free and constant access to an iPad, some allow one hour on the weekend. The funny thing was that when Rosin was trying out the unlimited time-frame idea, her child gave it up to the toy heap after about 10 days! The iPad became just another toy in the box.

So, just like TV and video games, parents have a right to be scared of the latest gizmo. Nothing really can beat one to one face-time with a parent, cooking together, reading an old-fashioned book. How we approach using the iPad sends myriad signals to our children. Do we stare at it ad nauseum? Do we reach for it before the baby? Are we addicted to touching its magical screen? The Rocker once said he was happy he didn’t have cell phones in middle school. Touche!
photo copy 3
Practicing her pincer grasp, getting ready to swipe.

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