Here are a collection of anecdotes about the breakdown of communication where I misunderstood the desired outcome which resulted in upset feelings:
Fleur handed me a banana saying, “do this.” When I started to peel it, she wailed.
She asked me for strawberry oatmeal. Like the dozens of times before I poured pecans into it. She howled about them.
She asked to watch Frozen. So, I clicked on Frozen. The screaming was because she wanted Christmas Frozen. (aka Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.)
The past three times she has had a particular food, it has resulted in her needing to be held because her tummy hurts. But, it is sweet, so she wants it. When I say no, she throws herself on the floor with intense crying and tears and hurt.
The prize for potty training is candy which often gets dropped on the ground, making it inedible but that doesn’t mesh with the prize loss. Inconsolable. Until I replace or wash it, nothing else can be done.
Fleur’s clothing often has pockets. Dresses with pockets. Which seems at odds with the trend of dresses for adults which almost never have pockets. To the point women often find that a dress which has them significantly adds value.
Fleur loves her articles of clothing with pockets. She often says to me, “Look, Daddy, it has pockets!”
Pants for women too are strange. I found a pair of jeans in with mine and in checking the pockets was like confused by how tiny they were. They belonged to my wife.
This is probably also why my wife doesn’t give me shit about cargo pants or shorts (see I & II). Any time we go for a walk where she doesn’t want to deal with her purse, she needs me to carry her phone because she doesn’t have the pockets to do herself.
Yesterday morning, Fleur was happy enough with the pockets in her coat that she didn’t need mine for the rocks she acquired on the walks. (Yes, plural, there were two. One to see the horses, chickens, and dogs. Another to see the creek and throw the rocks into it.)
I hope the Long Tail (the Internet makes niche products more available) works in Fleur’s favor so we can keep her in clothing with pockets.
Fleur is the adventurous type. She enjoys climbing, jumping, and scary situations.
For the most part, I have always encouraged her to push her boundaries within what I consider acceptable. Climb higher. Climb the arch ladder while holding her hips the first time but let her do it on her own subsequent ones. Jump off the 5 foot wall the 5 foot distance to catch her a couple feet off the ground. Throw her up into the air.
Momma cannot watch some of these antics. Mostly because her baby is in danger.
If I thought Fleur was really in danger, then I would encourage her to do something else. There is a risk. Throwing her up into the air means I could miss the catch. I am cognizant of the risk, but I accept it on our behalf.
The smile she has when successful is infectious. I hope evolutionary biology isn’t tricking me into letting her into unnecessary danger. It is a reward for me to see her happiness about having done the dangerous thing.
On the other hand, this confidence building feels very necessary. At the park, she was hesitant about the arch ladder. Protecting her the first time let her see it was possible. It expanded her worldview. She did it a dozen more climbs on her own. Because… she knew she could. I want her to feel like she can do anything.
Another thing is my language has changed over the past month or so. Instead of saying “be careful” so much, I am trying to get better about specifics. When she is walking on a curb, I will ask, “Do you feel stable?” Or when she is running, “Are you going the speed where you tend to trip?” or “Are there [roots or mud] for you to fall on?” The idea is to get her to consider the situation.
I stumbled across the cutest of scenes. I went looking for Fleur because it was too quiet.
She was in her room with the Olivia book between her and Cora the doll. While not yet able to read, she does have it mostly memorized and was telling it to Cora.
She also will offer to read to us. Usually they are her favorites, so she basically memorized the story.
What amuses me most about her play reading is the made up parts. There is a slight pause where she realizes she doesn’t know and composes something to go with the picture. I can see why she picked it.
It reminds me of how the brain fills in the gaps for memory retrieval. If the actual memory has pieces missing, it finds relevant information and inserts it into the recall. The problem is that is what gets remembered in future retrieval instances. This is what distorts recall such that eyewitness testimony can be manipulated by police or lawyers.
Driving With A Toddler may be more dangerous than texting while driving or under the influence of tranquilizers. This is very much a distracted driving situation.
Basically, while driving, Fleur becomes demanding of my attention.
Play <insert song>!
I want to go to the park!
I want to go to the store!
Throw this away!
Of course, I ignore text messages and phone calls while driving. But, both are infrequent and less… demanding than a toddler. Patience is not yet an acquired trait. And I often refuse to play the song when there is such negative emotion.
My wife calls it not negotiating with terrorizers.
The thing is, evolution played a trick on us. Our brains are highly sensitive to the frequency at which our children cry. So, for the ten minutes I am not negotiating or doing the thing fast enough, I am also experiencing agony. So, all too often, it is really tempting to give in.
I feel at times that I give in too much. In the moment, it feels like a relief. And I justify it as a small thing to allow her to have.
Of late, my resistance has been to make her ask. I’ve decided to give in, but I make her do it in a nice way. She is good about complying.
Today was a productive potty day at daycare. The snack bag had more than usual amount. Fleur looked super proud.
They get a piece of candy each time they go. We tried stickers and found it okay but not great. We switched to candy and found it super effective. Daycare went the same route a couple weeks after. The dual environments using the same method has us over a month in without an accident.
Today she showed me the bag. She wasn’t in a rush to eat it like usual.
I asked how many she got. She told me: “Two many much.” I thought she meant too many, but two many makes more sense.
She can count. But, in this moment of triumph, “two many much,” was perfect.
I made the mistake of taking Fleur to the store so now she wants to go there all the time. But, additionally, as soon as we walk in the door, she tells me, “I have to go potty.”
Without fail. Without remorse. Every time.
It feels like Classical Conditioning. Something about entering a store is like Pavlov’s bell. It triggers the need to go. So she tells me and we go. Thankfully in most cases we have been, the restrooms are close to the door. Stimulus is the entrance. Response is the need to urinate.
So far we are seven for seven. I need more data. But, I am not willing to get more exposure for the sake of science.
Often, when Fleur is asking Mommy about something and I have the answer, I offer it. She ignores it and asks again, so I answer again. Around the third to fifth time she will tell me in a frustrated tone, “I am talking to Mommy.”
It amuses me because I get that quite a lot. At home as a kid, at school, at work.
As a know-it-all, I answer questions. It never occurs to me you don’t really want an answer or solution.