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.
Developmentally speaking, “2 years old might be one of the roughest ages” for social distancing, says Arthur Lavin, a pediatrician in Cleveland and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. A 6-month-old offered peas for dinner either wants them or not, but a 2-year-old knows something tastier exists. It’s the age of challenging the world, making vague demands and feeling intense emotions at every turn.Expert advice for sheltering in place with a tyrannical toddler. Washington Post, On Parenting. By Veronica Graham. April 1, 2020.
The article goes on to advise parallel play…
- Stay close and present
- Keep up physical contact
- Pick toys that encourage exploration and imagination
- Scale back on toys
I think we have done pretty well. Fleur spends time with me on conference calls. I will turn on the video so she can talk to early bird coworkers before a call starts. She gets bored pretty quick on moves on to something else adjacent to me.
Last summer we spent a week at the house of my aunt and uncle. They have three chiming clocks. A grandfather clock and two small ones.
We have something similar. Auditory reminders at 9, 10, 3, 4, 5, 6 that announce: Check diaper. This is essentially our chimes. I find I don’t really need a clock during this period.
We don’t need the automated system when we get up from sleeping and prepare for it at naptime and bedtime. It is the in between that we need brought to our attention. In the focused zone, it can be easy to assume the other parent is going to take care of it. The chime brings back to our attention that maybe we should. We have saved on diaper cream since setting these up as we are better at making sure to address the diaper before the acidic defecation causes a rash.
On the plus side, Fleur loves the announcements. She runs around repeating it. If I am in the middle of work, then her running around letting us know keeps it on the brain.
Reminders are my main way of remembering to do things. The strange thing to me is this working from home means I am on my phone less. So, I miss more of the ones through it.
The one good thing about the shelter-in-place is the opportunity to be more engaged with my daughter. Before, I got her fed, dressed, and transported to daycare. Now, I still generally get her fed then periodically engage her in conversations, reading, and play. I can say that I do feel more connected to her.
Thus, the below makes sense to me:
Oxytocin increases in mothers, who provide a lot of affectionate contact and in fathers, who have a lot of stimulatory contact. Studies show that fathers highly involved in playing with their children have a higher level of oxytocin, compared with fathers, who show less stimulating activities. Moreover, brains of fathers involved in caregiving activities show an increase in grey matter volume.“Parenting is a choice” on SciComm for everyone
I work in IT, so my work is a mixture of meetings to talk about processes and working tickets. The computer systems I manage are all virtual servers in our private cloud. So, the tools I use to do my job at my desk is the same laptop I use to do my job at home.
Maybe in part because so much of my work is asynchronous, there are expectations of a lag in responses. If I send a message to a person or group, then I expect them to respond when they can. That may be instantly or in a couple days. There are tools at my disposal to get the attention of people faster if so needed. But, if I also need to step away to entertain the bored toddler and it is not a live meeting, then it is not that big of a deal. It is no different than the interruptions I get in the office from people stopping by to ask a question or make an observation.
What I didn’t expect is to have people so supportive of having a toddler present. A number of times, I have forgotten to mute myself in a meeting or the toddler unexpectedly loudly ran into the room. In every case, my coworkers or our clients have been amused about it. It elicits an amused response. When Fleur joins me, I turn on the camera and let her see my coworkers. She loves getting to see them when someone reciprocates.
The coup de grâce was my boss was waving to her with his camera on during a meeting. When the meeting ended, she was upset. So, I “called” him via the system and they got a few more minutes of interaction. I wanted to talk to him about the meeting, so once she got bored and moved on, I talked to my boss. It made me feel appreciative.