Categories
cousins Parenting

In the shadow of big cousins

Fleur looks up to elder kids. She studied walkers before she could. She enjoys playing with older kids as she can attempt the things they perform. So, today, spending the day with her cousin was a treat.

Sophie is over a year and a half older. With more experience and maturity, she helped and taught Fleur how to play. She showed how she isn’t scared of some things on the playground to entice the younger to try. And interacted with Rosa as a “not a baby”, talking about things, playing games, and making suggestions. (I’ve seen Fleur hold her own against another cousin who is too assertive.)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This isn’t to say they didn’t argue. They did, but it was more socially mature than I have seen in many cases where it devolved into physicality over not being understood.

It makes me think about my own older cousins who would from time to time pop into town. We played games, explored, tussled, and told stories. I learned much about the world hanging around them even into my late 20s. It may be fair to say I idolized them and followed on the paths they trailblazed for me.

Human transmission of information built societies. And maintains them. It makes me happy to see my child benefitting from socialization. And developing bonds blooming that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Categories
play

Fantasy-based pretend play

“Viking – Shield Maiden” by Danielle Pioli is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

From an article…

The study involved daily 15-minute play sessions across five weeks, in which a research assistant led 39 children aged three to five through a fantastical script, such as going to the moon. After the five week period, the pretend play kids showed greater gains in their ability to memorise lists of digits (a classic test of working memory, itself a core component of executive function) as compared with 32 age-matched children in a standard play condition, who spent their sessions singing songs and passing a ball around a circle.

The pretend play group also showed a bigger improvement on an executive function attention-shift task, which involved switching from sorting blocks by colour to shape. This result squeaked through thanks to the standard-play group’s scores actually creeping down over time as the pretend group scores crept up, but note that on its own terms, the pre-to-post change in pretend group performance wasn’t itself statistically significant. On a third executive function measure – “inhibition of responses” (children had to follow a tricky instruction to label a nighttime scene as day, and a daytime scene as night) – there was no effect of the pretend play.

Fantasy-based pretend play is beneficial to children’s mental abilities. Research Digest, the British Psychological Society

I am enjoying this playful period where Fleur tells me stories. Getting more into this kind of play excites me. It is what I remember doing a lot of as a child. And even as a teenager, I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, even being a Dungeon Master most of the time for one group of friends.

Categories
Mini Us Parenting

Nicknames

Fleur knows her name. She will correct you if she catches a nickname she doesn’t accept, then she responds, “I’m not <name>, I’m Fleur!”

On the other hand, I am rather proud at the wide variety of affections we have for her.

  • Little Miss (Can’t Be Wrong)
  • Little Stinker [1]
  • Baby [2][3]
  • Sweetheart
  • Fleur Darling
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on Pexels.com

[1] Often used after she toots

[2] She now tells me, “I am not a baby! I am a Mama. This is a baby,” and shows me one of her dolls.

[3] My go-to when she is doing something and I want her attention

But, the best set, I think are the behavioral descendant ones. When she exhibits behavior we think clearly reminiscent of a specific ancestor, then I like using them.

  • MJ, aka Momma Junior
  • DJ, aka Daddy Junior
  • GS, aka Galahad’s Sister
  • C4, aka my maternal grandmother’s great-grandchild
  • S3, aka my father

These are the ones to which she will most strongly object. So, naturally, I often use them when I want to take umbrage.

She seems to have stopped calling me Honey. And she recently master our names.

Categories
Evolution

Cat reacts to baby crying

I found a Facebook memory about Fleur:

Changed Fleur. As I carried her down the hall, Luna attacked my calf. Fleur was wailing at the time. It reminded me of my childhood cat doing something similar to my mother.

It made me think of how cats learned to manipulate us with their meow by making it sound like human babies. We are very much attuned to our offspring. So, it was brilliant for felines to leverage this against us.

Of course, over usage of the baby crying range by our cats drives my wife crazy.

Categories
Caregiving Parenting

Why is my toddler crying?

Here are a collection of anecdotes about the breakdown of communication where I misunderstood the desired outcome which resulted in upset feelings:

Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on Pexels.com
  • 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.

Categories
Parenting

Pockets

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.

Categories
play

Careful

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.

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

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.

This elephant parenting isn’t for the faint of heart.

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.

Categories
Parenting Reading

Reading to dolls

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.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Pexels.com

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.

Categories
Discipline Parenting

DWAT

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!
  • Open this!
  • 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.

Categories
Daycare Mathematics Parenting

Two many much

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.