Categories
happiness Parenting

Stop to smell the roses

In the summer, before she would get in the car, Fleur had to walk over to the roses and smell them. Usually it meant me lowering one down to where she could.

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It became part of her morning ritual. So, now that the roses are gone, we have shifted into denial for the past month or so. She hasn’t forgotten, but she doesn’t ask every morning anymore.

I need to plant some fall blooming flowers for her, I guess. Though, it would just shift the problem to winter.

Categories
play

Pillars to enhance play

From the Good News Network, “Science-Backed Tips for Maximizing Play Time With Kids“. Thankfully, I do try to incorporate all of these when playing with Fleur.

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Pillar One: Active

Stay “active” as you play and interact with your child, for example, by incorporating literary and STEM elements into your speech and interactions.

Zosh said this could mean counting the apples out loud as you put them in your basket at the grocery store or asking your child what letter each block starts with as you build a tower. She also said asking lots of questions — such as “What would happen if we mixed these blue and yellow paints together?” or “What might happen if we stack the red square block on top of the yellow triangle block?” — can be helpful, as well.

Pillar Two: Engaged

“Try to limit distractions as much as possible, including background television and your own smartphone use,” Hassinger-Das said. “These types of distractions are sometimes unavoidable, but they do have the potential to take away from these high-quality times with your child. Focusing and staying engaged during play can help you make the most of these interactions.”

Pillar Three: Meaningful

Try building on topics the child is already interested in during play. If they like dinosaurs, you could suggest a make-believe scenario where you dig for dinosaur fossils at the playground. Or, you can integrate information about dinosaurs like counting how many bones they have and what they ate.

“If you are reading a book set in a different state, get out a globe or a map app and explore where the state is and how the weather there is different from where you live,” Zosh said. “Helping children build connections helps them weave together a rich world of understanding.”

Pillar Four: Socially interactive

The researchers advised letting your child lead in play time while you offer support along the way. For example, let your child decide what to build with blocks while asking questions like, “What would happen if you placed that block in a different direction?” or “How many more blocks do you think it would take to build a tower as tall as you?”

Pillar Five: Iterative

Children are naturally scientific thinkers — they like to experiment, see what happens, and try again and again until something works. The researchers advised giving your children opportunities to guess what will happen, conduct “experiments,” make up new words to favorite songs, and make mistakes. Every mistake leads to learning.

Pillar Six: Joyful

Finally, making playtime joyful can be done in many ways, including incorporating elements of surprise.

“Playing with shadows and asking which one is bigger or how you can make your shadow grow or shrink is one way to foster surprise and joy,” Hassinger-Das said. “Similarly, think about what helps your child connect with whatever brings them joy, from construction with a cardboard box to playing vet with their stuffed animals.”

Categories
communication Parenting

Unreliable narrator

Occasionally, she will tell stories about an event that happened at daycare. Almost all of them are another kid pushed her or her BFF. That, of course, raises our alert. But, in asking follow up questions, I sometimes question whether it really happened at all.

  • The name of the perpetrator will change.
  • The teacher present will change.
  • What the individuals did will change.

I know her class has lots more boys than girls. I am fairly sure the boys are all the youngest with older brothers. On the other hand, I am pretty sure Fleur is as tall as any of them, though not has heavy. If the class were a baby fight club, then she would hold her own.

Usually she says the perpetrator said they were sorry.

Categories
Lil Miss Independent

Backwards day

When it comes to putting on clothes, EVERY DAY IS BACKWARDS DAY. There seems to be a preference for it. Shoes, pull-ups, pants, dresses, shirts, all go on backwards. We advise they are, which in the morning tends to result in correction. Just before bed, it tends to result in the declaration of Backwards Day.

Of course, being tired, we just allow it.

I started it by making the reference to a Daniel Tiger story where Ms Elena declared it Backwards Day. Daniel loved the game, but O the Owl resisted. I felt like O, but I just now roll with it. I used it as a critique of myself, but now Fleur loves the game.

Categories
sleep

Brain Fog

Yeah, the sleep deprivation as a parent is impressive. Before parenthood, I assumed it would end after the late night feedings. I saw the stuff about it lasting years. I didn’t grasp that it remained as strong for years and then maybe taper off.

But, yeah, Mondays are like walking into a wall.

My approaches are:

  • Coffee doesn’t help so much as mask the tiredness. I use it anyway.
  • Sleep when I can. (For me, I fall out hard early in the night which matches the kid’s usual pattern.)
  • Leverage the external brain (calendar, reminders)

My wife does similar, but her sleep cycle wants the hardest sleep starting after 4 am, so the kid waking up around then hits her harder than it does me. I try my best to get the kid quiet in another part of the house. But, still, the brain fog is hindering her more.

Categories
communication Evolution Parenting

Fairness

Fleur went through a fairness phase. It especially escalated around age two where she would express displeasure about unfair treatment. I have no doubt her like and dislike of daycare adults is based on her perception of their being fair. She is getting better about expressing that position. But, I would agree she has been evaluating this since around a year old.

The results suggest that toddlers reward those who are acting fairly, adding to the evidence that very young children have a strong sense of what is “right” or normative. But, interestingly, these kids don’t seem to punish those who have been unfair (in fact, the researchers suggest that the children instead tended to avoid making responses towards unfair distributors, as they touched the screen fewer times overall after seeing those who acted unfairly).

At Just 16 Months Old, Toddlers Will Reward Someone For Acting Fairly

Lots of ideas about evolution suggest the human brain is geared towards communication. However, I would suggest that brain power is about evaluating fairness. People suck at mathematics and logic until it deals with fairness for themselves. Communication is also about fairness in that we talk and write to establish common ideas upon which to make judgements.

Categories
Parenting work-life balance

Dad, interrupted

Being a parent is constant interruption. There are the things in my mental list I want to do. And the list of things everyone else in the household wants to ask me to do.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Kind of like being a database administrator. There is the operations list of maintenance work. Then management (the kid) throws in project work assuming your 40 hour work week is for that. Then things break.

And the 3 am alarms go off about either peeing in the bed or a server crashed. Who knows anymore?

The challenge to interruption is getting back on track. I tend to interrupt even myself.

Thankfully, I have had years of preparation as a DBA for this. The difference is that as a DBA, I was able to hand off on-call duty to someone else after a week or two and only came back into rotation after a couple weeks off.

My strategy?

  1. Prioritize the doable: they are quickly done and off the mental load.
  2. Prioritize the biggest impact: they ensure the greatest contentment.
  3. Rely on the external brain: tools that track things (lists, reminders) work better than my brain.

Categories
Parenting Physics

Static electricity

Fleur was playing on the slide and getting quite the halo of hair from the static electricity. Guess it means we need to do better about getting lotion on this child?

As her clothes slid across the plastic of the slide, her body built up an excess of electrons. These atomic particles lie in wait for a way to get discharged. They are in a state of tension, just waiting for something to allow their release. That build up results in some hairs floating.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Now that the kiddo’s hair is getting so long, stuff like this is much easier to see. I would have thought the curliness more resistant to the halo. I was wrong.

Hilariously wrong.

Worth it wrong.

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.