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.

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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.

Daycare

Daycare is new. Today was the fourth real day. There was a transition period where Fleur got to spend a few hours acclimating to the place. She liked it with Mama there. I am getting clinging and tantrums leaving her there by herself.

The first day, I stayed for almost half an hour letting her get comfortable. She wanted to stay at my feet, but she also wanted to play with toys and investigate what the other kids were doing. She would drift away from me to get a toy, but she would come back. Same with day two. On both days, she only got upset when she realized that I had left the room. My telling her bye, I love you, asking for a hug was ignored because she was intent on something else.

Yesterday and today, she was not going to let me go. Yesterday, it was trying to stay with me as much as possible. Today, it was not letting me put her down. (Also, I screwed up in bribing her with that her cousin would be there who arrived at the same time only for them to be separated.)

elphants standing on brown soil

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One childless advocate of corporal punishment said this shows she is spoiled. (But, also that she is intelligent in that she figured out the pattern and increasing the resistance earlier and earlier.) In Elephant Parenting, I basically said that I aspire to nurture, protect, and encourage rather than being the ultra-strict disciplinarian. So naturally, I am right in the middle of an issue and am conflicted about it.

First, I have to remind myself not to overreact. This is relatively common for the first few weeks. We are not even done with the first week. I think I am discouraged because the trend is getting worse not better, but maybe this is part of the process. She needs to see that her displeasure isn’t going to change the outcome. At the same time, I need to continue the soothing and encouragement.

Second, I need to keep the schedule, routine, and describing them. She understands routines and helps me with familiar processes all the time. I was thinking last week maybe I need a more attention getting goodbye ritual where she understands better that I am going.

Third, the lingering is probably more upsetting and encouraging the undesirable behavior. Instead of hanging out longer in reaction to the crying about it, just do the goodbye ritual and get the teacher to take her. Let the teacher comfort her and help build that bond?

Elephant Parenting

elphants standing on brown soil

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It feels like I am constantly struggling with whether my response was the correct one. On the one hand, a particular reaction was perhaps not the best. On the other, that one reaction is probably not going to permanently damage the kiddo for all eternity.

So, then the question is… What is important? I completely agree with this:

If you’re wondering what ‘elephant parent’ means, it’s the kind of parent who does the exact opposite of what the tiger mom, the ultra-strict disciplinarian, does… Parents who believe that they need to nurture, protect, and encourage their children, especially when they’re still impressionable and very, very young.

The “especially when very, very young” is appropriate. I envision it as an adding of responsibility over time. Let the kid be a kid. As the kid matures, add more to their plate over time such that they are growing into the roles.

Of course, parents disagree over what is and isn’t appropriate. They probably did or would do something different. Is it better? Maybe for their kid. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it didn’t really matter.

The troll: Roll Tide! (It is funny because the University of Alabama mascot is an elephant. And the college town where I live currently hates their football team more than their “official” rivals.)