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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.)

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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.

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.

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.

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:

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  • 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.

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.

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.

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.