WFH with a Tyrannical Toddler

Our world…

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.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Placebo First Aid

Every incident requires a bandaid. A wipeout in the road causes a scrape. The fix is a bandaid. An imperceptible maybe jammed finger requires one too. It hurts. Therefore it needs a bandaid.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In this case, causation doesn’t matter. What matters is how to make it feel better. Early on, I found much success in kisses. They were an accepted method of restoring health for not serious wounds. The more real injuries Fleur obtained, the less acceptable kisses were to hurts.

Placebos are powerful tools for healing. The brain being suggestible can run with them and cause impressive healing. Medicine accounts for them in efficacy studies as any time the patient believes in the cure, they can heal.

Our placebo bandaid are a cheap box of 100 I found. They barely stick. And fall off after a few hours. Just after the toddler has forgotten about the injury. In fact, if the complaint persists past the placebo bandaid, then I misjudged the injury.

Tangible

Itsy Bitsy Spider is a favorite Fleur song. Sitting on the porch after a rain, I thought it would be good to connect it to tangible things. Rain drops still fell. The yard was bright with sunshine. And at the end of the porch was a gutter, aka water spout.

I sang the the song and pointed to the drain and explained it was a water spout and sang the song again. She looked at me and the gutter and did the hand motions for the song. The excitement just grew about there being a spider specifically in the water spout attached to the house.

She had to tell Mom all about it. And brother.

When do we get to the part of language where we explain the use of metaphors and simile as explanation tools?

People!

Ms. Fleur’s Neighborhood:

We go on a walk every day in the neighborhood. Well, less so now that summer has arrived. The available time will get earlier and earlier every day that we can without needing to take a shower right after it.

Fleur has gotten to know the neighbors. We are all starved for social interaction. She gets excited to see people. Familiar neighbors or strangers, it doesn’t matter they are people.

She is human. (More so than me.) So as a social creature, she craves social interaction.

Flower child

Fleur enjoys picking the wildflowers along our walks in the neighborhood. Most are coming to an end of the season. So I don’t know how excited she will be for the walks.

We try to limit her picking to one so some remain for the bees and the next walk. And to limit her to wildflowers. Clover, daisies, and dandelions.

The love of picking also extends to blueberries.

Meander

Walking with a toddler is less exercise unless you mean in patience. There is constant stopping along the route.

I only just noticed the pauses are for very specific places. Fleur is really going to the places to:

  1. Get something (a flower, a rock, a stick)
  2. See if something changed (a sign)
  3. Play with a person or animal

Her purpose on the walks is not really to go do one of these. She goes to hit them ALL. So this go quickly to the end of the neighborhood and back is not in her purpose.

We ask if she wants to go see one of them and she probably says yes. But that doesn’t mean avoiding the rest. I need to try enticing her to the next stop.

Cargo shorts

Cargo shorts on a recent walk

Lately on walks Fleur insists on carrying stuff. I try to limit it. A few houses down she then wants to place the stuff in my pockets.

Good thing I wear cargo shorts. It makes it easier. Well, except when she decides she wants to run while I have a packet of pineapple chunks, a baby water bottle, and three rocks in one pocket with her water bottle in the other.

At times I wonder if this is about slowing me down. But, really, it is about freeing her hands so she can do stuff.

Repetition => Belief

The toddler and I often debate whether something is a whale or a shark. It makes people who know me well happy that I have a personality mini-me. Often, these descend into:

Fleur: shark
Me: whale
Fleur: shark!
Me: whale!
Fleur: shaaaaaaaark!
Me: whaaaaaaaale!

This got me thinking about persuasion and the effective use of repetition. We tend to overlook it because we think that simplistic things we know and understand are reasonable. And frankly, the only way it could be. They are facts. Objective. The way things are. However, repetition has a sneaky way of becoming things we know and establish in our heads as facts. This is the Illusory Truth Effect messing with us.

Water bearer

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I find myself carrying things for Fleur. Typically, it is her water bottle…

  • To where she is playing
  • With us outside to play
  • On a walk
  • After taking away her access to the sink
  • For a babydoll

Okay, the last one is fake water. But, still, it is important.

The spouse keeps well hydrated and Fleur seems to have the same need. So, we try to ensure she has enough. And, she tends to get cranky if we fail to keep up with it.

It also means there are a few bottles with fresh water around the house as we lose track of the one she was using and just fill a new one. Thankfully, we have plenty of them.

Years ago, I ran into a college friend with his wife and kids at brunch. I noticed one of the kids left their water bottle after they left so I ran to get it back to them. At the time, I assumed that surely that is like their one bottle. Nope, they had around dozen to cover both kids. So, being one down would not be catastrophic. Being a parent now, whenever I find myself frustrated with being able to find a water bottle, I check the sales and get another couple.

In adding the “hydration” tag to this post, I noticed the suggestion carbohydrates. This is perhaps the first time I noticed the root hydrate and connected them. Carbo- means Carbon. Hydrate means an Oxygen atom plus two Hydrogen atoms. So, carbohydrates, aka sugars, more literally are sooty-water. Lol!

Mine

Fleur is well full on into the “Mine” stage. Some of the recent claims:

  • Our seats in the living room. She runs to the spot you normally take and claims it with “My seat.” (I swear it sounds more like “My sheet.”)
  • She scoops up your smartphone and runs to several feet away and declares. “My phone.”
  • Her beach / soccer / dodge / basket balls. She holds it toward you and lets you know, “My ball.”

The funniest thing to me is how she repeatedly declares it. Even when you reply with “your ball”, she still repeats it as though you are going to take it.

I think I need to take up more random objects whose names she does not often say and claim them. It seems like a good way to get her to say the word.