Empathy

The pandemic has allowed us to have evening walks. We get to meet our neighbors.

The other day one of the neighbor children fell and was crying. Fleur was most distressed about the other child being in pain. It took quite a bit of reassurance and the other child no longer crying to pull Fleur on her way.

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Humans are social creatures. We attend to even the distress of a stranger. It bodes well Fleur was distressed. Right about now is when we should be seeing signs of autism.

Autism more has issues with shallow empathy or reading the emotions on another’s face or tone. Once they cross the bridge keeping from the shallow empathy, they are able to feel deep empathy. This deep empathy is the ability to feel the emotions of others, a merging of identities.

Top shelf

As Fleur gets both taller and better at climbing, things seem to migrate to higher places on the shelves. This of course, makes them top heavy. Obey gravity: It’s the law!

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The wife and I are not in total mutual understanding of what should be up there. For instance, I put the coffee creamer with fake sugars up there. The normal creamer I didn’t as there wasn’t room in the spot, so all five containers were opened as she didn’t find them in the lower spot.

Really, that just encourages her to try to climb to get things put out of reach. Better, is for things to disappear. Out of sight, out of mind, out of screaming at not being allowed to have it.

The same trick works with toys. Things she has not played with can disappear. When they reappear, they are new and fresh and must be constantly played with.

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.
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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.

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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.

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.

Garbage Truck!

Fleur loves trucks. Especially the garbage trucks. There are commercial trucks coming through the neighborhood Tuesday through Friday. I can yell “Garbage truck!” and she comes ru.n.n.ing to the living room window to watch them get a trash and put the contents in the truck.

I never see her run that fast. Not when she is hurt. Not when she is scared. Not when she is upset. Just when she is the most excited she can possibly be. About a garbage truck.

She also loves the package delivery vans (UPS, FedEx, Amazon) and mail trucks. One neighbor washes delivery vans in their yard. She can watch that for as long as that takes. Her week was made one day to be allowed NEXT to the delivery van.

This particular interest was unexpected. But, we did take her to see the firetrucks and other large vehicles at a park back when she was just walking. It was amusing to see her fascinated by these things both then and now.

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.