Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gift of Discipline Workshop: Week 5

Today's topic was temperament. The talk was lead by the Early Years employee who usually does these things (but didn't the last three weeks because she was someplace warm). This is related to discipline because, she says, it's important to know a child's temperament so that you can implement a strategy that will work for them. Sort of a custom job. Also, the way your temperament meshes with your child's can create issues.

Some temperament traits: activity level, regularity, first reactions, adaptability, sensory threshold/sensitivity, intensity of reaction, mood, distractability, persistence/attention span. (The talk explained what each of these traits is, but if you think about it you could probably figure it out yourself).

So what? You're supposed to spend time observing your kid so you can figure out what end of the spectrum he fits into for each of these categories. I'm already stuck on #1; activity level. No one can deny that William loves to run around, but he also enjoys sitting reading a book, or quietly playing blocks, or watching TV for an hour (Yes, I am that sort of parent. Technology is there for us to use people!)

At the end, we were given a little quiz we're supposed to do to where I put every family member (I didn't really include Jadzia because she's a baby) on a scale for each of the temperament traits. That way we can see at a glance whether there will be a conflict of personalities. Let me just glance here... It seems my husband is the problem. His intensity of reaction is too low and he has too much attention span with too little distractability. I, on the other hand, have the temperament of a two-year-old, so William and I should get along famously.

Unless, of course, he goes the entire day without a nap, even though he is clearly tired because he refuses to listen, hits his sister over the head multiple times and spends the afternoon throwing things, including a water glass that makes a big dangerous mess on the floor, and feeding crayons to the dog. But what are the odds of that ever happening?

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Creative Mind of a Two-Year-Old

On the right we have a sculpture my son created all by himself, which he has entitled "A Robot, Wall-e." This is an obvious reference to Wall-e from the recent Pixar movie of the same name, so I've included the pic on the left for comparaison (assuming blogger actually formats this properly). The yellow legos sticking out of the side of William's version are his hands. I know this because when I asked "Where are his hands?", my son answered "Oh hands". And went searching for those yellow blocks to add to his masterpiece. Only two, and already he's graciously accepting artistic criticism.

In other news, my nephew Hunter left two of his action figures here and William has been playing with them. "I play guys," William says. Bane and the Terminator have never been so friendly:
Terminator (lying on his back): Oh, I fall down.
Bane: I will help. (helps Terminator to his feet) Big hug. Uh, Big Kiss.
(They hug and kiss)
Both (lying down, they start to sing): Sleep, bunnies...
Both (leap to their feet and start jumping up and down, still singing): Wake up, bunnies! Hop, hop, hop. Stop!
Bane (falls over): Oh, I fell down, Mommy, I fell down.
If DC Comics ever decides to do a crossover with the Terminator series, I'll send them the script.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gift of Discipline Workshop: Week 4

Today's topic was DEFIANCE (that feels like a word that should be in all caps doesn't it?). The talk was lead by the sibling rivalry expert from week 2 and involved lots of discussion, along with brainstorming on chart paper. Just like elementary school, I love it!

One of the things the expert drew on the chart paper was an iceberg. A child's behaviour is what's on the surface, and their feelings and reasons for that behaviour are all under the surface: they need attention, they're angry, they don't understand what they should do. If you only address the "tip of the ice berg" the you aren't dealing with all the underneath stuff. Okay, so it's an overused metaphor and the writer in me is screaming against clichés. The whole point is, I think, to understand why a kid is doing what they're doing, and to address that, rather than just the behaviour itself.

The expert also talked about "Time-In" which is supposedly the opposite of time out. The idea is that we tend to send our kids away to their rooms or whatever just when they need us the most: when they're out of control and need help dealing with strong emotions. With this "Time-In" you sit with them, cuddle them if they let you but give them space if they need it, and do whatever you can to help them deal with they feelings. I know, gag me, but a lot of parenting is about warm cuddlies and this is actually similar to what I do naturally. It's not the opposite of a time-out though, says the writer in me, it's a time-out where you hang out with them. Calling that the opposite of time-out, would be like saying that ice cream with chocolate sauce is the opposite of ice cream.

After the talk we received five hand-outs. Three of them were about the time-in thing (so I guess this is the hot new trend). One of them is about positive reinforcement and how to listen "reflectively" (yawn). The last lists strategies to change a childs behaviour, one of which is time-out, which the expert specifically frowned upon. Talk about mixed messages. I just don't think anybody expects me to actually read the hand-outs.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Super Happy Dogsitter

My parents are off touring the country side (when I say "touring" I really mean it, my Mom is visiting schools to talk about writing) and they left their baby home with me. I'm of course talking about Morty the Jackapoo.

Morty has one of those dog dishes that has food on one side and water on the other. My son has the unfortunate habit of putting handfuls of dog food into the water, creating a mushy mess. Luckily my mother left behind a large supply of catfood-like single-serving wet dog food, which Morty will gobble up faster than William can destroy.

So I filled Morty's dish water side only. Apparently, a bowl of water on the floor is too much for a two-year-old to resist. William has been, very deliberately and with much giggles, dumping Morty's water dish all over the hardwood floor. After several rounds of "No, William, don't touch", multiple re-fillings of the dish, and a very soaked towel, I finally took the bowl away completely. Now the poor dog only gets water when he whimpers at me.

If that isn't bad enough, I didn't walk Morty today at all. I simply didn't have the energy in my brain to work out the logistics of walking two children and a jackapoo by myself. Morty has been out in the yard several times (not looking forward to what I will find out there).

Despite all this neglect, I'm told that my house is still better than a kennel.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Zoo (from a two-year-old's point of view)

Please excuse my lack of super-happiness for this blog entry. I'm more than a little bit tired after submitting myself to the exhausting ordeal of chasing a two-year-old around the zoo for four hours (while Adam pushed the baby stroller).
Even though I told William we were there to see animals, and he kept repeating "I see amals", he seemed more interested in running ahead, collecting rocks, and climbing on things. (We spent ten minutes climbing up and down the stairs next to the orangutang cage without actually looking at any orangutangs).

I took this picture to illustrate how a typical zoo exhibit looks from William's point of view. Our conversation at this point went something like this:
"William do you see the lions?"
"Ball," he says, pointing.
"Yes, there is a ball. But look behind the ball. There are two lions."
"Oh a ball!"
"Yes, the ball is there for the lions to play with."
"A beeg ball."
"Do you know what sound a lion makes?"
"Roar," William replies, sounding bored.
In fact it was almost impossible to get him to notice any animal, but there was one zoo attraction that William found fascinating:

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Library Card

Jadzia just got her first library card today. I'm not sure what kinds of stories she likes yet, so I picked four board books at random. (Also the only method of selection available to someone who is also chasing a two-year-old around). Yes, that big wet spot on her shirt is puke. Puking is her hobby right now, but I'm hoping she'll take up reading instead.

I left Jadzia on the floor in her baby gym thingie and when I came back she had totally turned around so her head was pointed in the opposite direction. Now she just needs to roll-over, crawl, walk, get her driver's licence, and then she can go to the library all by herself!

I didn't capture secret spin maneuver on film, but here's a video of her doing nothing in particular for 3 minutes:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gift of Discipline Workshop: Week 3

Today we talked about brain development. The woman who did the talk was (I guess) some sort of expert in the area of child brain development and language. She was all about the hand-outs and group discussion, and not much about actually getting through her power-point in the time alloted.

Handouts in my stack of hand-outs:

We began the talk with a fairly easy "True or False" quiz about brain development. Fairly easy, that is, if you understand the agenda: to emphasize the importance of the early years. How else can the Early Years Centre get its funding?

The second handout is an article printed off msn about a girl who was so severely neglected that when she was found by police, at age seven, she couldn't talk, wasn't toilet trained, lacked basic social skills, and skittered around on her toes like a crab intead of walking properly. All this to illustrate that having a nurturing, loving environment at an early age is important. Also to make us all feel good knowing that no matter how imperfect we are as parents, there's always someone out there who is much, much worse.

The next is entitled "feeding a baby's brain" and lists a bunch of stuff most of us would do with babies anyway: snuggle, play peek-a-boo, provide a visually interesting environment, play music, talk to babies, express emotions, encourage babies to practice small motor skills.

Last, we have a drawing of a boy with an exposed brain. Apparently, the upper brain lets us think, talk reason, and create, the mid-brain controls emotion, sexuality, and has a role in memory, and the lower brain controls breathing, heart rate, and "many basic instincts". The hand-out wants me to colour the three parts of the brain different colours. Perhaps I'll get William to do it.

Not sure what all this has to do with "discipline", but I assume the latter half of the presentation (which we never got to) would tie it all together for us. In any case, I shall be obsessed with stimulating my children's brain development for the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Feeding Swans

Yesterday we fed the swans at Lasalle Marina. As you can see, they aren't shy. Soundtrack provided by Jadzia. BTW: The ones with the black beak and the yellow tags aren't for sale. They're trumpeter swans. I think they've been tagged as some kind of conservation innitiative.

That swan hissed at me. Hissed! So I hissed right back. He's just upset that he's not one of the special swans.

Friday, March 13, 2009

All work and no play makes Adam not here

Adam has been working late all this week.

Which means I've been working late too.

Picture me as a juggler, only instead of balls, or bowling pins, or fire, I have a baby and a toddler.

Which is especially difficult after 6pm.

Usually Adam puts William to bed, and I put Jadzia to bed.

Sometimes, Adam comes home from work just to put William to bed, then drives back.

Tonight I had to do it.

Of course I had to put the baby down first.

William just went to sleep now, more than an hour after his usual bedtime.

Adam is still at work, but he says he'll be done soon.

I miss him.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Wind

Why can't we just have a nice sunny day? Why must we have what would be a nice sunny day if not for howling winds, the kind that you can actually feel moving your car as you drive along, the kind that instantly turn your hair into a squirrel's nest, the kind that frighten babies? Being forced inside by bitter cold, snow, or rain, is acceptable. Instead we have the sun taunting us from the window with blissful springtime temperatures. Then, the moment we don our spring jackets and head outside to "play rocks" (as my son would say), we are nearly blown over by the last angry remnants of winter.

Jadzia got her first shots today. I kept telling her that they would help keep her from getting sick. She cried anyway.

William fought going down for his nap and was cranky when he woke up. I can tell this is going to be a difficult evening.

Adam will be late at work tonight...again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gift of Discipline Workshop: Week 2

Today we had some sort of expert on sibling rivalry come to talk to us about sibling rivalry. We didn't get a hand-out this time, or even much utopian philosophy. Instead we had a round table discussion about the relationships between our kids, and the relationship we had with our siblings when we were kids.

One dad was the youngest of five kids who always felt at the bottom of the totem pole.

Then there's a mom of twin ten-month-olds who are already competing for toys.

Another woman has to deal with a tantruming toddler, and a defiant preteen.

And still another is an only child who now has three kids.

The expert then read us stories and showed us cartoons all about sibling rivalry. Entertaining, but I think I'm bettter at remembering when I get a handout. Some points:

-Look at things from each child's point of view.
-Resist the urge to compare.
-Avoid labeling.
-Don't belittle a child's feelings.

The one thing everyone can agree on is that siblings fight, whether we like it or not. No amount of discipline workshoping will keep my son from becoming a bully like me, or keep my daughter from becoming a brat like my sister. Oops , I'm comparing and labeling already.

Monday, March 09, 2009

William counts to eight

So yesterday I was watching William play with my slippers. He was shuffling along chanting "One, two, one, two, two, two, one..." Normally, two is as far as he can normally count, though occasionally he throws in three.

Suddenly, and very quickly, William recited "one, two, three-four-five-six...eight." Sure he skipped seven, but I was still shocked and amazed.

I turned to my husband, who was sitting at the computer next to us. "Did you hear that?" Unfortunately he hadn't been paying attention and neither of us could get William to repeat what he had just said.

I think that all the knowledge of the universe must be locked up in that toddler brain, just waiting to spew out at random moments.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

William's Words Revisited

A little while ago I did a post on William's words. Since then, his vocabulary as exploded and he now talks in near-complete sentences (with a cute little-kid accent). Most of the words in that last post, he's abandonned his version for something more ressembling English, and I know that soon even his little-kid accent will be gone.

Mommy car, Daddy car, Baby car
Since Jadzia arrived William has been refering to all small things as "baby" and most big things as "Mommy" or "Daddy". (Although he also knows the word for big, "beeg"). After I asked him many times "What about the William car?", he now occasionally says "Wee-um car."

Wake-up Mommy
Instead of just "up", William now says "Wake-up". He doesn't quite get the concept, however, that to wake someone up, that person must be asleep and not just sitting there. With the way his vocabulary is rapidly expanding, I'm sure he'll soon learn the more appropriate phrase "Get up."

I will get you!
Normally when we are about to go somewhere, William will politely bring me his coat and shoes, then run away, delightfully squealing "I will get you!"

Mommy HUGS, Daddy HUGS, Baby hugs, Wee-um HUGS
William's always been great at hugs and kisses. Now he demands them. I find this extra cute, even though he uses them to delay bedtime, and also to make diaper change and potty time just a little more messy.

Where'd it go? Daddy
William often says his words out of order. "Where'd it go? Daddy" instead of "Where did Daddy go?" for example. Sometimes he chats with me while my husband is at work: "Where'd it go? Daddy. No. Daddy work. Okay. Mommy work. No. Baby work. No. Oh! Daddy Work!" Sometimes I add my two cents here or there, but he doesn't always need me to respond.

Red, Yayo, Boo, Geen, Back, Wet, Peenk, Pupple
Yes, William knows most of his colours now. I've asked him a couple times which his favourite was. The first time he said "Peenk" and later he said "Uh, Boo." That's ok, he doesn't have to make up his mind just yet.

Back n Back
My son is a big AC/DC fan and "Back in Black" is his favourite song. Whenever we go to my parent's house. He asks someone (usually my Dad or my brother) to put on "Back n Back", pick him up, and dance with him, over, and over again.

The vocab game
This game of William's invention, involves him excitedly yelling out the name of something in the room, and I yell it back. Sometimes the words are clear, other times it becomes a guessing game for me: "Bocks!" "Blocks!" "Baby!" "Baby!" "Mommy!" "Mommy!" "Wee-um!" "William!" "Pitters!" "Pictures!" "Bo Pins!" "Bowling Pins!"

Oh, Okay
William occasionally says "yes", but more often he says "oh, okay". This is especially amusing when he's super-tantruming for something, a cookie for example. He'll be screaming "I need Cake-ee, I need cake-ee" and the tears and snot are streaming down as if it's the end of the world. Until some says "Do you want a cookie?" or even "I know! I know! You want a cookie, I get it." Then he'll say "oh, ok" as if he's reluctantly agreeing.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Gift of Discipline workshop, week 1

Normally I just sign up for these free parenting workshops for the free child care, and don't care at all about the topic. But the title "Gift of Discipline" really got me excited. When it comes to dealing with our toddler, I certainly need the gift of discipline bestowed upon me.

Today's class was about positive parenting, a seemingly unrealistic utopian philosophy in which one focuses on positives rather than negatives. But I have an open mind, so I give you the Five Key Aspects from my handout:

1. Ensuring a safe, interesting environment.

This is all about keeping the knives up high and stuff like that. My motto is "If it's within William's reach, William will play with it." So when I leave the cereal out on the table after breakfast, and I later find a toddler sitting on the floor, waist-deep in frosted flakes, I really have no one to blame from myself. Also, teacher says that an interesting environment doesn't mean that it has to look "like Toys R Us threw up in your basement." Too late.

2. Creating a positive learning environment.

This sounds like a repeat of #1, but this is actually where they talked about paying attention to the positive behaviour. So I shouldn't be calling attention to the fact that William has been throwing things and hitting people. No, I should only reward positives. For every negative thing I comment on, I have to point out at least ten positive ones. Kumbaya.

3. Using assertive discipline.

Okay, you got me. I don't really get this one, but then my lack of assertiveness might be my problem. I tried telling him how to behave ("We don't throw blocks. Look! We make a tower with them."), but I felt like a big faker.

4. Having realistic expectations.

Every time I provided the group with a scenario, I was told "you have to remember that he's only two, not five." Of course what I heard was "Your method of using no discipline whatsoever is totally the right thing. Good job."

5. Taking care of yourself as a parent.

I think taking time to write this blog entry counts. Ah yes, I'm feeling relaxed already.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Free Wings

The other day my Dad noticed an ad in the paper advertising free wings all day today as part of St. Louis Bar & Grill's grand re-opening. Apparently starting tommorrow (Tues) they're also giving free entrees to mothers and children. This sounded too good to be true, so I called the place, and they assured me that yes, the wings were free and, no there was no catch.

So today I called the only two mommy friends I have phone numbers for, one I couldn't reach, and the other is making the trip down from St Catharines tommorrow.

But I want free wings now, thought I. So I kidnapped my parents and took them to the restaurant.

"Free wings. Free wings." My son repeated over and over as we walked in the door. The wings were free, but we all had to buy drinks and my Mom had a salad, so we (buy "we" I of course mean my mother) ended up paying $25 including tip.

They were out of highchairs, so once William was finished eating (mostly cheese out of my mom's salad) he went wandering about the restaurant with my Dad. The manager had a stash of toys, and gave William a package of six dollar-store quality racecars.

I'm thinking of going there for lunch this week. 450 Appleby just north of New St, if anyone wants to join me.
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