Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What my Daughter Remembered from her Birthday Party

It isn't always the big, fancy, expensive gifts that impress our children the most, like we often think they will.

This past Saturday, just one day after my daughter's 5th birthday party, my step mom--who couldn't be at her party--asked her what she had gotten for her birthday. Her response: "A cake, balloons, and decorations."

Not a new bike.
Not cute outfits.
Not new shoes.
Not a baton.
Not a new Cat in the Hat book, coloring books, or crayons.

It was the cake, balloons, and decorations that she remembered.

My step mom, knowing from what I had told her on the phone that we had given her a new bike, then asked her, "Didn't you get something you could ride on?"

My daughter's reply: "No'p."

I laughed, thinking she was kidding around and said, "What!? Yes you did. What did daddy roll into the living room?" She looked thoughtful for a minute, then said, "I don't know."

So I asked, "What did daddy give you the horn for?" She thought about it and still didn't know. So then I asked, "What did we put you on top of so you could ride it?" The right answer then came, though still with hesitation, and not with much enthusiasm, only a little smile: "A bike!"

Then when I asked her about her other gifts, she couldn't tell me about those either, but said the name of her younger cousin, whom she loves and was able to play with that night.

I admit to being quite bewildered at how much I had to prompt her to get her to talk about not only the bike, but her other gifts as well. Not that she didn't appreciate them. Every time she sees her bike outside now, she gets excited and wants to ride it, and she is enjoying her other gifts as well. But it obviously isn't what made the most impression on her at her birthday party.

Instead, it was the cake, the balloons, and the decorations. And playing with her cousin.

Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Little "Magic Word" Monster

Child: "I want more milk."
Parent:(Long pause)"What's the magic word?"

I have a theory about teaching my daughter to "say the magic word." Not that I shouldn't have taught her to use manners. Rather, it is the manner in which I taught her that I believe inadvertently created a little "Magic Word Monster."

She has now taken the Magic Word to a new level.

At the store:
My daughter: "Can I get this?"
Me: "No, sweetie."
Her (in the sweetest voice possible, with HUGE puppy dog eyes and a teethy smile): "Pleeeeeease."
Me (Loving but firm voice): "No, darlin. You already have one like that at home and you don't even play with it."
Her: "PLEASE, Mama? PLEEEEEEEEASE? I said, Please."

She said the Magic Word, after all.

It occurred to me that it was a learned behavior, and that I, yes I, was her teacher.

I mean, from the time she could ask for things with words, I began to require her to use the word, "Please" before she could get what she was asking for. I think it was mainly that "pause" between her asking and her getting, really. She would ask for something, I would pause and not give it to her... UNTIL.. she said, "Please." The magic word. THEN she would get what she wanted.

And boy, did she ever get it.

She worked out in her little mind that PLEASE was a very big and important word, a "magic" word, in fact, for getting what she wanted. She didn't say it, she didn't get it yet. But as soon as she said it, she got her heart's desire.

It made me wonder, was there a better way to teach her about manners, specifically the word, "Please"?

What if, while she was still a young toddler, I had gone ahead and handed her what she wanted right away (as long as it was something she could have, of course), and after I had given it to her had said, "The right way to ask for something is to say, 'May I please have...'"

I wonder.

Of course, it is too late now. The damage has been done. The Magic Word Monster will inevitably strike again on our next trip to the store.

So I have come up with a strategy to undo the damage, so to speak. On our next trip to the store, the word, "Please," will only be magical ONE time for each item she might ask for. After that, it loses its magic. No more Pleases, and she puts it back on the shelf.

If she does say Please again for that item, I will then pull out a large yellow stick (large craft stick painted yellow) from my purse and give it to her. It's her WARNING stick. She will hold it in her hand as a constant reminder that if she says Please again, she will then lose two reward chips from her cup at home (which she collects for good behavior, etc., to earn a prize from her prize bag). As soon as she puts that item back on the shelf, she can then give the WARNING stick back to me.

This rule will also apply to home, or places other than a store, anywhere she might use the word Please to try and get what she wants after she has been told No.

Of course, every now and then, I might say, "Yes." :-)

We'll see how it goes.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Reviving this Blog

Wow, has it really been over a year since I last posted on this Blog?

My daughter is 4 years old now, going on 14, soon to be 5 next month. She's in Pre-K this year, and I cannot believe she will be starting Kindergarten in the Fall. I had originally planned to homeschool her, but when I wasn't sure we would survive it without one of us getting hurt, I figured it was time to look at other options. Add to that the fact that she is an only child with a very outgoing personality (think, "life of the party"), and I just couldn't see confining her to four walls with no other children to socialize with on a daily basis. Thankfully, I found a private school with an excellent reputation, and that uses the same advanced curriculum I would have used if I had homeschooled her.

This afternoon I wanted to spend some one-on-one time with her, so after picking her up from school, we went to lunch at Taco Bell, then went straight to the mall and started off by doing what every girl loves to do, browse around at the jewelry counter. My daughter was all too happy to pick out several pairs of earrings for me, as well as necklaces and bracelets. Her taste in jewelry is definitely different than mine. She likes big and gawdy and flashy, I like small and simple and elegant, though I have been known to pick something quite glamorous from time to time.

As we were leaving the jewelry counter and walked past the cosmetics, my daughter spotted one of those "high chairs for grown-ups"; i.e., the makeover chair, and she made a beeline for it. At first, she just stood near it and stared at the cosmetics consultant, smiling her famous melt-your-heart smile, looking quite adorable with her thick, wavy, honey-blonde hair, sprinkles of spiral curls throughout. The consultant smiled back at her and laughed, saying, "Well Hi there. Are you shopping today?" My daughter simply shook her head very slowly from side to side, still smiling that smile, her brown eyes lit up and twinkling as she looked toward "the chair."

The consultant laughed again and lowered her tone slightly as she asked, "You want some makeup, don't you?" My daughter nodded fervently. "Awww... I don't know about that..." she hesitated, looking at me. I told her a little blush and lip gloss would be okay, so my daughter climbed up in the chair and giggled, her back straight and her head held high as she waited. The consultant went and got some blush on a brush and brought it over and gently brushed her cheeks, then went to get some lip gloss on a lip brush and smoothed it on her lips. "Very pretty," we said, and she just beamed.

From there we made our way to the play area in the middle of the mall, which is right near Maggie Moo's ice cream (smart move by Maggie Moo). There was a kid's movie playing, which always attracts them like a magnet, so of course we had to stop there first. After eating ice cream and watching Ice Age 2 for awhile, it was off to the play area just steps away, where my daughter rounded up a couple of other girls to play chase, followed by "playing house" where she baked an imaginary cake for them to eat.

She didn't want to leave when it was time to go, of course, but I used my newly-learned tactic that works like a charm: I acted like I was leaving, with or without her. This time I didn't even have to say, "Bye," and start walking away. All I did was start picking up her socks and shoes and act like I was about to leave and she said, "Noooo, mama! Wait for me!" and came running over to put her shoes on.

I learned said tactic when my husband, who was with me one day at the mall, told me that he saw a mother say, "Okay, time to go!" and just started leaving the play area, without even looking back. Her two year old, who had hesitated prior to that, suddenly went running out of the play area to catch up with her. Smart woman. So I decided to try it on my daughter. Before I implemented the tactic, my daughter never, ever -- not once -- complied with my request to leave the play area, and a battle would ensue.

I would always win, of course (as parents should), but not without threats (such as never coming back to the play area again or losing some kind of privilege at home), or on especially tired days, a bribe. After I implemented it, she complied right way and every single time thereafter. Where oh where was this knowledge for the past two years? It could have saved me a lot of grief.

Now, just because she left the play area immediately thanks to my newly implemented "Bye, I'm leaving" tactic, doesn't mean that she didn't whine about it and put on a big drama show just for me (complete with poking out her bottom lip, putting on a pathetic sad face, and dropping here chin to her chest). But that's to be expected, it's just who she is. If you want a nice, boring, quiet life, she is not your girl.

I have to say, my husband and I were thrown for quite the loop when she came on the scene. We are both the quiet, mostly reserved type. We imagined being able to have quiet cuddles in front of the TV with our daughter, a daughter that would walk quietly by our side as we shopped in a store, that would play quietly with other kids while we visited with the parents and had uninterrupted adult conversation, and allow us plenty of time to ourselves after she was in bed early every night. Boy, were we ever deluded.

But, it is good for us. She brings us out of our proverbial shells, forces us to see things about ourselves that we might not otherwise see. And then there's her sense of humor, which guarantees we will laugh often, and her wonderful and colorful imagination, which knows no bounds. And she's so full of joy and has such a passion for life, and is smart as a whip. I could go on and on. We are very thankful we didn't get what we expected.

Anyway, we enjoyed spending time together today. Tonight when she pulled out the usual tricks from her hat to delay going to sleep (I'm scared, etc.), I asked if she wanted a quiet toy to play with and when she said no, went through naming several of her stuffed animals to see if she wanted any of those, all of which she rejected. Then she said, "I just want you, mama."

Trick or not, that one got me.

Monday, September 20, 2010

No way will that happen with MY child

Hannah is still not completely potty-trained. I never thought I'd be the mother who had the 3 1/2 year old up on the changing table in a public restroom changing her poo diaper (which are actually pull-ups, because she is too big for the largest size diaper now, and is even starting to outgrow the largest size pull-up as well). What's ironic is that while I was still pregnant with her, I saw a mother in a public restroom one day with her preschooler up on the changing table, legs dangling off, and arrogantly thought, "Hmph. I can't believe her son is still in diapers at that age. No way will that happen with MY child." Dun dun dun! Surprise!

I have tried everything I can think of to get her over that last little hump of going in restrooms other than home, and always initiating it while at home (I have to stay on top of her or she will wait too long and not make it to the potty). I even tried the "Potty Train your Child in Just One Day" method, which the author guarantees will work, though I admit, I didn't follow her instructions 100%. Maybe I should check that book out again from the library and give it another go, though I'm not sure how it would work with the fact that Hannah is already using the potty, she just isn't initiating it 99% of the time.

I know she'll eventually get it, but it is starting to cause problems. When she is in Sunday School at church, for example, she is the only one in the class who doesn't use the potty while there. And then there is the size issue. When she outgrows the pull-ups, which will be soon, we will either have to order a larger size online (assuming they have them), or switch to "Underjams," which is special disposable nightime underwear for older kids who are bed-wetters. Can you say, "Ka-ching!"?

Hopefully it won't be long and I'll be posting  about our, "No more diapers" party we throw for us-- I mean-- her.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

She was quiet, and nothing was wrong

I think my daughter is entering a new phase of maturity. Today she got real quiet while in her bedroom, and usually that means she's up to something, but when I went to check on her, she was playing happily with her little horse and a couple of stuffed animals. A little while later, she was still quiet, so I went to check on her a second time and she was still "just playing." Then yet a third time, she was uncharacteristically quiet, and this time I fully expected "something" to be wrong, but no, she was just lying in her chair with her little horse in one hand, gazing out the window. Hmmm. This is the first time she has ever gone that long playing alone in her bedroom quietly for so long, without something being wrong. I guess it means she's growing up. Doesn't she know she's not allowed to do that? Sigh. :-)

Of course tonight, she reminded me just how much of a three-year-old she still is. She was at the kitchen table with a red marker and a piece of paper, both of which she had acquired all on her own, and was hitting the marker on the page to make dots and little splats. Occasionally she would actually draw... er..uh.. scribble a line or two. I went to the bathroom, and when I came back, Hannah was gone and in her place sat a little Navajo Indian girl. She had used the red marker to "color" all over her face, chest, arms, and hands. I wasn't too happy with her at first, but then I couldn't help but laugh at how big of a mess she had made herself. Oh the creativeness of a three-year-old.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is that a monkey on my back?

Sometimes Hannah's creative imagination gets her into trouble. Today while I was bending down searching through the clothes in the dryer to find her an outfit for her to wear, she tried to jump up on my back, but of course it was too high for her to do so. She kept trying, though, and saying, "It's too high!" Next thing I knew, she got real quiet and I figured she had given up and went to find something else to do. Meanwhile, I was still frantically searching through the clothes in the dryer for a matching outfit. I finally found one and was just about to stand back up, when all of the sudden I saw something out of the corner of my eye and "Uhh!" Hannah lands on my back. Well, almost. She didn't quite make it, and slid off. She had worked out in her little mind that if she stood on top of the toilet with the lid down, she could jump on my back from there (our washer and dryer are in one of our bathrooms). But she fell just short of her lofty goal, and crash landed on the floor, flailing backward and hitting her back on the toilet in the process. Thankfully, after some tears were shed and mama hugs and cuddles were given, my sweet little monkey was just fine.

She's had her share of getting hurt this week. This past weekend, she was playing with a dog and got bit twice, neither of which broke the skin, but one of which left a nice bruise next to her eye. Then on Sunday during Sunday School, she got bit hard on the arm by a boy in her class that also left a nice round bruise. On Monday, she was opening a big entrance door to the mall and the bottom corner of the door scraped and bruised her big toe, to the point of bleeding. Then there was the monkey-jump-gone-bad incident today. Hopefully that was the last of it for awhile, though I have a feeling it won't be. She is becoming quite the bold and adventurous little girl.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My blog has come back to life! Yay, I finally did it! This time, I hope to keep each entry a little shorter and to the point, to make it easier for any readers who may happen to find this blog interesting (and if you don't, please don't waste your time reading it, haha!). I will also more likely post an entry on a more regular basis if I know it will be short.

Hannah is now three years and seven months old, going on thirteen! She already acts like a teenager in so many ways. Stares at herself in her full-length mirror, even does the whole butt-check thing. And of course has the attitude to match. When asked once where her favorite place to live would be, her answer was, "The mall."

Her latest obsession is with dogs and babies. When she's in dog-mode, she'll get down on all fours, stick her tongue out as far as it will go, start panting, open her eyes wide, then say, "I'm a dog." Sometimes she will just stand there and stick her long tongue out and look at you with "puppy-dog eyes" and expect you to know she is now "a dog." Yesterday, a friend of mine, who makes animal costumes and realized how much Hannah liked imitating dogs, gave her a big, thick, "dog tail," which was actually red with a white tip. Hannah immediately got down on all fours, put the "tail" behind her, and started wiggling her butt to "wag" the tail.

When in baby-mode, Hannah will find her doll's tiny pacifier or some other object that resembles a pacifier and stick it in her mouth (or a real pacifier, if one is available, say... from her 21-month old cousin's mouth), find something to use as a bib and tie it around her neck, then walk around saying, "I'm a baaaay-bee." She has quite the imagination. The other day she brought me one of her barbie doll's tiny little boots and a crooked pipe cleaner and said, "Let's play ball." She gave me the barbie boot and held the pipe cleaner up like a bat, so I threw the boot to her and she tried to hit it with the pipe cleaner. What a riot she is.