Friday, October 22, 2010

Let's make a deal. . .

The infomercial

Are you following me son? If you eat 2 bites of spaghetti now I can offer you—at no additional cost—3, count 'em, 3 plump red grapes. But wait that's not all, if you eat all the food on your plate—that's the spaghetti, the bread, and the carrots—you will receive, at no additional cost, the grapes AND this chocolate chip cookie! All for the low, low cost of 10 bites!

The used car salesman

Sir what's it gonna take to get you to poop on the potty? It not only comes with the satisfaction of us knowing we don't have to change any diapers anymore, but we'll also throw in a bunch of extras just for you: a new train for your train set; a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's; and a trip to the toy store to pick out anything you want. And don't forget about the ladies, ladies love a guy who can poop on the potty. Make me an offer and I'll check with you mother and we'll see if we can't make this happen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How do I put this? . . .

This is the poster I hung up at work, it's a parody
of a book we publish.
It's an all too familiar feeling for me. . . having to go to your parents to tell them you did something and feeling like you are in trouble. As a kid, it was often because I was in trouble (like the time a friend and I snuck out, only to get caught by a cop and marched back to our houses). That sinking feeling that you did something, not so much wrong, but something that will change your whole life. Like getting caught cheating on an important test; the result of which will prevent you from getting into college (not that that happened to me).

Only in this case it's a good thing. You did something you were supposed to do, but you still feel like a kid in the principal's office telling your side of what happened during recess and how it wasn't your fault.

So you look for a fun way to break the news but they all fall a little flat. You think of how to break the news and somehow shift the blame from yourself. You don't want to say any of the key words because that would make it all too real. Then when you add it all up you're left with. . .

"Mom. . . dad. . . your grandson is going to be a big brother."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

To bed, to bed, to bed I said. . .

I heard this story on NPR today. It's about the link between sleep and childhood obesity. How kids aren't getting enough sleep and it's causing them to become overweight—something I'd heard before and been talking about for a couple years. I also just finished reading NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children which has a chapter that focuses this link and studies to link ADD to lack of sleep (or at least similar symptoms).

It makes me feel pretty darned good. All too often people look at us funny when leave places at 6:30 to get home in time for bed, or when we don't go out with our friends because they want to start their festivities at 6:00 or later and we say "that's too late." But for our son to get more than 10 hours of sleep and stick with our schedule he has to be in bed by 7ish because he lays in bed and talks to himself until at least 8:00—sometimes later.

On weeknights, by the time we all get home and prepare and eat dinner it's really close to bedtime. Not to mention right now—while I'm teaching a night class—there is no chance of him being awake when I arrive home two nights a week. That doesn't leave much time during the week for playing. . . and I hate that, but it's not worth the health issues. His brain forming properly is more important than father/son bonding play, and we more than make up for it in quality.

NurtureShock also links lack of sleep to teenage moodiness. However, it also finds that teenagers getting to bed earlier doesn't work because the brain chemistry of the average teenager won't allow them to go to sleep early. The solution for teenagers is to sleep later—the CDC even recommends that high schools not start until 8 a.m. (something schools won't do, generally because of interference with after school sports and part-time jobs). I suppose we have 10 years to figure out a solution on that one.

But that's beside the point. . . the point is I feel a little smug at the moment because I make my kid go to bed early and will continue to do so for several years.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No kid for you!. . .

Those unfamiliar with Parents as Teachers, it's a program that send out people to screen pre-pre-school kids to see if they are developing well and they educate parents on activities that they could be doing with their kids to keep them on track. And even though I know in the back of my head it should never happen every time we get ready to meet with our parent educator I worry that they're going to come in, see that our son likes to play with an old computer keyboard, tell us that it's an awful thing, and remove him from our home. I have to keep reminding myself it's Parents as teachers, not the department of family services.

We had our first home visit since moving in March, and with it we have a new parent educator. She was doing his yearly screening early. Again, just checking to see where he falls amongst his peers.

She asked him how old he was he responded "2 and a half." She asked "what will you be after 2" he said "6" and we all laughed, my wife and I a little nervously—like we failed him. Then this morning we realized that we had been teaching him that his birthday is the 26th. . . he was saying "2-6" for the date! And all day I've been fighting the urge to email our parent educator and tell her.

There was also the moment when I butted in and showed her that he can not only count but can identify all his numbers. . . and letters. And that was despite the fact that she had already marked him as being above average on every skills she checked.

I don't know why I'm so obsessed with him being smart and doing well in school, I guess because I wasn't either of those things when I was young.

Or maybe I'm just worried they're going to take him away for neglect.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vacation Log 2010

We spent 4 days at the Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells this summer. Partway through the vacation I decided to interview our little monkey about what we had been doing. He gets a little restless partway through, but he did pretty good.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

That's funny. . .

Driving home last night my son and I drove past a veterinarian's office. In the parking lot someone was letting their dog climb up in the back seat. My son laughed. . .

Son: That's funny.
Me: What is?
Son: That dog was getting in that car.
Me: I know I saw that, it was funny.
Son: (Laughing again) Yeah.
Me: Do you know what would be funnier? If the dog was DRIVING the car.
Son: (laughing harder) That IS funny!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bribery. . .

So after many false starts we're beginning to ramp up potty training. Unfortunately, now the little monkeybear is frightened of the potty. He doesn't want to pee in it. So last night I decided to see if he could hold a new concept in his head. . . bribery. Did I say bribery? I meant the sticker chart and rewards.

I asked him "do you want a new train for your train table?"
"New Thomas?" he asked back.
"Sure, Thomas or Rosy or whoever you want. Do you want a new train?"
"OK, if you go pee-pee on the potty 5 times we will go to Target and get you a new train!"

That's all it took, he ran for the door tugging at his diaper and went in to the bathroom. He sat down, peed, and said "I get Thomas at Target now?" I said "you have to go pee-pee 5 times."

As this was going on my wife found a piece of paper and some stickers. He put a sticker on the paper while eating his victory M&Ms.

I said "OK that's one time and you get a sticker, can you count the sticker."
"One" he counted.
"Good job. And if you get 5 stickers what do you get."
"New Thomas!"

So now we have a sticker chart to jump start the potty training process. At least it'll help get him over the initial fear.

I'm not above bribery.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Conversations with toddlers. . .

Mom: Are you a boy or a girl?
Toddler: Nuffin'
Mom: What about daddy? Is daddy a boy?
Toddler: No, he a BIG.
Mom: Daddy's big?
Toddler: Yeah.
Mom: Is he a boy?
Toddler: No, he a man.
Mom: Daddy's a man? What about you what are you?
Toddler: I two-and-a-half now.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A toddler never forgets. . .

As I get older, I forget things. . . a lot. Everything from the last name of a girl I dated briefly in college to where I put my keys (as the joke goes, the last place I end up looking for them). I think my memory is moving from me to my kid. He remembers pretty much everything. He remembers the name of the Friday's waitress that was nice to him, I forget to stop on the way home to buy milk. He remembers that one time at Target there was a Curious George puzzle in the bargain bin, I forget the capital of New Hampshire. He remembers that 8 hours earlier I promised to let him watch his favorite TV show, I forget that I promised to let him watch his favorite TV show 8 hours earlier.

He remembers several little tidbits of something from every experience. We drive by the local video store and he recalls that the Chipmunks poster that was there 3 weeks ago has been replaced by "a bwoo guy" from Avatar. He remembers that he and he once found a dead ladybug in the backyard. He remembers that when he and his mother pulled up to a particular stop sign she yelled "come on lady." All triggered by being again in a certain place at a certain time and all become the de facto thing that happens at that place and time.

I find it fascinating watch his little mind form memories. I listened to this show about memory, the first 20 minutes covers how memories are formed and recalled. The basic premise is that instead of recalling a memory—each time you remember it—you actually rebuild that memory. And when you do, you bring the emotions of the point of remembering and change the memory, weakening it. It makes me wonder how (or even if) the little monkeybear will remember what it was like to be this age. . . and it makes me realize that the more I lament on these memories myself the less pure the memories will be.

I know it's geeky, but it kind of makes me sad. Thinking back on him as a baby and realizing that I can never really remember what he was like because every time I do I change it a little. That the memory of seeing him for the first time will never be quite right in my head.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Toddler jokes. . .

The switch has been flipped. Our now two and a half year old has stopped speaking in one and two word fragments and started speaking in full sentences. One day it's all grunts and short smatterings of words the next a dissertation on the merits of wearing his pajamas all day and watching TV in our bed (great on weekends, a battle on weekdays).

Watching him gain his language skills makes me realize I took a completely wrong approach to learning Spanish a few years ago. I now understand how I should have approached learning a foreign language. I worried too much about verb tense and grammar when I should have just spoke poorly at first. Oh well live and learn.

He's also learning other things. He has been counting to 12 (sometimes with four 13's after it) for a long time. He's got his colors, he knows a lot of things. And he has a great sense of humor. . . sometimes. His running joke is to sit in the back seat at stoplights and trying to convince us that "red is go." This has expanded to "green is stop" and "orange is go too." It was funny the first time he did that a month ago, now it's like when my senile grandfather would yell "bingo" for a laugh. It was funny at first, then it became sad (mainly because if dissolved to "bay-go," then it was funny again for a little bit, then it was sad because he forgot about yelling "bingo" and we started to miss his joke.

I'm sure I'll miss the joke when it's gone.

You know how it is when you catch up with a friend you used to hang out with and ignore the fact that it's been so long since you talked and just jump in and act like nothing happened? I think we should do that.