"This is a very special princess swing. Would you girls like to ride it together?" Melanie said to Lucy and Lila. Both girls hopped right on and discussed all things fantasy while they pumped the teeter totter swing built for two.
This bought us more time to talk as the girls played. It was only the beginning of the wonderful world of pretend Melanie created. At lunch she asked the girls, "I have a great spot in my cafeteria just for big girls like you, would like to eat your lunch there?"
After they were done, her daughter Lila came in and Melanie said, "Oh, you are done with your lunch? Oh yes, you girls may be excused to go to class now." The girls giggled and ran off to play.
I was in total awe of this very creative mother and friend of mine. She reminded me of all the magic of pretend. It is so useful and such a lovely way to help children through the routine of everyday. I find I like to play it myself from time to time. It's a way to try dreams on. I sometimes imagine myself standing in the middle of a gallery showing of my photography. I'm wearing an adorable and chic skirt with a cap sleeve shirt on and dangly earrings. I greet each guest with warm smiles as we dicsuss my work on the wall. I practice what I'll say while I do the dishes.
So today we play office and school, or my own personal favorite, puppy dog. I forgot how much fun it can be. What is the pretend scenario your kids love? Do you use props or is it the good old imaginary tea cup in hand? What dreams are you imagining in your own mind? Do share in the comments.
Lucy inherited these very fashionable shoes from her older cousin Madeleine. They were singing karaoke together and Mada very kindly let Lucy try them on. It helps to have the right outfit on when you are rockin' your best song. Lucy was so in love with the shoes that Madeleine decided to let her keep them when she left. It's true love when a your girl gives you the shoes off of her feet.
This fashion forward toddler has worn them every single day since. Did I mention it was winter? We have had many a drama about why high heel flip flops (3 sizes too big) might not be the best choice for pretty much any public outing. But ever since these shoes entered our house, I have felt a little crack in my uptight fashion parenting. They make her so happy. I started to ask myself why I even care so much. Is matching really a must? I'll admit, for me sometimes it is, but today maybe not so much.
This morning she came out in a striped turquoise 12-18 month sized cap sleeve shirt she found in a hand-me-down box (which made for a bare midriff), along with a mini skirt and brown and pink striped tights underneath. The sparkly flower sandals graced her feet. She was delighted and completely proud of her fashion ensemble.
I looked her up and down. "Well Luce, you might want to grab a jacket so you aren't cold." I said. I believe this was a matter of choosing my battles. She squealed with excitement and ran to grab her coat. She walked a little taller all day while I admired all her joy.
I still call the shots on dressing over here with a free day (like the one today) every once in awhile. What are the dressing and fashion standards at your place? Is it I'm-just-glad-you-have-clothes-on kind of vibe or do your kids have coordinating matching outfits? Or do you find yourself somewhere in between? Let us know your family fashion facts in the comments.
photo by jen
Lucy was in the middle of "it's mine". There had already been about 1,000 statements claiming all that was hers. It was so bad that when a dear friend started to sing The Clean Up song she said, "NO! That's my song. My Mr. Jim (her teacher) sings that, it's MY school song." I shifted uncomfortably yet playfully stated that I was sure neither Lucy nor Mr. Jim owned the rights to that ever popular song. I suggested that maybe every parent and kid in the world shared it.
We all laughed and I tried not to feel embarrassed. I know this is normal and totally developmentally appropriate. I know her power is wonderful and she will possibly one day rule the world.
I know she is her own individual...and yet there are moments when I still cringe. We are such different people, besides the fact that she is 3 and I am 32.
While I am growing and learning as a parent, I still have moments of feeling the social pressure and wishing she were more polite because it is one of my own big personal values. I stack up my performance as a parent and wonder what those around me must be thinking. I view her as an extension of me which can be disastrous for us both.
In this process I'm finding she is teaching me to live a more authentic life. I am teaching her how to use her power in the most effective way. I imagine we are both and forever will be finding our way.
Do you ever have these moments? How do you find your way through?
After the birth of Mason, all Kristen wanted was a big juicy cheeseburger from Five Guys. Lyra had no interest in her minutes old cousin, she was all about the cheeseburger. She tracked it with her eyes as Kris lifted it to her mouth. All meals are torturous for Lyra. She is sure that all table food was meant for her. I've had 3, count them, 3 accidents at restaurants due to a quick hand and a tired mother. Two drinks and an entire cup of soup in my lap.
While my other kids took forever to have any interest in food, I guessed it would be different with the foodie girl. I decided to start with the ever loving rice cereal about 2 weeks ago. Her whole body shook with excitement. She downed it in about 5 minutes flat, soon we were on to bananas, pears, apples and sweet potatoes. I know I introduced way too many things too soon but this kid is out of her mind in love with food. Really, who can blame her?
Although I've resisted giving her a cheeseburger yet, the picture above was snapped after Jorge offered her a saltine, pure bliss.
Did you have any baby foodies at your house? Were they eating cheeseburgers by 8 months?
It was late and they were fighting again. Jack knows just how to push Lucy's buttons to get that shriek out of her. I try to ignore it most of the time because that little girl can sure hold her own. This time however, she cried, it was the hurt feeling cry. It seemed the usual little sister and big brother bother had a little mean thrown into the mix. It was a sign something needed to be said.
"Jack, buddy, I think you've reached your limit my friend. I gotta take some Wii time away tomorrow." I said.
There was a look of instant panic. It's kind of rare at our house to have an actual punishment, lots of logical consequences but this, the Wii, it was a biggie. He started crying and it soon escalated into a full out tantrum. A tantrum at the age of six. I was kind of stunned. I started questioning my decision a little since the response was so strong and so rare for this kid. I guess maybe it had been building for awhile and a release was in order. There were so many big feelings and that can be tricky sometimes. I wasn't sure what to do but then instinct took over.
"Jack, do you know what can happen sometimes when you are getting into trouble a lot?" I said.
"No, what?" He said while trying to catch his breath in between the sobs.
"You can forget that you are loved. And the truth is, when lots of trouble is around it's a time when you need love the most. Do you think that could be happening to you right now?" I said.
His little face kind of changed. His eyes crinkled and his own hurt feeling cry started.
"Yeah! I need more love mom, I need more love." He threw his arms around me and buried his head in my chest and sobbed big, heavy sobs.
"I know Jackie, I can tell. And I know you are a kind boy with a good heart, I know this about you, it's okay. And papa is away and he is the one who snuggles you so much, I think you are missing that too." He nodded and we sat together in the moment.
We climbed in bed, all four kids. My arms too full with babies to even hold him but he snuggled up against me. He fell asleep with a red and puffy face and a quiet sigh, the drama behind us. I closed my own eyes knowing we would all wake up to less Wii, but maybe a little more love.
Any tricks for the big feelings in your house? Do share in the comments.
Our conversation over the pictures of Kristen's new baby, Mason Gray:
Lucy- Who is that?
Me- It's Baby Mason, Cook's (Kristen's aunt name) baby and your new cousin!
Lucy- That's Hook's baby?! Oh, that's wonderful! Can we go to Hook's house and see Mason? Can we, can we? You have to be very gentle with the baby mom. No pinching, just petting, okay?
Me- Oh, okay. I'll be very gentle, no pinching.
Is it totally obvious we had a baby and got a dog in the last six months? Do you have any good baby and sibling first meeting stories? Tell "Hook" in the comments.
How worried should I be about the effect of the Disney Princess Industrial Complex on my daughter and the impact of gun/war play on my son? Do I enforce my values (because I hate the idea of play centered around these gender stereotypes), or do I chill the heck out and realize they'll get over their fascination sooner or later?
Lucy has a special eye for all things princess. She can spot any such paraphernalia a mile a way. She loves shoes, dresses, dancing and singing in a warbled voice a la Snow White. This same girl isn't afraid to get dirty and can completely hold her own in a wrestling match with her brothers. She hates to have her hair brushed but can spend hours in the bath dumping water all over the place.
Yet I still worry from time to time. I wonder if she will think being a size 2 is the only beautiful shape, or if a handsome man saving you is the only way out of your troubles, if happily ever after includes a castle. While the gender stereotypes push every button in my grown up body, I think we end up (once again) in a parenting balancing act. While I don't think I'll rushing out to buy any Barbies anytime soon, I don't think I'll exactly forbid them either. Anytime we attempt to squash a desire or interest, we might be setting ourselves up for it to pop up in a different way later. Maybe good, maybe bad, I'm not sure yet.
What do you think? Is the nature vs. nurture argument still going in your head as a parent? Are you lost in the princess world at your house or have you forbidden all violent/weapon play? Do share; this is a biggie for a lot of parents. Sarah and I could use your collective wisdom.
We had a knock down drag out about raspberries. I'm sure it wasn't actually about the raspberries, but man oh man, it sure felt like it. I rarely buy raspberries, especially in the dead of winter but they felt like self care somehow. I decided I would buy one thing in the grocery store for me, just me. It feels like I'm always holding back on eating the fruit myself in the name of more good nutrition for my kids. Let's face it; if it's healthy and they'll eat it, we mothers are positively giddy.
Lucy loves fruit almost as much as I do so I wasn't surprised when she started to help herself to my new pint of luscious raspberries. I offered her some in a cup along with some strawberries and said, "Luce, these are my raspberries I bought special for myself, I will share some with you but you gotta ask me okay?"
"Okay mama!" she replied.
I then hid them in the BACK of the refrigerator and left to do some work. One hour later I came back to make lunch and there on the couch was the empty container, raspberry goodness gone.
Let's just say there was yelling and crying next.
"You aren't angry!" she said.
"I am angry, those were MY raspberries!" I replied.
All of the sudden I started sounding like the three year old. We went back and forth. She finally broke after I refused to give her a princess band-aid she found on the floor. I felt silly and strangely satisfied. "I'm so sorry, so sorry I ate your raspberries!" in her most dramatic voice. "Can you hold me?" she says. I hold her and we exchange more apologies. One week later, a new pint of raspberries and another empty container found.
Oh age three, what do I do with you?
Refrigerator locks? Tell me, if you know or have known the drama of three, do share your wisdom...or even better, match my story in the comments.
For years I've been casing the thrift stores for winter kid gear in hopes of a big snow. Last year I had everything, snow pants, boots, gloves, no dice. I didn't even bother this year. It's been five years since we had any snow we could even remotely play in. Then it happened, in March no doubt! Six inches of the beautiful white stuff finally graced us with her presence.
We tore through the attic looking for the bin of clothes, barely worn sleds and shovels. Jack squeezed into the size 4 LL Bean snow suit, did I mention he's six and so tall? Everyone was delirious. They played for hours. Even shoveling the sidewalk was fun!
About 200 people gathered at our local park for sledding. It was the ultimate neighborhood party. Oh snow, could you send your goodness more than once every five years? We'd really appreciated it.
Feel free to celebrate or curse the snow in the comments.
This is the face of the waiting room kid. I saw this little face through the lens and put down the camera. In two more seconds he was wrapped up in my arms, practically folded into my body. Literally as close as he could get. He remembers the last doctor episode that involved a shot of antibiotics. I have to admit I was just as worried. We decided to find something else to do to distract us during out 1.5 hour wait. Yes, that's right, it seems every other kid in the city is sick too.
Jack took the camera for a bit:
and then he drew pictures of powerful video games guys that never get sick...
It was finally our turn, it's the flu. Believe it or not, I've never done the flu with kids yet. We made soup and bought crusty bread, fresh fruit and lots of juice. I made a bed on the couch and we have been playing lots of go fish while I try to avoid the danger of playing internet doctor. The flu and babies are a terrible mix. We're just waiting it out and crossing our fingers it doesn't make it's way down the line.
What do you do with your kids when they are sick? I remember my friend Simi telling me her mom always brought her a chocolate shake when she was sick. Any "sick" traditions at your house?