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Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

You are four and a half years old. 

You asked, very casually, about the box below, “Why does it say ‘go’ on there?” 

You are in heaven when your Daddy takes apart something electronic for you. Usually this happens on weekends. 

You enjoyed summer camp, though you declined to go in the sprinkler even on super-hot days. 

You inherited a floaty from a good friend, and now you are plunging into the pool, intentionally dunking yourself, asking Mama to dunk you, and opening your eyes underwater. These are new developments in your swimming career.

You have recently discovered U2 (Daddy), Green Day (Mama), Blondie (Mama again), and Fleetwood Mac (the car USB on shuffle).

You started having bad dreams, or at least started talking about them (but only a bit because you believe talking about them will make them come back). The most recent one involved a bad car, a house alarm, and the inability to run or talk.

You are newly afraid of the dark, and require your chair to be draped and your closet closed at bedtime. 

You sleep through fireworks and thunderstorms. 

You clipped your own toenails last week — and did a very decent job, without drawing blood. 

You still wear a diaper at night, and have told Mama that you pee in it as soon as you wake up. 

You have expanded your diet a tiny bit and are now willing to eat cantaloupe, green beans and nutritional yeast, which Mama plans to use as a gateway to cheese. The big shocker was your request to try a fish stick, which you didn’t like, but agreed to try another day with lemon. 

You have lost your zest for scrubbing toilets, but you still enjoy helping Mama vacuum and view working with cleanser as a privilege. 

You are continuing your love affair with My Little Pony, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Peg + Cat. Justin Time and Ready Jet Go are new discoveries, and you’ve circled back to Word World and Octonauts. Most days, you still watch less than two hours of TV.

You traded your long-neglected easel for a “science table” which tends to be heaped with whatever you’re fiddling with. Right now, it’s egg cartons, scissors, a screwdriver, two rolls of blue painter’s tape, empty water bottles completely wrapped in painter’s tape, paint stir sticks intermittently wrapped in painter’s tape, and bits of string and drinking straws you decided to cut into very short pieces. Mama’s just happy you’re using the space and enjoying yourself. 

You are trying out stronger ways of asking for what you want, e.g., “Mama you have to get me a snack NOW!” Mama never tires of finding new ways to say, “Would you like to rephrase that?” Her hands-down favorite is the raised eyebrow. 

You recently visited a farm, where your favorite thing was turning the electric water pump on so you could test all the sprinklers. Your second favorite thing was the robotic vacuum cleaner, or maybe the waffles the lady of the house made.

You are four and a half years old, and you are still very snuggly, just with pointier elbows. 

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A few times a month, the Boo is class leader. This involves perks such as ringing the bell for snack time and bringing a treasured object for show-n-share. He’s brought things like a book, a small fan, and an old cassette recorder. That last one got rave reviews from one teacher because the dual recording speed means you can play back at Chipmunk speed. 

I wasn’t sure the teachers would love what he selected for yesterday’s show-n-share, though. After some hemming and hawing shortly before we needed to walk out the door, he settled on this:

For the record, I am not the adult in the house who introduced him to this album. However, he LOVES it. I don’t know if it’s the strong beat or the guitar work, but he just can’t get enough of stuff like this (he also loves Rush). So my approach has been to balance it out with Prince and Aimee Mann, and be honest about the times I just can’t deal with the Young brothers. 

I was slightly nervous about how the CD would be received at school, but when I picked him up the extended day teachers (different from his usual set) told me they had played the CD for hours. And they were laughing about it. Hard.

That night, we got the Boo talking about show-n-share. The conversation took place while he was dancing wildly to Back in Black, so it was, um, fragmented. But as he hopped around wailing on his mini-broom-guitar, we were able to put together that they did play the CD, at least a few kids danced to it, and a kid who cranked it up was asked to turn it down. When I asked if it was his best show-n-share ever, he shouted “yes!” And then he went back to rocking out. 

The next day, I checked in with the Boo’s teachers to ask how the songs went over with the kids — and them. Thankfully, “So fun!” was a typical comment. A teacher from another class came by to rock out a bit, and I learned that one of the Boo’s teachers taught the kids some leg guitar moves. Meanwhile, my kid had demonstrated the proper arm wave and “rock on” hand sign for concert-goers. (I taught it to him that morning in the car pool drop-off line, and I was pleased that the quick lesson had stuck.)

There were a few parents on the playground when I was chatting with the teachers, and they seemed to have no beef with the CD. The word “cool” was uttered more than once. 

Phew!

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  All parents have child care tasks they detest. Mine is brushing and flossing my kid’s teeth. I would seriously, honestly, rather wipe my kid’s butt ten times a day. And this week, I had an actual bona fide fight with my kid about the aformentioned and detested task.

The Boo has always been a bit silly about getting his teeth brushed, asking me to play the part of his dentist and demanding hugs when it’s my turn to brush. So I allow lots of time to get through the routine of letting him start, then hitting all the hidden spots before we take the same tack with flossing. It takes a while, but we get the job done and have a bit of fun along the way.

But this week was different. Maybe because he was home sick for two days, maybe because of the full moon, or maybe because he’s growing up a bit. Whatever the reason, he suddenly amped up the fake hug tactic, and it bugged me. I just wanted to get the job done and move on, but he wanted to make a never-ending story out of it. In frustration, I pushed him away mid-hug, and he pushed back. I made a speech in a loud voice, and he stuck his fingers in his ears. I yelled, and he yelled. Finally, I left the bathroom.

Eventually I got him to cooperate, but things were no better that night. After I blew him kisses and closed his door, words from a very wise parenting coach came back to me: You can’t have a tug of war if one person drops the rope.

The next morning, I dropped the rope – by telling him the truth.

Me: “Honey, can I tell you a secret?”

Boo, eyes wide: “Sure!”

Me: “I don’t like brushing your teeth. It’s not fun for me. I do it because it helps keep your teeth clean so you don’t have to get so much scraping done at the dentist. I don’t like the hugs you give me before I brush your teeth because they’re not real hugs. I prefer to have a real hug when we’re done.”

He was still listening, so I went on.

Me: “I’m done fighting with you about brushing your teeth. If you want me to help you, that’s great. But if you don’t want me to help you, that’s fine too. And that might mean more scraping and maybe a cavity.But it’s your choice. You get to decide.”

He thought about it, opened his mouth for flossing, and then started up the old games. I threw the flosser in the trash and walked out, saying I understood his choice. He protested and said he wanted me to floss, really, please floss.

I didn’t floss his teeth that morning. I reminded him of the choices again that night, and after reminding me that a cavity might be one of the consequences of not brushing, he opened his mouth like a baby bird. A baby bird that’s making his own choices.

And then the next day we were back to square one, or maybe square one and a half. So now I’m singing him a “mystery song” every time it’s my turn to brush or floss. It’s working, for now, and when it no longer works I’ll change my tactics again and cross my fingers. 

This, my friends, is life with a four-year-old. 

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 Boo, cradling stuffed animals: I had two babies!Me: Congratulations! What’s this one’s name?

Boo: Zinc lozenge. 

Me: What do you call the other one? 

Boo: Green dot.

Me: …
Later…

Boo: Zinc lozenge likes to play baseball.

Me: Oh, great!

Boo: Now he’s tired so I have to sit on him to keep him warm. 

Me: …

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  Lately the Boo has wanted a story after books at bedtime instead of a song. If I had a bigger ego this would upset me, because I was a teenage opera major after all. Mais non, I am happy to be spared another round of “birdhouse in your soul” — which is a great song, but tedious when you’ve been on duty for fourteen hours and long to collapse on the couch. 

Anyway. The first time he requested a story, I asked him what he wanted it to be about. He said he didn’t know, so I started talking about a guitar, since he’d been really into playing with mine. It was an electric guitar with about three strings who lived in a dusty, smelly junk shop with a bunch of other electric guitars and desperately wanted to be bought and played. Long story short, one day someone did buy him because they could see how fabulous he was under all the grime. And naturally, they gave him to a little boy as a birthday present, but not before cleaning him up and hiding him in a closet, which the guitar found terribly sad, disappointing and confusing. 

You know, pretty standard stuff.

I spun roughly the same story for about a week and I was getting bored with it. And then one night the Boo interrupted me. 

“No, Mama! The electric guitar has 18 strings! And it’s unpainted! And the junk shop is not so dusty.” He spoke with urgency, gesturing with spread fingers as he does when he’s serious. 

“Oh, okay,” I said, and incorporated his details, plus a few new ones of my own. A friendly doll to repaint the guitar, several people passing it by before it finally gets bought. High drama. 

Weeks later, we are still telling a version of this story together every night, and usually at rest time too. The Boo often takes over, so excited his words tumble out faster than logic, changing the guitar’s home to symphony hall or giving a new name to the doll who paints it or getting the grownup to hide the guitar under the bed because the boy is coming upstairs OH NO!

One thing never changes, though: the boy always gets the electric guitar for his birthday. 

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 You are four years old.

You recently started painting at home on a regular basis after you asked for, and got, a set of tempera paints. The first thing you did was pour them into a plate to see how they mixed. Following a conversation about the definition of “wasting,” you are painting on paper plates, repurposed paper products, and yes, paper. 

You can write your name. You talk yourself through each pencil stroke and start over if you don’t get the result you want. It’s clearly a big effort that you enjoy and are proud of. Two days before your birthday, you wrote your name on your cousin’s birthday card — without talking yourself through it. 

Your favorite toy is Snap Circuits, and has been since Christmas. It is the first thing that has held your interest for longer than a week, and the first thing since take-apart cars that you both seek out and spend significant amount of time playing with. 

You know how to (safely!) plug in and unplug electrical cords. With supervision, to be clear.

You grew an inch, gained a pound and went up a shoe size between September and December. Then you gained half a pound in the first three weeks of 2016. Mama predicts you will need new shoes again well before summer. 

You are increasingly interested in letters, words and reading. You especially like to put magnetic letters into long, silly lines for Mama to pronounce. 

You no longer take a nap, but you do have a daily, diaper-free rest time during which you listen to the Sound of Music soundtrack. Occasionally you fall asleep, and then Mama wakes you up so that you don’t stay awake until 10 p.m.

You began calling Mama “Ma” about a month ago, which cracks her up. You don’t understand why, and sometimes you get upset when she laughs about it.

You gagged after trying a half teaspoon of pasta sauce. As in, Mama thought you were going to hurl. 

You can dress and undress yourself, though you sometimes plea for help, as when a sleeve refuses to cooperate and “hurts” you. You struggle with your jacket and mittens — unless there is fresh snow waiting for you, in which case you have yourself ready in thirty seconds flat. 

You (mostly) clear your place after meals and (mostly) ask to be excused (thank you, preschool!). You are exceedingly fidgety at suppertime, but the adult-size chair is at least partly to blame.

You are fascinated by Grammie’s sewing machine, the dishwasher, the portable heater, and anything else that has buttons, moving parts, switches, and/or allows you a peek inside.

You went through a phase of asking for stories about flex wire at bedtime. As in, a roll of electrical wire that waits in the garage for someone to come get it to fix something (a baby monitor, a ceiling fan, etc.).

You beg to go to the Science Center on a regular basis.

You can easily be motivated by the promise of marshmallows, chocolate biscuits, or chocolate chips.

You love dense, complex books with detailed illustrations, like Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House and Katy and the Big Snow, and How Things Work. 

You remain fascinated by plants and seeds, and have taken on the job of watering a few plants in the house. Mama explained that the “plants” on the deck don’t need watering because they’re dead, and now you’re excited about planting seeds next month.

You said “I want to eat cake” when Mama asked what you wanted to do for your birthday. When pressed, you said you wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and coconut on top.

You helped Mama make your birthday cake and frosting. When it came time to put coconut on top, we had a chat about a party guest who doesn’t like coconut, and decided to offer it on the side instead.

You had a small family party at home. You carefully selected the piece of cake you wanted, and then Mama dropped it on the table right in front of you, prompting you to clap your hands to your face, Home Alone style. Once Mama was able to stop laughing long enough to get the cake on your plate, you dug in face first. 

You received a second set of Snap Circuits for your birthday, and your reaction was to say, “Oh my! oh my!” over and over. 

You are four years old, and you still slide down the stairs on your bottom. 

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Accidental Art

Lately there have been bits of unexpected beauty popping up in the house thanks to the Boo.

First up, the giant paint swirl he made after I gave him a bunch of small pots of paint:

 
Then, the aesthetically pleasing line of paint pots he made when I asked him to put a few colors back:  

And finally, my personal favorite, the sculpture that appeared after I asked him to put his breakfast plate in the sink:  

Enjoy, friends — and happy February. 

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 Sunday morning, as most mornings since Christmas, you ask me, “Do you want to build a power circuit, Mama?” You mean you want to play with your Snap Circuit set, undoubtedly your most favorite toy ever, and the first plaything that has held your interest for long stretches. 

Naturally, I say yes. I would love to build a power circuit, which one do you want to build?

Sunday afternoon, as always, is prime bath time, but lately you’ve been resisting the whole getting clean in the tub thing. So I have a strategy in place. 

“Would you like to clean your bath toys?” 

You are excited about this idea because it involves a spray bottle. I fill it with Special Bath Toy Cleaning Liquid (water, a squirt of Dawn, plus the “magic ingredient” of a few shakes of salt). You quickly decide you should be naked for your task. Once that’s achieved you set to work, then shift to running experiments (you’ve been watching a lot of Bill Nye the Science Guy and listening to Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants pretty much nonstop.). 

Later you decide that you should  step out of the tub, put a towel over your head, and yell, “chemical reaction” over and over. Eventually, we wash your hair and body, and I still have to coax you away from your toy cleanin/science experiments over an hour after we started. 

Monday morning brings a big decision: what to bring for Show and Share. You had settled on your baby monitor because you wanted to see what would happen if you turned it on at school. At the last minute, you switch to a Lego-like vehicle you call “Katy” after the protagonist of Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton, your current favorite book. 

Afternoon snack time at home is a good time to slyly extract information about your school day. I inquire about Show and Share and you tell me your friends asked if Katy was a storm trooper. Then you tell me you said yes.

Tuesday morning school prep goes off without too much strife, though I have to turn off the giant piano you got for Christmas to get you to put your socks and boots on. I consider relocating the giant piano. 

We read The Lorax before your rest time. You love the part where the sludge from the Sneed factory goes into the pond. I decide not to press the point that this is a very bad development for the humming fish, because you love the book so much. 

You emerge from your afternoon rest time in a state I can only describe as highly emotional. You are whiny and want me to carry you everywhere and burst into tears when you have trouble selecting a cartoon. I am flummoxed. Grammie texts me about coming over early for book club and I say yes please, now would be great thank you.

As I prep to host what you call “the ladies” you hang out with Grammie and “help” me make brownies and spinach dip. When I change from loungewear into real pants and a more presentable Tshirt/sweater combo, you declare that I look great for the ladies. 

Daddy puts you to bed as the ladies arrive, but summons me when there is a crisis involving a crying jag. It turns out that Katy, the Lego-like toy you took to Show and Share, is missing a part. This is a crisis because you sleep with Katy and she has to have the right parts to protect her. You are also begging to come say goodnight to the ladies. I locate the part on the floor and fix her up for you. You beg again to come downstairs. I say no, again, knowing how a trip downstairs will rile you up, and promise that you can meet them another time. I give you bunches of kisses, and Katy blows kisses to me as Daddy starts reading the Katy book to you.

One of the ladies brings a play tent her kids have outgrown. I set it up in your play area after the ladies leave. In the morning you immediately crawl in and declare yourself to be the queen of the castle (maybe because it’s pink and purple?). Later you refer to yourself as the Prince of the Morning Pajamas. Then you take the tent poles apart and collapse it so you can “get into the attic.”

We have time before school to read the Lorax, which has knocked  Katy off the current favorite book pedestal. We pause for a discussion about why the brown Bar-ba-loots have crummies in their tummies and what it’s like to not have enough to eat. 24 hours after hearing the book for the first time, you listen to the pollution messages with a look of concern.

And that, my friends, is what life is like with the Boo. 

 

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  You had your third Christmas. 

You were introduced to the idea that you can ask Santa to bring you specific things. 

You once again gave Santa a wide berth at the mall, gripping Mama’s hand tightly and saying “I don’t want to look at him, Mama.”

You wrote Santa a letter (using Mama as a scribe) for the first time. You asked for a lava lamp and a water gun. You added a “please” after Mama suggested making it a polite request. 

You had a young house guest to play with. You got on beautifully together, which made the adults very happy. You did a lot of painting with her, vying for space and smearing a glue stick over her creations. Now that she’s gone, the easel is feeling neglected. 

You were sick for about half your holiday break, so you watched more cartoons than usual, introducing your houseguest to Totoro.

You spent tons of time playing with your cousins, disappearing with them into Grammie’s basement for long stretches. 

You did a great job taking turns opening presents with your cousins – it was the first year you had to do that.

You went on the Polar Express train ride with the whole family. You rejected the hot chocolate in favor of water, but you loved the cookie. You and Mama both found the music to be shockingly loud. But Mama was even more shocked that you peeled yourself away from her to get up and dance with your cousins.

You received a Snap Circuits set, which you were instantly and intensely fascinated with. It has taken up permanent residence on the dining room table. Even two weeks later, you still ask to build a “power circuit” almost every morning. 

You received Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants (CD and DVD set). It’s currently in heavy rotation in the car and DVD player. Your favorites so far are “Meet the Elements” and “Electric Car.”

You received several Junior Legos sets, which you are surprisingly adept at putting together. 

You mentioned missing a classmate (only one, your best buddy) exactly one time. 

You were delighted and amazed that Santa came through with the gifts you requested. 

You went to the science center as a gift from your uncle – and you’ve been asking to go back ever since.

You were not excited about the idea of returning to school. 

You had your third Christmas. It was your best one yet. 

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  It’s been amazingly/frighteningly warm for December, with rain instead of snow in the forecast. Nevertheless, I’ve been reading seasonally appropriate books to the Boo — The Snowy Day, Snowmen At Night, and Raymond Briggs’ classic The Snowman. 

For the unfamiliar, this lovely book has no words, just small soft-edged drawings with an impressive amount of nuance. A boy builds a snowman, goes to sleep, then wakes in the night and has an adventure with his creation. I was curious to see how the Boo would react to the lack of words (he didn’t) and the fanciful plot line (again, no comment on a snowman walking and flying).

What really got him going was what they did in the house. In one part that I found funny and charming, the snowman tries on the boy’s father’s clothes. 

“Mama! They shouldn’t be doing that, Mama!”

Also, the boy turns on the stove.

“Mama! He shouldn’t be doing that! Why is he doing that?”

And horror of horrors, the snowman climbs into the deep freeze.

“Why is he doing that! He shouldn’t be in there Mama!”

I explained that the boy wants to show the Snowman everything it was his first time in a house, but that didn’t make much of a dent in my kid’s unease that they were breaking the rules. Maybe I should have pointed out that the boy was dreaming and told him there are no rules in dreams.

Or maybe it’s time to introduce the concept of willing suspension of disbelief. 

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