Posts Tagged ‘preschoolers’

  We are lucky to have a world-class symphony orchestra in town, and they are smart enough to have a kid’s series. Last Sunday, we took the Boo to see an hour-long Dr. Seuss-themed program, preceded by an “instrument playground” with lots of very patient people helping kids try whatever instrument they wanted to. Herewith, the highlights.

– You went to the Symphony for the first time, with Mama and Daddy and Grammie. You had been excited about it for weeks, and got upset one day when you thought we had forgotten about going.

– You were lukewarm about trying out instruments, but made a beeline for a flute — and made a sound on it pretty quickly. We all thought you’d be really into the percussion options. You were not.

– You were enthralled by the size and beauty of the hall itself, and spent a lot of time going in and out of it through different doors, then down hallways and back into it. It seemed like you were trying to get a handle on how it all fit together. You said “ooh!” every time you went in.

– You sat in Mama’s lap for a good hunk of the show, but also sat in your seat, and stood, and stood on the seat. To be fair, you had had an early nap and the show took place on the first day of the time change. 

– You listened intently and clapped when you were supposed to. We explained that the different colors of shirts the players were wearing represented different sections — strings, brass, etc. — and you thought that was pretty cool.

– You needed to get up to pee once, and then to poop once, two minutes before the end of the show. 

– You said, “They said join us next time, can we go join them, Mama?” This was the day after the concert, during a quiet play time.

– You went to the symphony for the first time, and you will be going back. Mama bought the tickets yesterday. 

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  Hello friends! First let me thank you all for your comments and stories of your own picky eaters. Knowing I’m not in this alone makes me feel like less of a failure. Why does it feel like a failure? Is it the weird information-intensive parenting culture we have in this country right now? Maybe I need a post on that…

Anyway. Last week we began a voyage, as I like to think of it, into the Land of Rainbow Foods. I decided to shove off using a bit of guilt as an oar. Specifically, my kid’s promise to his doctor to try new foods.

When we got home from the Boo’s 4-year checkup, it was still early enough for some cartoons. I usually plunk down a bowl of apple slices next to him when he watches TV (partly because I cannot abide crumbs). This time I put a few rainbow baby carrots in the bowl. The Boo brought one to me, protesting, and I reminded him of his promise. He went away, took a minuscule bite, and brought the carrot back to me. Then he did the same with the other two carrots in the bowl. The bites were so comedically small it was hard to tell they were there at all, but they were. And he had fulfilled his end of the deal.

I believe they refer to this as baby steps. It’s also interesting to note that he did exactly what I asked, no more, no less. I believe they call that meeting expectations.

Meanwhile, I’ve been putting new or different foods on his plate, especially at snack time, with limited success. And I’ve eased off on the “you promised Dr. E” thing because frankly it feels weird to say that all the time. I want him to try new foods because he’s curious about what’s out there in the food universe, not because of a directive some middle-aged guy he sees once or twice a year.

Meanwhile, we had something of a breakthrough. The Boo and I were making chocolate snack balls the other day (mostly dates and oats and nuts*), which was a treat for him because a) food processor! and b) he gets to pour stuff in and push buttons. I had asked him to dump in the cashews, and out of the corner of my eye I saw him put one in his mouth. And chew it. And swallow it. I asked how he liked it, and he said, “It was yucky, Mama.”

Apparently I should have left well enough alone. But I learned, or rather remembered, something important about my kid: He doesn’t like an audience. Ask him to sing a song he knows and he’ll say he forgot how. Walk away and you’ll hear him singing it to himself five minutes later.

I reminded my husband of this tendency one night at dinner when we were both cajoling the Boo to try some roasted veggies I’d put on his plate. And as soon as the parental Eye of Sauron was off him, he tried the quinoa-farro salad I’d put on there. And declared it yummy.

I believe they call that “progress.”


*I adapted my recipe from this one at the excellent Minimalist Baker. All amounts approximate: 1 1/2 cups of oats, 12-14 medjool dates (I like the nice gooey ones from the produce section at Trader Joe’s, make sure to remove the pits), 1/2 cup cashews, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, cinnamon to taste, maybe 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, and 3-4 ounces good quality melted bittersweet chocolate. Whiz until pulverized, form into balls, store in fridge, don’t eat too many or your gut will yell at you. Sometimes it’s not sticky enough and I add some coconut oil, maple syrup, honey or a few more dates.

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Not shown: Cheerios, apples and chocolate milk.

As I reported in a previous post, the Boo recently gagged on half a teaspoon of tomato sauce. Which I had cajoled him into trying. I really thought he’d like it, or at least think it was okay, and then I really thought he was going to puke. It was astounding, and sobering, and it brought a big truth home to me: This kid needs to expand his food horizons. And I need to steer that ship. 

I don’t particularly want to steer the ship, and the reason is simple: I hate conflict. Being agreeable and saying yes as much as I can are two of my central parenting values. (Unless I’m short on sleep and then I’m… grumpy.) But clearly being agreeable is not serving me well in terms of raising a healthy eater. 

And here’s the funny thing: I don’t shy away from conflict when I’m limiting screen time or nudging the Boo to do things I know he can do but doesn’t want to. So I don’t really have that excuse. And now I’ve committed to more conflict in the name of my kid’s health. But, me being me, I’m going to minimize the conflict, and do what I can to make it fun. And I’m going to tell you all about it here. Which will also keep me accountable, because I’m not sure I could deal with publicly confessing to total failure. 

I’ve already begun on the conflict-limiting aspect by enlisting our pediatrician. At the Boo’s four-year checkup, when he asked if we had questions or issues, I brought up the Beige Diet (see photo above). The conversation went something like this:

Me: Blah blah terribly selective blah blah it’s at least partly my fault. 

Doc: So does he eat fruit?

Me: Yes, he loves apples.

Doc: What about bananas?

Me and hubs simultaneously: Sometimes. 

Doc: Giant Eye Roll, internal Oy Vey. 

We went on in that vein for a while, and the doctor gave Boo stern instructions to try new foods. Several times. Boo agreed, nodding solemnly. That agreement is what I’ve been leaning on to minimize conflict. 

Tune in next week to find out how that’s working out. 

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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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The Boo has always been reluctant to tell us about school. If we ask him directly, “What happened at school?” he will make a game of saying “I don’t know” or “It’s a secret.” Even when I try to be sly about it and ask open-ended questions like “Who brought snack?” or “Who was class leader?” he will often dodge or shrug. Ah, the joys of being four. You have so little power that you get very creative about wielding what little you have.

But last week, something changed. We were having lunch at home and I had been talking about something that was sad (I think). Then he looked at me with the Face of Seriousness and said, “I cried at school today Mama. For real.”

A miracle occurred and I kept a straight face (the Face of Seriousness is somehow very funny to me). Then I said, “Really? Tell me more about that.” (Yes I really did speak like a therapist — it was the first prompt that came to me and I was desperate to keep the conversation going.)

“Tinkerbell (not her real name) told me to stay in the house.”

“Huh. Why did she say that?”

“She had to go shopping. I wanted to go with her but she said to stay in the house and that hurt my feelings.”

Here I should explain that Tinkerbell is his best buddy at school, and the first kid he has had a deep connection with. They are so close that people make jokes about them getting married. For real.

We talked a bit more about the House Incident, finished our lunch, cleared our places and had time to play before rest time. Then he piped up again, with another Serious Face.

“Mama, I’m worried about kindergarten.”

“Why are you worried, sweetheart?”

“I don’t want to be away from you for a long time. And I won’t be able to be
with Tinkerbell.”

Yikes. A year and a half of radio silence and now two big emotional bombs in the space of an hour. I guess this is what They refer to as growth happening in fits and starts.

“Well honey, you won’t go to kindergarten for a long time. And it’s true you probably won’t be with Tinkerbell, but you can still play with her sometimes and be her friend. The other thing is, you’ll meet new kids, and some of those kids will become your friends. ”

He thought about that for a bit and asked, “Will my teachers be there?”

Lordy. He really is taking after me in the emotional attachment department. “No, you will have different teachers. But I bet they will be really nice just like your teachers are now.”

We continued in this vein for a while, with him worrying and me reassuring. I guess he’s making up for lost time — and on the whole, I’d rather have a kid who talks to me than one who clams up.

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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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We recently took the Boo on a weeklong road trip to see family in Michigan. I’d been apprehensive about long stretches of car time with a 3.5-year-old, but for the most part he was a fantastic traveler. Here are the highlights:

You requested this song so many times Mama and Daddy got sick of it.

You slept in three houses and one cabin in the space of a week. You slept the best in the cabin — a few miles from Lake Huron, no water, no electricity. You slept the worst the final night, when you were sick and overtired and had just met three of Mama’s coolest cousins. 

You attended a party with too many family members to list here. You jumped right in to play with kids who were many years older than you, and enjoyed playing with a giant Jenga set. 

You were introduced to a Magic Eight-Ball. You kept asking it if you needed to pee.

You visited the Henry Ford Museum, where your favorite things were sitting in the driver’s seat of a giant steam locomotive and watching the toy trains go around and around their track. You were so tired from fighting a cold that Daddy had to carry you most of the time, but even so, you didn’t want to leave. 

You held the youngest member of the family, briefly, with a fair amount of help. 

You met roughly seven dogs, and after some angst you decided they were all okay. 

You chowed down on homemade puris — the only new food you tried on the trip. 

You were carried into a chicken coop to take a freshly laid egg from a nest,  and we brought it home safely. The next morning, we cracked it open and compared it to a store-bought egg. You declined to taste it when Mama cooked it up for you. 

You ran free in front yards, back yards, in and out of back doors, and down country roads. 

You loved playing with the sand at the tiny beach at the cabin. You also liked watching Daddy skip rocks. 

You enjoyed a meal at the Black Lake Golf Club, where you dined on corn chips and fries. 

You enjoyed peeing outside at the cabin, and you got really good at it. 

You helped Daddy wash the bugs off the car the day after we got home. 

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The officiant at rest.

Yesterday, the Boo wanted to know what getting married meant. I told him that when you love someone very much, you might want to stay with them forever. And if you do, you can ask them if they want to marry you. And if they say yes, you get married. 

This morning, he said he wanted to marry me. 

I said yes, and then we set about finding an officiant. He asked his stuffed tiger, but it said no. Fortunately, the hippo he asked next agreed to perform the ceremony. 

After some very brief vows, the hippo declared us to be married. Then the Boo said, “Now we need to get all married up!” As it turns out, that means that you exchange lots of kisses on various part of your faces. But the kisses only count as kisses if you pop your mouth open really wide like a fish after you give them. 

Shortly after that, he said it was time to get unmarried. We achieved this by taking the kisses off with a special sort of drill. He said it wouldn’t hurt. It didn’t, maybe because I couldn’t even see the drill. 

I negotiated to keep one kiss. 

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We spent Thanksgiving with my family in LA. Herewith, the highlights of the Boo’s first West Coast encounter.

You did very well on the flights, though it must be said the extra attention from the Southwest flight attendants was very helpful. As was the iPad loaded with Caillou videos.

You glommed onto your Unk almost as soon as you saw him. Within a week, you were asking for your Auntie when you woke up from naps and dancing a little greeting jig for her. She danced right along with you.

You wanted to know if we were still in LA every time with left Unk and Auntie’s house.

You saw Frozen, Cars, and The Little Mermaid for the first time, and joined your cousins in the traditional post-screening dance parties. You kept asking for the “build a snowman movie” for the rest of the trip.

You followed your girl cousins around the house, prompting one of them to complain a bit about your puppy-dog ways. A few days later, they were reading books to you.

You got creamed by one high-swinging cousin. After that, you were very careful to give her a wide berth whenever she was on the swing — and she stopped swinging to play with you on the playhouse slide.

You ate meals very nicely both with the family and at restaurants. There may have been chocolate chips involved.

You adjusted to the new time zone within 24 hours, and were willing to sleep on the floor at night as long as you got to sleep on your cousin’s bed for naps. Once back home, you started lobbying for a big bed almost immediately by complaining about the bars on your toddler bed.

You learned how to eat a Popsicle, thanks to your cousins and your Unk, who responded to your confusion with, “Look at them and do what they,re doing.”

You saw Dolphins herding fish to shore.

You took such a shine to your grandpa-in-law (you let him pick you up!) that he volunteered to be your surrogate grandpa since both of yours are gone.

You were fascinated by the ocean, waves, surfers, and sand at Venice Beach. A big wave surprised you and knocked you on your butt in the 64-degree water, but once you got over the shock you wanted to go right back in. You grabbed handfuls of sand over and over and wanted to take some home — this, despite being reluctant to touch it at school.

You began shouting “mine!” and “I want to do it myself!” after a few days with your cousins.

You also began poking your cousins after a few days, and began following pokes with, “Time out?” and a grin. So much for that disciplinary tactic.

You occasionally asked to go home, usually when you were tired or hungry.

You did not miss your toys, probably because it was so warm you went outside as soon as you finished breakfast and had to be coaxed in after dark on more than one occasion.

You learned the word “thankful” because of the family’s suppertime thankfulness tradition. Once, you said you were thankful for school, another time, for Mama. Back at home, you’re responding to mealtimes by saying, “I want to say something” and then saying what you’re thankful for.

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