Category Archives: Child Development

I’m all out, try again tomorrow

Of patience, that is.  I ran out today.

It started fine.  They’re starting to sleep slightly later (knock on everything), we had a fine morning.  They took a short AM nap, but that’s also fine.  We went to our Tuesday drop-in play space, and the parachute was a huge hit.  They ran back and forth underneath, tons of fun.

It started to go south at lunchtime.  I suppose they were hungry, since they had largely refused their snacks.  So there were hunger-related meltdowns.  Then, naptime, there was some unusual serious screaming.  Finally they went down, slept for a respectable amount of time.

Rebecca woke up crying.  Not a good thing. We came down, more picky snack stuff, Daniel didn’t want his milk or his graham cracker. An errand was nixed, as were my plans to play in the yard when I realized it was raining.  So we were inside.  And there was screaming.  And toy stealing.  And head-butting. And oh-my-god-more-screaming.

As much fun as this age is, and it really is, we’re also going through some annoying stuff.  Sudden toy posessiveness, quick to get frustrated, and the introduction of purposeful aggression (mostly Rebecca pushing or head-butting Daniel if he dares come within a three-foot radius of whatever she’s playing with).  I even put on the Sprout channel this afternoon, but that only held their attention for a short period of time.  Since they don’t generally watch much TV, it doesn’t seem all that interesting to them, I guess.  By about 4:30, I was just plain out of patience. Daniel was following me around, screaming.  Or sitting, and screaming.  Rebecca was bringing me book after book, but leaving after one page to get a new one, and going ape-shit if I didn’t immediately switch stories. Ugh.

On the one hand, I know this is a phase.  Kids go through cranky phases.  But it also suggested two needs for surviving this winter.  For one, we are going to need some real snowsuits and boots or something, because I cannot let a little thing like snow keep us inside.  Being cooped up for a single afternoon was enough to demonstrate that leaving the playroom is key for all of our sanity.

For another, it reminds me that I’m about to enter the age where I actually have to think about things like behavior and discipline.  They’re a little young, yet, but it’s coming.  Anyone have suggestions for techniques and/or books regarding the young toddler set?  I don’t know that they’re quite ready for time-outs and everything, but I feel as though it’s time to start reading up…

Perhaps tomorrow I will wake up with a new store of patience for the day.  And maybe it’ll even last through dinner.  I can hope.

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Sign of the times

I always knew I wanted to try and do sign language with my kids.  As with many things, the difference between what I imagined while pregnant and what became my actual reality… yeah.  I just plain don’t spend big blocks of time every day doing signs with my kids.  I don’t have the fluency or ease to just add it into my everyday speaking.  And I just apparently didn’t have the mental energy or dedication.

But, still, we took the class together back when the kids were littler, and when we remember, we try to do the signs. Especially once they started trying to mimic a lot of sounds and were clearly picking up on the receptive language front, I tried to do it a bit more.  Still, not much.

And then, all of a sudden, Rebecca spontaneously started signing “more” when she wanted to go down the slide again.  It’s not that we’d never done the sign with her, but we truly hadn’t been doing it all that much.  But there she went.  Since then, she’s becoming a signing machine.  Among the words she’s picked up recently (at least that I can recognize): more, please, dog, duck, cat, light, daddy, and possibly fish.  She also has started waving and saying “hi” whenever I’m on the phone, and she likes to pat Daniel on the head and attempt to say “Daniel.”  (Everything she says is pretty much “da da” with slight differences in inflection.)

Daniel, for his part, sticks with the trusty “light.”  And he waves, which often looks like and/or turns into “light.”  What’s funny is when I’m giving them a snack, I’ll ask if he wants more and I’ll keep doing the sign. Rebecca, already with a mouthful, is frantically signing more and sometimes throws in a “please” for good measure.  Daniel just grins and shrieks, which clearly means “hell yes, I want more!  Why would I need to do that funny thing with my hands? You already know what I want!”  Smart kid.

If I could get my damn video camera to cooperate with my computer, I’d try to get some footage of her signing.  But in the meantime, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

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Books On Demand

When the kids were really little, I worried that I wasn’t reading to them enough.  M and I both love to read, and I was an especially big bookworm as a child.  We definitely wish the same thing for our kids, even if it means too many batteries for the flashlight when they’re reading past their bedtime again.  But when they were, oh, eight weeks old, and someone in one of my new moms classes claimed that their child “loved books,” I about died.  Crap, now I have to find time to read to them, too?! In those crazy, survival days of the first few months, it was pretty low on my list.  But I felt guilty.  What if I don’t read to them enough, and then they don’t love books? Yeah.  Whatever.

Eventually we started reading more.  We worked it into our routine, they started to actually smile and laugh and enjoy it.  By 11 or so months old, you could find Rebecca sitting on the floor next to the shelves in the playroom.  She’d pull one book after another out of her shelves, and carefully flip through the pages of each one.  Daniel enjoys his stories, too (you should hear him go “sssssss” when we get to the quiet old lady whispering ‘hush’ in Goodnight Moon).  But Rebecca is our resident bookworm.

Now, though, she has figured out that if you bring a book to Mommy (or Daddy, or whoever is there), she will read it to you. It’s her new favorite thing.  She brings me book after book, and stands in front of me, bouncing with anticipation, until I start reading.  If I take too long (or am still reading the first book she brought me), she makes it known that she is quite displeased.  I have to remember to tell her to “sit down please” before I start reading, or I’ll get about two pages in and she’ll be off getting the next story.

Hand picks an apple, hand picks a plum. Dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum.

You’re too small for basketball, unless you play with someone tall.

I see a purple cat looking at me.

It’s quiet now, what do you say?

I’ve memorized them all, it seems.  And Rebecca’s getting close.  She anticipates some of the animal sounds, and gleefully points out the mouse on every page, or the monkey, or the dog, or the duck.  My little bookworm. So, for those who may be saying “are you kidding me? When would I find time to read to my newborn?!”  Fear not.

[And how many of you out there instantly knew which four books are the playroom favorites?]

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The Clappers

As promised, photos of the clappers…  They’re just tickled by their new trick!

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Check that box

The kiddos continue their developmental progress, with new bits and pieces seemingly every day. As a mom, of course, you can’t help but worry.  I found a developmental checklist the other day from an Early Intervention service provider, and I thought I’d take a look.  As to be expected, they’re “ahead” on some things, and there are others that they don’t yet do that they arguably should.

One thing that is always on lists that has always bugged me is clapping.  In the child development class I took back in the spring, here were all of these 9-month-olds clapping.  My kids?  Yeah, not so much.  But, then, I suppose I don’t clap a lot in front of them, so whatever.  I tried doing it more.  No interest.  It’s a small thing, and they seem to be doing well otherwise on fine and gross motor stuff, but it was this little thorn that kept bugging me.

Last night, all of a sudden, Daniel started clapping.  I encouraged him, he kept going.  Wohoo!  Did other things for a few minutes, tried again – more clapping!  Yay!  M called on his way home from work and I let him know of this new trick.  As I was telling him that Daniel could do it… Rebecca walked up and with a look of “oh, sure, so that’s what we’re doing now?”, she started clapping, too.  Even better, a few minutes later, I simply said “clap,” without demonstrating or even really looking at them, and clap they did.  Wohoo!  Motor skills and language comprehension!  I tried again this morning, and it was no fluke.  We have clappers.  Whew, check off that box.  [I’ll try to get a picture later today. Daniel is so entertained by clapping, it’s frigging adorable.]

In other developmental news:

Daniel is taking a few steps at a time, now many times a day.  Sometimes it takes a bit of encouragement, and sometimes he just decides to do it on his own.  He has such a great excited, proud smile on his face when he does it.  He’s still a little unsure and unsteady, but he’s getting there quickly.  He’s also gotten very good at figuring out how to climb on one thing to get at something higher.  Such as climbing on Daddy to get to the couch, or climbing on the new Ikea chairs to get on top of the new table.

Rebecca has also figured out the chairs-to-table bit, and every now and then I turn around to find her standing on top of the table.  There’s going to be a loud thud followed by screams in my near future.  Speaking of loud thuds and screams… both kids are getting better at the feet-first method of getting down from things like the couch.  But not all the time, and Daniel crawled himself right off of our bed the other day before naptime.  Thankfully he landed on the carpeted part, but the carpet ain’t that thick and he had a nice welt on his forehead.  Poor kiddo.  I saw it happen, but just couldn’t grab him in time.  And so many times he’s crawled near the edge and come right back… oh, we all have to have our bad mommy days, don’t we?

I wrote about speech development the other day for HDYDI, and since then I’ve noticed even more attempts at imitation of words.  Rebecca is very clearly trying to indicate “dog,” it’s just that she has a lot of words that sound like “da-da.”  But her comprehension is good.  When I ask her to find her bear or a ball, she gleefully finds the right thing most of the time.  Daniel, I swear to you, is now saying “light” in addition to signing it (it remains his only sign).  It sounds more like “yacht,” but he’s done it several times.  And for further proof that he really is M’s son… my mother-in-law informs me that “light” was his first word, too. Funny, huh?

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What a difference a year makes

As I get into my second year of being a mom, naturally I have come across a lot of situations that make me remember what we were doing a year ago.  I’ll try to keep the yammering to a minimum, but this one has photographic evidence, so I thought I’d share.

Today, we started a new class.  It’s at the same maternity/baby center where I’ve taken several other classes.  It’s a little pricey (especially now that I have to pay for the 2nd kid…), but nice to have an outing in a child-safe place with developmentally-appropriate activities.  Gets us out of the house, gives me new ideas, entertains the kids.  And, it’s at 11AM, so gets them good and tired before the iffy PM nap.

The class was fun, seems like a nice enough group. There’s even another set of twins there, though they’re a touch on the younger side, and the mom brought the nanny along (and was surprised that I was there by myself… come on, just do it!).  There were songs and toys and a story and a parachute.  There was even a brief adventure with a water table (next week will, apparently, be sand).  I was really struck by how big they’re getting, and the differences in each of the classes we’ve done.

Almost exactly one year ago, I started my very first mom/baby class there. I was the first one there, as tends to be my way. The oldest baby was 9 weeks, the youngest only 2. My kids were right in the middle.  Almost the whole class was pretty mom-focused.  We learned infant massage, we talked about breastfeeding and sleep and swaddling.  We were all brand new to this whole thing, and the babies pretty much only ate or slept.  We’d try a little tummy time.  All of those babies are now a year old, most are walking. Some moms have gone back to work, some of us haven’t.  One is even expecting her second.  We have a Halloween party planned for next month.

Amazing, the difference a year makes.  First, a picture I took during our third or fourth class.  Big excitement: tummy time and mirrors (Daniel is the noggin in the middle)!  Then, there was today.  Water table and snacks!  Just imagine next year…

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Limits to my superpowers

I tend to pride myself on the variety of activities I undertake with two 13-month-olds in tow.  I take them grocery shopping, I take them out to lunch, I take them to classes.  All by myself, no biggie.  I mean, yeah, it’s more complicated than it would be with one kid, but I’ve got my strategies and my double stroller.  I am pretty confident in my abilities.

But, in truth, there are some things better not done solo.  Today’s case-in-point: taking them to the playground by myself.  This is a nice one.  Fenced in, relatively compact, and shredded recycled tires that make a pretty soft surface in case of falls.  Has some baby swings, and some less-steep slides.  But the fact of the matter is that I have two mobile-but-not-steady kids who don’t take direction and haven’t entirely figured out that you can’t crawl straight off of surfaces 3 (or 6 or 10) feet above the ground.

I mean, we did OK.  No one was in any way injured.  They were a big hit with a couple of five-year-old girls.  But at this age, it’s just a really tricky outing to do by myself.  Lots of chasing, lots of pulling off of high places (and ensuing proto-tantrums), lots of lifting that’s causing my lower back to grumble menacingly at me right now.  And none of the other moms are particularly able (even if they were hypothetically willing) to help me, because they obviously have their own kids to watch and prevent from falling.  It’s just one of those things that, at this age, is better done with a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio.

We really needed an outing this afternoon. They skipped the afternoon nap again, a nap that currently has only about a 60-70% success rate.  The trouble is that they really seem to still need it, and are often hysterical when they don’t get it.  And when they’re hysterical because they haven’t napped, and I haven’t had any break because they haven’t napped, it’s best if we all get the hell out of the house.  So, off we went.  Stopped at the Starbucks drive-thru for a mommy pick-me-up, and off we went two towns over to the park. (Yeah, my sucky town doesn’t have much by way of playgrounds… boo.)

Naturally, they both passed out by the time we arrived.  Hrm.  So, there I am, the weirdo sitting in her car at the playground.  Hope no one thought I was a stalker.  I let them sleep for a few and tried to relax and listen to the radio and check my email on my enabler iPhone.  Then I got out of the car, and opened the sliding doors.  They didn’t wake up.  I put on their shoes.  Didn’t even twitch.  I unbuckled their carseats, called their names, stroked their heads.  Nothing.  See what I mean about needing the sleep?  Anyways, just when I was going to give up and go back home, they stirred.  Great, brought them over to the playground.  We stayed for about half an hour until Rebecca lost it when I pulled her away from the slide so another kid could go down without kicking her in the head.  Let’s just say it was an ugly afternoon and an early bedtime.

I recognize that this is the beginning of the dreaded switch to one nap, but as much of a struggle as the afternoon nap is right now, I honestly don’t believe it’s time for it to go. Plus, they’re still completely ready for the AM nap at 9:00, and that’s obviously way too early to be the only one for the day.  But they only seem to really take the afternoon one if I do something that involves a lot of running around in between the naps.  Easier said than done, for sure, especially with Daniel not yet walking and the weather hinting that we won’t be able to play outside forever.  My buddy Dr. Weissbluth seems to agree that’s the way to go: “intense stimulation” after the AM nap, but then “extra long and relaxing soothing to sleep for the midday nap.”  I’m not sure what on earth the latter should look like with two kids who just want to climb on me, but I suppose I’ll give it a shot.  I suspect there will be a lot of back-and-forth on this one until the day comes when we just go to the one nap.  Wohoo.

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