Saturday, November 28, 2009

Enjoyable Two Year Olds...

I love two year olds. I always have. While most people think of the terrible twos, I always thought of it as the terrific twos.
[Kari and Arden, pictured at left]

I did licensed home day care for about five years when we lived in Florida. It enabled me to stay home with my little ones and earn some money. My favorite year or two of doing this was when I had Kari and two other little girls that were two years old and then the following year too. I had a few other kids come and go, but these three with the ones that I had five days a week, nine hours a day.

I loved it, and it was sweet seeing the relationships grow between the girls.

This all came flooding back to me this week when my niece, her husband their and two year old daughter came for Thanksgiving. Kylee just turned two in October and she was an absolute delight.

I think she is probably genetically good natured, but that by itself would not account for the way she charmed all of us. Her mom and dad gently corrected her and re-directed her when she needed it. She played by herself really well and also was very gentle with our dog. She had us all laughing a lot of the time with her concern for the two dogs. At one point she took out every single dog toy and toy by toy brought each one to our dog and laid it in front of her. She was so proud to be able to help the dog in that way.

It got me thinking about what makes a two year old enjoyble rather than terrible. I think the main thing is consistency. When Kylee tried to do something she shouldn't, such as sitting on a basket, her mom told her not to and had her sit on a little chair or the floor. When Kylee tried to sit on the basket again, her mom quietly told her no, and directed her to sit on the floor. After 2-3 times, Kylee did not try to sit on the basket anymore. If her mom had looked the other way and allowed her to sit on the basket just one time, then all the times of saying no would have been for naught.

I read an article one time that said that most kids are like little gamblers. They can lose 99 times, but if they win just once, they think they have beaten the "house." I believe it. Parents need to be consistent with discipline 100 times out of 100 or kids think they have won and will keep trying to get away with something else. But, if you are consistent, and they know that, after trying a couple of times, they will generally quit trying. And this makes a two year old very fun to be around.

They are enthusiastic, will try anything, seem to be made of rubber they way they tumble and trip around. They are little mimics who soak up and learn just about anything. They sing and dance and laugh and are generally fearless. I love to watch their faces because you can read just about every human emotion in them. You can see fear and worry, joy and wonder. We went to Panera and there was a little child hollering in their high chair. Kylee was so worried and you could see she wanted to go over and comfort the crying child. You could see the compassion and concern on her face.

I know all children are not as delightful as Kylee, and I have parented children that were not as compliant--but even my hardest children were fun as two year olds. I had to be consistent, but watching them develop their imagination and their confidence was really a great experience.

I think we should embrace two year olds--they are a lot like us, before we develop negative self-confidence or embarrassment issues.

The world is new and exciting every morning when you have a two year old. Their wonder is infectious. I love it!

Take care,

Photos, top to bottom--some of my kids at two years old: Kari and friend Arden; Cris, Kari, Dusty

Monday, November 23, 2009

If only you were all like me...

On the Sonlight® Club Forums last week there was a thread started where the original poster basically said that she was tired of people who said that their kids wouldn't do their school work, or that the family didn't have time to do their school work, or that the kids wouldn't help with chores and on an on. This person said that people just need to do it! Make their kids mind, quit whining, take control, get on with it! No excuses!

If they would just do things her way, all would be well.

It made me think of an old episode of "Doug." I can't even remember how many years ago it was on TV, but Kari and Scotty used to watch it and they are 20 and 23 now and I don't think they have watched Saturday morning cartoons for years! Doug had this dog named Porkchop and they had lots of adventures, but the one I remember best is when Doug wonders why everyone can't be just like him. He knows what is best, what works--in short how to live the perfect life.

Just be like him.

Well, he has a dream and guess what? Everyone is just like Doug. They dress the same, think the same, go to the same places. I can't really remember all of the ramifications, but I do remember the thing that makes Doug realize that diversity is good. He goes to get an ice-cream cone. His favorite flavor is Buttery Brickle [I think I am remembering right] but there isn't any of his favorite flavor anywhere. Not one bit! Why? Because it is everyone's favorite flavor; and right then and there Doug realizes that everyone being just like him is NOT a good idea.

I couldn't help thinking of this episode when I read the very long thread that insued after the original poster basically told everyone if they were more like her, their kids/schools/families would be wonderful.

Would they?

I don't' think so. I think we need to appreciate our differences and certainly if someone asks for advice in an area where they struggle it is only right to pass along how you do things; but to assume that the way I do something will work in your home is unrealistic and a bit condescending. Many of the forum ladies pointed out that she had not walked in their shoes, did not have the children they have, the spouse they have, the responsibilities and the challenges that they have. Everyone is not the same and one size does not fit all.

I think the biggest shame in today's parenting philosophies is that there are so many choices and so many who think they have all the answers--whether anyone wants to hear them or not.
  • There is attachment parenting and the opposite--is that detachment parenting? Perhaps not, I think it is more of a scheduled approach.
  • There is the public school, private school, charter school, homeschool issue. Which is better?
  • Then, if you decide to homeschool, there is homeschool on line with minimal parent involvement, literature based homeschool and unit studies with high parent involvement, distance school, traditional textbook approach, video classes, etc.
And what is right? I think each thing is right for certain people at certain times. And for anyone to presume to know what is right for another is insulting. Just because Sonlight is THE perfect curriculum in my mind, does not mean it is perfect for you and your situation.

Can't we still be friends? Can we still respect each other? Can we extend grace and love to each other, especially when one of us is down and feeling whiney?

And if not? If everyone needs to be like me in order for the world to go on it will be pretty sad, because in no time at all there will not be any Coconut Almond Fudge Ice Cream left anywhere.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Toys and Christmas

With Christmas right around the corner I thought I would remind people that when buying for children, try to remember tools not toys. So, rather than make a new post I will refer you to my previous posts:

Tools Not Toys
How to Tame your Toys
Ideas to Beat Boredom
Great Christmas Sale on Books and "Tools" for kids-70% off selected products. [These are great deals, blocks, board books, games, misc. books]

I hope this helps as you do your Christmas Shopping.

Take care,