Too Much.

The more I take Fiona around other kids, the more I realize that while she is social and outgoing and adventurous, she is probably also an introvert. To most of our society that’s going to sound like an oxymoron. You can’t be introverted and outgoing, can you?

I think you can. I think introversion and extroversion have a lot to do with how much of what you think you say (How big is your brain mouth filter?) and where you find your energy (Do lots of people give you calm energy or burn off your energy and make you tired?).  My sweet outgoing little girl who wants to play with all the kids is an introvert.

I took her to the gymnastics gym today. They have an open play for kids under five once a week. She loved it. We were there for an hour and she ran and turned somersaults (barrel rolls, I was corrected by the gymnast wandering the floor) and laughed and jumped with the other kids. She had a blast.

When the time was up we got her shoes and left. She left willingly calling out, “Goodbye, Everybody!”

Then we got to the car. She melted down. She didn’t want to sit in the car. Her shoes were too big. Her shoes were to small. She was cold. She hated her jacket. She wanted a bottle. She wanted a blanket. She didn’t want to go home. She wanted to go to the park.  She was “Really sad today. And really frustrated with Mommy. And really mad. And really hungry.” (By the way, Kiddo, awesome job using your words!)

She was in short, overwhelmed.

She had burned through her reserve. She had used up all the energy that lets her deal with people and changes.  She had had too much.

When she’s dropped off with other children, I’ve been told that she asks to go to the bathroom far more often than she needs to use it. She uses potty breaks to get the space she needs from the noise and the people.

My charming outgoing little girl is probably an introvert. She thinks before she speaks. She recharges by being alone.  I understand though. I’m the same way.

We are outgoing introverts. Maybe we should do some research, I bet there are more of us out there than you’d imagine.

 

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Mine!

“No, it’s not.” I say, for probably the thirtieth time in as many minutes.

“Ahhhhh!” She screams as she marches herself to timeout.

I walk to the kitchen and set the timer for two minutes. She sits in her chair crying, and occasionally looking up to scream at me again in frustration. Before the two minutes are up, she will have calmed down and be ready to talk about why we don’t scream at people when we want things and how we can ask to use something without it having to belong to us.

I understand. She doesn’t yet appreciate that other people happen to be people, but she is acutely, and suddenly, aware that things can belong to particular people.  In the last two days she has claimed possession of my phone, my calculator, the remote, the television, her father’s tennis shoes, my hair, my stomach, her bottle, and my coffee cup (full).

She has spent enough time in time-out in the last three days that she is sending herself there.  I feel a little bad, except that it isn’t about punishment, or shame, it’s about learning to take a minute and remember to breathe when we’re losing it.  It helps me remember to breathe, too.

I find it interesting to watch her learn the concept of “Mine!”. She’s at that snatch-y, claim everything part. I think a lot of kids do this earlier, most seem to be in middle of it at around two and phasing out by now. Perhaps a lack of siblings delayed the onset?

I’m trying to help her reason her way through it, but I can see where the disconnect is. She doesn’t really believe that Mommy and Daddy are people. I mean she does, but she doesn’t get that we have feelings and rights and, most frustrating of all, were here first and claimed stuff before she got here. I think that last part is what makes the whole thing feel so very unfair to her.

From her perspective, the chance to claim things arose just days ago with her new-found understanding that things could be possessed. So, she is claiming things as it occurs to her. How incredibly frustrating it must be to place a claim on something only to be told that it belongs to someone else! How infuriating when they didn’t bother to tell you it was taken before you decided you wanted it!  It must be very hard to be two years old.

Now, time out has done what it was supposed to. I can now breathe and see things from my child’s perspective. She is no longer crying. So, I’m back into the fray. I need to go remind my daughter that I love her.

How could I not? After all, she’s mine!

I make mistakes.

We were sitting around having a lazy Sunday morning. Fiona hadn’t eaten yet, so I asked if she wanted Cheerios. She did. I said, “Okay, come sit at the table.”

“No.”

“Okay, if you want to stay next to Daddy on the couch you can, but you can’t have milk.”

“I need spoon.” She sits nestled in blankets next to her Daddy.

“No, Baby, just eat them with your fingers.”  I’m enjoying surfing the Internet without anyone trying to climb in my lap or touch me. I am being actively lazy. It takes determination for me to be lazy in my house.

“No.” She says, just to be defiant.

“Fine,” I say, exasperated, “Eat them with your nose.” (See, I told you I make mistakes.)

And that was the end of that.

For about fifteen minutes.

She ran over to me crying, “My nose! It hurts! I need a tissue.”

I reach out with a tissue and squeeze her nose.

“AAAAAH!” She yells, “My nose! It hurts!”

Now I’m concerned, a glimmering awareness is dawning. I tip her head back, “Let me look.”  I can’t see any reason for her nose to hurt. I can’t see any Cheerios, though I am deeply suspicious that there is one in there.

“My nose hurts!” She says again in a panicked voice.

“Why?” I say, worried that I know. “Why does your nose hurt?”

“Cheerio.” She replies.

“You put a Cheerio in your nose?” I verify. I sound surprised to my own ears. I am amused that I’m surprised, actually. It was obvious that this is what would happen, and it is, in point of fact, my own idea.

“Yeah.” She says sadly.

I laugh just a little. She glares at me.

I go upstairs, get the nasal saline that we use when she’s sick and spray a little into her nose. We wait a moment for the saline to soften the Cheerio, then get a tissue. A few moments later the offending Cheerio is out of her nose.

“That’s better.” She says and runs to rejoin her daddy on the couch. Peace and sanity are restored to our quiet Sunday.

My daughter is very literal. I make mistakes. Cheerios are evil.

Stand Up To Bullies

What do you do about bullying?

How do you handle hitting? Hair pulling?

I’ve decided that I don’t like other children. Or maybe I don’t like their parents. Whatever the cause, I don’t like it when I have to step in and stop someone else’s child from hurting mine.

I don’t like it because it’s (a) impolite to interfere with someone else’s kid, and (b) it is not my job, and (c) it is not as effective as the other parent teaching their own child.  I don’t want to step in because I can’t guarantee that it won’t result in the other parent screaming at me. Ideas about parenting are so incredibly variable.

At the same time, I can’t just sit back and do nothing. Maybe I could if Fiona were a different child or had more practice standing up for herself, but she’s not that child. When someone snatches, she either explains sharing or just lets it go and walks away. When they hit or push, she walks away.

When she got her hair pulled yesterday, that’s what she tried to do. Walk away. The other little girl didn’t let go. I watched Fiona’s face scrunch up in pain and I intervened. I told the other little girl, “No. No pulling hair.”  I admit, I was close to yelling. I untangled her hand from Fiona’s hair and removed Fiona.

I explained to Fiona that she doesn’t have to do what other children want her to and that she can say “No, No pulling hair” really loud if someone is pulling her hair.  She chased after the little girl yelling, “No pull hair!”, then went back to playing away from the other child.

I’m trying to teach her to stand up for herself, but it’s hard.  I don’t know if this is the right answer.  I wish other parents would just teach their kids not to hit, not to pull hair, not to shove, and not to snatch.

I want to march up to them and say, “Could you please parent your child?”  I don’t though, partially because I don’t know what the result would be. I don’t want to provoke a parent who has taken their child to the play-land because they’re at the end of their rope.

So, I’m trying to teach standing up for herself. I’m doing it now, because I’m worried about school. She’s smart and so very dramatic and so sweet, but I’m scared that she will struggle with bullies.  I have yet to meet a bully who understands anything other than direct strong opposition.

I’m terribly afraid that Fiona’s innate nature is going to put her at a disadvantage. I’m worried that her tendency to simply walk away will not stand her in good stead in a few years, though it will in adulthood.  I wonder if more exposure to other children will teach her to stand up for herself more and fight back a little.

I think it would be easier to teach her to hold back a little, than to teach her to confront. I’m not great at confrontation. I, too, would rather just walk away. I know from experience that it’s not the best option.

I’m looking for ideas. How do I teach my gentle little girl to stand up for herself? How do I teach her that she deserves, and should expect, respect and gentleness from those around her? How do I teach her to insist that others treat her well?  How do you start the process of helping a child stand up to bullies?

 

Begonia is a boy

“Begonia is a boy.” She says.

We’re, once again, sprawled across my bed. Begonia happens to be the seahorse with the glowing tummy that we got her for her first Christmas. I had always imagined Begonia as girl.

“How do you know?” I’m a tiny bit doubting as I don’t really think Begonia is a boy. Begonia is a girls name, even if the darned seahorse is a teal-ish blue.

“He has a tail.” She points out the tail to me.

Not only does Begonia have a tail. His tail curls forward. Cringe. Oh, dear. This is probably the start of the concept of gender identity. Which means that today is the day that I actively start worrying about all the things that I don’t want to have to worry about.

Gender identity. Sexuality. Sex education. Dating. Birth Control. All of it rolls through my head at lightening speed.

“Boys have tails?” I ask gently, trying to ascertain if this is just a guess or the true beginning of awareness of the difference between boys and girls.

She laughs. “No, boys don’t have tails. They ‘ave bottoms. You’re silly.”

“Oh, good.” I reply.

I still know that a day is coming where that nascent thought will develop into awareness and the conversations we’ve been having about privates belonging only to her will need to extend to clothes needing to stay on and other necessary social conventions.

I’m preparing myself for the hard talks, because even though she laughs today. Boys do, in a manner of speaking, have tails.

I did good job

“Mama, Mama, Mama!” She says urgently from the other room.

I look blearily at the clock as I climb out of bed. The red numbers glow a painfully early 2:07.  I stumble to her room. I cleaned last night, so there are fewer sharp edged blocks to step on between my bed and hers.

“It’s okay, Baby.” I put my hand down on her side gently, trying to soothe her back to sleep. “Mama’s here.”

Her eyes are still closed. Her breathing is steady. It was probably just a dream and she was just talking in her sleep.

“Mama.” She smiles, her eyes still closed. “Mama, I did it. I did it! High-five, Mama!” Her little arm rises up out of the tangle of covers and I tap it with my own.

“Good job, Baby!” I say, sounding a little bewildered.

She snuggles back into her covers, “I did good job. I did good job.” Her breathing softens and she smiles again in her sleep.

I stumble back to my own bed. As I slide between the covers I hear her giggle from the other room.

I’m tired, but I wouldn’t miss this for the world. I get to have the most interesting conversations with her when she’s asleep. It’s always been this way. Hopefully it always will.

Babies learn and practice in their sleep. Her first smile, laugh, words, roll-over, crawl, sit-up, and stand-up were all in her sleep.  Each time she did the same thing when she was awake a few weeks later.

This morning, after a few cups of coffee, I find myself wondering what “it” she’s been practicing in her sleep. What new milestone should I be expecting?

I think I’m a little afraid.

 

 

Nice Hole, Kiddo

I mopped my floors today. I started in the kitchen, because if I didn’t get to finish it was the room I wanted done the most.  I managed to get through them all and finished in the upstairs bathroom.

I came back downstairs to find Fiona outside on the back patio and a nice little mound of dirt in the middle of my still damp, just mopped floor.

“No.” I scolded. “No, we don’t bring dirt on Mommy’s nice, clean floor. No.”

“It’s a nice hole.” She corrected me, telling me what she thought I ought to be focusing on.

“Mommy worked hard on the floors to get them clean.”  I continued, “We don’t bring dirt inside. No!”

“It a very round hole.” She says thoughtfully, “And a little deep.”

“Fiona!” I’m so stern I sound a little mean, even to me. “You may not bring dirt inside!”

“It okay. I forgive you.” She coaches again and she goes back to digging in the dirt with a stick.

I have to laugh, because she’s right. It is okay. I do forgive her. It’s not so very important to have clean floors.  And, after all, it is a very nice hole.