Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Personalities Affect Our Parenting

Londo and I had an interesting talk the other night. We were talking about the Pumpkin and her physical abilities. I told Londo that I thought he might be underestimating her capabilities. He responded that I might be overestimating her capabilities. I said that that might be true, but also that I expect that she will fall and hurt herself and was okay with that. Which I am except, of course, if it is fall from a significant height or by sharp corners and things like that.

I got thinking about this later, and I believe that I was wrong about what I first said to him. I don't think the difference we have in what we think she is physically capable of. Well, we do have slight differences there, but it's probably not as vast as it feels. I think what I said later is really the issue we have.

My husband tends to think about the worst case scenario and plan for that. This is a really great trait to have, which has helped him at work and at home. I do love that he can do that. He is all about preventing unnecessary problems. This translates to the Pumpkin, as well as for me and the world around him. Londo analyzes situations at a glance and is able to see what could go wrong. He then figures out and implements what to do to prevent it. By doing so, he often points out to me accidents that could happen that I didn't think of or situations where I didn't see the danger.

I do not think that way. I absolutely can analyze a situation for potential harm and do what is needed to prevent it. However, I usually have to stop and decide to analyze. It is not second nature to me the way it is to Londo. I tend to think instead of what I consider the most likely scenario and evaluate if I'm okay with that scenario or not. Usually, I don't consider the worst thing that could happen the most likely thing that will happen.

Let's use the example that started this discussion the other night. We have a pretty tall bed, and we have stairs next to the bed so that the dog (and now toddler) can get up on the bed more easily (our dog has a bad back). I told Londo about how the Pumpkin now wants to walk down the stairs from the bed by herself without any help. There is no railing for her to hold, and so Londo worries about her trying to walk down by herself with nothing to hold. I explained that she holds the bed post (it's a four poster bed) for the top two stairs, but he was concerned that the post was not helpful enough, espcially since she couldn't reach on the bottom stair. He is concerned that she is not stable enough and will fall. I view it as she is pretty stable at the top, and if she falls from the bottom two stairs, it's not so far that she will get hurt badly--just a little bump and started.

This difference in parenting also includes the fact that Londo would rather put up with her fit and fussing but make her hold his hand while she walks down every time she goes down, while I would rather not have the fit and fussing and let her go down herself every time even though one or two of those times she might fall. I also think I'm more likely to let her try new things that she wants to try, while Londo is concerned about why trying that thing would be dangerous.

I don't think one particular way of thinking or parenting is better than the other. In fact, I think it's good for her to see that there are different, valid ways to look at the world. But these differences in our personalities and parenting styles can cause disagreements. We work them out, and we both have to make concessions (yes, I do make concessions). It's part of the constant dialogue that Londo and I have in our marriage, which I'm sure will only need to increase as we have future another child and as our children get older.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let's Do That... Later...

When the Pumpkin wants to do something or go somewhere, she knows how to ask for it. When she asks, I repeat it back to her, and if she really does want that thing (rather than just saying something she thought of because it popped in her head), she says, "Okay, let's do that."

For example:
Pumpkin: Mommy, poo poo potty?
caramama: Do you have to go poo poo on the potty?
Pumpkin: Okay, let's do that.
(This is as opposed to her answering: No! No poo poo potty!)

I think this is an incredibly cute phrase for her to use, and she uses it very regularly. She most likely picked it up from me responding to her with that same phrase when she asks to do something or go somewhere. (She also says "Do it!" to herself when she is about to do something big, like jump off the bottom step. Again, I think this is from telling her to "Go ahead and do it" to let her know that I'm okay with whatever she is about to do.)

The Pumpkin asks for a lot of things these days. She knows what she wants, and she regularly demands it. Unfortunately, she can't have everything she wants at the time she wants it. This is why I LOVE the word "later."

I'm not sure she exactly gets the concept of later, but she seems to kind of understand. She knows it's not "no" but she also knows that it's not "yes, you can have that right now." Most of the time, if I tell her later, she will say, "Okay. Later." And she will usually stop asking for it (at least for a while).

For example:
Pumpkin: Mommy, go outside?
caramama: It's raining outside right now. We'll go out later.
Pumpkin: Okay. Later.
(This is as opposed to me saying "no, we can't" and her demanding: Outside! I wan (want) outside!)

Sometimes? After she's agreed to later? She forgets she about it completely and later never comes!!!

I try not to abuse the power of the word later, because it has power unlike any other word in my vocabulary for my instant-gratification demanding toddler. In fact, I usually try to do what she wants, like letting her color with crayons or giving her a cracker. There are other times, when the answer is simply "no" and I move to distract her from activities such as pulling on the lamp's electrical cord.

But then other times, when I know she really wants it, and I'm okay with it but just don't want to deal with the mess/hassle/energy required/bad timing/etc. It's those times when I pull out the power of the word LATER!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Question of the Week - My Child's a Supergenius, But...

You all know how I feel about babies/toddlers/kids all being supergeniuses. It's simply amazing the things they learn and how quickly they learn. But physically, mentally and emotionally. Really, they are all amazing.

The Pumpkin is no exception. She really is a supergenius. She has been fast to develop her motor skills and communication skills. Physically, she is currently working on jumping, which is soooooo cute. She bends her knees and then straightens them, getting a little lift off the ground, although it's usually one foot and then the other. Sometimes she gets both off the ground at the same time! And then she says, "Good jump!"

As for verbal skills, she has had word explosion after explosion. I could not possibly count all the words she has, but let me tell you a story of a walk Londo, the Pumpkin and I took a couple weeks ago, in which Londo and I had just been talking about how she picks up just about every word we say:

Pumpkin: Look at the tree!
caramama: Actually, that's a bush.
Pumpkin: Bush!
caramama to Londo: She's like a sponge.
Pumpkin: Spone (sponge).
Londo: That's irony.
Pumpkin: I-o-e (irony).

But that's not what this post is supposed to be about. Yes, my child is a supergenius. And yours is too. That's a given. But each child doesn't develop ahead of the curve in every area. I'm afraid that always talking about how great they are at this and that gives the impression that there aren't struggles, that everyone else's kids are all advanced in every way. I'm afraid that that might make some parents feel bad about their kids who don't develop as fast in some areas or have real delays. So in an effort to help us all realize that each supergenius also has struggles, today's question of the day is:

In what areas does your child not develop as fast as you expected?

I've been pretty vocal about my daughter's problems learning to self-soothe and sleep well. She's just not good at either. However, there is another area that I don't think I've talked about much that has surprised me.

Since the Pumpkin has started to play with toys and read (okay listen to) books, she seems to do better with toys and books geared towards children younger than her age.

For example, she is currently almost 21 months and I just pulled out some older toys we had put away for a while (we try to rotate toys), and she is really getting into some of the toys with the label for 12 months and up. She was not interested in these toys at 12 months. And at 12 months and a bit older, she was starting to get into toys labeled for 6 months and up.

As for books, she still cannot handle books with long text or with paper pages, since she will rip them. She prefers books that are more interactive, with tabs and things to touch and feel. Yet I remember hanging out over the summer with a friend and her daughter who was about 17 months, and her daughter would sit still on her lap and listed to long pages of text in paper books and want to hear them again and again. My friend tried to read the same books to my child (at the time about 15 months), and she got bored very quickly, got off her lap, and started to climb on things.

I'm not concerned that she is delayed in any way. She is just developing these skills in her own time. Really it's her personality too. Anything that she has to sit still for is not something she gets that into. Yesterday, I tried her with big lego-like toys, which she was okay with, but she had more fun picking it up and pulling it apart while walking around. She just isn't a sit-still-and-figure-it-out kind of girl. She is a climber and a talker, though!

What about your child? Is there an area that you were surprised about his/her development? What does your supergenius struggle with?