Category Archives: toddler

To Evelyn, Who is Three

These are the kinds of posts that I both love writing, and have been avoiding sharing in this space. But I’ve decided that  I’m going to share what’s in my brain right now, and that happens to be a lot of stuff about this child, the child on the way, life right now and all the changes on the horizon.  

rainywondergirl

You are three. You are spunky. Funny. Smart. Thoughtful. Bold. Stubborn. Laughing. Screaming. Running. Concentrating.

You make me better, you frustrate me, you make me laugh, you inspire me, you drive me bonkers, you fill me with love.

Your favorite things to do: sing, play in the dirt, read books, draw, paint, talk, dance. You are very serious about and committed to your favorite color, which has been blue since you knew what a favorite color was. (I admit: I enjoy the times when we have to correct someone who assumes you want the pink version of whatever they’re offering.)

You could listen to Fleetwood Mac’s Secondhand News on repeat all day. You tell people that your favorite songs are Fleetwood Mac, Lucius, and Hey Lolly (yes, two of those are bands and not songs. You’re figuring it out.).

You are fiercely independent when you want to be. And other times, you just need mommy or daddy.

This morning you told me that when you are a grown up you want to be a mommy. And a doctor. And maybe a lion (because you already have a lion costume).

You are full of love. You already love your new sibling, and talk about how you’ll take care of the baby, and tell us how the baby is part of our nightly family hug. Today you told me that there are four people in our family: mommy, daddy, Evy, and the new baby. You may reject that notion at some point, but right now I’m pretty amazed at your open heart.

You are happiest when you are around people, watching people, hugging people.  Earlier this spring we tried to take you to a planetarium show. When the lights started to go down you got upset- not because you were afraid of the dark, but because “I can’t see the people! When it’s dark I can’t see the people!”  When we took the train to New York City in November your favorite part wasn’t watching the Hudson River as we traveled south, it was watching everyone else on the train. You want to embrace the world in a giant bear hug (and we’ve been working on asking people before doling out hugs – not everyone is ready for your affection just yet).

paintA few months ago you moved from the toddler room to the preschool class at daycare, where you have soaked up everything. We love your teacher, who focuses on creating a community of “peace, love, and friendship.”  You have learned how to write your name and you love to sign it on everything you can. At school you have grown flowers, watched caterpillars become butterflies, and helped take care of the class frogs and turtle. You are the littlest one right now, and that can be tough. But your teachers help you and the others, and you’ve made new friends and found your place, all while marching to the beat of your own drum.

You are so grown up and still so little.  Sometimes we forget that you are still so little, and expect too much. But you remind us. You are three. You will be a messy eater, you will cry and throw tantrums, you will beg for dessert, you will take an hour to get dressed, you will not be rushed, you will experience everything in a big way.

I love watching you play, and seeing the places your imagination takes you. In the morning, we turn on the television while I brush your hair, and that 15 minutes of Daniel Tiger or Super Why is usually the only TV time of the day.  Your imagination is so much better than anything you’d stare at on the screen. You play doctor, mommy, daycare, work, mail, superhero and restaurant. You put on shows. You take trips to Florida, you ride the train and the bus around town. You make cakes and dinners in the sandbox. You have a class of imaginary children that you are oh so in charge of.

My wish for you is that you always have the sense of self that you have right now. Hold on to your creativity, your independence, your spark. Your eyes actually shine with that Evy energy.  I promise you, Daddy and I will do everything we can to protect that spunky spark that lights you up.

As with every stage and every age, I try to soak up every bit of You at Three. It feels even more amplified right now, though. Because soon my attention will be divided between you and your sibling. Our family is growing, our love will grow, there will be even more life and energy and chaos in our house.  So, right now, I am doing my best to be present with you, to focus on what you’re like right now, to spend time being together. Things are going to change, and it will be both awesome and hard. But I know that both of our hearts will grow, that we both have so much love to give to our family.

swinging

 

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Filed under evelyn, parenting, toddler, Uncategorized

Are we over-Pinteresting childhood?

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Pinterest is running amok with ideas for activities to do with and for kids: projects for every season, instructions on how to play outside, toys to make  from cardboard boxes, rainy day fun with masking tape, sick day activities, how to build magical forts of twinkling lights and reclaimed barn wood, crafts to make with/for kids for every holiday – from Easter to Bacon Day, 100 Things To Do Instead of Watching TV,  instructions for making school lunches that look like van Gogh’s flowers, paint made from basically anything plus food coloring, and on and on and on.

I think we’ve made this childhood thing a bit too complicated, and a heck of a lot of work. Let’s all step back, put down the glue guns, quit making play sand out of organic free range corn starch.

Because kids are really excellent at childhood, if we just let them at it. Really – they don’t need us to be cruise directors.

My 3-year-old makes up worlds of her own without my help sewing props or creating sets or giving her animal masks I commissioned on Etsy. She makes intricate houses and cities out of blocks without me showing her a single blog post.

She is thrilled to do simple things like help me cook, clean, and fold laundry. Seriously – the kid loves to match socks. There’s really no need for me to craft elaborate matching games featuring foxes wearing washi tape mustaches. I know that some people enjoy all the crafting, but a toddler will be happy whether they’re matching a fox or a sock.

To be honest, my 3-year-old is usually plenty busy without me entertaining her. Seriously – Evy has so much to DO! I don’t mean structured activities or anything I’ve orchestrated – I mean just plain playtime. There are dolls to care for, play food to prepare, towers to build and destroy, pictures to draw, songs to sing, books to read, running and jumping to do – we’re not parenting geniuses, but the kid has no problem entertaining herself, and I have no plans to mess with that by rolling out an activity schedule.

And all the posts about “Things to Do With Kids Outside” and “100 Ideas for Outside Play”? Oy. I loved playing outside as a kid. Most of us have memories of endless afternoons spent in backyards, making up games, building forts, playing kickball – parents (maybe) watching from afar, but certainly not involved. I’m guessing our kids know how to play outside without referring to a Pinterest list. Really, they know what to do. No need to create hula hoop obstacle courses or make sidewalk chalk out of ice cubes.

We’ve gone and made it all too stressful and complicated. Childhood doesn’t need to be stage-managed. There are days when I read blogs and get pangs of mom guilt because I haven’t crafted 14 different sensory play experiences for my child. But she’s fine. The world is a sensory experience, especially for a little one. A kid’s imagination is more magical and more real than anything any blogger has come up with, believe me. There’s a lot our kids need us for, but when it comes to play let’s just take our seasonal handprint crafts and get out of the way.

Apparently I’m not alone in these thoughts – this post is great: I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical.

Great thoughts on this from Janet Lansbury, whose perspective on parenting has been very helpful to me:  Stop Entertaining Your Toddler (In 3 Steps).

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Filed under evy, parenting, toddler

Following Her Lead

Monday through Thursday, I work outside the home, doing a job I enjoy, in the field I studied, with people I like. On Fridays, I have the extreme good fortune to be home with my two and half year old. I am very lucky to have this job and these Fridays.


For a long time, I treated Fridays as if I had to jam in all the things I couldn’t do with Evy the rest of the week. Trips to the library, the park, playdates, story time, hikes. I saw those Fridays as my chance to do all the things I wasn’t doing with her while I was at work. (And, of course: because even though I’m comfortable with our current arrangement, I’m not guilt-free. I am a mom in 2013, after all.)


And then, Evelyn started talking, and letting me know – in no uncertain terms- what she wanted.

After three days of daycare and a fun-filled day with her Nonni, what she wants on those “mommy days” is simple: to stay home. She wants to play with her own toys and get absorbed in imaginary worlds without anyone telling her that it’s time for the next activity. She wants some mommy time and some alone time. She wants to snuggle and read books, play in her kitchen, take care of her dolls.

I was the one who thought we needed all the other stuff.


And so now, I don’t make any Friday plans. I might mention some things we could do, but if she’s not interested I don’t push it. For the most part, I don’t get involved in field trips and playdates, and I resist the temptation to run errands and go visiting.


I let Evelyn stay in her pajamas until late morning (and – one recent rainy day – until after naptime). We color together. We read books and build block towers. She gets lost in her own world of play while I cook or take care of the things around the house that get neglected Monday through Thursday. Sometimes we bake together. We go outside without an agenda: maybe we’ll just wander around the yard, sometimes we go for a walk, or play in the sandbox. (This all makes it sound easy and rosy- there are many challenging toddler moments, I promise. But not having a schedule takes pressure off both of us.)


There are many days when I leave for work and wish I could spend the day at home with my kid. But it’s our balance of work/daycare and home that gives us this special luxury of unscheduled time together on Fridays.

I don’t worry much about giving her time to socialize, or do projects, or go to the playground. Evy spends three days a week with her best buddies- painting, making music, building, playing outside, running around the gym, learning about sharing, empathy, and working together. On Thursdays, her Nonni brings her to story time or the park. And on my work days, I get plenty of time with other adults – something I missed very much when I was working less.

So, on Fridays, we can just be. And I’m getting better at letting that happen.

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Filed under balance, evelyn, play, toddler, work