I fretted over how to have everything “just right” – SpongeBob cake, pineapple decoration, SpongeBob balloon, yellow utensils, SpongeBob napkins & tablecloth, “Crabby patties” (mini hamburgers) … my family would have enjoyed the visiting time without any frills.
Birthday parties can be so stressful if you take them too seriously.
I don’t remember EVER having a kid birthday with friends when I was growing up. Although, I did attend two: One was a sleepover (I had to sleep with the light on), and the other had the most magnificent cake: a doll cake draped in green and white icing. All the little girls took turns passing the cake around and taking a bite from the hem of the dress. … Can you say GERMS?
When my oldest daughter turned 5, I joined the birthday parade. It was that “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. And, I continued this insanity when my second daughter turned 5. Here is a sampling of the birthday parties we’ve had:
- At home with treasure hunt, silly string and cake … fairly inexpensive
- Sleepover (with 12 girls!) … exhausting …. juice and drinks spilled all over carpet, door knob broken off of bathroom door, fights among girls, crying birthday girl.
- Mall shopping … this would have been fairly inexpensive, but I had the bright idea of giving each child $10 … and then they needed more … and then they were hungry.
- Gymnastics … a little pricey, but it was “handled” by the instructors, and we had a cake and gift room, so this was a hit.
- Neighborhood park … who would have thought all 30 of the daycare classmates would have attended? Overall, a great success, but the number of presents were obscene. Looking back, we should have donated or said no presents. But my daughter was in heaven. There was an expense to reserve the pavilion, but it was such a beautiful day that all the kids had a great time. (We did this twice. The second time, hardly anyone showed, so you never know. That’s why RSVPs are so important to parents!)
- Overnight stay at a downtown hotel (Do you really want to take out a second mortgage on your home for a party?) This was a big hit with the girls … TV all night, dogpile on the couch and chairs for sleeping, swimming pool, water taxi ride through Bricktown. All of this would have been perfect, except for the chin injury in the hotel exercise room. Note to parents: Don’t let three 11-year-olds get on a treadmill, even if they say they’ll be fine.)
Looking back, our parties weren’t much different from other parties my kids’ friends had. And I’m glad my kids enjoyed the fun and time with friends and family.
But I still remember the simply iced white cake decorated with animal crackers that my mom made for me. The gift also was very modest. No ponies or jumping castles or skating rink or hotel rooms.
And I loved every birthday.
– Linda Lynn
A year ago, I shared with readers the changes that came with my son turning 3. (Click here to read last year’s post.)
Well, for the past month or so, my son has been asking me if he’s 4 yet. He just couldn’t wait to change his age. Last weekend, he finally got his wish. He even got up the morning after his birthday and said “I need to go look in the mirror and make sure I’m still 4!”
As with other ages, the changes just keep coming. This past year:
Sports become the biggest deal. You would not believe how serious tiny tots soccer can be. Just ask the dads yelling from the sidelines.
There’s the first dental visit. And I’ve already gotten the talk about orthodontia work in his future. I guess I should start saving for braces now.
He mastered the art of manipulation. You would not believe how smart kids get between 3 and 4. They know how to play on your every emotion, twist your words, and somehow always find a way to get what they want.
There’s a new shyness. He went to the doctor today and cried because he “didn’t want to be naked.” This was the same boy who was only too content running around the house in his underwear. So out came the hospital gown … one covered in Bugs Bunny and the Tasmanian Devil, of course.
Don’t call him “baby.” I used to be able to call my little man “baby” whenever I wanted. Now, I get a lecture every time. “I’m not a baby. I’m 4.” I have to admit, it broke my heart just a little.
Baby or not, they really do grow so fast. I can’t wait to see what else this new age brings.
And by the way, he’s already asking when he gets to turn 5.
In the world of applications, there’s also a niche for young children.
In my weekly column today, Get App-y, I mentioned a few targeted at kindergartner-age and younger children. Here I’m repeating some of the column and sharing a few more.
Yes, I realize there is research that says to limit the amount of screen time that a young child gets. While it’s great to be aware of how much media your toddler is being exposed to, it’s also nice to have something for that child to do when he or she is getting fidgety, such as those times when you’re waiting for dinner in a restaurant, talking to a doctor during an appointment or watching older siblings play ball.
My children are a little old for these, but they enjoy it when I let them use my iPod Touch to play.
PBS Kids have made the apps that I’ve tried out the most for this age group (ages 4-8, and possibly younger). But it looks like Nick Jr. and Disney, which also have extensive television programming for young children, have their own apps, too.
Of the PBS Kids group, my favorite is free: PBS Kids Photo Factory, a photo editing app for little ones. Choose your show, then choose your photo and decorate it with characters from the show and frames. It’s a cute idea that’s sure to hold their attention for a minute, at least.
Others from PBS Kids include:
Super Why! ($2.99), an early reading game that offers players four animated games that lets them recognize letters, sound out words and insert words into sentences.
Martha Speaks Dog Party ($2.99, PBS Kids) is for even younger kids, with three games including a “Simon Says”-like game and one that lets you dress your pet.
Mister Rogers Make a Journal for Preschoolers ($1.99) is one recently added to the iTunes store that I haven’t tried but according to its description, lets children identify feelings with representational pictures.
Another group, Once Upon a Time, has created its own series of apps for little ones:
The Tale of Peter Rabbit Illustrated Story With Music (99 cents) reads the “Peter Rabbit” story aloud while asking children to find hidden images in the illustrations. To me, it seems like it is too hard or slow to keep a young child’s attention and too young for older children. The hide-and-seek images were too hard to find and interrupted the flow of the story being read aloud.
Learning Colors With Fruits and Learning Colors With Vegetables (99 cents each, Once Upon an App) are two others that their creators asked me to try. They show drawings of figures with the shape of a vegetable or fruit in a color. The child hears a poem about the color and food item and then is asked to identify it. The illustrations, based on Elizabeth Gordon’s “Mother Earth’s” children’s book are charming and classic (from the early 20th century), and the poems are soothing but old-fashioned.
The app has a different feel from many of the other high action games and intense colors that surround kids these days. If you take a look, let me know what you think. I didn’t test it out on younger children, and I’m not sure the apps would have caught on with mine at that age.
And today, I received an e-mail telling me about two dads who took the “if you can’t beat them, join them” with technology approach and created StoryChimes, a way to share books with your child on the device. You can read the stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Frog Prince” aloud and “turn” pages to the next screen, or select an audio option that lets your child listen and move to the next page when he or she hears the chime. Some are free, and the rest are 99 cents apiece. Search “StoryChimes” in the iTunes store to pull up all of them.
Here’s one more quote I found interesting to add to the debate about how much media a child should consume. It’s from the Center on Media and Child Health (Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, www.cmch.tv): “What we feed children’s minds is as important as what we feed their bodies. Teach children to develop a healthy media diet, and engage them in the process of thinking about the media they use, rather than passively consuming it.”
Do you let your children play with your phone? Why or why not? What are your favorite apps that make your job as a parent easier?
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (e-mail me at email@example.com if you have any more apps you’d like me to try.)
According to Oklahoma Department of Human Services, there were more than 11,700 confirmations of child abuse and/or neglect in Oklahoma in 2008. In 2007, 39 died as a result of abuse or neglect. To read the full report, click here.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and there are a lot of events and programs planned to bring awareness to this devastating problem.
The Kelsey Briggs Foundation is having a Child Abuse Prevention/Family Safety Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Woodland Park in Shawnee. OU football players will be there and there will be car seat checks, live music, guest speakers, booths, food and much more. Click here for more information.
At UCO, Building a Blue Ribbon Tree will start at 8 a.m. April 14 with volunteers tying blue ribbons at 8 a.m. along the trees of Broncho Lake. At 11 a.m., children from UCO’s Child Study Center will lead a parade. Visitors will then be encouraged to tie blue ribbons on trees to represent children who have been abused. For more information, contact Kaye Sears at 974-5786 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also build a blue a ribbon tree in your own neighborhood. Anyone can do this, anywhere. Click here for more information.
The Oklahoma County Kids Task Force has an abundance of information on child abuse prevention, helpful programs, referrals and hot line. They also have opportunities for volunteers to get involved in the fight against child abuse. Go to http://okcountykids.org.
Anything we can do to just help one child is worth it. Let’s cherish our little ones and remember just how young and innocent they are.
On Monday, my son gave me quite the scare. I was talking to another parent at his day care while he and his friend played in the cubby area of the classroom. He was tugging on his friend’s shirt and when his friend broke free, my son fell backward and hit his back on the cubby.
I was consoling him (he was crying pretty hard) when all of a sudden his eyes glazed over and his body went completely limp and lifeless in my arms. I tried shaking him to snap him out of it, but he was completely passed out. His teacher called 911 and he woke up about a minute later, disoriented and crying.
When the EMT/firefighters arrived, they checked him thoroughly. They put him at ease by talking to him about things he could relate to so he wouldn’t be so frightened. In the end, they think he just hyperventilated from crying so hard. His doctor wants to run more tests, but hopefully, that’s all it was.
After about 45 minutes, when all seemed back to normal, the firefighters invited my son and his friend to go outside and see their fire truck. You can only imagine the excitement on the boys’ faces.
They gave them stickers, blew up rubber gloves, showed them the super-humongous ax and let them sit inside so they could show them all the bells and whistles.
Then came the best part.
“We’re taking them with us.”
I thought the firemen were joking.
Then the doors to the truck closed, and off they all went for a ride through the parking lot, flashing lights and all. Their first ride ever in a real fire truck. I think that made my son’s life complete. I don’t remember ever getting to ride in a fire truck. But these two boys would surely be the envy of all their classmates the next day.
So to the Oklahoma City Fire Department: You guys have the biggest hearts. Thank you so much for taking the time to turn a scary situation into something my son will always remember. Thank you for putting this smile on my boy’s face.
But I’ve got a new one to enter.
First swear word.
My little 3-year-old outfielder was waiting patiently for his cousin to hit him a ball at grandma’s house on Easter. He waited and waited. Begged for a ball to come his way. Finally, it happened. The ball tumbled his way. He ran up, glove on hand and wanted nothing more than to catch that ball in his mitt.
But he missed.
And then it came out.
I think I about fell over from shock. How could such a young, innocent mouth use such a bad word? Not wanting to make the biggest scene on the lawn at grandma’s, I put the seriousness in my eyes and voice. “What did you say? Who told you that?”
He cowered and told me who he heard it from. Still in shock, I let him know in no uncertain terms he is not to use that word again. But I’m scared to know what’s next.
Have a toddler who used a bad word? Did you ignore it or punish them? Let me know here or e-mail me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you.