My 5-year-old son just started wanting his crackers lined up — perfectly. If one cracker is turned a little to the left or right, he protests.
The first time I noticed this was when he seemed cranky, distressed. I tried everything to appease him, thinking he might be wanting a different snack, might feel bad or maybe was just tired.
Then, I straightened his crackers, and the clouds parted.
This isn’t my first experience with childhood obsessions. My oldest daughter started lining up her toys at a young age. My youngest daughter had to have her silverware laid out properly on a napkin (even if paper) when we went to restaurants. This was rarely successful after our son was born, since he tended to grab anything that was on the table.
My sister tells a story about when our first child spent the night at her house. My daughter was crying about wanting her red socks. Those particular red socks were filthy, but my sister dug them out of the laundry and put them on my little daughter’s feet. … ahh, peace.
This is the same girl who would have me take her shoes off until I could get the little seam on the end of her tights to stay on top of her toes, instead of at the ends of her toes.
It’s these little things that can stress a parent — and a child.
Our son always says, “Thank you” and “Bless you.” But you better be quick with a return, “You’re welcome.” He demands it.
At least he has good manners.
Playing Santa is supposed to be fun, right? I mean, it IS fun. It’s kind of a rush putting together toys at midnight because that’s when you know your 4-year-old is really really asleep. Getting all of them wrapped up, arranging them just so under the tree.
But I couldn’t help but feel a tad guilty. My son and I were getting all ready for Santa on Christmas Eve. He counted out 8 carrots for the reindeer and put them in a bowl on our porch. He picked out 3 Christmas cookies he made himself, for Santa, and put them by the fireplace. He even moved them over from their original position so Santa wouldn’t mistakenly step on them on his way out of the chimney.
The look on my boy’s face was enough to make my heart melt. His eyes were wide, his voice full of excitement and anticipation. But I couldn’t help but feel just a little guilty. I felt like I was putting all this false hope into him, almost lying to him in a way. It’s strange, because as a girl, I held on to my belief in Santa for much longer than my peers. And although I think it had a lot to do with my mom’s threat … “if you don’t believe, you don’t get presents” … I think a big part of me just didn’t want to let it go of the magic.
I asked my mom if she felt the Santa Guilt with me and my brother. She said “No way.” Maybe I’m being a little oversensitive. I mean, it was a perfect Christmas. And there is something magical about a little guy waking up and counting the carrots in the bowl and saying “I really need to thank Santa for my presents.”
What about you? Did you have a twinge of Santa guilt this season? Let me know!
For all workshops, pre-register by calling 425-4412.
Unless otherwise noted, all sessions are for parents and caregivers of young children.
Here’s what’s in store for this summer:
Terrific Two’s: Learn about your 2-year-old. Focus is on their developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 1, Choctaw Library
June 16, Midwest City Library
June 22, Southern Oaks Library
June 19, The Village Library
Sibling Struggles: Learn methods to prepare children for the arrival of a new sibling and how to deal with sibling squabbles. Find out about sibling rivalry and what normal behavior is. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 2, Midwest City
June 30, The Village
Just for Fun: Games People Play(for children ages 8-12): Includes active games, quiet games and brain teasers. Kids will play games from the past and games from other cultures. Both are 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
June 14, Southern Oaks
June 21, The Village
Toileting Triumph: Toileting doesn’t have to be a major challenge. Focus is on signs of readiness, why it can be frustrating and much more. All are from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 16, Edmond Library
June 29, Warr Acres Library
July 20, Ralph Ellison Library
Making Your Morning Manageable: Time to eliminate chaos and come up with a routine. Focus is what parents can do to make this part of the day more calm and enjoyable.
June 25, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
Lullaby & Goodnight: Find a routine that includes reading to your child, to ease bedtime and naptime challenges. Sleep challenges will also be discussed. Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 30, Edmond
August 17, Ralph Ellison
Look Out, I’m Three!: Learn more about your 3-year-old. Focus is on developmental milestones. All are from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 7, Southern Oaks
July 8, Midwest City
July 13, The Village
July 20, Choctaw
Toddlers at the Table: Turn common concerns about toddler’s eating habits into opportunities to teach healthy habits. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 12, Midwest City
July 21, The Village
Those Playful Preschoolers:Focus is behavioral characteristics and developmental milestones of 3- and 4-year-olds. Activity ideas will be shared to keep little ones busy. Learn it’s OK for your preschooler to be “out of bounds.” Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
July 27, Warr Acres
Aug. 25, Edmond
Baby Basics: Main focus is typical concerns of parents. Colic/crying, separation anxiety, sleeping through the night and other issues will be discussed.
July 28, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Reading Readiness: Workshop will explore the necessary reading readiness building blocks and parents’ roles in helping children become readers. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 9, The Village
Fun to be Four: Learn about your fascinating 4-year-old. Workshop focuses on developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 3, Southern Oaks
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 10, The Village
Aug. 12, Choctaw
School Readiness: Facilitators will talk about support, encouragement and opportunity all children need for school success.
Aug. 10, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Warr Acres
Tripping Through Toddlerhood: Topics include, tantrums, biting, sharing and other common toddler challenges. Parents will learn how to minimize frustrations.
Aug. 11, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Teaching Children to be More Cooperative: Focus is on when to discipline or ignore unwanted behaviors. Learn guidance techniques used by experts.
Aug. 27, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
To see the Oklahoma City-County Health Departments newsletters, including schedules for upcoming play groups, workshops, and health and child guidance screenings, click here .
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
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.
Last weekend, I took my son (he’s almost 4) to see “The Blind Side.” Given the rating and subject matter (football), I thought it would be OK to take my boy to see it. And it didn’t disappoint. It was a fabulous movie and really tugged at the heartstrings. My son wasn’t wrapped up so much in the storyline, but he was definitely into the football scenes. And of course, he loved “Big Mike.”
When we got home, he says, very matter-of-fact, “Mommy, Big Mike is brown. What color am I? Am I brown?”
OK, so I really wasn’t expecting that. I was a bit tongue-tied, I must admit. I don’t want him to think he’s different than someone else based on skin color. But I didn’t want to lie to him either. What’s a mom to do?
Call her mom. That’s what.
My mom had some great advice and told me exactly what to say.
“Hunter, God made us all different shades, like paint on a palette. Like snowflakes, no two are alike, and that makes each of us very special.” Then she suggested I show him how my skin tone is even a little darker than his. He seemed very satisfied with that and went on with his day.
Whew! Good answer, Mom. She really does know best.
Ever been asked a difficult question by your toddler? How did you handle it? Let me know by commenting here or by e-mail. I’d love to hear your stories.
Are you one to share pictures of your children online or do you shy away from posting photos on the Web?
Recently, The New York Times had an article about the surge in sharing kids’ photos online. Many parents use sites such as Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and other social networking sites to share countless moments of their kiddos – whether they’re in a Halloween costume, at Grandma’s house or (gasp!) playing in the tub. But in some cases, photos have ended up used in ways not intended by the parent.
Some examples include photos of baby being passed off as someone else’s who is faking a pregnancy; use of children’s head shots on profiles on a social networking site in Brazil, even getting “sexy” ratings. And of course, parents are concerned about pedophiles singling out their children and in turn finding out where they live.
But some parents say this is the age of the Internet. No longer are moms and dads sending pictures of their children through the mail to the grandparents in another state. These days, grandma and grandpa are hooked to the Web to see instant pictures.
So is it exploitation or unsafe to post pictures? Or are the fears irrational and this is just how the 21st century is? It’s a decision only parents can make. But if you do post pics, be sure to use password-protected Web sites and always check your privacy settings on these sites.
And when given the choice of “Share with the world” or “Private” … don’t always go with what the site “recommends.” Go with your gut instinct instead.
I had the great opportunity last week to go to a class sponsored by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department at the Edmond Library, called ”Common Challenges with Toddlers.”
As a parent of a toddler, I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only one who experiences the store -induced temper tantrums, the difficulties with getting him to eat, and dealing with this little person who is constantly asserting his independence.
I was greatly assured that yes, thankfully, my child is completely normal and not a pint-sized T-Rex.
Here are seven great tips I learned:
1. Don’t ask questions that require simply a yes or no answer. Instead, give your toddler some choices. But be sure you can live with any of the choices.
2. Avoid power struggles. It takes two to argue, so take yourself out of the equation. Consider allowing him to be his own boss, unless he poses harm to himself or others.
3. Children won’t do what doesn’t work. Ignore temper tantrums. Easier said than done, but if you want the tantrums to stop, you’ll have to stop reacting to them.
4. Make a statement. When talking to him about his day, don’t ask questions, but instead make statements. I tried this and it works! Instead of “Did you play outside today?” try “So you played outside today!” You’ll get lots more response from your little person.
5. Use descriptive commentary. Like a sports announcer, talk about what they’re doing as they’re doing it. It promotes conversation, builds vocabulary and makes them feel important.
6. Focus on behaviors you want, not the ones you don’t want. Instead of “stop running” say “I like it when you walk next to Mommy.” And always be specific in your praise. Just saying “Good girl” won’t let them know what exactly they’re being good about.
7. Use humor, and keep your sense of humor. Your toddler is learning to be an independent person and it can be a fun time if you just let it happen.
The health department has a great lineup of workshops and parent talks. I highly recommend attending. Their staff is knowledgeable and they give great advice. Go to www.occhd.org and click on the Parent Express Newsletter or call 425-4412 to find out what’s coming to a location near you.
If so, a class at the Edmond Library Wednesday may be just the thing to help you.
Sponsored by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, “Common Challenges with Toddlers” is a free program focusing on common issues of this age group, including temper tantrums, biting and trouble sharing. Parents will learn how to minimize their frustrations with these behaviors and learn solutions to help put an end to them.
The program is from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the library, 10 S. Boulevard.
If you want to enroll, call 425-4412. If you can’t go, no worries. I’ll be there taking very detailed notes and I’ll be sharing what I learn and posting it here.
My son is 3, which means he’s suddenly eligible for all sorts of extracurricular activities (otherwise known as energy-burning-so-he-doesn’t-run-circles-around-the-house activities).
So there he is … signed up for everything I could get my hands on. Gymnastics: One night a week. Swim lessons: Two nights a week. Soccer: Practice one night, and games on the weekends. Yes, he’s only 3.
There may be a misconception here that I’m sort of a stage mom. A “boys-need-sports” stage mom. But really, I just want my toddler to be active from an early age and to experience various sports so that he’ll be open to more than just one activity. I don’t want him to get into couch-potato mode.
I just know that all the running around can leave me a bit running-ragged. My son seems to enjoy it but ends up pretty cranky by the time it’s time to go home or leave the activity. Carrying him kicking and screaming through the gymnastics facility’s parking lot makes me wonder if it’s really worth it.
Any thoughts? Do you have your young children in sports? How do you make sure you have enough down time in your child’s day? Comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org