Minimalist post, only pictures… 🙂
Up to this point, Molly has not cared about or even really noticed the TV, that big black rectangle on the wall that sometimes puts off random pictures and sounds. Even when the TV is showing her beloved Elmo, Molly has been fairly hostile about TV.
Now, not watching TV is a good thing. But like all good things, it should be taken in moderation. Yes, Molly needs to be more moderate about not watching TV. I mean, if she completely boycotts the TV, then we have no simple and easy way to distract her from her frequent rampages around the house, harming herself or the furniture, or just making a mess. In fact, all of this happens almost daily. Now, if Molly could just watch some TV — just a little — then we could all get a little break now and then.
We finally had a break through on this front. The trick is not Elmo or Dora, but the good ol’ Peanuts. Charlie Brow and the gang finally hooked Molly. We don’t know why. But when we broke out the classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown for Claire for Halloween, Molly started actually watching. She actually just sits there with Claire and watches for a little while, maybe 15-20 minutes. It is a sensation. This is literally the first time Molly has really watched TV.
Now, of course one day, maybe not too far away, we may regret ever introducing Molly to the TV. But our experience with Claire in this regard has been pretty positive. She doesn’t watch very much TV, very little on weekdays, more on weekends, mostly due to time constraints. And what she does watch is generally movies provided by me and Kit, usually the same ones over and over, and not much junk TV with all those corrupting ads. In fact, I don’t think she’s really watched a TV show in a couple of years now. Let’s hope Molly follows the same pattern. Then again, for all we know, she may only like The Peanuts, which would be alright too.
Claire continues to be scared by supernatural stories from her friend Sophia at school. Since tonight was a full moon, she was told, she had to do the following to protect herself at bedtime:
- Leave some chopped garlic with butter in her bedroom to ward off vampires (why not toss in some onions and sauté for the start of a tasty recipe?)
- Leave a light on to scare off werewolves
- Leave the door shut to keep out ghosts
On Halloween night at midnight, she is also supposed to run into our room, throw herself under our sheets, and scream, then go back to bed. This will protect her from rampaging trick-or-treaters, I gather.
After making it clear that we do not believe in vampires, werewolves, or ghosts, we let Claire indulge in a little garlic, a small light, and a shut door. But this is for full moons only!
As for her friend Sophia, I think she has a writing career ahead of her, with her convincingly creative mind.
Just in time for Halloween, poor Claire has suddenly developed an intense fear of, well, anything she can’t see, especially ghosts and the “Candy Man”. Claire is scared enough that she literally will not be left alone anywhere in the house. If she is upstairs with me, and I need to go downstairs for something, she comes with me, for fear of ghosts. She feels especially scared in our bathroom, with all of its mirrors. Supposedly the Candy Man lives behind mirrors. If you say his name three times (or is it five?), he will come out of the mirror and kill you. This is a real fear — on some level, she thinks it might actually happen, which is terrifying, if you think about it.
In particular, Claire has had trouble getting to sleep. When we tuck her in, she grasps onto us for protection, and although she tries to fight through the fear, she has ended up in tears and begs to stay in our room. She keeps coming out of her room all shaken up. We have talked with Claire about these fears and how they don’t really make sense, and Claire agrees, but it doesn’t make her fear go away. We joked about ghosts, too. Suppose they were real, which they aren’t. Would a ghost really be scary? They can’t do anything. They just float around like a cloud. We people are the big, scary ones with our big, muscular bodies. Also, Molly would scare a ghost because she is so loud and would easily scream them away, if they existed, which they don’t. Claire wondered if Muffin would protect her, and we said yes, if ghosts were real, Muffin would be scary since she has such big, sharp teeth and can bark. We showed Claire Muffin’s teeth, and she was impressed how scary our teddy bear of a dog can be. After all this discussion, Claire headed to bed feeling good and safe. Ten minutes later, she was up crying and desperate for the safety of our company. She also wakes up in the middle of the nights looking for protection and is very hard to get back to sleep. This is how the fear works.
Claire has apparently been spooked by her classmates, who are spreading rumors of ghosts and ghouls. The stories are probably in good nature, but they really spook Claire. After discussing it with Kit and me, Claire said she understood that ghosts are not real, and she even told one of her classmates she knew her stories were not real, but she would play along for fun. Still, Claire is just spooked. Fear is fear, and it doesn’t always make sense.
After several tricky nights of getting Claire to sleep in her room, we came up with a couple of ways to take the edge off of Claire’s feeling of terror. One night about two hours after putting Claire to bed, she was still awake and scared. She asked for a drawing pad to get her mind off of things. Sure enough, after about 45 minutes of drawing flowers and peace signs, she was asleep, pencil in hand. It did not work quite as quickly the next night. Finally, last night, we decided to let Claire use the secret weapon of falling asleep, at least for Kit and me: audio books. Nothing works quite like audio books to lull you to sleep. We set up an old iPod Nano with Ramona the Brave, narrated by Stockard Channing. In the story, Ramona, like Claire, also struggles with the fear of unknown scary things in her room at night, among other things. Claire and I have listened this audio book in the car many times, mostly on the way to pick up Molly from school. It did the trick tonight. Claire was asleep within minutes. She did wake up once in the middle of the night, though. But she was not scared. She just wanted to know how to adjust the volume on the story.
And this is how Claire got her very first iPod.
I used to think Molly was somewhat slow to get around. She just tended to lag behind in whatever we were doing, whether it be walking or washing her hands. But, I thought, she is a toddler, and a small one at that. So of course she is slow. It is probably just my perception, for instance when I get impatient dropping Molly off at school, I have to get to work for our 9:00 meeting and probably prepare for a meeting before work, and probably do an errand before that. And there I am waiting for Molly to wash her hands so she can officially start school. I can feel each second ticking by.
But a few instances have come up lately which make me think I am not crazy. Maybe Molly really does take her sweet time, even for a toddler. A few examples…
One night while getting Molly ready for bed, I decide to actually time one part of the process. How long would it take Molly to get herself on the toilet and try to urinate? Sure, it is tough since she is small. She has to take off her diaper and climb up a step stool to the toilet and sit awkwardly on it. But it seemed to me to take an extraordinarily long time. So I timed it one night when I had the patience and time to just let it play out. It took 8 minutes. She was actually on the toilet seat for literally about 5 seconds of that time. If this does not sound like a long time, then set a stop watch and just sit there doing nothing else and wait for it to hit 8 minutes. You will see what I mean. And that was just the very first step of the whole bedtime routine. And this happens every night. Now, I could always strip Molly of her diaper and just plunk her on the toilet seat, and sometimes I have to do just that. But it does not really help Molly with potty training or independence. Plus it really pisses her off.
When dropping off Claire at school with me in the morning, I carry Molly into school to keep Claire on time. But I let Molly walk back. We arrive at a crowded school along with almost 900 kids and many of their parents. By the time we leave, usually we are the only ones around except for a straggler or two. Everyone else has simply walked to their cars and left, while Molly slowly climbs down each step and grabs each pole along the way. One day on the way into school, one of Claire’s friend’s little brother, Boone, who is Molly’s age, was walking into school with his dad and sister. Seeing Boone walking, Molly asked to walk too. I decided to give her a chance. Within a minute, Boone and family were way ahead of us, and soon completely out of site. Molly’s pace was just so slow, we weren’t even close to keeping up with Boone, who was walking along not quickly, but with focus and purpose, while Molly lolly gagged behind. It is not just because Molly is small. She actually moves in some sort of slow motion.
One last anecdote… At swimming class, sometimes the class has to sit and wait for Molly to finish eating her gummy bear, which she receives as a treat between her exercises while the other kids get a turn. After the other kids have had their turn, Molly is still chewing, and the teacher has to just sit and wait for Molly to finish before getting her back into the water so she does not choke on her treat.
Part of the problem here is that I am always in a hurry. Really, a toddler really should be allowed to take things slowly. Unfortunately for Molly, her dad only has some much time and patience since there is always something that needs to be done within x minutes, and x does not normally include 10 minutes to navigate a flight of stairs. Sometimes we are able take it slow on the weekends, which is nice for Molly and everyone else. Idea for next weekend: we should take Molly to Claire’s school and just let her explore the walk into school as long as she wants and get it out of her system. She would wonder with delight why I am just hanging out and not prodding her along.
I was at a conference in Miami last week for work. It was a chance to meet people I work with from all over the country. There was a lot of small talk, including about kids, and the joys of working from home, which many people there do, just like me. I tended to get the best reaction from people when I told them that I work from home, but I have an hour commute each way. That is how about long it takes to drop off both kids at both schools in the morning and get back home, and another hour in the evening. People wondered if I live close to their schools, and sadly, yes I do. It is just a slow process with lots of walking and doors and washing hands and unpacking and packing getting in and our of car seats. And don’t even get me started on the traffic.