Thursday, June 20, 2013

Me Time

"I want to be alone!"

That came out of my 4-year-old's mouth a couple of months ago, and I wasn't quite ready for it. 

You get used to your kids needing you for absolutely everything:  eating, sleeping, pooping, you-name-it.  So when I heard those words, it kind of stopped me in my tracks for a few seconds.  Of course, I complied.  I'm no fool -- who wants trouble with a 4-year-old?

We encourage our daughter to do things on her own for various reasons, and she has always been fine entertaining herself with Lego, puzzles, and Play-Doh.

But this was different.   She and I were playing with her princess collection (yes, she has a princess collection), when she suddenly asked me without any provocation if she could continue on her own.  She said she needed to put the princesses to bed.

I'll admit that in my mind, I reviewed what had just happened -- Cinderella said this, then Ariel said that -- and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  It was just regular conversation between two princesses.  So I asked, "You want to play alone for a while?" -- just to make sure I had understood her.  She said, "Yes."

That was that.  Since then, it's been happening once or twice a week.  It could be when she's made a "bed" somewhere in the house and wants to "sleep," or when she's coloring. 

I guess I'm starting to get used to it -- and I'm certainly thankful that she has an independent streak -- but it still bums me out on occasion, especially when I'm having fun with her.  I mean, who wouldn't want to know what Snow White talks about with Sleeping Beauty?

So sometimes our daughter needs "alone time" from her Daddy or Mommy, or her 19-month-old brother...  or perhaps all of us.  It's perfectly understandable, but it reminds me that as she gets older, the amount of time she's going to want to be left alone is only going to increase.  And I already miss her.

For now, I can always just go grab my son.  He still needs me for stuff -- just about all the time.

When does your child ask to be left alone?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

How to Handle Mealtime Malaise

You sit down for dinner.  You place your toddler's favorite plate with portions of five different foods in front of her.  Then comes:  "I don't like any of this!  I never liked any of this!"

Forget that she's eaten three of those five items within the past 24 hours, without incident.  Right now, she hates all this stuff.

What do you do?  Here are six suggestions that have hit more than missed at our table.  Maybe they'll work at yours:

1.  Prepare the same stuff a different way.
I've cut up an apple dozens of different ways:  with skin, without skin, square chunks, thin sticks, slices with jagged edges, you name it.  My 4-year-old daughter's consistent favorite?  "Daddy's thinnest apple slices ever!" -- they work every time.

2.  Let your child help make the meal.
This one works when our daughter isn't tired.  She loves to help prepare food, whether it's just for her or for the whole family.

3.  Act like a clown.
I can't even describe to you how much of a fool I've made of myself, in order to distract my daughter or son from the task at hand.  One thing this method will always accomplish is remind you that you'll go to unreasonable lengths to solve a kid problem.

4.  Offer up whatever's on hand in the kitchen as a distraction.
This one's in the same camp as #3, but is for a younger child.  Here's some stuff that works for our 19-month-old son:  small metal measuring cups, cookie cutters, and his older sister's princess utensils (assuming she's not around).  He immediately plays with these objects, then starts munching away at whatever's in front of him.

5.  It's all in the delivery.
I discovered this on my own, then saw it recommended by others.  For our 4-year-old, I'll suggest a weird way to eat something, like munching on lettuce like she's a rabbit, or first eating the outside edge of a ravioli, then the middle.  It's even easier for the 19-month-old.  I'll lay down an undulating row of blueberries, or stack four to five pieces of fiori pasta on top of each other.  He looks at the weird food pattern, then at me, and then starts chowing down.

Do you have any good tricks for getting your fussy child to eat?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What I'm In For, Part 1

So there I was, hanging out with a bunch of fellow parents, as their 13- and 14-year-old boys were cruising around a hotel, causing a little trouble.

None of them were mine, so I didn't have much to worry about.  I was visiting my nephew and brother-in-law at a baseball tournament.  Spirits were high since their team had done very well to get into the competition.  Plus, they were hanging out at a hotel with a pool.

My son is only 19-months old, so I have a different set of worries in the "boy behavior" department.  Stuff like:  Is he ever going to eat anything that has protein in it?  And:  Will he and his older sister have a positive relationship?

But observing these kids provided me a window into the world of the young male teen, or at least part of it.  There weren't too many young women their age around, so I didn't get the full range of behavior, but I think I now have a better picture of what's ahead of me.

There was a lot of racing through the hallways and the parking lot, and an occasional gang-up on somebody, but for the most part, the kids all seemed to get along just fine.  Like many parents, I worry about the potential for bullying (which I didn't see during this trip).  My wife and I hope some well-taught self-confidence will keep that at bay.

So I wondered, What kind of trouble will my boy cause?

If he gets into the kinds of messes I got into, he'll probably (for the most part) be okay.  I was generally well-behaved in my younger years -- at least, that's what my Mom told me -- but I really don't know how big a part genetics plays in the behavior department.

My son is certainly more aggressive than my 4-year-old daughter, but that's generally considered a bit of a given, considering gender.

I figure if the behavior of those boys in the hotel is any indication, things should be fine.  It was just testosterone making a typical appearance.  As mentioned, it was mostly just a whole lot of running around.  I also heard a group of them got kicked out of the hotel's pool at one point, but that's no big deal, as long as there wasn't an ambulance involved.

Then again, only the teens know everything that went on in that building.  As my brother-in-law put it, "What happened in that Residence Inn, stays in that Residence Inn."

Are you worried about the trouble your kids might get into?