Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Preschoolers Against Napping

I don't like naps. I don't know how to sleep.

There isn't anything a parent fights more in the growth of their child than the loss of the afternoon nap. The infamous "they" say that naps disappear between the 3rd and 4th year. I agree. Sophie's naps are starting to go away and she's going on 3 1/2.

However, naps are still very much needed.....sometimes. We're learning to discern when the young lady does and doesn't need to sleep. We're also trying to make sure that when we put Sophie to bed for a nap it's not because WE need her to take one, but because she's actually tired. Ok, we're not trying that hard on that one, but we we're working on it.

It's been interesting (and sometimes fun) to watch nap avoidance techniques evolve as Sophie gets older and wiser. What used to be just the cut and run, had become practice for a future in debate. Sometimes we get the cut and run while debating over her shoulder, but I think she's realized that she will never win the running game. Of course, there are other techniques being tried, including stalling and getting up after the door closes, but the debate technique is in full force as language skills increase.

This statement was the first time that Sophie's actually given the statement about not liking naps and then included the reason as back-up. I was impressed. I probably shouldn't have laughed, but she laughed with me and it ended up being a great hug moment for us. We've tried hard to explain a lot of the things that she and we have to do simply because she hasn't had enough life experience to know those things for herself yet. There are times when it's important that she obey then and there and she's learning that as well (especially when safety is concerned), however as we continue to treat her as a little person instead of following the antiquated adage of "children should be seen but not heard" she will learn more and faster.

Eventually Sophie will have a better reason than she doesn't know how to sleep for not wanting to nap, and as a result of that she will be able to stay up instead. That day's not here yet. After she said this wonderful statement, she went to bed and we didn't hear another peep for hours.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Can't Have It All

Sophie: How much are you asking for Mommy?

Mommy: (singing Queen's song) I want it all.

Sophie: You can't have it all Mommy.

It's another phase we're going through in the house. The love of shopping at the grocery store. If we can't actually be in a REAL grocery store, Sophie will set one up in the family room and we are given opportunity after opportunity to buy things. In this instance, Sophie wanted to know how many eggs I was looking to purchase. When I told her that I wanted all of them, I was summarily told the truth we all learn at some point in life; I just can't have it all.

While I'm not sure when and where Sophie learned that I can't have it all, I'm positive that she has no clue that she can't have it all yet. Many times conversations with our little lady start with her saying, "I want...." Beyond the fact that we're working to change those two word to a better four-word version; "Can I please have...." we're also trying to teach Sophie that even if she asks nicely she just will not always be able to get what she wants.

One thing that we have learned throughout the work of changing the "I want it all" mindset is giving a full explanation as to why she (and we) can't have it all. Whether it's reminding her that she already has a half-dozen baby dolls and so no, she doesn't need the one she sees at the store or that dinner is in 30 minutes so no, she can't have a cookie right then, it's obvious that she appreciates it when we take the time to tell her why we've made the decision about what she can't and can have.

Sophie will continue with the "you can't have it all" learning process for quite a while, but somewhere along the line, probably in her 30's or so, the lesson might be forgotten. I know that because I've seen it lived out on the news and somewhat in my own life. Forgetting that we can't have it all means running up high credit card balances in the attempt to get it all even if we can't afford to. Forgetting means scamming millions out of your company and leaving your employees with nothing and then getting caught and losing it all anyhow.

Even this morning Sophie showed us another lesson that can be learned from not being able to have it all. When she told me that she wanted something and I had to tell her that she couldn't have it, her next question was, "Can I have it another day?" Delayed gratification. What a wonderful lesson.

Sophie, it's a different song, but the same principle; "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Taking a Cooker Down a Notch

Daddy: Daddy's a good cooker.

Sophie: Yes, but did you remember that you spilled the flour?

If you read any of the earlier posts, you'll remember that Sophie often remarks that I'm a good cooker after a particular meal that she's enjoyed. On occasion, Doug will take over kitchen and prepare pancakes for us. I was at my desk working while Doug and Sophie were making pancakes one day and while I couldn't see them, I had no problem hearing what was going on. As per usual, when it comes to the both of them in the kitchen, it was a bit like listening to Abbott and Costello.

At one point, it was obvious that something had been spilled and an attempt was being made to clean up. Sophie, being three and having learned the all-important three-letter word, kept asking her Daddy why he had spilled and it was obvious that while he was trying his best to be gentle, the question was getting old. But he persevered and soon there were golden delicious pancakes on the table for us to have for dinner (if you've never had this breakfast treat for dinner, you've been missing out, trust me).

We all sat down to eat and were commenting on how good the pancakes tasted. Since Sophie wasn't coming out with her trademark compliment, teasingly Doug decided that he would initiate it himself and so proclaimed that, "Daddy is a good cooker." Without losing a beat Sophie took on the job of taking him down a notch and helped him realize that compliments work best when they come from someone else, not from the same person being complimented.

We're working hard to teach Sophie that it's generally not appropriate to take people down a notch, but what she said did hit home for me. Sometimes the mistakes we make on the way to the end of something we're doing stick in others' minds more than the accomplishment. It's human nature to look for the negative, and that's a bad thing. Sophie needs to learn that everyone spills flour, or sugar or baking powder, but what we concentrate on is if they were able to clean it up, recover and create something delicious and beautiful.

When it comes to pancakes, Daddy IS a good cooker!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Raising a Child to be Color Blind

"Mommy, Imani's kind of brown."

This comment about Sophie's best friend came totally out of the blue as Sophie and I were coloring together one morning. Imani's been a part of Sophie's life for almost two of her three years and this summer was the first time that the question of differences between the two of them came up. Imani is our next door neighbor and is seven years older than Sophie, but the two adore each other. Imani's the one who taught Sophie the importance of a sense of humor, especially in making others laugh.

I wonder how long Sophie had been thinking about the fact that Imani's more brown than she is. We're in an integrated neighborhood and some of our close friends are African American but it's not something we ever talk about because there's nothing really to talk about. It just is.

We want Sophie to grow up color blind because color is just another tag that gets put on people and the less tags she recognizes, the more unimportant she'll understand they are. We had a conversation about the different colors people are and decided that even though Imani's more brown than Sophie, she's not a whole lot more brown than my father, who spends a good amount of time in sunny places and enjoys soaking up the rays. Being of Mid Eastern descent, he has the olive skin that turns him a deep brown the minute he steps outside.

When we were in high school my parents took my older brother and me on a trip to Israel and sent my younger brother and sister to stay with my aunt in Michigan. When we returned all we heard about from my younger brother was a guy named Charlie that lived in the apartment complex. Charlie did this and Charlie said that. He seemed to be a wonderful guy and he treated my siblings as his own kids. It wasn't until months later that we were talking about it to my aunt and she mentioned something about Charlie being African American. It had been such a non-issue that it hadn't ever even crossed my brother's mind to mention that to us. It was great and it's what I want for Sophie.

Understanding what color is but being color blind will also serve Sophie well once she's old enough to understand that she carries a tag or two as well; being a female (especially once she hits the workforce) and being adopted.

Imani IS kind of brown, but she's all high spirited, funny, kind and a great friend for Sophie and those are the things that count.