From the Mommy Files…

Archive for August 2010

BooBoo is really anxious to get back to school.

My 3.5 year-old started preschool this past January and absolutely loved it.

In fact, you may recall, she had severe withdrawals after the end of the school year. She just didn’t understand why school had to stop.

We played school, which she enjoyed, but it wasn’t the same.

Besides Bebs, there weren’t other kids to interact with. Despite dance classes, camp and swim lessons, to her, it wasn’t the same. It couldn’t be. Those things happened only for a short period of time.

At home, there was no teacher other than Mom, no set schedule of activities throughout the day. Sometimes Boo had to sit through “baby stuff,” as some concepts were difficult to grasp for her nearly 18 month-old sister. But we had to do it together. Where would the little one go? I did my best to make things fun – and interactive – for both.

Boo has been asking for two months now, when could she go back to school. She doesn’t yet get the concept of a few months’ time. It seems like an eternity for her.

She’s been overjoyed anytime she can see kids from her class. She speaks very highly of her teacher. The preschool experience was a positive one – I’m grateful for that.

Last week, there was some report on the news about more kids going back to school.

Boo asked, “Mommy, is my school broken?”

Hmmm… I asked why she thought that.

“Because I have to wait to go back to school. Everyone else is in school except me!”

I guess it does seem that way – her cousins are all back to school. But the neighborhood kids aren’t in school yet either. They also start on September 7. Could be the reason for our school’s late start.

Does that seem really late to you? It does to me. Chicago Public Schools ended their school year on June 18. Our school ended on May 28. That makes the start date seem even later.

While I’ve tried my best to get Boo to practice her letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc., there’s bound to be some forgotten subjects.

That’s a big reason why I think the school year should be longer – for all kids.

Now every kid in the neighborhood hates me for that statement. But I’m a parent. I have to look at the big picture.

Not to mention all the teachers who teach in difficult situations.

Kids get bored –I know I was: by mid-July I’d start asking my mom every day when school would start.

Sometimes they get into trouble.

But most of all, they forget things they learned.

I’ve spoken to friends that are teachers, and they dread the start of the school year.

One said, “We have to re-teach everything we did the last few months of school. Sometimes we end up reviewing the entire year, because kids don’t do anything over the summer. This wastes new learning time.”

Another said, “The first few months of the new school year is review. We lose vital time.”

Even US Education Secretary Arne Duncan was quoted, saying a long summer break was outdated. “Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today.” The same article indicated that “the most rigorous studies have shown that more ‘time on task’ raises test scores – whether by lengthening the school hour or the school year.”

I’ve heard many working parents also lament about the costs of summer programs – not just to keep the kids occupied and engaged, but to have a place for them while parents work – they’re out of control. They can’t afford it. So kids stay home, and well, you know.

Wouldn’t a longer school year make sense for everyone?

I know there are other things that play into this argument, but let’s put them aside for now and focus on the kids. It’s about them, isn’t it?

I know kids need unstructured time to play and explore – and some kids don’t have that because they are overscheduled all year long.

But then I think…

How will they compete in the world? Will they find jobs? Will they be able to get into college?

There’s got to be a balance.

But I digress.

“No, honey, your school isn’t broken. You just have a shorter school year. We’ll be back to school soon. One more week to go,” I tell my daughter.

OK,” she says, sounding defeated. “I love school. I just want to go to school. Why can’t I go to school? Something MUST be broken.”

Wise beyond her years.

Earlier this year, I shared with you some of the results of my new songwriting talent, which was born with my children.

Many people have called and emailed that they wanted to see this one again.

So here it is, by popular demand…and no disrespect to Rick James

Sung to the tune of “Super Freak”. Enjoy!

SUPER STINK

She’s a very stinky girl

The kind only loved by her mother.

She will never let your spirits down

When she flashes her big smile.

She likes her toys in her hand

Don’t you dare try to take them from her.

When I make my move to her room, it’s the right time

I can smell her all the way.

That girl is getting big now

The girl’s a super stink!

The kinda girl you read about in Parents’ Magazine

I’d really like to change her

Cause I can’t stand the stink!

She’s alright, she’s alright.

That girl’s alright with me, yeah.

She’s a Super Stink, Super Stink

She’s super stinky, yow!

Last time, I mentioned that my little bundles of sugar and spice have taken to screaming – more like shrieking. ;-(

At my wits end, I did some online research and came up pages and pages of articles on the subject.

It was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone, but at the same time exasperating, since there doesn’t seem to be an answer to the eternal question, why do little girls scream?

I mentioned some interesting stuff I read in my research.

Then I decided to try something…

Over the last week, I’ve been playing scientist. I’ve been observing my children – and their behavior – very carefully. I thought, there must be a method to this madness. There must be some actual reasons why they scream, not just because they are girls and they are together.

Taking a step back to watch and not getting involved was eye-opening. Here’s what I observed.

Boo wants to play WITH Bebs. She wants to share things, and expects Bebs to share. She expects her to interact with her at her level. She wants group play. She likes pretend play too, and some things that Bebs is not yet developmentally able to do. She seems to forget that Bebs is 17 months old – 25 months younger. Boo gets frustrated and she screams. And when Boo screams, she is echoed by her sister.

Bebs on the other hand, prefers to play independently. She doesn’t want Boo to interfere or bother her things. If Boo gets on her little car, for example, and she wanted to get on it – even though it wasn’t expressed – she screams. Sometimes it is a chain reaction, sometimes not. Boo gets frustrated too, cause she’s not sure why her sister is screaming.

I’ve read that kids of Bebs’ age don’t play together, but rather next to each other – often called parallel play. It’s a “you have your toys and I have mine” kind of thing, and rarely do they mix.

Bebs is very verbal, but she can’t yet communicate everything she is thinking or wants.

I’ve also noticed that they each will occasionally want to rough house with each other, but it seems to be when the other one doesn’t want to. We get some screaming then, too. Yes, sometimes my daughters seem to be wrestling! I’ve heard it’s a weird bonding thing and if they are both happy and willing, I should leave them, as long as no one’s getting hurt.

I’ve been trying to coach them separately.

I am teaching Bebs to say things like, “no Boo!”, “ask Mommy”, “my car”, “no play.” I heard her say “no Boo!” once  the other day.

I sit Boo down, probably once a day and explain that Bebs can’t yet play like she does; she may want to sometimes, but right now, at her age she wants to discover things on her own, plus Bebs doesn’t understand things like pretending. I remind her we don’t grab things away from anyone, and she should just stay off Bebs’ little cars – for now. Hopefully the repetition will make it sink it, and soon we won’t need daily reminders. One can only hope.

It’s helping.

We still have some screaming – and I suspect there will always be some – but if we can get rid of the majority of it, I will be ever so grateful. And sane.

How do you deal with screaming?

We’ll all get through it. Little girls screamed 100 years ago, and I suspect that 100 years from now, little girls will scream.

One last word.

Earplugs.

My little girls like to scream –sometimes it seems like it never stops.

About to lose my mind, I decided to do a little research, to see if anyone has found an answer to the eternal question, “Why do little girls scream?”

What I got was pages and pages of listings on the topic. Many of them even had that very title.

Wow.

So I’m not alone, which is comforting. And maddening. There’s no easy answer. Is there ever?

Then why does it seem like my girls are the only ones around us who scream? Where did they learn this?

Well, I think I know.

From a little girl that we used to know. She was the only one who would partake in the act of shrieking, and there are a lot of girls around here.

It’s gotten worse, now that Boo and Bebs can interact more.

Where did Bebs learn to scream? From her big sister, of course. Monkey see, monkey do.

So I began to shift through some of the never-ending stream of articles, blogs and forums.

Some simply said they scream because they can. Nah. There’s gotta be more to it.

One mom wrote on her blog:

The energy contained within a little girl rises exponentially when exposed to another girl of similar age. The more girls, the more energy. The energy level thus rises to a point where it can no longer be restricted within its original container and, accordingly, must ‘overflow’. Only the end result of this dynamic differs between little girls and little boys. Girls scream. Boys play fight/ shoot/ karate chop each other.”

According to this theory, they scream because there are two of them. Hmmm. I think this would hold true in a room full of girls, like at a birthday party or sleepover.

Some forums had posts that ran the gamut from “it’s a general lack of parenting,” to “they learned it from their parents.”

OK. These people either don’t have kids or live in a fantasy land.

There seem to be two schools of thought on how to handle it.

1) Sit with the child until they are finished screaming or having a tantrum, so they don’t feel abandoned.

Now if you do this, haven’t they achieved their goal of getting your attention through negative behavior?

I tend to agree with the other school.

2) Ignore it, leave the room, don’t call attention to it.

I try to do this, but I’m human. Sometimes I get frustrated and I raise my voice. I know it’s not the right approach.

At the Berkeley Parents Network, a mom posted about her son’s screaming – yes, boys do it too:

“…practice the response of ignoring him immediately when he screams. Without negative OR positive reinforcement he will soon discover this is a failed method to manipulate you to do his bidding, and he will stop, because it doesn’t get him anything he wants. … be consistent.”

Another mom posted:

at times (I) just set her in a safe place with safe toys, turned up the loud classical music and cooked dinner with a wailing cacophany. …my child is now a very active creative independent sociable girl.”

There’s hope. 😀

This could work too:

“It got significantly better when we started turning her high chair around everytime she screamed. I would just say ‘No Screaming’, turn her chair around, and not turn it back until she stopped screaming. Then I gave her all the attention she wanted once she stopped. It also helped to explain to my other children that she was trying to get attention and that we should do our best to ignore her when she screams.”

So what do we do? What do you do?


To be continued.

Now that my kids are old enough for “extra-curricular activities,” I wonder, how much is too much?

I hear stories of kids who go to 4-5 different activities a week. Other kids are involved in activities that require practice just about every weeknight, and even a weekend day. I’ve asked some kids if they are having fun and they often say “I’m tired!” Psychology Today wrote a piece about too many activities stressing out kids. It give me pause.

How much it too much?

BooBoo is 3-1/2. She’s been going to dance classes for about 1 year – one hour a week, once a week. She began preschool last term. She did fine with all that, though she did seem very tired on the day that she had school and dance class.

This year, she will be in preschool all day, from 9:00 am – 2:30 pm. Her new dance class is on Saturdays for one hour. Also, she will be starting piano lessons the week that school starts. One day a week, right after school, she’ll have a ½ hour piano lesson. Then there is practice time, of course. That seems like a full schedule to me.

Yesterday Boo had her last swim class of a 5-week program. As soon as we left, she asked if she could continue. I’d like her to, but I think she has a lot on her plate right now. This will be her first time in school all day, 5 days a week. I told her we’d “for sure” revisit swim lessons at another time. It’s a life skill, after all.

Last night, I was reading some flyers that were tucked into our church bulletin. One was for Sunday School and the other for afternoon Greek language classes. Boo immediately asked if she could sign up – for both. I told her she is already going to Greek school – her preschool is a bilingual program. She asked about Sunday School. I want her to go and she will go, but again, I think we need to take a step at a time, and see how she gets through all day school with two weekly activities.

“I want to go,” she said. “It’s church, Mom.”

The 3-1/2 year old is giving me the church line. Uh-huh.

How do you argue with that?

Decisions, decisions.

Someday, when the Bebs is a bit older, I’d like to teach Sunday School. I never went – my dad worked all the time and my mom didn’t drive – and I believe it’s very important for their spiritual development.

All of this is really new to me. We never did anything like this as kids. Since Mom didn’t drive, we had no way to get to any activities. We all had to help out too. Oh, the trials and tribulations of growing up in the restaurant business. But that’s a story for another day…

“Now’s the time!” You may say – for me and for Boo.

I don’t think I could add Sunday School Teacher to my juggling act right now. Perhaps in the future when the kids are in school, and I actually can work normal hours. You don’t want me to spontaneously combust like a drummer from Spinal Tap, do you? 😉

Maybe next year when Bebs starts preschool.

Then, I sit back again and think. How much is too much?

Are we at our limit for a 3-1/2 year old?

I don’t want to become a “hyper-parent.”

I want Boo to do a few things that she enjoys, and still have some time, to just play, pretend, read a book, draw – and just be a kid.

Now, after her camp experience, Bebs seems very ready for some structured activities.

How much is too much for a 17-month old?

We still have to work around Boo’s school schedule and activities – and Bebs’ nap. NEVER, I repeat NEVER mess with the nap!

How much is too much –  for Mom?

It’s always the mother’s fault! The moms always get blamed. Right? Well, it’s inevitable, so I’ll just go with what I think is the best way to preserve everyone’s sanity – and of course have fun. That’s the idea right, to learn AND have fun?

There’s gotta be a balance – for all of us.

We’ll get there.

Well, yes.

Summer camp actually ended two weeks ago.

The girls had a great time singing, dancing, doing art projects and more. When I’d pick them up at lunchtime, the kids would be practicing for the show they’d present on the last day. Boo was clearly in her element. Bebs was very much into it as well.

One afternoon I came to pick up the girls and Bebs was in the lobby watching the kids practice. She sang along and did the arm movements to the dances. I was thrilled when they told me she was trying to stand up alone. I was really hoping that seeing all the other kids running around would motivate her to walk. (Last week I told you a few days after camp ended, she began standing up alone and walked alone with her walking toys, or holding just one hand.)

On the last day of camp, they staged their own version of the “Wizard of Oz.”

The kids made the sets and their costumes. They sang and danced. Bebs was going to be in the show too. I was surprised when the teachers told me she would be. I figured since she still wasn’t standing up or walking unassisted, she’d just sit with me.

On show day, Bebs screamed through the first part of the show. We could hear her from backstage.

The kids were just adorable and did a great job. One group was lions, another tin men, another scarecrows and more. The kids played multiple roles and did them well.

After the first few numbers, the littlest kids were wheeled out on a wagon. There was Bebs! She immediately stopped crying. They came through the audience – in costume – and ultimately were placed in front of the stage where they could see the other kids. She was fine from that point. She couldn’t see the kids from backstage. She wanted to see the show!

During the second performance, Bebs would not stay backstage, so she sat with me. She sat on my lap and did the arm movements to the dances, sang along and cheered for the kids. It was too cute.

Boo was very cute too – she played a munchkin, a bush and a lion.

If you recall, that first day of camp, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I felt like a teenager whose parents had gone away on vacation. I filled my hours without the girls with – well, work. Don’t yell at me yet!

I caught up on work. I went on an interviewing spree, speaking with enough people to provide fodder for articles to write for several weeks into the future.

Don’t worry. I did have a little fun.

Every Friday, I “took the day off.”

It was so strange to be out without the girls.

Strange, but nice.

And our afternoons were very pleasant. We were happy to be back together. We each had some time to do our own things. It’s good for us to be apart for a little while.

As camp came to a close, I feared I would get too used to the time, and would have a difficult time adjusting as well.

I was right.

It’s been a crazy two weeks since camp ended.

Once again Boo had some issues changing routine – not as bad as when school was out.

Bebs, on the other hand, is really having camp withdrawals.

She’s constantly asking for one of the teachers, and for one little girl who arrived at the same time they did each day. Bebs is still telling me, “camp!”

I tried to start “playing school” again. That worked for two days.

Then Bebs got sick. Then Boo.

We took some longs walks to pass the time.

Then it got really hot and the mosquitoes have been awful. We’ve been stuck in the house. Everyone is stir crazy.

It’s been a tough two weeks.

Well, there have been some tough moments.

Boo started a swim class before camp ended. So that takes care of a couple hours on Monday, by the time we walk there and back. Bebs made a friend there too. There’s one more week to go.

Also, Boo started her new dance class. Now we have some time blocked out on Saturday as well – while Bebs takes her nap.

But still – the $64,000 question is, how do I keep them sufficiently occupied the rest of the time?

School doesn’t start until September 7.

Yeah. I know. We have a few more weeks to go.

Thus, I’m reminded how important schedules and routines are. Rexanne Mancini, who writes about parenting, says on her website, that “Routines are an ideal way to keep your family and children calm, secure and at ease with life’s variables.” She also says, “Little children need routines and schedules in order to learn how to manage their time and attention.”

Hmm…

Today’s a new day. We’ll start getting into a new routine, keeping school schedules in mind.

We’ll get dressed and leave at the appointed time. We’ll have to plan specific activities to fill the morning and afternoon. Lunch will be seved on school time.

They seem to get into a routine fairly quickly – with any luck we’ll be on track soon, and when school starts, it’ll be an easier transition.

We’re already working on moving Bebs’ nap schedule to accommodate the 2:30 pm pick up at Boo’s school. Bebs wants more structured activities too.

I told them both – under protest – they will start going to be earlier next week. They need the extra rest.

Then to figure out how to juggle my work around all that.

No one said it would be easy – but we can do it!

Now everyone will know what’s expected and when.

Hopefully then we’ll all be on track soon and we’ll have some more of that calm in our house.

Wish me luck.

Yes, you did read that correctly.

Boo, my 3.5 year old, was taking a break from her singing and dancing. We’ve watched the video from her camp recital (more on that later this week) about 25 times and we’ve watched “Hello, Dolly!” for what seems like the 108th time. You’re wondering if selections from “Hello, Dolly!” will make it into our band’s set list – and they probably will, since Bebs likes to sing them too.

So where were we? Oh yeah!

Boo was taking a break and she said, “Mommy, will you find me a gambro?” (gambro being Greek for groom or husband, of course.) I seem to remember having this conversation before.

Check this out.


Mommy: I’d be happy to, when it’s time.

Boo: When will it be time?

Mommy: When you’re much bigger.

Boo: OK.

Mommy: We have lots of friends with sons, so we can pick one for you, and then we know he comes from a good family.

My husband and I have joked – well, I wasn’t joking – that we would do this. And we have lots of boys to choose from, amongst our friends’ children!


Boo: OK, Mommy. So I already know him?

Mommy: Yes.

Boo: Good.

Mommy: What should he be like? What kind of things should he like to do?

Boo: He should be fun.

Mommy: Absolutely. Anything else?

Boo: He should like to sing and dance.

Naturally.


Mommy: And?

Boo: He should like to go to church and do his stavro (make the sign of the Cross).

Mommy: Good girl. Anything else?

Boo: I think he should be like Daddy.

Awww. Most girls want a guy like their daddy. At 3.5, she’s already figured it out. Well, he is the man in her life, so it makes perfect sense.


Mommy: That’s good thinking.

Boo: Can I marry Daddy?

Mommy: No, Sweetie.

Boo: OK. Will you find a gambro for Bebs too?

Mommy: Of course, when it’s time.

Boo: Good.

Mommy: Want to go downstairs?

Boo: Oh Mommy – one more thing. You should find a gambro for Bebs first.

Mommy: Bebs is younger than you, Honey. You want her to get married first?

Boo: Yeah.

Mommy: Why is that?

Boo: Cause I’m not ready to get married yet.

Mommy: Good. Cause I’m not ready for you to get married yet, or Bebs.

Boo: OK Mommy. We’ll just stay with you.

Mommy: Someday you will leave me.

Boo: Where would I go without you?

Mommy: Someday you’ll go away to college.

Boo: Oh, yeah. I forgot. And what will you and Daddy do when Bebs and I go away to college?

Mommy: I don’t know. Move to a smaller house?

Boo: That’s silly Mommy!

Mommy: Well, you guys will be big girls then, and you probably won’t want to live with Mommy and Daddy anymore.

Boo: I thought I was supposed to stay until I’m a nifi (bride) and then I go to my new house.

Mommy: Well, you can decide that when you’re a big girl.

Boo: I am big, don’t you know?

Mommy: I know, Sweetie. But I mean really big.

Boo: Oh, big enough to be a Mommy?

Mommy: I suppose.

Boo: OK Mommy. Thanks. Can we go watch “Hello, Dolly!” now?

Mommy: OK.

“Hello, Dolly!” Take 109. I’m singing the songs in my sleep.

For now, I’ll just enjoy “Hello, Dolly!” and singing and dancing – and of course, our band – until I have to start looking for a gambro. Good thing I still have time.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 51 other followers

BooBoo BeDoux

Bebs LaRoux

frthemommyfiles

Latest Tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Content is registered and protected.

MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected