Friday, November 30, 2007

Fun with Flash Cards

As Nataliya was going through the lettered flash cards, David was happily telling her what the pictures were on each card. Things were going well. For the cards David didn't know, Nataliya would help him out. Then he got to this card:

Pointing to the card, David announced, "bicycle broken!"

While we find this very funny, it's interesting that he came up with that answer! Instead of viewing the picture as an object on its own, he choose to see it as an incomplete version of something else he would recognize.

David has been using the term "broken" to describe something not quite right, like a "broken (runny) nose" or "broken (bruised) finger." And while his use of the word might not be "broken," we're just happy he's communicating with us!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When a "Time Out" Is Still A "Time In"

Julia makes her way to the small trampoline and slowly climbs onto it with all four limbs. With her last leg in the air, moments from completing her ascent, she feels a tug on her clothes and a shriek. It's her brother, David, who in his quest to amuse himself has found his unsuspecting little sister. A stronger tug pulls her off the trampoline and a push knocks her onto the ground. He follows it up with half a dozen slaps and a happy shriek. In the wrestling world, it would be considered entertainment, but Julia's protests assures us that she's not entertained in the least. Mommy is forced to quickly intervene, giving David a "time out."

This is a normal everyday occurrence in our household. In fact, there are days where it occurs almost every ten minutes. I don't believe he's trying to hurt her intentionally - at least not usually -but he tends to play a bit too rough with her.

To curb this behavior, we've tried imposing time outs. While his time outs used to mean something with regard to his treatment of Julia, they've lost a bit of their impact. The main reason is that after David starts his timeout, Julia will actively seek him out and plop herself beside him! At this point, David will still be in time out but he can continue his rough play with Julia.

In fact, despite any pain or discomfort David inflicts on Julia, they're inseparable. If one child is absent, the other is visibly upset. Julia is always very happy to see her big brother, despite the inevitable "abuse."

So how do you discipline a child from hurting his younger sibling, when that younger sibling will purposely seek out the attention of the older sibling? Other than moving David's "timeout" from the corner up to his bed/room, is there anything else we can do? Could it be possible that we're a bit too cautious? Is it possible that we're disciplining for normal play? Is there a real danger here or just a perceived one? My psychology classes in college didn't cover these scenarios! (Then again, perhaps I was asleep during that particular lecture...)

Yeah, I know there's no guidebook that clearly gives the answers so I've decided to ask a professional.

"Cannot predict now."

Damn you, Magic 8-ball!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pandora's Crib

David had been in his crib, quietly paging through his books for the past half hour. Nataliya asked me to take away the books, turn off the lights and wish him good night.

Opening the door, David was happy to see me. That, however, was short-lived as I told him it was time to go to sleep. Doing his best to rebel, he threw his pillow out of his bed, followed by his blanket and stuffed animals. Realizing that he wasn't going to be agreeable to sleep, I simply told him I loved him, said 'good night', turned off the light and closed the door behind me.

Rejoining Nataliya in the living room, we could hear his protests on the monitor. A few minutes later, his protests disappeared. Another minute passed and we heard a rattling of the crib, followed by a thump. Nataliya turned to me and asked whether I left David in or out of the crib. I assured her I left him in the crib, but Nataliya was sure he was out.

Sure enough, Nataliya was correct. Turning the landing on the stairs, David slowly made his way downstairs wearing a smile from ear to ear. I couldn't help but laugh, but let's take a moment to reason this out...
  • Take one independent and stubborn child.
  • Mix in a generous portion of curiosity and an overwhelming desire to climb.
  • Now add the ability to escape his crib and have free reign of the home while his parents sleep.
Yeah, this could be bad... Sure we knew this day was coming, but we hoped it wouldn't happen untiiiil...oh, I don't know... maybe until he turned 18.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Glance Into a Wonderful Life.

For the last couple of months our house has been a war zone. We are all stressed out by David's behavior. Is this just the terrible twos? Is he perhaps just a strong-willed kid? Could it be that all boys this age are a handful?

Imagine my surprise when a miracle occurred through all this turmoil. A few days ago, my son didn't misbehave once ... really! David spent the first half of the day at pre-school. As he was having lunch, he started telling me that he rode a tricycle, painted, read books and ate a cupcake at school (although I'm not sure about that last one since he doesn't care much for sweets). Then out of nowhere he started singing "Happy Birthday to you, Mommy." I have no idea where it came from so I was in shock. I usually have to ask him over a dozen questions before he tells me anything about school and suddenly he was volunteering all this information without being prompted. When I told him it was "nap time," he actually ran upstairs to his room. That's when I started suspecting that the teacher had finally lost her patience with him and drugged him.

Following his nap, we went to the library where he sat on a bench for half an hour and looked through the books by himself . When he was done, he put the books back on the shelves. He also played a few computer games and when I told him it was time to go, he obliged. After checking out a Russian book from the library, which David insisted on taking out, he was quietly "reading" it by himself for a long time at home.

Seth "built" them a house, furnished with a portable boom box and a florescent flashlight, that preoccupied the kids for some time without me hearing any arguments.

There was no screaming that day. No temper tantrums and no pushing/pulling Julia. In fact, every one of David's requests were followed by "please." It was a miracle of a day!

I realize that a lot of families have toddlers that may be very easy-going who never act out; perhaps that's why there are so many families with 3+ kids. I had a glimpse of what a life would be with a well-behaved child. It's peaceful, relaxing, enjoyable, yet boring at times -- and I would do anything to have it every day! But knowing my child as well as I do, I won't bet on a day like this happening any time soon.

Now there is a chance, however slight, that I might actually get a taste of having a happy two-year-old. Julia is fifteen months old and is the sunshine of this family. She is friendly, agreeable, happy and incredibly adorable. At this rate, she won't experience the terrible twos.

However, at fifteen months, David was just as agreeable, happy and adorable. We'll just have to wait and see ... and pray for some more miracles.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Never a Boring Moment in This House.

It's been an exciting past few days, but not the kind of excitement I would like. Where do I even start?

David's cough came back a few weeks ago; the same cough that resulted in weekly doctor's visits last year. Since his cough kept him up all night long and interrupted his naps, he was extremely cranky and temperamental when awake -- so much that I was afraid to say anything that could set off his temper tantrums. Seth even borrowed a book from the library called "Parenting the strong willed child" and we take turns reading it. I must admit that after reading a few chapters so far has helped my relationship with my son.
Even though the doc still doesn't know what causes David's cough, the medications for asthma seem to be working. At least now he can sleep at night (and so can Seth as he was the one getting up all these nights to comfort him) and David's behavior improved a lot as soon as he started getting enough uninterrupted sleep.

The following week we were back at the pediatrician's office for Julia's 15-month routine check-up, except there wasn't anything routine about it. The doctor was trying to clean Julia's ear with a long plastic stick (I have no idea what its medical term is...) and he scratched the inside of her ear which then started to bleed. Neither one of my kids had ever screamed as loud, or as long, as Julia cried. She was hysterical, and wouldn't calm down for over an hour. Seth rushed home from work, but thankfully Julia's behavior was normal after her nap, although she still seem bothered by her ear. Needless to say, it was the last time we saw that particular doctor.

Today I took both kids to the hospital, or as David called it "a big house." (Every time we "take a tour" of a house we are potentially interested in purchasing, I tell David he is going to play in a 'big house.') David was getting a precautionary chest x-ray to rule out any serious issues with his lungs, and Julia went in for some blood work - another routine procedure at this age. Oy! They did great during their appointments, but not the waiting in between. For reasons beyond my comprehension, David wanted to use every single bathroom in the building. (Was he constipated, or overly curious?) After the third time, Julia, who had to accompany her brother during each bathroom visit, decided she'd had enough, threw her body onto the bathroom floor and refused to get up. At times like this, I look forward to their naps.

If you take all the madness out of our lives, we are a regular, yet busy family. Our days are filled with playdates, park outings, tricycle riding and even an occasional TV show (if David behaves well. ) Lately, our kids have been obsessed with Laurie Berkner (thanks, Ms. Anne!). We listen to her CDs in the car, in the house and even when they're falling asleep. I let David and Julia watch her DVD, but only a few songs at a time and they get very excited when I reach for the remote control. I know our kids are TV-deprived because they'll even watch CNN when it is on.

David loves having tea parties with me and Julia. They'll pretend to pour and drink from the tea cups (which are made in China and probably are covered with lead paint) and eat pretend -cookies and cupcakes.

I am already getting prepared for those cold winter days when it's too cold to play outside or when they're sick. I restocked our inventory of arts and crafts supplies and the kids and their friends have been having fun time doing all sorts of projects.

David and Julia patiently wait to see their daddy walking down the street from work since it's getting too dark and cold to meet him at the bus stop.

David's been brushing his teeth a lot lately in preparation for his first dental appointment in a few months. Recently, Julia has joined him, but I think she just loves looking at her reflection in the mirror and chewing on sweet children's toothpaste.

I know the worst challenges of the winter are yet to come and I don't think I'll ever be prepared for them. We'll just take one day at a time with a lot of patience, playdates, play-doh, and a few bottles of children's Tylenol (or was that recalled?).