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Sep 25, 2010

Concept of time at 2.5 years

I know I said it before, but I love the 2-year old phase. Daniel is learning so much every day and I find it fascinating. A big and challenging topic right now is the concept of time. It is hard, no doubt!

Daniel is at the point where he understands that some things happened in the past, some things happen now and some will take place in the future. He also asks a lot of questions about time. However, there is little understanding of the length of time and any of the subtleties.

Everything that happened in the past is described as "yesterday" even if it was last year. Tomorrow means everything from "in 5 minutes" to "next week". When I say: "tomorrow, we are going to xxx", Daniel typically gets up, ready to go, asking: "Are we going now?" When I ask, "what did you do today", he might tell me about something he did 2 weeks ago.
Recently, Daniel started being interested in Halloween and we already bought his costume. I drew a calendar to show him how long we still need to wait until we celebrate Halloween. It was a full page. I also explained that he needed to go through 6 swimming classes before it was Halloween time (we registered him to swim classes every Sunday now). I described other things we needed to do before Halloween (e.g. a friend's birthday, a trip, a special weekend) And yet, every day, Daniel asks if today is Halloween! Mom-Fail!

However, the encouraging thing is that Daniel is starting to remember situations that belong to the same time frame, or that follow each other. For instance, I explained to him that his birthday (January 14) is in the winter (when it's cold), after Santa comes. The other day, we were talking about the fact that the weather was getting cooler. And right away, Daniel commented that it would soon be very cold, then Santa would come, and eventually his birthday.

I had also explained to Daniel that Charlotte couldn't eat solid food as a newborn, but that, when she grew older (sometimes after our Europe trip), she will start eating solids. On the day we came back from vacation, Daniel asked if Charlotte would eat bananas now. He remembered the sequence!

These examples are definitely signs of progress, and I acknowledge that learning the concept of time is very difficult. I am wondering at what age kids understand it all. Does anyone have any tip to help kids make sense of it?

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Sep 24, 2010

Maybe? Why? Repeat...

I thought the "why" phase happened around 3 years, but we have already reached it with 2.5 year-old Daniel. It has probably been going on for 3-4 months now, and it's intense! It's nice to see that he is interested in so many things, and he wants to understand the details and reasons. In most cases he is very engaged in the conversation and loves to listen to the explanations. But sometimes, it can be very annoying. He doesn't take any answer for an answer and he continues to ask the same thing over and over again. He seems to ask "why" again before I even answer his earlier question. (I am sure this will sound familiar to people that have already gone through this). Anyways, when it happens, I just try to remind myself that this will end eventually.

Another new routine for Daniel these days is to come up with hypothesis or suggestions starting with "maybe". It's interesting that Daniel is now aware of the possibility of different scenarios or outcomes. And he usually seems to be willing to accept any option, which shows that he is becoming more open and flexible. "Maybe my friends are already at school. Maybe not. I don't know. We'll see" is a typical sentence for Daniel these days. And he sometimes comes up with very advances hypothesis! What an imagination!

Daniel is also using his newly acquired understanding of "maybe" to make suggestions. Typically, when I pick him up from school, he will say something along the lines of "maybe we can go a eat hamburger tonight, maybe" (this would be a daily activity of him if we were only listening to him) or "maybe we can go visit my friend, maybe". Always in a very innocent and cute tone.

Unfortunately, a lot of his suggestions are not realistic for the situation, and I find myself having to explain over and over again why we can't do this or this. I hope that this is a regular phase for kids and that it's just a way for them to learn how things work.. sort of their way to bounce ideas off of the adults to see what is correct and what isn't. I hope that Daniel isn't taking these repeated "no" (although I am careful not to just say "no") personally. I would hate for him to be discouraged if he thinks most of his ideas are rejected. Hopefully, even if he expresses it differently in this context, he is also thinking that there might be a "maybe not" and he is OK with it too from the get-go.

Has anyone experienced this phase before? What was your experience? Any recommendation on how to handle?

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Sep 21, 2010

Thumb sucking: double-edge sword?

In the last 2.5 years, Daniel has never sucked his thumb once. It was just not something he came up with when learning all the things he could do with his body. He got addicted to the pacifier as a way to relax, and this turned into a challenge when we tried to wean him of the pacifier. I recorded this at length over the last year, it was tough and I am glad it's over!

So I didn't encourage Charlotte to use the pacifier. I knew too well that, while it might help in the short-term, it would make for longer-term difficulties that I wasn't ready to face again. It helped that she was/is a very good baby. She doesn't cry much and she is able to fall asleep without any help.

Really happy baby

So, I might have made the mistake to leave a pacifier for her at daycare, just in case. I obviously didn't brief them well enough. For a couple of days, the teachers would consistently give Charlotte the pacifier during nap time, whether she needed it or not. I think she got somehow used to sucking while falling asleep. I had a discussion with the teachers and they stopped the practice right away.

Not sure if this is a result of introducing the pacifier or not, but Charlotte now started sucking her thumb instead. I am not really complaining: she is even more easy-going than before, sucking her thumb when she needs some comfort, and not requiring us to step in. In a sense, it's easier than with the pacifier: no risk of forgetting it and getting a tantrum in public, no risk of dropping it, just more convenient in general. That said, I am wondering how hard it will be to get her to stop sucking her thumb eventually. Will we have to go through the same challenges as with Daniel? It might even be worse, because I won't be able to "hide" her thumb to avoid temptation...

And now that I know what might be ahead of us, I have about 1.5 years to start worrying how weaning is going to go. And I thought second-time parents were supposed to be less worried?!

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Sep 20, 2010

Good guys, bad guys

A couple of months ago, I wrote about our optimistic toddler. He was seeing everything so positively, and it didn't seem that he would be able to comprehend things that might be negative any time soon.
It looks as if reality is sinking in. Yesterday, while playing with his cars, Daniel asked me: "who is the bad one, who is the nice one?" (yes, cars have personalities in Daniel's pretend play). For the first time as far as I can tell, he wanted to make a story about bad and good cars... He still didn't have much clue about what the bad cars were supposed to do: within a few seconds, the bad cars turned into nice cars.
But it's interesting that the notion of separating into good and bad crossed his mind.

Is it because we have introduced him to a few new movies lately (Toys Story, the Incredibles)? Is it because I had to explain a few times why I needed to lock the door of the car to prevent from theft? Or did they address the issue of good and bad at daycare? Maybe all of the above, and more. Daniel certainly picks up on many clues these days.
In any case, it looks like the time of complete innocence is over. Welcome to the real world!

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Sep 15, 2010

From the mouth of my toddler

I have decided to try to keep a record of all the great comments from my kids over the next few years. I know I have already forgotten so many of the great conversations I had with Daniel over the past months, now that he is so good at communicating. I know this stage won't last forever, so I don't want to forget what it was. Here is a sample of the cute comments he recently made. I will update as the list grows.

June 2010
Sunday morning (very early): "Mom, I love your hair, it's so beau-ti-ful"

I am watching both kids, so having Charlotte in her bouncer by the bathroom door. Daniel in the bathtub. Charlotte grabs one of the toys for one of the first times in her life. I encourage her, Daniel continues playing. 2 minutes later: he says "I am happy."
I respond: "Great, it's fun to take a bath, isn't it?".
Daniel:"No, I am happy because Charlotte was able to grab her toy."

July 2010
After visiting the California Academy, I ask Daniel: What was your favorite part? (He just started to understand the concept of favorite and uses it all the time)
Daniel: Mama
Me: No, I mean, your favorite part in the museum
Daniel: Mama
Me: What was your favorite among the animals you saw at the museum? Was it the penguins or the alligator or the butterflies?
Daniel: Mama
... Priceless!
August 2010
Daniel and Charlotte are both playing in the kids room (with their own age-appropriate toys). I come in and Daniel tells me very proudly that Charlotte has been playing with the elephant and moving it back and forth. He says: "I told her: Good job, Charlotte!" Mama very proud!

September 2010
Shopping at the mall, we see one of the public telephones on the wall. Daniel: "Why is there an iPhone at the wall"? Yes, we live in Silicon Valley!

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Sep 5, 2010

First full sentence in French

It was a big surprise to me, but Daniel today said his first full sentence in French. I had not expected this to happen at this point, given Daniel's strong preference for English right now. That said, I had noticed that, since we came back from our trip to Europe, where he started adapting to the local language more, he had been using more French words with me, and he seemed faster at picking new words I would teach him.
I was still thinking that we were months away from him being able to use all the French words in a sentence. He seemed so much fluent in English.

But today, he saw Charlotte drop a spoon she was playing with and said: "la cuillere est tombee". All words in French, and correct!

I am very excited about this milestone. Maybe Daniel will turn out to be bi- or trilingual eventually!

Update after 2 weeks: Daniel is definitely on a trajectory to speak French more fluently. At this point, he says about 2-3 correct French sentences a day (especially encouraging since I only see him for 3-4 hours a day). His use of French vocabulary has increased as well. So it looks like we might be onto a big milestone.
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Sep 4, 2010

Easy kids

If I was superstitious, I shouldn't write this post. I am probably going to regret bragging about my easy kids. But I can't help. I am so excited and grateful for the current balance in our house. It's a lot of fun.
I started working again this week, and I was bracing myself for a lot of stress, especially from the kids who might not appreciate the new (time-crunched) routine. I ended up being quite seamless.

Charlotte in particular was a hero. Not only did she just go back to her routine of sleeping through the night right before I went back to work (a challenge due to jetlag after our recent trip). She just continued to be really easy going overall. We can leave her on her play mat for 45 minutes or so while getting everyone else ready, and she doesn't complain once. She can entertain herself very well. She loves going to daycare and seems to feel very comfortable with her teachers. She tags along with us when we go out, which we do a lot with our 2.5 year-old. And she never seems to be bothered by the new environment or the change to her routine. Also, she is very patient when she is hungry. The other day, we spent a fair amount of time at the park while she was starting to show signs of hunger (eating her fingers, etc...), but she didn't start crying or anything. She waited and when we finally came back home, she gulped a huge bottle. She was that hungry! And last, but not least, she usually falls asleep by herself, without any need for rocking, singing, pacifier or anything. She requires so little work and I can't remember the last time I heard her cry, this is amazing!

As for Daniel, he is also in a good phase. Since we came back from vacation, he has been happy to get back to a more regular routine. And actually, the fact that I am working again might help in that regard. He is so much more cooperative and doesn't throw the tantrums he showed a few weeks ago.
He has also developed into a self-sufficient little man. Now that there isn't away an adult to help him when he needs help, he has learned to try to figure out a solution by himself. He doesn't seem to mind to be on his own more often than before. Even when we go to the playground and I have to take care of Charlotte, he happily plays by himself, and he has learned how to climb high structures or use the swing without my help. He has never complained about the lack of support.

I hope this phase continues. It makes having 2 kids really enjoyable. Did I jinx it now?

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