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Tawhero Tots update

 

It’s been a while since I posted much about my delightful tots.  They are growing like weeds, and it seems like they master a new skill almost every week.

Sausage is now three and a half, and is the Queen of Silly Stories.  She tells long, rambling tales about giants, Octonauts, magic, lions and farts.  She and I play a game where I start the story off with ‘Once upon a time, a little girl named Sausage woke up, got out of bed and saw…’  The story inevitably ends with her and I riding a pair of dragon-chickens to picnic at her favourite playground (apparently dragon-chickens just love cupcakes and carrots!).

She is at Forest Kindy one day a week this term.  They’ve done cool stuff, like making pine cone bird-feeders, practising their climbing and jumping skills using pine trees, discovering a dead sheep and pondering what might have happened to it (apparently some pirates got to it), feeding the oh-so-adorable baby chickens, and much, much more.

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Sausage making her bird-feeder.  In her ballet cardi.

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Stopping for some morning tea

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Nature rocks!

 

I have a blast taking her to ballet classes once a week.  It’s hilarious watching their antics (last week they had to be the Big Bad Wolf), but also fascinating for the psychologist in me.  Sausage is in a class just for three year-olds, and most of them couldn’t copy the teacher to save themselves last term.  But this term – they’re getting it.  Skipping is still far beyond Sausage’s capabilites, but by jove, she is quite the tiny dancer now.

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Taking her turn as Little Red Riding Hood

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Looking for pirate treasure

Sausage’s very extroverted nature is given free rein to shine during class.  She is always the first one to volunteer for something, and she loves to show her teacher what she can do.

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Guess who volunteers to be leader every time?

I will blog more about extroversion (and introversion) in a later post, but for now I just want to say that while her extreme extroversion has many advantages (old people LOVE her as she never fails to say hi and have a chat), I am having to help her learn a socially appropriate level.  She is a very huggy child, and will hang all over other kids – which most of them don’t like!  Learning to read others is such an important skill, and I’m enjoying watching her playing with other children more and more.

Chip is almost two(!) and provides a non-stop monologue of everything he sees from the second he wakes up.  This is a particularly amusing phase that tots go through when they learn to talk.  They will say the same word over and over to you until you respond with ‘yes, that’s a digger/combine harvester/surrealist painting/statue of Chairman Mao/insert object of your choice here’.  They are solidifying their ability to generalise during this phase of speech development.  They are learning that a particular car-like object they see is a car, just like the other car-like object over there is also car; but another car-like object is a ute, and still another car-like object is a van.

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Chip has an encyclopaedic knowledge of heavy machinery and emergency vehicles, and now corrects me if I get my graders mixed up with my bulldozers.  He, like his sister was, is a very early talker.  I’m grateful for this as it saves on tantrums when he can tell us what he wants.  His sense of humour is growing, as is his cheekiness.  He likes nothing more than being silly by ‘hiding’ in the curtains, or running around and around and around our kitchen island.

He went through what felt like an interminably long period of separation anxiety, but in reality it was probably less than three months.  He would freak out – and I mean freak out – if he couldn’t see me, and would go from zero to waaaaaaah in 2 seconds flat.  We were lucky that Chip is very attached to his Oma and Nang-Nang (his grandmothers), otherwise leaving him with anyone else would have been a nightmare.

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Nothing is safe 🙂

While he was going through this phase, I was rather surprised at how people reacted to it.  I got asked many times if it was because I had started working (one morning a week), or other such musings as to why he was behaving that way.  The answer is: separation anxiety is totally normal behaviour at his age.

It can start around 10 months and tends to peak around 18 months, but it can show up from time to time until age 4 or 5.  Normal separation anxiety is a good sign.  It means your child has a healthy attachment to you.  What D and I found helped with the freaking out was not sneaking away when we had to leave him, but rather saying ‘goodbye’, and asking him to shut the door behind us as a bit of a distraction for him.  He is now totally fine with us leaving him, and this has been timely as we’ve had to hire a temporary nanny while I recover from a back injury.

Chip is a way more dexterous sort than his big sister, and is quite competent at climbing and sliding, kicking balls, and running like a lunatic.

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Oh, so you’re a bit nervous about me climbing so high, Mum?  Mwahaha!

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Take that!

As far as my tots go, they act like normal siblings.  They play together, squabble, play some more, bash each other over the head, cry, play some more, and insist on watching The Spotbots.  We are trying to teach Sausage to either ignore her brother when he snatches her toys, or give him another toy to play with.  Sometimes she does, but other times I feel like I should apply for a job as a hostage negotiator, because I am honing my skills in this area.  ‘Come on Chip, put the toy down, and step away…’

They keep me on my toes, and take my breath away when I get unsolicited cuddles or an ‘I love you Mummy’.

 

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Toddler Milestones (that you won’t find in parenting manuals)

My son just had his 15-month assessment with Plunket.  Before each appointment I take some time to write down what they’ve been doing of late, and I am always struck by just how much they have accomplished in a few, short months.  Since his last visit, Chip has learned to walk (and run!), started talking (lurt=light, ooof-ooof=dog, pump=heat pump, baby=baby…), and has five new teeth.

While these milestones are huge, I think the little ones that often go by unnoticed are just as important.  Like realising I hadn’t had to put a dribble bib on my daughter in quite a while, or that my son was capable of holding onto our swing unaided.

Here’s a glimpse of what my 15 month-old boy and 2 & 3/4 year old girl are up to.

15 month old:
  • Trail of destruction.  At this age, nothing is safe.  Your toddler has a compelling urge to empty the contents of any sort of container they find, be it the washing basket, a box of tissues, your 3000 piece puzzle, and your water bottle.  10 seconds after you cleaned up their last mess, you will turn to find this in their wake…

  • Ouch!  At 15 months most toddlers have no concept of what it means to physically hurt someone.  My son thinks that getting Mum/Dad/Sister to say ‘ow’ is hilarious.  It’s so funny that he currently likes to hit us (not hard) and say ‘ow’, followed by lots of giggles.  Obviously it’s our job to teach him that hitting and hurting anyone is not okay, but don’t be surprised if this is a lesson that takes a while to learn.
  • The Moving Finger.  (Kudos to anyone who gets that reference).  Your toddler wants to know the name of absolutely everything.  Their index finger goes into overdrive as they point to whatever it is that they are interested in.  It’s cute the first few times, but after the 1,675,234th time, it gets a tad draining.  But hey, everyone needs to know what a book dust-jacket is called, right?
  • Water, water,  everywhere, nor any drop to drink.  If you want to keep a 15 month-old amused, just add water.  At this age, they are like hippies strung out on LSD…water is like, soooooooo amazing, man.  Chip likes to stand at our bathroom sink and splash water merrily, play with the plug, splash some more, figure out how the plug fits in the plughole, splash some more, tries to eat the plug, splash some more, tries to turn the taps, splash some more…He’s been known to do this for up to 20 minutes at a time, which, as everyone knows, is 2.3 weeks in toddler-time.
Two and three-quarter years:
  • James Joyce got nothin’ on me.  If you want long, rambling, stream-of-consciousness stories, then bend an ear towards your almost three year-old.  Sausage can tell unbelievably complicated stories, that are dripping with pathos, and filled with a colourful set of characters.  Unfortunately, almost none of the plot points will be connected to each other, so you may find yourself knee-deep in snow on a rescue mission at one point, only to be abruptly swept away to an in-depth treatise on ‘how I don’t like beans any more’.  You have been warned.
  • Welcome to my world.  Following on from rambling conversations, you will be invited to enter into dimensions that you never knew were contained in your ordinary house.  My yoga mat makes an awesome ‘tent’, post-it notes scattered randomly on the floor become a hopscotch game, my parent’s fernery in their backyard becomes a fairy castle that Grandpa is not allowed to enter, and a fallen tree branch becomes a ferocious dragon that requires calling for a knight to slay it.  Phew.  And you thought nothing ever happened on your street.

    accurate portrayal of your toddler's brain (image credit)

    accurate portrayal of your toddler’s brain
    (image credit)

  • I am not [insert child’s name here]!  Anyone who hangs out with us at the moment will know I have spent the last THREE weeks answering to ‘Dashi’, who is a character from The Octonauts – a British cartoon that Sausage loves right now.  She is ‘Kwazii’, Daddy is ‘Peso’ and her little brother is ‘Pinto’.  God help you if you get that mixed up.  This sort of pretend play is lots of fun, but it’s funny how much I miss being ‘Mummy’.

What are your tots getting up to right now?

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Two Year Old Milestones…that you won’t find in parenting manuals

My two year old, Sausage, is in a constant state of flux.  I love seeing her grow and develop, and enjoy her cheeky personality coming out more and more.

Is she on target for meeting her milestones listed in the parenting manuals?  Who the hell cares.  I have long ceased to have any concerns about how my kids are ‘measuring up’ and resolved to try and just enjoy them being exactly where they are at.

Observing without measuring is fascinating.  You start to register a whole bunch of stuff that’s not in any ‘how-to-raise-a-perfect-kid-and-be-a-super-parent’ guide.  Here are three of my observations of what Sausage been up to lately.  While Sausage is of course, special and unique to me, I’m sure many parents will see their own child in these descriptions.

  • Klepto-Girl strikes again!  Around two, your child will develop a strange fascination for putting objects into bags/boxes/any container they can lay their mucky fingers on.  The objects that absolutely.must.be.put.into.a.bag. will probably be stuff that you really, really need right this second, like your keys, wallet, cellphone, passport, bottle of vanilla essence, potato peeler…
  • The world is soooo scary! Your heretofore fearless toddler will develop phobias about random things, and usually express this fear in thrilled ecstasy.  At the moment Sausage loves to be scared of giants, ants, and GLOOM.  Yup.  Gloom.  “It’s gloomy Mummy.  I’m a bit scared. Giggle, giggle”.
  • Life becomes one long episode of ‘Glee’.  Once your kid can string a few words together, the making up of songs about whatever they are doing begins.  The ‘I am eating my yoghurt, yoghurt, yogey, yogey, yoghurt’ song.  The ‘I am building a tower, no wait – a bridge!’ song.  The ‘I’m dancing, I’m dancing, oopsey-daisey, I fell over’ song.  It’s actually very cute and kind of a shame we no longer express our most mundane tasks in song as adults.  “Oh, I’m doing my taaaaaax retuuuuurnnnn!”

What does (or did) your two year old do?