Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hot Undies

We are raising a nudist, which is to say, we have a perfectly normal two year old who prefers to be naked as much of the time as possible. I accept this, especially in Tucson in the summer, with little resistance except when we must go outside. First of all, I am okay with the expectation that most people have that everyone has at least some clothing on in public places. I'm fine with this. We can all wear clothing in public. Ila doesn't necessarily agree. She is uninterested in the norms and rules of society as they apply to clothing.

When I remind her that she needs to protect her body from the outside – sun, cactus, tripping and falling – she does acquiesce, which is a blessing. However, she picks very astounding outfits given her proclivity for nudity. For example, the other day, I couldn't interest her in clothing all day when we were thinking of going out. “Hot shoes,” “hot shirt,” she informed me. Okay, we'll stay home and be naked.

When it was time to go to a little two year old birthday party for two friends, she selected a shirt, skirt, leg warmers and socks. This was 4 in the afternoon, not a particularly great time for leg warmers, if you ask me. Then, about three hours later, in the cooler early evening, after taking a naked dip in our friend's swimming pool and putting on some undies, she had to take off her underwear a few minutes later, saying, “hot undies.” This has become a frequent refrain around here. “Hot undies.” They are, apparently, the most thermal item of clothing she is ever forced to wear. How and why undies can be so much hotter than socks and leg warmers requires the kind of logic only a two year old understands.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Transitions Are Rough

Yesterday I spent much of the day on Ila Time. That is, we played or read or walked around the house with her little shopping cart and stroller as she wanted to. Despite this, she was extremely resistant to transition to other activities when I had to enforce them. I had a doctor's appointment, so we had to go over to Grandma's. She didn't really want to get off the potty to do that. Then, once we were at Grandma's, she didn't want to get out of the car. This is a hot car in Tucson in May. The appeal obviously wasn't the car itself. We went to the library in the early evening and she didn't want to get out of the car once we got home, again. I remember that, at one of the schools we visited, the director making a comment about “gently moving the kids inside” after being outside, after which she said, “transitions are rough.” I guess that's what we're facing here.

We've been reading parenting books that emphasize “non-coercive” parenting strategies. Say you want your child to put her clothes on, any clothes even just those little bloomers that go under a dress and that shirt that is so small it looks like a bib, you need to get out of the house to make it to an appointment and you've been trying to gently get her ready for an hour. Now, you may be tempted to force her to put her clothes on or bribe her or give her an ultimatum and practice “love withdrawal” (isolating her – time out her until she does what you want) or in some other way assert your authority, but that would be coercive parenting. Even called “violent parenting” by some books.

I get it. I mean, I think some of this might be a touch overblown, but I like the love and reason style parenting (or teaching)'s just NOT efficient. Non-coercive parenting techniques are generally the slowest way to do things. In addition, I find that I have to frequently readjust what I think we need to do.  This is, I suppose, the slow parenting movement.  (I imagine there is one out there.)  For example, I think, “Oh we have two hours before we need to be home again, we can run to the store to get paper towels and sun screen in plenty of time.” Only to decide, after an hour of slowly moving at Ila speed toward departure, that maybe I don't really need to go today; maybe we should just stay home and draw and read. It's sort of like when she was tiny and I didn't really want to bother leaving the house...we've come full circle.

I try to remind myself that each phase of childhood has its own natural rhythm and time. Toddler time is very slow when it comes to abandoning a perfectly good activity, like reading Olivia Saves the Circus 17 times, for a hot car ride to some boring grocery store. I can't blame her, I guess. It's just a balancing act – getting done the things we really need to, being realistic about the things that don't really need to happen, and just generally slowing down enough to be present and available for her. I can't say I always do it with grace, but I am trying.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Olive Too.

So, right around Valentine's Day, Ila said “I love you” to me for the first time ever. Well, technically, she said, “Olive too,” but I know what she meant. In the intervening month, she has gotten a little closer to the standard pronunciation, but it still often sounds like a strange contraction, “lovetoo.” I think she's trying to say, “I love you, too,” or maybe she just can't say words that start with y? Either way, waking up with her in the mornings now, which was already so snuggly and sweet, is even more adorable punctuated by her little attempts to tell me she love me. It's very lovely. I know that co-sleeping doesn't work for some folks, and I get that, especially on nights she's very restless, but I can't imagine not having her in our bed right now. When she wakes up now, she says, “kiss” and “hug” repeatedly while she gives us snuggles. How freaking cute is that?

Speaking of standard pronunciation, I'm trying to just revel in all her odd little saying as I know they will not be here forever. “Bub-bel-ee wa wa” for carbonated water, which she weirdly really loves. “Blank-uh-let” for blanket, which is my favorite right now. But I know these little Ila-isms will not be around forever. She used to say “block-oh-lee” for broccoli, and she's already lost that. The last few weeks her pronunciation has been getting better and better. And she said her first full, real sentence last week, “It's right here” (about a temporary tattoo on her knee). What a simple sentence, yet it sounded so sophisticated and erudite after so many weeks of “Mama, drive” or “Mommie, walk” or “Eat, peas, corn.” It's amazing to see her really focus and grow verbally...but it's also a little sad to see some of the most surprising and humorous pronunciations go.

 I've been trying to record samples of her speech. However, she has become fixated on watching videos of herself on my camera (hopefully not the start of an extremely narcissistic personality) whenever I take it out to record anything. She just asks to see "the baby"...

I am now in school again, so we've been looking for a preschool. That's fun. Meh. Actually, I shouldn't complain too much, we found one we really like that had a spot for her in the fall. Now that she is almost two, there are a lot more options out there. I look forward to having a place that she will – hopefully – enjoy going to so that I can get work done...but I also feel torn about losing so much Ila time. It somehow feels different than when her grandparents watch her now. When they watch her, it sort of feels like an extension of our little family unit, still close to us and part of our lives. I guess that's why picking a pre-school that really “feels” right, with nice families, etc. is so important. I want to be clear...I don't feel guilty about leaving her's more like I feel greedy, like I should be the person who witnesses most of her little toddler moments of life...I don't want these pre-school interlopers. I'm not sure this is a super-functional and healthy feeling. I mean, it's really about me...Ila can certainly grow by having some time with other adults and children in a safe, nurturing environment. I'm not saying it's required at the age of two, but it can be great for a toddler. After all, I am not, realistically, going to keep her home forever and home school her...but I am a teensy bit embarrassed to say that I sort of secretly want to do this.

I'm not necessarily convinced she loves being away from me for long periods of time anyway. I mean, I think she will adjust and enjoy pre-school, but there is definitely a threshold she hits and then just wants to be with me. I think children are supposed to be “energetically” connected to their mothers until they are three according to Chinese medicine...this seems about in keeping with my experience. She is certainly becoming more and more opinionated, more individuated, but she still feels very, very sensitive to how long she is apart from me. This can be stressful, of course, but I remind myself that this is such a tiny, fleeting amount of her life. And much of the time, especially during morning snuggles, this connection feels so completely wonderful that it's easy to forget about how difficult it is to, say, do the dishes when she wants me to hold her the entire time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Weeee Game

One of the best parts of this phase of Ila's life is her burgeoning friendships with other children. Two weeks ago she started using language with other little kids. Her language use in general has expanded wildly in the last month - number of words, short phrases, the use of commands - but when she actually turned to another little child her age and spoke to them, I realized what a huge leap this is. She has gone from speaking only a little, and usually to adults she knows, to trying words out even on the other strange little people around her. She's always been fascinated (as all children are) with other young-ins, but now she has more tools to connect. Pretty amazing to watch, even if no actual words are being exchanged...a whole new level of her self - her social self - is developing because of the impulse behind talking and communication.