Archive for the ‘Works for ME’ Category

I fear, I fear, I fear – reverse Works for Me Wednesday

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Remember when I told you about that trip we made to Upper Canada Village when Reid kept singing the “I feel, I feel, I feel” part from the song Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me? Well, that song is in my head again and for sadder reasons. Since shortly before Halloween, Reid has begun to be afraid of things. Not afraid in the sense of leery about attempting to jump from the platform at gymnastics or jump off of the wall into the pool, but afraid of things for abstract reasons.

Reid didn’t wear her Halloween ponytail decorations that were shaped like bats because they scared her. She likewise refused her black shirt with appropriately placed arms bones and a rib cage that glow in the dark. We read a book called Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler a couple times and then it had to come out of the line up. The one about Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’Connell remained acceptable (though I thought it was the  creepier of the two). Maurice Sendak‘s Where the Wild Things Are was rejected at first glance although I cajoled Reid into letting me read it to her. When we were done, she pronounced it still scary and it sits on her bookshelf.

About 4 am this morning, Reid woke from a bad dream. She asked me to take her to sleep in the “big bed” with Daddy. As Ken doesn’t sleep well with Reid in our bed, I told her that it was too cold in there – and that was true enough as far as it went. After a few moments, Reid told me that she was scared. I told her that I’d stay with her, that Daddy was in the next bed, Grandma Joyce was on the main floor and Aunt Karin was in the basement. We would all take care of her, I promised. Another pause followed and then Reid said, “I ‘fraid of bullies.” That was a surprising sort of confession, I thought. I asked whether there was someone at daycare who wasn’t being nice to her. She said there wasn’t. I told Reid if someone was being a bully she should say, “Stop! That is not a nice way to treat me.” And also that she should tell one of the teachers about it. I told her she could use the same approach at gymnastics, Kindermusik and elsewhere. I asked if these were places that she’d encountered a bully. Reid said “no” to all options. I wonder if she saw something on television or in a book. Since I don’t watch everything with her or read all of the books that she sees, I’m not sure what to use as a starting point for a discussion about bullies.

When we had problems with Boy X at daycare, I looked for books about bullying appropriate for preschoolers and found nothing suitable. If anyone has a good book in mind, please let me know.

But Reid’s fears, it turns out, aren’t limited to bullies. She also told me that she is afraid of big houses. When I asked if she considered our house to be large. Reid refined the problem. She is, she said, afraid of tall houses. I reiterated that I would stay with her to keep her safe and Ken was just in the next room. I think she told me about another fear but I can’t pin the memory down. I’m an early bird but it was a bit too early for me. Reid settled down after awhile and finally fell back asleep.

I’m sad that Reid is developing fears of things that she has no direct experience with being threatening. It’s healthy to respect innate danger and such fears give Reid a challenge to overcome. These new fears are not ones that I can easily help Reid address. Working in the abstract and not knowing the exact nature of her existing fear, I’m worried about feeding the problem rather than resolving it. It’s easier with a baby isn’t it? Their needs are more immediate and concrete. I’m pretty sure that when Reid was a baby I envied parents with children who spoke to describe their problems while I contended with a babe who cried and needed be to decipher the trouble. It’s amazing how fast one’s point of view changes.

Any and all parenting tips for dealing with fears are welcome.

Packing for a car trip with kids – Works for Me Wednesday

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

When Reid and I went to the Great Wolf Lodge earlier this month, we took what seems to be our hundredth extended car trip. I was thinking that I’ve developed some ideas on how to pack a car when travelling with a preschooler.

It really is best to clean out everything that has accumulated in the car. Admit it, there are many toys, articles of clothing and the odd shoe floating around your vehicle. There will be more “stuff” floating about before you get back home. You’ll be glad you spent the time at the outset.

In a bag that the child(ren) can dig through on their own:

1. Pack some books that you can recite or at least tell the overall story without looking at the words.
2. Pack a few of the little toys that you got from fast food restaurants but hid for just such a rainy day. You do hoard them, don’t you? Unwrap them and assemble them, if required before you pack them.
3. Pack some paper, markers and stickers. Seriously consider whether crayons are required. I’ve spent too much time trying to get crayons out of clothing and the car seat cover to whole-heartedly endorse them. Reid likes to play with stickers with pictures and also the letters that are sold in dollar stores for scrapbooking. She isn’t a sticker snob at all – I save the stickers I pick up at conferences that promote products and she plays with them happily.
4. Pack some Playdoh. It might be messy but the tactile experience will be welcome.

Part of the fun for Reid is reaching into her backpack and finding something else to do.

I also try to keep some toys and art supplies aside for the trip back. Even different stickers or a toy that has been in hiding for a while will do the trick.

Keep these things in your control:

* some kid-friendly music. Note that this doesn’t mean that you have to bring only kids’ music but do think of the lyrics of the music you’re bringing. If you have an MP3 player and a way of connecting it to your car stereo, put together a travelling playlist so that you don’t need to be changing CDs on the go. Finally, learn how to move the sound from the front seat to the back seat. Some songs are just better when they are in the kids’ ears rather than yours;
* a few different kinds of not-too-messy snacks. Since you’re packing for a child, accept that there will be some mess. When the time comes, dole them out slowly and don’t tell them everything you’ve got right off the bat;
* a couple of different beverages in spill proof cups. Even if your child has stopped using sippy cups at home, they should use them in the car. Don’t forget that what goes in must come out. Limiting intake is a good idea; and
* paper towels and a wet cloth.

I am pro-electronics person, when they’re used in moderation. We have some nice noise-cancelling headphones and I plug them into the iPod and let Reid watch videos sometimes while we’re travelling. She has an easier time managing the iPod than the laptop.

We’re still packing a portable potty. Reid can “hold it” for quite a long time but it just seems a risky thing to leave behind when it takes up so little room.

Agreeing on and achieving a good temperature is a challenge. I always bring a blanket so that Reid can cover when she is cool or just needs something familiar and comforting. Of course, when Ken is with us, I am often snuggled under a blanket of my own.

We don’t have one of those window blinds and our car windows aren’t particularly tinted. Either of these things would work for me, I guess. Since we don’t use the window blinds, I try to remember to bring sunglasses for Reid.

Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget your child’s lovey. If your child doesn’t have a favoured stuffed animal or toy, you might want to bring one anyway. They may need a best friend in the back seat before the trip is over.

 For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Canadian Toy Testing Council – results are in and the toys are for sale

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

The Canadian Toy Testing Council has collected the opinions of its toy testing families and issued recommendations for toys and books to watch out for. Most parenting magazines seem to be featuring this sort of story this month but you can get information directly from the Canadian Toy Testing Council site. I find the lists of “great books” as well as “other recommended books” that they recommend to particularly useful. The lists give the sort of summary that I need to decide if the book would suit the person for whom I’m shopping.

You may want to join to become a member of the Canadian Toy Testing Council, your membership fee supports the work of the CTTC and helps them stay impartial. If you are in Ottawa-Gatineau, you can apply to be a toy testing family and, of course, you can get into the toy sale early. You can support the CTTC even if you aren’t in Ottawa-Gatineau. There is a separate form for you. Look for the “Joining the CTTC” link in the left menu. (I hate framed sites but it’s a good organization nonetheless.)

But wait, there’s more. If you live in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, you can buy the tested toys at good discounts. The sale will be held this Saturday (20 October) at: 1973 Baseline Road. Members get to shop from 9:00-10:00 and the general public goes in at 10:15. There will be a line up before each start time. Bring your own bags but leave the kids at home. It can get a bit rowdy as everyone rushes for the great toys at great prices. Check the price cards – they show a rating out of 3 stars and often a comment. There is no sense buying a dud.

Edited to add the day and date. Oops.

Teach your children about elevators

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Please take some time the next time you ride in an elevator to explain to your kids that when an elevator car is leaving and you push the “call” button, the first elevator won’t be able to leave. If the first elevator car doesn’t leave, none of the other doors will ever open and you will never be able to get on a different elevator car and go wherever you want to go. I’ve talked about this sort of thing with Reid. There are many people in this world whose parents seem to have missed this lesson and they are always in the lobby with me when I’m running late for work.

And once the right elevator doors are open, those waiting to board should stand aside so that the ones in the elevator can get out. If you can, figure out where the people are most likely to go when they leave the elevator and stand on the other side. Those lines we stood in after recess at elementary school would be worth emulating.

While you’re on the subject of elevator etiquette, you could explain that the last person to get in the elevator gets to get off first when more than one person is exiting at the same time. If someone needs to exit and you’re in front, you step out of their way maybe even out of the elevator to let them pass.

If everyone followed these rules, it would definitely work for me on Wednesdays and every day.

Next week, maybe I’ll tackle what to do when bloggers you read rant about something as simple as riding an elevator. For more tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer for this week’s Works for Me Wednesday links.