A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about toddler

The 2 second walk...

that took ten minutes...

overcast 84 °F

It took me literally ten minutes today to walk with my two year old son to the car. Actually, it was eleven. I try to follow the principle of 'letting your child lead'. Not necessarily because I am that enthusiastic about wanting him to explore every last detail; but more importantly, because it is generally easier at this point than if I lead him to the car, kicking and objecting. As a two year old, it seems to be his job to want to do everything himself, to object to my outstretched hand, and to deny me the simple luxury of walking in a straight and purposeful direction. He wants to question, to figure things out, to try something again and again until he gets it right, and in his words, to "just go see it".

So today, we absolutely had to leave the house with the most giant beach ball we have, and bounce and kick it down the sidewalk to the street. Then we had to go check out the landscapers, who are in our condo complex nearly everyday either mowing or planting or trimming. Today, they were climbing palm trees and cutting down branches. Since this is one of the more exciting of their tasks, this took us several minutes to observe, explain, and take in. Then we had to explore the garbage, which is a new favorite for my son. He asks if they are coming to pick it up. No, not today, it's too early. Let's get into the car to go to the park now, and maybe when we get back, they will come. Hmm, he ponders this for a second before asking the same question again. "Garbage - pick up?" No, honey, not today. "Dump it?" He loves the men with their orange shirts and their large forklift that comes to pick up and then dump all the garbage out of the large neon orange dumpsters at our condo. In fact when they come, he races out to greet them as if they were the ice cream truck.

Next, it is onto the mailman, and the mailbox. Again, he asks the questions. "Mailman coming?" Nope. Key? He takes the keys from my hand, finds the correct small key for our box, and pushes it into the lock. He twists and opens the door. "No mail", he states. No, OK, let's go then. We take a few steps further and have to jump a few times. Then we have to inspect some flowers and snails. He points and names them: purple (flowers), rock, snail. Finally we reach the end of the walk and climb into the car. "Turn it on?" He wants to start the car. He climbs over the passenger seat and into the driver seat. I go around and hand him the key. He again presses it into place, and with my foot on the brake, he starts the car and turns the wheel back and forth. He's so content why should I be bothered with this routine? I pick him up, and settle him into his car seat in the back, buckled in and finally ready to go.

I laugh to myself. Sometimes this waiting game is easier than others. Patience is a tricky virtue, it comes and goes like the tides. At times, I feel I can sit and enjoy his musings, and follow him to see where he goes. Other times, it is literally all my willpower not to pick him up and buckle him into the car, changing ten minutes into two seconds. I know the meanderings are actually his education, and that my need to get somewhere is often not important, so I try my best to go with the flow and let him explore. The old adage 'life is a journey, not a destination' is definitely written by someone who spent time with a toddler... it doesn't hurt to see the world from their point of view every once in a while. Who knows, if your mind is open, you may actually discover something new.

Posted by globalmomma 13:50 Archived in USA Tagged home travel house child destination condo waiting journey mail patience toddler garbage point-of-view Comments (0)

Packing Light

semi-overcast 78 °F

Another long trip from Hawaii to the mainland. First to the Bay, then a drive to Lake Tahoe. Another flight to Seattle, and then back home to Hawaii. Our son has become such an experienced traveler. I have heard not to travel with kids, that it is difficult for them. Actually, it doesn't seem to faze our son. It is my husband and I that appear worse for the wear. Sometimes we get less sleep staying in an unfamiliar bed. We are hot and sweaty from hauling many bags around. We have come to the conclusion based on our 9 (!) bags from this past trip, that somehow, someway, our packing strategy & our bag count has to change. We are currently traveling with two more bags than we took for our three month excursion through Italy. With five more bags than our joint trip round the world in 2003. Granted, a toddler needs many more items to keep them entertained than travel sans children, or even travel with infant. With infant, you need diapers, wipes, a rattle and possibly a monitor and you're good. With a toddler, you still need the diapers and wipes, but now you also need a ton of food and snacks, books, the trusty blankie or in our case 'wolfie' (the stuffed wolf Bodhi sleeps with), several key books, a few toys, an ipod and speaker, a video player... I could go on, but we realized between my husband and I, we bring about a full bag for each of us, the other 7 seem to all be essentials for Bodhi.

So...now I realize that the real deterrent to travel with children is the sheer volume of items that you need for them to be comfortable and entertained. We are going to go through some serious inventory work and some downsizing, much like corporate America has been assessing their work force and productivity. What items can we live without? What items are duplicates? What items can we possibly replace with newer more efficient (or smaller) versions?

We recently received a tiny Monster iClarity bluetooth speaker as a gift. This is perfect, because it is a wireless speaker, small and perfect for travel because you can 'stream' music from your computer, ipad or iphone = perfect travel device. No need for additional ipod used solely as a nighttime wave machine. Speaking of technology, the ipad has been the greatest travel invention of our time. OK, we still bring 'real books' along too, but we also have a virtual library of books, apps, videos, and hours of plane ride entertainment of one small device. It has easily been the best purchase and best travel device for our son. At first, I admit, I thought it was indulgent for a two year old to play with such a pricey machine. I thought it was overkill. After several long flights from Hawaii to the mainland, I can tell you that was some of the best money we spent, letting him have our old ipad, buying a new one for ourselves. Our two year old is blissfully entertained and able to sit in his car seat on the airplane for several hours without fussing. And this is the same child who refuses to sit in a stroller or sit still for more than several seconds: always, always on the move. Climbing, jumping, running, swimming, hiking, bouncing balls, moving from toy to toy, into everything and anything. This same child can be mesmerized by an Elmo app for an hour. AND it has taught him the alphabet, how to trace letters, and countless words. Pretty incredible stuff. This admitted techno-phobe is now a complete convert to the amazing world of the ipad.

But I digress...other things that we do to make travel easier are to always travel with small detergent packets, for washing on the go. I recommend if traveling with children to get a few items that are synthetic fibers (i.e. a fleece sweatshirt, instead of cotton) and that way, you can wash and easily drop it when it gets inevitably dirty on first wear. The amount of clothing you need to pack for a small child is ridiculous when you consider during half of their meals they spill something, they are still occasionally waking soaking wet from sleep, and jumping in mud puddles or climbing trees. They get dirty. It's best to have clothes you can wash and re-wear. We try to bring toys that have multiple functions or can provide different forms of entertainment. I like flashcards, and crayons or those invisible markers. We usually bring a soft ball, some type of bath or water toy, and a truck or train. Nothing annoyingly loud with batteries for the airplane. I like to bring toys that don't have small parts, and not ones that are favorites...ones that are dispensable, or at least can be easily replaced. I don't like to have to worry about finding small pieces or leaving something behind that will cause tears. Less travel stress = happier momma.

The essentials for me (to travel with less stress) are the sleep routine items. For us, that means 2 books, Wolfie his stuffed wolf, alternative milk, (soy or rice if we don't think we can get it where we are going), and his wave music that we put on when he sleeps. That way, he feels a sense of home no matter where we are. This seems to be a key component to our success with traveling. When Bodhi was younger, we traveled everywhere with our own crib. We literally hauled an extra bag that was his travel crib. He slept so much better that way than when we tried various cribs in different hotels. You know, they smell different, the sheets are different...you can't blame him really. I reasoned, better to have his own crib, even if we set that bed in a different place every night, he has a comfort, a piece of home. Like the calm in the center of a storm, if you provide an anchor for children to feel secure, than I think they have no problem adjusting to external fluctuations of time and place. Plus, it made us more flexible to stay in pensions, rental houses and other places where sometimes cribs are not available. Now that he's older, he does OK sleeping on other beds and cribs as long as we are with him and he has his bedtime routine. And when your child/infant sleeps better on a trip, I don't think I have to tell you how much better that is for everyone... to us, it's the most important thing of all when traveling with your child, to bring the items they need to sleep well.

Posted by globalmomma 05:21 Archived in USA Tagged children travel well with light sleep packing change time beds clothing toddler adjusting essentials cribs Comments (0)

The Amazing Brain of a Two Year Old

semi-overcast 81 °F

I am watching my almost two year old with awe. He is putting magnetic letters on the refrigerator as he names each one in turn: R, M, Q, D. We just bought these magnets last week to encourage his rising fascination with letters and numbers. He has spent a little over a month reading books, looking at cards, pointing at signs, absolutely enthralled with LETTERS. We will be at the beach, and he will run over to the sign that says, "PLEASE KOKUA KEEP OUR BEACH CLEAN" and point to each letter. He asks, Momma? I tell him each letter, again and again until he is satisfied he comprehends.

I am not entirely sure how extraordinary this is, but to me, it is possibly the most extraordinary thing I have ever witnessed, watching an individual gain a grasp of a language. I knew he was interested in letters, and I knew he was starting to get some of them and recognize the patterns, but I tested the extent of his knowledge last week. I asked him, where is the B? He points right to it. Hmm, that may have been a lucky guess. Where is the Z? Points right again. And makes the sign for Z. OK, how about N? Points. N, he says. I went through each letter of the alphabet, and he did not make a single error. He recognizes them all.
By this week, not only does he understand them, he can say all but 4 of the letters, and he can sign all of them in ASL (American sign language)
People stop me and ask me, did you do that program, your baby can read? no, I tell them, I didn't do anything special. This is all him. This is his self-directed learning. In fact, I wish he wouldn't push himself so hard. I don't entirely understand this desire he has to know, know, conquer.

I wish I had read more books about childhood development. I wish I had more of a concept of how their brains soak up information and integrate it into their awareness. I know my son has a somewhat one-track mind when it comes to learning. If he has an interest, he will focus on something until he gets it. Already at 22 months, he can count and sign to ten, say and sign his letters, and is starting to read and recognize words. I do not know how this kid does it, or even what to do to encourage it. He does it on his own, I just follow along. I bought him an etch-a-sketch for a plane trip in February. While trying to come up with a game, I started drawing things, like a square, or a letter, and he would name it. Now, he wants to do this game everyday.

His language skills are exponentially growing each week,and I find it difficult to keep up with his growth, but find it so incredibly inspiring and miraculous, how much he is able now to communicate and how much more he can understand. It somewhat parallels my experience with the German language. I studied German for 10 years, throughout high school and majoring in college. I studied abroad in Vienna Austria and gained a confidence with the language and my ability to communicate. I was like a child with the language, not getting deeper concepts, but able to get my point across with growing ease. Now that the past 10-15 years I have only had fleeting yearly visits to Europe and short conversations with people in German, my ability to speak has declined markedly. When people hear me speak, they do not guess that I am fluent. Yet, I still understand almost every word, and definitely can understand a movie or a conversation in German. I use this to understand that although my son cannot always tell me things, he knows far more than I am aware he knows. When I take time to test that knowledge, each time, I am shocked that he knows it all. If I ask him to bring me the letter H, he does. If I ask him to pick out 3 books, he does. Ask him to choose an outfit to wear, and he emerges from his room with a shirt and shorts. Wow. When we take the time to really think about what is happening with a toddler, and appreciate what they are doing everyday, there is no doubt in my mind that all of my time spent with him is the most important part of my day.

Posted by globalmomma 02:41 Archived in USA Tagged language development toddler brain intelligence learning growth fluent Comments (1)

the parenting manual

sunny 82 °F

Every mother of a toddler grieves the process of their little baby growing up. We miss the cuddles, the way they ate everything we put in front of them with enthusiasm, the way they thought we were the greatest thing ever. We long for the days of being able to browse in a bookstore while our little one snoozed in their carseat, or contently chewed on a little rubber giraffe. I remember when we had our firstborn, exhausted parents would tell us, "go out now, while you still can." We thought, what?! Going out to eat with a baby isn't so easy - you have to haul a giant diaper bag (which you prepared in advance), a stroller, several kinds of baby food, and a car seat into a restaurant and hope your baby didn't wake up or poop through their diaper or cause a scene. Little did I know that two years later, I would still have those same concerns, and generally have a harder time making my wishes come true. Now a two year old has a much more developed sense of what HE wants to do, and what he thinks is a good idea. You may think going out to pizza is the greatest thing ever, and when you arrive at the restaurant, he stubbornly digs in his heels, shaking his head, no no.

This is all very perplexing for a mother, and certainly takes a lot more finesse and compromise and inventive thinking than life with a baby. I am humbled by the realization that as one phase begins to get easier and I seem to figure out my child and myself, another phase and development comes along that completely throws me for a loop. I have discovered that parenting is one giant drawing board of trial and error for which the manuals are dramatically ill-equipped. Parenting is like putting together Ikea furniture - there are illustrations and there is some understanding of what the finished product should be like, but getting from here to there often requires some tools that you do not have. Picking up those tools as you go along is the whole key to the puzzle. The current tools I am working on are "choosing your battles", knowing when it is important to make a stand, and the art of letting go. Letting go of the baby that is now becoming a boy, and letting go of my need to be right and to have plans. Often my plans or desires are thwarted by the plans or realities of a little being who also has needs and plans and ideas. This should seem obvious, but when you are walking through Target trying to get your errands checked off for the day, and your son is vocally letting the store know that he is "all done" being there...sometimes you have to abandon the mission. At first I try to reason with him, "just five more minutes, OK, momma has something she needs to get done". "Seriously, you need to stay in the cart and wait". Hmm, this does not seem to be getting through, I think to myself. I try distraction. I try promising a trip to the park. Finally I decide, 'is getting a tube of toothpaste really worth the trouble?' And I leave a half-full cart and head home.

This challenges my sanity, because I want to be able to reason with a child, to let him know of course that I have needs too, and sometimes he has to allow me to get things done. Yes, that's what he needs to know. Hmm. Problem is, a 2 year old is not yet able to reason, so as well as I may think I explain myself, what he hears is close to the Peanuts adults saying, "Whnt whnt whnt". That's where the letting go, and the choosing of the battles comes in. Oh, and the sense of humor. I expect that sometimes my desires will not get met, and sometimes even the best intended plans do not work out. This is all an evolution; and like everything in life, the more you can learn to let go and embrace the process, the better things will be.

Posted by globalmomma 14:49 Archived in USA Tagged sunny go manual toddler needs parenting letting Comments (0)

Waves of Life

one nap days

sunny 80 °F

Here I am in the middle of the one nap day, the 2 hours of personal time that I get while my son sleeps. It used to be two little breaks, and now as of Christmastime, we are officially down to one. I was hoping to drag this process out. Mostly for my own sanity and time management purposes, but also so he could get two opportunities for extra sleep. But my son appears to be a cold turkey kind of guy. He stopped one day with his second nap, and never looked back. So here we are, savoring this midday pause.

I realized last night, once again, how lucky I am, and what a gift it is to have a partner to parent with. Last night our sniffly, sweaty tot couldn't sleep. His fever was making him uncomfortable so for 4 hours, from 6:30pm until 10:30 pm, we took half hour shifts, holding him to sleep. Picking him up when he woke and rocking him back down. It could be enough to drive you mad if you didn't have someone to share it with. But now it is precisely these times that cause me to be the most thankful for what I have.

The harder a moment is, the more I realize how much ease is in the majority of my life. So I am grateful for the one nap, and the little boy who lets me spend the rest of my day with him.

We are right now considering the options moving forward: toddler bed? twin? full? How do we transition from this crib that he is starting to outgrow? Most likely he will give us the answers to this question, as he has with so many other questions. We will try and try again. It will have its hard points, and then it will go smooth and easy again, as the waves of the ocean flow out and in. I have a steady reminder of the rhythm of life, and the flow of time. When one day is stormy, the next is calm. The waves rise up, crash, and retreat. Life ebbs and flows, the good days follow the bad, and time keeps moving forward.

Posted by globalmomma 03:47 Archived in USA Tagged beach waves work life sleep hawaii toddler Comments (0)

The giggles

sunny 87 °F

Sometimes, in a completely normal moment, my son will get the giggles. All at once, he will bust out into the sweetest laugh, and it will accelerate into full-blown hysterics. At first, I look at him with total bewilderment, not having any idea what is so funny. Then I cannot help but join in to laughing with him, because his laugh is completely contagious, and the innocence of his laugh is magical. It happened today as I was holding him for his nap...his eyes are closing, everything is quiet, only the calming ocean sounds of our ipod and the whirr of the fan, and then his eyes pop open and he giggles wildly. Head tilted back, mouth open: A big belly laugh. Then just as quickly as it began it lulls, and we are again settling into our sleep routine. But I am left with a poignant truth to ponder: he is his own being.

This is of course obvious to everyone but me, who still sometimes thinks (and perhaps secretly hopes) that we are still attached in some way. But he is himself. And in these days when his personality is blossoming second by second, it is getting more and more clear that he is becoming a unique being: with likes and dislikes, attitudes, emotions, ideas, and expressions. As we move on from the baby months, he no longer laughs just because I am laughing, or smiles because I like something. He laughs when he wants to laugh. Finds things funny that I have no idea about, decides he wants to do one activity over another. I still expect him to do things that I want, to go to the pool when I want to go, and am surprised when we get there, and he is walking back to the house instead, shaking his little head, no, no.

The other day Bodhi & I were walking down the path from our home to the car. I usually take his hand, so that he can run fast and not fall. But this time, he pushed my hand away. He wanted to do it himself. I found myself both proud and sad as i watched him run down the slope of the pathway himself. I am willing him not to fall, walking quickly so he doesn't get too far ahead, and I can get there to stop him before he runs into the street. But then he stopped at the bottom of the path, turned around and called, "Momma, Momma!" as if to say, 'look what I did!'

I find myself increasingly emotional when I think about or see images of children growing up. The other day, we were watching the TV show Modern Family (Excellent, by the way), when the father Phil brings his teenage daughter to look at prospective colleges. He allows her to go off with some other students to a party on campus, acting very cool and relaxed, and later admits he was tracking her cell phone gps, and shows up at the party to make sure she is OK. She says to him: "How are you going to handle me going off to college next year if you can't even trust me enough to let me go to this party alone?" I recognize the truth, the fear, and the total lack of control that one has as their children grow up and I started to cry. "That will be Bodhi someday!", I tell my husband who is visibly rolling his eyes. "You have 16 years". But still, I can see it coming down the road, my need to let him go, and every step we take brings us closer to his full independence.

Posted by globalmomma 05:59 Archived in USA Tagged walking up family pool sunny modern kona independence parents toddler growing Comments (1)

Cause and Effect

This morning at 5:45am I heard a little voice calling, "Momma, momma". He was awake and ready to get up. I lie still and listen again to the urgency, momma, momma. I climb out of bed and over to his crib, and he is more emphatic now: MOMMA, UPPA!

I bend down and he he wants to show me something: he is touching both of his pointer fingers together in an arc. Perhaps I should not be amazed by this, but to me, it is as if he has shown me the architectural plans to the Eiffel tower. At 17 months, he has truly baffling hand-eye coordination. I can tell he's pleased by his latest discovery as well. We have been practicing baby signs with him since he was about 4 months old. At first, it was really more of an intellectual experiment for me. But when a month later, he was signing 'milk' and meaning it, I was hooked. For the first five months or so, milk was his only sign, possibly because it was really the most important word in his world. Then he began signing other words we had been learning: more, all done, bye-bye, ball, flower, thank you. It definitely helps him communicate what he sees, and what he wants. But more than that, I think it has helped develop a real awareness of his hands and different movements he can make, and enhanced his dexterity. He watched these videos called "Baby Signing Time", and he watches them intently...he just loves them. A friend recommended them to me, and I also think they have been one of the best investments in baby entertainment I could buy. I find myself humming the tune to the songs, remembering the simple signs, and actually, it is one of few baby/toddler videos I can stand to watch.

So this morning, I lift my son out of his crib and he takes off running toward the kitchen where he knows his favorite toys, duplo legos, are ready for him. Each night I set them up differently so when he wakes up, he can pull all of the pieces apart, one by one. He is in a phase of complete obsession over how things work: open, close; up, down; apart, together; in, out; off, on. There are not many traditional toys that fit this model, so he plays with the legos, but mostly his playthings are doors, levers, switches, buttons on phones & ipads, knobs on appliances. Cause and effect. Every action has a reaction. He runs around opening and then slamming doors. Opening the dishwasher, pressing all of the buttons, turning things off and on. Unscrewing his bottle or food tops, then putting the lids back on. It is funny to watch but also can be challenging when he is turning the stove knob from high to low, while you are trying to boil water. Or when he opens a food jar and it spills all over the floor. Or when he presses the little button and locks the bathroom door like he did yesterday. My husband had to take pliers to a wire and open the door again. Five minutes later, it was locked again. At least he hasn't yet figured out how to unlock the front door, because he reaches up as high as his little toes can lift him and pulls down on the handle of the front door. Outside. Luckily, there are a few handles and knobs still out of reach.

Posted by globalmomma 00:21 Archived in USA Tagged hawaii development toddler infant growth parenthood Comments (0)

Amazing Grace

Remember the previous entry wherein I described the new toddler and his free will? Well, with some trial and error, we have arrived at a compromise. And it was through the power of a song.

One night, after holding my son and rocking him close to sleep, I laid him down in his crib and he again popped right up to standing. He doesn't want to holding and rocking to end. So I decided to coax him down and began singing "Amazing Grace", which is a song that has long been a favorite of mine, even though I am not religiously affiliated. I just love the words to this song, I love the rhythm, I love the story. It is so emotionally moving, so heart-centered, so powerful. I sang him all three verses that I know, and he was lying still. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Epiphany! The song has that calming sense... Now each time I am putting him to bed when he is struggling to fall asleep, I sing him "Amazing Grace", and each time, he falls straight asleep. Again we are in a blissful routine of sleep, and it makes such a difference for my mental state, and his as well.

My favorite part of the song "Amazing Grace" is the final verse, "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun..." I love visualizing us as balls of light, shining as the sun. What will Bodhi get from that song? Is it the melody that he will remember? Another line he will love?

I found this statement on a website that I was reading about children's development from 0-2 called "Parent Further":
"Even very young children discover a spiritual perspective of the world. If parents and caregivers are warm and caring, they’ll find a wonderful world."

I believe that when babies are born, they have a much clearer sense of their spiritual nature, and also of subtle things like intuition, intention, and spiritual presence. I watch my son daily be able to discern if he wants to interact with a person or not, based on the energy they are projecting. I want to cultivate that wonder, that deep sense of knowing, that intuition. But it is difficult to communicate with a toddler about things that are unseen, and things that are intangible, since they explore the world with their senses. I wonder about what to teach my son about the universe, about God, about living and dying and truth. Perhaps it is my background in philosophy that makes me question and contemplate these issues, and also has developed within me a sense of spiritual individuality. I don't relate entirely to any religious system, yet I have believed strongly in spirituality for my entire life. How do you encourage your children to take the good things and discard the bad? How do you help them respect and understand the amazing natural world around them, the incredible gifts that they have been given, and the connection to other living things?

Posted by globalmomma 02:46 Archived in USA Tagged religion philosophy grace toddler spirituality Comments (0)

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