Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Babbling Becomes Jargoning

I know that title sounds like a joke, but that really is what the child development books say is happening.  It seems that our girl is going through a sudden bout of the pre-talking known as jargoning.  How is it different than baby babbles?  It sounds a lot more like sentences since the baby is practicing the various inflections of the language they are learning.  Or so the book claims.  She can already say words, but now she's preparing to put them together into simple sentences.  To me it sounds like she is sudden practicing her glottal stops all the time.  No matter what purpose it really serves, all the chatter is pretty irresistible.   

Monday, August 29, 2011


My eldest niece has now officially become a teenager!  My jaw is on the floor at how quickly that thirteen years went by.  To celebrate, she went with her dad and sister to visit Spain and France.  Now when people say "what did you do for your birthday?" she can tell them she climbed the Eiffel Tower and visited the Louvre.  Some kids would be annoyed by visits to historical sites on their big day, but Elder Niece is the kind of sophisticated and intelligent young lady who actually enjoys such things.  I'm only sorry I couldn't be there with her, but then there are the pictures. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Mooooooving Experience

The other evening we were all coming back from a hike, and so we were tired, hungry, and more than a little grubby.  Our route took us past the local Hindu temple, and I noticed they had a huge inflatable cow set up right next to the street.  Drawing the baby's attention to it, she was looking up just as we passed by.  That thing must be two stories tall.  The look on her face was first fear, then amazement, and finally excitement.  Then she frantically tried to figure out which baby signs would mean "bring back the huge inflatable cow."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Waving Bye-Bye

Being nearly eighteen months old means that the baby is very nearly grown up (or so she claims), and that equates to doing many more things on her own.  She wants to feed herself no matter how messy she gets, she wants to climb into the chair by herself no matter how many bumps this may entail, and she wants to make her own choices about all sorts of things.  The problem is how to express yourself when your vocabulary is all of maybe twenty words.  This is where you have to get creative.

Getting people to do what you want is always though.  Often she uses the sign for "more" to mean "do this service for me."  For instance, she uses that sign when she wants you to open the door, lift her up, open something, or even take her around the hippie fair so she can listen to more music.  The problem comes from not knowing which service or item she wants at a given time.  I spend a lot of time saying "do you want x?" then she will shake her head "do you want y?" and so on.  At least she knows specific signs for books and hungry, so those most important topics are covered.

Then there's also the problem of saying when she doesn't like something.  The "all done" sign works for some things, such as finishing food, but it doesn't really cover everything.  After quite a bit of frustration she's settled on waving bye-bye when she wants something to be over.  Thus she will listen to music in the car and then wave "bye-bye" when she wants me to change the song.  It's quite the sign that she's never waved at Mr. Darby or Caspar Babypants.  She waves at things that are scary or boring or just not her style.  I'm guessing that as she gets older, the opinions will only get more strident. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Very First Funny

Last Sunday, Delphinium and I were hanging out together as we are wont to do in the early hours just after she wakes up.  She drinks milk. I drink tea and milk. She plays with her babies and stuffed toys. I "play" with the dishwasher and the broom.  She builds with blocks.  I build breakfast.  She reads picture books.  I read the internet or the paper.  It's a highly satisfactory arrangement.

Only sometimes, more and more in fact, she wants to do what I'm doing.  Not just something near me, but exactly what I am doing.  This morning it was reading the paper.  I tried to get her interested in other activities, but she would not be denied.  Then I remembered the comics.  Sure enough, I dug them out, and she was very happy to sit on my lap and admire the children and pets sprinkled among the pages. 

Then we came to "Red and Rover" where a dog was filling a swimming pool with beach balls.  Then she laughed.  Because that dog with the beach balls was just SO funny it made her laugh.  Which is a totally everyday event except that it was probably the first time she's ever laughed at a comic.  I hope that was the first out of maybe 10,000 or 20,000 times she will get to laugh at the comics. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Over-Booked Kids

Here is a fascinating article about the over-scheduling of children in modern parenting.  It's certainly the fashion to sign your children up for every type of sports, music, arts, and drama activity, but are all these fabulous "opportunities" really beneficial?  Steven Levitt says no.  As far as econonomists can tell, there is no correlation between the number of activities and the later success of the child.  The article also suggests that perhaps parents frantic scheduling is really about trying to find your child's hidden talent so that you will have a clear marker of your parenting success. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Discipline Debate

I recently overheard a conversation in which a mother of a maybe one year old baby described her attempts at discipline. The child is not even walking yet, but she was concerned that she nip problems "in the bud" before it became a major concern. It seems that her baby has been doing all sorts of very troubling things such as throwing food on the ground, wiggling while being dressed, and trying to pull things of table tops. Shocking I know! Did you ever meet a baby who did such aweful things?! It gets worse.

At a loss for how to stop her, she talked to her sister who suggested smacking. Yes, smacks were proscribed to cure wiggling. She tried smacking the next time she did something wrong, but she just laughed. Then she decided that she needed to "study" how much force it would take for her to stop laughing. Every time she did something naughty, she hit the baby a little bit harder until finally she seemed to "notice." At last, she got her baby to cry! Success!

I just cringed when I heard all this. Whacking my child has never seemed like an option to me. I spend so much time trying to avoiding her coming to harm that I can't imagine causing it on purpose. I also don't think a one year old child is capable of understanding why they are being smacked. Sure, they may learn that certain behaviors result in pain, but if they don't get why then it doesn't really work. Maybe when my child is older I will feel the need to spank her, but so far it just seems barbaric to me.

I really do believe that children model everything they see us do. I know this because I've watched her "brush" her teeth, "read" magazines, and want to try every bit of food on our plates. Why should we think that this one area, hitting, would be different? If I use force and pain to get what I want in life, why shouldn't she do the same?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tide To-Do

It seems that many people are upset recently due to a new TV ad from Tide. The ad, which features a pink clad mother complaining about her daughter's love of cargo shorts and hoodies, seems to be poking fun at children who do not follow traditional gender roles. Now I'm sure Tide would say that they intended to poke fun at the mother's discomfort, but I'm not at all certain that's the way it appears. For the last time, let's please lay off of kids who don't conform. Pink and blue are not uniforms, and it is grossly unfair to suggest that they are.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Art and The Kid

When summer first arrives in the Pacific NW, all I want to do is be outside. We walk, we play in the backyard, and we visit parks and playgrounds with our friends. We generally just worship the sun since we don't see it so much around here. However, as summer wears on, and it gets hotter, I start to want those occasional afternoons "off" from the heat and the glare. This is why we found ourselves heading to the Bellevue Arts Museum on a recent Friday.

The Seattle Art Museum has its free visitor day on the first Thursday of every month, but Bellevue prefers to offer Free Fridays. Either one is fine with me. Now you might think that an art museum with a toddler is a crazy idea, and you could certainly tell, from the looks in the elevator, that's exactly what some other patrons thought. Perhaps our baby is unusual, but she really seems to enjoy museums. Think about it, there are many things to look at and lots of them are huge and/or colorful. What's not to like? I think she was a bigger fan of all that modern art than I actually.

We all like the Michael Cooper sculptures in wood and metal that made us think of bicycles meet Da Vinci machines. Only the little one enjoyed the modern jewelry, and I think that was only because of the life-size banana necklace. The baby was also the biggest fan of Midway by Cathy McClure because she liked the elephants. The big people found the strobe to be nauseating within about three seconds. All through the museum we saw sculptures by Wanxin Zheng. These were declared "interesting" by the grown-ups and "fascinating" by the small fry.

On the whole, we enjoyed our trip to the art museum. I would go back depending on what the new exhibits might arrive. Don't worry about taking kids to places like this. They are people who are capable of enjoying culture too. Museums should not be hallowed places where only snooty, silent people are allowed to go and say things like "ah yes, I enjoy how he frames the negative space with that blob of engine oil!"

Monday, August 08, 2011

BIG Teeth

Quick update: molars!  Well one anyway.  It was not exactly an easy time cutting this tooth, and she had a lump the size of a pea for several days, but finally it is through at last.  Now perhaps the drool will let up, and cheerfulness will return.  We're up to nine teeth with the addition of that one, and one day soon the baby will have grinding skills.  Nuts, raw food, and other tough things here we come!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Even Awesome Teachers Need Help

I have to thank my friend, C., for sending me a link to this article.  It's all about how the current "magic bullet" in education is the idea that there are superstar teachers who will fix everything.  Everything she writes about her experience with that was true for me as well.  The only part I would disagree on is the idea that wealthier schools somehow escape the problem of over-crowding. 

I would also like to mention the one part of the education equation that is simply never mentioned in the discussion:  parenting.  You would not believe some of the parenting failures I've seen over the years, but nothing is done or said about it because that is a difficult and painful topic.  Therefore we just leave it alone entirely.  News flash politicians!  If a child's life is falling apart at home, they do not care how stellar I am in the classroom each day.  At that point all I can do is damage control.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Discovery of Witches Review

I'm guessing this is what happened: the author of Discovery read the Twilight books, looked at how popular they are, and said to herself "I can do this better and for grown-ups." And that's just what she did. Well, maybe not the "better" part. This book is a romance featuring a vampire and a mortal girl who also happens to be a powerful, if latent, witch. This author used her personal expertise in history, mythology, yoga, and wine appreciation (nope I'm not kidding) to flesh out the story. The results are lush and interesting half the time, then forced and even embarrassing at other turns.

I loved the idea that a vampire would have seen so much history and have connections in so many places. I did not love the lame romantic moments (just skip those pages unless you have strong appreciation of cheese) or the parts where she goes rowing or to yoga again and again. I know they tell you to write what you know, but there is a limit.  I'm not sure if this was a good book in need of a better editor, or a bad book in need of a re-write. No, no, calling it bad is not fair. I did like the book, and I am not sorry I read it. I just think it shows that this is her first work of fiction. Perhaps the follow up will be stronger, and perhaps they will find her a very experienced and opinionated editor.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Cup Cuddle

I've posted before about how cute it is when the baby cuddles her dolls and stuffed animals. She tucks them under her chin, pats their back, and gives them kisses. Sometimes she even rocks them and sings a "song." Sometimes she asks us to cuddle her baby too. We didn't specifically teach her to play this way; she must have just picked up the idea based on the way we take care of her. However it happened, she's one sweet little "mama" to her dolls.

Then the other morning she decided to cuddle her cup. There she was sitting her high chair and enjoying some breakfast. Suddenly she tucked her little sippy cup under her chin and started to pat. Soon the singing began. In between kisses she was taking nips of milk! As if that wasn't odd enough, she wanted us to cuddle the cup too, and she wouldn't take "no" for an answer. Generalizing skills is supposed to be a good thing in the developmental game, but this is taking things a bit far. What might she be trying to cuddle next?