Archive for October, 2014

Skipping Rope

October 26, 2014

I bought a pack of rubber bands from the Dollar Store previously so we could use it for a geoboard and various other crafty things. I made a little rubber band ball which has since disappeared into one of the numerous nook and crannies in Calvin’s room. Then I started making a rubber band string reminiscent of the ones I made for playing jump rope in Primary school. I use it primarily for skipping. I used to only be able to do a running style of skipping, with one leg over and then lift up the other but I can finally do the “pro” skipping that boxers seem to be known for doing! The good thing about skipping is that I don’t have to care about the weather outside and there’s no real preparation time (i.e. putting on running shoes/ clothes) so I can just do them in bursts whenever I feel like it. The first time I skipped, leg muscles I did not know existed started to ache but those muscles must have gotten stronger since because I haven’t had another muscle ache. Or maybe that just means my intensity isn’t quite enough to tax them.

Night Waking

October 24, 2014

Calvin has been waking up almost every night for the past 2 weeks, reminiscent of his baby and toddler time. The worst part is that he is usually having night terrors and he will scream and mutter random things like “Get it now!” “It will be too late in the morning” “Give me back my toy, R (I thought he said Ryder from paw patrol but papa thinks he said this kid’s name”. At first I thought he might be waking up because of a full bladder but part of it might also be because he is experiencing some stress in school related to dealing with novel social situations.

Calvin is very easygoing and he tends to avoid conflict because it distresses him. Even conflict that he watches on a very child friendly cartoon makes him close his ears and turn around like it was a scary movie. When someone barged into his digging spot, he told them “I was here first” but when the other boy insisted he was there first too, he gave in and decided to go find another spot, except he obviously felt unhappy about it after that. Then yesterday, he told me about how R snatched away his fire patterned cloth so he couldn’t put up the fire where he wanted. This morning, I watched it first hand when R snatched a block away from him. I tried to get R to give it back but he refused. In the rush to get to morning meeting, I forgot that I should let the teachers know so they can resolve it instead of letting it go. I guess I did not model very good behavior either though I hope Calvin will learn to stand up for himself. Maybe we need to work on it through some role playing at home.

Prepare for Trouble, And Make it Double (or Triple/Quadruple)

October 14, 2014

Calvin has been in an exploratory mood recently and by exploratory, I mean he likes to try out things when I am not watching because I am usually the voice of dissent. The result was that during consecutive quiet times while I take a nap, he would sneak around to play with colored water which stained the floor, a stamp which left ink on the door and wall, rip posters/ pictures off the wall so he could get the poster putty to stick his lego/ Transformers/ toys to each other. He knows that I do not approve. In fact, he would sneak to my door and peak in to see if I am asleep before he starts. During the poster putty incident, he thought I was asleep and started pulling out the pictures in the hall. I heard the distinctive ‘twack’ of the putty being pulled off and called to him to remind him that the putty is not a toy. He scurried back to his room quickly. I thought that was settled until I went to his room later and found the pandemonium of his new poster crumpled on the floor and pictures strewn on the floor, plundered of the sticky companions that kept them aloft on the wall. To my credit, I did not scream at him. We merely cleaned up and I gave him explanations on why he shouldn’t do what he did.

We have been trying out new experiences in the form of experiments and projects like our marshmallow “World of goo” tower, rice sensory tub, craft bats for Halloween, new board game (he is getting good at “Spot it!”. We now give him a 5 second lead time), literacy activities etc etc so I don’t think this is a result of boredom or lack of stimulation.

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World of goo!

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Yummy goo 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps this is him asserting his independence. Does it mean I have been breathing down his neck too much? Well it can’t be helped since he still can’t differentiate between what is safe and what isn’t or how to contain messes. Case in point, yesterday he was playing with the full length mirror that was propped on the wall and started commenting that the room is tilting which I interprete as “I am now moving this big mirror and it might fall on my head if I don’t balance it well.” I was not reassured when I asked him what he thinks he should do if the mirror breaks and he said he should run away. I made him promise to call for help in case there is broken glass afoot but I am not sure how much of that he will remember if he panics.

So far, I think I’ve been as patient with him as I can muster. In fact, holding myself back from expressing anger is probably giving me extra stress >_< This morning however, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when he took the dirty toilet scrub that is tucked in the corner and threw it into the potty that was unflushed and full of his pee (thank goodness it was not number 2).  I was probably angry because of quite a few different things –

1) I found out about his wrong doing instead of being told

2) I really hate the dirty toilet brush and I have no idea what he used the brush to touch before dunking it in the potty

3) When I found out and told him I was mad about it, he was unrepentant (as usual) and declared that he was mad at me

4) When I told him to stop making faces while I talked, he ignored me and continued making his angry faces.

5) I just told him yesterday to ask before using anything that wasn’t a toy if he has not used it before

 

While I think my reaction is justifiable and normal, especially in view of all the mischief I’ve had to dealt with in the last 3 days, I felt like I could do better. Maybe I just needed some time to refill with maternal zen.

1) To begin with, I could have walked away to calm down instead of being angry when I started talking to him. We always end up in this bad cycle (I get angry and he gets angry back) when I don’t take time to calm down.

2) I should have given him the chance to explain/ talk about what he has done.

3) I need to think about and organize what I really want him to learn from this. I tend to go on and on and on and he loses focus from the long nagging he is subjected to.

I didn’t like that we had to punish him by giving him a timeout for acting disrespectful and ignoring my request to stop making faces but I guess once we back ourselves into that corner it is inevitable. I didn’t like how needlessly prolix our lecturing became. Maybe I need a “What to do when you are angry” list to help me when I feel overwhelmed by negative emotion…

 

What do Stay at Home Mums do All Day?

October 9, 2014

I often read many stay-at-home bloggers complain about how infuriating it is to be asked “What do you do all day?”. The recipients of such comments often get defensive and huffy and start listing out how their job scope includes being chefs, drivers, educators, nurses etc etc. I wonder sometimes if other people are truly curious about what happens because they don’t know what taking care of a child encompasses.

When I think of myself before we had kids, I was totally misguided and clueless about taking care of young children. In fact, I didn’t even like them. I never paid attention to newborns or coo over how precious they are. In fact, I still don’t think newborns are cute. I’d much prefer my little 4 year old anytime. Before I experienced it myself, I never imagined that taking care of a young child would be so much work. I’ve never had to take care of younger siblings/ cousins/ neighbors, so I only knew what I saw on TV i.e. that taking care of an infant is simply giving them milk, changing their diaper, enjoying their wonderful smiles, buying toys for them to explore by themselves and then putting them on the cot when they are sleepy/ asleep. Easy peasy, right? Then reality hits and you realize that there’s a lot more to it  – waking up every 3 hours at night, carrying your baby while he naps, taking care of a sick child, worrying about milestones, clearing the endless washing up, having to entertain the baby who has an uber short attention span, cleaning up puke, poop and any other possible excretions that a body can conceive of.

Having been both a stay at home mother and a working mother, I have great respect for both because it takes a lot of energy and effort to be either. A working mom is obviously a tough choice to take. There is a lot less time to spend with your children – on weekday nights, you’ll have maybe an hour or two after dinner before their bed time and you are all exhausted from work and commute; on weekends, there are still chores and errands that needs to be done. When Calvin was in daycare, I found that I didn’t enjoy this lifestyle at all. It was too hectic and stressful and there was too little time to reflect and plan. I felt like we lived day to day like clockwork. I didn’t have time to grow as a person then. I was too busy and too exhausted. It didn’t help that I wasn’t having enough sleep at night and he was constantly sick and not exactly thriving in the day care environment. I constantly wished I had more time and I salute those who can juggle this difficult balancing act.

For me and Calvin, the stay at home path was much better. After we started our 2nd stay at home stint, Calvin started eating very well and not falling sick so much. I still wished I had more time on my hands. It was not easy to juggle taking care of the household and being a 24/7 mother – Calvin never really played by himself for more than 10 minutes until he was almost 4 years old? I was still learning to cook at that time and it was very time consuming to have all our meals home cooked everyday. I am glad I had the opportunity to take this path because I enjoy being very involved in his growing up. I’ve learned a lot more about motivation, child psychology, teaching techniques, language acquisition, calming techniques (self and others) etc. I could have “outsourced” some of that to enrichment centers that teach phonics etc but I like learning about the how and why so I spend a lot of my time reading about homeschooling experiences, science experiments, math and language activities etc. I get more time to plan out fun activities for him and learn about his interests.

I’ve also learned more about myself as a person and I find myself maturing. Before having Calvin, I felt no different from when I was in college – I did what I wanted on a whim; I had no responsibilities other than to hold a job; I thought of myself as a static persona and I was not sure about how I could grow – when I thought about myself becoming a manager in the future, it felt strange and unreal. Now, I feel like I am ready to go back to work after having grown up a little more. So when Calvin grows up and no longer needs me at home, I might once again go back to work if I still can.

So back to the question of “What do you do all day?”.  Perhaps if we try to listen to the question with a positive mindset and assume that the person asking is merely curious (or just trying to make small talk), we may not feel quite as offended. Would people be similarly offended if they were asked about their day at the office? Maybe it is because this is a sore, tender topic for stay at home parents who are worried about their sense of self worth when they do not possess tangible achievements like a promotion or a raise that you may get at a workplace. So much so that even possibly innocent questions will lead the self conscious to feel judged when they are not.

For me, maybe my answer will be”I am growing up :)”.

Getting Angry with Each Other

October 7, 2014

So it finally happened – Calvin drew on the wall with his crayon.

The background story is this – the day before, both Calvin and I had a really late and long nap, separately. We were both sleep deprived from his night awakenings a couple of days ago. He slept through his video time and I slept till dinner time without preparing dinner. We had dinner almost an hour later than usual and Calvin ended up sleeping after 11pm. And then he started waking up and calling for us for no other reason than to see our faces. He woke up about three times in the middle of the night and somehow still managed to wake up at 7am in the morning and started crowing excitedly that it was morning. Ugh…talk about a bad start for me.

In the afternoon, I needed my nap. He didn’t seem inclined to sleep and was busy puttering about. When he woke me up later, he told me to come see his room. That’s when I saw that he had redecorated his room. The wall clings have been moved onto his playground and room door; there was tape all over the wall together with odds and ends taped on like a little plastic spoon. And then there was an odd circle on the wall written on tape. On close inspection, I realized the writing wasn’t on the tape and started to peel it. As I had feared, there was the black imprint clearly on the wall. I was pretty mad and told him so in a harsh voice to show my anger. When he started to tell me it was an accident, I got more furious because it was clearly a deliberate circle he had drawn. (When I questioned him in detail later, I found that he confused accident for “things he didn’t want to happen” instead of “things he didn’t intend to happen”. I guess the concept of intent is still too abstract for an almost 5 year old)

The most infuriating part is that when I am angry with him for doing something wrong and not admitting or apologizing for it, he starts to get angry too. He still does not know how to control his anger either so will start shouting at me, throwing things at me (albeit this time it was a used tissue paper ball) and saying mean things like “You are the worst mama!”. Surprisingly the mean words from him didn’t really faze me since I know those are just angry words. I made him help to clean up his room while I scrounge the internet for crayon-on-wall remedies. The good old baking soda saved the day again and the wall is once again pristine.

Maybe if I was more rested, I would be able to handle it better and could talk it through with him instead of getting angry.  When Calvin finished his snack later, he asked me, “Mama, are you still angry/upset?” It is hard to stay upset with the little man. I did tell him then that I wasn’t angry anymore that I’m sorry that I was so mad. I guess he gets worked up and feels insecure when I am unhappy with him and starts to lash out too in defense. I’m glad we sorted it out in the end. He promised me that he will never draw on the wall again. I’m hoping he will learn to be more honest with me next time instead of trying to hide but I think that will be a lesson that will be difficult to teach. It is only human nature that we do not want to disappoint the people we love or respect even if they do not get angry with us.

Apple Picking Fun

October 5, 2014

Carter Mountain Apple season is here! We forgot all about the weekend crowds and braved the apple orchard today. We still had loads of fun and came back with 13 lbs of apples and half a dozen of apple cider donuts. Next time, I’ll remember to visit on a weekday. At least we packed lunch and didn’t have to suffer the long lines at the food bar.

A Taste of Leadership

October 1, 2014

Calvin is cur2014-10-01 00.02.19rently the oldest child in his preschool since he didn’t meet the cut off for kindergarten. He has been talking about how he is one of the strongest/ fastest/ biggest boy in school because I guess that’s how kids like to perceive themselves. Today, when I picked him up from school, his teacher (H) was telling me about how he came up with the idea of the costume that his best friend had – two arm bands and a crown. The insect hat is the usual craft they make for their insect theme. Calvin began telling me excitedly about how everyone followed his ideas twice today. First at meeting time when H asked them to make insect antennas and Calvin presumably took the lead and everyone followed suit (“All except M.” Calvin said.) And then when they did the craft, he had the idea of poking his arm through two sheets of paper that were stuck together to form a hole. So his best friend made two arm bands and Calvin had one, but Calvin had something the rest did not have – he had a suit that goes around his body. He sounded very proud of himself and I am glad that he is having wonderful experiences at school.