Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 7, 2011 - Toddler Tricks

Warning: if not interested in toddler details, skip this blog!  When our blogs are published into annual books (thanks Bibi and Jen!) they serve as "baby books" for Grace & Noah, so the details are more for me than for you!  Sorry!
Grace is a real big girl these days.  I know this because many times a day she tells me, almost like a song lyric, "I can do it by myself. I'm big now.  I'm so big."   She is also a supportive daughter who congratulates me when I do big girl things too, like climb up the stairs by myself, finish the food on my plate, go pee-pee on the potty.  She tells me, "Good job, Mama!  You're big like me!"  This is a stage of life that we really enjoy, because when she is cute she is so darn cute, and I would say that enjoyment pervades about 94% of the time.  The other 6% of the time she is really pushing our buttons, challenging us, driving us know, being two.  

Here are some of my notes about Grace in the last few weeks:

  • Grace has decided to double all plural words in English.  So cars = carses, clothes = clotheses, books = bookses, shoes = shoeses, etc.  Why does she do this?  I have absolutely no idea.  I alternate between thinking it is cute or a little bit annoying, and I wonder when she will realize that she only needs one "s" instead of two!
  • Grace speaks in complete sentences, almost exclusively.  If I ask her if she is OK, she doesn't just say yes or no.  She says, "Yes, I am otay" or "No, I am not otay" (one time she even said, "I am not sure.").  She is increasingly using compound sentences with "and" or "but" as well.  
  • In both languages, her vocabulary is increasing rapidly.  Kristoffer is reading to her in Danish a lot more than he used to and that is clearly paying off.  She mimics both of us and tries to repeat whatever we say.  I called her "very independent" the other day so since then she has been working on correctly pronouncing that word (she is close!), and she knows what it means because she is uses it appropriately.  We really have to watch what we say and how we say it, because it will surely come out of her mouth the exact same way.
  • Her accent changes depending on who she talks to, even within the English language.  To me she says "dinner" but to Rose she says, "Dee-nah" the way Kenyans pronounce it.  She is a language code-switcher - impressive!
  • Little Miss Imagination is really fun to play with and to watch while she is playing alone.  She still really loves her "friends" Elmo, Quack Quack, Bunny, Bamse, Elephant, Doggy Doggy, Baby, etc.  and continues to play with them in unique ways.  This week she must have been playing "school" with them because she had them all lined up against the wall, sat in front of them and read them a book, then said to each one "Well done, Elmo!  Well done, Bunny!, etc", after which she said to the whole group, "Well done, everybody!  You've had a good day!"  Was she mimicking Ms. Mbata, her teacher from school? I think so!
  • We recently introduced a "time out chair" for disciplining Grace (sometimes works, sometimes doesn't...sigh) and so now she is also using it to discipline her friends.  On Tuesday Elmo hit Doggy Doggy and was put in the time out chair, with the timer set.  She told him, "Elmo we don't hit anybody, otay?  That makes me sad. Say sorry to Doggy Doggy when the timer goes off."  She sat and watched him until the timer went off, then she made Elmo hug Doggy Doggy and say sorry.  Next...Doggy Doggy kicked Quack Quack.  And repeat.  It is a little bit eery to hear your own parenting come out of your 2-year-old's mouth!
  • Grace loves to sing songs, listen to music, read books, and play the tambourine.  She also loves to color, color, color and to hide, hide, hide (sometimes to seek too)!  To assist her independence I bought her a little stool which she carries around the house to reach things by herself.  She feels so proud to get things and put them away on her own.
  • Good days/bad days.  She eats a decent breakfast about 6 days a week; lunch 4-6 days a week, and dinner 4-6 days a week.  If she eats a good lunch, dinner will likely not go that well (and vice versa).  
  • The strategy that seems to work of late is to get her to eat as much as possible at the table, then let her down to play and every few minutes invite her back to take a bite or two of food.  That is actually helping us get more food into her for breakfast and dinner at least.
  • She is still drinking "special milk" (Pediasure or older toddler formula) about 5 times a day, which I am sure is the reason she has put on weight.  
  • Aside from really making Noah smile and laugh most of the time, she has tapped into some of her maternal instincts to help us take care of him.  If Noah spits or throws up, she is the first to run for the burp cloth and wipe it up.  She brings him toys to play with and congratulates him when he does something "big" like sitting up by himself: "Good job, Buddy!  Well done!" She also told him at dinner last night when he spit out some cereal, "Noah, we don't spit out our food."  Maybe I should call her Echo!
  • Grace has started to be possessive with her stuff around Noah.  If he grabs (usually by accident) her duvet or a toy she gives him a small lecture, "Noah, that is my duvet.  You cannot take it without asking nicely."  Miss Manners!
  • She also has a lot of empathy for Noah, and others.  If I react to something with a gasp or a sigh she quickly responds with, "Oh no, what happened Mama? Are you otay?"  And the same if Noah cries - she is genuinely concerned about how people feel and making sure everybody is "otay."
  • Yesterday was the Drama Festival at Grace's school, where each class did a performance.  It was not quite as funny/impressive as the Christmas Show, but was still cute.  Grace's class - which has quadrupled in size since she started in October and now has another teacher and many assistants - sang two songs: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (which she has known for months and months and months) and Miss Polly (new to me).  Most of the kids in the class froze or, like Grace, bit their fingers and picked their noses.  As soon as we got home, of course, she did the whole performance for me and Rose, but at school the audience still shocked her! 
Grace is biting her fingers:
 Grace is picking her nose:
 Rose with Grace, eating watermelon, after the show:
 Grace and the best pre-school teacher ever, Ms. Mbata:
  • Today is the last day of the term before the summer holidays but Grace will go to "camp" at her school on the same schedule for two more weeks.  Anything to prolong screwing up her schedule!
  • Grace received her first "report card" from school.  It is two pages that highlight her language/knowledge, social/emotional, and physical development since she started in October (scanned below, but maybe you can't see it too well).  We were surprised to get such a formal report from the school but were very pleased with their comments, particularly that Grace has come out of her shell a bit to play with other kids more than she did in the fall.  As noted, Andrew is still her best friend and all her other friends but one are boys (good thing she got a brother, I guess!).  The report is very, very sweet.

Parenting a toddler is not the easiest job in the world.  Some days we feel very successful and some days not, because of course she feels her emotions extremely, has temper tantrums that we can't always predict, is pushing her boundaries, and is very stubborn (I say she gets that from Kristoffer, he says she gets that from me.  Hmmm....).  But her wonderful qualities far outweigh those difficult moments, from which she has to learn and develop as well, and at the end of every day we usually debrief about her cutest and most challenging moments, and how much we love her.


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