Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Really? A Cape?

Wife bought JD a Thor costume from Costco for around $20. I thought it was a frivolous purchase, but went along with it.

Since then, he has worn it almost every day. He has worn it everywhere - to the grocery store, the park, and out front to play with the neighborhood kids. He loves the thought of being a superhero.

Until recently, I thought that kids dressing up in costume in public on a regular basis was . . . silly. What were their parents thinking? Kids running around with capes on. I mean, come on!

Now that I'm the parent, I realize that they are trying on different selves. They are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.

To go off on a related tangent, as an adult, I put on costumes more than I realize. Let's say I'm on the golf course. My tee shot has left me 235 yards from the center of the green. Seriously, what are the chances that I can hit the green from there? But still, I pull out my 3-wood and give it a rip. I've just put on my Tiger Woods costume. When I'm playing in a men's league hockey game and try to skate the puck from my defensive to the offensive end, I've just put on my Patrick Kane costume. When I try to pick stocks, I've put on my Warren Buffett costume.

While JD may not be able to harness the powers of Thor, just as I probably sliced the ball into the woods, he can harness some happiness and perhaps the thought that, if he works hard enough and dreams big enough, that he can be a super-something someday.

Toodles will be a Princess someday. Don't get me started.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Many of my favorite moments in the last few months with the kids have been watching or listening to them play together (when they play nicely.)

Today, while I was preparing dinner, they were playing in the living room. The living room is at the front of the house while the kitchen is at the back with a 10 foot hallway separating. Close enough to hear, far enough to be separate.

So I'm doing my thing in the kitchen when I hear JD say, "Toodles, do you have an 'S'?"

"It's right here!" she replied.

"Okay, Toodles, put a red circle on the 'S'."

"Okay, JD," she said. I had to peek in.

They were playing the I Spy version of Bingo together. JD was calling out the letters while helping his sister find her letters. He was very patient and not bossy at all.

While many other moments over the course of the day would tell otherwise, as well as a couple of marks on JD's face, they really love each other and do find ways to show it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Practical Development

I sometimes wonder if I give the right bablance of supervision and freddom to JD & Toodles. JD just came to get me from the kitchen to show me what he and Toodles have been up to.

For the last 20 minutes or so, I have been putting away the groceries that we picked up. Carrots and celery were peeled and washed, respectively, cut into sticks, and put into a container with water and a touch of salt. Contact solution and new toothbrushes into the bathroom. Filled the flour jar. Dumped the bad buttermilk. Stared longingly at the cold beer in the fridge.

When I walked into the livingroom with JD, he said, "Daddy, look!" Toodles was wrapped to invisibilty within a tan fleece blanket. There was a small pile of toys on her.

"Hi Toodles," I said with a bit of apprehension regarding the scene. "Are you ok?"

"Yeah, Daddy, I okay," sounding perfectly content. Back to the kitchen.

A few minutes later, JD appeared. "Daddy, come see."

The couch pillows were on top of the toys.

"Toodles, are you okay?"

"Yes, Daddy."

I told JD that, if she wanted to get up, that he had to help her immediately.

In the end, nothing bad happened. They were happy playing together. I was happy having a long while to get things done.

Sometimes I think that I use too much time to do these things. There certainly is a happy medium between free, self-directed play and structured play. Occasionnaly, I feel guilty that I've given too much time to chores, trying but failing to remember what structured activities we did together.

today, we were out of the house for over three hours, shopping at five different stores: Target, Costco, Aldi, Isaacson & Stein Fish, and Stanley's Produce. Since we've been home, I have spent the bulk of my time putting away groceries and other items, making lunch, and organizing the kitchen. So what could I have possibly taught them?

Over the course of the day, we talked about street smarts like looking out for cars; about keeping our fingers off of items that we aren't buying, about different kinds of produce, meat, fish, and shellfish; and about the things that we saw along the way like railroad tracks ("JD, did you know that Chicago was the railroad capital of the United States?") vehicles, and people.

The fact that we haven't sat at a table and worked on math, language, or science skills still bothers me a bit. One, the day isn't over. And, two, I did not neglect their overall development.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nobody Pushes Toodles

Our babysitter related this story to me when I came home from my daytime errands.

Toodles was on a slide at the local park. While sitting at the top waiting to go down, a little boy, roughly Toodles's age, pushed her so that she slid down before she was ready. Physically, she was fine, but she was crying.

JD saw this and, after the little boy came down the slide, proceeded to discipline the little boy. "Don't push Toodles down the slide!" said JD. "You go sit down. Time out!" he said, pulling the little boy by his sleeve. The little boy, though a bit wide-eyed, sat down.

Then, JD walked over to Toodles and asked, "Toodles, are you ok?"

"Yeah," she respondeed tearfully and sniffling.

JD went back to the little boy and explained to him how he shouldn't push other kids down the slide, that they could get hurt. Back to Toodles.

"Are you still ok?" he asked.

"Yeah," she responded, still sniffling.

Back to the little boy. "Go say sorry to Toodles," JD directed.

"No," said the little boy.

"Yes," said JD, "Go say sorry to Toodles."

"Ok," and reluctantly walked to Toodles and gave her a half-hearted, "Sorry."

My sitter told me that, all this time, she looked for a parent or babysitter to appear to defend/discipline/oversee the situation, but none did. She also said that she was in between intervening and keeping her distance. Because JD was doing such a good job talking to the boy, though sternly, and not hitting, she sat back and let him take care of the situation.

Wife and I have often talked and debated about the best way to teach JD to defend his sister. It's difficult to teach a child of four years not to hit, but suddenly allow him the judgment to hit if it is required to defend his sister. Apparently he picked up the appropriate tactics. JD simultaneously ensured Toodles's well-being while defending her honor and safety while using upper-level intellectual tactics. Rather than throwing himself on the boy and beating the daylights out of him, he used his words to handle an emotionally charged situation. It was the perfect combination of bravery and maturity.

And he knew that nobody pushes Toodles. Nobody.

I am neither pacifist nor war-monger. There is a time for action and a time for diplomacy. I'm proud to say that our son, in this instance, chose the appropriate course of reaction in this situation.