Saturday, March 23, 2013


Bunny's revelation of the day:

Daddy, the letter "P" is the letter "P."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pubic and Private

I have a very dirty sense of humor. I am not above poop and fart jokes or playing on ethnic, social, sexual, and gender stereotypes. Busting balls is a personal favorite. And I laugh loudest when someone gets me good.

So it is no surprise that my kids have developed a sense of humor about poop and fart jokes as well as private parts.

Potty humor was both my and Wife's fault. We would giggle and call out when someone farted. Make a big stink about a big stinky diaper. "What, are you putting out a fire?" when JD would pee for a long time.

Private part humor is age appropriate. They joke about each other's body parts and simply say, "Penis," or, "Vagina," just to get a laugh. Wife and I have never fed into this.

Quite the contrary, actually, we have always tried to mention private parts in the same breath as all body parts and have always used their real names, rather than creating baby-talk names. We respect the body and all of its parts.

JD, though, at some point started to realize that there was something different about these parts and would point them out in a joking manner. Bunny, being a quick study, picked up on the humor and ran with it.

Now, it is out of control. They constantly joke about poop, pee, farts, penises and vaginas.

JD's Autism shows up in that, once he thinks he said something funny, it is nearly impossible to reduce the impulse to say the funny thing again. If it was funny once, surely it will be funny the second, third, and one-hundred-seventy-ninth time.

One of the things that Bunny does that infuriates me is picking up on and displaying a behavior that I had, quite literally, just finished admonishing to JD. Let's say he giggled out, "What's pee-pee?" I will ask him, "Is it okay to use potty words?" "No." In the same rhythm, Bunny will say, "What's pee-pee?" giggling all the way. That is when I see red and have to consciously use all of my energy and parenting tools to remain calm or remove myself from the room. Or I will fail to put up the proper road blocks and yell at her.

JD occasionally displays this behavior, but Bunny, being three-years-old, has a knack for it.

The misuse of private parts and potty words has been going on for a month more more with little success in stopping it. The only thing I have failed to do is establish a star chart. And I know it would help. A lot. Instead of acting on that, I am writing about failing to take that action. I digress. I have talked to them endlessly about this.

Oh, I forgot to mention the couple of times Bunny has exposed herself to other kids. Once via Facetime to a five-year-old friend who moved to Baltimore. Another time to two sons of good friends of ours who are five- and four-years-old. On those occasions she did not get patient Daddy.

Behaviors like this are ones that Wife and I feared being on the receiving end. Instead, it is our family who is causing the problem. Fortunately, it does not appear that they are bringing these behaviors to school. On the flip side, I fear the consequences.

To the star chart. Deciding how to positively reward and, even more challenging, a negative consequence has proven challenging. I don't like the idea of giving the child a toy as a reward. Good behavior is something that doesn't produce material benefits. Perhaps something more like a bowling or movie outing. And for the negative consequence? No treats for a week? Taking away TV is really hard because they only get TV on the weekends and it would be really hard to allow one to get TV and not the other. Perhaps, the child who doesn't get TV has to spend that time in their room. Not sure if that would create sibling-to-sibling problems.

Any ideas about any of this?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Algebra for Kids

Bunny has one of those preschool skills workbooks here at home. (Great gift, Auntie Susie!)

One of the activities is a picture hunt. It asks to count the number of various items, like trees, apples, and bees.

For the bees, there were two groups of bees. Two bees were in some flowers. Eight bees were swarming next to a hive. She counted them individually to come up with the answer, ten.

Then I asked, “How many bees are in the flowers?”
“Two,” replied Bunny.
“How many bees total?”
She said, “Ten.”
“So how many bees are by the hive?” I asked.
She didn’t know.
So I wrote down and explained the following formula:
B + 2 = 10, and B is for the bees that are by the hive.

Then I explained that to find out the number of bees by the hive, we would take the total number of bees and subtract the bees in the flowers, or:

10 - 2 = B

Then I put up my ten fingers and asked her to count down with me, taking away a finger each time. Nine, eight.
“How many fingers did I put down?” I asked.
She said, “Two.”
“So ten minus two equals?”

“So B equals?”
And I asked her to write B = 8
She was pretty excited about coming to the answer.

Similarly, we did an exercise with JD yesterday that was similar. Every day, they get four Girl Scout cookies after school. We often do math with them by subtracting the number of cookies they’ve eaten from the total number of cookies to come to the number of cookies they have left.

Yesterday, however, I changed that a little bit. JD had eaten two cookies. I asked him to say it in a number sentence:
“Four minus two equals two.”
Then I asked him, “How many cookies did you just have?”
“How many cookies did you eat just now?”
“So say that in a number sentence.”
“Three minus one equals two.”

We have a white board on the wall next to the kitchen table. I wrote the number sentences and had the kids recite them as I did so:
4 - 2 = 2
3 - 1 = 2

Then I said, “So if four minus two equals two and three minus one equals two, then . . .” and I wrote:
4 - 2 = 3 - 1

Good times.

Backward Time Efficiency

I have learned that working backwards makes me more efficient.

When I plan (and I don't do so as often as I should,) the essential things must come first.

For example, in the morning, the first thing the kids have to do is get dressed. Get up, get dressed, brush teeth. Then comes breakfast, then brushing hair, then, if there's time, a little play.

For my own daily tasks, the first thing that I should always do I think about dinner. That is the meal that requires the most time and the most ingredients. Tonight is pasta with tomato sauce, steamed vegetables, and bread. The sauce takes about 80 minutes to make, including prep. So, right when I got home from drop-off, I started the sauce. Now, at 10:15 A.M., I am stirring every 5 minutes as the sauce simmers.

If I started the sauce in the afternoon, it would take away time from the kids (though sometimes they do help me cook.) Now, I have the most time consuming aspect of my day completed. After writing, I will drop in a load of laundry and continue my mission to reduce the clutter in my house.

One of the advantages to having the sauce done is that it's something that hangs over my head. Taking care of clutter is something that can be started an stopped at any time. Laundry is set-it-and-forget-it (though it has to be turned over in a timely fashion.) Paying bills can be done on the fly or a little bit at a time.

Now I can work with Bunny on school skills. When JD comes home from school, we can play with his hockey guys.

Finally, I wonder if the structure of cooking helps get me into a mode of following structure. If I started with reducing clutter, that is starting with a task that does not have a lot of definition. It is challenging to gauge the amount of time being spent. Cooking is perfect for that - it helps establish a mental clock. It helps mentally establish steps, and requires deliberate movement.