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Posts Tagged ‘toddler’

Finger-Painting with Toddlers: Life is More Fulfilling Outside the Lines

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

By, Daphne

Reflecting back to my own childhood, I have a distinct memory from my three-year-old preschool class. We were all given large letters to color, and on my page was the letter “R.” I chose the color red, and in my mind, my work was perfect; the edges of my letter were intact without the slightest stray scribble. I was completely content in my perfect expression of art until Brad, the kid next to me, took his brown crayon and make a huge mark that extended from inside my red letter, crossed the boundaries of the line, and finally violated the clean white space of the paper that was not meant for any coloring. It could be said that I overreacted, but I felt the only appropriate action to take was to grab a black crayon and destroy my beautiful, red “R.”

Further reflection about this memory could say quite a bit about my wish to control the environment around me, an indication that the budding creativity of my own children might challenge my comfort level. Perhaps the brown mark across my paper could have been developed into a beautiful tree over my letter? My creative vision at the time was limited, though, and I could only see that my work was destroyed.

Son, Andrew, fingerpainting

Son, Andrew, fingerpainting

Those who have seen my house can easily confirm that I am not a neat freak. Clutter is well nourished in my home; I tolerate scattered books and toys better than most. However, the story of the letter “R” revisits me when it comes to doing artwork with my children. With my son, the challenge has been that he would want help with coloring a picture, so I would help. I would choose my color, pick a section, and all would be well until I realized that I was supposed to be okay with him coloring on my, I mean his, artwork. Fortunately, as the years have passed, my son has become happy for us to each color pictures beside each other, allowing me to control the environment of my own artwork.

The medium of art expression that I have avoided the most is finger painting. Yes, children’s paint is washable, but somehow it will not only move beyond the boundaries of lines on the paper but also find a way to use children’s hands to hitchhike onto the table, clothes, hair, and sometimes even the floor and wall. Of course, the moment will come when my child wants help from me, and the risky feeling of paint on my fingers that could be transferred to anything else I touch gives me a greater awareness that even I, in a moment of distraction, might not be able to keep my own art inside the square corners of the paper.

For me to be able to help my child with finger-painting, I have to accept the reality that art is messy, it can be cleaned up, and that my child and I will recover no matter where the paint ends up residing. I almost forgot – it should be fun!

Daughter, Elaine, fingerpainting

Daughter, Elaine, fingerpainting

Today I finally opened up the finger paints I bought for my daughter months ago. I took the risk of letting her have fun, fully aware of the disorder that would result from her joy. At fist, she hesitated. Maybe she was also worried about a mess? Oh no, I didn’t want her to feel limited by a fear of paint going everywhere. I dipped my finer in the paint and demonstrated. She following my example and enjoyed herself by painting five pictures! By the time she was finished, the total damage was paint on her hands, my hands, her pajamas, and the table. That was it! We had fun creating art together, and all of the mess was easily cleaned up!

Perhaps not all mothers have as much difficulty with finger painting as I do, but I do think most mothers can relate to having their children push them outside of their level of comfort. Of course, there is a balance, and sometimes it’s important to maintain order. However, I’ve learned that the situations where our children push us just past our limits can be good lessons for how we view life. This can apply to our career choices, our social activities, and even our value system.

Perhaps the safe career isn’t the most rewarding? Perhaps the risk of starting a new activity and meeting new people will bring a greater depth and enjoyment to life? Perhaps one of the rules of life you have always followed should be reevaluated to determine if it still fits into your value system?

Since I gave birth to my first child, I have tackled all three of those questions. My career goals have changed, but I feel a much deeper sense of satisfaction with my new career direction. I have joined many new social groups and have only found more appreciation of life with getting to know more people. For my value system, I have learned to listen more closely to what is in my heart rather seeking out popular values that are not meaningful for me. Hopefully now that I have survived finger painting, I will be able to accept even more of the joys waiting for me outside the lines of the letter “R.”

Parenting Skills Begin in High School

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

By, Daphne

When I first met my newborn son, I initially felt that any parenting challenges would settle into a predicable routine. There is so much advice out there about soothing the young baby and disciplining the toddler. While some of the tips and suggestions from magazines, books, friends, family, and online communities have been helpful, I finally realized that some of my parenting difficulties could be helped by what I learned in high school.

The time between comforting a baby to sleep and quietly slipping out of the room can be the most stressful, fearful, and hopeful experience of a parent’s day. As you step away from the bed, you move as carefully as possible, making sure not to bump into a creaking place on the wall or step on a musical toy that might make the slightest or loudest sound. Movement must be precise yet purposeful to make it out of the room successfully. The lurking punishment of a crying baby keeps your fear alive, much like the fear of high school detention for getting caught without a hall pass. If you have any experience with sneaking down a restricted hallway during lunchtime in school, you’ve already fine-tuned a silent tread. In addition, the stress management skills you learned in each second of hallway fear will now help you keep calm when you hear the sounds of your baby possibly waking up, seeing you, and loudly requesting that you remain in the room for a longer period of time.

As your child grows somewhat older, you will enter a stage when you want to enjoy sweet foods and candies that you would prefer not to share with your exclusively organic fed little one. Some of us have better personal discipline than others, but I know I like to experience some type of sugary treat several times a day. The challenge is that children have a shockingly well-developed ear for candy wrappers at an early age. Complicating the task further is the fact that some toddlers can even smell scents such as chocolate on your breath after you’ve managed to successfully fulfill your sweet tooth’s needs. Luckily, those of us who spent years eating candy in class daily already know all the tricks for keeping our sugary secrets private. Unwrapping candy before school was the best strategy for removing the noise risk to eating candy during class. Now, the same concept can be applied by transferring all candy to cloth or zip-lock bags. While teachers weren’t checking the smell of anyone’s breath, they may have noticed the rhythmic movement of gum being chewed. Limit talking after sneaking any sweets to avoid having your toddler discover your secret.

The most desperate moment for any parent can be when your child is frantically searching for a toy that you know for sure is never going to be found. It didn’t seem like it would be missed at the time, but this overlooked entertainment purchase from three years ago has suddenly become the only teddy bear that loved him or the only toy xylophone that will express the music of her heart. Once again, you must search through the high school compartment of your brain and now think of a time when you didn’t have an assignment turned in on time. It’s not that you lied about the reason for the lateness, but you did want your situation to be convincing to your teacher. Perhaps you embellished or even fabricated entire details about what occupied your time when you should have been working on the school project. Now, as your child looks at you with faith that you will solve the case of the missing, loved toy, you find those story-enhancing skills from years ago to be most helpful. Again, it’s not that you completely lie to your child – or maybe you do, but the goal is to keep everyone happy. True, you might not actually know a little girl who had no toys or if she received your child’s loved possession when you donated it to charity, but a personalized aspect about the destination of your preschooler’s now retired teddy bear or xylophone sure helps take the focus off of what she lost.

Parenting is difficult, and we all run into challenges regularly. Though it does seem that solutions to our adjustments to living with children are hidden behind days of research, sometimes the answers have always been with us. Just take a moment to reflect, and you will find some of your own problem-solving patterns from your past to apply to today.

Peyton is my baby…

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

My sons are now 5 and 2, and my 2 year-old, Peyton is my baby.  But what happens when he’s not anymore?  He will be 3 next month and he’s already showing the symptoms.

My Baby Peyton

My Baby Peyton

Symptom #1:  He wants to walk down the stairs by himself

Symptom #2:  He has asked me to cut all his “curlies” off, his beautiful big blond curls.  Just makes me cringe thinking about it.

Symptom #3:  He has started driving his brother’s Power Wheels all by himself around the culdesac.

Symptom #4:  He wants to drink out of a non-sippy cup (even though he spills it everywhere)

Symptom #5:  Now calls me mom, instead of momma.

Thank God he still wants to snuggle and get kisses, but I know that will eventually stop too, or he will soon get too big to sit in my lap.  Right now his little form fits perfectly in my lap and the crook of my arm as I shower him with kisses after I get home from work.

My favorite time of the day is walking through that door and hearing his sweet high-pitched voice, “Mom’s home!  Hi mom!” and he runs over with his blankie and duck-duck and motions for me to pick him up and carry him to the couch where we commence with the snuggling and kissing.  When that ends, I will be devastated.

So this is an open letter to my Peyton, my baby.  STOP GROWING!  STAY THIS AGE!  Listen to your mother!  Oh darn, who am I kidding?  I will love to see you grow and thrive and become a wonderful man someday, but do you really have to?  Love you baby!

Mom

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