It’s been intense in our house this last week for unrelated reasons, so I wanted to take a few moments to celebrate the small moments of joy that motherhood has brought recently:
A is obsessed with saying ‘happy birthday’ to everyone! Even if it’s not their birthday lol. It all started a month ago when we were in San Diego. One of the pandas at the San Diego zoo has the same birthday as A, and I must have said something about it in front of him. Ever since, he absolutely LOVES saying happy birthday. Luckily, we have a lot of birthdays in our extended family coming up so we can channel his birthday energy to making videos and sending them to people. He has also rediscovered How do dinosaurs say happy birthday? on his bookshelf, which is adding to the whole birthday extravaganza.
He’s started waking up at 6:15am again. I’m laughing at myself that I’m calling this a joy…this morning at 6:15 it did NOT feel like a joy. But what I’ve noticed is that we’ve been able to spend more time together in the mornings because of his early rising. A few weeks ago, when he was waking up at 7:30/7:45, it was a rush out the door to get to daycare in time for breakfast. But now, we get to read books and play with toys and cuddle. It’s actually great. It probably helps that its spring time, so the sun is coming up and the birds are chirping by 6:15. If it were pitch black and cold out, I would probably be less amused by the 6:15 ‘Anne! Baba!’ (mom and dad, in Turkish) screams coming from his bedroom.
The era of Dr. Seuss has well and truly hit our home. Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham are his favorite right now, though Hop on Pop and Oh, the Places you’ll go! are up there, too. (I know Dr. Seuss isn’t a perfect—some of his work is quite problematic. I gotta think through that more still)
Hope you are finding little moments of joy in your week—
Happy wiping, Olivia
P. S. See Joy, pt 1 and Joy, pt 2 here!
Whether we like it or not, A is surrounded by screens. Any child living (in a developed country) in 2018 is. Whether it’s TV time or FaceTiming grandparents, screens are everywhere. While we try to limit his non-FaceTime screens quite strictly during the week (a 20-minute episode of something on Netflix or YouTube), we are considerably less strict over the weekends (those cozy family movie nights are just too good to pass up). I’ve now come to appreciate using the screen strategically to make parents’ lives a little calmer and kids’ lives a little richer.
So, I thought I would outline how we intentionally use screen time for both those ends.
Why and how we use screens:
- Rest. Obviously. Let’s be honest–When he’s being crazy or we need to get the dishes finished, sometimes flipping on the TV will do the trick. Sure, in an ideal world, he would be able to sit calmly and work on his puzzles as I clean up dinner. But LOLS, that’s not going to happen every night. I really only use TV like this when B is still at work. It gives me either a moment of rest or a moment to get something done waaaaay more efficiently than you can with a toddler hanging off your leg. (He’s taken to grabbing the knives from the dishwasher as we try to load it, so if some Elmo is going to prevent stitches, we’ll do it).
- Exposure to Turkish. Now, I know you can’t learn a second language just by watching TV. Research shows over and over that in-person, live interactions are what help children develop language. Turkish TV doesn’t replace Turkish conversations. That being said, A is still exposed to Turkish through the TV. And when his dad is home, too, they use Turkish TV as a prompt to start talking in Turkish. Watching Turkish shows also gives him more familiarity with Turkish culture, like kid’s songs and popular characters.
- Instigating color-conscious and other social justice-oriented conversations. Just like books, TV shows and movies can be a great prompt to start a conversation about social justice. One of his favorite shows, for example, features a trio of female protagonists, two of whom are girls of color. This allows us to start talking about gender and race with A from a young age.
And just as a moment of joy and for our own personal memories, A’s favorite TV shows to watch in the last month or two are:
- Spirit: Riding Free (I’ve talked about this one before–it’s his first love.)
- Planet Earth 2
- Canim Kardesim
A is for Activist is a small book with a cult following. It seems to pop up in all of the corners of the web that talk about social justice & parenting, at the small local bookstores, etc. It’s an ABC book that talks about something radical with each letter: I is for immigrant and indigenous or L is for LGBTQ or T is for Trans or Z is for Zapatista, of course.
A certainly doesn’t understand everything (or even most) in it, but I think of it as a book that will grow with us. Right now, for a family with a one-and-a-half year old, it has good illustrations and a fun rhythm of the text. It gives us an opportunity to practice how we (the adults) want to start talking to him about certain topics. As he grows into the preschool years, I’m sure we will use it as a jumping off point for discussions around social issues. And because the text is poetic in nature, I think we can use it into the elementary years. As A’s understanding of poetry grows, we can unveil new meanings of the short letter-based poems together.
This book is truly a radical children’s book. It calls out democrats and republicans alike; it calls out capitalism; it calls out problematic narratives of activists (R: “’ruinous rioters’ the headlines said…really?”). It makes me want to be more accountable to my beliefs. I am grateful to have it in A’s little library, and I highly recommend it!
P.S. See some of my other children’s book reviews here, here, here, and here
Terrible twos. TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE twos. There aren’t any words. Except, hot damn, the terrible twos. A isn’t even two yet either! He’s just 20 months old, but the terrible twos seem to have hit our house early. This week has been the hardest of our parenting lives (even harder than 4 to 6 months old, when A woke 8-10 times a night). A started a new daycare last week, and since the second day of his new school, A has been INSANE. I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, but there are no words to adequately describe how insane A has been. 95% of the time he is at home (and awake), he is throwing a temper tantrum. I am not exaggerating when I say 95% of the time. This weekend, my husband and I looked at each other and just said ‘this is insane.’
Luckily, at school, this doesn’t seem to be his pattern at his new daycare. They say he is a pleasure when he’s there, and they love having him (hopefully this will continue!).
I do try to stick by my original post on temper tantrums: I name his emotion and validate it. But there are times when that won’t do anything to calm him down. This week is a perfect example. In those moments, we’ve taken to ignoring him. Disciplining through the terrible twos is an emotionally trying time—I have lost my temper a few times over the last week, I will admit. But I am so thankful I have a partner. When I just could NOT deal anymore, he would step in and I would go hide upstairs. When he couldn’t deal anymore, I would step in and he would hide. Self-care as parents is so important, particularly during weeks like this.
So, a note to myself: Take care of myself. Make a self-care plan. Rely on family and friends. Remember, everything passes. GOOD LUCK.
And solidarity to any other parents who are in the middle of the terrible twos.