Apr 18, 2016

Playing Favorites...

Today I would like to talk about which of my children is my favorite, and why. I'm aware that it's uncouth to admit to such things, but I think when you hear the whole story you'll agree with me.

Now, when talking to them separately, I tell each that (s)he is my favorite and why. His Highness is most like me in personality, so we relate on many levels. Plus he is the oldest, so he can physically keep up more often with whatever we are doing. The Littler One is the biggest presence; he has ALL the feelings and ALL the spunk and personality, and is just a kick to be around. And Tiny E and I have a lot in common, being the girls of the family and all, and she is the sweetest sassy lamb.

I mean, under extreme duress and coercion, I might be persuaded to pick a secret-favorite, but it would be very difficult, as I'm sure many parents would agree. I tend to have daily favorites depending on who is having a hard or easy time at any given moment, but over time those balance out fairly evenly.


One of my favorite takeaways from my year of therapy was that I need to leave my family.  Or at least, leave them more often for short periods of time. Longer than, say, an evening, but not necessarily several weeks at a time or anything.

Incidentally, this is not the Cat Daddy's favorite part of my personal growth. Character-building is rarely fun.

That was, like, a year ago, and so far I've managed exactly 3 nights away from my family, with another night or two on next month's schedule. It's not quite the pace I was hoping for, but it is progress and we are getting there.


Which brings us to yesterday afternoon. Sunday afternoons are our traditional chores time. And by "our chores time," I mean "the kids' chores time." Sunday afternoons are our time to dedicate to harping on lovingly nurturing the children in the guidance of proper technique.

Usually we divide and conquer, one of us taking His Highness for bathroom duty, and the other helping the littles through their tasks. Unfortunately, I hadn't yet made it to my weekly commissary run, and we were out of snacks, so we had to change it up this time. We worked out a deal where I would go to the commissary, the Cat Daddy would help all the kids complete their chores with WAY less fussing than normal from everyone, and whoever finished by the time I got back would get to go out for ice cream.

I was not optimistic. It really could have ended up resembling something like World War III. However, they floored me by ALL finishing by the time I walked in the door with groceries. This means we had clean bathrooms, vacuumed carpets, cleared floors, empty little trash cans, and wiped-down stairwell walls. People were smiling, nobody was yelling, and I wondered if I had stepped into some parallel universe on the way from the garage to the house.

I had a happy fit, gushing about how great they all were, and how proud I was, and wasn't it fantastic to be done with the chores so we could enjoy the rest of the day?!? We all agreed that indeed it was, and I went into the kitchen to put the groceries away.

Soon the Cat Daddy came in to give me the debrief. I was mildly concerned about what hiccups they might've had along the way, but he said they all pitched in and did a really good job. I have a few theories about how my being out of sight makes them transform into angel children a lot of the time, but we figured the promise of ice cream also helped quite a bit.

The Littler One joined us in the kitchen, and I gushed over him a little bit more and asked how he thought they were able to do such a good job with so much less fussing than normal, and he said it was because I left. He then said (and I quote):

"Mom, you should leave during chores time every week! And Daddy can work with us, and you can go do stuff in the afternoon during chores time!"

My eyes brightened, and I said, "Come here! Give me a hug! I think you're right! You are SO smart!" And I immediately gave him a six-second hug.

The Cat Daddy laughed and said, "No! The Littler One! We're not supposed to send Mommy away!"

And the Littler One said, "Yes! She should go away and do things while we do chores!"

And this is why the Littler One is forever and always my favorite child...

Apr 4, 2016

Scissor Safety...

All that glisters is not good for actually cutting things.

Today I'd like to rant a little bit about the dangers of childhood. On the left is one type of children's scissors. While they have a rounded tip, they have real metal blades. On the left of course is a pair of plastic scissors. They're really interesting because while they will cut paper, the blades are plastic so as to merit the description "child safe" and slow the safety-conscious heartbeats of preschool parents everywhere.

Also, they are pretty much useless.

They came with a cute little pad of colorful picture pages for cutting practice. Tiny E LOVED them because they are sparkly, and definitely wanted to use them over the boring old scissors she's been using for ages. I helped her with hand positioning and whatnot, but she couldn't get them to work right. They kind of flailed about in her sweet little almost-4-year-old hands, and the blades were wiggly enough that instead of being cut, the paper either folded itself between them or cut, but in a ripping sort of way. She was all, "Cutting is too hard."

Nope. Terrible scissors are too hard, kiddo.

I handed her the metal ones and said "Here, try these instead." But she wouldn't. She REALLY wanted the sparkly ones to work out. So I let her flail them about for a while, until she actually said, in her sweet little almost-4-year-old voice, "Maybe you wight, Mom," and agreed to give the old scissors a try (A response which, incidentally, I stored up in my heart for future access and remembrance when the conversation goes decidedly differently. Not that I can use it in any way, but it will be lovely to remember days gone by).

Did she then cut all the pictures out perfectly? Of course not; she's not some sort of creepy paper-cutting genius or anything. But she had a steadier grip with several fingers in the big loop, and when she cut her little paper scraps to bits, they were nice, smooth edges.

On the parenting spectrum, we fall somewhere in the vicinity of the free-range arena. Of course I don't want my kids chopping entire fingers off as a habit or anything, but I'm OK with their needing band-aids or maybe even the occasional stitches (only once so far, knock on wood). I mean, I'm a grown-up, and I still get injured by stupid plain old paper from time to time. Boo-boos happen.

But the thing about this situation is that I see it as a case of respecting tools as not-toys, learning how to work the tools in an age-appropriate way, and using the right tools to do a job. Cut paper, not skin, etc. Use decent scissors, and cutting is just exactly as difficult as it needs to be for a sweet little almost-4-year-old. Some parents might see the more realistic scissors and think they're more dangerous, but to me that's analogous to grown-ups who see sharp kitchen knives as more dangerous than dull ones. Maybe it depends on your definition of "dangerous," but I think the better tools are safer because they work as intended.

In conclusion, since we have about 5 pairs of the Fiskars kid scissors, I decided it was best for all if I found a new home for the sparkly plastic ones. For our family, everyone is better off this way.

Don't fear the metal, kids. It's just a little steel...

Look at the nice clean edge straight through that house.