At the beginning of a new school year, we take our kids out for "back to school lunch."
We have a special lunch with each child.
I enjoy this fun, special one-on-one time.
The kid gets to pick the restaurant. With NO input from Mom or Dad. It's totally the kiddo's choice.
I get a kick out of their choices.
Last year, Superboy picked Red Lobster.
I don't think we've ever gone to Red Lobster as a family, although we definitely drive by it all the time since it's in the same parking lot as Kroger.
I asked Superboy why he chose Red Lobster, and he said, "Because they have crab legs!"
I'm pretty sure he had just seen a tv commercial about Red Lobster crab legs.
This year, Pumpkin chose the Cheesecake Factory.
Boo-yah! Good choice.
She ordered chicken fingers.
From her perspective, however, the main attraction to this restaurant was not the chicken fingers. It was....(you guessed it)....the cheesecake!
I ordered a salad that I've had before. I highly recommend it. It's called the Luau Salad, and it's absolutely delicious. I love a good salad with a really fun combination of ingredients. I need to re-create this salad at home.
Baby Boy was doing some cute kicking earlier today. Here's the video I captured. (Pardon the large outfit. Plenty of growing room!)
Speaking of his outfit, I'm finding myself to be so reflective with these little hand-me-down baby clothes. This is a little striped playsuit that Superboy wore when he was teensy. It seems like Superboy was wearing it just yesterday!
I'm so thankful for my two boys. What a joy it is (and will be) to watch them grow up before my eyes. And my cute little girl, too. Can't believe she's seven and a half already.
Waiting in line at the drugstore last week, I smiled at the young mother ahead of me, who was struggling with her little daughter, a child who had no patience with this grown-up activity of waiting.
The mother gave an elaborate sigh, rolled her eyes at me, and muttered, "The terrible two's." I smiled in response, thinking how misunderstood is this title for toddlers.
Bill Cosby once said, "Give me one hundred two-year-olds and I can take over the world." This sentence captures the dynamic nature of the two-year-old.
If you created a list of words to describe this youngster, you would add terms like energetic, impulsive, egocentric, curious. In fact, for every negative you mentioned, you could find a positive characteristic, as did Cosby, noting the powerful force of two's.
The strongest tool for survival as a parent of this child who has been on the planet for twenty-four short months is to understand how striving for autonomy, a sense of self, and independence rules this child's life. Understanding why toddlers behave as they do, indeed MUST behave, and how adults can help and guide their efforts is vital.
What tools does a two-year-old have? Well, consider: energy with practically no limit; a compulsion and need to move; powerful curiosity that peaks around eighteen months; big ideas, and strong emotions, with frustration often heading the list.
What does a two-year-old not have? Lacking are: much verbal language or a lot of ability to process the streams of language that come from adults--consider this in relation to the frustration listed above. Also lacking is judgment of the consequences of actions, or any sense of others' needs or feelings, or any self-control.
Juxtapose these two lists, and you get some idea of why this is a tough time for both youngsters and parents.
Now the biggest question of all—what does this child need for healthy development?
A most important answer is adults who can understand toddler limitations, adults who, in fact, expect their lack of control, and can offer them control from without--freedom within limits.
They need adults who are neither exasperated nor angered by the two-year-old's level of development, knowing that in time new abilities will come. And they need adults who remember those big ideas and enormous curiosity.
That means adults have to avoid over-restriction, which will inevitably lead to head-on power struggles. Two's need a safe, interesting world for active exploration, to satisfy that profound curiosity.
Mostly, two's need opportunities to see themselves as powerful and capable, with grownups cheerfully supporting their efforts to do as much for themselves as they can.
While parents in a hurry may find it challenging to wait while the two-year-old struggles to put on socks or pull up pants, the gain in a sense of autonomy is priceless.
Two's need adults who can value the growing sense of power without being intimidated by the youngster who is trying it out. And two's need adults who get a good night's sleep and can smile at all that energy, as did Bill Cosby.
Too frequently these days we hear parents and teachers discussing bullying, even cyber-bullying, with often-tragic results.
What we should consider is that preschoolers and primary-aged children have always struggled with concepts of power and strength over others, and how to respond when another tries to exert it over them.
This book explores the dilemma Kevin feels when he encounters Sammy on the playground. Even though Kevin wants to go down the slide headfirst, Sammy firmly asserts that Kevin can't come in, as Sammy is King of the Playground.
His bold threats of what he will do if he sees Kevin on the slide sends Kevin home. When he tells his father what Sammy said if he went on the slide (Sammy would get a rope and tie up his hands and feet so tight he would never get loose) Dad's response is perfect: "Wow. Really? And what would you be doing while Sammy was tying you up? Just sitting there?"
After a few such encounters, and with Dad's questions helping Kevin come up with real solutions, Kevin feels sufficiently emboldened to face Sammy down on the playground.
When Sammy threatens to put Kevin in a cage with bears in it, Kevin calmly continues to come into the sandbox, saying, "Then I'll ride on their backs and teach them tricks."
With increasingly far-fetched threats and creative solutions, Kevin feels strong enough to sit down and begin to play. I won't spoil the ending, but will tell you that both boys learn something about themselves and others.
I urge you to get the book to read to your children, whether they are on the giving or receiving end of such playground maneuvers. Kevin's Dad plays such an important role in this whole experience. Rather than getting upset or involved, he merely asks the questions that lead Kevin to consider what he could do to respond should a wild threat ever be carried out.
When Kevin came up with his answer, Dad responded, "Sure, that's one thing you could do," and left him to go back to face Sammy with the strength of his own idea. In this time of hyper-parenting, such a by-stander role often does not occur to parents.
When a similar playground power struggle erupted recently among some four-year-old girls, the mother of one immediately called the mother of the instigator and told her she had to stop her daughter from saying such mean things to the other children.
She then called the other mothers and got them to agree to tell their children to boycott the offender.
Needless to say, none of the children learned any new social skills from this, nor did they develop any strategies for dealing with such future occurrences—a lose-lose situation. A healthy outcome is for everyone to learn that naked power is an unhealthy way to interact, and that abject fear never gets a person anywhere.
To accomplish this, children need to be guided to consider possible responses that can often be creative and imaginative, and are within their power to carry out.
Strengthening children to face up to difficult situations is a parent's best task.
Remember, you won't be there every time your child runs into the King of the Playground—-or the office, or the neighborhood.
One more comment about the Growing Child organization: I have the book which covers ages 0-24 months. I look forward to reading through it again as our new baby grows. Each page covers lots of wonderful details about child devlopment based on that specific age. It's a wonderful resource for parents. I love it!
I'd love to buy the second and third book as well.