Archive for September, 2007

Trouble on two legs

pics-27707-175.jpgToday, in the space of a few hours, little Luka has managed to a) get an electric shock from playing around with a plug socket b) fall down some stairs and c) prod his finger into the fan at the back of a computer. Phew! He certainly knows how to find trouble.

This might sound like unobservant parents but it’s pretty normal for curious little tots. They’re a disaster looking for a place to happen. Forever gravitating naturally to dangerous things, as if they understand that forbidden places and items are somehow more fun. The more you tell them ‘no’ the more they want to see for themselves.

Keeping an eye on your little one is a full time, and tiresome job, and gradually you are going to have to learn to leave them to their own devices, checking in on them every few minutes. As they get older you begin to trust them to longer and longer periods tinkering by themselves.

Luka is at this stage. At 17 months old he’s quite confident and can amuse himself. You can’t spend the rest of your life worrying about your offspring so I’ve conscientiously allowed him more and more independence. But with that obviously comes a bit of judgement and, crucially, learning from each incident and ‘adventure’.

It started with secretly trailing him to see what he got up to and how close he might come to danger. Then I would watch him tackle something potentially hazardous just to see how far he would go and the consequences. If he started to climb into the pond I’d see if he could stand in it alone or recover if he fell over. Well, the pond has since been fenced off but it’s nice to know that he isn’t totally useless in recovering by himself.

Lately he’s taken quite a few knocks. He slips and falls and bangs his head, sometimes he cries but mostly he now just gets up and carries on. If anything it’s the bump to his pride that sets him off on a crying spree, and this is usually only when someone is there to witness it. He’s made a leap of confidence which all of us take with us through life as our comfort zone gradually increases. This I think is one of the really important elements I want to instil in him.

By contrast, his conservatively minded grandmother tends to be neurotic and highly strung about his movements, kicking up a constant drama at his every move. Well, he is unusually inquisitive and active, but with her minding him it’s a constant ‘awash, oooooohhh, noooooooo’. I try to discourage this, allowing him freedom to learn and develop his confidence, as it will be critical to his character in the future.

So, although we have plug sockets sealed, occasionally he’s going to pull out a plug and ‘get his little fingers in the way’, thankfully nothing serious occurred the first time. I didn’t intend for him to ‘test himself’ like that, but it’s useful information. There will be times when he slips through an accidentally open stairs gate – I’ve watched and ‘covered’ him dozens of times as he climbs and he’s always sure footed, but he did fall the other day and rolled down several stairs before luckily coming to a stop. He was in tears, but wasn’t badly hurt, it was just the shock really. 

Between the two of us, we’re building up a ‘confidence and boundary’ profile, of what we can and can’t get away with – always under dads’ discreetly watchful eye.

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Off to Play school

There comes a time in every tot’s little life, when it’s time to go and mingle with other tots. Some have the priviledge of staying at home with mum or a full time minder for a few years, others are sent off to a child care centre the moment mummy finishes maternity leave.

The baby books will tell you that babies generally don’t play with others their age until they are at least 18 months old. They need to interract with an adult who’s mind is developed enough to deal with them. Of course, there may be young siblings around them who they sort of interract with – but leave two of them alone together and they have difficulty actually playing with each other.

At this age tots are pre-occupied with the things around them (and yes the hair or nose or face of another baby becomes ‘things to grab’!) and rely on the input of intelligent adults to smooth the whole ‘growing up process’. At this stage they are still learning about themselves, with constant input or minding of their parents, close relatives or minder, so that they aren’t quite sure how to deal with another their age.

No doubt all parents have friends with babies the same age and have been delighted at the prospect of putting them together only to see them ignore each other. We excitedly threw a 1st birthday party for Luka, and about 10 babies under 18 months showed up, many almost his age. We sat him in the play pool with five other little girls and he wasn’t the least bit interested in them!

Anyway, getting to the point of the title, we finally decided it was time to send him to play school (at 16 months) since he was getting bored and restless at home with the same old toys and people. I work from home and he was becoming a pain, interrupting me and insisting I amuse him. Time for some proper play school activities. Besides (BIG NEWS) our second child is due in October so it was time, we thought, to get him out the house in good time.

Well, in short, he loved it. The first day we dropped him off he never looked back, excited at the new environment and the group of children playing around. It’s just a converted house full of play items, and the little ones of various ages amuse themselves all day under supervision. With children as old as three or four to ‘lead the gang’ he’s found himself among his first real pals and can tag along and join in.

Of course, by the second week he was experiencing separation anxiety and would be in tears when we dropped him off, but didn’t want to leave when we came to pick him up. The main thing is, he’s now learning to interract with other tots. The other evening we were out eating and there was a group of kids (between 16 months and 6 years) larking around and he excitedly made a bee-line for them and joined in their general energetic maelstrom. He seemed pleased to have the chance to hang out with people his own age.

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