Archive for Andy

Mimicking dad

One of the more delightful aspects I’ve found to raising children is the way they want to mimic adults, particularly those they spend lots of time with. It’s an obvious behavioural trait of children to want to act like their mummy and daddy whom they observe most during their early years, but sometimes it’s truly charming to see what they come up with.

Luka, who is now two, is always bugging me to go and watch him or play with him (which means watching him play), he’ll grab my hand by the finger and bug me incessently to accompany him. I find that just going along and staying a few minutes usually shuts him up. Mostly he wants to prove to me that he can do something I typically do. And it’s not always routine stuff.

The other day he found a tape measure, so he begged me to follow him – all the way upstairs to his bedroom. Once there he then pulled the tape out and started pointing it at some pictures I’d recently mounted on the wall. I’d been using a tape measure to space them correctly and he had been watching. I was pretty amazed.

This morning we made waffles and I sat him down on the kitchen floor with a plate and a spoon, but that wasn’t good enough, he jumped up and went over to the cutlery drawer to fetch a fork as well. The same thing happened at his second birthday, we presented him with a cake, he squealed then disappeared towards the kitchen. We wandered what he was up to, then he came running back excitedly with a handful of teaspoons and dished them out. 

Often these little episodes can be quite amusing, like when he put on my enormously oversized sunglasses (for fancy dress parties), usually he claps his hands to signify he’s achieved something and now mimics my ‘good boy’ statement. He spilt water all over the kitchen floor yesterday and after I had ticked him off, he wandered outside and came back in with a broom to try and sweep it all away, comical!

 

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Collecting things

One certain thing I’ve noticed about tiny tots is their sense of possessions. This is a theme which I suspect becomes more and more pronounced as they grow older. However, what I find funny is the way they like to amass things and collect them in one place.

Have you noticed how your baby collects together kitchen utensils and puts them all in one big pot, or gathers books and CDs in a pile in the floor? Luka likes to collect various small toys and place them in the basket in front of his little tricycle and off he goes, carrying them around with him.  

It’s strange the way they do this, he isn’t particularly selective about what he stacks in there. He also has a little ‘fire truck’ with a lifting saddle. His favourite is to stack items into the small cubicle under the seat, usually he fills it too much with shoes and even a small cricket bat, then tries to folder the seat down and sit on. 

It’s amazing how industrious little tots can be. I’ll be working away unaware that Luka is busy ferrying CDs out of my bookshelf, only to discover later that he’s stacked them all in a pot in the kitchen. Of course he tends to leave a constant mess everywhere he goes, but I guess he’s having fun.

He doesn’t seem particularly attached to anything but if another child comes around and wants to play with an item he will object and try and take it off him. I think that is typical of all children, they aren’t interested in an object until someone else picks it up and then suddenly they want it.

It reminds me of his earlier months when he would carry something around in his hand, with a sense of possession or need, and would seldom let go until both his hands were full. Then he would place it down on the ground carefully to pick up a new item, as if he intends to come back for it later. In short, they simply don’t have enough hands to hold all the items they’ve commandeered.

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Reading to kids

The parenting books all suggest you start reading to your children from an early age. For sure, we all loved having stories read to us at an early age and though there is now more TV, and other distractions, nothing soothes a child to sleep better than a fairy tale read from their mother or father.

 

And so, I read a short little story to Luka three times a week, even though he’s too young to understand it. It’s extra important since English isn’t the main language of the country he lives in and mostly he is surrounded by Thai speakers, so I make a point of reading to him in English so he gets to hear enough of it. I’m sure, in due course, he’ll get plenty of English when we send him to an international school, but it’s the quality time with dad that counts.

 

At first he wasn’t engaged and was more interested in everything else in the room, or wanted to grab the book and tear the pages. But with a bit of patience he now sits quietly and listens, and turns the pages when I ask him. I put on accents and tones for different characters’ dialogue and sing along to the songs in my off-key voice. I’d probably feel quite embarrassed if my mates could see me, but  just the two of us (and sometimes his mum) we have a great bonding session.

 

Deferring again to the parenting books, it’s apparently important for children to be in a calm, comfortable and secure mood when falling asleep, and after the disciplining to get him into the bedroom, this soothes him and puts him in a content and placid mood. He also gets to hear plenty of real talking, instead of the garbage from the TV.

 

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Sports day

 

The fun part of having kids is to see them in action. When you consider all the work of feeding, changing diapers, putting up with sleepless nights and messy kids, you can be rewarded with special moments when they are being cute and charming.

 

Recently there was a sports day at the pre-school we send Luka to. He’s in the youngest class (18 months to 3 years). In Thailand they love uniforms, it’s part of their society and even at 18 months old our son is wearing a uniform to playschool. It’s a uniform nation in many ways and rather than seeing this as stiffling, the Thai are more pleased and delighted to see their little ones in school clothes. Even when the shirts are too big for them.

 

He does look rather smart and on Wednesdays gets to wear his sports kits and little white sports shoes I had to go and buy (that get used once a week for about 1 hour – the rest of the time they run around bare foot – until he’s grown out of them having barely used them!). 

 

So, the sports day was a chance for the parents to all show up and be charmed by the sight of their little darlings dashing 10 meters. That was the extent of the competetion and Luka was among the smallest children competing. At 18 months old that didn’t have a clue what they were supposed to be doing. Here’s an account of what happened;

 

…and in lane five, Luka Chanagan Bond. It was a 10 meter dash. Lane 1 dashed, lane 2 walked, lane 3 took off in the opposite direction, lane 4 dashed then stopped a meter short of the line and looked around as lane 5 took a leisurely stroll and pipped him across the line for THIRD PLACE! Bewildered, Lane 5 runner was put on the podium alongside his buddy Kona who came second. The bronze medal almost hung between his legs, but his daddy was awfully chuffed!

 


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Coping with two babies

I have to confess, life is tough at the moment. In fact it’s probably the most difficult period – timewise – a parent is likely to experience. With two babies under 18 months mum and dad have their work cut out for them. Despite having the priviledge of a house cleaner daily and my mother-in-law to take care of the youngest one, two working parents with two babies still in diapers is a nightmare.It really is a full time job that demands the full time attention of two people. Luka, who is now 21 months old is a walking disaster, looking for trouble. He has boundless energy and constantly needs amusing. Although he’s able to amuse himself, this generally involves making a mess, breaking something or getting himself into trouble, so I need to keep an constant eye on him when he’s here. Thankfully he’s at playschool most the day.Annabelle spends most her day either breat or bottle feeding or challenging us to get to nap. She’s now old enough to lie beneath a mobile and practice moving her limbs, but needs almost constant attention otherwise she gets insecure and cries. If she’s irritable its an extra challenge to pacify her. Put the two together and you have a calamity, if one of us needs to take a shower, it’s a juggling act to control both. It’s exhausting and any thought of some free time to relax with the paper is out of the question.The worst times are at night when it’s just the two of us. Getting them to sleep is a real challenge. Neither of our children sleep well, often waking several times a night in tears. Of course the older one’s wailing sets off the younger one, and it all adds up to disruptive sleep which wears you down and affects our work. My advice at this stage, try not to have them too close together if you can.

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Quality learning time

If you want to sell a baby toy just slap a ‘edutainment’ sticker on it. I’ve come to notice this, since all parents want their kids these days to get smart from an early age. Well, there’s all sorts of ways of looking at this.With a twenty month old, every waking moment is probably a learning experience, they are naturally inquisitive, some more than others, and learn as they go about their daily lives of play. So, letting them play and creating play environments is perhaps a good way to teach them. I’ve realised that Luka is still so young that trying to formally teach him anything requires a great deal of patience and is generally a drag for both of us.He likes to enjoy himself, and I figured that as long as you are generous in allowiing him to tinker he’ll learn prefectly well on his on. However, I do try and teach him simple things when we play, such as sitting down with the shape sorters and number counters. Building blocks are another good toy that interests him, usually I build something and he breaks it down neatly and puts all the pieces away. I’m not sure if all kids are like this, but Luka is very much a a tidy sort.Well, he does leave an enormous mess but he’s also very good at being ‘organised’ in a child sort of way. He will keep himself busy being industrious and ferrying my CD collection out of the office and stacking them in all the pots he’s pulled out of a kitchen cupboard. I likes ordering things and will frenquently open the CD drawer on my pc and take out the CD, find an empty box to put it in and then place a new one in. Kids are funny sometimes!

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When Number 1 becomes number 2

Up until now the star of this blog has been my son Luka, who is now 18 months old. Like all first borns he’s enjoyed undisturbed attention from both his parents, and a host of relatives who are frequently in his life. And then, one day recently, he was taken to the hospital. There was a lot of fuss over another small baby and slowly it dawned on him he has a baby sister, Annabelle. Now he has to share his parent’s attention.

This happens to all children who end up with siblings, and I’m guessing it’s probably one of the biggest hurdles parents have to overcome in a child’s emotional development. So, is he jealous? You bet he is. Amid all the excitement of the arrival of our daughter we couldn’t help noticing his change in demeanour.

Suddenly, this perky little boy went all quiet. He was curious to see what all the fuss was about and on several occasional tried to grab her or touch her, unaware how delicate she is. For sure his behaviour was strange (and it didn’t help that he had an undetected ear/nasal tract problem which was making him irritable), he would suddenly go into fit of crying.

So, what to do when number 2 comes along and number 1 suddenly finds out he’s no long the only number in the family? There is plenty of good advice on the topic in various baby books, I have a volume by the famous Miriam Stoppard called Complete Baby and Child Care (DK). It seems all babies eventually get over it, but it’s obviously a very trying period where you’ve got one baby needing attention every couple of hours from the mother, and another to balance in-between or sometimes at the same time.

When a baby is irritable it will cry and cry and want only the comfort of its mother, and even that’s not enough to satisfy a ‘cry fest’, where you simply cannot figure out what it is they want. We’ve have this quite often with Luka and it’s testing trying to pacify him when the other baby is mewing away wanting milk – which I cannot obviously give.

I’ve had plenty of sleep interrupted nights assisting with one baby while mummy is breast feeding the other. The other night at about 2am he awoke, as he often does, feeling irritable and was soon in a screaming tantrum, acting frustrated as he clung to his familiar little blanket and pillow. Nothing seemed to pacify him, he was simply venting frustration and was probably in a bad mood from waking. His mother was trying to quieten him down while simultaneously breast feeding Annabelle. It became obvious when he started trying to push her out the way.

Eventually we had to remove her from the nipple and I took care of her, while he promptly climbed into his mummy’s arms, curled up (he was exhausted by now from all the crying) and promptly fell asleep. Within a few minutes we had Annabelle back on the breast and the problem was solved.

So, with two babies only 18 months apart it can be very testing in the early stages. There is more to say on this subject, particularly on how to make your first child feel like she or he is not being neglected, so I’ll save it for the next blog entry.

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