Twinfant Tuesday: Baby Sign Helps with Early Communication

Posted on
Categories Books, Development, Language, Products, Talking to Kids, Twinfant TuesdayTags , , , , 28 Comments

I’m a huge fan of using Baby Sign, or modified sign language, to help babies communicate with you successfully before they can speak. For us, it reduced the frustrated you-don’t-understand-what-I-want crying by about 80%.

babysignMy daughters, M and J, started using single signs to communicate their needs at the age of 7 months, so my recommendation is to start sign at birth, to get the parents into the habit, if nothing else. I honestly think any time before school-age is fine to start signing. I didn’t get around to it until age 5 months.

Why sign?

It makes life easier!

Infants are ready to communicate well before they have enough control over their vocal tract to produce words. I think most parents have been surprised to discover how much language babies can understand well before they begin to speak. Using Baby Sign allows extremely young children to communicate their needs in a way the adults around them can understand and respond to, cutting down on crying and frustration. There are some studies that indicate that infants exposed to Baby Sign have higher IQs than control subjects, speak earlier, and have larger vocabularies. However, it may simply be that the kind of parents who adopt Baby Sign are the kind who read more to their kids and consistently encourage language development in other ways too.

Do I need to know Sign Language?

No. American Sign Language (ASL) is a fully fledged language that uses hand gestures and facial expressions in the same way that English uses vowels, consonants and intonation. Baby Sign consists of some words from ASL without any of its grammar, and you’ll only learn these words. Unless you expose your child to ASL, your Baby Signing child will not be learning to communicate with the American or Canadian Deaf community in any meaningful way. I presume that there are other Baby Sign systems derived from the sign languages of other parts of the world, but I know nothing about them.

BabySignHow do I start?

Make a squeezing gesture with one fist for "milk."
“Milk”

Starting Baby Sign is easy.

Pick one or two signs to learn, and use them consistently whenever you (or other caregivers) say the word. “Milk,” “eat/food”, “drink” and “more” are great starter words.

You can add more words once your child starts signing back. It’s never too early, and never too late. The benefits are most tangible before your child starts speaking, or when they have a very small vocabulary. You don’t even have to use signs from ASL or Baby Sign books. Make something up and use it consistently within your family. As long as you’re consistent, your child will learn the sign.

It may be a couple of months before you see your child make a sign. Don’t give up! Remember that they’re hearing English for nearly a year before they say a word. Once they are about a year old, they will probably consider it a game to learn new signs.

Show me the signs!

I had a leg up because I took ASL classes in college and grad school and had Deaf friends, but I’ve found a number of resources other people have found helpful.

  • Baby Einstein’s My First Signs DVD. My girls continued to pick up new signs from it through age two even though they already had English, Bengali or Spanish words for them. Of course, M and J’s signs looked nothing like the ones modeled on the DVD, but their daycare teacher and I understood them, as did Sissy, which is what mattered. Plus, they just loved the DVD and fell over laughing at some of the puppet shows.
  • Sign with your Baby by Joseph Garcia. It takes a little work to learn the code used in the glossary of signs, but it’s got a great how-to on introducing new signs, combining signs, and just keeping it up.
  • Baby Signs by Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn. It’s a longer book, but the glossary is very accessible and pretty extensive. It’s good for arming yourself with information about why Baby Sign is beneficial if you’ve got any nay-sayers who need convincing.
  • Baby Signing for Dummies by Jennifer Watson. This is an easy read, with great illustrations of 150 basic signs, which is more than most families need.
  • A helpful website is http://www.babies-and-sign-language.com/. This site has a great video dictionary as well as pointers on getting started and a discussion of how Baby Sign differs from American Sign Language.
  • http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/concepts.htm is a list of 100 common signs. Each link takes you to an active demonstration of the sign. The site belongs to a professor of ASL.

In case it’s relevant to someone, here’s the vocabulary list I used:
We started at 5 months with:

At 6 months we added:

By 12 months:

  • Baby
  • Share
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Cold
  • Cereal (M used this one for the first time after she’d been saying the English “cereal” for 4 months! I think it was because Daddy was home from Iraq for a couple of weeks and didn’t understand her, and she was hoping he’d get the sign.)
  • Cookie
  • Drink (J used to think this one was funny and started giggling every time she used it. I have no idea why.)
  • Gentle
  • Play
  • Where is it?/Where’d it go. (My girls always said “Go?” when they used this one)
  • Sleep

In the video below, M and J are 16 months old. No, they still haven’t learned how to sit still at home. These days, they have to save up that effort for school. Note that even while the girls are signing “Baby” at my request, J uses her sign for “Gentle” to tell me what she knows about babies.

What do you think of Baby Sign? Did it work for you? Would you consider trying it out?

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Wanted: 2 Bubbles for My 2 Boys’ Wibbly Wobbly Woes

Posted on
Categories Balance, Development, HDYDI Blog, Parenting, Parenting Twins, Prematurity, Preschoolers, ToddlersTags , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

Wanted: Two Bubbles for My Two Boys

My preemie twin boys turned three years old recently. They are still working on catching up to the average three year old and we’re respectful of this fact and we work hard to help them along the way. It takes a lot of patience.

I mean a lot…

Of patience.

But there are those days when I am at a loss. My patience is worn thin. And I wish there was a bubble I could stick each of them in to protect them from themselves! I mean this in the kindest, gentlest and most protective mommy way. I love these little dudes and I hate to see them get hurt!

Case in point…last week, the end of a long, busy work week I found myself sitting in an Emergency Room waiting area for over 4 hours, past 12:00 AM, to have Twin A’s damaged eyebrow looked at and stitched up. Did he get hit in the head by a toy? No. Did he get in a scuffle with Twin B or big bro? No. He stepped on his own foot, lost his balance, and keeled over right onto the only kind of pointy edge on the baby gate…which is meant to protect him!

The boy is wobbly!

This event took place after a week of appointments and additional stress of both boys having allergic reactions to mosquito bites and becoming puffed up little children. First I thought I had to worry about West Nile Virus and now I have the additional worry of puffy little boys covered by gigantic swollen bites. Which then leave scars!

Then this evening we went out for a walk at the park. I slathered my boys in mosquito repellent in order to avoid West Nile and puffy reactions. My husband and I each manned a “baby” and kept an eye on the big boy. Three kids running in different directions on big, scary jungle gyms.

They are scary to me. Not to my kids.

It’s 3 against 2 in these situations and sometimes it really does feel like we’re losing from the start, so to speak. When we’re at these playgrounds the object of the game is to not get hurt. That is all. The level of stress can be high. The ability to relax can be hard.

We made it through the playground okay. No falls. No injuries. No tears. YES!

I relax…

Too soon.

No sooner do I turn my back to Twin B to take the big guy on a washroom run, when Twin B takes a single step, trips himself up and lands on his head. Not his bum. Not his side. He doesn’t try to break his fall in any way, shape or form; maybe because it happened so fast? Instead his head broke his fall. His head. The twins are not identical, but sometimes I do wonder. They do so many of the silliest things in the same ways. This is where the desire for a couple of nice, comfy bubbles made of Kevlar comes to mind. We try so hard to protect them from things, yet we know we can’t do it forever. So we try to relax.

When my three preemies came up in conversation when at a doctor’s appointment a few years ago, my doctor advised me to try to avoid being an over-protective parent, knowing that this is something many preemie parents deal with (she is a preemie parent herself.) Our little premature babies make it through the hardest of times and we want them to be safe and boo-boo free, but it’s hard to decide what really is “over-protective” vs. the average caring parent. Just like there is no specific instruction manual on dealing with a preterm birth, there isn’t one for raising preemie kids or any kid for that matter.

We just have to take it one step at a time…and hope we don’t fall flat on our faces!

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Breastmilk, Meet Formula: Part II

Posted on
Categories Balance, Breastfeeding, Development, Formula, Infants, Mommy Issues, Overnight, RoutinesTags , , 2 Comments

A while ago, I wrote about starting formula with my until-then exclusively breastfed babies. Three months later, things are evolving again.

Here’s our schedule at nearly 9 months:

7:30-8am – Wake and breastfeed

9am – Breakfast (solids)

10ish-11:30ish – Bottle and Nap

1pm – Sometimes breastfeed, Lunch (solids)

3ish-4ish – Bottle and Nap

5:30pm – Breastfeed

6pm – Dinner (solids)

7:30-8pm – Bottle and Bed

11:30pm, 1:30am, 4:30am, sometimes 6:30am – Breastfeed

It’s pretty great. Except that last bit, where I’m STILL up 3-4x per night. I can’t quite figure it out. M used to sleep 8-12 hours without feeding. R could go at least 6. What happened? Is this a sleep issue (they’ve gotten into the habit of waking and needing a snuggle) or an eating issue (they’re not getting enough during the day and are making it up at night) or a combination of both? It’s not a growth spurt; it’s been going on for weeks. Our pediatrician assures us that they are growing well, staying right on their own curve, and that they certainly could sleep 11-12 hours.

As we approach one year, I know that the boys will gradually drop milk feeds and rely more on solids for nutrition. But which feeds will be dropped? They are already less interested in the mid-day breastfeeding.

I’m faced with what feels like a major decision: Do I prioritize sleep, and make a plan to drop the night feedings? Or do I prioritize breastfeeding?

On the rare night that the boys wake only twice in the night, I feel like a different person. I’m happy, calm, have perspective. On nights I’m up 3, 4, 7 times, I’m thrust back to newborn days all over again – I’m achy and depressed and my mind is in a fog. I’d love to regularly get more sleep, but it means that half the breastfeeds would be cut out. Meanwhile, would my boobs explode in the night? How would it affect my supply? Then there is the whole crying aspect of any kind of sleep modification. Isn’t it easier to just get up and take twenty minutes to soothe rather than to endure seemingly endless minutes of tears?

Then again, it’s not as if breastfeeding isn’t work too. I’m taking domperidone, and despite being assured by a lactation consultant that I would be “overflowing with milk,” I’m not sure it’s making much difference at all. I’m also taking an herbal milk supplement 4x/day. M gets frustrated waiting for let-down, and R has started biting. All the necks of my shirts are stretched out. Sometimes they are too distracted to take a full feeding, which drives me crazy. Other times they are ravenous and I just don’t feel I have enough to satisfy them. I get tired of stripping every time someone is hungry. There are days I want to just stop – go with the order, predictability, and data-friendly formula and close this chapter of mothering. I mean, they have to stop at some point.

Other times, I cling to the connection with my boys, and frankly, the self-righteousness of doing “the best” for them. I love that they are getting the perfect food, and feel horrible guilt that I can’t give them more. It’s such a breeze to be out and be able to feed them without any prep or clean up. I love their cuddles and sweet little milky breath. It isn’t like when they were newborns – I have many other ways to comfort them now – but there is a special peacefulness about it, especially since I’ve stopped tandem feeding and can focus on one little guy at a time.

I could attempt to return to exclusively breastfeeding by one year (over the next three months) by phasing out the formula feedings. Or I could focus on phasing out the night feedings and get some much-needed sleep. Or I could keep doing what we’re doing, take my cues from the boys, and let things evolve naturally. Why does that last one seem so right and yet so hard?!

Anyone successfully transition from formula supplements to exclusively breastfeeding, or vice versa? Do you lean toward guiding their kids through transitions, or are you able to follow their lead?

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

My Dearest Toddler

Posted on
Categories Birthdays, Celebrations, Development, Independence, Toddlers1 Comment

This month you turned 3 years old. It’s hard to believe three years have passed so quickly. When a teary-eyed Mama looks through old photographs, the round squishy baby you used to be is no more. You have become a smart, beautiful, caring, independent, self-confident little girl.

You are so tall now that turning on the light only requires you to reach on tiptoe. You can dress yourself, put on shoes, and get in your own carseat. You were fully potty trained by 2 years 5 months, and now you use the big toilet and wipe. You can wash your hands, get in your highchair, and feed yourself.

This year, your language exploded, and not just in one language but two. It’s incredible to watch you work out something in your mind and put it into words. Your face lights up when someone helps you with what you’re trying to say and they get it right. It is just amazing that you are able to translate from one language to the other effortlessly, and instinctively you know which language to use when. Mama is so proud of you when you can walk up to complete strangers and carry a conversation.

You are so smart. You study things with focus and concentration beyond your age, then you ask a million questions. You constantly surprise Mama with an insane memory sometimes going back a whole year, and your ability to apply knowledge in new situations will take you very far in life. Your favorite thing to do with Mama is crafts and reading before bed. That is Mama’s most treasured time of every day as well, when the babies have gone to sleep and it’s just you. Your favorite games are hide-and-seek and “monster” with Daddy. And you’re pretty good at cleaning up all your toys too.

But sometimes you don’t follow the rules. One time Mama will never forget is a few months ago when you sneaked a fruit snack pack out of the pantry and hid under the covers to eat it. This was the first time you moved the step stool placed at the sink for hand washing, the first time opening a snack package by yourself, and the first time you deliberately found a hiding spot to do something you knew was wrong. You learned your lesson about getting hungry if you don’t eat your meals though.

This was a very eventful year for you. Before you even turned 2, you found out that you weren’t going to be an only child anymore. How you would take it is what Mama was most worried about when your sibling turned into TWO siblings. But you have become a big sister with grace. It is so beautiful to see how much you love your DiDi and MeiMei. You are the best role model Mama could ever hope to have for them. They will look up to you forever, and very soon they will be your best friends.

You have grown so much in this past year. You have become so independent that Mama doesn’t worry about you being on your own. But the day will come that you will part to go to school, and Mama cries just thinking about it. It is so very hard to let you go, because you will always be the first baby. So once in a while, Mama is relieved to be able to catch a glimpse of the old you. The little wrinkle that’s left on your ankle from babyhood, the expression on your face when you kiss your blanket, the way you look when you first wake up from a nap. Please don’t grow up too fast, baby.

We are all so lucky to have you. You are an amazing little girl, and Mama loves you very, very much.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Letting Go

Posted on
Categories Behavior, Development, Family, Independence, Mommy Issues, Toddlers2 Comments

My in-laws took Toddler to her Mommy and Me class for the first time a couple weeks ago. Originally I planned on taking her with twins in tow two mornings a week because I really enjoy being there with her. But there were two problems with that: 1. I was sleep training babies and taking them out for two hours every other day was not conducive to creating a schedule. 2. When I did take them, I was constantly hovering around their stroller to make sure no unwanted intruders tried to sneak a peek or worse yet, poke my attempting-to-sleep children… so I’d miss a lot of the class anyway. Good thing is, Toddler is very independent and can function in class without me. But still, I’ve made friends with some of the other mommies there, and hearing about the class second hand is just not the same.

So it was with some reservation that I decided to let the grandparents take her. Toddler has never been with my in-laws in any setting other than their home without me. I thought I thoroughly prepared her, and myself, by starting over a week in advance, reminding her of what she can do by herself in class, where to eat her after-class snack, and that she would come home after snack for her nap, like we’ve always done. I had also given the same instructions in a detailed email to the in-laws. I even recruited some mommy friends to keep an eye out and help if necessary. I thought we were ready.

The hand-off went without a hitch on the morning of their first class. I went out to help put Toddler in the newly installed carseat on their car. She’s pretty good about clipping herself in, but I wanted to make sure they would know exactly how to do it too. After a couple last minute reminders and a few “love you”s, off they went.

The coming home did not go nearly as well. From what I could piece together, Toddler did not want to leave after snacks, and I guess she started t0 get whiny. She asked to go play at their house instead of coming home to sleep. I’m sure this is due to a combination of her being tired (I was in the process of moving her nap to match the babies’) and testing the grandparents. To get her in the car, Grandpa told her they needed to pick something up from mommy first, and then they would take her back to their house. So of course when they did get back, Toddler refused to get out of the car. I guess they hadn’t anticipated the one-track mind of a toddler and figured she’d forget. While they stood around chuckling at her brilliance, I got to be physically attacked by my daughter while I wrangled her out of the carseat to bring her inside. Needless to say, not ideal.

I spent the next couple of days ironing out the kinks. More reminders to Toddler, a couple of serious conversations with Husband and the in-laws. Everyone is on the same page now. Naps are not negotiable, and we do not lie to our children. I allowed the grandparents to continue to take her.

Here is the interesting thing that began to evolve: Toddler took on a new personality! Without me around, my “spies” have reported that she is much more outgoing (and she was already outgoing before) and seemed to enjoy the class more. She started dancing and singing along with all the songs, running like a hooligan with some of the other kids, and exhibiting rowdy behavior. We often see this more gregarious side of her at home, but she’s usually more reserved when I take her out. Strange…

I’m still not sure how to feel about this. Like maybe sad that she feels she can’t let loose when I’m there, or maybe relieved that she likes going to class with Grandma (although she does still says she prefers to go with me), or scared because it might mean my in-laws have no control over her behavior?

I do know one thing though: My little girl is growing up, and I will have to come to terms with the fact that I will no longer watch over every aspect of her life. I’m terrified and so proud of her at the same time. Maybe this is all for the best.

lunchldyd is mom to a 3yo daughter and her 5mo brother and sister. Letting go is super hard for her.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

I'm a Home Run Hitter

Posted on
Categories Behavior, Development, Discipline, Education, Parenting Twins, Perspective, RelationshipsTags , , , , , , , , , , , Leave a comment

I’m a homerun hitter in this game called Parenting. That’s right! Some days I practically “hit the ball out of the park” with my parenting skills…but (of course there’s a but) then there are other days…those bleak days…where it’s three strikes and I’m out and I haven’t even finished my morning cup of cold coffee yet.

Last week I took part in a workshop, put on by a local social service agency in partnership with the Parents of Multiples Births Association I am part of. The workshop was on Positive Parenting and Raising Responsible Children (us multiples moms and dads need all the advice we can get, right?!) The facilitator used a baseball analogy in her explanation of positive parenting, which I will explain shortly.

We all want to raise awesome children and give them all we can to achieve success…but we learned maybe that is not exactly the right approach. We need to let children make mistakes, as painful as it may be to watch happen. We need to let them learn from their experiences, not clear the path or fight their battles for them, while thinking we are doing them a favour. We talked about the importance of give and take when it comes to the parent and child relationship. We heard about the reasons why children may seem to be “misbehaving,” when perhaps in fact they are having a hard time verbalizing or expressing what it is that’s actually making them react in ways we consider “bad.” We also learned from other parents’ reactions we are not alone when we wonder where the heck The Parenting Manual is and why didn’t we get training before we had multiples running around the neighbourhood when the lights are out and all the other kids are home in their beds?? Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but only slight.

The facilitator of this workshop discussed the importance of understanding the difference between praise and encouragement. Another key thought was to consider the difference between punishment and discipline.  At first glance I am sure many parents, including myself might think these words are one in the same, just a different way to state them…but with further explanation many of us had our “a-ha moments” going off one by one through the session.

For starters the facilitator explained a concept called STEP – Systematic Training for Effective Parenting. The main point that drove it home (like a homerun) for me was praise is used to reward only for well-done, completed tasks. From this the child begins to develop the ideal that “to be worthwhile I must meet your standards,” allowing the child to develop unrealistic standards and measure worth by how closely the child reaches the parents’ perceived level of perfection. From here children learn to dread failure. On the flip side, in comparison, encouragement is when a child is recognized for effort and improvement. The child internalizes the idea that he or she does not have to be perfect and that efforts and improvements are valued and important. Based on this type of repetitive experience the child learns to accept his/her and others’ efforts. It also enables a child to learn discipline and persistence to stay on task.

Bringing up the rear were the concepts of punishment versus discipline. I thought, Aren’t they the same?…one just seems to have a meaner tone? I looked it up, because that’s what I do, and yes, they do have similar meanings…but “discipline” is also defined as activities, exercises or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.

During the workshop, “punishment” was outlined as our belief that we must teach a life lesson and that a punishment, such as taking something away will make the child think before acting next time or “suffer the consequences.” You may randomly take something away, that has nothing to do with the problem or situation and will make no sense to the upset child. That sounds scary and frustrating…Then on the other hand is the concept of discipline, which is to train the child by working with him/her to develop effective strategies for expressing their emotions and managing behaviour to avoid grocery store mid-aisle meltdowns for all to see (and judge.) To discipline, you have to work at achieving your own skill of understanding a child’s reasons for behaviour and misbehaviour, use firmness and kindness in your approach, look for solutions and alternatives and the ultimate goal is to teach the child self-discipline. In other words don’t start screaming and yelling, thinking you’re going to help the already frustrating situation. In this sense you’re really reverting to child-like mannerisms because you can’t get your point across. I get it…but it’s going to take a lot of practice to make it right…and ultimately this whole concept of parenting indicates we should not strive for “perfection,” but rather a balance of confidence in our abilities and a willingness to persevere and try again next time.

To close, the way the facilitator of the workshop summed up these ideas is that when you start to learn to play baseball, you don’t immediately know how to swing and hit a ball, or pitch and throw a strike. This was my a-ha moment, after playing many, many summer baseball seasons over the years, I knew what she meant. I realized this idea of baseball is similar to learning to parent; these are all things that take time, dedication and potentially many mistakes along the way to become as good a parent as you can be. Rarely does a pitcher ever throw a perfect game and so it’s reasonable to think parents will make mistakes, feel like they should be thrown out of the Parenting game and maybe even take themselves out of the game for a few minutes to collect themselves and then start again with a fresh approach.

Our friends at GoNannies.com asked us to share some of their similar thoughts shared on their recent blog post, How to Gain Your Child’s Cooperation Without Yelling, so please feel free to check them out for more advice on discipline and gaining your child’s cooperation.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Bilingual Children

Posted on
Categories Development, Education, Language3 Comments

Since I had my own children, I’ve started noticing other young children in my community, and by extension, their families. More and more, families are becoming racially mixed these days. Children of first generation immigrants like us are now having their own children, creating a hodgepodge of cultures in this third generation. It makes me wonder how parents of our generation are raising their bi/multi-racial, bi/multi-cultural children.

Amongst our friends and in Toddler’s classes, there are many such children. A lot of them are being raised only speaking English. The parents either don’t speak their first language well or choose not to pass it on to their children. Or, each spouse speaks a different language so they find it easier to communicate with their children in English.

I completely understand how difficult it is to raise bilingual children. It takes dedication to something that may not be the path of least resistance. My family moved to LA from Taiwan when I was 5 years old, so my first language was Chinese. However, at that young age, I very naturally picked up English. Our ease with English was so great that our parents had to impose a “No English” rule in our house so we would not lose our ability to converse in Chinese. My brother and I inevitably spoke English to each other while we were alone, but never with our parents. To them, our education in the Chinese language was just as important as our grades in school. There were shipments of elementary schoolbooks from Taiwan and weekends spent at Chinese school. Because of my parents’ dedication, today I am just short of fluent in reading and writing, and can easily function in a Chinese society without translation.

Studies show that the brains of bilingual people are different. Development in children who are bilingual is more advanced over those who are not exposed to a second language. In my case, it’s helped me score almost perfect on my SAT’s and excel in all levels of my education. Spending evenings with my father at the kitchen table reading the Chinese newspaper fostered in me a love for language that resulted in my career as an English teacher.

Therefore it’s no surprise that I would be adamant in raising my children to be bilingual. From infancy, I’ve spoken to them only in Mandarin. Husband is actually a Cantonese speaker (a different dialect of Chinese), though not fluent, but he’s learning Mandarin along with Toddler. My children will get the same opportunity to learn a second language as I did. In fact, they will truly be bilingual, as they will have both English and Chinese as their first language.

It will take even more dedication for us than it did for our parents, though. We are so much more comfortable with English than they ever were. At not even three years old, Toddler is almost just as strong in English already. With our iPad commandeered as hers and all that toddler programming on Nick Jr, it won’t take long for English to become her dominant language. I will have to strive to enroll her in dual language schools and provide her with regular, extended interactions with their grandmother. And then her siblings will come along and the battle will be even more uphill.

I hope they will someday be appreciative of these efforts as I am deeply grateful for my parents’.

lunchldyd is mom to a bilingual 3 yr old daughter and soon-to-be bilingual 3 month old b/g twins. 

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Toddler Rituals

Posted on
Categories Behavior, Development, Discipline, Toddlers3 Comments

Some days (ok, most days) Toddler really tries my patience.

From what I can remember, the rituals really began right around the time she turned two. That was the time we started telling her Mommy has babies in her belly. And then we took a two-week trip to Asia. That was the clincher. Starting with the plane ride, which we thought we prepared her for ahead of time. She was very excited to fly, even jumping up and down watching the planes land and take off through the big window in the airport boarding waiting area. Still excited when we got in the plane and she saw all the people sitting around us. Great while we taxi’d. Then, liftoff. Her face scrunched up in a look of sheer terror and the screaming commenced. And didn’t stop for 14 hours. Made me hope for a terrorist threat so we could abort this journey. It didn’t get much better after we landed either. With the upside down time difference (15 hrs or something like that), none of us were feeling great, but also dealing with a toddler whose routine was set in stone at home was just torture. What were we thinking? Our child DOES NOT travel well. Lesson learned.

Sometime during that trip, she formed a deep attachment to her blanket (“budget” to her). Before, she liked her blanket, and we would give it to her to sleep, but it wasn’t a necessity. In those two weeks, it had to be taken EVERYWHERE we went. And there was no sleeping without it. Funny enough, the IDENTICAL blanket Mommy brilliantly bought in anticipation of JUST THIS was immediately rejected no matter how many times we offered it. (Even to this day– that blanket is now baby brother’s.) So, fine. OK. Gotta remember the blanket now. I guess it’s better than picking up dropped pacifiers all day long or sucking on thumbs till age 6.

Lately, her obsession has been to close doors a certain way. “Like this” every night and naptime, a negotiation of how much the door to her room gets closed. But it’s a moving target. You think you got it at just the right angle, walk away, and hysterical yelling/crying incoherently about a “like this, not like this” will continue until you go back and the ritual starts all over. Finally last night I let her scream for 10 minutes. Then I went in and we calmly had a discussion about how the door needs to be and there will be no more screaming.

It may possibly have worked because there was no complaint about the door at nap time. However, there was something else. The pillow on her chair had fallen over. It needed to be righted, and placed to the side. All her dresser drawers must be completely closed, her stuffed animals and books aligned in just the right way, stickers stuck to the right places. I swear she makes things up sometimes just to stall, but then they become part of her ritual too. It’s maddening to the point you can’t do anything but throw up your hands. C’mon kid, just go to sleep!

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of times when she’s super sweet. “I lub you, mommy.” She caresses her siblings and kisses them on their feet. “Mmmmuah!” But… gosh these rituals can be annoying when all I want to do is get a few minutes of quiet before the twins demand my attention. Please?

I know this is just a phase, and I definitely feel for parents of kids who have crazier rituals. But when does it end, and will the twins be just as bad times two?!?

lunchldyd is a mom to an almost 3 yr old daughter and her 3 month old twin brother and sister. She is also a high school teacher. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 children under 3, and two neglected dogs.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

I Know I Can't Be Objective

Posted on
Categories Attitude, Bureaucracy, Co-parenting, Development, Difference, Divorce, Education, Mommy Issues, Parenting Twins, School, School-Age, Unique needsTags , , , , , 3 Comments

My 6-year-old daughters are being evaluated for the Talented and Gifted program at their elementary school. If they qualify, they’ll get to participate in more in-depth study of certain subjects than their peers. The dual language program at their school, in which they participate, already incorporates components of the Talented and Gifted curriculum, and their teachers do a great job of giving them assignments that keep them challenged and engaged. Still, I really do think that they’d benefit from the additional small group environment of TAG.

Every parent knows that their child is special. I think there are very few parents out there who’d describe their children as average, even though the average child is, well, average. I’m not even going to pretend to be objective. In my eyes, J is the sweetest, most thoughtful child to ever grace the earth. M is the funniest, and it takes every iota of self control not to spend every second of every day kissing her most kissable nose. They are both brilliant. It’s a good thing that the people evaluating them for Talented and Gifted services aren’t their parents.

But, wait.

J and M both brought forms home from school yesterday. I’m supposed to fill out these “Scales for Identifying Gifted Students” comparing them each to their age peers. Under Language Arts, one criterion is, “Reads or speaks with expression to create meaning.” Under Creativity: “Is an excellent improviser.” Leadership: “Is sought out for peers for advice, companionship, and ideas,” and “Is viewed as fair or caring.”

I cannot be objective. I just hope that the teachers reviewing these forms know that no parent can be, and are looking more at the examples I provide than the rankings.

I also struggle not to compare my girls to one another. They’re incredibly evenly matched, but J is just a little more interested in current events than M. J was the one who cried every day of the Arab Spring uprising in Libya, while M merely listened to the news and commented. M is just a bit stronger in math. While J is content to work on multiplication and calculations of area, M has leapt ahead into volumes and higher exponents. I imagine that if I were the mother of just one of them, I wouldn’t pause to mark their abilities in those areas as “Exhibits the behavior much more in comparison to his or her age peers.” I’m not the mother of just one. I’m a mother of twins, and I can’t help but compare them to each other. I know I’m not alone in this; my friends who have several singletons frequently talk about how a younger child compares to how the older one was doing at the same age.

The girls’ dad gave me the pep talk I needed soon after I photographed each page of the forms and emailed them to him. “It is important,” he wrote to me, “not to compare our daughters with each other because is it not an accurate measuring stick. For this, I think we need to try to compare them to the other children we see and are familiar with.” He talked through with me some of the areas I was waffling on, and some of the areas that he was uncertain of, not having been around the girls very often this year. He was pleased to learn that J has developed an interest in World War II, and that M is started to want to read more about Native American life before European contact.

I was pleased to have his thoughts, his perspective, and his partnership in co-parenting our children.

Of course, my ex thinks our girls are even more brilliant than I think they are.

Do you aim for objectivity in parenting? How do you achieve it?

Sadia tries to stay half a step ahead of her genius 6-year-old identical twins in Austin, TX. She is assisted in her efforts not to spend all day kissing her daughters by escaping to her full time job in higher education technology in Austin, TX. Her ex-husband is currently stationed 900 miles away with the US Army in El Paso, TX.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Alone Time

Posted on
Categories Balance, Development, Difference, Family, Toddlers7 Comments

Based on the title of this post, you may think I am going to write about the importance of having some quality Mom time to recharge ones batteries and help us to face our daily challenges. While I could not be more pro “Mom time”, my title actually refers to alone time that your twins get with each parent and the reasons we have decided to set up some one on one play dates during the weekends.

For the first year of my boys’ lives, I vacillated between treating them as a team and treating them as individuals. The literature I read about ‘how to survive the first year with twins’ told me to put the twins on the same schedule as early as possible. I did not adhere to this in the early days (though looking back, I probably should have!). Instead, I let the boys feed in succession and not in tandem and let them sleep and wake as they wanted. This worked for me in the beginning so I just went with it, but around 4 months, they seemed to naturally demonstrate a more predicable nap and night-time sleep schedule. Once this pattern emerged, it was easy to sync them up and I have kept them [mostly] on the same schedule every since.

Now safely across the one-year mark with many milestones behind us (e.g. rolling, walking, talking) it is easy to see how different these little people are and how they have already- and will continue to- develop at different rates. For example, one of my boys is very strong and tough and he likes to muscle his way through obstacles. He is also a huge ham and likes to talk to all the strangers we see. My other boy is much more analytical and he attacks most problems logically by looking at the scenario from all angles. He is outgoing, but tends to say hi and bye just a fraction of a second too late; once people have walked away, resulting in his brother getting more attention. After a couple of weeks of seeing this and noticing difference at home (one guy likes to sing and dance while the other is likes to read and climb on things, etc.) it occurred to me that it is time for my husband and I to start spending alone time with each boy to allow them to express their personalities’ and maybe test out some new skills they have been working on. This may seem like a no brainer, but until this point, it never really occurred to me to split the boys up and spend time with just one son instead of both of them. I have taken both kids on every errand I have ever run. During the day, we move as a pack from one room to the other, playing and padding our way around the house. I feel very confident that I am able to balance the attention I give to each boy but I now I am acutely aware that they may benefit from some undivided attention. Perhaps this will help them to master some new skills or to allow them to fool around as only an only child can.

Since weekend time is precious (filled with errands to run, family time to be had, and parks to be played at) my husband and I set a loose plan of trying to alternate weekends of alone time with each boy. For example, I will play with A and he will play with B for 30 minutes or an hour on one weekend and then the next weekend we will switch. I am excited to try this and see if I notice any difference in my interaction with the boys when I am alone with them versus when the twins are together. I am also kind of excited to think of some fun activities to do on our special “dates”.

I have no doubt that my boys love having a brother. They have played and interacted from day one and I know they will always feel the specialness of having a built in playmate and best friend. On the other hand, I am excited to give them some time to explore their parents and their world, uninterrupted by their sibling’s needs or distracted by the other’s skills. This may reveal some new aspects of their personalities that have yet to be discovered.

Have you implemented alone time with your twins? What made you start and how do you do it?

 

~~

Mother of one year old twin boys, Carrie is excited to share some of her experiences, opinions, knowledge and laughs after having survived her first year of twindom.   By writing for HDYDI, Carrie hopes to share her early mistakes and gain insight from other moms about the challenges that lie ahead.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone