Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Matching and Memory

Raina is fascinated by the road, and she offers helpful advice about stop signs and traffic signals. In addition, she's learning that each street has its own name and she actively and persistently asks, "What's this one's name, Mommy?" as we drive by street after street after street. She's kinda confused that the street we're on doesn't change its name even though we drive by other streets, but that'll come.

Today we discussed Ross Road, and, since we take Ross all the way up to daycare, I said "we're on Ross" many times in response to Raina's queries. After the third or fourth time, Raina paused, looked at me, and said "like Ross playground?" And when I responded, shocked, in the affirmative, she told me that "Ross road and Ross playground -- they match!"

She was quite proud of this realization. Me too, although I admit to being more dumbfounded and astounded than anything. We haven't been to the Ross playground in months (!) so I was very shocked to hear reference to it this morning. She's using her knowledge and putting together patterns and information. What an exciting process to watch!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Empathy

Raina shows genuine concern for her loved ones. Before we leave for daycare, she ensures that her cow is wrapped up in a blanket so he can sleep and that he has a stuffed friend so he won't be lonely. As soon as we head home from daycare, she starts saying "Cow misses me. He's lonely. Needs a hug." and as soon as we get home (and strip off winter wear) Raina reconnects with the cow. They spend a good 3-4 minutes together before she officially returns to interact with us.

She also recognizes that other people have loved ones and feel the same way. She frequently reports that Roxanne is "sad and lonely because she misses Sammy." Additionally, she'll group similar items together (a small and large bear, for instance) and say "awww, they love each other and they're a family."

Raina and I were sent home early yesterday because of bad weather conditions, and we celebrated by watching Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. The film follows two lost dogs and one cat in their attempt to find their owners. It's a heartwarming tale, it pulls on my sappy tendencies each time I watch it, and I was certain Raina would like it because of the animals.

This film was an emotional roller-coaster for Raina. Occasionally the animals met with perilous situations and Raina panicked that they were hurt or lost even more. She kept repeating "Are they okay? Where's the kitty, Mommy? Is the kitty okay? The dogs miss the kitty."

I also heard a continuous refrain of "Peter misses his Shadow" and other statements about missing someone and being lonely and loving one another. Once, in response, I told her "they miss their animals like you miss your cow." She visibly reacted, like she totally understood what I said and what that meant, and she hugged her cow tighter as we continued the movie.

One scene involves a little girl who is also lost. The animals discover her, comfort her, and then direct her parents to where the little girl is located. Raina SOBBED at the reunion scene, and she had no idea how to cope with these intense emotions she was feeling. She understood what it meant to be lost and to miss someone and she was so grateful that she wasn't lost and that she had her parents with her. She was emotionally overwhelmed. We cuddled tightly for the remainder of the movie.

Her reaction was even stronger when the animals finally reconnect with their human owners. She just cried and laughed and smiled and hugged me and watched as the animals and humans did the same thing. I asked her how she felt and she said "I'm happy, Mommy. They found each other." And she just smiled, contentedly, as she snuggled with me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stretches

Eric does a daily round of stretches and Raina likes to be included in the fun. She brought the bears over too so that they wouldn't be left out. Bears get tight hamstrings too, you know.

Daily car trips

Raina is such a delight to have in the car. Back when she was a baby, she was eternally boring, and she was eternally bored. She had to face the back seat -- just a sea of grey cloth -- and wait until she was removed from her baby prison. When she finally upgraded to a big girl seat, a forward-facing carseat, she wanted to take endless trips. Being in the car was a joy for her because there was SO MUCH TO SEE!!! Two years later she still has that mentality.

Raina LOVES construction machinery, and delights in finding backhoes, bulldozers, cranes, and forklifts when out and about. With the Highway 40 construction / shutdown, we've had ample opportunity to find machines and she has a ball each and every time.

Also, at some point over in the fall, Raina learned about steeples, and she has a grand time shouting "Steeple! On the right!" as we drive along. We've gone to church the past two weeks, which means we drive past a lot more churches and steeples, AND the church we go to is just one big steeple. Going to church is totally worth it for Raina because she sees the big steeple.

Finally, Raina is learning the rules of the road. She knows that stop signs mean stop, and also the meanings of red, green, and yellow lights, and why cars have blinkers, and even why different lanes have different lights on them. She also helpfully prompts from the backseat "Green light, Mommy. Time to go!" or "RED LIGHT!!! STOP!" Yesterday we were in a left-turn lane but the light was green. She kept repeating "Green light, Daddy. Go, Daddy. We have the green light, Daddy!" And when we arrived at our location she started a new mantra "Parking spot, Daddy. Need a parking spot." Coupled with Samantha and Krystal's offering "helpful" driving advice almost caused Eric's mental undoing. Thankfully we got out of the car just in time.

Raina gets rewarded

Raina has been pooping in the potty for a while now, but we have to remind her to do it. We have become very attune to the grunting noises that forwarn of a pooping incident. At the first sign of gruntage, we wisk her off to the potty in the interest of not having to clean poopy underwear. And of course we take preventative measures as well, encouraging potty pooping at every opportunity. So when we started hearing grunting today, we initiated our usual panicy response of hunting down Raina. To our surprise though, she was already on the potty - marking the first time that she pooped on the potty without being encouraged to. So whats our secret? Well bribery of course, in this case candy. But Raina isn't so educated in the way of the wonderful things out there that she could hold out for and convince us to give her. So "candy" in our house means - tic-tacs. Thats right, we are spoiling our daughter with a single 2 calorie tic-tac each time she poops in the potty.

I almost feel bad about how easy it is to abuse Raina in a negotiation. It is so easy to take advantage of her general lack of information as the above example illustrates. Plus, it helps that we have everything that she wants and she has practically nothing to bargain with. Kids really only have one major bargaining chip, screaming and crying. Unfortunately for Raina, that stopped being effective on me a year and a half to two years ago. And eventually it stopped working on Krystal too. So she's got nothing, and we have everything - its just not fair.

Raina is playing fully functional hide and seek, complete with counting to ten. She still is a tad questionable with hiding herself, but she is getting better.