Thursday, December 25, 2008

Raina meets Santa

Raina met Santa when she was 1.5 years or so, and she was traumatized by the experience. Raina at 3.5 years was much more serene.

Raina and baby toys

We have been prepping some for Kid 2's arrival: we talk about the baby with Raina, we're deliberating names, we convinced Raina that she wanted to switch bedrooms, and we evaluated our toy status. Raina's favorite toy when she was very young was a little baby gym, complete with dangling things that she could grab and kick. She spent a lot of time playing there, but we gave it away (or returned it to its original owner, I don't exactly remember) and now, with Kid 2, we are lacking the best toy for her. I researched online and discovered that I could buy another one for $60 -- not exactly desirable, because we don't even buy ourselves toys for $60 -- so I have perused craigslist diligently for the last few days hoping to find it. Not as many people are willing to get rid of these, or they go very quickly once posted. But I finally found one, almost identical to Raina's although slightly better, and I grabbed it for a cool $15. Hooray!

The great and funny thing is that Raina has been playing with the baby gym continuously for the last two days. She wanted to find all her old baby toys and equip it, and she has stationed her lovies with it at various points so they could play too. We also acquired a baby sling, which Raina has enjoyed practicing with by carrying her baby doll around the house.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Developmental Milestones

Raina recently interviewed for a JK spot at MICDS, which meant that she did some sort of evaluative testing while her adult parents tried to explain how the family dynamic works. We can only hope that Raina did a better job showing off than we did!

The next week, Raina's Parents as Teachers evaluator came to visit and she continuously remarked about how savvy Raina was with all the activities: building block structures, matching shapes, counting, etc. Then Vicky left us a pamphlet about what we should expect a three year old kid to do, by the end of being three, and we totally understood her shock.

A few examples:
- The child should be able to count three separate things. Raina has been counting her ten fingers for over a year, and she counted her Halloween candy up to forty-two.
- The child should be able to count up to eight. Raina can count up to at least the forties without difficulty.
- The child should be able to work eight-piece puzzles. Raina has been doing 48 piece puzzles for a year now.
- The child should be able to list and identify four colors. I have no idea how long Raina has been able to do this -- maybe since she was one and a half or so.

I was stunned by the list, or, more accurately, by how far Raina exceeds them. Of course, the teacher in me immediately started questioning how the "average child" was determined and concluded that gender differences must have been completely ignored. All of these things that Raina is good at are skills that girls develop before boys do. Raina missed a checkmark off the gross motor development (she cannot stand on one foot), but I bet most boys conquered that one a long time ago. It makes me wonder if most girl parents are left feeling that their child is brilliant, whereas most boy parents are left feeling alarmed and concerned because their boy has not met the "appropriate language or fine motor development level" for an "average three year-old." The situation is sad.

Regardless, we learned that Raina cannot stand on one foot, so we chalked a hopscotch in the basement and let her practice jumping and landing on one foot. It's pretty amusing to watch, but I know she'll get better once her body and brain make the connections.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Holidays and Consumerism Galore

Raina's daycare was closed on Thanksgiving and the Friday after. Raina completely understood being closed on Thanksgiving -- family was coming for the Feast of Friendship -- but she didn't quite comprehend the Friday part until her teacher explained it. Here's what Raina learned:

Thursday is Thanksgiving. Friday is Shopping Day!

And suddenly it all made perfect sense to her. She, however, had no interest in actually going shopping on Shopping Day, so I had to buy pots all by myself.

Immediately following Thanksgiving began the Winter Holiday Indoctrination period. I'm being generous by saying "Winter Holidays" because, I'll be frank, Raina's school is all about teaching Christmas in the strictly consumeristic style. But they also spent a day a piece on Diwali, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, so it's all perfectly diverse and acceptable (to them). Anyway, Raina transitioned into wanting our Christmas tree to go up, to see Christmas decorations all around, to hearing and singing Christmas songs, to making Christmas ornaments, and to discussing Santa and presents. They even watched the Grinch Stole Christmas movie, which thoroughly terrified her, because she was worried that someone would steal our Christmas tree. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

So the Whomptons have changed the language within the house. We have a Holiday tree with holiday lights, we ignore Santa completely, we sing a lot of Jingle Bells and Rudolph, and we don't discuss presents at all. We've had small conversations about how different people celebrate different things, but haven't delved into my full American consumerism rant just yet. Needless to say, Raina is not receiving Christmas presents from us and we have standing agreements with family members to not give her presents either. I'm hopeful that Raina will learn that presents are happy surprises which her parents and loved ones will give her occasionally, as opposed to on designated "gimme, gimme!" days scattered throughout the year.

On the flip side of this, we're doing some minor giving / sharing work with Raina. Raina is in charge of putting the change into the Salvation Army collections, and we talk each time about all the good things that happen because of our sharing our change. Also, we "adopted" a second grade boy who wanted books as a gift, and she and I had a good time at Borders choosing all the books for Anthony. Yes, I know that giving gifts around the winter holidays increases the consumer tendencies, but how do you say no to a boy asking for books?!?

The good thing is that Raina, right now, has no expectations that Santa will be depositing a huge number of gifts under our holiday tree, and I hope that we can keep that going for years and years. Or at least through this holiday season!

Apparently Raina did have Santa expectations. She met Santa at daycare and told him that she wanted something princess oriented. (I think it was a Cinderella doll.) Christmas day passed and she did not receive said item. Maybe three days later, she asked when it would be Christmas. When I told her it had already happened, she said, "but I didn't get my Cinderella doll!" That conversation was slightly uncomfortable, but it was okay. The next one was worse.

Raina returned to daycare after winter break, and her teachers made the day's journaling assignment "What did Santa bring me for Christmas?" Well, Santa did not bring her anything, and that's what she said for her journal. Her fellow classmates were shocked and some even said, "Raina, were you bad?!" At this point, Raina got a little upset -- she prides herself on being good and she was a little distraught that Santa may have thought her bad -- and the teachers immediately changed the subject.

The conversation with Raina that night was more difficult. How do you explain to a kid the real reasons behind the no-Santa and no-extravagant gifts policy of the house? It didn't matter that she had received a number of presents that week; none of them had come from Santa and that was her concern. So we told her that we don't have a chimney so Santa doesn't come to our house. That appeased her for this year; we'll have to be more thoughtful in advance for next year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving Stories

Raina switched daycares and almost immediately started singing a strange song about a turkey every night when she was at home. Her parents finally figured it out when we all went to see Raina's "Feast of Friendship" performance on Wednesday. Raina had created a little Native American constume (as had her classmates) and she, with the other 4 and 5 year olds, sang three Thanksgiving themed songs. The best was, by far, the turkey song, and Krystal and Samantha have had it stuck in their head for days.

What's funny and sad about this is that the kids and teachers worked on the song for over a month, but it has a total of four lines. Here they are:

Turkey is a funny bird; it's head goes wobble, wobble.
All it says is just one word: "gobble, gobble, gobble!"

This was her very first school performance, and it was precious.