Monday, March 26, 2012

Conflicting Messages

Lola has been in the potty-training stage of development for quite a while now.  Daycare conquered any resistance to peeing on the potty, but we've been mired on the BM front for months.  All of the attachment parenting blogs had suggestions of a gentle nature:  slowly convince her to move all BMs to the bathroom, then to stand next to the potty, then to sit on the potty with a pull-up on, then to use the potty straight.  Bribes, rewards, and sticker charts were also highly touted as fail-safe mechanisms.  I'm not above bribing my kids, but Lola had not seemed interested in any of the options we had suggested.  So there we were, slowly making progress.

Then I took Lola to her three year check-up and her pediatrician laid into me quite severely about her potty training status.  It's quite a shock to be labeled an "enabler" and "like the wife of an alcoholic, hoping that things will change on their own" but we chose our doctor because he doesn't mince words.  I appreciated the bluntness.  He listed out a full-scale plan for us that featured sticker charts and a reward system.  I admit, I was a little disappointed in the suggestions.  I mean, really, sticker charts?  Hadn't he read Drive or Nurture Shock?  All the research made it clear; external motivation does not lead to internal motivation.  No one wants the kid to stop using the potty just because she realizes the reward isn't good enough anymore.  Ugh.

But what the hell, right?  So we instituted the sticker chart and, of course, it worked.  Really, we think it was the gradual build-up which made her developmentally ready, but whatever.  We're ecstatically overjoyed. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Biking prowess

Last year, we rejoiced that Raina could ride her bike without training wheels.  It's fantastic, really, and she's so proud of herself.  Our street doesn't have sidewalks, unfortunately, but it does have lots of cars parked on the street and people who speed through at 35 mph .... in essence, it's not safe to send her off by herself yet, so she's limited to biking a continuous loop of garage, driveway, front walk, and front yard.  Raina frequently "off-roads" and helps further kill the grass in our yard.  Bless her.

It rained over the weekend; the kids were cooped up and they couldn't really play in our mud-pit of a yard.  In a word, they were antsy, so we brought the bikes out to see just how far Raina could go.  Raina zoomed off and headed straight to the Ross playground.  She had no difficulty with the uphill 1/2 mile route and she biked at a pace that required an adult to jog.  Nice!

Lola Lou has a tricycle; she pedals around and stuffs chalk and sticks in her little basket and generally has a good time.  When she saw that Raina got to bike, she determined that she should be able to bike too and that the stroller wasn't good enough for her anymore.  When Lola decides on something, it's a struggle to change her mind and, honestly, we were curious to see what she could do.  So Little Lola triked to the Ross playground too.  She needed frequent pushes at regular intervals, but she kept pedaling the whole time.  Eric's matching pace was more of a slow stroll, overall, but she got there!

Luckily the playground was dry and the girls had a great time getting all their willies out.  When Lola announced that she needed to potty, it was time to get back on bikes and go.  Downhill biking is SO MUCH EASIER than uphill biking, so the girls got back in good time.  Success!

Lola and St. Pat's

Raina, Lola, and I were driving home from daycare Friday afternoon, singing along to whatever was playing at the time, and then Lola stopped, looked very serious, and announced:  "Leprechauns are super sneaky!"  Raucous laughter ensued.  I'm not certain I'd ever heard Lola use the word sneaky before, and she seemed so passionate about her declaration with her wide-eyed expression and complete inability to offer any evidence to her claim.  We also learned that leprechauns' favorite colors are green and yellow and that they are sized no bigger than her pinky-finger.  All in all, Lola seemed remarkably well-informed for a three-year-old with no real information. 

Ah, daycare, you teach my children the most bizarre things!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Indoctrination: Food

The Whompton adults are all about food politics and have a collection of Food Bibles that we recommend everyone read:  The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (or anything by Pollan really), Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  They all have the same premise:  processed food is bad, local food is best!  We've embraced that mentality as much as we can.  We've belonged to numerous CSAs (which contract with local farmers), patronized numerous farmer's markets (including our favorite Thies Farm), purchase limited out-of-season fruit and vegetables (bananas primarily), select very few items from the center of the grocery store (crackers and cereal), eat a mostly vegetarian diet, and support locally-owned restaurants.  We even plan out which restaurants we'll hit on long drives, so we don't get stuck eating at McDonald's or something equally as horrible.  Whomptons are food snobs, plain and simple. 

As a result, the Whompton adults have never experienced kid pressure to get chicken nuggets or a Happy Meal -- those items are just not on the kids' radar.  Raina, aged 3, watched the morning news with Eric and the news segment was about the 30th anniversary of the Happy Meal.  Raina watched it and then declared "That looks disgusting!"  The adults cackled with glee -- we'd not prompted that response, and we were so overjoyed for her to make the realization on her own.  Let's face it, selecting food because it's cheap does not make it appetizing!

The Whompton kids eat copious amounts of other foods, though, and they are willing to try almost any food.  Spring foods are spinach and beets and strawberries and blackberries; summer foods are zucchini and squash and green beans and tomatoes and peppers; autumn foods are potatoes and sweet potatoes and winter squashes; winter foods are dried beans and soups and homemade bread.  We eat so much of each season's food that we rejoice when the new season arrives; we haven't eaten those foods in 9 months and it's great to have them back.  We had our first spinach and pickled beet salad of the spring last week and it was so luscious!

Growing up with the Hagan farm gave me a connection to food and seasons and flavor -- and guilt when I sit down with a meal of all one color.  We're indoctrinating the kids early and often, and I hope that they keep our food politics intact after they leave the Whompton nest. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Indoctrination: Music

Eric listens to sports talk radio in the car and likes Weird Al Yankovic, so really his musical tastes don't matter.  Krystal, on the other hand, no longer listens to NPR because the kids constantly are making musical requests like these:

Trio (Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris) -- All the time, folks, my girls want to listen to good, ol' fashioned hillbilly-folk-country music ALL THE TIME.  Listening to Raina and Lola sing "The Wi-fower Song" (as known by Lola) is such a gift.  You can listen to the original song here and imagine tiny piping voices chiming in:  Wildflowers. 

Indigo Girls -- Raina listens to Rites of Passage each night before bed and she, completely independently of me, selected her favorite song which just happens to be my favorite song too!  We'll sing "Joking" together and then laugh and laugh and laugh (and she'll beam proudly, as well she should). 

The Decemberists -- Really, The King is Dead is a perfect album through and through so it got a lot of airtime in the car a year ago, but I only subjected the girls to it *so much.*  But they love it and, again, hearing small voices join the melody on "June Hymn" is just beautiful. 

Ben Folds -- For about two years, Raina's favorite song was "You Don't Know Me" by Ben Folds and Regina Spektor.  There's a fair amount of track skipping when listening to Ben Folds in the car with kids -- Parental Advisory and all that -- but it's filled with great sing-along opportunities!

Radiohead -- Okay, admittedly, the girls don't request Radiohead, well, ever, but Raina really enjoys picking out the instrumentation and tempo for each song.  It's hard work trying to piece it all together!  Try matching the drums here:  Myxomatosis.  It took her weeks to figure it out.

And what musical indoctrination would be complete without some Stevie Wonder and Maceo Parker, I ask you?  Here are songs that bring joy each time:  Sir Duke and What I Say.  The girls literally bounce around in the backseat and have dance moves and everything.  In a word: awesome.

I wish that I had video recordings of the girls as they sing each of these songs, but I'm always driving so .... you'll just have to trust me when I say it is absolutely precious.


Parents indoctrinate their children in a variety of ways.  It's a parental obligation to teach the child the same value structure that the parent has so that the family together has common, core beliefs.  The Whomptons passionately support and, therefore, indoctrinate in these things.

Indoctrination #1:  The Whompton adults embrace no religious faith, which means that we're raising our kids to do the same.  One of Raina's vocabulary/spelling words last week was "pray," and I realized she probably did not know what it meant because it's a word we've never used around her.  She thought it meant "to beg."  I submitted the revised (and more positive) definition "to hope."

Back at winter holiday-time, Raina had lots of questions about different religions and we talked about various beliefs.  I told her that, in essence, religious beliefs are a way to explain how people ended up on Earth.  Her response:  "That's silly!  A long, long time ago, little creatures changed and changed and became different animals and became monkeys and became humans.  Don't people know that?!?" 

Indoctrination #2:  Value people by their actions.  Raina was appalled to learn that some people thought that having light skin was better than darker skin or that boys were better than girls or that girls should only love boys.  Her response:  "But that's silly!  You're born with that.  You can't change the color of your skin -- all you can do is make certain you use sunscreen and don't get freckles!  And I'm a girl and I love all people!  Girls can marry girls and that's okay."  (shakes her head)  "Loving each other raises us all up and being mean brings us all down."  That closing statement made me all teary-eyed. 

Indoctrination #3:  Differences should be embraced and celebrated.  "It's great to be different!" Raina says, and she's absolutely right.  I hope she keeps this one close to her heart for a long time.