Saturday, December 21, 2013

What Clara gets into...Merry Christmas.

I recently came across this blog on Reddit and laughed so hard I cried.  Read it HERE. In it, the blogger describes her 10-month-old's real present list to Santa.  I identified with almost every item on the list.

I will proudly  admit that I have done a really good job of hiding electrical cords from Clara but whenever I forget to close the bathroom door I return to the mayhem of a cloudy pile of unwound toilet paper, the items of the bathroom trash strewn across the floor, and the strong possibility of one of Clara's dolls posed in her potty, or (heaven forbid) if I have also forgotten to close the toilet seat, a soggy doll taking a bath in the toilet.

I would also love to know what aspect of our evolution has enabled small babies to grasp tiny objects - almost invisibly tiny objects - in their fingers and then carry them to their mouth for a taste.  Was food in the distant past so scarce that babies were crawling around under the tables fighting over tiny crumbs, Lord of the Flies style?  Because I find myself vacuuming the entire house every single day because no matter how clean the floor is Clara finds the one stale, ancient broken shard of Chex cereal hiding in a crack in the floorboard and pops it in her mouth before I can blink.  Ninja-style, Clara gets her hands on everything I think she shouldn't have.  Here's a picture she snapped with my phone after stealing it out of my pocket and running away with it, madly giggling and pressing buttons.  

At least she didn't purchase a ten dollar app like last time this happened.
Last week two of my Mommy friends came over with their children for a play-date.  18-month-old  twin boys and two 17-month-old  girls created a predictable cyclone of toys in Clara's room.  Us parents laughed as they pulled out every toy and book they could get their hands on, regarding it for mere seconds before tossing it in the growing pile in order to get something else.  Billie was digging around in Clara's crate of Duplos, pulling them out piece by piece with laser concentration.  That is, until her mother Sindy remarked in surprise: "Oh what's this?"  She reached over to Billie and pulled a perfectly preserved, dessicated Baby Carrot out of her daughter's tiny fist.

My first reaction was to be completely mortified - what kind of mother was I?  The kind that left a  baby carrot mummify in the toy box?  But instead I just laughed.  Maybe Clara thought she would save that carrot for later...a month and a half ago.  Or maybe she has a squirrel's instinct to bury food for the winter.  Either way I think I can place the blame squarely on my almost 18-month-old. At least the floor was vacuumed.

I swear that Clara grows an inch a day.  She has figured out that she can stand on tiptoes and run her hands over tabletops to see what kind of treasures her little hands can grab and pull down for a look-see. She is also determined to bounce across the couch and try to pull ornaments off our tabletop tree.  And let me tell you sad as I was to get a tiny tree this year, I am so happy not to have to contend with the smackdown that would occur between Clara and a giant tree resting in a stand on the floor.  Because believe you me, by the end of that battle Clara would be left standing (albeit covered in sap and probably wearing the tree skirt on her head) in the smoking pile of rubble that would be the toppled tree, broken ornaments, and billions of pine needle that had been ripped of the branches.

So far this Christmas, Tabletop Tree - 1, Clara - 0.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Purple and Turtle

Clara is full of energy and getting into everything which is why I was dreading the idea of being shut inside all winter with a toddler bouncing off the walls.  Going anywhere in the freezing cold is daunting with a small child and it turns out there are not a lot of structured activities or classes for under-2's.

Over the Spring, Summer and Fall I organized a meetup in the park for local moms with babies. We have a local yahoo group for parents and I posted there to see who might show up. I got a nice response - some became regulars, others drop-ins.  We spread out blankets and brought some toys to share.  It was a great way to meet other parents and have some adult conversation while the babies played.  I also thought it really helped the babies.  I could see Clara watching older kids who had mastered things she hadn't yet, and I could almost see the brain synapses firing.    Inevitably she would start doing something she had watched another baby do a week or so later.

But with the cold weather closing in around us, what could be done?  Along with a few other moms we have organized a weekly toddler playtime once a week in the Inwood Library Children's room.  We sing some songs, read some books and watch the toddlers play.  It is parent run - we came in and cleaned all the toys.  We set up the toys and clean up at the end of the hour.  But it's a huge success and Clara loves it.

This past Friday she amazed me by picking up a turtle figurine, bringing it to me and saying: "Turtle."  Then she picked up a dinosaur with purple spots, pointed to one of the spots and said: "Purple."  She smiled after each one, knowing she was rolling out something new for her Mommy. Just a little impressed with herself - and so she should be.  I applauded.

I think there should be more activities like this for children under two.  And not necessarily classes that cost money.  All of us parents want our children to grow and challenge themselves to do more. Organize something - you'll be surprised how many people show up.