Long overdue update
It has been quite a long time since I updated this. For one thing we were traveling for a long time. We didn't get back to our home until Jan 26th, which was a week after we had intended to. We were all tired and overwhelmed and dealing with cleaning clothes and settling back in to our routine.
We have settled, but we are still very tired. Ollie is cutting molars and they seem to be very painful. He is gnawing on his fingers so much he's given himself a blister. He's also had a fever the past weekend and is congested. So he's been a cranky boy. We had been getting blessed with him sleeping 4-5 hour chunks, which was awesome, but those went away with the virus and the teeth pain. We've regressed to infant stage, where he won't sleep unless he's on one of us and we're all exhausted.
In the day time though, he's as sweet a boy as ever and my one true love. Today he learned to say the word "yellow." His vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds. In England one morning he and I were having breakfast and he pointed to my bowl and very clearly said, "What's that?" "It's oatmeal" I replied, "Would you like some?" "Yes." He said definitively, and ate half my oatmeal. He's got dog, cat, duck, this, that, car, glasses, and any number of other words. You do have to listen carefully for them though. They all sound a little muttered and toddlerish.
For his birthday his grandma and grandpa Kokai gave him a water table that he loves. We try to get out every day its not freezing cold so he can splash about. He really likes being outdoors. He also loves the doggies and wants to spend as much time with them as he can. Anytime he hears a dog bark outside he stops what he's doing, swivels towards the noise and says "dog." At my first soccer practice he observed me scrimmaging and then walked over (holding Eric's finger) and kicked a soccer ball around for awhile. The other morning he was eating breakfast at his little table and he would boogie over to me, get a bite of yogurt, and boogie away. Then he would dance back when he wanted more yogurt and dance away. He's really enjoying eating at his little table, especially since we don't worry about how long he takes or if he gets bored and wanders off with his cheese or whatever. I'm not too worried that when he's 12 he won't know how to sit still and eat at a table. He's just not there yet (more's the pity for Eric's and my meals). He's still wanting to hold a finger or two as he walks around the house, but he is starting to walk more on his own, especially at day care.
A while ago my Bradley bookgroup read Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. Right now I'm reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp. The former will be better when Ollie is older, I think. The latter has been very helpful right now. The toddler book tells us to recognize and reflect Ollie's feelings in a way a one year old (at the developmental level of a Chimp) can understand. Then when he knows we understand explain to him why we can or can't do what he wants. It also says that a one year old is all extreme emotion, so its ok to get excited with him when he does stuff for the first time and is proud of himself. This is in contrast to unconditional parenting, which warns against empty praise. At age two when he is more developmentally advanced you dial down the praise to be more about observing and commenting on what your child is doing. Although Karp says that you can use effusive praise occasionally like sprinkles on a sundae (this is not his metaphor, I don't think, I'm just obsessed with ice cream since I'm not allowed to have it this week since I gained half a pound instead of losing any weight).
This of course means that when Ollie gets upset now you hear Eric or I saying in an emphatic voice, "No want! No want! No want diaper! No want diaper! No want!" until Ollie knows we understand he doesn't want his diaper changed, or whatever, and when he calms down we explain in simple words why he needs a clean dry butt. It seems a little goofy, but I'm ok with goofy. Particularly if it helps us communicate with Ollie and it helps him feel like we understand and validate his wants and needs, even if we have to say no sometimes.
Mostly what I'm concentrating on is trying to appreciate my child for who he is and support him. Karp also has a personality assessment test for the little ones and asks you to place your child on a spectrum. I know that Ollie is cautious and slow to do things. Like walking, for example. This can be frustrating when he demands you walk him around instead of doing it himself. But this is who he is. If I pushed him to try this stuff without me he would get more upset and refuse to do it at all. So I will be patient until he feels safe. I know that Ollie bites and pinches and scratches when he gets tired. This is not personal, this is him being exhausted and not knowing how to deal with these feelings. So I just try to be patient until he finally naps. On the flip side, Ollie is incredibly cuddly and will wander over and snuggle with Eric or I a million times a day. I wouldn't give that trait up for the world. I am definitely not always perfect about these things, particularly when I haven't had any sleep because mister mister is in pain. I just have to keep trying to understand him and do the best job I can as his parent.