Thursday, April 9, 2020

Breaking my heart

The last week has been rough. Margie knows that baby brother is coming soon, and naptime and bedtime (and really any time she can't be glued to my side, except when she's watching Daniel Tiger) have become rough. They're not even battles -- she's not fighting so much as collapsing. She doesn't want to be alone. Her stuffies don't count because they're not "real persons". Choice quotes from this week:

"I only want to be with the girls." (me and her)
"I am so lonely when I am alone in my room."
"I don't want to sleep alone in my room because there are no real persons here with me."
"I'm just not sleepy enough to go to sleep."
"Mommy now, mommy later, I just want mommy all the time"
"But we can just have a sleepover here in my room, you don't have to put your laundry away."
"In my room I am lonely without a grown up real person."
"Mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy moooommmmmyyy"

And tonight, on the 3rd (4th? 5th?) time I walked her back to her room, we had a little chat, and it turns out she's worried about us being gone at the hospital. I mean, I know there are layers of recognition that she won't be the only kid, and that she will have to share me, and that Big Changes Are Coming. She professes to be excited about them; she told me the other day that she's worried that he'll pull her hair and that he will be mad when she does something without him, but when I asked if there's anything else she's worried about, she said, "No, I'm just excited to be a big sister." But I know that a very normal part of all this is her realizing that things are changing, our relationship among them.

Already, she knows there are things I can't do (give her a bath by myself, carry and throw her around, bend over to reach things on the floor), and I know that translates into her insecurity and worry. And she is simultaneously SO SO EXCITED for her Yaya (her former nanny) to come stay with her while we're at the hospital, and also - according to tonight's admission - feeling worried about us being gone. She asked me repeatedly if baby brother is coming tomorrow, and needed reassurance that we will not sneak out in the middle of the night and leave her alone.

As much as we really, really need her to sleep in her bed at least for the first few hours of the night, it's hard to chalk it up to willful disobedience or manipulation. I know these are real feelings she's going through, and especially with the lack of her normal routine of school and whatnot, things are all imbalanced. So much for that parenting advice to "keep their routine as normal as possible before and after the baby comes". We've been trying to keep a somewhat consistent routine, but it's hard while during the quarantine. I don't know what's going to happen when we bring this baby home, but it's definitely going to be hard.

At this point we're trying to make things as easy for her as possible. Trying not to let ourselves get manipulated too much, but also trying to do what's easiest and best for all of us. Trying to be gentle on the whole family with expected weirdness and in an unprecedentedly weird time. It feels like such a fine line between preparing your kid for big change and talking about it so much they get anxious. We felt like we were walking the line well, but she knows it's coming soon and now apparently at sleeping time it's all she can think about (you know, in addition to standard 3.5 year old bedtime procrastination).

Anyway. I'm due on Tuesday. Induction scheduled for Monday. This time next week, we'll be home with a baby and everything will be upside down in a new way. I'm sure we'll have all new sleep-refusals since she's already told us she wants to sleep with baby brother. But that's a problem for next-week-us. Tonight, we're wrapping up hour 2 of walking her back to her room every 5-10 minutes, reassuring her that we're not going anywhere and she's a big girl and we're proud of her for staying in her bed. Soon enough, we'll go to bed and bring her in with us and we'll all snuggle up for the night.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Learning at home

My kid is in preschool. I feel incredibly lucky to not be beholden to a homeschooling curriculum like so many of my friends who are trying desperately to continue their children's education while trapped at home (and also trying to work from home full time! it's madness!). With only about 1.5 weeks left to go of this pregnancy (and let's be real, even starting 3 weeks ago), I don't have the energy to make a color-coded daily schedule with school-like activities full of enriching preschool curriculum. I can barely keep track of the different types of Zoom calls and classes that are available for us to call into (and there are so many good ones!), much less like, keep to a schedule.

But I still want her to learn! 3.5 year olds are little sponges and they learn whether you have a curriculum or not - and Margie is a curious, talkative kid. I'm finding it really fun and satisfying to just make little mini-lessons out of whatever we're doing, following her lead and exploring things she asks about or wants to do anyway.

For example:

Watch Rogers and Hammerstein's 1965 TV broadcast of Cinderella 3 times back to back.
(available for free via Amazon Prime)
  • Music/Dance: What is a waltz? How does it sound? How are they dancing? Let's count 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3!
  • Psychology/Relationships: Why are the stepsisters mean? Do we think it's because their mommy is mean to them? What is jealousy? Why do people get married? How do the king and queen treat each other?
  • Science (Magic): How does the fairy godmother change Cinderella's pumpkin into a carriage? (magic!) Why does Cinderella leave at midnight? (magic!) Does anyone else have magic in this story? (ok there's not much science here)
  • Story structure: Notice how the Prince and Cinderella say "Thank you most kindly / You are most kindly welcome" many different times. This helps them realize they know each other!
  • Empathy/Social Cues: How are Cinderella and the Prince looking at each other? What do their faces look like? Why? How do the stepsisters look? Why do they make that face?
  • Why are the noodles soft now, but they were hard before? (we cooked them in water and they soaked up all the water and got soft!)
  • Why do we eat chicken/yogurt/tofu? (protein! makes your muscles strong!)
  • Why do we eat vegetables? (vitamins! carrots are good for your eyes!)
  • Why do we eat cheese? (calcium! it's good for your bones!)
  • Why do we eat cookies? (they taste good! they give us fun sugar energy to get things done! they're a special treat!)
  • See also: cooking, learning about different ingredients, etc. Not sure what the "lesson" is, but maybe it's just a lesson in how we make food?
Paying attention to our neighborhood (a great one if your kid is also into Daniel Tiger)
  • Who are the helpers in our neighborhood?
  • When you hear a fire truck, where do you think the firefighter is going?
  • What is a city councilperson ("someone who helps take care of the people in our neighborhood", according to me)?

I don't know. Other stuff. Lots of letters and sounds and drawing and dancing. It simultaneously feels like cheating (because we're not planning educational activities) and being awesome (because we're turning playtime into learning experiences). We're doing our best. She's having fun. This shit is hard.

Any fun tips or accidental lessons you've had? Share away!