Sunday, October 21, 2012

Child psychology 2

We watched a video together as a family from Love Those Letters. It has three parts. It was fascinating to see how differently our two children responded to them.

  1. The first part has a bunch of kids dancing and singing out the letters, their sounds, and a word that starts with each. Both kids were enthralled.
  2. The second part has the kids just stand there, sound out the letter and its word. Princess was enthralled, Prince went to writing in his book.
  3. The third part, the kids disappear and the letters talk. Princess wandered off to do something else while Prince started to pay attention again.

Princess is one of the "people who need people" ... but on her terms.

Before we left for the States, she was very clingy to Mommy. In the US, she suddenly blossomed. She walked all around the house without Mommy, visited with Grandpa (mostly to get him to "Go!" outside with her), and was very excited. She was happy to talk to anybody.

Joy says, "When we went to the park, she didn't really notice other people,  but she would wander off."

We figured this was a new life stage and we would enjoy it in Nigeria too.

No such luck.

When we returned, she returned to clingy. The difference is, now she NEEDS to know where Mommy, Prince, and I are. The instant she hears a door open anywhere in the house, she knows whose door it is and who might be coming out. She calls out our names when she hears our door. So we are thankful Prince is home from school - it does good things for Princess.

The way we figure it is that she was a lot more comfortable when there were more people in her home. That comfort gave her strength to go out and smile at (some) strangers.

Strangers are strange, though. If a stranger tries to hold her - very common in Nigeria - she refuses. She cries, she wants Mama. She has less stranger anxiety now than she did before the States. What is strange now is that if someone ignores her, she pitter-patters right up and says hello. So people will come up to me ask to hold the baby. I say their best chance is to ignore and let her come to them. They don't understand this generally, though. "I remember when we were here before and our upstairs neighbor wanted her attention, I told her to just sit on the floor and ignore her and she will come up to you probably."

She's starting to wake up less often during the night because we've dropped the midnight feeding. Fall break was a good time for that so I could be the one to go in. She isn't interested in any food I could bring her. Whenever we go in at night she's crying for a while, and we invariably find her with her back against the wall sitting cross-legged on her pillow. She used to come to the door for us, but she knows that doesn't help. So she just sits on the pillow and cries out for us. It was very special to me the night we started sending me in, and she cried out for "Daddy" for the first time - before I had even gone in the first time.

"The other day Princess went out with me to do laundry and she usually hustles over to the stairs while I go to the laundry room across the hall. She'll get to the stairs and say, 'Down?' I say 'Up.' Cause it's easier to catch her if she goes up than down. Well yesterday I go out to do laundry with her and she didn't go to the stairs. She was wandering around the floor I was on. She went straight to our neighbor's door, started pushing on the screen. Part of it doesn't stop, so she was knocking on their door with the screen door. Somehow she got the screen door open. She knocked on the door. [DW - She knocks very well] and then she went in! Maybe their little boy let her in. I had to go in after her, apologized for her, considered asking if she could hang out with them but then decided I'd better finish the laundry. We've been over there a couple times. I guess she was feeling comfortable."

Princess has very decided opinions for such a little person. If I hand her a spoon of peanut butter or oatmeal, she won't touch it. She'll say no. "A piece of carrot, a piece of apple, same thing." But if I just put it in front of her and walk away, she'll eat it up and say Nummy nummy. "And she prefers something that is whole and not cut up. She won't eat a piece of apple, but you give her a whole apple and she'll work on it. She'll work on a whole carrot, but not a piece of carrot." The exceptions are hot dog and scrambled eggs, which she eats in pieces. "She'll eat noodles in pieces, but doesn't prefer it. Then there was the time she climbed into my chair and started chowing down on my chicken-on-the-bone."

She's started asking us to read a lot of books to her. The funny part is that she has me read the book to her, and immediately after asks Mommy to do it again. Her favorite books include duckies and things that look like duckies mostly. How Rocket Learned to Read has a yellow bird that she LOVES pointing to on every page; a first words book has a few duckies in it; a farm friends baby-mirror book. One exception is Is Your Mama a Llama." "I'm reading it, and while I say 'Is your mama a llama' she will say 'No.' Every time." She also likes the Ernie and Bert book and Owl Babies. All three were among Prince's favorites too. This weekend she also discovered Elephant and Piggie throwing a ball because she likes balls. "This is the first time she has enjoyed sitting down to work on a toy or cards or a book. She also loves copying the sound effects in books."

For family fun time, we now let her choose activities. I ask her which one she wants to do: ball (dump 150+ small plastic balls in her room and chase them around, pictured); bubbles (blow bubble); duckie (watch Darkwing Duck); or sometimes we "Go" outside for a walk if it's not dusk and the mosquitos are out. "Y'know, I think she might choose Disney Dance if we gave her the option." So she has developed enough vocabulary to share those choices with us.

"I've also been letting her start to choose her own clothes to wear. I give her choices and waits until she says 'This' and then pull out pants to see which one she chooses. She's starting to see I really do let her choose, so she's being more assertive. She also gets to wear some things I don't choose for her, like her polka dot onesie or other onesies I only used to use under a shirt."

One other major difference between them is what makes them cry. Prince would not cry for nobody unless he was also hungry and tired. He fell down and picked himself up, no blood no foul. Princess screams like it's the end of the world "for EVERYthing. In fact, if I start putting on her shoe wrong, she doesn't scream, but she says 'Owie.' There's no way it could have even started hurting yet and she says 'Owie!'" Her sensitivity is starting to affect Prince, so he is complaining a lot more often now too, much to my dismay. Joy thinks he's just being vocal about his early feelings; I think our manly play is being corrupted. We don't treat their cries that much differently - comfort until the owie goes away - but we sure feel different. "My panic level goes up a lot faster with Prince. If he's having a fit and crying, I worry. With Princess, I dunno, it's a little bit harder to figure it out."