Dear Little Elephant,
This month, you are getting a second letter. Why? Because you reached a really big first: First Day of Pre-School. In fact, I was planning to hold of. I love Liza and so do you. She is a great nanny, teacher, companion, and friend. But about 6 months ago, a school opened up near by and all your little friends started attending. You spend more and more time alone and the truth is that you miss them. I caved and off to school you are going.
Two weeks ago, I went to visit the school and meet the teacher. I wanted to make sure it was a good learning opportunity, where you could explore and ask questions and create. No reason in paying for child care twice if the second was only watch my kid. Turns out, I liked the teacher. The class is diverse with some kids further ahead and able to get you speaking. Also, they are actually focusing on curriculum and instilling good lessons.
After meeting the teacher and deciding it was okay, I called you over. Liza came too. You loved it! In fact, after trying out all the bikes and the slide and going inside, you were set to stay. Testing you, Teacher asked if you knew what this was (holding out a plastic fried egg). Energetically, you responded, “yes, an egg”. Teacher praised you, impressed you knew the word. Only, she had interrupted you. “This is yolk. This is white. I like white actually.” you continue.
We were supposed to start last week, but there were delays. You got a cold, we had a doctors appointment, Mommy was asked to be on TV. Last week, you looked up at me and said, “Mommy, will I go to school?” “Yes.” “Will S be there?” “Yes.” “Good, I will never be lonely again!” Little Elephant, those words broke my heart and compelled me to make first day come sooner.
Today, you started. Daddy wanted Liza to come with you. We met her on the way there, but you summarily sent her off to make sure Harley (the dog) was not lonely. As we started in, you got a little nervous, clutching to the door but still moving forward. Then, as S, one of your best friends rounded the corner and cheered your name, you forgot all fear. You never looked back as you moved in to the classroom. You talked to kids you didn’t know and shared toys. You sat down on the ladybug to play with the toy S discarded. You didn’t look up. You were in your element. We are peas in a pod. I asked for a kiss and was granted one. But then you were back. New friends, new things to concur.
I picked you up after lunch. You were still sitting and feeding yourself. Today may also have been the first time in your life you have agreed to wear a bib. But, I guess the other kids were doing it. When I said I was there to bring you home, you protested. “No, I want to stay.” 30 minutes of negotiations later, nearly succumbing to sleep at the table, you agreed to come home for Mommy Milk as long as we got to return tomorrow.
You are truly my child. A little mini-me. Only so much more. So amazing. I love you so much!
I started looking for hearts everywhere I went about 8 months ago. It was then that I first saw a post on instagram posted by Emily making reference to the chainlink heart project. Curious, I checked it out. What I found both broke my heart and inspired me. You can read Jennifer’s story here and why she needs to collect hearts to heal. You can read about losing her own son due to a broken heart and the decision no parent should ever have to make. Be careful. Her words are well chosen and, at least for me, poignant and painful.
I wanted to be part of her solution, part of the chainlink heart project. So, I started looking for hearts to help her map grow. As of today, she has received hearts from 16% of the world. I have submitted two from Albania so far.
Can you help Jennifer expand this map?
Bonus pictures from Rancagua, Chile:
Bonus picture from Thailand:
As we walked the dog tonight, Little Elephant sang:
“I wish you a little Christmas.
I wish you a little Christmas.
I wish you a little Christmas.
And and Happy New Years.”
Last month she was singing:
“Have a birthday to you.
Have a birthday to you.
Have a birthday dear you.
Have a birthday to you.”
With time, she will correct these tiny errors. For now, I think her version is best!
In our household, you can find people on all sides of the cry-it-out vs. no tears debate. And, by 29 months, we have tried it all. The honest truth is that lack of consistency seems to be the biggest problem our two-year-old faces. When asked to cry-it-out, she figures out how to self soothe and sleep by herself pretty quickly and painlessly. When given the options to be cuddled and rocked to sleep, she will jump on that. Vacillating back and forth, however, is hard.
Recently, however, we have a new phenomenon: negotiation. Being excessively verbal, she is working to see what works in getting to stay up and what is ignored by the parents. Recent post-bedtime requests have included:
- Potty, please.
- I want eat.
- I want eat eggs.
- I want eat yogurt.
- I hungry, please.
- Sleep in big bed.
- Go get Harley. I want my dog!
- Want new pajamas.
- Want Mama wear pajamas.
- Want [name one of many toys]
- Need binkin [binkin = pacifier; usually right after she has thrown it across the room]
- Want go there.
- Want go rocking chair.
- Need more hugs.
Note: she is never actually hungry and often when we get to the potty, she does nothing. She is looking for excuses to be up and moving, thus avoiding sleep. She is learning what negotiating tactics work and what don’t. The dog, however, is my favorite. She believes her crying scares the dog, so when Harley comes in, the tears must stop. Once tears and negotiating stop for any length of time, she is out.
Little Elephant has started to develop fear. My fearless wonder in starting to worry about dangers in the world around her and be startled by things unexplained– particularly loud noises. Luckily, she does seem to be a child of reason (within limits of course).
The Tirana International School has a very unusual after-school activity: a donkey and a goat. Literally. Kids can sign up to care for the animals and they are considered the school’s pets. Honestly, it is a ingenious idea. Kids learn responsibility and about nature plus so much fun! The donkey is Don-key Jote (get it???) and the goat is Vincent Van-Goat! Hardee har har!
We went to visit them for the first time a few months ago. We brought carrots as we understand that was the treat of choice and we stood around waiting for our friends to show up. Bad choice. The Don-key Jote could smell the carrots. He started baying at us very loudly. Little Elephant was terrified. There were tears and declarations of “it scary” and promises that she never wanted to go back. Once her friends showed up, braveness returned– but she still wouldn’t let me put her down. Despite really liking watching the feeding and seeing the animals, the memory of the sound was upsetting.
Turns out, explaining sounds helps with lots of things. We now know why dogs bark– and they are less scary. We know why the cow moos — and it is less scary. We even know why thunder makes those loud sounds– and it is less scary. (In case you were wonder, thunder is the clouds apologizing to one another when they accidentally run into each other).
Little Elephant has even been sighted explaining to our dog why she shouldn’t be afraid of the vacuum cleaner!