It’s so weird that even at three years old, I can see still development leaps in my kids. A few days of crankiness, sometimes not sleeping really well, and then you see another light bulb turn on and all of their skills jump forward.
I feel like this week was the essential leap towards me really getting back to being more a person rather than just a child minder/entertainer. Up until now, it’s felt like I can’t focus on anything for more than 3 minutes. Anything I try to do is immediately interrupted by a child pulling at me, or by my own ticking clock to prepare to meet a need that they can’t communicate themselves, like needing a meal.
Where we’ve lived, the family has pretty much coexisted in one big room with little offshoot rooms for sleeping. Coming up, the girls are going to have their sleeping room, a big play room, and I’ll usually be stationed in the living room/kitchen in the middle of the house. In the last few days, the girls have really started playing in their own room rather than in the main living room where I’m set up. You know what? It’s AWESOME!!! I can hear them laughing and playing, their games spill out of the bedroom as they chase each other around my desk, and instead of constantly pulling at me, whining for me to entertainment, they instead invite me into games already in progress. I love that!
Their attention spans are longer. Their ability to pretend play is more complex. I can explain multi step pretend games and they get it! Today they said something about a train ticket. So I tore a piece of paper in half and gave them each a “ticket”. Then I told them it was time to get on the train, everyone give me your tickets and climb aboard, and we chugga chugga’d around the apartment in a train line.
I feel like I can finally explain something to them and have them understand, and their language has jumped to a point where they can explain their thoughts to me. They have finally grown into a cognitive level that I actually know how to teach! Oh the art projects we’re going to do in the new house! I have felt like such a dolt because I haven’t been able to figure out how to explain the simplest concepts in terms that they could understand and follow, but now I can.
Oh, and for the first time, they have developed a sense of ownership. They share pretty much everything, but in the last week or two, they’ve really started developing preferences and a desire for specific things to be “mine”. Like yesterday, I had to take Teeny Tiny to urgent care due to a really high fever that came on really fast leaving Middie Biddie with my parents. When we got back, I saw a look of sadness on Middie Biddie’s face that I had never seen before. No, not because Teeny Tiny had been sick, but because Teeny Tiny had a balloon and Middie Biddie realized that it belonged to her sister and she didn’t get one. Fortunately it was short lived because my girls are really good at sharing and they both enjoyed the balloon until the inevitable pop a few minutes later, but for that one moment, my heart just broke seeing that look on her face.
After they went to bed, I went out to the store (K was home by then) because I felt the need to bring home something for Teeny Tiny. When we moved, we only brought one doll because Middie Biddie was the only one interested in playing with it, but lately Teeny Tiny has shown an interest in it. I think that’s the first item of ownership for Middie Biddie so I wanted to head off a big toddler fight before it happened and get Teeny Tiny one of her own. Now, in the past, I’ve always gotten two of everything but I had stopped doing that since usually only one would actually get played with. So when I bought the extra doll (I actually got a third one that was different from the original two, just in case), I also bought a doll stroller thinking that would be a fun addition if one of them wanted to play with it. Oh good lord the fighting that created! Seriously, this morning they were both crying and screaming over the darned thing before breakfast! I told them that since the stroller couldn’t share properly, it had to go into time out on top of the washing machine. A good way to break up the fight without blaming either child, tell them the toy needs a time out. So while they ate breakfast, back to the store I went for a second doll stroller. Today they spent about 2 solid hours driving their dolls around the apartment in those little strollers, sometimes feeding them bottles, rearranging the stroller seat belts, taking them out and putting them night night with a blanket on the couch. Definitely a big hit. I don’t think they went more than 30 minutes without going back to play with them all day. So I guess I’m now back to buying 2 variations of every toy that comes into the house.
We’ve put off a lot of things due to the upheaval of temporary living. Now that we’ll be moving into the final home in a couple of weeks (14 days and counting according to all estimates though nothing is final until it’s final), and they’ve made this cognitive leap, we can finally move forward into the next stage of childhood. We’ll be setting up toddler beds instead of cribs (with a grown up mattress in the middle for story times and for when kiddos need a grown up in the room) and we’ll be potty training soon after once the dust settles. I’m really hoping that by waiting until this leap, potty training will go fast since it will be easy to explain and for them to understand the whole thing.
Oh yeah! We took them up to the family cabin on the beach the other day. It’s only the second time they’ve ever been there and I think it’s the first time there since they’ve been able to walk. I don’t have much to say so I’ll just drop a bunch of pictures instead. But I’m finally having real fun with my kids!!!