Archive for October, 2007

After many weeks of denial on all of our parts, LM has officially outgrown the swaddle.

We miss it. We miss it alot. The swaddle was like manna from heaven – a miracle of calming. LM liked it. Her Dad liked it. I liked it.

And now it is over.

Funny to me that despite there being much information available in the world about learning styles, teachers often do not utilize a variety of modalities in even the most basic of ways. I’ve experienced this in many learning settings (work trainings, grad school, etc) but this is an improv blog… so improv teaching is the focus.

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Dolphin Training

I’ve been thinking about starting this blog for many months. Pretty much since our little monkey (LM from now on) was born in February. Thinking about improv and parenthood, parenthood and improv has helped keep me feeling like an active improvisor since I have been missing the practice of improv (that is the practice of improv involving other adults, LM is a constant improv experience and she is nothing if not in the moment – oh so in the moment, even when we wish the moment was over already).

AND I’m also improvising with other adults now…I’m in the cast of “Let It Snow.” I love this show and I’m excited to be a part of it even in a limited way. Going to rehearsals is thrilling – I love it all – the singing, the dancing, the singing, the dancing…most of all the connection with other improvisors.

Back to LM and being her Improv-a-mama.

She’s 8 months old. An amazing, fast-forward, delirious, sleep-deprived, awe-filled, conflicted 8 months. Hard to believe. And as she is getting on her feet (pre-crawling, starting to pull herself up) it is time for me to get back not only on my improv feet but writing feet too (so to speak). Thus this blog…written with all the to-be-expected early blogger anxieties…who’s going to be interested in this and so on and so on and so on.

Into the cave I go…

The thoughts and ideas from the early weeks with LM are pretty hazy. I do remember having lots of little “aha! improv is good for this part of parenting” …yet the things that make sense right after having a baby…well, sometimes not so full of sense months later with a teeny bit more sleep. Then again, improv’s genius is working with what you’ve got. So here it is…


The game dolphin training is one of the best ways I’ve found to think about the early part of parenthood so far. Like any improv game, it can be played with different intentions and to build different skills.

In short, dolphin training is a game where improvisor X leaves the room (or goes into ye olde soundproof booth) and the others (or the audience) choose something that X will have to figure out to do. X returns and starts trying out actions. When X does something on the right track, the others say “ding!” with increasing excitement as X gets closer and closer and closer.

The least fun way to play this game (like any of improv guessing-type games) is to focus on getting it right. But it is one way to play and is often the focus for beginners and can help build some skilli n figuring out what your partner wants.

Thus dolphin training for parents begins pretty much right after birth. For us, like many parents I imagine, it picked up speed and intensity once we brought LM home and no longer could call on nurses/lactation consultants. Just us. And some well-meaning family. That’s a different improv game – the well-meaning family version of “What Are You Doing?”

So LM cried and we jump around trying to figure out why. Food? Nope. Diaper? Nope. Too hot? Nope. Too cold? Nope. Tired? Overstimulated? Understimulated? Just needing to be held? Some things are discoverd (DING!) and provided (DING! DING! DING!) easily but others are even initially more complex. LM came into the world with, if not her own ideas, her own temperment and preferences.

We learned, among other things, that she was into being held upright over one’s shoulders, liked walking, being outside, and bouncing on the yoga ball. The comfy rocking chair was only an option for feeding or if it was being rocked in a heavy-metal-mosh-pit way.

During this time, there was also the delicious beginning of smiling (BIG DING!), mirroring and cooing. Hey, we were getting good at keeping this small person alive, healthy, engaged, etc. Boy were we tired. Sooooo tired. (Still are…sleep is a whole other thing…LM has never been very into it.)

We were getting “dings” – even fairly regularly but we weren’t yet playing.

Play makes all the difference.

I found myself able to start to move into being more playful, even when LM was fussing…to enjoy the game of dolphin training and not get frustrated with not getting a ding but keep trying disparate things good naturedly.

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