Archive for June, 2009

If our household was a business, we would be having high-level meetings about the whine “challenge.” Since it is just us kicking around here, I’ll call a spade a spade and say it – we’ve got a whine problem.

I’m aware that this is one of those things that presses my buttons…I have an extremely low tolerance for whining. I get annoyed, mad, frustrated — the whole kit and caboodle. And I get many opportunities for this unpleasant reaction since it seems to be not that unusual for someone who is 28 months old to whine.

My two stand-by responses have been “I don’t understand what you’re saying” and “Please say that again in your regular voice.”

So now on top of the whining, I’m bored by hearing myself say those things.

AND then came the MONSTER voice option!

LP has been delighting in talking in a monster voice (and we find it pretty darn funny) so now I ask her to repeat herself using that voice (or a butterfly voice or a snake voice or a dinosaur voice).

Two cool unexpected outcomes are 1) that it gives her some other options for communicating the emotion behind the whine and 2) I can answer her in a similar voice and join in some monster (or butterfly or snake or dinosaur) play.

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Lovely conversation with a staff member, Ada, at Habitot this week…she asked me how life with LP was these days. I don’t recall my exact response but it was pretty positive; I find this stage of life really enjoyable — the balance of dependence, independence and interdependence suit me so much better than infancy!

Ada said something terrific that I wish I could recall verbatum but essentially:

Remember the terrible twos? They don’t happen anymore and I’ll tell you why…the parents have changed.

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The Wrong Time…

to read parenting blogs focused on patience and listening and surrounding your child with love is when said child has kept you up since 4am and has been screaming for the last hour and you are at your wits end and have just gotten said child’s other parent to take over so you can take a break.

It is one of those days. Yup.

The rest has followed as you might imagine. Out of sorts LP. Out of sorts improvamama. A couple of errands that could not be put off one more day…all kinds of fun.

One bright spot (in addition to the nap that is currently happening) is LP climbing up on the bed with two small soft dolls and saying “I’m juggling” as she drops them and laughs. Again and again.

I wonder why in this moment she remembered me trying (for the 100th time) to teach myself to juggle a few weeks ago. She found it funny then (although I wasn’t dropping the juggling cows intentionally…it is just my learning curve). I had been thinking that it is a good thing for kids to see their big people learning things (all sorts of good role modeling, etc) and found learning juggling something that I wouldn’t get bent our of shape about (esp since I’ve been sporadically trying to learn for going on 7 years).

So we played “juggling”…I have to say, her way is easier to learn and much funnier than mine.

And really juggling is what today is all about …juggling our tired, cranky selves in relationship.

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One of the many joys of telling improv stories with LP is witnessing her evolution as a storyteller.

She took a storytelling leap a few weeks ago where she began to fill in more details on her own.

Me: Once upon a time there was…
LP: A frog!
Me: Once upon a time there was a frog who went…
LP: To a restaurant…a FROG restaurant!

There was such delight in her whole being as she added that important detail.

Throughout the story, she took the idea and added to it (the restaurant served goatmeal – I’m not sure if that is a meal made of goats, or something a goat would also like to eat or an exotic kind of oatmeal – and the red salamander waiter told the frog a story after dinner).

It is fun to see where she is taking stories now (many, many stories about characters who get lollipops — that interest is firmly established, and LP is angling for a plane trip because that is the only time she’s had lollipops).

A challenge for me is to really keep things open and not be controlling of where the story goes or how it gets there. Really after two days of stories that revolve around lollipops, I’m a little bored.

A few ideas to gently expand the storytelling:

1. Make an offer that has an undefined element (also called a “blind offer” in improv). For example, when we’re telling a story about a lion, I might say either the lion found something, what was it? (yes it was a lollipop). OR the lion found a box and in it was… ? Then LP’s imagination fills in what is in the box…and yes, it was lollipops…but then there was also a box that could be filled with other things or sat inside or who knows what. Was there anything else in the box? (probably another lollipop – LP is persistent in the finest small person tradition)

2. Go for detail…ask questions about what color the lollipop is? What did it taste like? What did it smell like? How did the lion eat the lollipop?

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Yesterday at the playground, LP was a bit out of sorts. Not a tantrum out of sorts (lucky for me) but a kind of wandering around in a bit of a listless way, not finding anything engaging out of sorts. Even the swing, which she’ll usually enjoy for as long as possible, was of limited interest.

Turns out she was warming up for round 3 (or maybe 4) with the cold we’ve been sharing back and forth for the past few weeks. But in the moment….frustrating because I was hoping finally getting out after many days of being cooped up at home would be liberating for both of us. (Usually I’m the one with the higher needs at the playground because I find playground socializing challenging…I’m working on it but it brings out all of my shy awkward self. Today the need was all LP. And she is at the blissful part of life where you just don’t have to put a good face on things.)

After almost an hour, we ended up sitting in a patch of sand and LP was half-heartedly pushing some sand around. I started to dig and made up a little story with actions something like this:

Once upon a time, there was a dog who liked to dig, dig, dig. And she went dig, dig, dig and put her bone in the hole. Then she went cover, cover, cover and pat, pat, pat to hide the bone.

“Do it again,” says LP.

Ah, a spark of interest. So rinse and repeat…I think we did that simple story with all the digging and covering action (a small piece of wood in the sand was the bone) at least 6 times.

And then something caught her eye and she was off to explore.

She was still not her usual self but somehow that activity together warmed her up to play.

Which got me to thinking about warm ups. When I teach, facilitate or lead a session be it improv, teamwork, communications or drama therapy, I always use warm ups. And I spend time in the planning making sure the warm up leads into the main activity.

With LP, she’s so often just ready to go, to play, to explore, to imagine…I really hadn’t been thinking about warm ups. And now that I’m thinking about it, I’m seeing that coming up with some warm ups for me would be helpful for all the times that I’m distracted or tired or not in the mood when it really is time to play….that’ll be part II – warm ups for us big people.

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