I believe I am the mother that other mothers roll their eyes about, and question why I'm being such a high maintenance freak. Seriously.
Here's the thing: I have expectations of my child. Yes, even at 17 months of age.
We taught her to sign a fair amount of words and she knows how to say please and thank you. With that, when Ember asks to be picked up, for some milk, et cetera I expect that she say "please" first. There was one evening after dinner that Ember declared herself "all done" and wanted down from her high chair. Well, Ember sat there until she said/signed "down please". It got to the point where Andrew and I were past the point of caring but assuming that she probably has the memory of an elephant, we stuck to her guns and waited for her to ask properly. We had company that evening and I believe she was being a bit of a smart aleck for their benefit but we got it out of her ... even though she spent a couple of minutes in her high chair in her bedroom. Since that night, manners haven't been too much of an issue and without prompting Ember is signing please in tandem with her requests. Things only go off the rails when she's cranky; that's when I'm really grateful for her ability to sign please. When she's jumping at my feet asking for something, reminding her "what do you say?" checks her and snaps her out of her mood. She smiles and signs please and we go on. And, we almost always get a thank you when you'd expect one. My heart melts when Ember walks through a door that a stranger is holding for her, and she looks up and waves saying "Tank ta" (thank you).
Another thing: I narrate Ember's day. I'm sure I'm nauseating to listen to.
While Ember and I are at play, I'm constantly talking about the things she encounters, their colours, and if applicable the sound they make. Absolutely, she has play time alone, where I don't dream of interfering but when she calls to include me, or asks to be included - the narrative picks up. When we're cooking/baking together I talk of the ingredients; their colours and texture. When at play, I talk of the animals, their sounds, the colour. I call "open, closed" while she plays at the bedroom doors. I call "on, off" when she's playing with her rubber boots.
I don't even know how bad it is until I watch our family videos. From behind the camera I'm heard, "Can you find another egg Ember? Look to your left. Oh, you found the blue one!" Or, "What are those Ember? Do you hear frogs? What do froggies say? Ribbit, ribbit?" I can't be stopped!
It's even worse when we're in public. When Ember has free reign, usually in the library or a bookstore, she obviously has no sense of her surroundings yet and I'm always to bring about a sense of consciousness. "Ember say excuse me when walking through a crowd." "Ember don't push in front of the little girl, she was playing at the computer first." "Ember, share!, that's not yours." I'm right in there while other mothers watch from beyond the fray like I'm a mad woman.
Oh, another thing: I talk to Ember like she's 5 (15) years older than she is.
I can't be stopped. The best example I can think of right now was when Ember was playing on the computers in the kid's section of the library. Ember seized the opportunity when a seat opened up and grabbed the mouse like a seasoned techie. Of course I'm right in there trying to decipher the point of the game and what it is Ember is to do. Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel old like trying to navigate a kids game. Oh lordy! After tinkering with the mouse I figure that I need to be using the directional pad on the keyboard and Ember and I are off. "Okay Ember, you need to collect all the bananas. Move the monkey so that he gets them all using these arrow keys." As I'm offering these directions, Ember shouting "nana!" and making monkey noises. Once the level is cleared, Ember exclaims "All done!" and begins clapping. Okay, next level. "See Ember, that man there is holding up a letter and we have to move the monkey to the corresponding letter over here so the window can be cleaned." Ember nods like we're on the same page, we complete a few letters and she's off. "Bye bye" as she darts off to the next activity.
I fully realize that Ember can't follow such directions yet but I'm incapable of practising it.
One more thing: She is already a time out kid.
Ember has been spending 60 seconds at a time in time out since she was one year old. I realize that she doesn't fully grasp the concept yet but she will. Eventually. In starting out early, Andrew and I are getting stronger and are developing a few rules about time out as we go. Like, the parent who puts Ember in time out, gets her out of time out. This way neither looks like a hero. A bonus of time outs? It gives me a time out which is usually what's required in the moment.
Other random confessions:
- Sets of toys that are scattered all over the place really irritates me. I've been known to count pieces of Playmobil and puzzles to make sure they're all accounted for. The same goes for the ABC fridge magnets and crayons. A purple crayon has gone MIA and it's driving me CRAZY!
- When Ember is colouring, I really want her to colour within the lines. She doesn't of course and that's okay, I just really, really want her to.
- I started baking with Ember in a sling when she was itty bitty, 3 weeks old-ish. I would identify ingredients and measurements to her and I found it all very relaxing and enjoyable. Now, I can't do anything in the kitchen without Ember wanting to help. She carries the step stool over to where I am working, climbs up and reaches into my work zone. It isn't always relaxing but I love that we bake and cook together.
- Ember hears the word respect A LOT. Every time she hucks a piece of her meal on the floor, "Ember, you need to respect your food. People work hard to provide that for you." Wow, that sounds brutal when you type it out. I don't want to continue with this point anymore....
So, do you agree with any of my sentiments or practices? Or do you think I'm effing crazy? Be gentle if you fall into the latter category.