Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

B-hives are faster than the speed of light

Scientists claim they're discovered particles that travel faster than the speed of light, potentially upending Einstein's theory of relativity.

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They never studied the emotional cores of three-year-old preschooler and her one-year-old sister.

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The rapid incremental changes our girls have gone through in their little lifespans is mind boggling.

One life-change "particular" in a vacuum doesn't attract much attention, but in combination with a gazillion more zooming B-trinos, it's pretty astounding.

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Beatrice just turned three this week, and in the past two weeks alone of going to preschool her language has exploded and her ability to understand direction and structure is coming along nicely. Wish we could say that about her potty training, but at least potty time at school is helping. Hey, we embrace the child-centered method. Back off.

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However, her emotional outbursts and meltdowns have erupted like the thorns of a beautiful buganvilla. Terrible 2's? How about the thorny 3's?

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Yes, I just made that up. No need to shake your head and sigh.

So Mama and I have a hypothesis, that the B-hive is faster than the speed of light. We're early in our testing, but if our preliminary results have shown anything, they've shed the slower, more reflective light on our girls and girl power.

And speaking of the slower light, you'd think a three-year-old isn't capable of reflecting on her own young life to date, but then again, we wonder...

Happy Birthday Beatrice. It's only just begun.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

From tiny Toddlerville to the big Childhood City

"Daddy, I'm running so fast!"

Zoom.

No, you're growing so fast, Bea. Too fast. But isn't that the way it always is?

Zoom.

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Our elder B started preschool this last week, and although she's been more social and seemingly excited for it to start, we just weren't sure how she's respond to more kids, more adults that weren't us, and more structure, at least as much as circle time and potty time create.

We just never know until we get there, but we don't really want to hurry up to get there. At least we don't. You may think your kid is the "bestest" kid of all, but when they run across that great suspension bridge from tiny Toddlerville to the big Childhood City, that space within the span catches in your throat like the first brisk winds of fall (yes, we do get those in Santa Cruz, sometimes).

The most wonderful time of the year!

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Not because of school like in the Staples commercial, but because it's time of reflecting change, of reviewing the year falling away, and because now we go from Bryce's birthday, to Bea's birthday next week, to my birthday in October (don't forget now, you hear?), to our anniversary a week later (love you, Mama!), to Thanksgiving (thank you), to Christmas, to New Year's!

The most wonderful time of the year!

Back to school -- Beatrice really had a great time. Mama will be volunteering once a week in the class, so day one wasn't Mama-less, but day two was (it's only two times per week for starters), and Bea rocked the house.

And she made an apple. Right on.

"Beatrice, what's your favorite part of school?"

"Playing!"

As it should be. And what was funny and quite telling is that when Mama picked up Bea on day two, Bryce wanted to stay and play, and play, and play. Beatrice never would've done that at age one. She would've clung to Mama like a Rhesus monkey.

Oh, how the B-hive buzzes differ, but how we love the sounds of same.

The most wonderful time of the year!

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oh, how the cartoon Bea swells

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"You know, you guys are doing a great job," the grocery store checker said to me.

"Thanks," I said. "This is all new to us and we're figuring out as we go along."

He nodded, helping me bag the last of the produce. "I see a lot of parents with their kids in here, and trust me, you're doing a great job at setting limitations."

I thanked him again and we left. I don't know how right he is, because sometimes it feels so wrong.

Only 25 minutes earlier, as soon as we walked in the store, Beatrice took off giggling. We told her to stop, to come back, but she giggled some more and ran outside through the store doors.

I had just locked Bryce into the cart when Bea headed out the door. Mama came to the cart and I sprinted after Bea.

Livid. We've been dealing with this a lot lately.

She of course was laughing hysterically as she ran into the parking lot thinking it was a game. I grabbed her -- stopped myself from smacking her on the butt (which we've done) -- picked her up, carried her back in and dumped her into the shopping cart, which she didn't like one bit since she wants to walk on her own more and more. We then told her, as we've done a hundred times already in the past few weeks, that it's not okay to run away like that and not stop when we ask her to.

Yes, we know she's not even three years old yet. It makes sense that she doesn't understand the repercussions of her actions and why it's dangerous to run away. But the problem is that for the past few weeks she's been getting more and more bold in taking off away from us like it's a cartoon game of chase.

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That's the catch -- the fact that Bea wants more independence and walk around without a tether but she doesn't get boundaries yet. We're working on getting her to understand that running down the sidewalk toward a busy street is not acceptable while running around the grassy field in front of the Santa Cruz lighthouse is.

Except when cartoon Bea runs into the real brick facade of the Santa Cruz lighthouse, she doesn't bounce away cleanly like a cartoon would. She goes "smack" and oh how the cartoon Bea swells.

That's all folks! [queue the music]

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Learning to parent the perfect game

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If everything came with a warning, would we lose our playful edge?

Don't tell that to Bryce. She'd nod aggressively and take off toddling right in the brambles of mystery and intrigue. She's all over the place, squawking and talking and climbing and falling.

All. Over. The. Place. Toddle, toddle, toddle, crash.

Even Bea, the elder who is usually is more tentative, has recently been feeling her independent oats, screeching off down the sidewalk in a catch-me-you-can cackle while we scream for her to stop, or wanting her gate down on her bed so she can get right up and scare the crap out of me, which will happen a lot more once she moves to the big-girl bed.

Bryce just turned one and Beatrice is about to turn three and start preschool, but unabashed exploration and play is such a huge part of their day.

I listened to a fascinating story recently from one of my favorite internet radio shows, Radiolab. The episode is titled Games and psychology professor Alison Gopnik explains the profound tension between play and rules. Somewhere between the ages of 3-6, once toddlers become children and start school, the free-wheeling liberalism of play becomes transformed into self-management by societal rules. Dr. Gopnik is also a big sports fan and says the perfect game in life is baseball, with its rules and structure disrupted by bursts of chaotic, free play.

Maybe. And maybe my girls will play the perfect game someday, but fast-forwarding is not my forte thankfully, because otherwise I'd be doing battle with two teenage girls, or attending college graduation, or walking them down the aisle, or holding my grandchildren, and God knows I'm not looking forward to that anytime soon.

Wait, who am I kidding? Of course I'm looking forward to every minute of chaotic, free play clashing with rules and warnings, living in the moment and learning to parent the perfect game.

Play ball.