January Fever & Mental Leaps

Apparently there hasn’t been much news from us in the last couple of weeks. We’ve had so much illness over the past six weeks or so that we really haven’t had a lot of activity that would be of interest to anyone but us. We’ve spent most of our weekends cooped up at home, with the exception of a couple of dinner invitations to the homes of friends which have been a welcome change of pace.

It goes without saying that America is quickly becoming something out of a dystopian nightmare and that the last week and a half have been pretty rough on the psyche. We learned at the tail end of last week that Jonah been somewhat depressed all week long at school. His teacher told me that he’d been sitting in his cubby feeling sad, refusing to talk to or play with anyone despite multiple invitations from good friends. This isn’t all that uncommon on Mondays, when I think he’s struggling a bit with the transition from a weekend with us, but it went on all week last week. Obviously Jonah isn’t really aware of what’s going on politically, but he’s highly perceptive and susceptible to taking on our emotions. K has been particularly apocalyptic recently, and hasn’t been terribly careful about keeping it from the kids. And let’s be honest: there’s a lot to feel apocalyptic about. There’s a poem that I saw shared on Instagram just after the election that I think about often, “Good Bones” by Maggie Smith. We’ve been trying to bring Jonah into issues that we think it’s important for him to know about: being kind to everyone, embracing difference etc. but I don’t want to scare him either.

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While we weren’t about to make the trip to DC with the kids, we were thrilled when a local women’s march emerged in Kalamazoo just five days before the event. We took both strollers and did the 3.5 miles as a family. The weather was amazing (mid 50s and sunny for most of the walk!) which was a welcome change from the constant gloom we’ve been having lately. The kids were amazing (then again the bar was low – they were in strollers with snacks) and it was incredibly empowering to see over 1,000 local people come together in support of progressive causes. It renewed my faith in Kalamazoo, and it was heartening to run into a number of people we knew.

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When Jonah was a baby, I had an app on my phone that helped parents to track these “mental leaps” that babies supposedly go through during different phases of their development. I can’t recall the name of the app, but I remember it introducing a variety of concepts that babies would supposedly begin to grasp during these big periods of transition. This past weekend, Kristin and I were talking about how Jonah seems to be making a leap of his own lately (all depression of last week aside). Suddenly, rather than throwing a tantrum at the slightest disappointment, he’s saying things to me like “That’s OK, I don’t mind it when I can’t have something that I want” or beginning his requests with “When you’re done with what you’re doing, could I please have…”

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All of a sudden he seems more patient, more tolerant, more able to cope with disappointment. Kristin remarked that it’s amazing what a few months of stability can do for a child, but I also wonder if it’s because we’ve been making more of an effort to ignore the bad and praise the good. Back in November we took him to a counselor a couple of times because of some behavioral concerns, and while we did a terrible job of following through on much of our homework and reading, we did get the gist of her philosophy which was just that: ignore bad behavior whenever possible (unless someone is being hurt or something is being destroyed) and praise positive choices and behaviors at every opportunity. We haven’t been super consistent, but we’ve been making an effort and I feel like there’s been a dramatic change.

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Jude is definitely doing more talking, lots of singing, and continues to be pretty happy-go-lucky. We have noticed a bit of a tilt towards two-year-old behavior lately, however. He rarely digs in his heels when reprimanded or intercepted, but lately he’ll respond by tossing something he’s holding just to register his displeasure with our command. We hear the words “no way!” more often than we used to. His bravery and spunk are showing up in their own unique ways. While he may find sledding to be terrifying, he was the only one of the three who wanted to pet the leopard gecko and the chickens at our friends’ house on Friday night.

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Vivienne continues to be a source of endless amusement. She dances and sings all the time, she has strong clothing preferences already (the boys really don’t care much at all, with the exception of Jonah preferring leggings to jeans) and will pick things out to wear and even tell me no if I pick out an item she doesn’t care for. She loves to play pretend and seems to think it’s both wonderful and hilarious when we play along. Her newest phrase is “be right back” which sounds more like “be back!” and is usually accompanied by an index finger shake. She’ll say this when she’s asking us if we want coffee, before she runs off to the toy kitchen to get it.

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Both she and Jude sing parts of the ABC song, and it usually goes something like “A, B, C, D….LMNOP!” with a few other letters scattered in at random intervals. Today Jude wore a shirt with writing on it and when Vivi saw it, she pointed to the letters and began singing the song. I love that they’re learning so much and becoming so interested in new things. Both Vivi and Jude are really into books lately, and they’re especially fond of the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. They both love to interact with the books by pretending to pluck things from the pages and eat them, or knocking on a picture of a door and saying “knock knock” and then they laugh at their own silliness. They are also beginning to memorize words and phrases from their favorites and will recite things as we read. Another big favorite of Vivi’s is this Pip and Posy book that was given to us by good friends in the UK, and I think that Vivi pretty much has it memorized.

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