A Toddler and Her New Love, The Baby Monitor.

Isn't it funny how you can be around other people's children all the time and you don't really notice all the little things as much; the milestones, the progress, the subtle changes. But of course when they are your own, you marvel in the smallest things!

Lately, it's almost daily that Baby Girl is doing something new and makes me think, "oh my gosh, my little baby girl is getting so big!" And although my heart is soaring for her, it sinks a little too as I think about the tiny infant who couldn't even hold her head up or uncurl her little baby fingers just a short time ago. And now she's almost 16 months old!

So yesterday she walked over to the table and grabbed her baby monitor and was walking around with it, holding it by the very end tip of the antennae. You know, a good sturdy spot. And ever since we've been going to Gymboree (the Play and Music Place), I have been trying to do some similar things here at home that we do there, like have them put away their own stuff.

One of the things they do there is to bring out a box of toys to play with during class time. The "busy box." They only let them play with this new, exciting stuff for like 2 minutes, then they sing the "clean up, clean up song" and make the babies put everything back in the box, which just ticks her off to no end!  

The first few times we were there and they had them clean up so fast making a few babies cry, Baby Girl included I was thinking, "this seems a little rushed that they are already cleaning up", because the "busy box" of toys is so exciting and such a huge hit!  

Why rock the boat? 

 She has cried a few times, and still will if she hasn't had a nap before class, but she's getting better about putting the toys back so soon. We haven't actually gotten to the point of her going up to the box and dropping in her loot and waving, "bye-bye," but we're working on it. Right now we're still at the point where I have to prep her for clean up when I see the lady head for the box and walk her over to the box (sort of like walking a dog through the vets door), and say, "Ok Baby, say bye-bye, time to clean up, put it back in the box", etc. 

This is usually followed by me having to then pry the musical instrument, ball, rattle, squishy thing, bumpy teether, etc., out of her sweaty little baby hands and convince her that this is fun! Sometimes she goes for it and sometimes it ends in arms and legs stiffening up like a soldier and animal grunts coming from the bottom of her throat while she is kind of bouncing in protest.

Other kids are happy to pick up every toy they see on the ground and drop it in the box. Not my child, she'd rather take things out faster than everyone else is putting them in and stash them away for future play. And you can see her little baby mind working;

"Ok if I tuck this toy here and squeeze this here I can fit this here and hold this here..." 

 Sorry baby girl, we're singing the "clean up, clean up song."  Doesn't it sound happy and fun? Doesn't it? Everyone loves to clean up! (The first lie we are teaching our baby!)

So long story short, I'm trying to not just take things out of her hands that she isn't supposed to have and then redirect her onto something else. I do sometimes if we are in a hurry or it's the end of the day and mama needs a nap! But mostly I'm trying to take the time to teach her to put it back and get something else. 

Yesterday was a breakthrough and mama almost wept!

Summer grabbed her monitor and started walking through the house with it and when I saw it I thought, "crap, I forgot to move it from the coffee table from when she was napping!" So I said, "no-no, go put it back on the table." and at first I thought, "yea right, this is gonna work." Then she stopped and gave me a look like she knew she wasn't supposed to have it and kinda stood there and then shook her head "no" (like only a toddler can perfect) and said, "Dada?" As if Dada will say yes. So I thought, "well, maybe this will work." So I said again, "no-no Baby Girl, go put it back on the table." (I kinda had to say it a few times and use lots of sign language motioning to the table.) and she actually turned around and walked back over to the table! I was so proud. So I said, "Yay! Good girl for following directions!" 

Well, mama made too quick with the endless praise because said monitor antennae was yet to be pried from her pudgy little grip. So she lifted it back off the table, looking at me with the "I know I'm not supposed to be doing this...buuuut..." face and again I started at square one. 

"Put it back on the table." 

We played a few rounds of "if I set it on the table, but still hold the tip of the antennae is it considered putting it back?" game.

I resisted the urge to just walk over and gently remove it from her hands and give her something else to play with. I was trying to teach her that it was OK to put something back on your own in addition to following directions. Plus, she wasn't really going to do any damage to the monitor, I figured we'd just take the time to learn something new. I tried to hold back my "good girl, Baby" praises until she actually released her grip, but I still wanted her to know that she was doing what mama wanted her to. So I fused the two and said, "good girl Lovie, put it back on the table." Although she was reluctant she actually set it down and let go as opposed to just rubbing it all over the top of the table appearing to have put it back, and she walked away clapping! So of course mama was thrilled and was singing her praises. She was feeling giddy and clapping for herself and actually seemed proud of her accomplishments. Then we did a "high-5," something we just learned the other day.

...and as quickly as Juliet searches for her forbidden lover Romeo, Baby Girl walked back over to her baby monitor, rescued him off the coffee table and made a mad dash in the opposite direction.


Baby steps mama, baby steps.


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