08 January 2010

Improvement

We had a great evening last night, consisting of a Snickollet Random Dinner* followed by a bath for Riley and a shower for Maddie** followed by an episode of Dora followed by a chapter of Ramona*** followed by the kids chatting for over an hour**** before they fell asleep.

We also had a great morning this morning. I did get the kids (and myself) up 15 minutes earlier than normal, which seemed to help, although it's hard to say given that it was one of those glitch-free mornings that would have been fine without the padding. I'll try again Monday, though, and see how things go. I know that I certainly felt much better knowing that if, at any point along the way things got derailed, we had extra time to get things back on schedule.

People who follow me on Facebook know that I have been extra motivated to get myself out the door in the morning this week because Maddie and Riley have a new teacher at preschool and he is really cute. I feel like some suburban mom stereotype humming "Hot for Teacher" as I waltz into school every morning, but there you have it.

Riley shares my enthusiasm for his new instructor; Riley is generally a warm, outgoing kid, and he's particularly drawn to adult men. It's touching and sweet and sad to see how he craves that attention from adult males. I believe—I have to believe!—that kids can grow up without a father figure present in their lives on a daily basis and be perfectly OK. But when I see how Riley responds to people who fit the "dad" model, I realize that there are things that a father would bring to the kids' lives that are different than what I can offer. Sigh. Reason 1,274,547 to miss John.

Maddie's reaction to Señor M. has been quite different from Riley's. From the very first meeting, she has given him the cold shoulder. Make that the glacial shoulder. If he talks to her, she walks away. He complimented her scarf yesterday and her only reply was a defiant "Mine!" The lead teacher told me that she was that way all day, either ignorning him or being blatantly rude despite his repeated, calm efforts to win her over.

Maddie is intensely social, and she likes to be liked. She's usually quite warm and sweet with new people, so initially I was surprised by Maddie's reaction to Señor M. and by the director's details regarding Maddie's behavior. Then I thought about it some more, and I was hard-pressed to come up with any adult males outside of family to whom Maddie has been immediately friendly and open. I can think of plenty of women with whom she's been quite friendly from the get-go, but few, if any, men.

I have no idea if this relates to Maddie having lost her father so early in her life or not. And it doesn't strike me as a terrible thing; there's nothing wrong with being a little skeptical of strangers, although being outright rude to a teacher is not a behavior I want to encourage. Maddie is wise beyond her years in terms of her emotions. While I don't know exactly what is at work with her right now, I do know I need to be patient with her as she works through it. Luckily, Señor M. knows this, too.

If she's this intense at three, what will she be like when she's thirteen? Oy.

*Tofu hot dog +broccoli + hummus to dip broccoli in + rice for Riley; crab and cheese quiche + broccoli + ranch dip for me and Maddie.

**Our awesome bathroom has a separate bath and shower so the kids can do their own thing if they want.

***We've started reading chapter books! It's great. I love it, they love it, we all love it. We've read Beezus and Ramona and last night we started Ramona the Pest. So far, everyone's favorite chapter is the last one in Beezus and Ramona when Ramona puts her doll, Bendix, in Beezus's bithday cake. "Bendix in a cake!" we keep shouting to each other, and cracking up.

****I think it's time to give up the nap, or at least move in that direction. They are taking forever to go to sleep at night and are waking up really early, even by their standards.

25 comments:

Mommy, Esq. said...

Ah, Ramona. I loved her. That has to go on my reading list when the kids are ready for chapter books. :)

Janna said...

I loved Ramona too! You should take them to Grant Park (on NE 33rd and Knott). You probably know this already, but they have statues of Ramona and Henry and his dog and a map of where the books took place.

Snickollet said...

Janna, I didn't know that. We'll totally have to check it out.

Wishful Nals said...

i loooove beezus + ramona. a classic!

OTRgirl said...

Just read your last two posts. Even with other adults, there are times when something flicks a switch and I get furious. I could imagine that happening with kids. I don't have any helpful advice (with adults, I try to go away and journal to figure out the issue, then go back to them to say what happened. With kids, there's just not as much time/space for processing).

My Dad started reading me the Narnia tales when I was your kid's age. Chapter books are fun.

Legally Brunette said...

Oh, Ramona! I haven't read Ramona in years, but when I see a new tube full of toothpaste, I am so tempted to squeeze it all out in the sink, in a nice, neat pile, just like Ramona did. Really, really looking forward to the movie.

Lals said...

I have to jump on the Ramona bandwagon, too! Love her! :)

I also want to bolster your hope about the idea of children being fine growing up without a father. My brother and I were certainly older than your kiddos when we lost our father to cancer, but we turned out just fine. Sure, there were times when we intensely missed him and wished we had a dad like all the other kids, but our little family of three managed. As adults, we look back on our childhood and see how amazing it was despite the trauma of losing our dad and hero.

As for Maddie and Riley's reactions to father-like men, they mimic my brother and my reactions. My brother was always drawn to coaches, male teachers, etc... while I went out of my way to avoid them. My brother, on some level, needed that male attention in his life, while, I (only years later did I sort this out) didn't want any man to be close to me for fear of "betraying" my father... dunno if that makes sense or if that's what's going on with your kiddos, but I thought I'd through it out there...

Doc said...

Do I see a visit to NE 33rd & Knott in our weekend?

Ba

Snickollet said...

Ba:

You have a Blogger profile now!

And yes, weather permitting, we might just have to head to NE :).

See you soon!

XO

Shannon said...

You should totally check out the Magic Tree House series. A bit of history with a brother and sister as the leads (and the best is that the girl is out-going and adventurous). I think your kids would love them - our boys did. We read the first 16 or so until they were ready to move on to longer books. They still read them on their own though.

Kirsten said...

My daughter did not especially like men when she was Maddie's age. She's had plenty of men in her life, including her father, but as I later realized (or she told me) she was scared of men - her sweet gentle uncle, her warm grandpa, kind neighbors, you name it. She ignored them, did not respond to friendly questions, even fled from them at times! It seemed rude at the time to me. I see now that it was one of those sort of illogical phases.

She's 5 now and is scared of other things, but still seems to prefer women to men. I wonder if Maddie isn't a bit scared at this developmental stage.

tropicalg77 said...

I think it is spectacular that someone has caught your eye!! As for maddie. Girls are like that..I dont know why but they are. My emma is the same way.

Mama Nabi said...

Ah. LN was that way with all men. So extreme that the director of her old school noticed right away. My friends were careful to instruct their spouses to approach LN slowly or not at all. She still has a hard time trusting men or any boy older than 10. I'm glad that their new teacher is male! And not only for the cute factor - it helped LN tremendously when she had a male teacher. She was still more receptive to women but she did become calmer around men. I know that, for LN, I had chalked it off as her reaction to THING. And, for Maddie, you are right, it might be that one area in which she hasn't had a lot of experience, i.e. trust has not been established?

LOVE that there's a new "spring" in your steps. :-)

Lee C. Thomas said...

I loved those books as a kid. Read them over and over.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Hopefully Maddie will warm up to Senor M just like you did! :-)

susan said...

When you are ready for audio books, check out the Ramona books on CD: Stockard Channing reads them, and she is AWESOME. Neil Patrick Harris has recorded at least one of the Henry Huggins books, but we are partial to the Channing narrations.

And on your last post, if I could leave a comment here: I am feeling so relieved myself to see that post and all the comments. I've been wondering whether I was the only person losing her temper so quickly and so irrationally some of the time. You are so not alone.

JK said...

All sounds good and normal. So nice when it goes well. Can't wait to hear more about the new teacher on the block!

Natika said...

So just curious??? Are you feeding the kids mostly Vegetarian? I just wondered because of the tofu dogs. I love to use veg. chili and tofu dogs and make chili dogs. My kids eat meat (I don't) but they can't tell the difference! Just wondering???

Katherine said...

I am widowed too, and am always looking for male role models for my now-teenage son. He has had a few male teachers and does well with them. My daughter, though, now a middle-schooler has always been standoffish with men. . . and she has no really close males in her life. Her father is dead, both her grandfathers are dead, and her uncles live far away. She is suspicious and uncomfortable with men and takes a LONG time to warm up. She, like Maddie, is excellent at being able to recognize and name the emotions she is going through. She is close to the fathers of three of her good friends, and it has always surprised me when one of them has been able to win her over. I think lots of patience and a slow buildup of trust works. Last year, in elementary school, she had a male teacher and I was worried. I spoke with him when school started about her issues with men. He was a young, caring guy and he worked SO HARD to win her over . . .and it did work. I think that experience made her more comfortable with men, at least as teachers. Senor M will win Maddie over too. And it will be a great experience for her learning to trust a man. . .

And, Lals, thanks SO MUCH for your comment. You have given me hope for my own little family of three.

Rev Dr Mom said...

I loved it when I started reading chapter books to the Kid. We loved all the Ramona books, too.

And I want to say that ime at least, boys can grow up just fine without the daily presence of a "father figure." I have a wonderful 18 yo son who did. So don't loose sleep over that. :)

Jess said...

Would love to follow you on Facebook...how do I add you as a friend??

~ Jolene said...

I absolutely LOVED reading Ramona! I didn't know you were on Facebook Stacey...add me when you get a chance! I'd love to follow your life on there as well. Hope all is well. Love that Riley was described as "sweet and caring friend." So sweet!!!

Snickollet said...

Jess:

Wanna follow me on Facebook? I'm Stacey Kim--look me up and friend me; just tell me you read the blog.

Jolene:

I'll look for you on FB, or send me a friend request.

Sadia said...

Oh, the adult male role model gets me every time. My husband parents from Korea through Skype, but I still see my Melody, in particular, drawn to my male friends who are here. We had a party on Saturday, and the only adult whose attention she kept claiming was a friend of a husband's, also a soldier and dad of two. He looked a little surprised the first time she came in for a hug, but he's been the absent Dad before (2 Iraq deployments), so he knew how this all works and how kids can react.

Jessica is less clingy to my male friends, but perhaps this is because she's closer to her father, even at a distance?

Soon, Then said...

No way! You guys too? We finished Ramona the Pest in January and then took a detour to The Mouse and the Motorcycle for a bit while the library was out of Ramona the Brave. Addison didn't care for the Mouse book, so we are now reading Ramona the Brave. How fun!