Part of our responsibility as parents involves handling sudden changes in our child's temperament, behavior and needs. Throwing a tantrum? Respond calmly, begin the 1-2-3 Magic countdown (highly recommended) and put her in time out if need be. She wants chicken nuggets right after you've served pasta? Respond calmly, tell her tonight it's pasta, that she can have chicken tomorrow, and do your best to avoid any food thrown your way. She tells you that Jar Jar Binks is her favorite Star Wars character? Respond calmly, give her a big hug and say, "That's nice, sweetie, but try again."
It's hard not to be a little nervous with changes in my child. As an adult (or, rather, a child trapped in an adult's body), I've become set in certain ways and tastes and I'm totally fine with that. I know what foods I like and don't like, how I can overthink things to a fault and that I prefer to play the piano with my feet rather than my hands. Sometimes I find that music helps me to face the adversity in my life. Thus, I'm turning to face the strange, embracing change with the help of my siblings, mother and housekeeper and going down to Gorky Park to whistle and reflect on things.
So what changes am I speaking of in such a fantastically dramatic way that people will undoubtedly think "That's it?" when they read about them? For starters, Olivia has stopped drinking milk completely. One day she's drinking it up, posing for pictures with a moustache and telling everyone she knows how it does her body good. The next day she turns her nose up at it, hands the bottle back and cries out, "What foul fluid is this? Thou art trying to poison me! Guards! Take him away and bring me juice!" After being taken aback by this refusal, I gently reminded my child that House McKee has no guards to answer her beck and call and that she can't have juice at 7 in the morning. I may not be the best father out there, but I know better than to let my child tie on a juice buzz before 5 p.m..
I checked with our daycare, and they confirmed that she's doing the same thing there. The only difference is, I think they're letting her have juice whenever she asks for it (but they cut it with water and a splash of Grey Goose). Apparently Olivia will even request juice during nap time by crying out, "I want juuuuiicccee," which the ladies at daycare will deliver right to her crib. I can only imagine how much the Mott's bottles and crib service are costing us. I've tried using her technique myself, but so far no one has come to my aid when I yell out, "I want beeeeeeeer," from bed.
Our approach to this issue has been different than that of our daycare. We started by opening our fridge, looking past the OJ, purple stuff and soda and focusing on good old fashioned, American made H2O. We'd given her water here and there in the past, but we relied on milk to be her main thirst quencher. Thankfully after a few tries, she's on board with drinking mostly water with a serving or two of juice during the day. However it's still a little tricky at bedtime, because we have to convince her to drink enough to stay hydrated throughout the night. We'll read a story to her and she'll not drink at all, then request another book once that one is done. So we've been asking her to drink some water before the next story can start, and that seems to do the trick. If that stops working then maybe we'll try milk again, or perhaps something a bit more...dramatic.
Another big change for baby girl has been one we didn't see coming this early: she's stopped napping on the weekends. From what I remember of the religion classes I had to take in my 12 years of private Catholic school, this is some Book of Revelations type shit. There are some trumpets blaring, fire and destruction rain from the sky while a choir of cranky, overtired toddlers who desperately need naps sing 'Let It Go' from the 'Frozen' soundtrack and proceed to wipe out a third of humanity. Don't quote me on this though, because it's been a while since I've cracked open a Bible.
As of late, every time we put her down for a nap she acts like she's going to pass out and then pulls a 180 after we close her bedroom door. It's silence until that *click,* and then she either starts talking to herself or breaks into song. When she was younger we'd have to worry about her crying during this part of the day, and we'd have to wait a while before going in to reassure her that we hadn't abandoned her. Now she just keeps talking and singing until she gets thirsty, then she starts asking for juice and expects a bottle full to show up like it does at daycare. We've left her in her crib for close to an hour like this, since she's not crying or acting upset, mainly because we just need a break ourselves.
My guess is that we're just not doing enough with her in the mornings to wear her out for nap time. I've recently started taking her out for morning walks to try burning some energy off, but they haven't been doing the trick. She comes back seemingly untouched by our lap around the nearby blocks, while I come back trying to remain calm after dealing with her stopping every 2 feet to pick something up, point something out or take her coat off and put it back on for the fiftieth time. If that doesn't work, I usually end up taking her out for a walk in her stroller during the time she should be napping and cross my fingers that she'll pass out. I get a good two hour walk in, she gets a bottle of juice and some goldfish crackers and Jodi usually takes a nap during the time we're gone. That works most of the time, however there have been plenty of occasions where I've looked down to see if she's passed out and she just glares back and goes, "Is this all you've got?"
On the flip side, there's plenty of positive stuff happening with our child that I cannot fail to mention. Her vocabulary is growing and she's even having small conversations with us. It started with something simple, like Jodi asking her if she liked something, which Olivia said yes to, then Miss O asking Jodi if she liked the same thing. Now she's moved on to more intricate things like life and its many hardships, but that generally only happens when she can't sleep and there's a cheesecake in the fridge. She's been wanting to help out more around the house with various chores like throwing things away, cleaning and even making dinner. I was recently in the kitchen preparing her meal when she told me, "Daddy, I making dinner too!" I looked over and saw that she had taken cardboard and plastic out of our recycling bins and was mimicking the things I was doing. Absolutely adorable, although I have to say that her cereal box and beer bottle casserole could have used more paprika.
Finally, daycare has told us that Olivia loves arts and crafts and can't get enough of them. She enjoys coloring, drawing, painting and any other stuff they throw at her. She's a natural, just like her mother, and I think we could do with more of that at home too. We mostly just let her color in books and on our chalkboard wall, which is fine, but it's not without its problems. Olivia will ask us to color with her, but then she has a habit of taking back the crayon or chalk she had given us just seconds prior. She also seems to enjoy both coloring over the area we're working on or, if it's the chalkboard wall, erase it before we've finished. I can't tell you how many puppies and kitties I've begun to draw on the wall, only to have her hip check me away so she can remove them from her sight (but then she asks you to draw them right after!). I've taken to drawing a little above her head, thinking that those animals will escape her reach, but then only the bottom half of them gets removed and they look all sad and immobile. I can only imagine the late night commercials with images of half drawn puppies and kitties looking sad and lonely, all while Sara McLachlan's 'In the Arms of An Angel' plays over it. "For just pennies a day, you can provide the chalk needed to complete the lower half of these animals and set them free. You...can make a difference."