Friday, November 17, 2006

Change, constant change

I like it when life is predictable. I like routine. I can relate to Bilbo Baggins' comment about adventures: "Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" The kids like routine, too. But, we all know that life is full of change.

Now, I have noticed that if I change my kids routine, they will usually complain. Afterwards, however, they may decide that they liked the change and want it to be part of the permanent routine. If my kids decide to change things in my routine, I tend to want to straighten out things and put it back the way it was. Even though I know in my heart and mind that if the kids are wanting a change, it is probably because they are ready for it and it might be a good thing.

For instance, our video routine (We don't own a T.V.). I allow each child to choose one video to watch (daily schedule allowing for it) each day. We have an assortment of Baby Einstein, Veggietales, Baby Faith, and some animated movies. My husband has shown concern that this is too much video time for the kids, especially when they both choose long videos. But, I have noticed a pattern. Our kids (and I suspect most kids follow this pattern) will develop favorites that they watch constantly, then suddenly with no warning they change their favorites. I don't like the idea of using videos as a baby sitter, so I try not to treat them as such and watch them with the kids and talk about them. But, I do come and go during the video, so I can get a few things done around the house. When both kids are on a long video kick, I've noticed that the day seems awfully short, but I can get more done. That leaves me with mixed feelings. I like getting more done, but am I filling their minds with drivel. When both kids are on a short video kick, the day lasts forever, and I am exhausted and tired of the kids' demands by the evening. Right now, they have settled down to a reasonable compromise between them. Child number one is hooked on Fantasia and child number two is hooked on Baby MacDonald (The Baby Einstein video about the farm). My husband is OK with Fantasia. He calls it "an effective classical music delivery device." Baby MacDonald is a good learning video, too. I also find that the stories they learn from their videos are good vocabulary builders and give them building blocks for creating their own stories. So, I let them memorize them to their hearts' content and try not to get upset if I wanted them to choose something different to fit in with what I wanted my routine to be.

Another example is computer games. We have three games from the "Jumpstart" series that the kids seemed to like. In fact we used to use game time as a reward. The first game is for ages 18 months to 3 years (Toddlers) -- A perfect fit for child number two. She enjoyed it for 3 or 4 months on a once or twice a week basis. She was making progress on using a computer mouse and the activities seemed to be right on target with her development level. The problem is that she decided that she likes the more advanced games her sister plays more which are completely beyond her ability level. The second game was for 2-4 year olds (Preschoolers). Child number one enjoyed this for several months as a reward, but it was obvious that her skills were developing beyond it, and it was getting boring to her. Child number two likes to watch her sister play it, but can't do it herself yet. So, the third game came into the picture which is designed for 4-6 year olds (Kindergarten). Child number one loved it and would cry when she had to stop playing. Child number two loves to watch her sister play this one too. However, this game has a paint program that sucked in our art lover to the exclusion of the learning games. Child number two only likes to watch the learning games. Today for the first time, child number one didn't want to play the game as her reward (not even the art that she loves). Instead she decided to make some games. She drew two board games on paper as well as getting Mommy to help her make a "disk" game (like what goes in the computer, except made out of construction paper). So are computer games suddenly of no interest? I suspect this is just a temporary change (She thinks some of her Mommy and Daddy's computer games are interesting too). I'll have to get out her board games for her reward I think. Or, maybe her reward needs to be an art project.

So, I need to be flexible. Accept change when it comes. As my husband just told me after reading the above, "In the long run, the only solutions that work are the creative ones." I can't say that I'm sorry that my daughter wants to make her own toys, games and books. She has an excellent imagination. I want to foster that. My younger daughter is starting to do more imaginative play too. She is also learning to talk very quickly. Every day I'm surprised by something she says that I didn't know she knew yet. If she is devouring information without the benefit of "educational toys", who am I to slow her down.

Of course, I push changes on them from time to time. I suppose, ideally, if I display an ability to handle change well, they will pick that up from me. Let's hope so.

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