Sorry to be so quiet over here!
News Round Up:
– We close on the new place, Friday and the movers come as soon as we get the key. Everybody is very excited. I told Nat she’d get her own (well, shared with Selina) bathroom in our new house and she said, “with soap?!” I told her, sure, she could have soap in her bathroom. Since then she’s been telling people that in her new house, she will have soap. make of that what you will.
– A visit from my BFF and her nursing toddler made a HUGE impression on Nat. Now she carries her little stuffed dog around under her shirt, telling anyone who’ll listen that she’s feeding the dog milk from her body, which comes out of her nipples.
– Many human reproduction conversations before and following the nursing mom visit. We’ve been fleshing out a few more details of Nat’s (and Selina’s) birth and adoption stories. I picked up a copy of It’s Not the Stork and brought it home for her. She read the cover thusly:
Nat: It’s not the st–st–what’s that?
Shannon: “stork” it’s this white bird (pointing to picture on the cover)
Nat: Stork. A book about girls, boys, babies, b–b–babies?
Shannon: “bodies” see the o and the d? “bodies.”
Nat: bodies. families, and friends
The thing is, I don’t really ask Nat to read much, so I don’t quite keep up with exactly what she can read and so every time she reads something like that, I get all shocked and impressed. Mostly, she’d still prefer to be read to, to recite a book from memory (a big favorite she knows perfectly by heart is The Gruffalo) or to pretend to read, by telling a story while turning pages. So I let her do whatever she wants in the reading department, seeing as I’d estimate that she is reading roughly at a mid-year kindergarten level at age 3.5 with no particular “pushing.”
As for the contents of the book, so far the thing that interests her most is the picture of a little girl pulling another little girl’s hair. She’s very concerned about the whole scenario. Why did she pull her hair? Why did she say “yeow!?” Why did she say sorry? No doubt this is right out of a growing big sister psyche.
– Selina is blossoming intellectually herself. She is just as interested in letters as Nat was at her age. Nat reads books to Selina now and then and that makes more of an impression than anything else ever could. Selina is still Nat’s biggest fan.
Selin’a hair is now officially as long as Nat’s. Her curls are looser and softer. In four poofs it’s comically adorable. Not sure what we’ll end up doing with it in the long-run. I think I’m just going to have to comb it every day when she’s older. Right now she HATES a comb touching her head under any and all circumstances. She tosses her head violently side-to-side, Snoopy-dance-style and screams at the top of her lungs if she just sees the comb in my hand. I have found that four braids will last about three days without looking horrible, so I’ve mostly been doing that to minimize hair styling time.
– Speaking of hair, here’s a short answer to recent requests for tips on styling toddler/preschooler hair:
With Nat, she has become more and more willing to sit and let me work on her hair as she has gotten older. When she was Selina’s age, I used to do her hair on the run, following her around as she tried to run away from me. I often made parts while walking and bending over her little head. They weren’t perfect, but they were adequate. These days (since she was about 2 and a half) I plop her in her high chair (buckled in!) let her choose a video and sometimes a snack and get to work. She is usually reasonably cooperative for about 45 minutes. It usually takes about one hour to an hour and a half to get finished. When she causes me too much trouble–complaining, jerking er head around or whatever–I turn off the video, leave her view and ask her to let me know when she’s ready to finish. When she’s ready, I turn the video back on and get back to work.
This gets the job done and Nat’s hair styles tend to last between 7-12 days, so we don’t have to revisit it daily.
When we finish hair, I make a big, gushing deal out of how gorgeous it is and we visit the mirror together to admire it. Nat likes to put butterfly clips and things in her hair, and that helps encourage and bribe her during the process, but she also pulls the butterflies out and fiddles with them until they break, so I actually don’t let her put them in very often.
When Nat was little, many Black mothers, grandmothers, aunties and baby sitters told me to do her hair while she was asleep. If you want to, go for it! I didn’t want to waste precious nap time doing hair! But considering how much more violently Selina objects to hair care, I suppose there are kids out there whose hair just wouldn’t get done any other way. And it does have to get done. That’s non-negotiable. That’s another aspect of teaching my kids to put up with it–the idea that it just has to be done, like we have to put on our seat belts in the car.
– Why I like white male baby sitters:
I like white male baby sitters, because there are no white males in our immediate family (though we’ve got uncles and grandfathers and all that) and I love that what my girls are learning about the species is that it is a species of caregiving, nurturing, child-centered kindness. That’s not really the dominant idea of what white men are. But it’s what I want my girls-and the women they grow into–to expect from the white men they meet in life. I want them to be shocked and horrified when they encounter anything less and to hold those people accountable to humane expectations.
– How Strollerderby is going:
It’s going pretty well. Its nice to have this job, because it’s an all new type of writing for me to learn and an all new audience (well, a mixed audience, some new, some I’m used to) to learn to write to. It’s a good exercise in maintaining my own voice in different kinds of contexts. Here’s what I think might interest my readers here the most lately:
As always, see my bio page for my most recent writing.