I’m not much of cat person, which is to say I don’t like cats at all. However the lead character in Ruth Chan’s new book, Where’s the Party? is a cat. Not a problem since the cat in question is confined to the pages of the book and not clawing my eyes out. The story focuses on Georgie who instead of lasagna loves to throw parties especially for his friends. The central issue of the tale is that Georgie has thrown a spur of the moment party and everyone is too busy to come. In keeping with Beyond the Car Seat rules I won’t spoil the ending but I think it is safe to say that just as in Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come. The real treat of the books is the layout and singular story focus. Lately, BB has been picking long books at bedtime and I simply cannot handle that. Where’s the Party? is the perfect length.
LTD who turns 7 in two days occasionally has his buddy over to hang out. He is pretty good about understanding that the guest has a say in what activity they engage in and doesn’t need to be “told what to do” Of course, LTD wants to watch a movie and his friend doesn’t or he wants to play a game etc and his friend does not. For the most part they play well together and it would be great for me if they would enjoy one activity for more than 10 seconds before switching to another one. (The grass is always greener syndrome that kids suffer with). However, the real challenge is for BB he is 3 and doesn’t not understand that LTD’s friend is over to hang with LTD and not the preschooler. To hear BB tell it he is one of the gang and should enjoy all the rights and privileges of his status as official younger brother. No matter what is going on having a friend over is great for socializing but not so great for me being able to relax. Especially, if LTD’s friend takes the time to talk to BB and treat him like a human, nothing makes LTD more pouty than his playdate being stolen.
Like most parenting concepts follow through and consistency are key. These are never more true than when dealing with matters of discipline. The Mommy and I have used 123 Magic in the past but due to factors such as stress, busyness and laziness we have not always held true to the core mission and techniques. LTD is about to turn 7 and is acting like a teenager and BB is now 3 and is deep into his Three-nager phase as well. It was time to return to the manual. The popular 1-2-3 Magic books and accompanying industry are valuable for their simplicity. The real work comes in changing and learning new habits.There are so many many many many books about raising children and heaven help you if you google anything, but you do need a guiding principle to fall back on if you can actually remember to use it. The book deals with start behaior and stop behavior in a clear way as any parent reading will easily recognize the examples. Now in the sixth edition we turned back to it as a reminder that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We were also reminded that following a discipline pattern is hard work that requires constant upkeep. I hope that the second time through will be the charm and I expect the boys to be perfect angels from now on.
Whenever I mention a historical figure or frankly anyone in the news LTD always asks me if they are alive. For a long time I thought it was part of his usual obsession over death, but it turns out he asks because he wants to be able to write them a letter. In that regard, Jules Archer’s new book, The Unpopular Ones: Fifteen American Men and Women Who Stood Up for What They Believed In, feeds his curiosity. The book features well known Americans like Thomas Paine and Woodrow Wilson, but brings to light lesser known subjects like Bethenia Owens and Jonathan Walker. I know what you are thinking, who are those last two? No spoilers. Some of the book is a little above LTD’s pay grade but it does make for interesting conversations. At the core is the concept of standing up for what you believe in. As an added bonus you get to explain to the kids what a “hussy” is during the chapter on Amelia Bloomer.
LTD is almost four years older than BB and so their choice of reading material greatly differs. However, BB will do and wants to do anything that his older brother does. In that regard, I recently hit pay dirt with Mo O’Hara’s series My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish. Most of the books are for those kids reading chapter books but she did something cool and made a version for the preschool set. The books feature Frankie the titular goldfish who suffers from being a zombie but on the up side can hypnotize using his eyes. A little backstory, “Frankie was a completely normal pet goldfish . . . until Tom’s evil-scientist big brother, Mark, tried to murder him with toxic gunge! Luckily Tom and his best friend Pradeep shocked Frankie back to life with a battery, and he’s been their zombie-fishy friend ever since.” BB’s book is called, The Fintastic Fishsitter features little sister Sami watching over Frankie and trying to stop Vampire kitten Fang from eating him. The cool thing is that when BB reads just like his big bro he reaches a pretty high level of excitement. And of course, I know what you’re thinking, yes the down side is that now they both want a pet goldfish.
Just now we told LTD he needed a bath and (un-ironically) he replied, I don’t need a bath, I took when a few weeks ago. In that regard, books that encourage bath time fun are always welcome. Bathtime with Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba follows the continuing adventures of her two boys (as she calls them). I know what you’re thinking, Theo is the dog. The book is heavy on the photos, but they are so vibrant and crisp they are almost hypnotic. As we use the book to try and get our boys to take a bath there is only one problem. The story immediately makes them want to get our own dog in the tub with them. However, my often said phrase, I got enough problems will attest, that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.
As this huge storm blankets the east coast. LTD has stayed in his pj’s and used the iPad, read and colored. His brother however has chosen to make being stuck in the house as an experimental descent into madness. He is completely bonkers. We did manage to get him to take a nap (after he fell asleep eating lunch) but the nap only recharged his batteries to go more nuts. BB has channeled all his energy into not one activity but it would seem all possible actives. In theory this storm will end someday and we will be able to get him outside to drain his energy making a “snow baby” as he has been calling for, for some unknown reason.
Author Leanne Shirtliffe is an award-winning humor writer but she is also part of a movement to make children’s books more diverse. As part of that mission she created the character of Wilma Lee Wu. The second book to feature the spirited youngster is No More Biege Food. As long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know all too well, BB is what they call a problem eater. So this tale of culinary introductions not only speak about interesting food choices but has the added benefit of introducing diverse characters. Wilma objects to her parents seemingly boring meals and demands more. Her mother, not to give into a tyrant, tells her to cook her own meals. So Wilma interviews her neighbors and discovers all the tasty richest different cultures have to offer. The jury is still out on how much of the tale penetrated into BB’s pallet but I will try anything to get away from 50% mac and cheese and 50$ rice and beans.
Now that BB is three, The Mommy and I figured it was time he learned to swim. Since he has watched LTD swim with goggles he wanted his own. The only issue was that even though he demanded googles he wouldn’t wear them. Of course one frustrated dad came up with a cool solution. Christian Hahn took the pain and the hair loss out of the google equation and came up Frogglez. And yes they float. Frogglez use a neoprene headstrap that uses easily adjustable velcro to allow for swimming without the screaming. Of course, I know what you are thinking, yes BB still screams in the pool but they are not screams of pain only screams of fun (fun that is for everyone outside of ear shot). Now if only the googles could teach him to swim I could save a fortune on lessons.
BB’s potty training is going well. He wears pull ups at bedtime and is even sometimes dry in the morning. He wakes me up at 5am to announce he has to go to the bathroom even though the potty chair is in his room. A fact I blame on the darkness. Damn you Fall/Winter. However, he has started to do something I can’t really explain. He will go to the potty either by asking or being told like at school and he will make peeps for sometimes almost a minute. However, occasionally about 3 minutes after he goes he says he has to go again. Oh, did I forget to tell you that if he ever asks to go to the potty that usually means he just went in his pants, the chair, the floor any surface that exists. It is really weird. While we are unpacking the potty stuff we might as well discuss his number twos. He weighs about 31 pounds and when he goes solids there is a volume issue that I challenge NASA to try and explain. Either way like all parenting issues, there are good days and bad days. I just accept that not only do I need to keep a change of his clothes in the car, but mine as well.