Monthly Archives: July 2006

Gwanka and Gwoggy

Although I’ve never met them, there are 2 new kids living in our house – Gwanka and Gwoggy.

A couple of days ago I was in the backyard with The Girl. She ran around the corner of the house where the gate is and said, “oh hi! Come on in!” I couldn’t quite see around the corner and I wondered who was there. As I was walking towards the gate, she came back around the corner, looking like she was holding someone’s hand.

“Who’s there?” I asked.

“Gwanka,” she said. “She’s from Mexico.”

“Oh. Where did you meet Gwanka?”

“In a parking lot.”

“And how old is she?”


A few days later, we are jumping on the bed when all of a sudden The Girl asks Gwoggy to jump with us.

“Who’s Gwoggy?”

“Gwanka’s sister.”


The Girl has imaginary friends. Fun. I hope I don’t have to feed them, too.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs

Armin Brott (Mr. Dad) has a post on his website about teaching your baby sign language. As a parent of a child who learned a few signs before she hit 1, I can concur that yes, it does work and no, it did not delay the development of speaking in The Girl. I wonder how the myth began that babies who learn sign language could have delayed speech? It certainly isn’t the case with The Girl who, at 2/12, is a chatterbox.

The signs she learned were pretty basic – “please” and “more” being the 2 she seemed to use quite often.

The best part of teaching her sign language was that it seemed to reduce a bit of frustration in The Girl. Signing gave her a way to express herself, ask for something and have us respond to what she needed. And it was quite easy. As Brott’s article points out, consistency, repetition and saying the words as we signed them seemed to be key factors in how quickly The Girl picked up the signs.

If you are thinking about the sign route, I would highly recommend it.


Yes, they have hit. Big time.

These are not tantrums to “get” something – these episodes are full on meltdowns that seem to be triggered by minor of things. When one of these episodes comes on, it’s as if all coping skill developed in The Girl’s 2 1/2 years go flying out the window.

They have become daily occurrences – sometimes multiple times a day, which has sent both Mom and I scrambling back to the bookshelf and baby/toddler library we have assembled. So far, Mary Sheedy Kurkinca’s book Raising Your Spirited Child has provided the best advice, and the best definition of what might be going on with The Girl, that is “spillover tantrums” caused by emotional overload.

In a nutshell, once one of the episodes begins, I make sure The Girl isn’t going to hurt herself, stay close but give distance and let them go until they get it out. So far, this advice seems to be working. When one of these episodes comes on, I basically shut up, stay close to The Girl and let it run it’s course.

At first, I tried to pick up or hug The Girl, but she wanted no part of it. So, instead of trying to hold her, I stay with her, but let her take the lead in how much physical contact she wants. I’ve found that, after completely losing it for a few minutes, The Girl eventually calms herself down enough to come over on her own and cuddle in my lap. Once she has calmed down, we talk about what happened.

It’s pretty tough sometimes for me to maintain my cool, but the times I have lost it myself and done things like walk away or get frustrated only make the tantrum worse.

There is, of course, more to Kurkinca’s method than this. And, regardless of whether you have a Spirited Child or not, the book is well worth a read.

Dogs and Kids

I love pets, but I can’t understand the casual attitude some dog owners take with their pets around my kid. It seems almost inconceivable to some dog owners that their animal has the capacity to bite and seriously hurt a child.

I have no doubt dog owners believe their own bold assurances that they would never harm anyone, let alone a child. After all, they are a beloved member of their families and probably take darn fine care of their own kids. But that is not what I see.

What I see is an 80 pound animal that, at any moment for any number of reasons could seriously harm my 30 pound kid. Especially if a protective dog sees my kid as a threat as they try to give some dog owners kid an innocent hug on the playground.

Yesterday The Girl and I were at a park where a family had a chocolate lab running amok. The Girl is usually one to run around in the park, climb on the monkey bars and partake in all the kid related activities. Not yesterday. Yesterday, all she wanted to do was swing, with one eye firmly planted on the trail of the big chocolate lab. She didn’t want to get out of the swing because the dog was running around.

I want my kid to grow up and love animals, not fear them. Dog owners who insist on letting their dogs run around parks without leashes are not helping me. So, if you are a dog owner who comes to a public park and you let your dog run around without a leash, don’t be surprised if I come up to you and ask you to leash them.

Reminding Pays Off

Even before she could speak (thanks to sign language), we have been drilling the girl on using “please” and “thank you” when she wants something. Many times a day for the past 2+ years we have been reminding her to use those two words, but it seemed that no matter how much reminding we did, she just wouldn’t spontaneously use “please” and “thank you” in context. As soon as we would remind her, she would say please or thank you, but never on her own.

Then out of the blue 2 weeks ago it happened. The Girl asked me for a drink of milk, and ended her sentence with a casual “please”. Fantastic! Then, when she got her milk, it was a nice “thank you”. Lovely! So I made sure to give her a bit of positive feedback – “Hey, you said please and thank you and I didn’t have to remind you. Nice work!” To which she just gave me a grin and shuffled back into her play room.

Since then, the pleases and thank you’s have been flowing much easier from her. Occasionally, she still has to be reminded, but the frequency is less and less.

So for all you parents who (like me) were going batty with the endless repeating and reminders, take this post as a positive and persevere! As for me, I am making sure to enjoy it while it lasts.