The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I somehow knew I was doing this parenting thing right...

After a day of working on the baby's room Saturday (still a work in progress, but the walls are painted), we let ourselves have a totally fun Fourth of July yesterday. We had a beautiful time at the beach, had a delicious barbecue, and then watched the fireworks with friends. Great times. Vinny didn't even get to bed until like 11:30, but it was all worth it. :-)

Today... it was back to work on the various "summer cleaning" projects. (I know most people do spring cleaning, but that is a very busy season for us). The garage is finally completely clean and organized; I can even park my car in there finally!

Now, here is my good story for the day:

After cleaning out the garage, I brought bags of stuff in the house that needed to be put away. I sorted out all the random toys of Vinny's that I had found while cleaning out the garage and handed him the bag to put away, since he is the one who recently organized the toys in his room, and he really knows where everything goes better than me. Here is how it went:

Me: Vinny, I need you to go put these toys away. (Hands him the bag).

Vinny (whining) I'm too tiiiireed.

Me: Oh, do you need to take a nap?

Vinny: NO! I just want to play (as he plays with his Ni Hao Kai Lan tree house).
 Me: I understand, but I need you to take a break and put these toys away, and then you can go back to playing.

Vinny: Nooooooo.......

Me: Okay,  fine, I will just throw these away (turn towards trash can with bag).

Vinny: No, don't! Don't throw them in the garbage!

Me: Fine, then put them away.
Vinny: I need you to help me (whining). I can't do it myself.
Me: Yes, you can.
Vinny: Can you carry the bag in my room?
Me: Okay, fine.

He then proceeded to go about putting away his toys, whining for about the first five minutes before I finally started to hear, "Mom! (gasp) Look what I found!" Then he comes running in to show me that he had found his favorite Mickey Mouse pirate toy. "Great!" See... I knew there was a reason I wanted him to put these "lost" toys away. "I need to go put it with my pirate toys!" That same process was repeated with his pirate map, his Curious George police car, etc. It totally reaffirmed  my reasons for wanting him to do that task himself.

My favorite moment was when he came in and said, "Mom! I found my Mickey Mouse stickers," and then asks with great concern, "Where should I put them?" I suggested that he put them in the coloring book section of his art supply organizer that hangs on his door. He looks at me and says, very matter-of-factly, "No, not there, they aren't coloring books." Sigh... "I know Vinny, but... where else would you put them?" He looked at them very hard and then finally said, "In the drawer with my other Disney toys. They are Disney stickers."  I love it. I love that he organizes his own room and that he problem solves. I like that, although I don't really think about these things in advance, I know that forcing him to do things like put away his own toys helps him develop higher order critical thinking skills. I don't even make him do any other chores, since I feel like he needs time to be a kid... but even something as simple as organizing his own toys I really do think is very valuable and something he can learn from.

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