I’m loving that my daughter is now old enough to enjoy shopping-time with me. I get tempted to try things on her, she gives spot on advice (e.g. “Maman, c’est moche! / c’est bizarre! / c’est quoi ça?!? / Maman, ça c’est pour les enfants!” / ENG: “Mom, it’s ugly! / it’s bizarre! / what’s that?!? / Mom, that’s for kids!”) & we often have the best laughs out of things we don’t buy! 😂
In the past few days London has been blooming with the most exquisite of Springs and unseasonably great weather has made it possible for me to take it all in and get inspired… so much so, that I opted to organize my second daughter’s 1st birthday as a picnic birthday in Hyde Park. Everything went to plan… except → see the left chair in the penultimate picture…
🌀 So today ultimately felt like a battle between my relentless desire to get the sunny season really started and the weather reminding me that it’s still April in London and that there are no weather guarantees around here! (a.k.a chill (literally) ! we’re not in the Mediterranean!)… I’ll call it a tie! 😉
Much to my surprise my 3 year old was serving as somewhat of an art tourist guide during our latest trip to Barcelona! After our first encounter with a modernist building, she reacted “immeuble bizarre!” (eng. weird building) and since that caught our attention, she then went on to say that everytime she spotted a building she felt was out of the norm and most often that would turn out to be a Gaudí building or another very original modernist building! So when we went this morning to the Sagrada Família I was perhaps more excited to see her reaction to that fantasy of a church than seeing this architectural marvel myself… and I wasn’t disappointed! After we stepped out of the cab, opened the stroller and made sure we grabbed the 200 moving pieces we dangle around with us (e.g. gloves and scarfs we don’t need but just in case…), I finally told her to look up and in an instant her eyes grew wide open and she said “maman maman immeuble TRÈS BIZARRE! with such a sense of accomplishment that she had found that “building” that she might have convinced herself that she made it appear by her dedication to this spot-the-weird-building game! While she was mesmerized by the grandeur of the church, what ultimately captured her imagination was a small ladybug that is sculpted on one of its main door… that ladybug and the curiousness of its presence became the subject of her long monologues and questions afterwards! Today was a very sacred family day at the Sagrada Família…
I think my ballerinas have found their car!
P.S. When I asked my editor (i.e. my 3 year old daughter 😜) what she thought of the photo, she said: “Mais où est donc ta tête maman?!” eng. “But where has your head gone mommy?!” Not sure if she meant that literary or metaphorically! 😳
#LaVéritéSortDeLaBoucheDesEnfants #DontTakeLifeTooSeriously 😂
UPDATED (by popular demand): here’s the front! 👅👅
Halloween arrives this year as my daughter completes her transition from a toddler to a preschooler and therefore, unlike last year, I will have less control over her choices, and this time around her trick and treat experiences are much more likely to impact her eating habits… I will therefore want to make sure that this highly marketed and colorful occasion doesn’t turn into a celebration of unhealthy eating which risks creating a fascination with unhealthy sugary treats. Furthermore, as I’ve noticed at my NYC building last year with children racing to my door, Halloween literally becomes a competition of who hoards the most treats and therefore kids end up amassing loads of candy, which can last them for weeks or months! So, while I cannot control the neighborhood, I have plans to make the Halloween experience as wholesome as possible for my daughter and her friends by coordinating with a couple of moms and her school to create a fun event focusing on the pretend-play and the costume side of the event as well as line-up healthy replacements in Halloweeny disguise (i.e. themed packaging or presentation) to give them a chance to compete with the shiny packaging of the typical sugary and highly processed treats.
Below is my list of suggested replacements:
Cereal and granola bars
Trail mix, unsalted plain roasted peanuts or pumpkin seeds (careful with allergic trick-or-treaters)
Cheese strings or individually wrapped mini cheese shapes
Unsalted plain popcorn
Mini boxes of raisins
Unsalted plain pretzels
Single serve boxes of ready-to-eat cereal
Individual juice boxes (100% juice)
Apple or pear sauce
Dark chocolate bites
Finally, what’s also important is that when the kids return home with their big bag of goodies (hopefully with more healthy than unhealthy stuff this year!) you should try to explain that while the treat wraps are colorful, those treats are not gift-wrapped toys! and they are not to be all opened and consumed in short order but rather they should be left in a “treasure box” and consumed as snacks and in moderation.
I’ve always had a weakness for russian dolls… they are a fun symbol of maternity and I thought they would make the perfect party favor to embody the close bond I share with my two daughters whose initials are featured on the medium and small dolls. On the large doll I chose to feature a bouquet as my daughters’ names are floral. Those Matryoshkas are also pretty cosmopolitan themselves as they were designed in the US (per my guidance), the wooden dolls were made in Russia (by Golden Cockerel), while the packaging (the printed boxes and stickers) were made in Lebanon (by DELF / Dar El Founoun).
I can’t recall when or how exactly this started but my daughter just can’t stop talking!
By her 2nd birthday she knew a few words, but now, only 6 months later, her communication superpowers are blooming and she sure is loving them and using them! Although she still makes a lot of mistakes in pronunciation and sentence structure, she’s expressing herself in full sentences, opening structured conversations, debating with arguments and asking a whole LOT of questions! What’s overwhelming is mostly the volume of talk! It’s not that I’m not used to this at home, though I didn’t necessarily think (or wish!) she would inherit that specific behavior from her dad!
She always has something to say or to ask about. From the second she opens her eyes in the morning “mommy what food are you serving me?” in her clumsy French “manger quoi, maman?”, the interrogation journey starts… I hear “c’est quoi ça maman?” (eng: what’s that mommy) more than I feel the baby #2 kicks, although I have to say there has been a nonstop trampoline party going on in my belly lately!
She asks all sorts of questions:
- Funny ones: in a restaurant where the waiter was wearing a bright yellow shirt and was taking forever to bring our food, “maman, il est ou monsieur jaune? (eng: where is Mr. Yellow?)
- Weird ones: a 5 min cab ride turns into a drill of questions on the components of a taxi’s interior (most of which I had never even noticed before) from the little screw she found under the door handle to the taxi driver’s ID and registration number.
- Smart ones: “Papa, comment on appelle ça en anglais?” (eng: How do we say this in English?).
- Silly ones: “Maman, il est où papa?” (eng: Where’s daddy?) even though papa is holding her hand while crossing the street or when we’re all having dinner together and papa is just sitting next to her!
- Quizzes: she asks questions that she already asked a million times before and knowing perfectly well what the correct response is. When I try to trick her and answer incorrectly she corrects me “maman, il est où papa” (eng: where’s daddy?) to which I respond “il est sur la lune” (eng: he’s on the moon) followed by her final response with an attitude and a giggle “mais non maman, papa est au travail!” (eng: no mommy, daddy is at work!).
If she’s not talking to me or to her father, she’s scolding a doll because she didn’t finish her dinner or she’s doing a monologue while playing with the blocks. A sneeze or a cough wouldn’t stop her, she just says “à tes souhaits” (eng: bless you) to herself or “pardon” and continues the chatter!
This phase has been a lot of fun, I’m loving watching her growing up, becoming a little adult with a LOL sense of humor and an overwhelming curiosity while providing us with a lot of entertainment and crazy laughs. She has so much energy (verbal energy) that it’s so hard to keep up with her at times (or get anything – other than responding to her questions – done). It can be particularly draining when I am trying to focus on another conversation, an article or just thinking of something else I need to get done and she stops me 10 times to tell me for the zillionth time how she hurt her foot on the plane, or how huge Santa’s belly was, or that her teddy bear isn’t a bear but a pig…
At this development stage, it’s primordial to provide your toddler with a rich and nurturing communication environment to help grow his vocabulary, educate him and help him form his personality. Try to enjoy the ride as much as you can and while you will get tired of hearing the same questions and repeating the same responses, believe me it is one of the most fulfilling things you can experience to see your own child’s vocab, behavior and personality evolve gradually (but not so slowly actually!) by simply talking to him, describing to him what you’re doing, pointing things out, telling him stories, asking him questions and singing him songs…
I also find it very important to be a good listener and to be responsive to my daughter by giving her my attention when she’s talking to me and providing her with as accurate an answer to her question as possible (thanks Google).
Furthermore, while it’s well established that the reading itself is an important component in helping to enrich your child’s vocabulary and sentence construction, reading can also be an opportunity to start new conversations, to teach your child about new things or to give them a chance to express new ideas.
Personally I find that the key to constructive and effective communication with your toddler is to treat them not as child but as a mini adult. This doesn’t only mean that I assume that no question is too dumb and that she’s able to understand almost everything (so I don’t filter much and I don’t baby-talk my explanations much) but also that as a starting point I expect of her to act like an intelligent adult and not as a baby and I try as much as possible to convey to her that the same rules of communication and interaction that apply to me and her father apply to her and that she doesn’t get a special pass for screaming, pushing me or banging on the table because she’s 2! Of course balance is key however because as much as you want to take advantage of your child’s incredible learning potential, you should not be spending your whole day responding to questions as you have a responsibility to yourself (and your child) to stay sane and be balanced… teaching your child balance is after all, in and of itself, a very important life lesson!