My mom is a self-proclaimed Kijiji addict. She loves to find a deal for anyone in need of a deal. If you even casually mention that you might be looking for a new chest of drawers, she'll send you an email with a link to her finds the very next day.
It's part of her morning routine: Wake up. Coffee. Kijiji.
Well the other day, while I was eating my cereal, my mom excitedly turned her laptop screen towards me, "Look what I found! An entire Thomas The Train play-table complete with (insert obscure character name here) and everything! It's only $100! Originally $250!"
My heart raced with excitement, that was a good deal! However, the excitement was quickly extinguished by the logical half (err..one tenth) of my brain. "Sorry Mom, but we already bought Cole his big Christmas present, remember? We bought him the play-kitchen in October (the one you also found on kijiji) and now we're just going to get him some small things."
The light in her eyes diminished. She was so excited. In fact, she was probably more excited than he would have been. I felt bad, but I had to stick to my guns.
This time of year it is SO EASY to get suckered into buying anything and everything, but really when you stop to think about it: what does a 21-month-old need? Not much. My son lives in a clean(ish) house, he's fed healthy homemade food, and he has four doting adults around every day who shower him with love and affection. He is a happy kid. And he doesn't really need tons of toys.
So if you're on a limited budget this holiday season, or you just don't want to go overboard, here are a few of my suggestions on what you can give your child for Christmas (or Hanukkah or ________):
1) MAKE YOUR OWN ALPHABET CARDS
Maybe it's just my kid, but Cole loves flashcards and is starting to learn his alphabet (okay, he knows the letter W and sometimes O) but I wanted to get him some of those fun alphabet flash cards, except I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I'm making my own. I've found pictures online of each individual letter, then I'm going to print and laminate each letter and cut them out. He's going to love it!
2) MAKE A FORT OUT OF A GIANT BOX
Pre-cut the door and windows and make it look somewhat like a playhouse, and then wrap it up. After your kid unwraps this amazingly large box (which I'm sure they'll pee themselves with excitement doing anyway) then you can work together to customize it and make a play-house. Paint the door, add some flowers, et voila: an inexpensive and fun gift!
Cole loves to read, and so do most kids I know. Books are always a great gift idea in my opinion. And here is the thing: you don't even have to buy them new. Your child won't care! So go looking for deals at your local used bookshop and enjoy some cuddly bedtime stories together this holiday!
4) GET THEM SHIT THEY NEED AND JUST WRAP IT UP!
At this age, I think part of the excitement is just unwrapping stuff. So why not buy them stuff they need anyway? Socks? Awesome. Toothpaste? Great! As long as it has wrapping paper — it's a gift!
5) DO SOMETHING TOGETHER!
And ultimately, instead of gifts, what your child will benefit most from this holiday is spending time with YOU. Go play in the snow. Bake gingerbread men together. Vaccuum together — who cares! You child won't remember if you got them the latest and greatest toy at this age, but the time you spend with them will forever leave an impression.
'Tis the season to be cheesy. Sorry about that, but it's true!
MERRY HO-HO EVERYONE!
"Stop calling it a penis!"
My dad doesn't like that we call my son's penis a penis. "What else should we call it then?"
"A pecker!" He said, without hesitation. I laughed. Oh yes, clearly that's better.
Every now and then, my dad's red neck shows a little bit, and we get into little debates. Usually he just rolls his eyes at me and smiles. I think to him I look like a politically-correct-quinoa-eating-breastfeeding-hippie—but I'm okay with that. And I'm going to call my son's penis, a penis.
An elbow is an elbow. And a nose is a nose.
We don't get red in the face and awkward when we're teaching our children the name of other body parts. "Umm. That? Well...that thing between your eyes is a...Nay-Nay. And you should never touch it! Ever!"
So why do we often react this way with genitals? We call them by such strange and ridiculous names:
I've had this discussion with many parents, and not all parents are comfortable calling a penis a penis, or even more so...using the V word...
V A G I N A
And heaven forbid a child TOUCH these body parts in the bath or when you're getting them dressed. *gasp* Their hands might fall off! They might develop warts on their nose! They might become SEX ADDICTS!!!! Whaaattt?!?!?
We need to remember that our little children are simply exploring different feelings and sensations and at such young ages they are NOT SEXUAL. It's us—the paranoid adults—who project these ideas and thoughts. It's US who get uncomfortable, and we shouldn't.
I'll never forget, back in the day, listening to Sex with Sue on the radio. A parent phoned in, saying they were worried about their four-year-old daughter who had taken to humping the arm of the couch. Like...all the time. Non stop. (This mental image is pretty hilarious.)
Sue said this to the parents, "Wow, that's actually great. Your daughter is exploring different sensations and has discovered her clitoris. It takes many women years to discover their clitoris. Have a talk with your daughter and remind her that although this feels good, this is not something we do in public. We do these things in private."
I remember thinking that was excellent advice.
So if you are a parent who is uncomfortable using proper terminology for your child's genitals, I please ask you to reflect on this a little. WHY is this making you so uncomfortable?
And as a little exercise to get used to the proper terminology, maybe you could incorporate these body parts into your next singing session:
"Head and shoulders, knees and vagina. Knees and vagina. Knees and vagina. Head and shoulders, knees and vagina. Eyes, ears, mouth and vagina."
Last night, Pregnant Me wanted some M&M's. It's wasn't really a pregnancy craving—I don't seem to get those—but I'm going to label it as such because it justifies me sending my mom to the store to get me some.
When she returned home with the chocolaty purchase, I quickly opened the bag and shoved some in my mouth. But I wasn't quick enough. Cole saw me, and he wanted some, too.
"Okay fine." So I poured a very small handful onto the counter. There were probably less than ten M&Ms.
He began shoveling the coloured treats into his mouth faster than Rob Ford can smoke a crack pipe, and in an instant, they were gone. He wanted more, but I was smart enough to hide the bag while his eyes were glazed over in an eating frenzy.
"All gone," I said. I wiped the blue food colouring from the corner of his mouth, and we went into the living room to play.
Then, the strangest thing happened.
About ten to twenty minutes after consuming the sugary treat (which he never has), my smart and affectionate little boy turned into the Tasmanian Devil.
He ran up to my mom who was sitting on the couch, and he bit her leg. Then he laughed maniacally and ran away before we could catch him.
He ran up to my husband, and hit him over the head. Then he hit my dad, and me, and kicked the cat. We made our best efforts to calm him, "No Cole, we don't hit! We don't bite!" But we could see that our words were lost on him. He wasn't processing the information. He couldn't. He was malfunctioning before our very eyes! The sugar had affected the synapses in his brain. I had ruined my child with ten small M&Ms!
So we decided to do the only thing we could do: watch and laugh.
We each sat against a wall in the living room (my husband, parents and I) and we watched the comedy / horror show that was unfolding before our very eyes!
After he assaulted us physically, he ran across the room to play with his toy drill. "Vroom, vroom."
Five seconds later, he threw himself to the floor and did a log-roll across the living room.
Then he picked up a piece of a puzzle, tried to figure it out for .3 seconds, gave up.
Dropped to the ground, did another log roll.
Threw his arms out like an airplane and spun himself around in a circle until he got dizzy and fell.
Repeat x 3.
THEN FINALLY, IT WAS OVER. Well. Over-ish. It was 7:45 (past his bedtime), and I decided he had had enough time to "work this out of his system" and we took him upstairs to bed.
I was half-laughing/half-horrified: IS THIS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHILDREN CONSUME SUGAR?!?! I'm not a scientist, but this is truly the only experiment I need to do. I've always known that your diet plays a huge role in your overall mental and physical health, but to see it have such an extreme effect on my son was shocking. I truly didn't recognize his behaviour. He didn't even seem like the same person—my husband noticed it the moment he came home from work. It was that obvious!
This isn't to say I will never allow our kids to consume sugary treats once in a while, but I will definitely be limiting their intake. It also made me question: was it the sugar alone, or the food colouring as well? I've read that food colouring can affect hyperactivity levels, so that is something to consider and look into, also.
Needless to say, when my son woke up in the morning as his normal sweet self, I was relieved to look into his calm blue eyes and gave him a giant kiss, followed by a giant bowl of home-made, sugar-free oatmeal.
Tell me, have you had any experiences where diet has affected your children's behaviour?