Piecing it Together With My Daughter During These Puzzling Times

Working on a 500 piece puzzle!

With some Kidz Bop music playing in the background, my seven year old and I sat at the table quietly sorting through all of the puzzle pieces, 500 pieces to be exact! Since I can remember, I’ve always liked doing puzzles, and Quinn is the same way.

Though we both enjoy doing puzzles, we have different techniques for getting started. I tend to focus on the edges and piecing together the frame of the puzzle, and she prefers to sort through the colors looking for similarities. Though my strategy yielded quicker results, leaving Quinn a little frustrated with her progress, I reassured her that once the frame was done, I too would be following her technique.

While we’re just getting started, this activity is perfect to constructively pass time as we continue to practice social distancing. It also made me think about how there’s so many things to piece together during these puzzling times. Just like working on this 500 piece puzzle, it can initially be overwhelming, but we must be patient and work together diligently. Over time, everything will start to come together and be clearly presented. Then, we’ll be able to admire our hard work and Pat each other on the back for working together as a team.

All the best,

Tanya

I’m Game for Building Connections With My Daughter!

Fun with Checkers and Connect Four

Yesterday, my daughter and I played a few rounds of checkers and connect four. Both games were my favorite to play when I was younger. I’d always excitedly say, “Smoke before fire!” There was something about going first that made me feel like I had an extra edge to win the game.

“You didn’t see that jump?” I asked my seven year old as we played checkers. “Aww man, I see it now,” she said as I jumped over her piece and removed it from the board. From that point on, Quinn put on her game face and was ready!

As we continued to play both checkers and connect four, I saw how serious Quinn became. Her lips curled slightly, and she squinted a little as she looked at the board determining her next move. She reminded me of myself.

In thinking about the concept and strategies of both games, a big part of them is keen observation. This made me think about life and how “it” will happen whether we’re paying attention or not. Overlooking one move or piece on the board can cause the entire game change course.

As the Coronavirus lockdown continues, I’m trying my best to be observant and focus on the positive side of life. I must be mindful of my moves not just for me but my daughter too.

All the best,

Tanya

This Mommy’s Treading Lightly: Carefully Addressing the Seriousness of the Coronavirus with My Little Girl

Getting some fresh air

This past week has been a roller coaster ride. My first grader‘s school has been closed since March 10th and might reopen on March 30th, fingers crossed. While dealing with the “new norm,” as a result of the Coronavirus, involving her schooling, my job and the many business closures in my area, I’m a bit conflicted with if I‘m providing my six year old with the necessary information, tools and support as we embark on uncharted territory.

I explained to her that some people are very ill, and her school wants to make sure she and her classmates are safe, so this is why there’s no school. Like any normal kid, she was initially happy about having time off, but she did say that she misses her friends and teacher.

Though I’ve been making an effort to practice “social distancing,” I haven’t really explained that to Quinn. The park is usually empty when we’ve gone to get some fresh air, but a few days ago, we did see one of her classmates who she immediately wanted to hug. I didn’t know how to address it or if I should have stopped her from hugging her friend.

I gave her a wipe as we were leaving the park, as I have been doing for years. When we got home, I just told her to wash her hands for snack, as we normally do when coming from the park.

Yesterday, Quinn asked to go to the park to film some of her video for her YouTube channel, Quinnie’s Fun House, about ten things to do when you’re bored. So before going to the park , I did explain to her that more people are getting ill and that we want to keep her healthy. I informed her that I’d be spraying the swing with disinfectant to get rid of germs and that she’d use a wipe as she always does upon leaving the park. Quinn was okay with this and even reminded me about the wipe and not wanting germs from other people.

While I’m glad she’s taking it all in stride, I am concerned about making her scared or leery of interacting with people for fear of becoming very ill. Also, I know how important interactions with children her age are for her, especially since she’s an only child. I’m trying my best to tread lightly and be a sensitive yet strong mom for her.

I wonder, how are other people coping with explaining all of what’s going on to their young children? Any advice!?

All the best,

Tanya

Chuck E. Cheese’s, the Place Where a Kid Can Be a Kid? Kind of…

For a while, my daughter had been asking to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s, so we finally went this past Wednesday on the “All You Can Play” in an hour day. I can vividly recall being so excited to go to Chuck E. Cheese as a child hoping to win tons of tickets to get that prize I longed for so much. Though I was happy to see that smile on my six year old’s face as she  won tickets in hopes of claiming her prizes too, as an adult, I had a different perspective.

Actually, I struggled a little with this all being “good fun” for kids. It was like a casino for kids. The atmosphere was full of pings, pongs and musical sounds as several children were glued in front of the gaming machines. Their eyes were entranced by the flashing lights and tickets spewing out of those machines for them to collect. “How many tickets do you think I have, Mommy?” Quinn asked me. “I’m not sure, but you have quite a lot,” I said.

When our hour of playing was up, Quinn eagerly headed to the ticket counting machine with no hesitation, but I observed some children who begged and pleaded with their caregivers or parents for more time or had tantrums if they couldn’t play longer.

I thought to myself, is this teaching young children how to gamble or planting that gambling seed, or is it just all in fun? Maybe I’m just too far removed from my fun days at Chuck E Cheese. I know I always had fun and loved the pizza too. Either way, I was happy to see my daughter having a good time and want to make sure she has fun just being a kid without me projecting my adult perceptions.

All the best,

Tanya

The Fear of Picturing Lost Moments with My Little Girl

img_0790-1“For how much longer will you be working on your class work, Mommy?” my five year old asked with a sense of urgency in her voice. This past Wednesday was a snow day for the both of us: no school! But that did not mean the work stopped for me. I had to send out an early morning email letting my students know how to proceed and started working on modifying the course syllabus as a result of losing a day of class. I also had to still work on reading and grading essays. It pained me that it couldn’t just be a “snow day” for my daughter and I to have some fun, and I had to explain to her that work sometimes still goes on, and work has to come before fun.

Though this was just one day, I am finding more and more that I am telling Quinn, “I need to do work first, and sometimes it takes much longer than I anticipate. She seems to understand, but there are times when I just feel guilty. Yes, we have fun together and do many activities that I even talk about on this blog. Yes, I know it cannot be all about having fun all of the time. My daughter knows this too. But when she looks at me with those brown eyes simply wanting my undivided attention and to spend time with me, I feel horrible wishing that I could just drop everything and enjoy everyday moments with her.

There are so many more years to go in her childhood, and I do fear the idea of picturing lost moments that I will never be able to get back. I don’t want to get in the habit of saying, “We’ll see. Maybe this weekend. Or give me twenty minutes that turns into sixty minutes or turns into maybe tomorrow.” Being a present mom, in general, is not easy, definitely while working full-time, but I’m going to continue to try my best to perform the balancing act and create as many memorable moments as possible with my little girl that we can both close our eyes and picture for years to come.

All the best,

Tanya

One Sweet Girl, One Cool Cat, One Fun Dad & One Loving Mom Trying to Find Her Place

For Christmas, we welcomed a new member into our family, Tori the cat! My five year old has been wanting a pet for a while and settled on a six month old rescue kitten  to shower with love. My husband just went along with the plan even though he was apprehensive about getting a pet since he still holds on to the memory of his pert cockatiel who he had for decades that passed away, while I excitedly went out to purchase all of the necessities for Tori’s arrival.

Actually, Tori arrived just a day after Quinn was came home after being hospitalized for nearly a week with bacterial pneumonia and the adenovirus. So we tended to her until Quinn was feeling much better and up for some cuddle time.

I imagined building a bond with Tori along with Quinn. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it went. Tori immediately bonded with my daughter but had limited interest in me. But for some reason, she absolutely adores my husband. Months later, she follows him around the house, wants to play and snuggle with him, and tends to avoid me whenever possible.

Sadly, it is bringing back those torn feelings I once had when I saw the special daddy and daughter bond Quinn and my husband have. Of course, we are close, which I am grateful for, but daddy can do no wrong. Now, the pattern continues with Tori. She plays games with my daughter and husband and is so sweet with them while I try to when her over day after day.

Interestingly, my five year old has been consoling me and has suggested that I keep trying. She’s convinced that Tori will eventually come around and want to be with me just as much as she enjoys being with Quinn and my husband. Her kind words and optimism gives me hope. I’m so grateful to have such a sweet girl and am glad that she is able to bond with Tori even if it’s going to take a little time for me to bond with her.

All the best,

Tanya

How Do I Raise a Black and Proud Little Girl Who’s a Human First?

 

A few weeks ago, my five year old daughter and I traveled to Washington, DC to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture among other historical landmarks. While we both enjoyed ourselves, I had a bit of an epiphany as we walked through some of the exhibits. Even though we identify as African Americans, we’ve never really discussed race within our household. We live in a multicultural neighborhood, and Quinn attended a multicultural preschool and now a multicultural elementary school. I truly do love that we come in contact and embrace many different races, nationalities, cultures and even religions, but am I negligent in not focusing as much on our African American heritage?

We do talk about relatives who are no longer alive, and when it is African American History month or Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday may talk about the accomplishments of African Americans, but we’ve never really talked about the “struggle” of our ancestors and sadly the “struggle” some African Americans still face today with racism and unfair treatment.

I actually made the decision to stay clear of the slavery exhibits because I just didn’t feel ready for the questions Quinn would have and did not want to expose her to those types of evils. As we walked through the segregation exhibit and witnessed the disparities between blacks and whites, she asked, “How come people had to be separate, Mommy?” As my mind raced for an age appropriate response, I just told her that is used to be that way long ago. Some people are mean and may not like you for different reasons, but everyone is not that way. I told her how many people fought for us so that we could all be together, go to school together and even eat together today.

Everyone’s experience is different, and it saddens me in 2018 that some people are still treated like they are less than human because of the color of their skin. Yes, I want my little girl to be proud of her heritage, but more importantly, I want her to be a proud human being who cares for others regardless of their skin color and just so happens to be African American. I hope that I am a good role model for her to emulate and that she will not allow any future racism or poor treatment because of the color of her skin to deter her from being a good person. As she gets older and more questions or even instances of racism surface, I hope and pray that I am raising a brave and proud daughter who can handle it.

All the best,

Tanya

The Balancing Act of Riding a Bike with My Little Girl

The other day, I took my four year old out to practice riding her bike. As she pedaled down the sidewalk with me following closely behind her, a woman coming our way smiled at Quinn and then at me. After complimenting Quinn on her helmet, she turned to me and said, “May I offer some advice?” Before I had a chance to say yes, she said, “You really ought to get your daughter a balance bike. That’s the way my three kids learned. After using the balance bike, they went straight to riding bikes with no training wheels.” I just smiled and thanked her for her advice, and my daughter and I continued on our way.

This woman was actually the second person I encountered in the past few months who suggested that I invest in a balance bike for my little girl. While I’ve seen these bikes advertised in circulars or on the Toys ‘R Us website, I’ve actually never seen a child using one outside. Also, I learned using training wheels and transitioned to using a ten speed bike by the time I was six.

My daughter loves her Disney princess bike so much, and she’s getting better and better at coming to a complete stop as we approach an intersection and is steadily improving with steering the handlebar. I’m not too sure if I want to change over to a balance bike for selfish reasons; it will slow us down. Also, I’m not sure Quinn would like it since she enjoys being able to pedal her bike to meet her daddy at the train station. Plus she has a trailer bike attached to mine which has pedals too.

Did you learn how to ride a bike using training wheels on a traditional bike or learn using a balance bike? Which type of bike did or do you prefer for your child? Even though I feel like my mind is made up, I’m willing to consider the balance bike if it will benefit Quinn in the long run. Please share your thoughts. Thanks.

All the best,

Tanya

Put on a Happy Face: My Little Girl Makes Me Smile

With concentration, she held the chalk between her fingers first making a large circle, rubbing away part of it to start over again for precision then continuing by making smaller circles inside of the larger one. I then asked, “What are you drawing sweetheart?” “A happy face!” my daughter responded as she finished up her drawing with a smile and even eyebrows, “And it has to be perfect,” she continued. When I asked why she chose to draw a happy face, she told me, “Because I’m happy, and I love making happy faces.”

To hear my daughter say she’s happy and to see the smile on her face or the happy faces she draws fills me with so much happiness. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t put a smile on my face. Even when she may sulk for a bit, have to receive a warning if she’s misbehaving, or be upset because she believes it’s unfair that she can’t get a toy from the store or have a piece of candy, before long, she’s back to her jovial self bringing light into my life and all those with whom she comes in contact.

She always manages to bring a smile to my face, and I look forward to many more happy, smiling faces in the future courtesy of my little girl.

All the best,

Tanya

Mommy’s Monday Moments: Just Ask “Mommypedia”

“When birds chirp together, is that how they speak to one another?” “Who decided that green means go and not the color blue?” “How did the doctor get me out of your stomach?” Are just some of the questions my four year old has asked me in the past couple of days. Quinn has always been an inquisitive child; however, the quantity and quality of questions has increased exponentially over the past few months. There are times when I feel like “Mommypedia” (The parental version of Wikipedia) or my daughter’s personal search engine who must yield results and provide an answer immediately because “I don’t know” is usually not acceptable and simply leads to more in-depth follow-up questions.

Of course, the barrage of questions can be overwhelming, and after a long day I may long for a mommy version of Siri or Alexa to answer everything for me. Nevertheless, I am flattered and honored that she looks to me for guidance and clarity and holds my response in a high regard. Also, her questions challenge my critical thinking and make me ponder over why something is the way that it is when I’m too sure, which is a fantastic way to keep me on my toes.

I treasure our conversations  and love how she listens so intently to my responses because I know that similar to some people who come to the realization that just because it’s on the internet it is not necessarily true that she will one day feel that her mommy doesn’t have all the answers. Here’s to all of the “mommypedias” and “daddypedias” trying their best to keep up with the search for answers from their children.
All the best,

Tanya