23 March 2008

Birth of an American Consumer

Happy Easter! Once again, we are pretty low-key with our celebration and it does seem to be just right for Julia. So many times I wonder whether we were the best family for Julia – would bigger or younger have been better, but when we have a day like this one when we have hit Julia's comfort level and have challenged her a little bit, I feel like we are perfect for each other.

It is Easter and last night we dyed eggs the old fashion American way. No Ukrainian eggs this year. Julia helped through the whole process. She put the eggs in water to boil and watched the water boil. She helped me make the dye and thrilled to dipping eggs in dye cups and removing jeweled toned wonders. Is there anything better than a green egg with your name written across it?

Because of our weekend sleeping routine – that is, one of us gets to sleep late and the other gets up with Julia – the Easter Bunny did not make his appearance last night. Instead, after a home made pancake breakfast, Julia and Daddy took Latkah out for a walk and the Easter Bunny did his work. As it happened, when I finished hiding eggs and filling the basket, I looked out the front door and in the snow, right in front of the door in the snow, was non-dog or cat animal prints. They might have been squirrel prints but I am pretty sure they belonged to a rabbit.

Julia came back from her walk and very happily looked for the hidden plastic eggs and then found her basket in the front hallway. She opened some of her eggs and found chocolate eggs and pink peeps – the peeps are her favs – and tore at the small gifts in her basket. There was a mini-kite that we won't be flying for another month (who knew?), bubbles for practicing blowing hard and gently, a chck in a show globe, and her favorite – a littlest pet shop kittie and fish. The “pets” came with a booklet of pet merchandise and Julia uttered the magic words, “I want this stuff!” And with that she became a complete American consumer.

She was enthralled with all the pictures of big headed tiny bodied cats, dogs, fish, turtles, and birds with all sorts of rediculous little houses, little playthings, and little junk! I hate the stuff – plastic trash that there is no way of keeping a hold on. It all gets lost and there is no convenient way to keep it together. But when my little consumer said she wanted stuff, I figured we had a way into the stickers for good behavior and rewards world. So tonight we set up a calendar. Julia can get one sticker for having a good day (defined as no hitting, no time outs, and generally being nice), a sticker for anything special that she has done during the day (like when I asked her to speak quietly at the movies and she did), and/or a sticker from having a good day at school. When she gets 10 stickers, she can get a new pet. I figure that she has the possibility of getting a new toy every 4 days. The pets are pretty cheap, and I am sure what she will want is the house and shop stuff eventually that is bigger and more expensive. That's when the sticker number will go up.

We tried using stickers to promote good behavior when Julia first came home and it was way too far beyond her. No way to make her understand what we were doing and what she was supposed to do. I hope we can use it now. It would be helpful to enforce good behavior and to change some of the ucky stuff.

Yesterday, Julia and I went to the clay store and Julia painted the star she made a few weeks ago. Her clay teacher, that nice high school senior guy, told us that he could fire the turtle and house that we made this week at home. Julia made a hanging vase and we turned in two projects that we did at home. She is still constrained by the rules of clay making. She does not yet understand the process of using the wet clay, drying it, firing it, painting it, and firing it once again. It will be awhile yet before she is free to create creatures and scenes like she does with the Fimo that she uses for fun, but I believe that she will get to that point.

We saw Horton Hears a Who at the movies this afternoon. It is a great movie for little kids and Julia loved it. She is still having a bit of trouble with the big sounds at movies, but after the previews the sound went down some (David asked the PTB to turn down the sound. Either they did it, or the movie was just quieter.) and she could take her fingers out of her ears. Big noise still hangs around as too stimulating for Julia. We are thinking of bringing some ear muffs or head phones to dull sound a bit. The movie is gentler than any other Dr. Suess media experiment. Even with Jim Carey doing one of the voices, there is restraint.

Julia was drawing on Friday when she called me to her white board and announced that she had drawn a Y and Y was for yo-yo. She then drew a yo-yo and a Julia playing with it. Then yesterday in the car, she was looking at the Ice Age DVD box. When we stopped, she wanted me to read words that she pointed to. I believe that after months of memorizing her little books with single words or single sentences, she is going to start reading soon. I bet by the end of summer, she is recognizing words!

This afternoon after the movie, I was on the couch at my computer and Julia was playing with her clay. She had asked me to make a kangaroo and then totally remade what I made for her, so much better than mine! She came over to me and looked in my eyes for a really long time. And then she said, “Mommy, I love you.” She laughed at me, watched my eyes to see herself in them and hugged me. Julia is growing deeper and deeper in love with us, and we more than return the favor.

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