Touch of Spice

It's not hard to break a good habit

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Katie attends a pretend preschool three days a week. High school students who have been learning about child care and development (beyond their own) set up a mock school during their class period and those students can bring any toddler they know. They set up activities and snacks and generally get to play with kids for an hour. They're also stuck with them -- good or bad. Maybe the class is actually a form of pre-act birth control.

A friend of the family is enrolled in the class, so she asked if she could borrow Katie.

Knock yourself out.

I told her Katie would be lots of fun or a real pain -- either way it would be a great lesson for the teens.

So far it seems Katie is an angel. Go figure.

Actually, why wouldn't she be? Games, snacks, coloring ... several teens totally focused on her -- she's in toddler heaven.

And everyone is learning.

Katie's vocabulary is growing as a result. She now points and says "high school" as we drive by. She says "Mom, guess what?" followed by a string of jibberish. She also says "I like it" and "not right now."

I have to admit, the "not right now" is the most annoying (although I do recognize it could be worse).

"Katie are you hungry?"

"Not right now."

"Katie, want a bath?"

"Not right now."

The problem is I'm not really sure she knows what it means.

The other problem is that those were rhetorical questions to begin with.

I use school as an incentive to get her moving in the mornings.

"Katie, you want to go to school today?" I say when she tucks herself into the corner of her bed so I can't get her out and dressed.

She says "OK ... Becca?" and starts looking wildly around for Rebecca, her teen-aged buddy.

It backfires on me every time, because for the rest of the morning she's crying to go to school and she's got more than an hour's wait.

About three weeks into fake preschool, Katie said something I didn't understand (that's not unusual, she goes back and forth between English and Swahili on a regular basis). So, I did what I usually do -- nod encouragingly and said "I agree."

So she started doing toe touches. When those turned into crooked jumping jacks, it dawned on me that the word was "exercise."

That's way cool. Not that my skinny little daughter needs any other way to burn off calories than her normal hit-it-at-a-run day, but it's a great habit to get into.

So we encourage it.

We got a yoga video and the whole family, cousin Issac included, participated.

You've never seen anything more adorable in your life than three little ones trying to figure out how to cross their legs and stretch their interlaced fingers over their head at the same time.

It was also a little embarrassing. There's really no direction those kids can't bend every single body part, which made mommy and daddy look like we were made of steel (and not in the good way).

When Katie and Nikki lost interest, they ran circles through our stretched legs that weren't well balanced to begin with.

When I was lying on the floor in what's called "child's pose" (ironically, my husband and I were the only ones doing it), Nikki was climbing down my back. I missed most of the video host extolling the relaxing qualities of the pose because Nikki's foot was in my ear.

Despite the obvious drawbacks, it was a great family activity that I hope to continue.

So, we got a yoga tape made specifically for children. I love it and so does Katie. She's constantly asking me to put it in so she can sit down and watch.

I think that's her problem with potty training. Too much watching and not enough doing. Although if I could just get her to sit, that would be a good start.

She started the process well, but that's another good habit that's been easy for her to break.

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