November 2008 Archives

The cruel irony of Christmas is that the cooler the ornaments are to kids to put on a tree, the less they want to keep them there.  For example, if you were a Star Wars obsessed-three-year-old offspring of two IT people and had recently been introduced to Star Trek by your dad, a collection of Hallmark ornaments is just the thing you need.

Karenna and I were unable to keep up with him.  We'd put two ornaments on the tree, he'd take three off to do battle.  They were no longer ornaments; they had become Jude's new seasonal action figure collection.  After watching First Contact with Daddy, he loved discovering the button on the borg cube that made the voice say, "We are the borg. Enjoy your holiday. Resistance is futile."

When it was bedtime, he was still disappointed that we had not finished.  "Wait!" he said.  "We didn't play with the Jesus action figures yet."  Did I mention that after Mommy had him watch Jesus Christ Superstar, he became convinced Jesus is the coolest of all the superheroes?  Should I fear for the Nativity set?

At bedtime, Jude's little mind begin's to wander.  he's now moving from "Why?" questions to "What if?" questions.  Is this a natural stage of maturing?  Or does one reflect an interest in motives while the other reflects an interest in scheming?  Anyway, here's the latest bedtime wanderings for your enjoyment...

Jude: What if my daddy comes to my school and there are leaves in my playground and my daddy brings his rake and he puts my coat on on and my hat on and he zips my coat and I have my little coat and we rake the leaves at my school?
Me: I don't know Jude.  Then all the leaves would be raked up I guess.
Jude: What if it's not a school day and we wake up and eat breakfast and get dressed and then we eat lunch and then we have to take a nap and then what?
Me: I don't know Jude.  I guess you wake up from nap.

After dropping Karenna off at school one morning, we headed to Jude's preschool.  Jude say two older kids walking to a bus stop.

Jude: Mom, Dad, look at those kids walking out there by themselfs.  That's bad!
Chris: Oh, no, honey.  They are big kids.  They are supposed to do that.  They walk outside by themselves to catch the school bus.
Me: Someday when you are bigger you will do that too.
Jude (getting upset): No I won't.  I will never to do that!  When I walk to the bus, you will come and Daddy will come with me!

Karenna (upon the mention me going to her of parent-teacher conferences): Why did you and my teacher have to talk about me so much? Why don't you talk about something else?


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Jude has two malfunction modes when it comes to speech.  The first is frustration mode, when he is frustrated because he can't express precisely or quickly enough.  The second mode, to the best of my knowledge is the opposite.

Take the example of our family's holiday pictures at the Picture People. (By the way, if there is a Picture People near you and you have small kids, I highly recommend them.)  Jude was kept from melting down by being allowed to play with props between poses.  The photographer was very patient with him, so Jude really liker her and felt he was helping her out.

At one point, while moving a red sleigh, Jude got excited and wanted to speak before he even had any idea what he was going to say to her, "I-I-I am just going to... going to... going to... I am just going to... I am... I am..."

At this point, Chris and I responded with our usual, "Quick, someone reboot Jude!"

The photographer was amused, and Jude "rebooted", "I am just going to move this over to the left, okay?"

When my parents call, you never know what kind of silliness will ensue.  Take the call that came today as Chris was in the shower and the kids watched The Lord of the Rings:

Karenna: Hi Pop-Pop.  We're watching Lord of the Rings.  Frodo's in it and some elves, and some wizards.
Pop-Pop: Who else is in that movie?
Jude: And there are Orcs and a Balrog!
Pop-Pop: Who's the naked guy?
Karenna: Daddy.
Pop-Pop (laughing): No.  I mean the one who wants to steal the ring.

Since we don't have cable, we have the opportunity to approve what content our kids watch before they watch it, whether it's a Netflix by mail, a  Netflix Watch Instantly, a YouTube video, something on Hulu, or a DVD.

We don't just take the rating at face value.  Something marketed as a kids' show may not be appropriate for our kids.  (We're not big fans of Disney tween fare.)  Something marketed to adults may be perfectly acceptable.  (Our kids love Jane Austen adaptations.  Yes, even Jude.  While Karenna is a fan of the Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice miniseries, Jude went through a Gweneth Paltrow Emma phase.)

We waited some time to decide on The Lord of the Rings movies.  On the one hand, the kids love stories adapted from books.  (They enjoyed the Harry Potter movies and now spend just as much time on the books as the movies.)

On the other hand, the kids are young, and the movies were considerably more scary and bloody.  We didn't want the kids to be scared, or, just as bad, begin imitating the violent scenes all day.  They like to act out everything they see, which means when Jude plays Star Wars I have to worry about light sabers hitting people and things all day.  When he plays superheroes, he tries to somersault off of furniture or stand on the rocking chair until it tips.  I wasn't eager to add more to the Jude Kauffman stunt show.

When we finally decided to let them watch, they were not scared after all.  And, they do play Lord of the Rings.  Here's how it works...

  • Karenna wears her Halloween costume and pretends to be Arwen.  She finds a toy ring and says it's "the one ring".
  • Jude finds a blanket that I tie on like a cloak.  His lightsaber hangs from it like Sting, Frodo's sword.  He, too, has a "one ring".
  • They walk around. 


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Election Day happened to fall on Karenna's dance night, which meant no time to work, vote, go to dance and cook.  We opted for Subway.

Chris had a leftover half of his sub.  The kids watched him unwrap his sandwich like to little vultures ready to move in on his pickles.

"I want those," Karenna said, mistaking his jalapeno peppers for pickles.

"Trust me," Chris told her, "You don't want those. Wait a minute and I'll get your pickles."

As he was dividing up the pickles, however, a sneaky little hand dove in and took them anyway.  What started as a self-satisfied "I-have-your-pickles-na-na-nana-na" grin melted into a nearly teary "what-did-I-get-myself-into" gag.

Needless to say, we won't be having jalapenos again any time soon.

Poor Jude.  It must be hard to be in a family of people who cheer on their political party like other cheer on sports teams.

I remember growing my cousin thought my grandfather knew the president because he argued with the television when he was on.  I have to admit to catching myself muttering arguments at people on the radio.

When the campaign DVD came, he thought for sure he'd be entertained as our side fights the bad guys.  During primary season, he was convinced he was going to be part of something really cool. And when he saw caricatures of the candidates in a gaming magazine (yes, my children can recognize them even in cartoon form), he believed that maybe there's something fun to these guys.

He tried arguing politics with his daycare director and entertaining his teachers by parroting the names he heard us and NPR repeat. He wanted to share the enthusiasm we all had as we listened to debates, talked about the candidates and got excited about Election Day like it was some holiday as fund as Halloween.

So when the day arrived and we cast our electronic ballot, Jude felt somewhat shortchanged and shouted repeatedly from the polling place to the car, "But wait, we need to go do the voting now!"

I'm still not sure what he expected.  Treats? Candy? Candidates greeting him in person doing songs and dances like when we went to see the Wiggles?

I guess democracy in action was not as action-packed as he had hoped.  Let's hope he doesn't expect the president to leap tall buildings fly or save the planet on Inauguration Day.  I know three other members of the household that already expect these things of one candidate.

I've posted many of this week's small parts after the fact.  Like post-dated checks.  If you are reading them after-the-fact, you'd never know, but if you are a devoted Small Parts reader, I thought I owed you an explanation.

Chris's grandfather "Pap Kauffman" passed away on Monday, November 3, 2008.  Chris was very close to his grandfather, and his passing has affected him greatly this week.

When the time came to let the kids know, Chris was about to tell them, but he broke down, and the words could not come.  He asked me to tell them.

Karenna, understanding the seriousness of the sad news and aware of its impact on her dad, walked over and began to console him, "Daddy, it's okay."

She continued, "It's not Pap's fault... it was his heart's."

We will miss you, Pap.

I've blogged before about Jude having trouble in school, and I've been reluctant to go too far into detail.

One comment Chris has made is that I should make it clear that we are not perfect parents and things are not easy for us.  At the same time, because this is a public blog, I am careful in making posts that could follow or label my kids into adulthood.

Take Jude's behavior in school.  I wouldn't want a future teacher (or future employer) being able to Google his name and having a negative preconception about him.  Part of the reason I picked somewhat uncommon names for my children was so that very few people (myself included--as a teacher was exposed to a lot of names) would have preconceptions based on a name.

As a former teacher, I won't argue the existence of the conditions that are being diagnosed in children in greater numbers than before.  However, I do wonder how many times we have the preconception that inattention or misbehavior outside a norm has to be attributed to ADHD, ODD, or the like. 

Kids can be inattentive for a number of reasons.  A family member began taking a prescription for ADHD at roughly the same time he became a big brother, started school, moved and left behind his dog, and adapted to his mother's new work schedule.  A number of these other factors could have contributed.

For Jude, we had sought counseling first.  The daycare was helpful in providing daily documentation of Jude's actions and their reactions throughout the day.  I also found that searching this blog for Jude tags and printing anecdotal information was also useful.

Jude was observed, questions were asked, and my documentation was taken.  At this stage, ADHD has been ruled out.  We also had a possible explanation: Sensory Integration Dysfunction.  We were told to read about it in the interim and determine if it sounded like Jude.  Stories like his love of coffee, his interest in water and such, and his interest in music from Star Wars.

There was more:  On one of the articles I read there was a connection between Sensory Integration Dysfunction and problems of the inner ear.  Jude's had tubes for over two years.  One came out and he still has fluid.   We've asked for a long time about whether or not allergies could be contributing to his ear problems as every morning he wakes up with watery eyes and a runny nose.  At his age, they wanted him to wait.

Recently, Jude had an ear infection.  In his ear that still had a tube.  I mentioned to his doctor about the allergies again, and he finally agreed to an over the counter allergy medicine.

After taking over-the-counter children's Zyrtec, Jude's watery eyes cleared up... and so did the problems at school.  He still has some typical three-year-old behavior, and some atypical sensory interests, but the inattentiveness and fits are over.  It's amazing what attending to the right problem and enabling a child to hear can do!

Popcorn Worms

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I mentioned before that Karenna has a little counterpart who is one of her oldest friends.  This little girl is just as self-assured and as bright as Karenna, and equally entertaining.  This weekend, she was Karenna's slumber party guest.

Chris built the traditional, all-encompassing, whole-living room tent for the girls.  Then I put on an elementary-schooler version of a chick-flick and popped some popcorn.  I put some in a container for the girls and Jude under the tent and took some for Chris and me.

It wasn't long before the little heads popped up above the tent like a puppet show.  (Later I would comment on the effect and they would actually perform for me.)

"What do you have?" the little girl asked me.
"The same thing as you do," I answered her.
"Really?" She asked incredulously.
"No," I said sarcastically, "I gave you guys the popcorn with the worms in it."
"Oh..."  Things got quiet.  Then, "Nikki, these worms are better than your popcorn.  You should trade me for some."

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