Thursday, September 18, 2008

The best compliments

Some of the best compliments are the ones from random strangers, and Sophie's been getting a couple of them lately, so I am writing them down now to store up so I won't forget. Sometimes having a toddler is so exhausting that you forget that they are really quite sweet ... sometimes !

Incident 1

A mom that I didn't previously know came up to me at the playground to tell me that Sophie is one of the most considerate children she has ever met. She explained that she had been taking her son to the playground regularly and had always seen Sophie, but had never met Sophie's mom and was quite happy to meet me.

She told me that she was really surprised that consistently for the past half year, Sophie would wait for other kids playing at the bottom of a slide to move before coming down or stop herself mid-slide so that she wouldn't bump into them. For someone under 2 years to regularly exhibit both foresight and empathy was really quite pleasant.

Incident 2

Sophie has a naturally reserved nature- she doesn't enjoy un-solicited attention from strangers (she's going to find pushy salespeople hell in future). She generally tends to ignore people trying to start a conversation with her. Which is strange considering she has a pretty developed language ability, so actually she understand you just fine, but she's just ignoring you. Unless, if she thinks that somebody actually needs help.

We were in a shop with one of my Francophone friends and their child, and Sophie knows them well enough, so I left her playing with them for a while when I went to the toilet. When I came back, I found Sophie carrying out a conversation in Mandarin with one of the security guards. The security guard was very excited when he saw me. He told me that he had wanted to tell my French friends something (in Mandarin) that they were closing one exit, could we please use another one when we left the store, but my friends didn't understand him. Sophie had been playing and observing quietly nearby, and suddenly walked up to my friend and explained (in French) what the guard had said, and told the guard (in Mandarin) that our friends didn't understand Mandarin.

At least if she can't do anything else in future she can make her living as an interpreter...

Incident 3

This one was much earlier. We are at a party, one of the balloons burst. Some of the younger toddlers start to cry. Sophie was startled initially but is afterwards pretty zen and continues playing quietly. The host mom commented that Sophie was so calm, and asked why I was leaving so early.

I explained that Sophie needed to take a nap at home. One of the dads commented that we were lucky that Sophie napped so long, because his daughter doesn't seem to need a lot of sleep. I didn't say anything then, but I noted that his daughter was crying when the balloon went off, and stopped only when she was picked up by her father.

Anyone having done some research into infant sleep, will realise that well-rested infants and toddlers are generally more calm/self-soothing. There are other documented benefits like longer concentration span, lower risk of obesity and some benefits which are just common sense like higher immunity to disease. Obviously, there is no "magic number" of hours that kids need to sleep, and I do agree that some children naturally need less sleep than others. But there is enough literature to show that it is extremely likely that anyone under 2 years old sleeping regularly less than a total of 10 hours per day is just chronically sleep deprived.

As it so happens, my kid needs a lot of regular sleep and as a parenting philosophy I have to see that she gets it despite the fact that she may sometimes believe otherwise. After all, just because she would like to eat chocolate everyday doesn't necessarily mean that I'd allow her to do so. When Sophie was about 7 months old, we used a "fade" approach, which basically involves lengthening the interval before responding to the cry. We had to use a watch to make sure that we weren't cheating on the intervals because believe me 60 seconds of listening to a wail sure feels like an hour. For cutting the 3am night-feed, we needed proof that it was not hunger causing her to wake up, so when she cried at 3am, Fabien took a bottle of expressed breast milk to measure how much she drank. Each time, she only took a sip and then snuggled up to her dad to fall asleep, so that gave us more resolve to cut the night breast feed completely.

I am recording all this down now because when Baby 2 arrives, we will probably have to do this all over again (or at least in some permutation) and I need to strengthen my resolve to do so!

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