Sunday, October 30, 2005

Your backyard friends

G's been obsessed with The Backyardigans lately, which is a bit weird because she stopped watching the rest of the Nick Jr. preschool shows about a year ago. I think she likes it because it's about exploring and having adventures -- two things she aspires to do herself. Anyway, we were watching an episode earlier this evening, and she noticed that Pablo the penguin is the only one of the anthropomorphic animal kids who doesn't have fingers. (Although he does have a convenient opposable thumb built into each flipper.) We decided that snack time would be difficult if one of your friends was a penguin. You'd have to toss goldfish crackers into his mouth the way the trainers at Sea World throw smelt.

She actually asked to go to bed right after the show ended, partly because of the time change, and partly because she's been under the weather for a few days. She started coming down with a cold on Thursday, and while it's never gotten really severe, it's definitely been enough to slow her down. She was doing better this morning and asked to go to Target with me, but I don't think it was good for her, because the congestion and coughing came back full force after we got home. I'm pretty sure we're not going to take her out tomorrow night because of it. She's already been trick or treating at Disneyland and Boo at the Zoo, so she's okay with just staying home and handing out candy instead. God knows we've got to get some of this candy out of the house before I inhale it all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

All about friends

I read an interesting article about children and friendships last night. Apparently, between ages 6 and about 12, kids pass through a series of stages in which their concepts of friendship, and their expectations of a friend, slowly change and grow more complex. The stages are:

Stage 1: "Play partner": In the earliest stage of friendship, the relationship is based on "play-partnership". A friend is seen as someone who engages the child in play and permits the child to use or borrow her playthings.

Stage 2: "People to chat to": The sharing of interests becomes an important element in friendship choice. Conversations between "friends" are no longer related simply to the game or activity in which the children are directly engaged.

Stage 3: "Help and encouragement": At this stage the friend is seen as someone who will offer help, support or encouragement. However, the advantages of friendship flow in one direction; the child does not yet see himself as having the obligation to provide help or support in return.

Stage 4: "Intimacy/empathy": The child now realises that in friendship the need and obligation to give comfort and support flows both ways and, indeed, the giving of affection, as well as receiving it, becomes an important element in the relationship. This stage sees a deepening of intimacy; an emotional sharing and bonding.

Stage 5: At this stage friendship is perceived as a deep and lasting relationship of trust, fidelity and unconditional acceptance.


After reading this, I was curious about what stage G was in, so this evening I asked her some questions about friends and friendship. Here's what she said.

Q. What makes someone your friend?
A. If you're nice to each other and say nice words and make each other happy when you're sad.

Q. What do you want a friend to do with you?
A. Play together and have sleepovers.

Q. How would you make friends with someone?
A. Well, I could introduce myself if they're new in my class. And then they would introduce themselves to me. And then blah, blah, blah and all that other stuff. [I assume she meant that she and the other kid would talk at this point.]

Q. Do you have a best friend?
A. Yes.

Q. Who is it?
A. Tabitha.

Q. Why is Tabitha your best friend?
A. Because we've been friends ever since we were toddlers.


It sounds as if she's combining elements from several of the stages: she thinks that friends play together (stage 1), but also talk about things that interest them (stage 2) and support each other emotionally (stages 3 and 4). Based on the way I've seen her actually interact with her friends, I'd say she's around stage 2 with some stage 3 mixed in. She loves to chat, and it can be funny to listen to at times. For instance, a few weeks ago, she and her friend from next door were out riding bikes, and when they stopped to sit down and rest, they had a conversation that was basically the kid version of adult dinner-table talk:

He: How was your day at school?
She: It was good; how was yours?
He: It was good too.

[pause]

She: So, what are you going to be for Halloween?
He: I'm going to be a Power Ranger.
She: Oh! I'm going to be Juliet, you know, like in Romeo and Juliet.
He: That's nice.


And so forth. They might as well have been married. :-)

One thing that's really neat about G is her willingness to play anything with anyone. She loves to dress up and put on fashion shows and play dolls with other girls, but she plays with boys just as easily; two of her good friends are boys, and she talks about playing superheroes and spies with the boys in her class at recess. I think being with her father so much has helped her learn how to relate to boys: she knows how to play the sorts of games they like because that's what her dad plays with her. She can switch from being a squealing girly girl to pretending that her bike is a police car in two seconds flat. All that may change in a year or two, when she reaches the inevitable "boys are gross" stage, but for now it's wonderful to see.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Dear Santa

G made out her Christmas list the other night. It's remarkably light on toys this year: she wants a handheld DVD player, a pair of Heelys and an interactive Serafina, which she asked for last year and didn't get because the stores were sold out. I'm not keen on buying Serafina this year either -- it got horrible user reviews, and I know G will play with it for a day or two and then abandon it at the bottom of the stuffed-animal basket -- but since she asked for so few things, Santa will probably bring it anyway. I'll get her some arts and crafts supplies too; she she never seems to have enough of those.

In the meantime, we're still waiting for Halloween. We all went to the pumpkin patch over the weekend, where G picked a pumpkin, rode a pony, and got her face painted, sort of. I say sort of because instead of a professional face painter, they had a table with regular paintbrushes and cups of poster paint so the kids could paint themselves. The girl ahead of us seemed determined to paint every inch of exposed skin on her face and arms -- her mother kept saying "Come on, give someone else a turn" and "You don't have anyplace left to paint," and she kept protesting that she wanted to do more, more, more. By the time Mom finally dragged her away, she was painted like a Pict, only not as blue. G agreed to let me paint a small pumpkin on her cheek and leave it at that. Sensible girl. :-) She had a great time at the patch, and we timed it just right: when we got there, it was warm and sunny, and by the time we got home, it was cold and windy and threatening rain. Gotta love that crazy October weather.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Things that annoy me, part 938274950

Every morning when I go downstairs to get coffee at work, someone is there ahead of me, coffee cup in one hand, milk jug in the other, pouring and stirring and tasting as if s/he is going for first prize in the World Coffee Mixing Championships. (Brought to you by Starbucks!) Three drops of milk; whirl with the little wooden stick; sip; wrinkle nose and repeat ad infinitum, all while blocking the entire coffee area and preventing me from getting my cup of black decaf. Every time, I want to shriek It's coffee, not a chemistry experiment! Dump in the milk and step to the left! I don't care if you spend your morning concocting the perfect blend when you're at home, but in a public venue, your job is to do your business and clear out as quickly as possible. The same goes for restrooms -- no hogging the sinks for half an hour while you brush your teeth, apply makeup, highlight your hair and wax your upper lip -- and any sort of line at a cash register.

Ah! That was cathartic. I feel better now.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Brownies

G came home on Monday with a flier inviting girls to join her school's Brownie troop. They sent the same flier around last year, and she wasn't interested then, but this time she was wildly excited and begged to join. All I heard for days was "We're signing up for Brownies on Thursday!" and "Don't forget to take me to the Brownie meeting!" So, tonight we went down to the school to fill out the paperwork. Well, I filled out the paperwork; she ate a snack and did crafts with the other girls. (Paperwork: reason 2,049,871 why it sucks to be a grownup.)

I must say, things have changed since I was a Brownie in 1978. The only thing I remember doing that year is making a cushion out of crumpled newspaper and stapled-together squares of wallpaper. Her troop has two regular meetings and two night/weekend events, plus a fundraiser, in the next month alone. I can see we're going to be very busy. However, the troop leaders and the other mothers seem very nice, and G had a great time -- so great that she cried when it was time to go home -- so I'm sure it will be worth it. The only major drawback I can see is that the meetings are the same day as her dance class. She'll have an hour between school and dance, then an hour between dance and Brownies, and then she'll have to eat dinner and go straight to bed. That's a long day for a little girl. Oh well, at least it'll only be twice a month.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cannibal family

Conversation with G:

She: Hey, Mommy, want to play Pollies?
Me: I would love to, but I have to cook the pasta. Because if I don't, we'll starve! We'll hold our stomachs like this, and we'll fall on the floor, and we'll moan, "I'M SO HUNGR--"
She (interrupting): No, I'll just eat you.

Well! Maybe I should mention that not eating meat includes not eating people. *g*

Monday, October 03, 2005

A little lady

Six must be a magic number. Why? Because as soon as G turned six, she became more mature than I ever imagined she would be. I took her to the pediatrician this afternoon, and she sat tranquilly in the waiting room and read a book with me, walked to the examining room without a fuss, and calmly explained her symptoms and answered the doctor's questions like a grown-up. She's just been so pleasant and reasonable and fun to be with lately. I was sorry I had to drop her off at home and go back to work after the appointment -- I wanted to keep hanging out with her!

She and I did put up our fall decorations over the weekend, despite the blazing heat. It's hard to get in a seasonal frame of mind when you're eating ice cream as a fan blasts at you, but we managed. We have pumpkins and colored leaves on the hearth, a (fake) jack o'lantern on the table next to the door, and orange lights on the wall over the couch. For the inside of the front door, we made our own decorations: a ghost, a Frankenstein monster head, a moon with a bat silhouette, two spiders, two pumpkins, and black letters that spell out "GO BACK" and "EEK" and "BOO." G loves it all and has been begging to sit around at night with all the lights off except for the jack o'lantern and orange light string. I hope the novelty wears off a bit before Halloween. It's hard to navigate through the shadowy gloom. :-)