August 31, 2011

Philosophies and Motivations

A couple days ago, I had to put Joy in time-out TWICE for hitting her sister (to be specific, the second time she pinched Grace's arm, which she seemed to think was perfectly reasonable and should not result in a time-out, yet was strangely reluctant when I offered to pinch her arm so she could see how it felt to her two-year-old sister). As we talked about why she was getting disciplined, I realized that my parenting philosophy, the principles and guidelines I want to instill in my girls, has finally crystallized into something solid.

No "hitting is wrong." Instead, we talked about the need to love other people, especially her sister, and that love means wanting to protect them from being hurt, not causing them hurt. We (or rather, I, since Joy's contribution to the conversation consisted of "Do you like your shirt?" and "No, I don't love sissy" when pressed for an outright answer. Which is okay, because she's not yet four, and has plenty of years to understand love) talked about how important it is to be the kind of person who shows their love by acting in a loving and kind manner, and how all our actions ought to be motivated by thinking of what is best for others, not for us.

And that, in a nutshell, sums up my thoughts on life, and how I want my girls to grow up thinking. If I set them a bunch of rules and regulations, they might look very good on the outside, but what of their motivations - will they be prideful and smug? No, I want them to look at their insides, to think about their motivations, and then act upon that. My mother, who is currently studying philosophy as part of her MA in Classics, tells me this is "Virtue Ethics," which sounds pretty good to me.

When they do something well, we praise their sweet spirits, their helpfulness, their thoughtfulness, anything but the deed itself. When they do something wrong, we talk about why the deed was wrong more than the deed itself.

This all has an added side benefit - girls especially are so driven by outward appearance; so much emphasis is put on beauty. I want my girls solidly ingrained in the idea that it is what is inside of you that makes you beautiful, not how pretty your features and figure are (and let me tell you, with those two beautiful elfin girls, it is HARD not to gush all the time about how pretty they look!). They will be getting enough pressure from outside sources, the older they grow, to focus on the image they are presenting to the world. I want to start them with a firm foundation that it is what motivates them, rather than their actions themselves, that is important.

It would be a whole lot easier to just set a list of rules - do this, don't do that, but hey, who ever got into parenting expecting it to be EASY?

And seeing this sort of behavior between the two of them makes it all worthwhile. Wouldn't you agree?

August 29, 2011

Open wide

In the past week or so, Lulu has discovered her mouth. If she's holding something--a rattle, a stuffed bear--it goes straight to her lips. If she's not holding anything, she crams her hands in there as far back as they will go. At night, I hear her in her crib, slobbering away, and in the morning, the arms of her sleeper are wet to the elbow.

This makes me incredibly anxious. I had thought I could put off babyproofing for a few more months. I have spent a lot of time and money on therapy so that I don't walk into a room and immediately focus on all the things in it that can kill me or a loved one. Babyproofing requires me to do just that, only times a thousand million, since the loved one in peril is my tiny, perfect, helpless, defenseless only child. I have been consoling myself with the fact that Lulu hasn't yet mastered the pincer grip--the only things she can pick up and steer toward her tender esophagus are things that are far too big to go down it.

But it appears I can't put it off too much longer. Today during tummy time, I noticed Lulu fussing and straining forward toward something on the floor just off the edge of her playmat. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a penny. My genius child had found a way around those pincer-grip skills she's so sorely lacking: since she couldn't pick the penny up, she was trying to LAUNCH HERSELF FORWARD onto it, mouth first. In order to swallow it, I guess, and commit baby hari-kari.

Why, WHY, despite this new oral fascination, will my child still refuse to take a pacifier? It is one of the great mysteries of the world.