I blogged a couple months ago about the latest change in Bean recently – he’s become scared of “scawy” things.Â He didn’t like scary cartoons.Â He even got scared at Winnie the Pooh when they went into the darker part of the Hundred Acre Woods.Â But the one that he didn’t like the most was Zorg from Toy Story.Â How do I know this?Â Because we were in the Toy Story shop at Disney and Bean practically scaled up my body when he saw a stuffed Zorg on a display.Â We went back to that same store a few weeks later and, though he was better, Bean was still really scared.
About a week after that, a friend gave Bean a set of Toy Story figurines for his birthday and guess who was front and center in the pack?
Our friend, Zorg.
Bean flipped out, so we threw Zorg in a kitchen drawer and Bean went on about his merry way.
But a few days later, Bean started talking about Zorg. A lot. We’d be driving down the road and out of the blue he would say something like, “Zorg scawy.” And so I’d say something back like, “Zorg isn’t scary, buddy. Zorg is just pretend. He isn’t real.” And so Bean started saying things like, “Zorg no scawy. Zorg no real.” Whenever he’d say something about Zorg, I’d talk in a singsong voice about “silly Zorg,” and Bean continued to repeat his mantra: “Zorg no scawy. Zorg no real.”
This went on for about a week. And then it intensified. Bean started talking about Zorg even more, but now he was saying things like, “Zorg and Buzz friends” and “silly Zorg!” For the most part, I kept my mouth shut. Clearly, Bean was working through this issue and except for the occasional affirmation that Zorg was pretend and Zorg wasn’t scary, I pretty much let Bean talk through it himself.
Then, one morning I was getting breakfast ready and Bean walked over to the drawer where I’d thrown Zorg on his birthday.
“See Zorg?” Bean asked.
“Okay,” I said, nonchalantly. But inside my thoughts were reeling. If I pulled this scary guy out, would I need to put Bean in therapy now or wait until he was a bit older?
So, I pulled Zorg out. And Bean whimpered a little, so I put him back.
“Bye bye, Zorg!” I said happily as I closed the drawer. And then we moved quickly on to breakfast.
But Bean kept going back to the drawer and asking to see Zorg. So, I’d bring him out, Bean would whimper and tell me to put him back, and then we’d go do something else. This went on for about a week. Sometimes, when we’d be in the kitchen, Bean and I would talk to Zorg in the drawer. I wouldn’t get him out, but we’d stand right at the drawer and yell things in there to him like, “ZORG WANT SNACK?” and “ZORG NEED BATH?” Bean thought that was hysterical.
And then one day when I took Zorg out of the drawer, Bean didn’t whimper. He kind of nervously laughed and said, “Bean hold Zorg?” So, I put Zorg in his hand. Bean held up Buzz in the other hand and before I knew it, he was playing with Zorg and Buzz on the kitchen floor.
It is crazy how much Bean is learning these days, but it’s equally crazy how much he is teaching me these days. I learned from him about this whole Zorg situation that being scared of something for a toddler is really more about not being familiar with that something. I also learned that you can’t rush toddlers. They really are little people. They have their own needs and they move at their own pace. Had I pushed Zorg on Bean and insisted that he was just being silly, I would have really made things harder for Bean. He just needed his own time to warm up to that unfamiliar thing.
Toddlers fascinate me. They go through almost the exact same emotions and process things very similarly to how adults do, I think. But they do it at such a slowed pace that it seems overly dramatic. But I bet if I slowed down my emotions to a snails pace, I probably have the same reactions to things as Bean does, I am just able to process things quicker.
Isn’t that incredible? Our minds are fascinating things!
I’m sure we’ll encounter even more things that Bean is scared of – and they’ll probably be things that I can’t put away in a kitchen drawer for him. But I’m glad Zorg was our first obstacle. So is Bean.
These days, there’s not much Bean’s not saying.Â He has such a wide vocabulary and is learning to put all those words together into small, simple sentences.Â The result of his budding language is that I have become pretty unproductive these days.Â I basically just stand around listening to Bean talk.Â He sounds like he’s sucked the helium out of a balloon.Â He has such a sweet little voice.Â But even better than the sound of his voice are the words he’s saying.
My Favorite Phrases Bean Says These Days:
“Oh my goosen!”Â (Oh my goodness)
“Makin’ messes!”Â (I made a mess)
“PeeeYouuuu!”Â (When he’s got a stinky diaper)
“Gaycee, Gaycee, Gaycee…”Â (Gracie, Gracie, Gracie…Â Which is what Chris and I say when we’re trying to calm Gracie down.Â Now, Bean says it whenever she starts to cry.)
“I no see it.”Â (When he’s looking for something)
“Go to Target?”Â (What he says whenever we get in the car.Â Bad mommy.)
“Umm…Not Bean.”Â (His answer to any question asking him to do something he doesn’t want to do; he says it like he’s really given it a lot of thought)
“Say please, Mom!” (What he says instead of just saying, “Please.”Â I think it’s because we are always saying, “Say please,” to him when he asks for something.)
“No, thankum.”Â (No, thank you)
“Look, Gaycee!”Â (When he shows Gracie something – which is pretty often)
“Michael’s turn!”Â (What Bean says when he wants to do something by himself without help.Â We hear this one all the time now!)
My favorite thing Bean is saying lately makes me just about wet my pants every time he says it.Â I have no idea where he picked it up or, especially, how he knows how to use it in the correct context.Â Whenever I tell him to do something he doesn’t want to do (i.e.Â eat his veggies, pick up his toys, etc.), he looks at me, puts his hands on his hips, and cocks his head to the side.Â And then he says, “Oh, come on, Mom…”
It cracks me up every single time because he does it with such a straight face and he is, clearly, very irritated with me.Â The best (or worst?) thing about it is when he says it when he’s on his way to his time out chair.Â I’ll be in the middle of walking him over to his chair, explaining to him why he’s going to have to sit in time out, and when I put him up on his chair, he’ll sight and say, “Oh, come on, Mom!”
I have to leave the room because it makes me laugh so hard.
Another thing I am loving about Bean is that as he is learning to talk more, he is using that skill during his playing, too.Â I hear him talking to his stuffed animals and toys all the time.Â Today we were driving and he was asking me where one of his toys was.Â It was a small Lego person named Jesse, from Toy Story.
“Where Jesse go?” Bean asked me.
“I don’t know, Buddy, did you drop her?” I asked.
“No dwop her,” he said.Â And then he held up one of his 10,000 Buzz Lightyear figurines and said, “Where Jesse go, Buzz?”
Oh, that kid.Â He’s melting my heart one high pitched word at a time.
This summer while the kids are home with me, I am really trying to work with Bean so that he gets as much learning at home as he did at daycare on a daily basis. His daycare was really great about teaching through playing and I am trying to mimic that at home.
Originally, I planned to go out and buy all this educational stuff for us to do this summer. I went to teacher’s supply stores, but found that a lot of the teaching tools were either too old for Bean or too darn expensive. But as I sat around trying to think up ways to teach Bean, I noticed that he actually had a lot of things around our house that could be used for little teaching moments. For example, at Easter, Bean loved the empty Easter baskets. He’s big into sorting right now and he loved having all kinds of containers and baskets that were different sizes, colors, and shapes.
So, I started using that for little teaching moments as we played. We’d be sorting plastic eggs into baskets and I would ask him to bring me all the blue eggs or to bring me all the big eggs. He loved collecting and sorting through his little plastic treasures and it gave us a chance to work on colors and sizes.
I learned from the Easter baskets that teaching tools are all around us.Â You just have to recognize free play as a time to do little teaching moments and suddenly, the entire toy box becomes educational.Â And – bonus! – your kids don’t even know it!
Another thing that I loved about our daycare was that they used flash cards to teach. Every week, Bean brought home a small flash card that had a picture and the word of whatever they were learning that week. To keep up with that, I bought a couple boxes of flash cards at Target or Babies R Us (I can’t remember where). The only problem was that Bean didn’t like sitting down going through flash cards. He wanted to hold them and play with them himself, but I didn’t want them to get lost or torn. I also didn’t want him to only be able to look at them when I was with him.
My solution was to put the cards on a bulletin board in his room. Now, every week, Bean and I sit down and choose different cards to put up. Some of them are words he knows (so that there are some he can always get right – builds confidence) and some of them are words that he is still learning.
I put the bulletin board over Bean’s bed because it was somewhere he would see the flash cards often. Now, whenever we are playing in his room, I’ll just randomly ask him to show me the leaf or the bicycle or the wagon. He loves climbing up and showing me what he knows and it gives us a chance to work on his words without having to stop and flip through boring flash cards.
Bean loves the flash card board. He really loves when we change out the cards. I think he likes that he gets to choose which cards we put up there. At first, I was a little unsure of how this would look. I want Bean’s room to be cute and neat, but I have pretty much given up on the themed look for him. His walls are now lined with things he’s colored, shapes he’s working on, flash cards we’re learning, and other fun little things we find while we’re out and about. Last week we added two Lightning McQueen posters from the Cars 2 weekend we had at Disney. And you know? I really like his room now. It looks like a classroom and a bedroom all at one time. His walls have become bulletin boards for whatever we are working on and it makes his room fun and educational at the same time.
I’m a middle school teacher, so you would think that educating my own children would come naturally. But I’m learning that teaching very young kids is a whole new experience. You have to teach them in their environments and with their treasures and with things that keep their attention. And when you start to see everything around you as a learning experience, it really adds depth to everything you do with your pee wee.
As we watched them play, I couldn’t help but notice the difference between how Bean played and how his little friend played. There were several differences, but the biggest I noticed was that she was so much gentler than Bean! I have heard that the difference between how boys and girls play is really prominent at this age, but I thought that was sort of silly. They’re all kids. How different could it be? How could gender influence much at this age anyway? But, apparently, I was wrong.
Next to his sweet, polite, quiet friend, Bean seemed like a tank. He was throwing things, pouring water on her, and pushing her in the little wagon they were riding in really hard. But it wasn’t like he was being aggressive. He was just a lot rougher.
But that is all the more reason why I’m glad we had a play date with his friend. It is good for Bean to see other children playing gently. It’s good practice for him. We say all the time at home, “Be gentle, Bean.” He hears it especially when he’s playing with Gracie. But it’s a different kind of learning when he can see other children actively doing something than just hearing us correct that behavior. That’s also why I’m glad I’ve got a son and a daughter now. Hopefully, these little traits in each gender will rub off on each other and bring out new and great qualities.
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