Thanks to my Aunt Claudia who sent me a wonderful book about Parenting. I have been so much more at ease raising my own toddler these past months since reading it. Every Parenting book I have read so far really focuses on where your toddler should be rather than how and why they will get there. This book really deals with how children come into their own, and how every child does it differently and at their own speed.
Let me just say that it is not easy raising a toddler with a very laid back temperament. Its especially hard when every other toddler you know is so outgoing and "ahead of the curve" it seems. Therefore it makes it hard to "compare" Levi's progress etc when he's just not there yet. I mean come on, the child just started walking at 19 1/2 months. If that's not enough to freak you out a little then I don't know what is. Of course when you Google late walkers, there's plenty out there like Levi, but not in the small circle of toddlers I know, and its definitely not encouraging when the young Pediatrician in his 30's is telling you to get him evaluated. I do everything I can that is right or best for Levi in my opinion. I don't use the TV as a babysitter, I let him pick toys that make him happy, I give him a say so and let him do what he wants as long as he is safe and happy. I let him play in mud. I let him get dirty. I want him to be barefoot outside. I don't feed him sugar. I don't feed him processed foods. He has a fresh juice every morning, milk and water throughout the day. That's it. He eats organic. He eats his veggies. I eliminate chemicals in the house. I keep him rear facing. The list could go on and on. I am not perfect. I don't judge any other mommies who don't do these things. I honestly am thankful for having the knowledge of how important these things are, and the positive effects that Levi will receive from it.
So why is he needing to get evaluated? What did I do wrong?
-So we got him evaluated. He was not developmentally delayed. He was simply not walking yet, because A) He didn't care to be all motivated about learning something new when he was all for crawling. Crawling was easy, not scary, no falling involved. (This was my Mama's Intuition) I knew all along there was nothing wrong.
And B) He didn't have the strength in his core to be able to hold up his chubby, short self. (Sorry Levi for the Shorty genes ;)
So we got some strengthening exercises to get his core strong enough to walk.
While he was accomplishing these gross motor skills from about 15-19 1/2 months it seemed all of his other skills took a back seat. Which we were told is perfectly normal, and that once he did master walking, he would catch up his other skills.
So here we are. He is repeating everything to the best of his ability. He is so freaking receptive its a little scary. He gets everything. Seriously. He can probably read my mind. He is accomplishing his fine motor skills, although he still won't eat with a fork or spoon. Here we go back to the first paragraph. Do I think he can't, no. I think he really is like Dude, eating with my hands is easy so why not? I provide him with utensils, encourage him and let him decide. He is trying to climb on everything. The couch is a little rough. (Sorry for the short genes. You can do it!) He's got the strength, but not the length ;) He's taking his clothes off, not playing nice, then will kiss you when I say "Play nice Levi". He is a manipulator. Oh boy can he get his way. Or so he thinks. :)
I called Josh when I read this quote in the book. I was so excited. I think as parents its hard not to jump on that train of pushing your toddler to learn, learn, learn. To have the bragging rights to say my toddler is doing this, that and some more. Which is totally awesome and rewarding. But I think I lose focus sometimes and this quote put it into perspective. "Our role as parents is not to 'motivate' our young learners but to nurture and support their natural motivation."
I think I really like this book because it reminds me so much of Montessori School. The children pick what interests them and learn how they feel fit. I need to keep in mind that if I continue to supply Levi with all the tools to learn,he will get it when he naturally gets it. And that is the most rewarding I think, when you know they get it because they accomplished it on their own.
Another thing that I have noticed is it is becoming hard for him to separate from me. This phase kicked in around one, but lasted a few short weeks. Over the past 2 months its gotten a lot worse. Everyone was giving me crap saying well maybe he's just a little delayed in this area, or stop letting him be up your butt. Josh got frustrated with me for picking him up-but I knew he was truly upset. It wasn't him just being clingy for no reason.Then after reading through this book my Aunt gave me, I came across the Separation portion. I was amazed. Like go ahead and name that paragraph Levi.
It said, "Toddlers also go through periods of difficult separations because of their rapid growth. Any time a child is having a developmental spurt or going through a period of increased fears, she may want to stay close to her family. As toddlers push for autonomy, the natural counterbalance is clinginess: 'I want to be out climbing, throwing, jumping, making my own decisions, playing with the kids, and I want to be on your lap, all at the same time."
I read this and was like wow. This separation anxiety kicked in right around the time he was mastering walking, and has gotten worse in the past few weeks. Now that makes sense! He is having a developmental spurt, and I now know of a sign that signify's that spurt coming, and also explains the current behavior. So now people can stop thinking I let him be up my butt all day, and don't give him social experiences, la la la. (Mama's intuition again)
The next paragraph said, "Children who are late talkers and who rely on a unique communication system with their parents often find separations more challenging. And children who tend to be observers, who like to "take a lot of notes" before they move out into the world, may also find that comfortable separations take longer to develop."
I mean wow. Its so comforting when you read something and really are like "That's my kid." And being surrounded with toddlers who are so outgoing and risk takers, and expressive, and seemingly advanced. I mean this totally makes sense. Levi will look you up and down while squeezing me tight until he decides you're cool enough to talk to ;) You may take it personal, but he is really just taking notes in his head. He has had this approach since he was born. He totally has this type of temperament and it effects how he views the world. I also sign quite a bit with Levi, mostly just basic needs signing, and we sing songs with signs when he's sad, and we cuddle when he's tired. I understand why this may scare him when I'm not there. He may fear if Daddy, or Grandma will understand him. Will they know he's hungry? Or thirsty? Or tired? Or cold? I totally get that.
Thanks Claudia for the book! I am learning so much about my toddler from a standpoint that makes sense. I am understanding Levi from a view that focuses on how and why he will get there, rather than where he needs to be.
If any of my mamas want the name and author its Becoming the Parent you Want to Be-a sourcebook of strategies for the first five years by Laura Davis and Janis Keyser.
This was lengthy but I think it may help my fellow mommies who are going through the same thing.
Now I'm going to keep brainstorming ideas for Levi's "By the Campfire" Fall birthday party!