If you have—or have had—children then odds are you’ve run into Eric Carle’s work. He’s one of the foremost children’s book artists and authors in the world, and is perhaps best known for his work on The Very Hungry Caterpillar. My wife and I have been reading books of his to our 2-year-old for well over a year, and he’s proven to be quite popular.
I decided it would be a swell idea to take little Audrey to a museum dedicated to the man. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is only 90 minutes away after all, in the college town of Amherst, MA. What better way to get out of the house, engage my daughter, and get a bit of culture along the way?
In other words, what could possibly go wrong?
Last week I initiated a campaign to improve my daughter’s patience. She had gotten bossy, and unwilling to wait for her demands to be met. I had to step up as the Alpha Dog and teach this young upstart that the old saying is generally correct:
Good things do come to those who wait.
I did some research on techniques to gradually increase waiting time and settled on the following plan:
- Start by making her wait five seconds for something she wants. If she manages to hold tight, then I give her what she wants and praise her patience.
- Increase the time to 10 seconds in the following days, still praising her for successful behavior. If the ten-second threshold is achieved, increase the time yet again.
- Wash, rinse, and repeat, increasing the time each step of the way.
So how did I do? Did I manage to make any progress? Let’s find out.
I could stand to lose a few pounds. It’s tr—wait, what’s that? Well, that’s very flattering, but- No-no, you’re too kind. But it’s true. Thankfully, one of the (many) pluses of being a stay at home dad is the slight increase of free time.
Free time with which to get buff!
Not so long ago—when I was a member of the working force—I woke up at the ungodly time of 5 a.m. to exercise. It was horrible. I spent many mornings hitting the SNOOZE button repeatedly or swaying on my feet zombie-like in the dark deciding whether I really wanted to get a sweat on. Now that I don’t need to get up that early anymore, I’m back on the exercise train. I just need to deal with a new issue: my crazy 2-year-old. But what solution could I come up with that would allow me to get my sweat on while also keeping my daughter from stuffing her pockets with presents from the cat box?
That’s where Sesame Street comes in.
As parents we sometimes have a tendency to comment on how our children are perfect little angels. This, of course, could not be further from the truth. For all the love and joy they have to offer, the little rapscallions are imperfect in many ways and can test our patience repeatedly. My daughter is no exception.
Recently my wife and I made a tally of the main areas of focus for our daughter:
- Lose the binky
- Become potty trained
- Learn to share with others
- Develop patience
All four of these are of prime importance, for differing reasons, but we both agreed that two of these had risen to the top of the child improvement pyramid: sharing and learning patience. And since I am of the opinion that an improved patience will lend itself better to sharing than the other way around, teaching my daughter to wait for things has planted the flag firmly on the mountaintop.
Being the stay at home father that I am, it has fallen upon me to spearhead our efforts in teaching our 2-year-old patience. And that meant I was going to have to do some research and find some help.
I decided to build my daughter a house yesterday—an indoor one with which to hide in, play with toys, etc. After all, she loved her other box while it lasted. And it was doing this unpleasant snow-slash-rain thing outside. What better day to forage for unused cardboard in the attic and make an abode fit for a child of less than discerning taste?
I didn’t have a long time to construct it. Maybe two hours while Audrey took her nap. I could have, perhaps, built it during her waking hours, but that would have resulted in dangerously elevated levels of fatherly frustration. Plus, I would need a utility knife to cut out doors, windows, and such—something not typically found in children’s toy boxes. So, with her down for her midday nap, I sprung like a rabid barn cat into action!
Watching a 2-year-old during the wintertime is difficult. Going out in the snow is one thing, but once the snow is gone, all that’s left is cold and ice. Not exactly fertile ground for out of the house playtime fun. That’s why I found an alternative—a magical place where practically everything is free, most everyone is quiet, and learning is the name of the game.
This fantastical place is, of course, the library. Come join me, will you?