Monday, March 2, 2015

Kiley At Three

        Three years old! I can't believe it. Kiley is three years old. How can that be? It seems like it was just last week that she was only one year old. Okay, bad joke, but seriously, time really does fly. When we were first thrown together three years ago Kiley was just a tiny little larva with eyes too big for her face and abilities that were limited to eating, sleeping, crying and pooping. Now she is a walking, talking, climbing, jumping, affectionate, loving, obstinate, tantrum throwing, fashion conscious, potty-trained, fully formed little person.

At three, Kiley now has her own opinions, at least on subjects she is knowledgeable about such as "Barbie" (a cartoon you would not believe!), cinnamon rolls, and whether or not her sister has an inalienable right to certain objects and behaviors. She also has her own way of looking at things. In other words she has her own personality, and like all three-year-olds, and all people for that matter, she is one part angel and one part devil.

The angel part of her nature is most likely to express itself in the morning when she first arrives at "Nan's" house (bright and early at 6:30am). When I go out to the car to greet her in the morning she is usually overjoyed to see me. She loves Nan and loves coming to Nan's house. That said, the first word out of her mouth when I open the car door every morning is " Tom?" meaning "Is Uncle Tom home?" When the answer is "yes" it is an extra special day for her. She is usually very pleasant in the morning (whether Uncle Tom is home or not). She arrives still in her "jamas" and is generally loath to change them for regular clothes. I don't know if that is because she prefers "jamas" to regular clothes or whether she just doesn't want to go through all the effort of changing. I suspect it is the latter.

        Breakfast can sometimes be a struggle because Kiley is not a big eater. She doesn't seem to really like to eat, unless it is cinnamon rolls, and I generally have to coax and coerce her into devouring the proper nutrients in the morning. I am not always successful in this regard and have the same problem at lunchtime. She often seems to be able to run all day without eating and without getting hungry. Where does she get the energy? Her metabolic processes must be unnaturally efficient. Or maybe she's cold blooded, you know, part reptile. Snakes and the like can go for weeks or more on a single rat, and Kiley can go all day on a single bowl of Rice Krispies if you let her (you can't give her Lucky Charms because she just picks out the marshmallows and eats just them). She likes fruit, especially bananas, and her favorite vegetable is green beans. She loves anything that tastes like mint. She drinks milk and fruit juice all day and she still prefers a sippy cup to a big-girl-cup, which is fine with me and with my carpets.

        Her tastes in TV programming have evolved over time with her favorite show progressing from the initial "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" (insipid Disney) to "Doc McStuffins" (cute and clever Disney) to "Tickety Toc" (bizarre alternate reality) to "Barbie" (campy parody on the perennial glamour doll) and finally to her present favorite 'Bo On The Go" (a children's animated exercise program). Added to regular programming are her favorite animated movies: "Lilo And Stitch" (destructive alien bonds with destructive little girl),  "The Croods" (caveman family evolves), "Brave" (red-haired Celtic princess learns lessons), and, of course "Fozen" (Disney's version of  "The Snow Queen"). And, not surprisingly, there are various less favored favorites of both categories too numerous to mention. That said, Kiley uses the TV primarily for just background noise the way I do. She is usually far to busy with other things to really pay attention to what is on the tube.

        The angel part of her nature dominates until approximately mid-afternoon. Mid-afternoon is the time when she normally begins to get tired. And that is where the devil part of her nature hides, in tiredness. As is normally the case with small children, tired equals cranky, and cranky equals impatience, obstinence, temper, selfishness, and rebellion.

        The cure for all of this, as every mother knows, is naptime. Unfortunately, because the devil part of her nature with its obstinate rebelliousness dominates at naptime, it is often very hard to get Kiley to actually take a nap. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink, and you can make a little girl lie down but you can't make her sleep, not when she doesn't want to. And she never wants to. Sleep is boring. Sleep takes her away from the things she wants to do in spite of her crankiness. Sleep is unfair and unjust. Sleep is her enemy.

        And so I have to circumvent her natural objection to naptime, and there are various strategies I have developed to accomplish the impossible. "Lie down and close your eyes" accomplishes nothing, one must be more subtle, more clever, more devious. It is deviousness that separates man from the beasts of the field, and fifty-nine years of living have honed my inherent deviousness to a sharp point. The crux of any sleep inducing strategy must be misdirection. Don't say the word "nap", don't say the word "sleep", don't say the phrase "lie down". In lieu of all of these, simply use the phrase "let's watch a movie". Then off handedly suggest that the best vantage point from which to watch said movie might be the sofa. Next, simply inquire: "where's "Snuggy"?"  Once "Snuggy" has been obtained, "Frozen" put on, and the sofa occupied, just lie down yourself. Don't suggest that she lie down as well. That will create suspicion. Simply lie down on the sofa and a three-year-old's natural inclination to cuddle will do the rest. Once she is cuddled, just slowly begin to rub her softly on the back, just barely touching her skin with the tips of your fingers and before you know it, "voila", sleep happens. There are many variations of this same strategy, and they should be employed randomly in order to avoid any detection of a pattern. Once she falls asleep, Kiley is out for a couple of hours.  Ah, blessed is quiet and gentle sleep, especially for the one not sleeping. Small children need sleep in the afternoon. You just have to coax them into it.

        By the time Kiley awakens, it is only a short time before her mother comes to pick her up and another day is done. Off she goes to the car to be buckled in amid a plethora of hugs and kisses and promises of tomorrow, a process that takes at least fifteen minutes. More kisses are blown as the car pulls away then it's time to make dinner. She'll be back again in the morning, bright and early, and another day of adventure will begin. And such is our daily life together, interspersed with trips, activities, and surprises to keep things interesting for both Kiley and me - and her little sister Mackey, of course. I'll tell you all about her next week.


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