28 April 2008

"I Need Help" and other Olivia Stories

Olivia is growing up so fast and I really notice it at times like this. I just started rehearsing for my upcoming show and I've been spending almost all of my time at work, at rehearsal or on the train. So when I do have significant time with Olivia (while she's awake) it's striking to observe how much she can change, even in the space of two days! I'm going to take a moment and record a few of my favorite Olivia stories from the past month or so before I forget them altogether and she grows up again.


Late one night Olivia was having a hard time going to sleep. She was in her big girl bed (right next to our bed) and I was next to her. She said, with urgency: "I need help!" I rolled over to look at her and found her laying on her back with her eyes shut. She was holding her stuffed Curious George in one arm and "Mama Care Bear" (so named because this was Liz's Care bear when she was a little girl) in the other. "What do you need, Olivia?" I asked. "Get a boogey. Daddy get a boogey." I guess it's kind of gross to go digging in somebody else's nose, but when that other person is your little baby it seems kind of routine. Olivia often requests (or demands) that we pick her nose for her. So I picked her nose and didn't find much. Then she made another request: "Get a boogey from Mama Care Bear." So I had to pick the Care Bear's nose. Then I had to pick Curious George's nose. Once I was done Olivia was content to go to sleep.


So one of Olivia's favorite people, Amia, was over last night. Olivia had fallen asleep. She began to stir and when I went to check on her, Amia raced behind me to catch the action. Olivia was still lighlty sleeping and I picked her up. When she opened her eyes and saw Amia, she was suddenly wide awake. "Amia!" She threw her weight toward the floor, cuing me to put her down. "Amia! saw baby beluga! saw dolphin!"
I have noticed that when she is communicating with other children this is often the first thing she tells them. "Saw baby beluga." Also, if I ask her "What did you do today, Olivia?" The answer is either "Went to the Zoo." Or "Saw baby Beluga." As cute as that is, I am sometimes disappointed because I really want to hear from Olivia's perspective how the day went. I'm eager to understand her and hear her thoughts and feelings about life. But I guess that's just where she's at right now, and that is wonderful too. My friend Eva Gil explained it perfectly: "When she's asked what she did she just explains her favorite thing she's ever done in her life." That's pretty awesome. So using that logic, I can surmise that Olivia's favorite ever dream involved kitties jumping around. This is always the dream she tells me about when I ask her if she had any dreams the night before.


Olivia is very good at telling people what to say to her. Heartbreakingly, the most common phrases that she prompts me to say recently have been "I'm not going to work." and "I'm not going to rehearsal."


Olivia has been getting more silly as she gets older. Just enjoying jumping around and playing and making noise. Last week during Tuesday Night Shuffle (which is a weekly devotional/prayer/meditation/hanging out gathering we have at our place every Tuesday night) Olivia was being very loud during prayers. So we were in the bedroom and I tried to encourage her to be quiet. She was cool with being quiet as long is it was a game. So we practiced using her quiet voice and seeing just how quiet we could be. But she soon found that the game was more fun when she alternated between quiet and MASSIVELY LOUD, so I lost that battle. Oh well. As much as I want to encourage Olivia to regulate her volume when that is called for, I also want to encourage her to be loud and silly. I'm reading this book, Raising a Daughter, which I am finding very enlightening in a lot of ways. Chapter two starts out with that little rhyme "What are little girls made of . . . sugar and spice and things that are nice . . ." It goes on to explain that we tend to emphasize the "sugar" and the "sweet" when it comes to little girls, while we ignore (or even condemn) the spice. Olivia has a very sweet disposition and there is definitely no shortage of people who are enamored with that aspect of her personality and draw attention to it. So in a way I feel it is my duty to help nurture the spicier parts of her personality. She will always be encouraged to be sweet and adorable, but I don't know that she will always be encouraged to speak her mind and express herself the way she wants to. So as far as I'm concerned she can "BAAAAAAAAAH!" away to her heart's content. Not at all times and all circumstances of course, but in general I have no problem with it. I think as parents we get attached to this idea of "how kids should behave". There is no one standard "way" that kids should be. As adults the way we behave is often determined by the circumstances we find ourselves in. We have to realize that kids are just learning this and that (depending on age/development) they may or may not be able to perceive anything beyond their own immediate feelings at all.


Olivia likes to ask if we remember things. "Remember" basically translates to "Person/Thing that is not here right now." A couple evenings ago we were taking a walk and Olivia said, "Daddy, remember the Sun?" I replied "I do remember the sun." Olivia then said "Like Teletubbies?" If you've seen Teletubbies you know that each episode starts with a laughing-baby-sun rising in the sky. Sadly, a few weeks ago when Olivia looked up at the sky she said "Sky. Like teletubbies." Too much TV? Well, it was a rough Winter. If Teletubbies is the only way to see the sky without exposing yourself to sleet, freezing rain and icy winds then so be it.


One of Olivia's favorite books is "Owl Babies". Three Owlets--Sarah, Percy and Bill-wait for their Owl mother. Olivia took to reciting this book on her own and it was pretty aweseome. She would usually start in the middle: . . . they closed their owl eyes and wished their mother would come . . . AND SHE CAME! . . . and they hopped and they danced and jumped up and down on their branch. "What's all the fuss?" their owl mother asked. "You knew I 'd come back." The Baby owls thought. All Ooowells think aLOT . . ." It's hard to capture the inflection (and the cuteness) in writing. I wish we would have recorded it. Maybe we will.


Another favorite book, The Fantastic Mr. Wani is the story of a crocodile who is trying to get to a party and has many accidents along the way. It's been great because as Olivia gets bigger she is starting to fall more, get scrapes and bruises, catch her fingers in drawers, etc. Mr. Wani brings much needed humor and lightheartedness to these kind of accidents. If she falls down "like Mr. Wani" it's a lot more fun than just plain falling down. And the book it action packed! Of course he does eventually get to the party and Olivia's favorite part is when the froggies (the hosts) say "Hi Mr. Wani, have a chip!"


"Daddy, I poopied"

"You poopied? Good job!"

"And pee pee."


"Ate a chip"

End of conversation.
End of post.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Keep up the good work, all of Ohio is cheering for you, with foam fingers and face paint.