Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Slapstick Gene

My son has it.

Way back when he was two, we'd put on a Baby Einstein video featuring farm animal puppets, and he used to laugh hysterically at this bit where a horse puppet ignored all the food on a table and instead munched the flower in a vase.

He giggled uncontrollably at the pig puppet who pushed another pig puppet down a slide into the mud.

He cracked up in another scene with an elephant puppet trumpeting and blowing the other puppets over.

At three, we began to selectively expose him to classic Warner Bros. cartoons. Not only would he laugh in all the right places, he'd force us to back up the video so he could view the same bit again and again -- and each time, he'd have the same explosive response.

Just this week, I sat down with him to watch an episode of Ian Falconer's OLIVIA, based on the popular picture book series.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's The Simple Stuff That Brings The Most Fun

The kids have been opening the birthday presents on average of one a night -- give or take, here or there: I make them take a night off from presents if they've been especially difficult.

It's kind of like Hanukkah all over again.

But they're getting jaded anyway. Sometimes they open a gift and are initially disappointed, but on another day, they can't wait to play with the thing they rejected the night before.

On a rainy Saturday, we opened the box of "science experiments," and played with test tubes, pipettes, and colored baking soda tablets that dissolved really fast in hot water, slower in cold, and created really cool zones of color when put into milk on a dinner plate.

I've helped them put together puzzles and snap-together cars, squeeze plastic dresses on tiny plastic dolls (and tried to keep track of all the tiny parts, from miniature tools to wee doll shoes that have come into our lives since the birthday party).

We've read books, made necklaces with beads, had tea parties.

But perhaps the most exuberant moment of all came from a spray bottle of sculpting soap for the bath.

We Have Overcome

We kept the kids home to watch the swearing in.

We cried.

They were alternately interested, excited, bored and restless. But they watched as Barack Obama became the 44th President.

At four years of age, they may not remember this moment, though we can tell them they saw it happen. What really strikes me, though, is that Obama will be the first person they consciously know as President of the U.S.

That means the idea that someone can't be President because of the color of their skin will simply never occur to them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What A Swell Party It Was

Okay, I gotta admit, despite all my grousing about the preparations and cost, the kids' party was a rousing success.

They simply loved having a birthday party.

You could see the excitement on their faces when we got to Child's Play, the indoor playspace we'd rented for the party. Once inside, they ran gloriously amuck, initially having the place to themselves, then looking surprised yet happy when familiar faces began to arrive.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Birthday Parties: Outta Control

When they turned three, Thing 1 and Thing 2 were surprised and thrilled and satisfied by mini-cupcakes in their classroom, plastic star-shaped sunglasses and crazy straw party favors for all. The "party," at preschool, lasted maybe 15 minutes. We also took them to dinner with a couple of friends. They got tricycles and helmets, and a day at the park to use them. Done deal.

But a year later, they're Birthday Party Veterans. They have asked about having a party, given opinions on where they want it and what they want at it. So they are getting one.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Almost-Fours

They will be four on Tuesday.

They can't wait -- for ice cream birthday cake (Lightning McQueen for him, Ariel the Little Mermaid for her) and for their party.

I am getting the sense this is going to be a very fun age. Mostly, I like eavesdropping on them when they play without my immediate supervision. Yesterday I overheard this: "Where are my boots? Oh, there they are! I will go take a walk with them." "Where will you go?" "California.