Last night, I asked Olivia what was the best part of Catalina becoming a little toddler. She replied “I teach her things.” What things? “How to get up and walk around!” I guess she’s been saving that up until she felt Catalina was worthy of such an honor as walking.
I realized recently that I’ve been home with Catalina for the majority of her life. It gave me a moment’s pause. With parenting, I am naturally gifted in many ways and naturally deficient in others. I haven’t focused much on my deficiencies since Vanessa balances me out well.
I realized, though, that Catalina sees my deficiencies more than she sees Vanessa strengths.
Businesses and organizations have cycles they can re-evaluate. Either the academic year or the fiscal year provide a natural time to prune away ideas that aren’t working, seed new ones and generally review strengths and weaknesses. At least until kids are in school, there isn’t a natural period for review at home.
While she won’t remember this birthday or what I’ve done wrong in the last year, I’m hopeful that she’ll see the results of the review into the future.
What’s the Review?
I review a few different areas of my parenting of Catalina, which naturally will branch out to include Olivia and my life as a whole.
Do I pray with Catalina? Do I pray for her? How often? Her favorite book is this little nativity story board book. She’ll hunt it out of her bookshelf every day and is the only book I can start with when reading to her before nap or bedtime.
I’m sure there is something about the color scheme or the illustrations that attract her, but nevertheless, it is attractive to her.
This is two-pronged. How much do I socialize with Catalina? Do I play with her? Do I “talk” with her? She’s still really young, but if I don’t pay attention to building a social bond with her, eventually, it’ll be difficult for me to “break into” her life. I figure to be conscience of it now and she’ll always know that Dad is a type of friend too. (A parent who isn’t afraid to discipline first, but a listening ear as well).
The second aspect is external. Do I let her play with other kids at the park or do I tend to keep her to myself? She has Olivia, so she is better than older kids than Olivia ever has been. She doesn’t quite know what to do with kids her age or younger—she is a bit rough. Outwardly, when other parents give me that look at the park, I say to myself “if your kid wasn’t a wimp…”, but realistically, I try to teach her to be gentle.
I like video games. I like computers. While I enjoy biking and other things outside, my default activities are typically stationary and indoors. With Catalina, how much physical play do we do? How does it rank in our schedule? Once a week? Once a day? Once an hour? I was lax last week and let the girls watch an entire feature-length movie at one setting. I meant to do a little work during that time, but I hadn’t seen it and ended up watching it with them too. At least at this age, I don’t want to make a 90-120 minute movie a typical activity.
Are we teaching her new things? Are we trying to advance her mental development? With Olivia as her best friend, Olivia helps a lot in that Catalina wants to catch up and be like her sister, but that doesn’t remove any responsibility from us. How often do we read together? How often do I do the age-appropriate tasks, like pointing out everything in a room and telling its name or colors or some creative problem solving with a puzzle?
While I bill this as an annual review process, it’s continual. I wish I could say I had a nice schedule when I consciously do this, I don’t. I end up doing it the week after Vanessa has an holiday—after Thanksgiving, Christmas, a random three-day weekend. The break in the routine is just enough to get me out of the mold.
It’s easy to forget how fast your kids are growing up, at least at this age. Their favorite toys yesterday are too young for them today it seems. The toys you had put away because they were “too old” for them or because you didn’t think they could safely navigate it yet are quickly within their skillset.
Parenting only two who are only one- and two-years-old themselves, I know there’s more I don’t know than do. How else do you review your parenting to make sure you’re being as effective as possible?