Living With a Threenager

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I thought I’d give you a little update on our 3-year-old. Tomoe is doing well, and she’s got quite the strong, independent personality. She’s a bit bossy with other kids, a bit selfish, but when we ask her to, she will play well. But she still loves her hugs and kisses. But since she’s 3, she’s in that “threenager” stage. Here is what it’s like to live with a threenager.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

What’s a threenager? You know the terrible twos, right? Well, a threenager is someone who acts like a teenager, but is only three years old. That basically describes a three-year-old. They have attitude, but no control over their emotions. They are either happy or it’s the end of the world.

Here’s some of my three-year-old’s attitude.

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And she’s already demanding a driver’s license, while talking on a cell phone. Okay, so it’s a radio, not a cell phone.

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These pictures were taken on Sunday, and she had a lot of fun in the indoor playground. But after four hours, it was time to go. The world ended. Scream, cry, and run away. That’s what she did. When I picked her up, she kicked, struggled, and tried to get away. She did not want to leave at all. She still say she wants to go, and she wants to go now.

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31 Things No One Tells You About Becoming a Parent

Earlier this week, I saw a post on No Page Left Blank titled “31 Things No One Tells You About Becoming a Parent: A Response” and thought I’d leave my own thoughts on this list.  Well, here they are.

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#1 – Make sure you don’t barbecue your kid.

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#2 – Don’t let polar bear cubs eat your baby.

Oh wait, those aren’t actually on the list.  Here are the real ones:

1. At some point you will accidentally hurt your kid and you’ll feel like the worst parent ever.

Yeah, this has happened.  Tomoe’s had her share of getting bumped into or knocked over accidentally, and I felt horrible.  I asked myself, “Will she hate me?”  Within minutes, she was laughing and smiling, so obviously she felt fine.  But at that instant, I couldn’t help but feel terrible.

2. You will know a lot less about this: [insert image of a newspaper showing important world news]

On the contrary, I keep up with world news quite a bit.  I don’t feel behind at all.

3. And a whole lot more about this: [insert an image of a bunch of special figure toys]

To be honest, it’s not so much about toys, but much more about kids TV shows these days.  Especially Anpanman.  I know the main characters, and kids I teach English to are surprised that I know their names.

4. Your Netflix account will eventually only suggest kids’ shows.

Don’t have Netflix, but we do have Hulu.  Not one kids’ show is on our queue.

5. Your pet will no longer be your top priority.

This most certainly happened.  We spend less time playing with our dog and more time with Tomoe.  But as he died earlier this year, things have changed.

6. You will gain 15 pounds.

Uh, no.  The opposite.  Over the past 3 years, I’ve lost 21 kg.  Yeah, that’s right.  46 pounds.  It has nothing to do with Tomoe and everything to do with not eating convenience store meals all the time.

7. The backseat of your car will be nasty.

This doesn’t apply.  We don’t have a car.

8. You will eat 95% of your meals either incredibly fast or with one hand. Or both.

Due to my work hours, I get home after my daughter’s gone to bed (3 days a week) or get home an hour before she goes to bed (2 days a week).  In either case, I eat after she’s gone to bed.  No problem!  But during the other 2 days, she gets fed first, then we eat.  And yes, I sometimes have to defend my food while she gets upset that I’m not playing with her.  It makes me take longer to eat.  It should get easier soon, I hope.

9. You’ll basically become a ninja.

With so many toys around as obstacles, this has actually been really difficult.  I manage to bump one or two of them, and of course, they make a lot of noise.  But thankfully, Tomoe sleeps through the sound.  At times, she’s a pretty heavy sleeper.

10. Despite your best efforts, your kids will get their hands on your iPhone.

Yes, she does quite often.  But she knows I don’t want her playing with it, so she turns around and hands it to me.  My wife’s iPod Touch, on the other hand, that’s a different story.  She has a lot of games on it for Tomoe, so she’s got permission to use it.  She knows how to unlock it, where to find the games, how to start the games, how to play them, and how to close the games.  That’s right, she’s not even 2 years old, and she’s already an expert on how to use it.  And there are plenty of random photos she’s taken of the floor.

11. Parenting is harder than you think it’ll be, but you won’t really notice.

That is actually really hard to respond to.  It’s been harder since she’s learned to walk.  When she was a tiny baby, the difficulty was getting a full night’s sleep.  But daytime was a breeze, outside of frequent diaper changes and feedings.  Now, the difficulty is keeping her out of trouble.  She does fairly well, surprisingly.  But she makes a mess with her toys.  But another thing that’s hard is to get her to stop talking so negatively about things.  She says “no” and “dame (no, don’t, you can’t do that, I won’t do that, etc)” all the time, and has now started saying “hen na no (you’re weird/strange/a freak).”  Guh.

12. You will have to sneak candy like it’s a contraband substance.

Yeah, but not just that.  Fruit, too.  Especially tangerines and bananas.  And any snack featuring pictures of Anpanman.

13. You will laugh more than at any other time in your life.

Yeah, if I’m not frustrated.  But she definitely has provided some big laughs.

14. You’ll be awakened at 2 a.m. to fetch a glass of water only to find your kid passed out when you deliver it.

She’s never requested this, and isn’t very good with drinking from a glass, but she has woken up and asked for us.  She usually wants to sleep in our bed with us.  But sometimes, she’ll wake up crying, then fall asleep within a couple minutes.  Still waiting for her to ask for water.

15. You will see your own faults reflected back at you.

She copies everything!  One of the strangest things is that when I’m at my computer and not using my mouse, she’ll reach over and pull my hand to my mouse.  Am I really using it that much? When she’s in front of my computer, she always goes for the mouse, too.

16. Folding kid and baby clothes is torture.

Not an issue.  Really.  They’re so small.

17. It’s impossible to feel manly when folding said baby clothes.

Again, not an issue for me.

18. The power of cute is more formidable than you realize.

Hell yes! I may be in a bad mood and Tomoe gives me a cute smile or pose, and it just makes me smile.  She has a lot of power.

19. You will find talking to your friends without kids more difficult.

Simply meeting any friends has become more difficult.  Bed times, making sure I’m home in time for her to see me on weekends, and so on.  I’ve become a servant of my daughter’s.

20. Kids become actual people and not baby blobs way sooner than you think.

I’ve made a similar comment before about how my daughter seems like a real person now.  She actually thinks, has likes and dislikes, and is rather creative.  She is surprisingly creative!  She impresses me a lot.

21. Something you love will get ruined.

Not yet.  She’s damaged earphones, folded a book cover, but that’s it.

22. You will turn into your parents.

Some aspects, probably.  I had quite a bit of freedom when I was a kid, but I tended to be well-behaved.  Hopefully, Tomoe will learn to be responsible, so I can feel more confident about her ability to be independent.

23. Very little will embarrass you.

Those parents with noisy kids in the supermarket now have my understanding.  But I also realise just how I don’t care what others think of me when my daughter is shouting for Anpanman cookies and I ignore her.  Believe me, nothing will shut her up.  She already has Anpanman cookies at home.

24. You won’t be able to watch movies where kids are killed or kidnapped.

Not really.  On the contrary, it gets my protective feeling heightened.  If I see a movie where a kid is kidnapped and the parents have to try to get the kid back, all I want is for that parent to beat the crap out of the kidnapper.  It’s only natural to want to protect your kid.  I can still watch those movies.

25. You won’t want to spend money on yourself because you’ll know every dollar spent on yourself is a dollar you could’ve spent on your family.

I’ve always been this way.  There’s been no change.

26. Buying your kid something will make you way more happy than buying yourself something.

Absolutely.  I love seeing that happy face.

27. When your kid is little, every trip out of the house will feel like getting ready to go to the airport.

How true this is.  And having to pack extra diapers and wet wipes, as well.  Getting her back into the house is like having to unpack.  It’s so much effort to go anywhere, especially if we have to take the bus.  The bus is the most difficult thing about going anywhere with my daughter.

28. You will love to watch kids’ movies.

Honestly, I always have.  Now I have an excuse to be able to watch them.

29. You will cram your entire adult life between the time your kid goes down and you go to sleep.

Very true.  I also love nap time.  But since Tomoe goes to a nursery some days every week, I also have a bit of time in the morning before I go to work.  Those are precious times for me.

30. For a while, only you will be able to understand them, so you’ll basically become their interpreter.

This is a tough thing.  Tomoe is learning both Japanese and English, and my Japanese isn’t good enough to understand much badly pronounced Japanese.  But I have interpreted before.  When my daughter met my coworkers, I translated what she really meant by “nana” and “bappo.”

31. And lastly, it’s all worth it.

Yes.  See my previous post.

So, how about you?  I want to hear some responses.

Nothing Beats Being a Parent

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood.  Absolutely nothing.  When I became a parent, I felt something I’ve never felt before, something that is incredibly difficult to describe in words.  I can’t compare it with anything.

My daughter was born 1 year, 9 months, and 28 days ago.  On Monday, she’ll be 22 months old.  It’s been a roller coaster ride.  She’s been a newborn, a baby who couldn’t do anything on her own, a baby who could roll over, a baby who could crawl, a baby who could stand up, a baby who could walk, a toddler who could run, and now a toddler who can speak.  She hugs, she kisses, she holds hands.  When I come home from work, she smiles at me really big and runs to give me a hug while laughing.  When I get her out to the nursery driver, she waves and says “bye-bye.”  She loves the nursery.  She loves playing, dancing, and singing.  She loves talking, although most of what comes out of her mouth is still gibberish.  But she does communicate much better now.  If she wants me to come to her, she says, “Oide (come here).”  If she hurt herself, she says, “Itai (ouch)” or “Ow.”  She cries when she doesn’t get what she wants, she has temper tantrums, she has an incredible obsession with Anpanman and seems to really like Mickey Mouse, too.  She shouts, “Anmanman!” and “Mickey!”  She loves bananas.  “Nana.”  She loves mikan (mandarin oranges).  She calls anything red an apple. “Bappo.”  She points at trees all the time. “Chee.”

She loves drawing.  She chooses the yellow crayon and hands the rest to me.  She points to where she wants me to draw.  I go away for a bit and sit at my computer.  She comes over and takes my hand, saying “Oide.”  She wants me to draw some more.  I wonder if she’ll be an artist.  I wonder if she’ll be a dancer.  I wonder what she’ll do in her life.

My wife was watching a video about a 14 month premature baby, and we both had a big smile.  We remember Tomoe as a baby.  But we also said that we want another baby.  I said, “I want to hug Tommy right now.”  My wife said, “Me too.”  She had her diaper changed a few minutes ago, and she woke up.  It’s nearly 11 pm.  We told her, “Love you.”  She said, “No.”

Yesterday, I took Tomoe to the playground, and she went on the swing, then we went down a very long slide together.  As we were walking, she reached up and wanted me to carry her.  As I was carrying her, I had a very brief conversation with her.

I said, “Love you.”

Tomoe patted me on the head and said, “Lub you.”

It is so worth it.

Talking Bilingually and Pooping

It’s been a while since I posted about Tomoe.  It’s been a pretty busy month, and she’s been developing quite quickly, especially with talking.  We want her to speak both English and Japanese, though I’d have to say that Japanese is winning right now.

For example, she’s able to make simple requests and tell us if she hurts somewhere in Japanese.  Some of the things she says are:

  • Koko de – She’s asking me to come here.
  • Koko itai – It hurts here (very useful 2 days ago, but more on that later)
  • Kore? – She points at things just saying “this?”
  • Dame – She pronounces it “mame” but it means “no” or “don’t.”  She uses it after I tell her not to touch something.
  • Ii yo – It means “okay.”

In English, she mostly just uses words.  She likes to point out things and say the word, although it’s still quite limited.  Some examples are:

  • tree
  • dog (sometimes as “wanwan”)
  • cat
  • bus
  • car

She also understands directions in English.  I’ll tell her to stop at a busy road and she’ll stop.  I can also ask her to put something in the garbage or give it to mommy, and she does it.  I can ask her if she needs her diaper changed, if she’s hungry or wants a banana or milk, and she’ll respond with a “yeah” or “no.”

I think the hard thing is getting a balance between the languages.  I speak to her in English all the time, though I understand what she says in her simple Japanese.  She speaks about 80% in Japanese and only 20% in English.  Although I always speak to her in English, she usually responds with Japanese, even though she understands what I’m saying.  But one situation a couple nights ago had me really glad that she can talk to us now.  She had a high fever all day at 39 degrees, and was very uncomfortable at night.  She kept touching her ears and said “koko itai.”  She was telling me that her ears hurt.  Yesterday, I took her to the clinic with a nursery, and the doctor confirmed she had a bit of an ear infection.

Not all of her communication is verbal.  She uses hand gestures for come here quite often.  She also herds me around.  She’ll grab my leg and push me to where she wants me to go.  When I put my computer away, she points to where I put it, trying to be helpful.

But one of the biggest developments is that she tells us when she’s pooping.  She crouches down, grunts, and strains.  So guess what?  She’s starting potty training!  We got her a toilet seat for the toilet, and we’ll be trying to get her to use it.  I hope she’s a fast learner with pooping.

And finally, a happy 21 month birthday to Tomoe tomorrow!

Was that a word?

Baby talk can be interesting.  Sometimes there’s the occasional “word” that actually sounds like a real word.

Tomoe has been babbling on and on for quite some time now.  While she doesn’t speak in any language we know, she does mimic us.  However, she has managed to say some words.

In the past, she’s said “bad idea,” “yellow,” and “hai (yes).”  But last night, while I was changing her diaper, she said “hayaku (hurry up).”  It was really good timing.  But this morning, she looked up at me suddenly and said very forcefully “Dad!”  She probably had no idea she was saying “Dad,” but who knows?  She often says “dadadadadada.”

She understand words, though.  She knows “bye bye” and waves.  She knows her name.  When we say “bouncy bouncy,” she bounces up and down.  But the word that gets the biggest reaction is “don’t.”  The moment I say it to her, she starts crying.  I could be feeding her, and she’s kicking my arm, then when I say “don’t kick,” she starts crying.  This morning, she was shaking her bed a lot, and I said, “don’t shake your bed.”  She got a very sad look in her face, sat down and starting crying.  The sad look got to me.  I didn’t want her feeling bad about it.

I do have to say that I’m really looking forward to having conversations with her.

Tomoe’s first snow

The Kanto area of Japan (around Tokyo) had its first snow of the winter.  And it was a lot.  Actually, it was the biggest snowfall I’ve ever seen in this area since I came to Japan almost 8 years ago.  Tomoe got to enjoy her first look at snow.  To be honest, she did see snow when she was a newborn, but she didn’t really get to experience it.

Look! It's snowing!

Look! It’s snowing!

This snow is neat stuff.

This snow is neat stuff.

I was stuck at work yesterday, but I could see the snow from where I work.  By the late afternoon, there was 20-30 cm of snow on the ground.  However, this snow was very wet.  It was like slush.  On my way home, I had the displeasure of stepping in a 10 cm deep puddle of water covered by slush and snow.  My foot and shoe were soaked.

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This morning, Tomoe got to see the snow that was left.

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Standing in the snow for the first time!

Tomoe’s birthday is rapidly approaching, and she’s already got some birthday presents.  Her current baby carriage is good, but it’s appropriate for a toddler that’s walking.  She can’t get in or out of it by herself.  So, she has a new one made by Jeep!

Is this a 4WD?

Is this a 4WD?

In other news, Tomoe’s walking ability has been getting pretty strong.  She no longer sits down after only 5 or 6 steps.  She stays up as long as she wants!  She’s getting quite good at it, and I can see she’s getting ready to start running soon.

In addition to kissing, she also likes touching noses together.  She has a very playful personality, although she still wants to throw things out of her bed.  She’s also been sticking her tongue out while eating, causing all the food to get all over her clothes.  Of course, if we speak sternly with her about that, she starts crying.  She knows when we’re not happy, though I don’t think she really understands yet.

Well, next week, we’ll have a fun birthday for her!

Happy baby, moody baby

Tomoe is having good days and bad days.  Yesterday was a good day.  She was happy.  She was silly.  She was joking around.  I’m pretty sure she was joking around.

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Happy Tomoe!

She’s been doing a lot of walking lately, though she still only takes about 5 or 6 steps on her own before sitting down.  She has been walking outside a lot while holding our hands, though.  She is getting better all the time.    She’s even started walking backwards!  When I got home last night, she walked up to me in her bed and smiled, then walked backwards making a growling sound.  Then she walked up to me again and smiled.  Then she backed up again, growling.  She was playing around with me.  It reminded me of this:

But here are some real pictures of Tomoe standing in the park, taken by my wife while I was on my way to work.

Standing at a park bench.

Standing at a park bench.

 

Happy Tomoe at the bench.

Happy Tomoe at the bench.

And one more standing Tomoe.

And one more standing Tomoe.

One more happy thing.  She’s been repeating a lot of things we say.  She’s been mimicking so much.  She’ll repeat sounds when we copy her.  But she’s also been kissing a lot.  We kiss her, she kisses back.  She’s learned to wave, too.

On the moody side of things, she has been terrible today.  Crying about everything.  She cries when we feed her, cries when we play with her, and she’s been throwing food down on the floor.  She gets quite upset when we’re not happy.  If we scold her a bit, she cries.  It takes just a look sometimes.  She knows we’re unhappy just by looking at our faces.  But in general, she’s just been in a bad mood today.  Hard to feed, hard to play with, hard to please.

Thankfully, she’s playing on her own right now and not crying.