A little more independence

A- is playing more independently. I actually managed to do a little consulting during the afternoon. Nothing too complicated, just modifying and running a script that I’d written the other night so that it could download a large collection of files in time for me to send the archive to the person who requested it. A- kept herself occupied by “shopping” for groceries in the pantry, “working” on my laptop, and putting things away, occasionally asking me for help. Later that afternoon, she accompanied me as I vacuumed upstairs and downstairs. It helps a lot that I can trust her to go to the potty or ask for help.

I want to think about how I can balance different types of time: focused playtime together, independent play while I observe or help as requested, and activities I do while she plays in the background. I’d like to minimize the waiting time between when she asks for help and when she gets it, so no long focused tasks – maybe 1-5 minute response time. I want to communicate that she’s important and that I’m available, and also that I trust her and that she’s capable of exploring on her own. I want to continue enriching her vocabulary by labeling things and actions, and by doing things in front of her that she can then imitate or participate in.

I think I’ll keep my current arrangement for consulting: 1-2 hours a week in the middle of the night, except for rare occasions when a little work during the day can help other people a lot. No calls, still, since A- wants to talk on the phone whenever I use one. (Distracting her with another handset rarely works.) Coding on the laptop is too abstract for her. Ditto for writing.

Drawing or writing on paper lets me explore a few thoughts quickly and gets her interested in drawing, although any index cards or lists I make tend to get enthusiastically scribbled on or crumpled. That’s okay, I just note key ideas on my phone.

Cleaning is a definite win. It has to be done anyway, and it’s something I can do in stops and starts. It’s good modeling, too. Now that she’s more independent, I can vacuum, and I can sometimes move things between floors.

We’re not quite at being able to cook anything more than the simplest recipes, but we’ll get there someday. Maybe we’ll start with ingredient prep, which could double as cutting practice. As she gets better at waiting, I’ll feel more confident about asking her to wait a few minutes while I put away food or deal with boiling water.

If I open a book to read, she usually wants me to read a book to her. That’s okay, she gets priority. She can flip through a few books and “read” them on her own, saying the words she remembers out loud. Sometimes she tells me to get my own book. We’ll probably work out a routine of spending some time reading together and some time reading our own books. In the meantime, I like reading The Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Seuss books.

I want to think about how to enrich her environment so that she can explore and learn. She’s focused on home stuff at the moment, and she rarely wants to dress up to go outside. In fact, she mostly likes to spend time in the kitchen, which isn’t much of a surprise because we like to spend time in the kitchen too. If we organize the play area a bit better and I hang out there more often, maybe that will shift the centre of gravity. She likes being able to play for a bit and then check in with me, so I can try setting out a simple puzzle and things to rummage through.

As for outside time, maybe we’ll shift back to that when we’re more comfortable with potty training. She’s okay with quick walks in the carrier, but she might be picking up on my worrying about going for an extended stroll without a diaper. Maybe I can work on more excitement and routine, too.

Gotta grow along with her!