A bit about parenting. As a parent, I sometimes feel like I am blindfolded, feeling my way around for a doorway in a sparsely outfitted, dark room. I just wish I could take my blindfold off and turn the lights on. Theodore Roosevelt was certainly right when he noted that, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty …”

One of my biggest surprises in parenthood is that no two kids are alike and there are very few textbook children. Most parents cannot open a Dr. Sears book and read about what a child should be doing at age X and see that their X-month old is doing just that. At first, I was in denial about this and thought that maybe I am at fault for Sophia’s horrid sleep or her dependence on her bottle well beyond the age of two. However, I quickly realized that children are all different and they, just like us adults, have their own personalities, needs and develop at a different pace. As such, it is simply unfair to expect your child to adhere to a set of guidelines that are outlined by experts who have never met you or your child.

Our own parenting style is also one where we are flexible and focus on Sophia’s needs and comfort, expanding great effort to avoid any undue stress or cognitive taxation on her. This style has precipitated, or perhaps the style itself was precipitated by, Sophia’s personality and needs. As a result, we are faced with a 28-month old who co-sleeps with us at least part of the night and still drinks drank a bottle in the evening and in the early morning. That’s right, I am with this post, celebrating the end of my bottle prepping and washing days where Sophia is concerned.

How did we finally do it? Well, one day, we offered her milk out of a cup with a straw, a cookie to go with it and made the entire thing that much more appealing with her very favorite cartoon. We’ve not looked back since. There were no tears, no cold turkey, no spilled milk and no days without it. I could have followed the textbook that said that I just had to remove the bottle from Sophia at age one, but I know that would have meant tears, spilled milk, going cold turkey and bending Sophia’s will to mine or actually, the experts’ will. Why? Instead, we waited until she was ready and found the transition to be fairly easy.

This was a great lesson for me as a parent: I should, and always will, trust my gut when it comes to my child. I will not let society and its arbitrary norms dictate my child’s transitions and adjustments and rather, enjoy and embrace her needs first and foremost.

I hope this post does not impart an impression of some sort of a hippie parenting where we have an anything goes attitude. While lax on some things, we are incredibly strict and have expectations in others such raising a child who is a willing and agile traveler, a child who is willing to try new foods, new activities and experience and a child who above all is empathic.

Food For Thought From the Rocking Chair

It has been a while since I’ve talked about what Sophia is up-to now-a-days. Her activity, toy choices and even playmates change based on her interests which have grown over the past few months. My mother-in-law, who is a childhood education expert, tells me that I should expect to see an even bigger jump in play-skills, personality and interests in the coming 6 months. Since Sophia’s our first child and I am the youngest, I have no idea what to expect and find every day to be the equivalent of unwrapping a present.

Generally, I have seen a broadening of Sophia’s exploratory behavior and she has moved from solely tactual exploration to attempting to fit the object into her world and her play schemes. I see an increased attention span where arts and crafts are concerned with crayons and now finally, markers dominating her craft table activities. She always has in me, a willing companion for coloring. For whatever reason, I find the activity to be incredibly relaxing after a workday and always find myself asking her to color with me.

Sophia loves stickers, but not just any stickers, the squishy sticker puzzles are her absolute favorite. She got a set from Evan’s uncle, aunt and cousins and I have since purchased another one with a different theme.

An increase in attention span has translated in greater advances with unit blocks that my mother-in-law praised for the last 12 months. I was skeptical at first, but must admit, that unit blocks are pretty wonderful. Not only does Sophia enjoy playing with hers, but we enjoy them too. She has not yet fully transitioned to 3-D building but we are not in a rush. We build with her and sometimes for her, letting her explore the creations and more importantly topple/destroy them so that we can start over again.

She does well with non-connecting puzzles, but lacks the attention span and spatial reasoning skills necessary for connecting ones. This is something we’ll need to work on.

Lastly, there are of course legos and our joint appreciation of them. Evan and I love legos and could still occupy ourselves with them for hours. It turns out that Sophia has either inherited this trait from us, or perhaps legos are just universally loved. Either way, she loves building towers and arranging little lego people and flowers in her lego play schemes.

Current favorite books (all images courtesy of Amazon.com):


From the Rocking Chair

From the Rocking Chair Life Moments

Choices — we all like to have them and we feel deprived when we don’t. The same holds true for children as much as it is the case for adults. A few months ago, we had given some serious thought to the type of parents we were or were going to be and it have decided that we always have been and always will be free range parents. What I mean by that is we’re not keen on being helicopter parents and we are not keen on constant active play with Sophia. There are of course some exceptions like TV … whether or not preferred, it has crept into our daily lives and we are tolerating it — for now.

I am a basic believer that independence at an early age is a key to success in later life when your mom and dad aren’t always going to be there to help, entertain, or plan your life for you. As such, ensuring that Sophia is able to self occupy for a prolonged period of time and is essential. Self-paced exploration is key to self occupation and we try our best to allow her that basic freedom. Speaking of freedoms … sometimes you simply don’t have a choice. This is certainly true for kids… you have to eat or you have to brush your teeth and you have to do it now. I don’t believe in unnecessary tears, in forcing a child to do something they don’t want to do and am keen to quite frankly outsmart Sophia whenever I can. I noticed a few months ago that Sophia had started to take on a decidedly “No” attitude. It is entirely normal — she is just exercising her right to choose. Her choice matters and I would like her to always remember that… so we encourage her to choose but have steered her into a much more “Yes” attitude.

She always gets a choice and as the weeks go by, we try to introduce more freedom to her choice. Our “Yes” and “Choice” attitude shifts the emphasis on the action and more on the fact that it is her choice. For example, she gets to choose her clothes in the morning. She is sometimes not a fan of getting out of her pajamas (how many of us are?!), but she is much more willing when she gets to choose her clothes. Even then, she doesn’t get free reign of her closet, just a choice between a few shirts and shorts/pants. Even the smallest choices let her feel like she has a say. Having a say and exercising her choice and decision-making skills will hopefully help develop these faculties for a future as a rocket scientist or a high-stakes investment banker or … just a well-adjusted member of society where we have free choice.

From the Rocking Chair Life Uncategorized

We’re fortunate to have lots of and lots of toys in our house. Or, are we really? Most of the toys we didn’t buy ourselves — they were generously brought here by my mother-in-law who buys and selects toys that aid in early childhood development. Sometimes, I feel like I live in a toy store  The question is this: are all the toys really necessary? Growing up, I never had so many toys. I don’t feel particularly disadvantaged and also don’t feel like had I had more toys, I’d be more successful. The real question is: what is the minimum amount of toys that a child needs to thrive? (Please let the answer be 2 :-). I leave you with a shot of our little toy master.


From the Rocking Chair

From the Rocking Chair Life Play