Two Wonderful Girls. One Day At A Time…

Archive for February, 2010

Robyn On The Roof Eating Alligator Pie

The musician Dave Matthews tells a story about how he has two daughters and one of them seemed to pop up in his songs more than the other. Matthews wrote some terrific songs using the name "Grace". At some point, Matthews’ other daughter Stella wanted to know when she’d get to be in a song. Eventually, Matthews relented with a catchy song called "Alligator Pie", which covers a grave topic (Katrina) in a moving way, almost imagining Stella as the inspiration for a survivor in the aftermath in New Orleans.  To add a little levity, Matthews doesn’t hide the initial inspiration for his song, frequently repeating the phrase "Stella said ‘Daddy, when you gonna put me in a song?’"

I suppose Robyn could muster the same beef with me. After all, most blog posts are about Iris. In fact, I think someone has suggested Robyn get an agent. Of course, the omission isn’t completely intentional. I write about observations of a parent seeing things he has never seen before and the experiences with Iris are brand new whereas Robyn is reliving old blog posts in many cases. While the outcomes are often different, the novelty doesn’t match the experiences I have with Iris. Thus, Iris gets the ink. Sure, I gave Robyn the obligatory birthday blog, but at some point, I almost imagine her saying "Daddy, when you gonna put me in a blog?" Her mother does a pretty good job, but Daddy is stuck in Irisland. And the fact is, Robyn deserves more airtime.

When Cherise was pregnant with Robyn, we joked about whether things would even out after Iris (who clearly was NOT the low maintenance baby) had been such a challenge. 18 months later, I think things are even. Now, Cherise and I are aware that second children are usually superior (yes, we are both second children. Why do you ask?). Still, Robyn blows my mind on what a second child could be. In fact, she’s a little more like what I thought Iris would be before we had kids. I’m still amazed by how easy certain things are and I can’t even imagine how different life would’ve been if Robyn had been the first child. She’s a lot more like Cherise and me in that she’s more laid back about things. Don’t get me wrong–I love Iris and I am so grateful for every moment we’ve shared. But in those first couple of years, there were definitely moments where I was less grateful than others. We couldn’t put Iris down in her crib awake and expect her to fall asleep (she’d cry immediately until she was 2 or 3). We couldn’t leave Iris alone to play by herself for too long as she would eventually get upset. None of this is an issue to Robyn. Even with a sister to entertain her, she has maintained a fierce independence and likes to just hang by herself.

She really is a walking paradox. When she walks with a stumble that suggests that her legs are too short for her stride, she still does so with a confidence that makes you take notice. She looks so dainty (much smaller than Iris at the same age), but she doesn’t back down from her big sister. She has this tremendous mellow nature and big grin that starts every day, like she’s in on a joke no one else knows. And on those rare occasions where she does get angry, it takes her about 30 seconds to have her completely forget about it. In sports, they say you’re supposed to have a short memory. If you swing and miss or drop a ball, forget about it and don’t let it affect your next play. Well, that’s Robyn. She’s got the short-term memory and if we do something wrong or she is upset at us, she’ll get her quick pound of flesh and then let it drop and get ready for the next adventure. It’s not quite the same way with Iris, where her potential tantrums needed to be approached like you were diffusing a bomb, because if it detonated, your whole morning was shot.

Robyn does share one thing with Iris: they are both very focused when they’re busy. And smart. Last week, Iris and I went to a bookstore on a Saturday morning while Cherise took Robyn for a morning run. When we all got back, Iris was excited to tell Robyn about the gift we got mommy for Valentine’s Day while we were out. As usual, Iris needed to play the rhetorical guessing game. "Robyn, guess what we saw at the bookstore?" Robyn looks up at her big sister, says "books", and goes over to play with her Elmo doll. She never hesitated and never missed a beat. Not much throws Iris off, but I think her brain short-circuited on that one. I could see the wheels turning in Iris’ head. "Well, yeah, but well, um, what was I gonna say again?"

While much of this mellow child is just her nature, it is worth noting that Robyn is clearly getting a different dose of parenting than Iris did because Iris was raised by a completely different set of people. Sandy & Cherise circa 2007 didn’t have a clue what they were doing. Sandy & Cherise 2010 still don’t have a clue, but we fake it so much better. We have perspective, we don’t react as quickly, and we take it all in stride. Cherise and I appreciate when Robyn is the perfect angel and don’t freak out when she’s not. Plus, unlike Iris who spent the first two years in Seattle, Robyn from birth has been the beneficiary of the frequent presence of her grandparents and our wonderful neighbors–all seasoned parents whose children are adults, but who truly love both our daughters and remember how to handle children. It’s true when they "it takes a village to raise a child". Robyn is certainly seeing the benefits of that.

As for Dave Matthews (who raised those kids a couple of miles away from us when we lived in Seattle), he still managed to sneak Grace into that same song in a clever way ("Grace is all I’m asking. When will Grace return?"). I will likely return to my Iris roots in future blog posts. But let it never be said that I’m not completely in awe of my beloved "Thing 2". Just because the experiences aren’t new don’t make them any less rewarding…

Robyn's Renaissance

Once again it’s been awhile since we updated you on Robyn’s development, but her learning has really taken off just in the past month.  So here’s a little catchup on her latest advances in words, technology, songs, activity and books:
January has been an explosion of words for little Robyn.  Here are a few of her favorite 2-3 word phrases:
  • Who dat?
  • Me too!
  • Daddy’s cup
  • Dister (sister) book
  • Dister jeans too
  • Mine mine!!
  • Up pease
  • Goo nigh!  Goo morning!
  • Read dister book
  • Ocking chair
  • Mommy pick it up
  • Runny nose
  • Sticky hands
  • one, two, twee
She’s also become quite a technology addict, going crazy over her three favorite ones, dragging me over to them or urgently asking for them.  “mommy, come, sit…”:
Videos/skype on my computer:
  1. Puter (computer): ABC Koka, Tata Gigi  (she loves watching the video of herself singing ABCs with Koka at Christmas, and also wants to talk live to Tata and Gigi on Skype all the time)
  2. TV Sesame Street: treet, Elmo!!  (anytime she’s in the same room as the TV, even if the doors are closed, she tries to convince us it’s time for Sesame Street, and will hand us the remotes)
  3. IPhone bird sounds app: tweet tweet!!  (this was endearing at first, as she learned various bird sounds and showed others her Mourning Dove, but now it’s hard for me to have a phone conversation without her trying to rip the phone away to see her tweet tweets…)
Robyn has always been very musical, but now she actually sings Iris’ preschool songs:
  • Rainbow song –
     Iris says “Red orange yellow green blue”, Robyn says “purple”
  • Turkey Dinner –
     Robyn says “Turkey dinner” Iris says “gather”, Robyn says “round”, Iris says “mashed po”, Robyn says “tato”
  • She also knows the tunes and some words to “The more we get together”, “Wheels on the Bus”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and “Huggy Boo”
I took a mini guitar class a few nights ago where I learned 3 songs.  Robyn asked me to play Turkey Dinner and I told her I didn’t know that one.  Well when I played Where is Thumbkin she sang along with me for a bit, then switched over to Turkey Dinner.  Yes, she realized before I did that they were the same tune!
Along with her talking and singing, Robyn is exploring all kinds of physical activities.  Sometimes she’s following Iris, but often she acts in much braver ways than even 4yr old Iris.  Robyn loves dancing, jumping, hopping on 2 feet, biking (still can’t reach pedals though), riding a scooter, playing falling down, sliding down tall slides, climbing, sitting on and rearranging chairs.

Finally, Robyn is even more excited about books than ever before.  We leave a stack of board books in her crib, which she reads for a long time when she wakes up.  Here are some of her favorite books:

  • Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton (she acts out each page)
  • Don’t let the Pigeon Ride the Bus (she loves says no)
  • “Polly book” of nursery rhymes including “Polly put the kettle on” (she sings along, and takes off her socks at the This Piggy Went to Market page
  • A Day with Nellie
  • When I go to the Park (and Preschool, Farm, Store)
  • Little Quack
  • “Hata” – Santa book
  • Elmo doctor book (and acting it out with her doctor kit)
  • Elmo opposites book
  • “tuck book, round and round” – Diggers and Dumpers truck book, her favorite page is the cement truck
  • Goodnight Mimi
  • Rainbow book
  • Art of the Body – Robyn sings “Boca Boca” song at the mouth page
  • Go Dogs Go
  • Hand Hand Fingers Thumb

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