Friday, August 24, 2007

Oh, What a Shoe Day!

An all time favorite book in our house is called "The Way I Feel" by Janan Cain. It is a BRILLIANT book explaining different emotions. My boys love it! I love it because it explains many different and complex emotions we feel and enables children to relate and to understand that emotions are OK.

When DJ was about 14 months old the power and impact this book had on him really came out. One morning he got up on the wrong side of the bed - translation: everything that day was going to be tainted by temper tantrums and emotion.

We were sitting and playing when Anderson (3 months old at the time) began crying to be nursed. While I nursed DJ continued playing quietly -and then suddenly began to cry. I asked him what was wrong and he baby-signed "shoes". I did not understand since he had no shoes on nor had any need for shoes at the time.

Off to play group we go. At play group a little guy kept taking DJ's toys. DJ was getting very upset. I intervened and offered lots of hugs and DJ kept baby-signing "shoes".

That afternoon DJ was playing with his favorite toy - a piece of rope. He was attempting to pull it straight and loop it around items (a strange and intriguing fascination he has had since forever - and still does). He was getting mad as the rope was not cooperating. I asked him what was wrong and he baby-signed "shoes".

What the heck?!?!?!?! SHOES. SHOES. SHOES.

That evening during bedtime story, DJ requested "The Way I Feel". We read about feeling silly, scared, disappointed, happy, sad, angry, thankful, and then on the next page:

"I'm Frustrated because I cannot do it.
It is hard and I want to cry.
I do not know whether to give it up
or give it another try."

And the illustration accompanying the explanation of frustrated??? A little gal trying to tie up her shoes.


DJ was trying to say frustrated...not shoes...well, yes, he was saying shoes - but he had made the connection between the feeling and the example in the book. WOW.

Even now, when things do not go our way, or if we (the kids and I) and having a frustrating time, we sign "shoes". A private family sign. Thank you Janan Cain for helping us communicate effectively and avert many a temper tantrum.

Well, that brings me to today. It definitely was a "shoe" day in every sense of the word.

This time Anderson (2.5 yrs) had woken up on the wrong side of the bed and Madigan (6 mths) was cranky with a cold and teething.

Mission for the day: new shoes.

Anderson has out grown his running shoes. So for the past week we have been trying to hand down DJ's slightly used shoes to him. He will have nothing of it! His Pepe is constantly lamenting with him on how hard the second son has it in life. Telling him stories of how he NEVER had a new pair of shoes, always had to wear his brother's hand-me-downs.

Well, perhaps all that sulking with Pepe has made our little Ander even more stubborn than he was to begin with...he would not accept DJ's old shoes. So, off to the store we go to buy new ones.

Well, new ones also did not entice Anderson. Every pair we looked at sent him into hysterics and left me apologizing to the sales lady, shaking my head and repeatedly baby-signing "shoes" to myself!

Finally, I reached a compromise - smart Mommy!

First we would go play with Thomas at the "Coffee and Book Store" (aka Chapters) and then we would go buy new shoes at Wallmart. With plan in hand, we headed out. All during Thomas time I sipped my coffee and kept asking Ander, "What are we doing after Thomas?" and he kept replying with a big grin, "Going to shoe store for me new shoes".

YIPPEEEE!!!! I was excited about accomplishing this weary task.

Thomas time we went...and as soon as we walked into the Wallmart Anderson screamed, "NO SHOES, me want hello-copper ride". All I could think of was how frustrating this task was going be yet again.

Quick thinking Mommy replied, "You can only get on the helicopter with new shoes on, let's go". And it worked. In record time we found a pair of runners and were through the cash and onto the hello-copper ride quicker than anyone could baby-sign "shoes".

And as Ander enjoyed his ride with his spiffy new shoes on, Mommy comforted a crying baby and was thinking, "Oh, what a shoe day!"

Anderson's New Shoes!


slouching mom said...

14 months old...signing "shoes" to mean "frustrated":

The human brain is a wondrous thing.

CC said...

That's brilliant! My professional take is just a vocabulary mix up. We (ahem, I mean everybody but me!) do this all the time in speech, writing, and yes, signing. How smart of him to try to explain this emotion instead of screaming.

And I LOVE your idea that he could only do the ride with new shoes on! Now THAT is a smart mama!