Toddler negotiations 

My son is is a year and a half….My son is 18 months….My son will be two this year! Where did the time go?? He was just this tiny thing, couldn’t hold his head up or sleep through the night. Now….

My son wakes up around the same time each day, 6am. As soon as he wakes up he yells out, “Mommmmmm!!!” He keeps going until he hears my footsteps across the floor. I guess you could call him my personal alarm clock, but what about those days when I want a few extra minutes to lie in bed? Well, I don’t have a choice, I have to do something! I get him out the crib, change him, and then he gets right in the bed with us. Thanks to his new found sense of independence, he will lie there relatively quiet while profusely sucking his thumb or bothering his dad (oops). Once we finally get out of the bed (okay, it’s like 10-15mins tops) our day will be quiet no more (maybe a short time during his so called “nap”). 

We get downstairs and he asks me, “(s)nack,  (s)nack” while he points to the cabinet where the snacks are. It’s so funny to see how I pull out and show him each snack and he will shake his head yes or no until we reach thee snack of the day. Thank God I try to make healthy choices for our snacks or I’d be screwed. But yes, you heard that right- I negotiate with my toddler. 

Trust me there’s a constant raging war on the inside when we go through these complex situations. The teacher in me says: “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”. However, the mother in me says, “Give him a choice so can enjoy himself”. Which is right? BOTH

You don’t have to be perfect with your kids. Always agreeing or disagreeing with them will teach them nothing, but teaching them to problem solve and regulate their emotions will last them a lifetime. How do you know when your toddler is ready to begin negotiations? Well, if they’re saying “snack” and ready to tell you what they like or don’t like, yes, they’re ready. So what’s the next step? 

1. Provide them with the vocabulary to do so. My day care parents used to get so worried and upset when I would give them a report that their child bit another child or they were bit by a child. I would always assure them that this behavior is developmentally appropriate because children at this age lack the language to effiectively communicate. Therefore, to combat this challenging behavior, we must teach them relevant vocabulary that will reduce these less positive emotions and actions. Grow their vocabulary from: “mine (age 1) to I’m using that (age 2) to let’s take turns (age 3)

2. Reinforce good behavior by providing them with compliments for positive actions.  Tell them you like the way they cleaned up when you asked or how they were so quiet while you were on the phone. Please note, the best reinforcements come from the heart. Your words and actions are the best tools to use because this gives them intrinsic motivation which builds them up on the inside and helps them grow. Relying solely on toys, treats, or food will actually hurt your child. 

3. Give them choice(s) when appropriate so that they understand they have a voice. If you’re painting, let them choose the paint color or surface to paint on. Allow them to tell you when they are finished an activity or task and move on from there. Will there always be choices available? No. But if there is, let them on own it. 
There’s a time and place for everything”. 
Happy parenting, 

Jay 🖖🏾

#random

This rain falling feels so good. It makes me remember you- 

That time you kept on walking.

I called your name…

Something changed. 

You just weren’t the same. 
The things you said, I won’t forget. 

So pressed, so whipped. 

“Girl, why you even bother?”

Food for thought, so I contemplated. 

Our last date was a mistake. 
I told my mother, she called your father. 

“Don’t go back!”

But for goodness sake, 

I don’t have a choice. 

This charade we play always ends the same. 
I don’t care about the clothes. 

Those things always change. 

Your “love” keeps me going, 

Even if you don’t understand what it means. 

Reset

Everyone knows that I was raised a “church girl”- I went every Sunday from sun up until sun down and many days in between. There wasn’t a banquet, luncheon, christening, revival, fundraiser, or funeral that I missed (to say the least). As a child I felt like a hostage because my weekends were shot and I could never have “fun”. I wanted to hang out with my friends, go out to eat, or see a good movie. I didn’t understand the foundation that was being laid because I was caught up in my wants. 

It wasn’t my fault though because that’s what children do, but now as a parent I can see the true value of routine and consistency in a child’s life. A parent’s job is to share the knowledge they have with their children and pray that the children heed the information. (Literally pray because when this information is mixed with stuff from their peers and the internet, the result can be catastrophic!)

But what is fun? Is fun being able to hang out with your friends shopping? Is fun spending hours glued to the television watching reality shows? Clearly fun is a relative term and I’ve come to realize that my fun is more about love these days. I want the love of my husband, teach my children how to love, and share my love with the world. One of the scriptures speak to this in 1 Corinthians 13: 11-13:

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I’m resetting my life to focus on my own growth. Letting go of childish thoughts and decisions will help substantially on this challenging journey. I hope that you too will look at those things in your life that are holding you back and let go of them so that you may grow. Oh, and love more. 

Stay blessed, 

Jay 🖖🏾

Warm it up

I have a love for food that changes constantly. What I want in one moment could be trashed in the next. Literally- I can prepare my lunch the night before, go to retrieve it from the fridge in the morning, take one look at it and wind up dumping it faster than you can take your next breath. You could say this is a little strange, but it’s how I operate. 

In my healthier phases I love a good salad, usually with little to no dressing. A southwest salad from Chick-fil-a, caesar salad from my local pizza place, or BLT salad from Wawa. Trust me they’re all wonderfully delicious and approved by yours truly. 

If I really want to kick it up a notch I throw together a few of my kitchen staples and make a warm kale salad. I’ll tell you how you can tweak the recipe later. 

Ingredients: Kale (bagged or fresh), 2 colored bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, etc.), 1 red onion, 2 tablespoons of butter, and salt. 

Instructions: 

  1. Be sure to remove any stickers from vegetables and clean them under warm running water. 
  2. Chop peppers and onions length wise into equally sized pieces (about half an inch). 
  3. Cut kale into 2 inch pieces. You could also rip kale into smaller pieces, it doesn’t have to be precise. 
  4. Add butter, peppers and onions into pan and begin to sauté for 3-5mins on medium/high heat. 
  5. Throw in kale with other vegetables and cook until leaves have darkened in color, but still have a crunch. Salt to to taste. 
  6. Serve and enjoy. 

Now let’s get to the variations. 

  1. Swap out butter for low fat cooking spray. I use either one, but I prefer the butter for taste. (That artificial stuff just doesn’t cut it!)
  2. Red for white onions-I like the color and kick of the red onions!
  3. Garlic! Fresh, powder, minced, whatever…throw in some garlic. 
  4. Cut the salt and opt for no sodium seasoning like Ms. Dash. 
  5. Add in some protein. One day I threw in some turkey pepperoni because I was being lazy and that was my protein/salt for the day. Chicken and bacon also work well. 

Thank you to my 2nd mother for this recipe. 

        -Jay 🖖🏾

        Work-versary 

        It turns out that good things do happen in March besides Spring. It’s my one year work anniversary!! I’m going to turn-up for God’s strength in keeping me during this time. 

        For those of you that don’t know, I am a first grade teacher at an elementary school in Philadelphia. If you’ve read my About Me page, I’ve worked my butt off since high school so I have a lot to brag about (even though I’m definitely the gangster moving in silence type). 

        Of course this year has been filled with ups and downs, fears, frustrations, but above all else, fuller faith. I used to hate when people would tell me:

        -You have a calling

        -You were born to do this. 

        -They need you. 

        I would look around and literally try to see who they were talking about. To this day, people come into my my building or into my classroom and this is the conversation I wind up having (my responses are always the same: 

        Them: How long have you been teaching?

        Me: Well, I was with toddlers for almost 2 years and I’ve been here since last March. 

        Them: (face drops/mouth gaping) Last March??

        Me: Yes, about a year now…

        Them: So this is your first year teaching in a school?

        Me: (shyly) Yes… 

        Them: (usually some combination of these words) Hats off to you, kudos, WOW, you’re amazing, loud clapping, fist bump, etc. 

        The crazy thing is that I love my job. Well actually not the “job” in itself, but the work that my job calls for. Each day I have children and families depending on me. I know it’s my first year, but I have so much to offer them. I challenge them to learn through the required curriculum, but I also incorporate music, art, and dance. Not in a cheesy way either. We move to GoNoodle, quick draw our story predictions, or sing silly songs about science and phonics. 

        I love being able to go into my little bubble of a classroom, close the door, and be with my children. Their faces light up when when they get something, help a classmate, or share out there answers. If you’ve never been able to see a child’s face light up when they’ve achieved something, it’s awesome-my reason for waking up each day. Here’s to many more days waking up to learn (teach). 

        No day is perfect, but every day is new. 

        -Jay 🖖🏾

        Dip, dip

        A few months ago I took a journey back to the nailry for the first time in over a year. I went consistently to the nailry before my son was born, but then I was just too big to feel like moving. You know how those final weeks of pregnancy go: fat feet, back pain, exhaustion…Anyway, after the constant harassing from my husband, I decided to go back to my old routine, plus my cuticles were looking a bit raggedy (yes, I get a little ratchet at times).  

        The last time I went to the nailry I was getting gel polish at the suggestion of my nail tech, instead of regular nail polish with a gel coat on top. I don’t remember being overly thrilled by the look of my nails, but I remember being very satisfied by how long my color would last. As I signed in to be serviced, I checked the boxes for pedicure and gel polish. 

        I was instructed to pick out my color while I waited, but I really didn’t have a vibe for where I should focus my attention. Did I want to be dark and mysterious or tame and nude? Decisions, decisions. I ended up deciding to go into the realm of my favorite hue purple, dark like midnight. Before I knew it my name was being called to sit in chair number 2. 

        I have to admit, I was a little too excited about my “little piece of heaven wrapped in vanilla bean cheesecake”…I mean pedicure. The water was blue, temperature was just right, and my back was being perfectly massaged. I enjoyed every minute of my pedicure and when it was over I was sad to walk away from the chair. 

        I had to wait for sometime after the pedicure to get my polish so I did a little social media lurking and drafting blog posts. “Chair number one please…” someone called out. The owner’s chair?? What the…

        After a few pleasantries she asked:

        Her: What are you getting today? 

        Me: Uh, I just wanted to get a gel color to match my nails. 

        Her: Gel? Okay. We don’t really do gel anymore. Have you tried dip polish?

        Me: Dip polish? 

        Her: Yes, dip polish. Instead of having to use a light like with the gel polish your nails are dipped into powder. 

        Me: Oh wow, so it takes longer? 

        Her: It actually takes less time than the gel polish.  

        Me: Hmmm…(long awkward pause). 

        Her: I actually have the dip powder on my nails now. 

        Me: Really?? (It looked so sparkly and neat on her fingers!)

        Her: It can last about 3 weeks and doesn’t damage your nails. 

        (Customer walks over)

        Customer: It’s true! I’m a nurse and mine last for that long and my nails are still healthy. I’m addicted!!

        As we all have a hearty laugh I decide to give the dip a try. 

        When she’s done with the whole process of dipping and painting my nails, I can’t help staring at them. They look so good and I don’t have to worry about ruining them trying to get my keys out of my pocket. Bye, bye gel and hello dip powder! 

        -Jay 🖖🏾