Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Emperor's New Shoes

I've read that as children grow and learn new skills, they may stop doing, but not forget, old ones. This is certainly true for my son, who recently restarted doing some things he used to do but seemed to have forgotten.

To Poop or Not to Poop
A couple of months ago, I started putting Little A on the potty to poop. Since he isn't talking yet, he can't tell me when he needs to go, but when I would see him assume the pooping position or make his "pushing" face, I would take him to the toilet and let him do his stuff there like a big boy. This was successful for a couple of weeks, but then the au pair came and let him poop in his nappy when I wasn't around. He quickly realized that pooping on the go was more fun than doing it big boy-style and soon refused to cooperate when I would put him on the potty.

A month or so later, I've started putting him on the potty again. It's very early days yet, but so far, so good. I'm hoping it stays this way as he is now 22 months old, and according to my mum I was toilet trained by this age or thereabouts. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Another thing Little A has recently relearned is his dislike of footwear. As we live in a flat with lovely wooden floors and for a time had a crawling baby about, we go barefoot when indoors. Most of our guests take their shoes off at the door and make themselves at home since our toddler still spends much of his time sitting and playing on the floor.

Little A started walking on his own at 9 1/2 months, with no assistance. My husband and I didn't do the hold-his-hands-and-let-him-practise thing that most parents do, nor did we use a walker. Our son wanted to be mobile as quickly as possible and we wanted him to find his own balance instead of leading him about drunkenly as most learning-to-walk babies are, so we only held his hands to keep him steady when he had already made his first short sets of solo steps.

Naturally, all this learning to walk on his own was done barefoot, and his first "shoes" were those ideal for new walkers with soft suede soles that allowed him to still feel the floor. A former professional ballerina, I know how important it is to feel the floor through your footwear, and I also know the discomfort caused by feet being squeezed into shoes, no matter how comfortable, for long periods of time. At any rate, I love being barefoot, and my son clearly inherited this trait.

Once he was ready for proper shoes, the struggles began. He didn't like the feeling of things on his feet, and perhaps they impeded his ability to walk, or so he thought. No matter how flexible the sole, it still wasn't the same as being free of footwear, so we went though countless attempts to coax him into his shoes, whereupon he would insist on being carried or put in his stroller and refused to walk at all. Eventually though, he capitulated and accepted that shoes needed to be worn when going outdoors. Hooray! Just in time for trips to the mountains and Hong Kong, where the weather was far colder than sultry Manila and shoes were a must.

When summer arrived in February, Little A had just about outgrown his favourite pairs of lightweight, waterproof shoes and the next size up was still too big. Uncomfortable in overly large shoes and complaining about too tight ones, he has taken to being barefoot again, even out of doors and in shopping malls. We force him into a pair of lightweight sandals now, but he still complains about them.

One thing my husband and I have noticed lately though is that when there are shoes on his feet, our dynamo of a son, who normally loves to run, climb and bounce about, turns into the type of child I marvel at when I see one - almost catatonically still in his stroller. Perhaps that is the simple secret to a perfectly behaved child - footwear.

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