“Play tayo kay Jesus”

We probably should have done this earlier, but recently, we’ve begun the practice of praying short prayers aloud with the twins—during mealtimes and bedtimes, mostly, but it can also be in other times too, like when I prayed for their cough and cold to go away as I gave them an oil massage.

I’m not sure about the extent of their grasp of the concept, but Ulap for one is loving it. She is always the one reaching out for our hands and reminding us, “Play tayo kay Jesus. Play.” See, she means “Let’s pray to Jesus,” but because she can’t pronounce the “r” properly yet, she ends up saying “play.”

I didn’t think much of it at first, but suddenly, I realized: it’s such a beautiful thing when you think about it. For them, praying to Jesus is much like playing with Him. Like when a parent and a child play together, praying to God pretty much achieves the same things. It is reveling in His presence. It is a communion of spirits. It is a method of learning and communicating. It is a sure-fire way of getting to know Him. It is a gift of time.

Lord, may we always remember to seek You in prayer, and may You grant us the grace to raise prayerful children, children (and eventually adults) who are just happy to come to You and spend time with You, always.

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Life with Twins: Yes, Every Day is an Instant Playdate

Play, especially when self-directed, is not only natural — it is vital for our children’s emotional health. Through play babies naturally develop physical and cognitive skills, stretch their imaginations, flex creative muscles, build resiliency and a strong sense of self.

The quote above is from the article “Baby, You Are Born To Play” by Janet Lansbury, a proponent of RIE parenting. I can’t say I’m a full on RIE parent (actually I feel iffy attaching any label to my parenting, such as it is; I sort of do a little of this and a little of that style I guess), but a lot of the stuff I’ve read about RIE make sense to me. I’m not equipped enough to adequately describe what RIE parenting is all about (for that, you can check out this link), but letting kids enjoy uninterrupted, self-directed play is one of its principles.

I used to feel guilty for not spending a lot of time doing “activities” with my twins, but now I can just say, hey, RIE parenting! Ok, just kidding. There is RIE parenting and there is distracted parenting, which goodness knows is also one of the things I can be guilty of.

In any case, because they are now full-fledged toddlers, the twins have become increasingly adept at entertaining each other. As long as they know that I’m around, I can more or less just stay in one spot and let them do their own thing. Once in a while they’ll come up to me and sort of check in, tell me what they’re doing or ask for my help in something, then off they go again. They do pretend play, horse play, throw-everything-within-reach play, run-around-giggling play–whatever strikes their fancy. And should one twin happen to be asleep, the awake one is also capable of playing by herself. We’re still a long way to the point where I can actually work on my computer for long stretches while they play, but we’re also a long way off from when they needed to be entertained or held all the time.

Twins are definitely high-maintenance, especially in the infant days, but at this stage, the fact that they have each other is just all sorts of awesome. Here’s a short video that shows some of those awesome moments. Hope it brings a smile to your face 🙂

Workshop: Parenting, the Positive Discipline Way

Mention the word “discipline” in the context of dealing with a child, and what usually comes to mind? Typically, one may have a mental image of a parent or teacher with a fierce look on his/her face, giving a stern lecture or command, with maybe a belt or wooden stick or some spanking implement in hand for good measure.

Now, imagine that you’re a child: how does that sight make you feel? Scared, right? Or maybe even resentful or rebellious. Either way, it’s definitely not very encouraging. But that’s how discipline was traditionally done, right? And we turned out fine, right? Moooore or less fine—right?

But think about this:

“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?” 

Jane Nelsen

This is one of the most popular quotes on Positive Discipline, and it makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s always better when children behave because they actually want to—not because they were forced to.

I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to attend a workshop on positive discipline a few weeks ago, and it was such a thought-provoking experience. It was so refreshing to realize that yes, discipline does not have to be a painful experience for kids, that correction should not necessarily mean punishment, that you can say “no” and still be kind, and most importantly, that a lot of misbehavior can be prevented in the first place if you build the right environment for good behavior.

The Basics

In essence, positive discipline is anchored on building a loving, respectful relationship with your children, one that gives them a deep sense belonging and allows them to thrive and grow as capable, responsible individuals. 

One of the quotes that I learned during the workshop is this:

            “A misbehaving child is a discouraged child.”

This really struck me because lots of times, my two-year old twins act out because they’re simply craving for more attention from us—they feel the need for more attention and are discouraged that they’re not getting it. As I learned in the workshop, we are all social beings and we always need to feel a connection—children most especially. This connection is a basic foundation of positive discipline because, let’s face it, if your child doesn’t even like you very much, why would she/he obey you?

I’m not saying that I’ve got it all figured out, of course. It’s a learning process, and we have to be in it for the long haul. Right now, I’m still not confident of my grasp of what positive discipline is and how I should be applying it to my twins. Positive discipline is so much different—and harder!—from the usual “Just do as I say because I said so and do it now!” style that I find myself doing many times. In spite of my efforts, it feels like I’m still losing my patience with the twins lots of times, resulting in not so positive moments for all of us. I try to be patient, and positive, and sometimes, well, it doesn’t work.

Except of course, sometimes, lots of times actually, it does work, and it’s beautiful. 

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I’m Claiming It: No Terrible Twos, only Terrific Twos

Time will likely come when they’d want costly toys or elaborate play sets or one particularly rare collectible, but for now, for a few minutes at a time anyway, they’re content leafing through old phone books and magazines. And I am amazed at the simplicity of their happiness, at their capacity to find joy – at the ray of sunshine streaking across the floor, at a piece of foam found lying around, at being thrown up in the air by Papa. With the right distraction, even the worst tantrums can vanish in the space of a moment, replaced by a smile and a suddenly lit up face. We’re only a couple of months in, but so far, really, the so-called terrible twos aren’t really terrible at all.

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The Twins Turn Two!

And suddenly, the twins are two years old.

Gone are my tiny helpless preemies who seemed to do nothing but cry all day; replaced by two walking, talking, little human beings who are actually capable of sleeping through the night *fist pump*.

Gone are the days of going through numerous feeding bottles a day; now they more or less just eat all day.

Gone are the days when they were basically just cute paperweights who barely reacted to our antics; now they can fully interact with us and articulate what they want (cheese! yogut!) and what they don’t want (ayaw! ayaw!)

Gone are the days when I would regularly gravitate to the infant section at the department store; now everything there seems so small and I would wander through the aisles, looking wistful and realizing that I have to move to the general kid section to get what I need.

In those first few weeks after the twins were born, I would look forward to this period a thousand times a day. This would get easier, I’d tell myself. And it took a while, but at some point, it did get easier. And now we’re here. We made it.

Veteran mothers will probably laugh and say ha, you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you thought the newborn days were difficult, wait till you get a full dose of the terrible twos or threes. Wait ‘til you get to four! Five! Puberty! Gosh, puberty!

But never mind that. We’re here now. Gone are they newborn days. But also, gone is the helpless, weepy first-time mother; in her place, somebody a little hardened, a little more experienced, a little more capable, a little more forgiving of herself.

We’re here now, and we are grateful. Happy birthday my darlings.

2nd bday

If my twins had social media accounts…

…posts like these would probably appear

  • Why are they making such a big deal of writing only on paper? The wall looks much nicer and colorful now!
  • Yogurt, yogurt! Mmm, I could eat a tub of this stuff.
  • What’s the point of getting us all dressed up if we’re not going to go out right away? Who cares if the adults aren’t dressed up yet – people are going to be looking at US, not them!
  • Pa-a! Pa-a! (Translation: Hey, you’re on my foot! My foot!)
  • Oooh, there’s Mommy. I need to be carried, stat.
  • Why are they always asking us to slow down when we’re running? Don’t they know we’re invincible? Don’t they – aaahh, my foot! Waaaaaahhh!
  • I will eat what I want, when I want, in whatever amount I want. The rest, I will use as facial or hurl to the floor. Deal with it.
  • Mommy should really learn to just stay put and not make a move while I’m sleeping on her. She thinks she has ninja skills and would always try to put me down on the bed, thinking I wouldn’t notice…she’s sooo wrong.

Oftentimes babies and toddlers seem to behave unreasonably, so it really helps to see things from their perspective. From their point of view, it’s not unreasonable at all.

Sometimes their needs are so simple—like wanting to be carried and snuggled—and I can’t even give that because after a few moments I’d already be trying to hurry back to my computer. I’d already be trying to put them down, but the moment they feel me doing that, little legs would clamp around my waist and I’m held hostage again. And I’d hold on tightly in return and tell myself to stay put a little longer. Their needs will not always be so simple, but right now they just want me.

sleeping on mommy

stay put, Mommy, I’m sleeping

UPDATE: A few minutes after posting this, I came across two articles that are just so apt and relevant to this toddler phase that I thought I should post them here. Recommended reading:

16 Tips for Surviving the Toddler Years – “…accept that parenting is as weird as rain with the sun out. It is no contradiction that your greatest joy and your greatest frustration are the exact same thing.”

How to Stop Toddler Defiance – “The good news is that in most cases*, toddler defiance is  just a sign of healthy development.  What’s more,  toddlers that like to say NO and “put their foot down” are not only developing well, they are actively exploring their emotional intelligence.”

A Conversation I Did Not Want, But Actually Needed

This past week has been a tough one. What started as a cough for one twin quickly escalated to pneumonia for both of them. I kept getting jarred by one development after another. First was the worry at having to be admitted to the hospital at all, then the shock at finding out from xray results that both twins had pneumonia. Then, as one twin started getting better, the other one who didn’t seem much affected at first and was not even put on IV started getting worse! So what happened was the first one who got sick was also the first one to be discharged, while the other one had to stay longer for added treatment and observation. Every day I would be hoping to be sent home, wishing it would only be a couple of days, but we ended up spending five days in the hospital. Every day I would nervously think about the twins’ progress, the work that I was not able to do, the medical expenses that were piling up, the logistical difficulties of taking care of the twins and shuttling from home to hospital to pick up supplies and needed paperwork. It also didn’t help that Don was on travel and we were less one person in the rotation.

So last night, when I was finally able to sleep in my own bed, I could only be grateful.

Grateful, and a little bit chastened—because of a few minutes of conversation with a hospital staff who was then doing chest physiotherapy on Dahon while I was holding her in my arms. Continue reading