I was talking to someone at work the other day about Esme watching Muppet Show and singing along with actors this coworker had never heard of (Danny Kaye, Lou Rawls, laughing at Don Knotts and Milton Burl etc..) and making up elaborate stories with her toys and blocks etc.... She said something to the effect of 'why would you do that to a child her age?' I asked 'What?' She said: show them something that OLD like that! like it was 'normal' tv, and not let them watch Dora and the Wiggles and Yo Gabba Gabba... things other kids their AGE will watch. She won't be able to RELATE to any of her peers in school! She also went into all of those electronic toys (Dora dolls etc) she is apparently missing out on being a 'normal' kid of her 'day and age' etc.. because I tend to like non-electronic toys and we don't watch 'modern' children's programming.
uh huh...*as if that will make her a weirdo?* really now...
And there was a discussion on a board I saw about parents who would like other parents to stop actually teaching their children 'boring' things other kids their age 'wouldn't know' and instead let them watch Nick and listen only to popular music and 'nursery rhymes' (no classical or even stuff we like) and then they would end up normal. This mom believed kids under five wouldn't ever ask questions about anything in a BOOK or about anything not shown on a children's television show etc...and anything else would be pushing a child to learn things 'above' them.
uh huh... again.
There is some to 'growing up different' that these people are talking about... but everybody grows up differently, and parents can't try to be something they are not just to 'be normal.' Mark and I are geeks, and we kind of like it that way ;) Esme will come to some of that by proxy and everything else by her own interests.
I try to follow her interests. If she is interested in 'tick tocks' (clocks) I read her the numbers. If she likes colors lately I will let her pick out her clothes and say 'oh you want the PURPLE shorts, they're pretty' etc and then let her pick out fabric at the store the same way... When she started to play with the money in my wallet I made her play money and told her what each piece was. Now she asks me for a 'quarter' or a 'dollar' at the store etc... If I am making a quilt with hexagons, I tell her what they are and am prouder than punch when she brings me the hexagon out of her shape puzzle. She always makes connections I don't expect - and I find them cool. She did that before she could talk as a way of communicating with us, and they are only getting more interesting now that she can talk better.
She also likes her letters and numbers - has been very interested in the idea for a long time when she would see them in books, on signs, at the supermarket and on Electric Company. She traces her fingers over some letters and sometimes says them out loud - but she really isn't a performer just because we ask her to etc.. She is often VERY stubborn about showing what she knows to anybody (I remember hearing 'NO 5, NO 8' etc.. when she saw them drawn out and then she would erase them angrily and tell me what she DID want me to draw. _I_ didn't think she knew those numbers, which is why I drew them on there to see... and hey, she knew them.. and wasn't amused!
I also used to get begged daily to go to Starfall.com but she has mostly outgrown that now. She does want me to open my wordprocessor so she can play with it quite a bit lately. And just try to put away the PAIRS in PEARS game once she has begged it out onto the table.. or telling her I don't want to play MEMORY for the fifth time today etc...so instead her kitty toy begins to eat the cards and she finds all the food cards and shares the food with her dolls etc...
If Mama is reading about it or she finds a picture of it - she wants to know what it is, even if she can't pronounce it or have any way to understand it right now. She wants to be involved. She will open magazines, and textbooks and anything she can find - sometimes it is just to get attention and other times because she really truly likes what she sees (our atlas, for example, or the science book with all the diagrams).
She goes through her collections and asks me to identify all the fruit, or all the colors of something, or all her shape cards. She will take something away too, and play keepaway not letting me see the card - and still expect me to answer *hate that*. She loves to match pairs of things and thinks it is cool and funny to find two of something. She is creative and likes to make up stories so she can have fun with us. She will ask me to draw aliens and bears on the magnadoodle and dress them in hats on every 'head' and boots on every 'foot'. Her animals and dolls have interesting busy lives doing things sometimes I have NO idea what it is etc... Tonight her new cow toy had to meet every single other toy and say it was a cow. I didn't understand much more of it but Daddy was pretty sure that was the gist of it.
She would ALSO love electronic toys that make lots of noise like any other kid her age.. but for how long? Would she get bored quickly when they just say the same thing every time you push the foot or hand? And those bother Mark's ears after a bit, so it becomes more about getting a reaction out of the noise than it is about playing with the toy.
She does watch a lot of TV, compared to the 'reccommendations'... but we don't sit her in front of it all day, either. We play TV during and after mealtimes for a bit. She has quite a few shows she really likes, and usually it is something we like or at least tolerate. We have no broadcast TV, all DVDs. We rented Yo Gabba Gabba once on Netflix, she HATED it. She cried NO NO,NO. I asked her if I should put it back on the next day and she again cried NO. She likes things with long storylines best, like Pixar films or cat/dog movies. She does like Shaun the Sheep a lot.
As for music, Mark listens to hip hop and 60s and 70s and Beatles and Zappa etc... mostly when I am at work. I put on the classical and the folk music and jazz, and enjoy some of what Mark does as well. He says he has a copy of Beethoven's Ninth besides the one I have - and he guards it heavily so it will never be scratched! Esme has her own tastes as well. She doesn't like some of the music that we really like, but we give her a chance to listen to a lot for someone her age. Sometimes she surprises us like when she dances 'mosh' to Digital Underground's 'All around the world' with Mark or when she talked to the 'Ode to Joy' the other day like it was a phone conversation ??
In most every way she is completely and utterly a two year old - running and screaming and spinning around in circles and loving the carousel at the fair, playing with cats and dogs and in mud puddles and throwing tantrums over potty training or not getting a lollipop etc... and to us everything else she does is perfectly normal, too. And I'm not going to stop listening to what she wants to do (letters, reading, asking me hard things) because a few people at my work are uncertain if it is possible for a three year old to know who Don Knotts is or read off the letters in the breakroom signs to me and say 'YEA THAT's RIGHT' etc.. They've either never had kids, or never had curious ones ;)
I think the basic thing is she knows what she wants and we listen to her - she has a good memory and a curious streak and isn't afraid to show it when she wants to. AND, she hasn't been made to think she is 'bothering' us every minute of the day by showing it. Sometimes I feel that is what my sister and sister-in-law have beat into their kids - leave me alone and stop asking questions, stop wondering, stop imagining, be quiet etc.... I don't want to do that to Esme - I want her to be able to think and express and ask away - even though sometimes I will have to say 'wait a minute' or 'after X' or 'let mama finish typing this' etc.... She is getting better at that, too...