I have been in DC this past week for work. I love Vermont, but it has been a great joy to wander around my old neighborhood, visit with friends and see their children, and stop in my favorite store and coffee shops (yes, one store, many coffee shops). When I walked by our old playground, I was flooded with memories. For some reason, one in particular stood out. When Katherine was three and a half we went through a phase when leaving the playground was very difficult - as in she never wanted to leave and the four block walk home was torture. I remember feeling paralyzed - with Clara in the wrap, the backpack heavy with water bottle, snack, spare clothes, diapers, etc., and a crying child who refused to walk, what could I do?
As usual when I face a child challenge, I think about what Katherine's teachers would suggest. A song. Sing a song. Something simple and rhythmic that will calm us both, center us again. The song that was in my head that day - the "Puffer Belly" song, as we now call it - got us home. For months we sang it every time we left the playground… and we made up dance steps to go along with the words. Katherine loved this routine. I had to get over my self-consciousness of singing and dancing down the street, but it beat carrying a kicking and screaming kid all the way home.
In case you have a three-and-a-half-year old who refuses to walk at inopportune times, here is our song and dance routine:
Down by the station (swing hands forward)
Early in the morning (swing hands backward)
See the little puffer bellies (kid does a twirl at "puffer belly" under mom's arm)
All in a row
See the station master (swing hands forward)
Give the starting signal (swing hands backward)
Puff Puff (stomp each foot once)
Toot toot (do two little hops)
Off they go (run forward several feet together - drag this out and run as far as possible to get home faster)
We tried making up other dances to other songs, but this was always our favorite.