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Read an Excerpt
Enzo & Me
By Tony Lalicata
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Tony Lalicata
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFirst Things First
"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit." - Napoleon Hill
Every day, weather permitting, Enzo and I take a walk. The exercise is good for me, and my grandson enjoys the sunlight and fresh air. One beautiful sunny day, I strapped Enzo into his baby carriage, and we were off on our little journey. Enzo was six months old and the only thing I really needed to worry about was making sure the covering on the carriage was adjusted correctly so that the amount of direct sunlight falling on my grandson was limited.
I always try to select routes that are safe, where the flow of traffic is minimal. I feel that it's best to walk in the direction of the oncoming cars so that I can see them as they approach. As we were nearing the end of our walk, I started to turn the carriage towards home, I noticed a vehicle that was facing towards us, but had stopped in the middle of the road. The driver rolled down his window and explained to me that the sun had blinded him, but he saw the reflection of something bright, and it got his attention, so he slowed down. After slowing, he realized that the shine was coming from a carriage, so he stopped. I appreciated his stopping and telling me this as I had no idea that the sun had created a blind spot.
Thankfully, the adversity, heartache and failure were avoided, but I derived a greater benefit nonetheless in learning that safety was the first order of business. It was a lesson well learned. From the changing table, to the crib, to all of the places that could be dangerous (and that means everywhere), constant monitoring is required to assess the risks to the child in your care. It marked the last time that I took Enzo on that route.
HERE ARE SOME SAFETY CHECKPOINTS Most are fairly obvious, but there might be something new that could prove important
1. Never leave children unattended on the changing table. It's natural for them to try to roll over.
2. Keep alert of sharp corners: on tables, chairs, etc. Cover these whenever possible.
3. Keep all sharp objects out of reach: knives, forks, spoons, pens and pencils. It's natural for children to wonder, "How would this feel if I poked it against my face?"
4. Coins and other objects can drop out of your pocket while you are playing with your grandchild, especially if you play on the floor. These are choking hazards. Children will always wonder, "What's that taste like?" Empty your pockets. Put everything in a safe place.
5. Close off all stairways. Your child will muse, "What's down (or up) there?"
6. Secure all cabinet doors at baby's level. Children dream about the other side of the door. Child safety locks are inexpensive, easy to install and very effective.
7. Always use an approved car seat. Make sure that it is properly installed. Your local police are more than happy to install this for you at no cost. Make sure that the baby is secure in the seat in accordance with the instructions.
8. Always apply an age appropriate sunscreen when exposure warrants. Ask your pediatrician what to use.
9. Use child safety covers on all electrical outlets. Again, they are cheap, they just snap into place, and they are very effective. (Make sure that you replace the outlet cover after you removed it to vacuum up the most recent mess!)
10. Gently teach your grandchild the difference between "hot" and "cold" if the parents have not done so.
11. Make sure that your grandchild is strapped in when using playground equipment.
12. Always keep your eyes on the prize. Never, ever take your eyes off of him. Tragedy only takes a second.
13. Make sure that there is no access to fire sources: electric fire starters, cigarette lighters or matches.
14. Keep all plastic bags away from the child in your care.
15. Be constantly vigilant.
16. Use common sense.
Chapter TwoStructuring Enzo's Time
"The key is not to prioritize your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." ~ Steven R. Covey, author (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)
We live in a northern suburb of Boston, where predicting the weather is much like trying to figure out which way a squirrel is going to run when he crosses the street. In baseball, if someone is a .300 hitter, it means that he gets a hit 30% of the times he comes to bat officially, and he's considered to be among the best that has ever played. In New England meteorology, if a weather forecaster bats .300, he's a genius. "Cloudy with a chance of intermittent snow" can mean that we'll be wearing short-sleeves and sandals, or it can mean that we get buried with a three-day blizzard. Sometimes, it even means that the sky will have clouds and some snow will fall for brief periods of time.
Nonetheless, every child needs some structure. Some children, unfortunately, need to have every moment scheduled, but most can have periods of independent play interspersed throughout the day. Following is a sample schedule that I developed for my grandson. It is meant to be flexible to an extent, and it is constantly revised as Enzo ages and develops. When the weather cooperates, the schedule allows me to spend time with Enzo to teach, to nurture his development, to play, to get some exercise and to relax on a schedule that includes his meals and naps.
To each caregiver must be said "Schedule your priorities", but always keep in mind that priorities have a way of changing ... and a way of scheduling themselves. I often think of an old saying that a child's mind is empty and it is for us to fill it up. So, with his parents, we have decided what type of filling will be most desirable for Enzo; what ethics, values, morals and information will best help him in the future?
GOOD WEATHER SCHEDULE
7:30 – 8:00 am Breakfast
8:00 – 8:30 am Music and Pre-school
8:30 – 9:00 am Television - Franklin
9:00 – 9:30 am Reading - Enzo chooses book
At this point, I check for change of diaper. Enzo is pretty regular, again, all kids are different. I also check whenever there is something in the air!
9:30 – 10:00 am Free play time
10:00 – 11:30 am Walk for exercise
My exercise: Enzo gets a free ride.
11:30 – 12:00 pm Lunch
12:00 – 12:30 pm Play time
12:30 – 2:00 pm Nap
2:00 - 3:00 pm Outdoor playtime on swings, slide, sandbox, etc.
Enzo gets some exercise here; I get some coffee – I need it.
3:00 - 3:15 pm Snack time
3:15 - 3:45 pm Little Bear – Television
3:45 - 4:15 pm Enzo free time
4:30 (Approximate) First parent returns home
5:00 Nap time – for Papa!
Chapter ThreeBreakfast and Lunch
"The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink and somebody to love you." ~ Brenda Ueland
I think that a child being fed personifies the above quote. I am there to provide his food and beverage, but also to be someone who will do his best to ensure that Enzo feels and knows my love for him. There are others who will meet these demands, but when my grandson is in my care, when I am feeding him, the sense of his dependency upon me enhances my bond with him and perhaps his relationship with me.
When he was six months-old, feeding my Enzo was a simple matter. A lukewarm bottle and some mixed cereal met his nutritional needs for most of the first year. It was during this time that I learned to properly and effectively "Burp" Enzo and I did so carefully.
Meal preparation and delivery had been an easy task until the time came for "real food." Now my job was more complicated. I actually had to prepare the food - and then utensils were introduced. Thanks to my daughter-in-law, Jenepher, Enzo was properly introduced to his new tools prior to my having to include them at mealtime. I felt great pride when I watched my grandson learn how to use a spoon, and was excited to observe Enzo as his technique improved. I know that using utensils is so simple a matter that almost anyone can do it, but I really beamed as I watched and I related every detail to Anita when I got home.
The new breakfast and lunch protocols were headlined by making sure that Enzo was properly secure in his highchair. He was now able to twist and turn about, which made feeding him very interesting – and difficult. As do many children of his age, Enzo hated to have the bib tied around his neck. He learned that he could pop open the snap if he pulled on the bib just the right way. Eventually, this became his way of signaling that mealtime was over.
There are times when every child just does not want to eat, or to finish his meal. Sometimes the child is overtired or otherwise not feeling up to par and neither feels like having a meal nor does she need to do so. Do not force her to eat when it is obvious that it's just not in the cards. If Enzo wasn't up to eating a meal, I usually provided a healthy snack about an hour later. This would usually satisfy him until it was time to eat again. A brisk walk always seemed to improve his appetite as well.
I have found that having some pleasant music on the CD player or I-Pod seems to make Enzo happier as he eats and more apt to finish his meal. Making meals more enjoyable for your grandchild can't hurt. Adults often have dinner music played while dining at a restaurant. The owner of the eating establishment has decided to pay for music during meals to improve the dining experience. Maybe a happy meal is a healthy meal. No matter the science, Enzo likes it.
If, for some inexplicable reason, you should decide to dine out, even at a children's restaurant, you may need professional help. I don't mean a babysitter or a child-care worker. I mean a place to go where you lie on a couch and talk about it. Why would anyone put themselves through it?
When you walk into the restaurant, you will feel so very, very proud. You'll probably hear people commenting how beautiful the baby is and isn't it wonderful that a grandfather takes his grandchild out to lunch.
After you order, no matter what you order, you will realize that you ordered the wrong thing. It doesn't matter what you ordered. It's wrong. That's when the whining starts; then the whining turns into screaming. You go back to the counter and order something else, but by then if you try to feed your little angel, she is so upset that she vomits. No need to get upset. You had one bite of your hamburger. It's time to go. There are to be no questions.
Oh, well, time to move on.
I've put together a list of some of the things that have proven successful for me. Try the ones that make sense for you. Use them as a basis to develop your own mealtime tips and routines. As I stated in an earlier chapter, the child's mind is relatively empty and we have to make sure it is appropriately filled. In this chapter, it's the child's belly that needs filling, and we have to be able to accomplish this lovingly and in an efficacious manner. Finally, always be on the lookout for that little something that can be the difference between a nice, quiet breakfast or lunch and something that looks like a deleted scene from The Exorcist!
Suggestions for a healthier, happier – and safer – meal
1. Make sure your grandchild is secured safely in his chair. 2. After preparing the meal, make sure any objects used in preparation are put away and out of their reach. 3. Don't rush a meal; babies will sometimes try to put more into their mouths than they should. 4. Always serve juice or milk with meals. Avoid soft drinks and the many fruit drinks on the market which have only a small percentage of juice. 5. Don't become obsessed with food on the floor. Clean it up after the meal, or maybe during nap time. 6. Use a plastic sheet or bag under the chair for an easier clean-up, but make sure it is disposed of properly. Watch an episode of Monk on television to see how crazy it is to worry about it! 7. Allow the baby to feel the texture of the food; this is one way that she will learn about a new eating experience. 8. Make sure you have all the information from the parents regarding what the child can and cannot eat, especially any food allergies. 9. Likewise, ask the parents what foods the child won't eat. 10. If you must leave the eating area at any time, make sure not to leave anything dangerous within the baby's reach. 11. Talk to the baby as they eat; give praises as they do new things (like using the fork/spoon properly). It is good behavioral science to praise desired behaviors. Take every opportunity to do so and it will reinforce the behavior. 12. Be sure to ask mom where the cleaning tools and chemicals are kept. Be sure to return them to the proper place and secure them.
Chapter FourTelevision as a Learning Tool
"I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book". ~ Groucho Marx
Television has its place in Enzo's daily schedule, but his mother set a limit of one hour, and I have pretty much followed these instructions, as I feared that Enzo would begin quoting batting statistics at dinner if he had too steady a diet of ESPN. The rule was more difficult to follow on days of inclement weather, and the Boston area is not exactly known for warm, sunny days, so more than one hour frequently found its way into the schedule.
Noggin proved to be a superb learning tool. Known as the video Pre-School, it provided excellence in both learning and entertainment. I found the programs to be fun to watch, and observed approvingly as Franklin, Oswald and Little Bear helped Enzo to learn words and social skills in lessons taught through interaction between animals and people.
Enzo became really focused on these characters as he sat with me on the couch in his playroom. I tried not to break that focus by talking excessively during his viewing time. I, as many adults, tend to answer questions as children view their television programs. The youngsters are trying to solve the mysteries on their own. Maybe we just want to show our children or grandchildren how smart we are. Whatever the reason, this can be annoying to others who are trying to watch and understand the program, even when the other person is an infant or toddler.
As a by-product of my new involvement in children's television, I often feel like an outsider when my friends are talking politics. It seems that I would rather be discussing how smart "Sid the Science Kid" is. It feels good. I think that we all should all be child-like on a regular basis.
Here is my list of recommended programs. It won't take you long to develop your own list, based on what you see and hear as the child in your care watches.
Excerpted from Enzo & Me by Tony Lalicata Copyright © 2011 by Tony Lalicata. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 First Things First....................1
Chapter 2 Structuring Enzo's Time....................7
Chapter 3 Breakfast and Lunch....................11
Chapter 4 Television as a Learning Tool....................19
Chapter 5 Reading....................23
Chapter 6 Discipline....................27
Chapter 7 Nap Time....................33
Chapter 8 Nanny v. Daycare....................37
Chapter 9 Free Play & Exploration....................43
Chapter 10 Losing a Friend....................47
Chapter 11 Panic Time....................51
Chapter 12 Learning with the Senses....................55
Chapter 13 A Time for Discovery....................59
Chapter 14 Second Childhood....................63
Chapter 15 Swimming Pool Safety....................67
Chapter 16 (The Nana Chapter) Sharing in the Nanny Position By Anita....................71
Chapter 17 Re-Learning....................75
About The Author....................89
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a how to book for taking care of grandchildren. Some great activity ideas. If you are planning to take care of someone else's young ones and you have apprehension order the book. Safety First is practiced throughout. There are also some similarities and good ideas (child oriented) but in some cases very applicable to taking care of elderly parents. You could feel the love and concern throughout the book that these "Nan Parents" had for Enzo.