Friday, March 24, 2017

My Ladybug Girl and her Birthday Party

The Ladybug Girl series of books has long been one of Clara's favorites. The sometimes shy and nervous protagonist, Lulu, becomes brave and courageous whenever she puts on her ladybug costume. Clara loves reading about Ladybug Girl's following her on all of her spunky adventures. 

These are one of those rare children's picture books that transcends the passage of time. Clara discovered the books as a two-year-old and even though she is reading much more advanced chapter books now as an eight-year-old, she is just as happy to settle down with one of the Ladybug Girl books today. David Soman and Jacky Davis, the husband-and-wife team behind the Ladybug Girl books, are masterful at capturing the whimsy and everyday imagination of children.

My Ladybug Girl at the Beach
Whenever Clara is asked to pick a favorite book, she always returns to one of the Ladybug Girl books. In PreK she chose to dress up as Ladybug Girl for Favorite Book Character Day. Last summer, totally unprompted, she decided to emulate Ladybug Girl at the Beach. She surprised her friends and confused some fellow beachgoers by showing up in full ladybug garb on a 90-degree summer day.

My Ladybug Girl's 7th Birthday Party
For her 7th birthday party, Clara decided to continue her passion for ladybugs by hosting a ladybug-themed party for friends. She had showed a preference for winged creatures in the past. Her fifth birthday party was butterfly-themed. Clara invited a dozen friends to celebrate her magical day with her at a local party spot.

The birthday girl in full ladybug regalia.

Butterfly wings served as a party costume as well as a favor.

while she munched on marshmallows and other treats.

The girls created their very own Ladybug Girl dolls, making a red gauzy dress and drawing eyes, lips, noses, and rosy cheeks for their dolls.

The guests gathered in a circle to play some party games.

My very favorite part of the party was seeing my sometimes shy daughter come to life as she read Ladybug Girl to her friends. 

She took the time to make sure everyone could see all of the pictures. 

The owner of the party shop was skeptical when I said that my newly turned seven-year-old was going to read as a party activity. She thought that a young reader may not be able to keep the attention of all of the guests. However, Clara stayed poised, reading enthusiastically and with great emotion.
Clara read the story to a sea of fellow ladybugs. 

A tired and happy ladybug ready to blow out her candles. 

I love that Clara is still able to enjoy the magic of childhood even as she creeps closer to tweendom. I am happy that the Ladybug Girl series presented an opportunity for Clara to learn how to become a brave and self-empowered girl.


Choosing chores for a child

One of the highlights of Clara's day is the moment each morning when her teacher shuffles the job chart to reveal each students' job for the day. There is a very clear hierarchy in terms of the prestige of each role. Being the leader is by far the most desired role. When Clara is leader, she gets to do everything first from being the line leader to going first at morning meeting to reading aloud the schedule to all of her friends. 

During one auspicious week with multiple snow days, Clara ended up being the leader three days in a row due to other students' absences. As you can imagine, this was one of Clara's favorite weeks of school all year. 

Each of those three days, Clara came home incredulous and wide-eyed, proclaiming, "I was the leader... AGAIN!"

At school, the least desired role in the class is that of caboose, the student who has to go last in line when the students are traveling to other locations. At home, it seems that any task we assign is met with a similar reaction of disdain as though we are assigning Clara to be the caboose. 

When Clara was four years old, we started to give her chores around the house. I thought it might be good to capitalize on her love of most jobs at school by calling these chores "jobs." 

However, Clara has a firm idea of what is a job vs. a chore, and she is quick to roll her eyes at what is merely a chore when she would much rather complete a job. I am still trying to figure out a way to make all the chores seem like jobs!

Putting away the silverware was the first chore we gave Clara. When I sometime get mixed up and call Clara to the kitchen with a reminder "time to do your job"... she quickly corrects me and reluctantly trots out to the kitchen to complete her "chore."

Another chore low on Clara's totem pole is cleaning up her toys. This is probably the biggest daily struggle we face since she plays with toys every day. Surprisingly, one of the tasks that proved to be most enjoyable to Clara is washing the dishes. She likes to fill a sink with soapy, warm water, and scrub big pots and pans. Clara is a good negotiator, and she knows that washing dishes is not one of my favorite chores. One day when I was reminding her to clean up her toys, she offered to wash the dishes instead if I picked up her toys! This arrangement worked out quite favorably for both of us.

We haven't yet tried an allowance or a sticker chart. I'm hoping to reinforce the idea that these are helpful things to do around the house that Clara does as part of our family. I would rather not reward her for behavior that I consider being a part of our community, although when she is older I probably will give her an allowance. 

As a seven-year-old, Clara became responsible for folding her own clothes after I washed them. This is probably the biggest way in which she helps with household responsibilities today. I feel a sense of relief as I divide up the warm clothes from the dryer and know I'm not alone in the final steps of folding the clothes and putting them away. 

Have you found any good techniques to encourage a child to participate in jobs and chores at home?