Getting a toddler to understand how far away a period of time is can be an interesting task. Henry is a pretty inquisitive kid and isn’t afraid to ask a question until he gains a level of understanding he is comfortable with.
During the beginning of the year, we were being asked if it was summer yet. He knew that once it was summer he was going to get to see his Grandma and Papa up on Cape Cod. Since it’s warm here by March, it was hard to give him a trigger to watch for to know when it’s summer. I tried marking off a calendar with him everyday, but a then 2 year old only had so much grasp on that idea. So he just asked me every day if it was summer yet.
Finally after summer did come around and vacation passed, he soon became a bit obsessed about Christmas (common theme: both of these are times when he is going to see his Papa, who he’s also quite obsessed with). So I thought, okay I don’t want to be asked this for 6 months; there must be something he can monitor. The leaves! The leaves would be our answer. I simply let him know, when the leaves start to fall off the trees, it will just about be Christmas time.
Every day he’d look and say, “the leaves aren’t falling Mommy, it’s not Christmas time yet.” I was so thankful the trees got to answer that question most days. It felt great. I figured out how to get him to not constantly ask me, without crushing his curiosity.
The leaves don’t fall here in North Texas until early November. Typically the final leaves are falling on, or right after, Thanksgiving (I know this because I’ve lost bets over our front yard tree). What I didn’t account for was for the initial leaves that drop in late August when it’s 110 degrees and everything starts to die.
“Mommy! A leaf just fell. Another leaf. ANOTHER leaf! It’s almost Christmas time, Mommy. We need to tell Mama, it’s Christmas time!”
I must really learn to be more specific with a 3 year old.
After some debate and a lot of explaining, he finally understood, or at least accepted, that Christmas time comes when all the leaves were off the trees. He’d constantly point out when one or two would fall, but immediately would explain that not all the leaves were gone, so it wasn’t Christmas time yet.
Now, in mid-November, He’s getting excited. Especially since I haven’t changed the rules again. I’m glad we had a reference to talk about so he could understand the seasons a bit better.
In the end, I’ll be happy if I don’t need to climb a tree on Christmas Eve to pluck off the last leaf.