"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Cash Cow

Allowances are one of the surprisingly controversial topics of parenthood. Our kiddos start having chores the minute they can move, so they are not paid per chore. When Buddy turned five he received a wallet and three dollars a week. It worked great. He would save his money until he had about $15, then go blow it on a not-very-satisfying toy. It wasn't long at all before a few subtle comments helped him realize he wasn't really enjoying the stuff he bought. Since age six, he's been able to save for six months or so and buy something he really, really loves. When Peanut turned five, the same process worked well for her. She got the "value of saving" thing almost right away.

"Subtle," however, is not something that goes over well with Princess. When she turned five, Buddy was the only one we had experimented with, so I didn't think much about it. She'd carry her wallet everywhere, just like Buddy, and blow every cent at every opportunity. If she had five cents, she'd find something that cost five cents. Don't ask me how, but she did. And I could have lived with that, but of course it escalated. Everything does. She'd walk into a store with an item in mind, and I could literally see her get overwhelmed by all the choices. She'd get manic, and end up with something she'd dump in the toy box as soon as she got home and never touch again. Sometimes she wouldn't even know what it was she had bought. It wasn't long before she was paying the other children a dollar or so to make her bed or clear her place at the table. It was painfully obvious money had no value to her.

So I stopped her allowance. I explained why. She did not seem especially perturbed.

Several months later I reinstated it. But I cut it down to two dollars. We went through a store ad together and selected something she would actually like that cost less than $15. I made a chart with a picture of the item so she could easily see how much money she needed. She was not allowed to change her mind or spend money on anything else. We marched into the store, bought the item and nothing else, and marched out. It's been working pretty well for over a year.

It's been working so well, in fact, that I loosened the restrictions. I let her change her mind. She was saving for a soccer ball (you've probably noticed it's winter, but this information did not seem to concern Princess; neither does the fact that she does not play soccer, nor that we have sixty-three million soccer balls already), and she asked if she could change it to a great game that is very appropriate and a wiser way to spend her money, and I let her. And what happens when we loosen boundaries? Princess pushes them to see if they'll fall over completely.

Yesterday Princess came down with her empty gumball machine and asked if she could buy gumballs. I told her we were not going to stores that day. This morning she asked if we could go buy gumballs after a birthday party this afternoon. I said, "there's no store that sells gumballs near the party."

"I'm talking about after the party."

"There won't be a store near the the party afterward, either."

"No. After."

"Are you telling me a store is going to magically rise up near the party while we're there?"

"No. Can we go after the party?"

"We are not going to a store before OR after the party, because there is not one nearby."

(Getting distressed) "But I have money!"

"Yes. You have money to buy gumballs. And you may buy them the next time we go to a store. But I am not driving to a store for gumballs when I don't need anything else. It would cost me $5 in gas to drive there."

"I'll pay for the gas."

"That would not be a wise use for your money, and I will not say yes to a not-wise choice."

"But you said I could buy gumballs!"

"I did. And you may. I am not saying no to gumballs; I am saying no to taking you to a store today." (Mouth opens. Mom smiles, kisses cheek, and walks away).

She'll push some more. Then she'll get used to it. We'll move on to the next thing.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Buddy and the Bus

I have such mixed feelings about school. Even long before we were married, Josh and I both like the idea of home education. I love the idea of "unschooling," of moving at our own pace, of spending our time doing more interesting things than waiting, waiting, waiting.


The girls came right at the time we needed to make decisions about school for Buddy. We were licensed for two foster children, were expecting one, and ended up with three. Buddy was not quite five. The girls were 3, 20 months, and 4 weeks old. We were waaaaaaaaay overwhelmed. I am actually missing memories from that first six months. I felt like I just couldn't wrap my mind around teaching Buddy at home. I don't excuse or defend it.

I've been happy. I'm involved at the school, the teachers and principal are WONDERFUL. I could write for a year on their kindergarten teacher alone.

And today it happened.

I was working on a project while keeping a sick Buddy company. Looking at his freezy pop he said, "Mom, what does 's*it' mean? I told him, adding that it was not a word I ever wanted to hear crossing his lips. "Oh no, Mom. Just to ask you. I wasn't planning to say it again."

I don't feel angry, or like pulling them out of school. I'm not even really upset about it, which surprised me a little. I prefer to keep my children away from all the garbage out there. We only watch PBS and movies. We only listen to one radio channel and pre-loaded MP3 players. We're careful who we associate with and whom they spend time with. But I guess I don't really need them to be protected from everything all the time. I'm ok with, "thanks for asking. This is what it means. We don't say it. I prefer you don't, too."

That said, middle school makes me feel uncomfortable. I have my eye on a great private school in the area. I have two more years to figure out how to convince them to let my children go there for free or $5 a month. I'm working on it.

We take it a year at a time. We pray unceasingly. We keep our eyes and our minds open.

Friday, January 29, 2010

OT and the Woodpile

Yesterday, kindergarten was taught by a substitute. Thankfully, Peanut is now able to manage herself at school in the care of a sub. As opposed to the principal and myself wrestling a screaming, writhing mass of teeth and nails into my Suburban mid-day. This is still very, very hard on her, though, and she has a tendency to let it all loose when she gets home. Yesterday, she wanted immediately on a computer program, then accused me (with opera-worthy wailing) of putting her in the wrong spot in the program. I tried to show her how to navigate to where she wanted to be, but she kept interrupting to tell me why my ideas wouldn't work. Then she logged it off and went wailing and stomping to her room, kiddie-cursing me all the way. When she came down, she followed me room to room and waiting for me to look at her so she could give me the evil eye. I said, "you want me to notice you are angry at me." She exploded, "yeah, cause..." and went right back into her argument. I said, "I'm sorry you would not let me help you. Now you can choose to stay with me quietly, or to go into another room." She went into the living room, where she found a kalediscope (that has been sitting in the bottom of the toy box for two or three years without having ever been touched) taken apart and scattered on the floor. Enter more wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth. It really was very dramatic; I have to give her credit.

I dropped the ball with this one, but thankfully Josh is pretty good at this whole parenting thing himself. He sent her to the woodpile.

I love consequences that not only don't really feel like a consequence, but accomplish something, too. And the wood pile is dual-duty. Thing one: stacking firewood by the house used to be my job. Thing two: stacking wood is "heavy work."

Both Princess and Peanut have sensory dysfunction. The best way I can describe it is they don't seem to be able to pinpoint where their body is in space. They kind of feel like they're floating around, not connected to anything. When their anxiety rises, they become "disregulated." Princess manifests this by wandering room to room, spinning, rhythmless dancing, and tapping and noise-making. Peanut sticks her finger in her mouth, chews on things, talks louder and faster while making less sense, and wails. "Heavy work" causes their large muscles to work together and kind of gives them a "center." And they feel calmer.

Lucky for me, a lot of housework can easily be made into "heavy work." Princess lugs a big rubbermaid container full of clothing to and from the laundry room. Peanut wipes the table after dinner. They pick up the sofa cushions so I can vacuum underneath. They make their beds. Gardening, wheel-barrows, wagons, and pushing against a wall all work, too.

(But the best stuff is the stuff I don't have to do).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Kick the Box, Like a Fox

Fresh off my morning coffee and blog reading, and totally inspired by Christine, I entered the kitchen. Princess was home (again) sick and was coloring on large empty boxes at the table with the Cuddle Bear. I hear Princess suggest (read: you'd better do it) the Cuddle Bear do something, I heard the Cuddle Bear demure, and I saw a Princess hand armed with crayon shoot out onto the Cuddle Bear's box. Sudden shrieking filled the air: "YOU DREW ON MY BOX! THAT'S NOT NICE! YOU DREW ON MY BOX! AAAAAAAAAAAAYAAAAAAH!" Immediately Princess shoots out, "I didn't DO it!"

Braa bra bra baaaaa! This is a job for.... TheraMommy!

I swoop in and share her chair with her. Put my arms around her. She reciprocates by moaning, "noooooo. no. stoooooop. noooooo."
"It's hard to admit you drew on her box, isn't it. But I love being your mom, and I'm right here."

I won't force anyone to review the whole conversation, but just imagine that sequence being repeated about 20 times and include some crayon-throwing, curtain-waving, mommy-pinching, and sister-kicking. Due to the sister-kicking, we moved to the stairway. It's a smaller space, so Princess has to work harder to flail.

I began to sing a soft, beautifully-crafted inspirational song about how it's hard to admit you did something wrong. It's hard because what if everyone thinks all of you is bad because you did something wrong? What if YOU think you're all bad because you did something wrong? But Mommy's right here and Mommy knows Princess is not bad. Mommy will be right here until Princess is strong enough to say, "I wrote on the box."

This was such a gorgeous song, in fact, that it lured Josh into the hallway, where he sang backup until he couldn't take it anymore and broke out into a gospel-style rendition of "I Wrote on the Box, and Everyone Knows it But Me." At this point, the Cuddle Bear wandered in (with the box in question) to see the show. Princess does not appreciate an un-annoyed audience, so she began kicking at the Cuddle Bear and the box, at which point Josh switched to a rap. I held on pretty well until the verse that included, "I kick the box/ Just like a fox./ Like a fox I kick the box/ so I can't saaaaaaaaaaaay/ I wrote/ on/ the/ box." I couldn't take it anymore, and my laugh came out my nose, snorting all over Princess.

By now, Princess had apparently decided that everyone was having too much fun and she was having none, so she said, "I wrote on the box." I jumped up and down and congratulated her for being SO strong, because admitting you're wrong is SO hard, and I loved her SO much, hug, hug, hug, kiss, kiss, hug, snuggle, which of course she accepted warmly.

Or not.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Onion Layers

Raising a child with reactive attachment disorder is like peeling back the layers of an onion (I wish I could take credit for that gem, but I can't. Sure wish I could remember who to give it to, though). You're always peeling a layer, and there's always one underneath. Princess's new layer appears to be lying.

Sometime, it's completely random, nonsensical, knock your head against your forehead lying. Yesterday she wet herself and ran up to change. Fine. Frankly, I'm glad we're to the point where she'll change herself. One less battle to fight. However. She ran downstairs half a second later half dressed.

"What are you doing, Princess?"
"I'm looking for the wipes."

Now, she knows full well where the wipes are. In fact, just two days ago she pretended to not know where the wipes were kept, and I had her spend five minutes sitting on the toilet staring at the wipes container. She knows where they are.

"Princess, go take some time to watch the wipes box. Five minutes."

I set the timer, read my book, and went to her when it beeped. She told me they were gone.

"Take out a wipe, Princess."

She opened the box, showed me the wipes and said, "see, they're gone."

"Take out a wipe, Princess."

She stabbed at the wipes for several minutes, acting like it was thorougly beyond human possibility to remove one while I watched patiently and silently. Finally, scowling at me, she took one out and cleaned herself.

"So Princess. How'd it work out for you to pretend you didn't know where the wipes were?"
"Not good."
"How'd it work out to pretend you couldn't take them out?"
"Not good."
How do you think it will go the next time you try it?
"Not good."

Mmm hmm.

But what concerns me more is the lying she does to herself. She had a homework page yesterday that involved counting by tens. She took one look at it and squealed, "oh this is so EASY!!!" I knew it would be a struggle. Josh was home, too, and we (mostly Josh- oh, thank you darling flu for keeping Josh home yesterday, too!) did our best to direct her without walking her step by step, and it took her about two hours. When Josh finally deemed it correct, she gushed and gushed and GUSHED about how easy it, then skipped away to put it in her backpack. Josh was too stunned to respond.

This is what I find most perplexing. She is a hard worker. I mean HARD. It's one of her most fortunate qualities. It's something to be proud of. But instead of telling herself, "whew, that was hard! But I worked hard and I did it. I rock," she tells herself a lie.

I know asking why is futile.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vision Therapy

Lisa suggested I write up our experiences with vision therapy. Hopefully this will be helpful to someone!

Late this summer, Princess and Dr. S were working on sequencing using K'Nex. Princess was struggling with a pattern suitable for a much younger child, and Dr. S. began to note that she was having some very specific difficulties. Princess seemed unable to visually break the pattern down into parts: she could not recognize that the bow of the ship, for instance, was comprised of a green piece with a white piece on either side. Additionally, Princess would stare at the pattern, put two pieces together incorrectly, know it was wrong, try again, and do it wrong in the same way. Over. And over. And over.

Dr. S referred us to a vision therapist.

The evaluation was broken down into two two-hour appointments. The first was mostly vision-related. Princess's vision turned out to be 20/20. For the second appointment, Princess was taken back to have school-work activities evaluated while I filled out paperwork. Some of it required me to check off letter groups she had trouble identifying and behaviors she exhibited; I checked almost all of them. When I was called back to be with Princess, Princess was given a maze of tangled lines and instructed to follow one line with her finger to the end while Dr. F flipped lenses over her eyes. Princess could. not. do it. She got confused and started over more than five times. Sometimes her finger was not on any line at all. She was beginning to get frustrated when Dr. F flipped a lens over her eyes, and Princess's finger suddenly flew through the maze perfectly! I breathed out, "wow!" and Dr. F said, "wow is right!"

Princess wears glasses now, but they're for her brain more than for her eyes. They magnify what she sees a bit, making it easier for her brain to interpret the visual input. We left the office with a set of exercises and an appointment to return when she had mastered them. This initial exercise was simply following a small target in and out from arm's length to an inch from her nose 15 times without getting fatigued. Sounds easy. Nope. At first Princess could not even do five correctly without rubbing her eyes, tearing up, and feeling exhausted. Her eyes would jerk, and her left eye tended to wander. But she worked hard and she mastered them and we went back for the next set: following the target back and forth, up and down, and in circles with each eye, then both, all while saying the ABC's. THAT one took two months.

During this three month period, we began to notice Princess's behavior changing. She went from daily tantrums, to three or four a week, to one or two or none. She started to be able to process a little after a tantrum. She voluntarily apologized for her behavior. She smiled more, she giggled more, she CRIED!! Real tears, in situations where it was appropriate to cry. In three years, she has real-cried exactly once. Once. In play therapy, she mastered a complicated game involving sequencing, memory, strategy, and disappointment in competition. She had a great Christmas. She TALKED about her pre-us life in therapy!!!

Last week I asked Dr. F if she commonly saw behavior changes that didn't seem related to vision. She got really excited and asked what was happening. She said that it is common, but it's apparently a little controversial whether this therapy causes behavior changes, so she doesn't mention it to parents as a possibility; she waits to see what they notice.

It is a little frustrating to add ANOTHER appointment and ANOTHER long drive to her already extensive therapy schedule, but this one is paying back bigtime.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Can You Throw Up Your Brain?

Princess was vomiting Saturday night, and yesterday through last night. I'd be curious to see anything about what illness might temporarily do to an already mixed-up neurology, because boy has she been f.l.a.k.y. flaky.

Quite a while ago I came to the conclusion that you have to have a pretty strong brain to tolerate computer games. And if a brain isn't strong enough to tell a person to use the toilet, than said brain isn't strong enough for screen time. So, when it came to the point where I had to decide whether to buy another Websmoos for the girls to continue the sadistic plot to lure my children into consumerism and gambling or to let them expire, I chose expire. Unfortunately, Buddy, who loves his Websmoos, went into catatonic shock at the thought of allowing his sisters' accounts expire. You would have thought I was putting those cuddly insidious pests to death with my bare hands. We came to the compromise that Buddy could purchase them for his sisters, I'd add them to the accounts, and he could give them to the girls at appropriate gift-giving occasions. Which he did. Except for Princess. Lately he's been asking and asking and asking if I think Princess is ready to play on the computer. And the answer is always no. No, she is making no concerted effort to use the toilet. No, I am not going to try to convince her to make a concerted effort to use the toilet. No, I am not going to offer her a reward to use the toilet. When she is more interested in these fun things than she is in wetting herself, then she will do it. Not before.

But I did decide he could give her the stuffed animal.

She was feeling better, so she was playing and skipping around a chatting, but weird. She was excited about the stuffed toy. She voiced recognition that she would not be using the computer portion. Then, an hour later she said, "Mom, will you set this up on the computer?"


"Yes Princess. Absolutely I will. You can let me know when your brain is healthy enough to use the computer by using the toilet. All the time."

"I can't wait to play it! It's going to be so fun."

"Princess, you just got done changing your wet pants. Not two minutes ago."


"And now you're are talking about using the computer. Even though you know you will not be using it for a long, long, long time. Not until you decide and show me you're ready."

"Yeah! I can't wait-"

"Go finish your laundry."

Then she skipped into the living room, where Josh was working on the computer. She asked him several indecipherable things, finishing by asking him to print off a recipe for pancakes for her.

Oh, does my brain hurt!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Forward is Permanent; Backward is Temporary

This has been an almost mantra I repeat to myself, because progress is never a straight line, especially for rad kids. Especially when they've been making a lot of progress; it's scary, it's unknown, it's a kind of loss of control.

Yesterday was a doozy. Josh was outside with the kids in the morning. He came in to get something and was about to go back out when he noticed Princess at the door. He backed up to let her in, then heard her call, "Daddy says it's time for lunch!" Which he had not. Three times is a pattern that needs to be dealt with, in my opinion, and this was the third Saturday in a row. The past two, she came in to tattle on a sibling, was told to go find her own space outside, and told the "offending" sib that Dad or I had told her to tell them to come in. Josh went out and called her on it, telling her she would be finishing the chore herself and he and I would find a consequence for her. She tantrumed outside for awhile, then pulled it together to finish the job to join us for lunch. I hinted to Josh in her hearing that I had come up with a consequence, but I didn't say what. Usually, she'd respond to a comment like that with acting out and attention-seeking behavior, but this time she lurked around looking full of dread. It struck me as "regular kid."

After lunch, we told her she would be writing two letters to the two children she lied to, and they must include two reasons why lying was not ok. She spent the next THREE HOURS at the assigned space crumpling and throwing around the paper, dismantling and throwing her pen, and complaining about having nothing to write with. She whined that she needed to use the bathroom (yeah, right!), so I reminded her that she knows where it is. She went and stood in the hallway for a while. When I called her back to her space, she fussed that I wouldn't "let her use the bathroom." I said, "you're right, Princess, I wouldn't let you stand in the hall." "No, the bathroom!" "Yep, I wouldn't let you stand in the hall. You're right!" That threw her into two twenty-minute tantrums requiring my restraint, and that hasn't happened in a looooong time. When she was done and regulated, it was time for her to "pay back my peace" for 40 minutes (read: nap). When she woke up, FOUR HOURS AFTER THE INCDENT, she began to write.

Right away I realized I had to change the assignment because her anti-lying reasons were statements like, "it's not nice to lie." Pure hooey. So I had her write about what happens when she lies, hoping that would be a little more concrete. She came up with "if I lie I get a consequence," which was fine, but then her next ideas were, "if I lie I have to sit in the car," and, "if I lie I get spanked." I said, "but Princess, these aren't true. You don't sit in the car for lying, and you don't get spanked for lying." "I don't?" "NO!" "Oh." Finally, with extensive coaching, she turned out, "when I lie, no one believes me." The "extensive coaching" included this conversation:

K: "Who do people listen to- someone who lies, or someone who tells the truth?"
P: "Someone who tells the truth."
K: "What will happen if you lie?"
P: "I'll get in trouble."

Times three.

Five hours. The consequence took five hours. When she was done she said, "wow! That was a lot of work!" "No, Princess. It was not a lot of work. It was a lot of time, because you kept not working." "Yeah!"

Head. Brick wall. Head. Brick wall. Head.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

So Much Wisdom; So Few to Pass it To

My four babies are almost exactly 18 months apart. This means that one will finish a developmental stage, and six months later the next one down starts it. It's just enough time to remember how much I did not enjoy that stage. Learning to rhyme, for instance. It starts with nonsense (do gaga and boom-bom rhyme?), moves to related non-rhyming words (do waffles and syrup rhyme?), transforms to a word and a nonsense (do boat and nonoat rhyme?), and ends with your child chanting "scoot, scoot, like a voot" until your ears bleed. Each phase tend to develop during 20-40 minute car rides.

Some stages are even less magical. One of Princess's favorite rad games 18 months ago was to go upstairs and NOT get her pajamas on, then have a fit while I put them on for her and took her downstairs to brush her teeth. Then she would sit in the bathroom and NOT brush her teeth while I read a bedtime story. When I finished she would scream, "but I want a STORY!!! but I want a STORY!!! while I brushed her teeth. She'd scream in bed and kick the walls for a while, and eventually fall asleep. She let this lovely game go about six months ago, I and was so, so very happy.

Enter Peanut. Her motives are a little different. She's working on rad too, but she exhibits it totally differently and must be handled totally differently. Totally fun. Her main thing is impulse control, and that includes a state-of-the-art motor mouth. So last night I realize she has been upstairs a little too long, and I realize I can hear her yapping away. I go up, tell her naked self, "time to brush teeth," and ferry her downstairs while she yells, "but I want PAJAMAS! I don't want to be NAKED." She grabbed her robe, sending the hook flying, and we marched downstairs with me thinking, "sheesh, I didn't miss this at. all."

She never takes things as far as Princess, though, and as she was sullenly brushing her teeth, I took the opportunity to speak to the Cuddle Bear about this recurring situation. "Cuddle Bear, pay attention. In six months you might start wanting to try this too. Look around. This didn't get Princess anything good, and it's not getting Peanut anything good, either. Don't even think about it. Just don't. Two is my limit."

Cuddle Bear turned, looked me lovingly in the eye, and said, "Mommy, I'm going to eat my booger now."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Parenting Litmus Test

Once upon a time I was a college student studying human development. One of my classes required observing a kindergarten room. I sat and took notes as I watched a buzzing room of short people participate in "centers." Two children were assigned the "house area," which consisted of a pretty cool playhouse and some play food. I watched, fascinated, as a small girl informed a small boy that he was the dad, and directed him to lay on the sofa. Then she left the playhouse, and re-entered blazing with the fury of 10,000 fiery horses screaming, "ALL YOU EVER DO IS LAY ON THE SOFA!!! WHY DON'T YOU GET UP FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE AND GET!!! A!!! JOB!!!!!!"

As a direct result of this experience, I get a knot in my stomach whenever my crew prepare to play house, or "play Sweetie," as it's called here. I figure their "Sweetie" play is probably a good indicator of the quality of my parenting interactions, so my ears perk up, but I'm usually still left mystified in the end. Earlier on, when I was completely overwhelmed, it was a little more clear. I'd hear things like, "I TOLD you to pick that up. WHY didn't you pick it up? Pick it up NOW!" and I cringe and try to pay more attention to my voice. But things have calmed down, so it's harder to know. For instance, the game's name: Sweetie. "Sweetie" is kind of my generic name for whomever I'm talking to, especially when it's a mild correction, ("Sweetie, Lincoln Logs are not for your belly button," for instance). So, when they walk around with their dolls calling each other Sweetie, should that be telling me that maybe they think I don't know their names? I can't make up my mind. And most of the play involves getting ready to go somewhere. Which really is mostly what we do. Is that a problem I should address?

But I guess in the end I'm comforted. It's kind of a check-in with myself. They debate about who gets to be "Kerrie" (as opposed to who has to be "Kerrie"), and they generally use polite voices with each other. So I think we're ok.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Tooth Fairy Strikes Again

In the name of All that is Good and Lovely, could we moms all get together and form some type of tooth fairy manifesto? This every mom for herself thing is just not working for me. At THIS house, the tooth fairy coughs up one dollar per tooth except for the first one (two dollars), and except when she has to pay a fine for forgetting, er, getting trapped in some fog. I consider this highly reasonable, especially when you consider how many teeth those monsters have in their heads, and that I have four sets of teeth awaiting loss.

That brings up, well, we'll call him Dylan. Mostly because I can't remember his real name. Dylan is in Princess's class, and Dylan's mother is apparently some kind of social deviant. According to first-grade lore, Dylan is paid a dollar for each SUBSEQUENT tooth, meaning that he hauled in SIX DOLLARS for his last tooth. Ordinarily, this is information that Princess would allow to pass through her brain in favor of other things. However. Princess needs exactly six dollars to go get the soccer ball she's been saving for (why a soccer ball in January, you ask? What. You think I KNOW???).

So. After much cranking on the loosest tooth in her mouth, she managed to yank it out, along with substantial root, Monday evening. Enter: Constant Jabbering About I Hope the Tooth Fairy Brings Me Six Dollars. This event continued until the last good-night, and picked up again immediately Tuesday morning. Because, unfortunately, the tooth fairy got trapped in the freezing fog that night and was running late. Cough. After I assured her that the tooth fairy would have no problem getting here -eventually- she renewed and inflamed her hope that the tooth fairy would bring her six dollars. At five minutes til bus, my patience finally wore out and I snapped, "our tooth fairy brings one dollar. Always. She never brings six dollars. Never. She will not bring six dollars. Got it?" I thought she did. There was no more mention of six dollars, anyway.

Until. I got an e-mail from Mrs. M. letting me know they had written a letter to the tooth fairy in her language session. She mentioned Princess was very, er, focused on the possibility of receiving -what?- six dollars. When she was done with the letter, she remarked, "this is so good she'll probably leave me TEN dollars!!!"

Something. Must be done.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some Amazing People Live in My House

Yesterday I recounted the Police Officer Incident and its fallout to the girls' play therapist, Dr. S. I sat with Princess while Dr. S. discussed the incident with her, and Princess.... hang on, I have to catch my breath again... Princess TALKED about feeling frightened. She TALKED about the times in her "J- Life" that she had experienced police. She did NOT refute that she was afraid the police could take her somewhere else. Then she pushed herself away from me, made herself the closest person to the door, and wiggled around on the floor. Dr. S. told her we would be working on a big word- "anxiety," and that Princess would be learning ways to not have a fit when she felt like she was feeling at that moment. We did a relaxation exercise involving tightening muscles and noticing how they feel when they relax. Princess turned into a hot 50-lb lump of melted goo. She didn't even move to take chocolate. I am certain she has never felt anywhere near that relaxed in her entire life. I'm continuing the exercise with her at bedtime, hoping she gets "addicted" to the feeling of letting go. This is such a huge and exciting step for her!

Two weeks before, I told Dr. S. that Peanut seemed to be struggling to control herself- as in I think she knows when she is in the deep end, she knows she is getting deeper, but she cannot make herself get out. Dr. S and Peanut worked on Worry Worms. Peanut had to find gummy worms, list a worry, rate her anger, and eat the gummy worm. Peanut listed her triggers (she came up with these HERSELF!) as: 1. When somebody scares me. 2. When Princess spanks me or sneaks up to grab my foot. 3. When Buddy pulls my hair. 4. When Princess, Cuddle Bear, and Buddy be's mean to me. 5. When Mrs. B (her teacher) isn't there. Then, she rated each one somewhere between "blind rage" and "homicidal axe-wielding arsonistic maniac." I was stunned. If it were me who had to list and rate, that is EXACTLY what I would have said. That is one self-actualized little girl, let me tell you.

The next day, we knew Peanut would be having a sub. This is a m.a.j.o.r trigger for her. I believe there are a very precious few people Peanut believes will actually take care of her and protect her, and a sub is definetly NOT one of them, in her opinion. We did our usual pre-sub strategy planning: what choices will you make (respectful and calm), who will you ask for if you can't (Mrs. M and the sensory room), what will you do if she can't come get you (ask for a quiet place). Peanut HERSELF added, "hey! I can make a Worry Worm chart! And then I can find out how angry I am!

Way to go, girls. Way to heal. I am so blessed

Monday, January 18, 2010

A RAD Conversation

This morning Princess took her shower. She came down and hung around waiting for Clay to be ready to take her to the chain-saw repair shop (exciting- I know!). I went up to the shower to help Peanut with hers and noticed a distinct lack of hair products available. I went back down and asked Princess, "Princess, what did you clean your hair with?"
"Body wash."
"Body wash?"
Pause for thinking. "Do you have any thoughts on washing your hair with....BODY....wash?
Pause for thinking. "Would you like to hear my thoughts on washing your hair with, er, BODY wash?"
"Well ok. My thought is that if you are washing your hair with body wash, then you are not doing any thinking. Let's do some thinking together. We'll practice. Last time you took a shower, you did not have a towel or washcloth, so you used other people's. What could you have done instead?
"Tell Mom?"
"YESSSSS!!!!" Lots of *pizazz* and hopping and clapping. Princess h.a.t.e.s *pizazz*, but we all know deep down inside she needs it. Wink wink.
"Ok, next one. If you don't have hair cleaner, what can you do?"
"I don't know."
"Ooooh. This is hard, isn't it. Let's practice the last one again. If you don't have a washcloth or towel, what can you do?"
"Tell Mom?"
"RIGHT!!!! You're doing great!" Big hug and kiss.
"Noooooooo! Don't."
"Ok, So. If you don't have hair cleaner, what can you do?"

"Tell Mom."

"YEEEEES! You've GOT it! You can TELL MOM! That is GREAT! You really know how to take care of a problem." Hug hug hug hug kiss hug whine whine fuss fuss kiss smooch hug. "I sure do love you."


Saturday, January 16, 2010

PTSD Meets the Law

Tuesday a police officer stopped by. I opened the door before he rang the bell, and the exchange (regarding a tenant) took about four seconds. Three of the four children didn't even know he was there. Guess which child was in the kitchen with me? Yep, you guessed it: Princess. The one who spent her first three years watching people she knew fight with and be escorted out in handcuffs by police. So of course she assumed he had come to "take Daddy to jail." I told her that was not why he was there, I went through the whole "police are here to make sure grown-ups are following grown-up rules and behaving safely" spiel. No dice. She never mentioned another word about it, of course, and at first I foolishly thought she wasn't thinking about it.

Tuesday night she flooded her bed. This sort of thing tends to happen when a person is not using the toilet, which she wasn't. She didn't take care of it- likely thinking I wouldn't notice, so she had some laundry to do after school. She whined. She fussed. She pretended she didn't know how to do it. I didn't buy it, so she tantrumed. She missed dance class. Finally she decided she'd rather join us for my delicious moo shoo pork than enjoy a cheese sandwich alone.

Thursday afternoon the school called. I was told Princess came to the office because her tooth hurt. I asked what happened right BEFORE she said her tooth hurt. The secretary said, "well, I don't really know; there's a sub today." Ahhh. I asked to speak to Princess. "Hi Princess!" "Hi." "What would you like me to do for your tooth?" "I don't know." "Oh. Well, what do you think I WILL do for your tooth?" "I don't know." "Oh. Well, what would you like to do right now?" I want to go back to class." "Huh. So, you told your sub your tooth really really hurts, and you told the office your tooth really really hurts, and now you want to go back to class. " "Yes." "Uh, ok. I'll see you at home! I love you."

An hour later, Princesses language therapist called to tell me that Princess FLIPPED OUT because she left a shoe at home. Princess came home and told me what a wonderful day she had and how much she loved the sub. Hmmm.

Friday sounded like this: "whine whine whine fuss fuss (poke poke poke) fuss whine fuss."

See how much better it's getting!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Keeping Up

Both Princess and Peanut are studying penguins in first grade and kindergarten respectively.

It's hard to be the youngest of four. It's hard to be three. It's hard to keep up with the rat race.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Okay, So I'm Writing

Mommy blogging is the "thing to do," which makes it kind of "the thing to scoff about," but here I am anyway. My family's weird, my kids are weird, and it's all pretty dang funny, if you ask me. Which you didn't. I made slight stabs at journaling when Buddy was small and there was only him. When the girls came, I knew I should be recording things, but all the space in my brain was being used and I may have actually forgotten how to spell. But, with the advent of a certain social computer network I am on the computer all. the. time. So even if no one ever pulls this up, even if this ends up being not remotely amusing or helpful to a single soul on this earth, at least part of my children's lives will have been recorded. And maybe that will give them something to work out in therapy as adults. One can only hope.